Friday, April 25, 2008

He's a (tremble, sneer, slap forehead) Populist!

Leiden is the epicentre of serious scholarship in the field of Islam. Forget Al Azhar or Qom, a couple of rat nests for fanatics and terrorists; Leiden is it. So when a scholar writes from there, a legitimate and serious thinker and scholar, we pay attention. But of course no two scholars agree on much or scholarship would be boring, against the nature of Humanness, and not likely to occur in this life in this lifetime. We must admit, though, that not all the comes from a centre of high quality is of high quality: much of what we get is dhimmi dross and unreadable myopia, the lexical drool of the senile. And we also get down-right bought-off hacks posing as scholars, some of whom are scholars, all the worse for us. Speaking of which, where's John Esposito?

Arabist Hans Jansen new book "Islam for pigs, monkeys, donkeys and other animals"
Thursday, April 24, 2008

In his recent book Islam for pigs, monkeys, donkeys and other animals, Dutch Arabist Hans Jansen has put a cat in among the scientific pigeons. However, it looks like the media are taking him more seriously than his fellow Islam experts are. "Jansen has completely set aside his scientific scruples."

Hans Jansen has always been critical of his colleagues, but in his last but one publication Islam for pigs he attacks them in no uncertain terms. He writes:

"Most western professors with Islam in their portfolio like to talk with Muslims. It often has nothing to do with science. It is pure deception, in which malice cannot always be ruled out, although ignorance is of course increasingly common as it is everywhere else."

Fellow Arabist Professor Martin van Bruinessen from the Institute for Studies in Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) in Leiden is surprised by Dr Jansen's arrogant tone.

"I don't really know what he is referring to, but what he accuses his colleagues of can easily just as well apply to him."

Mr Van Bruinessen thinks that it's Mr Jansen's book, which is lying in front of him on the table, that is unscientific and misleading.

"It creates an image of Islam and Muslims which is much more dangerous that can be justified by the facts. Dr Jansen is not stupid, so the question is why does he write these kind of things."

An inconvenient truth

Professor Van Bruinessen expresses the growing irritation with Hans Jansen among his colleagues. He remembers when in the 1990s, Dr Jansen wrote facetious pieces about Islam. But since the Netherlands became obsessed by fear of Islam after 9/11, the professor from Utrecht has grown into a real phenomenon in the media, in which he presents himself as the only Dutch expert who dares to talk about the inconvenient truth of Islam without political correctness getting in the way. Dr Jansen's work is an important source of inspiration for anti-Islamic MP Geert Wilders. In the days after his film Fitna was put on the web, Dr Jansen appeared in several television programmes to explain its content.

In Islam for pigs, he sets out his vision by answering 250 questions about Islam. In the book, Islam is portrayed as a dangerous and violent religion. The Qur'an preaches peace, Dr Jansen admits, but only once everyone has submitted to the religion. Up to that time, evil and unbelievers have to be conquered, using violence if necessary.

The number of Dutch Muslims that reject al-Qaeda's brand of terrorism could be "lower than we think", according to the professor. Most Muslims do not see Bin Laden as a madman, but rather as a "super-activist, who is taking the ultimate steps according to Islamic rules in the fight against infidels."

Scruples aside

The title of the book refers to the terms used by the Qur'an for unbelievers and Jews, explains the author in the introduction. Professor Van Bruinessen says:

"If you take the time to look at the passages in question - for example on the site, you will see that this is just not true. The Qur'an tells about a people in the past that disobeyed God and was turned into pigs and monkeys as a punishment."

Professor van Bruinessen thinks this is typical of Mr Jansen's style.

"Since Mr Jansen received the title of professor, but in particular since the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, he has set all scientific scruples aside. He has become an anti-Islam polemist who has no reservations about completely misrepresenting the issues on purpose."


Islam expert Dick Douwes, professor at the university of Rotterdam, agrees.

"Dr Jansen takes certain verses from the Qur'an to prove that Islam preaches violence against disbelievers. But he completely ignores the fact that most Muslims have a different reading of the text. He is not acting like a scientist but more like an ayatollah who studies the scriptures and thinks it is up to him to tell others what the Qur'an says."

But if Dutch Islam experts have so many objections to Dr Jansen's statements, why is there so little opposition to what he says? Professor van Bruinessen says most Arabists are just too busy with their own research and with writing scientific papers. Dr Jansen, who for several years now has only written populist pieces, is never actually taken seriously by his peers. "They have failed to realise for too long now that the media do take him seriously."

I was walking through the alley last night around midnight when I was set upon by a couple of scholars who pounced on me from behind. I immediately dropped my knife and brass knuckles and hit them with "Populists!"

I'm hiding out from the cops till this thing blows over. I mean, I don't know if those guys are going to survive. I didn't mean to hit them that hard, but in my terror at being attacked I just let loose with my best weapon at hand. Wow.

Esther at Islam in Europe provides this:

In the book 'Strijdsters van Allah' (about radical Muslim women and the Hofstad group), journalists Janny Groen and Annieke Kranenberg tell of a incendiary sermon by radical imam Fawaz Jneid, where he cursed Hirsi Ali and Van Gogh (see here). They did not know what to make of the sermon, which also urged Muslims to work against political enemies through legal channels, and so they gave the sermon tape to six Islam experts. Three Moroccans, who wanted to remain anonymous, all agreed - this was an inciting sermon, and all mention of staying rational were there just for the benefit of the Dutch authorities. This was clearly a political, mobilizing, activist discourse. If Fawaz would have wanted to calm the youth, as he claimed, instead of inciting them, he would have spoken completely differently.

