Wednesday, May 4, 2005


Bravo, Mr. Afshin Ellian

2005 november 15

Mr. Afshin Ellian, a refugee from Iran and currently a university professor of law in Leiden, has condemned Mr. Donner's attempt to reinstitute the ban on religious insults: 'What Mr. Donner is actually saying to Muslim fundamentalists is: you have a point when you are killing people. (...)
Donner should have said: keep your hands off our writers and thinkers, we will defend our freedom. Donner should make terrorists fear him, rather than writers and thinkers.'

Ellian also agreed with immigration secretary Mrs. Verdonk, who yesterday said that Muslims generally have a lower level of tolerance towards criticism. 'If you look at the list of people who've been killed in the Muslim world you can say that the level of tolerance is very low.
Muslims who can't deal with the fact that people are debating their religion, should adapt to the Dutch justice system and the Dutch level of tolerance. And not the other way around.

'An interesting bit of trivia: it turns out that a certain Jan Donner created the law against religious insults. Jan Donner is the grandfather of Piet-Hein Donner, the current minister of Justice, who wants to revitalize the law.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005


Koranic Verses are a Mental Drug for Jihadists [iv]

In a large article for the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad, Ellian points out that terror has been connected to Islam since its origins. The article is translated in full.

"November. Netherlands is in fog. It is a cold November and on a [v]bicycle path a dead body, without remorse, is being inscribed with much love for death. Deeply from within the bicycle path, words were called out: "Don't do it, don't do it, mercy, mercy.' In the eyes of the scribe, in the spirit of a sacrificial festival, it was written: Labaik, Allahuma Labaik (At your service, oh Allah). The scribe had already been prepared for the begging of mercy: "There will be no mercy for the committers of injustice, only the sword will be raised against them. No discussion, no demonstrations, no marches, no petitions, only death shall separated Truth from the Lie."

Month long preparations, trainings, through prayer, fasting and the permanent recitation of the Koran, started to bear fruit: the scribe was surrounded by angels who have been pleading Allah for weeks and said: "O, our Master, most exalted, honor the plea of this scribe, since in this holiest month have You let the Koran, the most perfect book, come down to your laughing killer Mohammed Rasulu Allah." Allah looked at the bicycle path and thought about a few verses of the Surat An-Nissa. The operation was allowed to proceed. The angels descended to the bicycle path, singing: "They would love for you to become an unbeliever, just as they are; then you would be equal. So don't take any of them as companion as long as they do not drift unto Allah's way. If they turn away, grab them and kill them wherever you can find them."

The angels formed a shield around the scribe. The scribe was in a [trance], he didn't hear anything, he didn't see, he only felt the sacrificial flesh. The knife, flesh and blood. Together they sang: Labaik, Allahuma Labaik. The scribe was Mohammed, Mohammed was a tool. The Submission to the highest will had been accomplished. Only the verses about Shahid, the martyr, from Surat Al-Bakara had to be realised: "And don't say that those who are killed on Allah's path have been killed; they are alive, but you don't realise it."

While reciting, Mohammed prepared himself for his journey to the garderns of Truth, where according to Allah, there are companions with large telling eyes that are like well-kept pearls. These companions are Allah's houris who have been made to eternal virgins. The wise Satan told Mohammed: "O unlucky namesake of the prophet, whores are nevertheless whores." Suddenly Mohammed noticed that the angels had already departed. Everything was in vain. Allah broke his promise with Mohammed yet again. It was and remains a cold and merciless November day.[vi]

How must we understand this autumn of murder and loneliness? Omar Khayam (1048-?), a medieval precursor to Nietzsche, wrote poetry centuries ago about the misery of Mohammed and especially Mohammed-lovers:

Everything that there is, does not appear to be in the world

Imagination of everything that there isn't, is there in the world.

The Islamic ecstasy is not a phenomenon that was invented after the death of Mohammed. It started with the Koran. The way in which the Koran is read is called recitation. The irrational force of the Koran lies in recitation. In the repetition, without paying attention to the meaning, the Koran becomes a supernatural book. The Koranic verses are exceptionally suited to be recited loudly and musically on Jihadist battlefields. It promoted morale, because contrary to ordinary Arabic poetry, the Koranic verses are not without engagement. The Koranic verses claim an immediate realisation. And because a successful Jihad will lead to immediate material gain and political domination, the Koranic verses take on the function of mental drugs. With the Koranic verses Mohammed gave his Jihadists an effective drug that could briefly knock out the realities of the surrounding world. What happens if reality imposes itself? Then the terrifying verses about hell and damnation have to do their work.

During the various wars, many Koran reciters were killed, and this worried a Caliph, who therefore ordered the Koran to be assembled. The Koran became a book, but it is still a book for recitation.

The authenticity of the Koran is of course an open question. Amongst other things, the Koran is a book for the Jihad. Allah's only book is born from a will to political domination in the midst of wars and marauding. Hallucination, courage, hope and cruelty characterise a book that places political domination first, not just over a specific people, but over all peoples. This Koranic hallucination is usually very successful in combination with other factors. This way thousands of young men were prepared for martyrdom during the Iran-Iraq war with religious elegies and Koranic verses. The Koran also promises much to the Jihadists and Mohammed was smart enough to make them share the profits after every successful marauding (ghazu): wealth and women of the murdered enemy.

Has Mohammed B., the Jihadist marauder, murdered merely in a condition of Koranic hallucination, in hope of fulfilling his fantasies with the eternal houri? Does his crime have any roots in the tradition of Islam? Or is it far removed from the original Islamic tradition? If we are speaking here about tradition, then we have to examine the actions of the prophet Mohammed.

The prophet Mohammed ibn Abdollah, whose name we will shorten according to the legal tradition to Mohammed A, had one, to put it at its mildest, a very critical relationship with poets and mockers. There was once a poet called K'ab ibn Al-Ahraf. This poet lived in Medina where Mohammed A. had not yet consolidated all power, which is why he was neither capable nor qualified to kill him legally. This poet was also, like all other poets in the world, very cheeky. He wrote poetry about the Meccans who were killed by Mohammed A. during the Jihad. On one day Mohammed A. asked his friends: who will release me of Ka'b? This request was accepted by several volunteers: "O prophet, we will kill him for you." They tempted him to come outside and after a short walk they killed him as an enemy of Islam. He was murdered with a knife. According to Ibn Ishaak the terrorists had driven the knife so deeply into the body of the poet that it protruded from his backside. Mohammed A. committed many terrorist attacks on the enemies of Islam. Many thinkers and artists in Persia and in other Islamic countries were killed in more or less the same way, in the past 1500, on the basis of fatwas issued by spiritual leaders. I'll restrict myself to two names in Persia: the historian Kasrawi and the poet Mokhtari.

Mohammed B. has acted in agreement with this authentic tradition. The prophet Mohammed A. can be considered an example to Mohammed B., who slaughtered Theo van Gogh as the enemy of Allah. Thankfully there is still a great majority of Muslims that does not or barely lives in this tradition and does not want to imitate all aspects of Mohammed's life. This majority is still trapped in fear of hell and damnation and because of this, not quite capable of saying 'no' to terror and tyranny.

The revival of the traditional authentic Islam is always coupled with brutal acts of violence. In Iran I have seen with my own eyes how the supporters of Hezbollah attack dissident with knives and bayonets. It is a strange situation for me. I once fled the terror of political Islam. In the Middle East dissidents are stabbed in broad daylight, shot, in short, publicly executed, but I did not expect that here. The Netherlands offered people like me security and freedom. The Netherlands is unfortunately looking like a Middle Eastern country. This tragedy persecutes us as a curse.

I never wanted to write about this. I would have preferred to forget.

History teaches us that terror and Islamic culture are deeply related to each other. The fact that Islamic kings and caliphs are frequently killed, is also not new: the prophet Mohammed had fled from Mecca to Yathrib because a terror attack had been plotted against him; Umar, the second holy Caliph was killed by a frustrated Persian; Osthman de third holy Caliph is subsequently killed by a rival political group; Ali, the fourth Caliph, yet again, is killed by a more radical political sect during prayers in a mosque. Islam therefore starts with terrorist attacks against its opponents.

In the Philosophy of History, Hegel commented about Islam that what counted for Robespierre as la liberté et la terreur, was la religion et la terreur for Mohammedans. Also Alexis de Tocqueville opined that the French Revolution contained a satanic element. To point out the murderousness of the French Revolution, he compared this revolution with Islam, with its martyrs, apostles and warriors. My whole life had been determined by terror and religion and now it is tragical that I have become a citizen of a state, that is barely prepared to protect its own dissidents from terror. The essence of the state is the preservation of freedom and security. Or does the Dutch government want to gradually adjust their rule of law to the intolerant desires of Islam?