Three Dutch experts were also consulted. Maurits Berger agreed that the sermon was filled with hate and calls to protect Islam from its attackers, but did not think this was inciting in the judicial sense. Ruud Peters said it was clear that Fawaz did not call for violence. Hans Jansen, on the other, just read the sermon, without knowing who the speaker was, and completely agreed with the Moroccan researchers. Amazingly, so did Muslims who often listened to Fawaz's sermons.

There you have it. If Jensen agrees with three Muslims and the average Muslim on the street rather than with a couple of fellow scholars, Jensen must be a populist.

Speaking of John Esposito, here he is today at Jihad Watch.

Cosmic, huh?

And now, to continue this even further:

Vancouver Visitor brings this story to our attention, and the ever lovely and smart Abigail Esman writes it up, abridged below.

Deathwah on Dutch Comedian/Son of Islamic Scholar (and Populist!)

Above we've looked briefly at Hans Jensen as he's maligned for writing the objective reality of Islam while his cloud-cuckoo-land colleagues are more determined to justify their lives' work by passing off Islam as a worthy religion, worthy not merely of scholarship but of-- OK, I'm stumped. Maybe these so-called scholars are determined to convince themselves that there is something good in Islam itself that justifies their life effort. One can study Nazis, for example and find grandness in the German culture to seeming no end in spite of it; but Islam? Naw, it's crap to the ground and back. But just as some people must dredge the sewers to keep society healthy, so too must scholars dredge the annals of Islam so we can live without it clogging up the world and making it over-spill into the rest of our publicities. Dredging sewers might not be glamorous but it is important, and it's not to be despised; nor Islamic study. However, perhaps some scholars feel a need to gloss their work with some fooleries to make us think better of what they do. Hans Jensen doesn't seem to feel that way. He writes and his son speaks, both of them now in deep trouble with Muslims and their dhimmi enablers. Here's on the son. He was last year at this time a law student and comedian, told a few jokes about Islam, and is now under death threat by-- Muslims!

Heavily truncated from Esman's piece. Link at bottom:

Abigail R. Esman, "Who's Afraid of the Muslim Joke?" World Defense Review. 06 Mar 07

[E]wout Jansen, a 24-year-old law student, and his comic partner, Etienne Kemerink... perform regularly throughout the country, basing their act largely – as many comedians do – on current news and trends. [S]o for five minutes of his 100-minute act, he addresses [Islam]. Among his jokes is a reference to the killing of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh.... In the past, Jansen acknowledges, occasional performances at schools produced tense moments – but nothing he ever found particularly threatening. ...

Reporters at Folia, however, wanted to know more. They arranged to interview the imam at Assoenna, with Kabli acting as interpreter, to understand exactly why: was it Ewout's jokes that were the problem, or was joking in itself forbidden? But the imam barely had a chance to speak, other than to quote a passage from the Koran

The hypocrites are afraid
lest a sura should be sent down against them
telling thee what is in their hearts
Say: Mock on
God will bring forth what you fear
And if thou questionest them
then assuredly they will say
*We were only plunging and playing*
Say: What, then, were you mocking God
and His Signs and His Messenger
Make no excuses
(Verse 9:64, translation A.J. Arberry)

Okay, the reporter pressed, so what exactly should happen when someone jokes about Islam?

But it was Kabli, not the imam, who answered him. "First he should be warned," declared Kabli. "But if he continues and he goes too far with Islam, then, according to Islam, he must die." Well. Good we got that cleared up.


"But what he means," says Ewout Jansen, whose father is an Islam scholar, "is that I should die, but he'll let the radicals do it."

For Jansen, the entire incident came as a rude and unanticipated surprise – he found out about the threat on his own life while reading "Geen Stijl," a popular blog. Within days, the news had spread. Members of an online Dutch-Muslim community held a poll: should Ewout be killed? Without having read or heard a single one of Ewout and Etienne's jokes, 60 voters said yes: 30 percent. Although another 19 percent said they didn't know, Jansen told the newspaper, de Volkskrant, "Fortunately, a small majority – 51 percent – did feel that I may go on living."

Nonetheless, that 30-percent figure is alarming. It suggests, indeed, that these were not the words of a single, "marginal" Muslim radical; and, in fact, Kabli is not radical at all. After all, he didn't offer to kill the two comedians – he only felt that "someone" should. But at the same time, rather than distance himself from Muslim radicals, Kabli instead seemed to be saying, "thank goodness we've got them."


"If you talk about the news, how can you not talk about Islam and Muslims? They all are constantly bashing Christianity, but they never say anything about Islam. If the purpose of Theo van Gogh's murder was to get people to watch what they say, " he adds....

— Abigail R. Esman is an award-winning author-journalist who divides her time between New York and The Netherlands. In addition to her column in World Defense Review, her work has appeared in Foreign Policy,, Esquire, Vogue, Glamour, Town & Country, The Christian Science Monitor, The New Republic and many others. She is currently working on a book about Muslim extremism and democracy in the West.

Abigail R. Esman can be reached at

Visit Esman on the web at

© 2007 Abigail R. Esman

Abigail R. Esman story archive


Vancouver visitor said...

Jansen's own son, a comedian, was threatened by Islamonuts for his poking fun at the Great Religion of Peace and had to go into hiding in exile. Those "scholars" who are against Jansen should try it some time to get back in touch with reality. Maybe they'll have a different view then.

Dag said...

Thanks, V.V. I picked up more info from Abigail Esman and put it in to fill out the story further.

A nice thing about this blog is the number (and professions) of people who come in search of information logged in the archives. The more there is to pass on to the researcher the better.