In these sad November days, I have to speak courage to myself and my family, that the Taliban who is aiming for us, the critical minds, will never win. The horizon of freedom, humanitas and human rights calls for us not to break our pens, not to bow our necks. Melancholically, I have once written:


under the low sun

runs in the pleated valleys of your face

an old dew

for the lost world

and the past friends

in the passing of these passed

the autumn rages

and the winter sleeps. "


[i] "Mensenherfst" (2001) and "Verrijzenis van woorden" (1997), Vidya / Wolff publishers.

[ii] PhD Dissertation, written for the University of Tilburg: "An Inquiry into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa", Wolf Legal Publishers, pp. 703.

[iii] "On Dutch and Islamic Cannibalism" Over Nederlands en Islamitisch Kannibalisme will be published in December of this year in the Netherlands by Meulenhoff Publishers.

[iv] "Koranverzen zijn een geestelijke drug voor de jihadisten" NRC Handelsblad 13 November 2004

[v] The 'inscribing' refers to the way in which Theo van Gogh was murdered. After shooting him and slitting his throat, Mohammed B. impaled a letter to van Gogh's body with two knives. Ellian quotes a fragment here from the letter, which he considers to be a declaration of jihad against the Netherlands.

The full letter, in Dutch, has been published by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and can be found at .

[vi] When fleeing the scene of the murder, Mohammed B was shot in the leg by the police and taken into custody. Apparently he expected to die a martyr in this operation, because he had a suicide note in his pocket.


A call to all Intellectuals: "Please joke about Islam!"

On November 2nd, Theo van Gogh, who made the film Submission Part 1 together with member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, was murdered by a Dutch-Moroccan Islamist, referred to in the Dutch media as 'Mohammed B.', who grew up and was educated in the Netherlands and had become radicalized only in the last two years. Following the murder, Afshin Ellian called upon all intellectuals and lawmakers to discuss Islam more openly.

"The first poet whom Mohammed A. (ibn Abdollah) had declared the enemy of Islam was called K'ab ibn al-Ashraf. The prophet gave the order to murder the poet with a knife. According to Ibn Ishaak the terrorists had driven the knife so deeply into his body that it emerged from his backside.

The prophet Mohammed A. was an example to Mohammed B., who slaughtered Theo van Gogh as the enemy of Islam. Welcome to the Middle East. But aren't we in Europe? The artistic, philosophic and judicial critique of religion is an essential aspect of European culture. W.F. Hermans and other writers often used sharp and sometimes crass words about Christianity. Christ in an erotic movie, laughable aspects of the reformed faith are taken to be acceptable.

Yet here there seems to be a kind of self-censorship when it comes to Islam. Who would dare to make a film about Mohammed's erotic appetites? Would Youp van 't Hek [a Dutch comedian] ever make piercing jokes about Allah? Would Jan Mulder [writer and columnist] dare to declare Mohammed a lunatic? The Dutch Muslims have been taught that it is not allowed to express critical thoughts about their religion. For this reason Islam is being strongly discriminated against. Dutch culture treats Islam as forbidden territory for critical thought, and in this respect, the Netherlands appears like the backward cultures of the Middle East. When Muslims are treated separately, it becomes understandable that a great part of Muslims had a deadly hatred for Theo van Gogh.

Hereby I call upon all artists, writers and academics to stop discriminating against Islam. When on television and in hundreds of theatres jokes are being made about Islam, and when academics will start treating Islam more critically, then Muslims will learn tolerance. The terrorists can intimidate and eliminate a handful of critics of Islam, but they can never kill hundreds of critical minds.

Come on friends, and enter the brothels and torture chambers of Mohammed A. and Allah, you will find great inspiration there. Come on, fellow academics, put Islam on the operating table of philosophy. Otherwise it will remain a question how many murders our society can deal with."


Muslim women are also entitled to aldultery

This column on women's rights appeared a week before the debate that erupted in Turkey after the government attempted to insert state-legislation against adultery. Ellian reflects on the fallout of the film Submission Part 1[vii], made by Somali-born parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the writer-filmmaker Theo van Gogh. This short film is a dramatized account of the religious roots of abuse of Muslim women's rights. Ellian concludes that the possibility for adultery without violent reprisal is a consequence of human rights.

"Without compassion the Muslim woman, the subdued, will rebel. The rebellious Muslim woman confuses western intellectuals. They demand from an eastern person never to change their world view or their identity. Of course these western intellectuals would never want to live in the regions of these primitives, other than as aid worker, researcher, novelist or journalist. The third-world-lover wouldn't dream for a second of giving up his comfortable life for such a grim recreation.

The Muslim woman rises up in rebellion, despite the well-thinking westerner, but thanks to western culture. Submission[viii] is already on its way.

It all started with the Satanic Verses of Salman Rushdie, the book that has now been translated to Farsi, the language in which the fatwa (which included a death sentence) was written. After that a Bengali writer appeared in the footsteps of Rushdie, and suddenly almost every country had a Rushdie. Those who labeled this process as a hatred for Islam are the neocolonialists. After all it is they who impede, at least for others, the process by which they themselves had once achieved freedom and prosperity. They do not grant the eastern world the difficult and painful process that eventually led to the establishment of a state with a liberal rule of law and the emergence of a humane Christianity. They do not grant the Islamic world their Nietzsche, Voltaire, Victor Hugo (also a parliamentarian) and their de Sade. Because it is especially these stubborn personalities, with their diverging submissions, that have moved the defenders of tradition and religion to reflection and reform. And no one ever asked themselves if they would ever achieve their goal, in the way they acted, which is to influence the believer. Because Submission ultimately creates doubt and raises questions.

The Muslim-women-brigade in parliament -an apolitical, talentless extension of Dutch welfarism -came with a distraught reaction that the Submission of Hirsi Ali would not reach Muslim women. What self-delusion! Submission, has, after all, reached this Muslim-women-brigade, just as the prior submissions of Voltaire had reached the priests and their women-mercenaries. The Persian department of Radio Free Europe, Radio Farda, heard by millions of Iranians, has also spread the news about Submission and Hirsi Ali.

The Muslima-brigade envies the woman who dares to tell Allah: here I am with my entire body as an autonomous subject that decides herself how, when and with how many men she sleeps. And if Allah is any kind of a man, he would have to adjust all his ways to belong to the lucky ones allowed to sleep with a Muslim woman. Ah, that Allah, that Allah is an impotent fool who created men for this reason.(...)

Adultery, being sovereign over your own body, the possibility for seduction, and not being punished for it with violence, mark the border between the Koran-barbarism and human rights. Fatma obeys the Koran and the Koran commands her to obey her husband almost unconditionally. (...)

Now that Europeans have finally conquered Christian barbarism, we should not allow the adventurous to pull us into Islamic barbarism. [The mayor of Amsterdam] ought to tell his imams and imamas that adultery (without violent reprisal) is a consequence of human rights.

Freedom of religion should not be interpreted as a freedom to abuse others. The fact that a parliamentarian such as Hirsi Ali strongly challenges the sources of human rights by any means necessary is a blessing for a liberal democracy. For this reason the liberal leaders (...) acted very correctly by creating space for debating an unacceptable phenomemon: the abuse of human rights in a liberal society.

Liberalism should not be confused with indifference; liberals have the political and constitutional obligation to protect the foundations and borders of society. Muslim women are entitled to adultery and if this calls for violence with some Muslims they should buzz off to the deserts of Allah, with Bin Laden and the other crooks."


The Golden Crown for Backwardness

"(...) In the Netherlands people have been fighting for democratization and freedom of speech for centuries.. The Netherlands is a modern country, but it still contains several stubborn elements of the Ancien Régime. Think about the democratic deficit in the Netherlands, where periodic elections don't lead to substantial changes of power. If the 'castle-lord' loses in one election, he can be appointed to be guardian of a different castle: as mayor or commissioner for the queen. A modern feudal country has many rulers, but few politicians. These rulers are all wise men, and several women, who have to ensure that the societal corporations treat each other with Respect. This stifling condition sometimes shows totalitarian tendencies. This was the political establishment that tried in the nineties, by all necessary means (such as anti-discrimination laws), to suppress all criticism of the multicultural society (the community of corporations). To this end pressure groups were set up, so called anti-racism committees.

Islam and the Muslims had to be protected from the dangerous European. As a consequence, no one dared to criticize the far-reaching Islamification of our cities and schools. By this moral terror of the political establishment, the Islamic communities really started feeling at home here. Why? Is Europe a Muslim country? Muslims got the feeling that the Netherlands is as uncritical, patriarchal and feudal as their Islamic homeland. The Muslims were allowed to co-exist with their own culture (suppression of women, abuse of children, religious intolerance and cultural backwardness) as a separate community in Dutch society. The fortress of Muslims became the prison of backwardness. (...)"


The Nihilism of Europe

"On March 16th 1988 the city of Hallabja (the Iraqi part of 'Kurdistan') was showered with poison gas. The glorious leader Saddam Hussein gave the long awaited order: the systematic extermination of the Kurds. Thousands of unarmed Kurds perished.

The genocide in Hallabja -this night of death- is now, after sixteen years, remembered for the first time without the omnipresent watch of the murderer. In the mean time the culture of terror is keeping up with the times: New York, Kabul, Bali, Casablanca, Istanbul and now also Madrid.

The Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca was a famous victim of such a culture of terror; he was executed in 1936 by Spanish fascists. The suspected reasons for this execution were the accusations that Lorca was a republican democrat, and also a homosexual with liberal tendencies. In Impressions of Spain Lorca describes what the night of death looks like and this passage brings us back to Hallabja and the recent bombings in Madrid: "All the blood had already crystallized when the lanterns started dimming. Never will there be another night like this one on the wall. A night full of windows and frozen hands. The breasts filled with useless milk. The mother's milk and the moon kept the battle against the triumphant blood going. But the blood had already conquered the marble and spread therein its maddened roots."

Now, after the arrest of Saddam, Iraq is definitively in a politically transitional period towards democracy. Various European countries have gone through a similar democratization process in the past few decades. They succeeded. Unfortunately, at this moment there are still large parts of this planet that are in pre-democratic and rather violent states. It is a question whether democratization would succeed in the Middle East. And a broader question is how this century will eventually be known. As the century of the great transition towards a culture of democracy and human rights? Or as the century of terror, anarchy, civil wars and crude large-scale human rights violations?

In both cases Europe will not be spared. To put it more clearly: Europe is an extremely vulnerable continent, because it's too decadent and nihilistic to believe in its own democratic ideals. Or at least, it's not willing to pay the price for these ideals. The average European would like to defend Europe's acquisitions, as long as the price is not too high. Europe is always edging towards capitulation. With that the Europeans hope, secretly of course, that others will undo this capitulation. If after the Second World War there had been no physical and ideological presence of the Americans, in all likelihood the west-Europeans would have surrendered a few European countries as a gift to the 'Empire of Evil'. Even then there were European intellectuals who were apologists for the cruelty of Soviet policy. Was that caused then by an unbridled self-hatred? And how does it compare to the self-hatred of the Europeans of today?

After reading the next quote you might feel that Al-Qaeda must be very cruel: Shooting a European means to kill two birds with one dead and one free man remain. But this quote does not originate from Bin Laden, but from a French philosopher: Jean Paul-Satre. It was referred to by Hannah Arendt and thoroughly criticized in her book On Violence and is to be interpreted as follows: the first and foremost enemy of Europe is her own decadent soul (the British form an exception to this).

The Islamic world with its own specifically nihilistic roots recognizes its European nihilistic brothers all too well. That's why Al-Qaeda reasoned that an attack in Europe would result in policy changes only driven by the opportunism of its politicians.

It looks more that Al Qaeda has indeed won. The Spanish and Dutch social democracy would prefer to hand over Iraq and the Iraqi people to Al-Qaeda, Shiite fundamentalists or Saddam's people. And Hallabja? Ah, that was just a long time ago and it's not in [Holland] anyway! But Madrid is in Europe!

The Iraqi transition to democracy has to be supported by the international community by all possible means. Why should Europe support this transition? This was, after all, the war of Bush and Blair and it's their problem to solve. This argument is mistaken, because the war is over. The concern now are security, democracy and human rights.

Why do the Netherlands and the other countries of the EU have an interest in a stable Iraq? There are three simple reasons: (1) If Iraq disintegrates into civil war, the consequences will be felt, through Turkey, in every capital of Europe. (2) The complete collapse of Iraq would spread to other, important oil producing countries and endanger the world economy. (3) The collapse of Iraq would be considered a victory for Islamists; they would become harsher and more pervasive in their battle against the West.

It is therefore in the national and the European interest to stay in Iraq. It will remain a dangerous place for the time being, but don't we have military forces to act in times of danger?

It is inevitable that any transition in Iraq that came with or without Anglo-American war, would have happened with chaos and violence. The Iraqi Kurds, the Left (the communist party), liberals and other democrats in the Governing Council were able to offer enough resistance against the immense pressure from Shiite fundamentalists. The Iraqi Women's Movement succeeded, under the leadership of Iman Abdel-Djebar, to undo the so-called Article 137 (a law on the validity of Sharia and tradition in family jurisdiction), which had passed in the Governing Council with a slim majority.

All of this is possible, because there are foreign troops present.. Still we hear, about our troops in Iraq, from Wouter Bos:[vi] it's been enough already with the Dutch presence in Iraq. Bos' declaration is a cruel slap in the face of the survivors of Hallabja and Saddam's other victims."


The Spoken Column

Below is a fragment of the 'spoken column' that Ellian delivered on the Dutch news program NOVA on March 24th 2004.

"(...) Calling for violence, inciting to hatred are the limits to our freedom. The jihadists, salafists, in short, the islamists, are the enemies of a free society. And still, the AIVD[v] claims that it is the influence of critical pundits that is creating a favorable climate for jihad.

Do you remember: the affair surrounding Salman Rushdie, about whom Ayatollah Khomeini has issued a fatwa, containing a death sentence? Across the world attacks were made on the translators and publishers of Rushdie's book. To this day England has spent millions to protect Rushdie. And remember: there were Muslims who used this book as an alibi to join a terrorist organization. But the MI5, Britain's secret service, still sees it as their duty to protect Rushdie and to consider the enemies of Rushdie as the enemies of England. Freedom is not negotiable and the armed jihad is a form of organized crime. Not freedom, but the criminals have to be warned.

(...) Nonetheless, I am glad that Rushdie is not Dutch, because then, for the sake of safety and with the approval of the minister of foreign affairs, the AIVD and several columnists, he might have been turned over to the beard-men a long time ago. As a thinker you can sometimes go mad and weary of the tyrannical tendencies of the Dutch bazaar of opinions."


In favor of a drunken Allah

"In July of 1999 Teheran trembled under the soft feet of students. The university, the small fragile heart of the city, rose to resist the tyrannical rule of political Islam. The students called, no they sang: We are no longer afraid of Artillery, Tank and Machinegun fire!

The least that I could do was stay awake. I could barely sleep for 48 hours.. At a certain moment I summoned the courage to call an old friend in Teheran. When he heard my name, he repeated it amazed, that I had come out from my own world, would briefly enter the graveyard of memory -the first time since I had gone into exile.

He asked me: Do you want to hear the voice of the new generation? By phone he let me hear a few rallying cries for freedom that people were shouting. I wanted to be there, with the generation for whose arrival we had to wait so long. I asked him if he would also join the protests. After an uncontrollable laughter he said: Afshin, we, you and I (professional revolutionaries) are retired. We, you and I, have saddled these children with the bearded men; with the veil; with the sharia; with the stonings of gays and women; with the burning of flags of other nations; with anti-Americanism; with anti-Semitism; with charlatans as the prophet Mohammad, Caliph Umar and Imam Ali. (...)

Five years after the date, the suppression, arrests, tortures and murder of the students are remembered throughout the world. In the Netherlands an independent Iranian student movement (18th Tir Movement: the 9-July Movement) organized a demonstration in the Hague on the square near Parliament. They had invited several Dutch speakers: members of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali[iv], (...) and the author Leon de Winter.

(...) De Winter spoke about a discussion amongst Dutch intellectuals with regard to China, where these intellectuals where wondering whether the Chinese really want democracy. Rightly he said that it was an obscene question. De Winter added: ask this question to the people in the Evin-prison, a place where for decades, the most courageous writers, poets and politicians of Iran are kept locked up. Ask Akbar Gandji, who has spent five years in Evin, whether he wants democracy and freedom. Ask Ensaf Ali Hedayat, who is also in Evin, if it was worth it to fight for democracy and freedom.

Hirsi Ali livened up the students with her presence and her words: "Especially now that the Netherlands is chairing the EU, it is important to put pressure on Iran to honor human rights. Therefore we demand the release of students, journalists, woman's rights activists and other political prisoners in Iran. I support the 18th-Tir Movement because I share your basic principles."(...) And to the disappointment of the Dutch postmodern nihilists (...), I have to report that many Muslims also support the principles of the Enlightenment.

But there are also angry Muslims, such as those Hague rappers. These insolent threateners of Hirsi Ali, the prototype product of European nihilism, should be sentenced to a prolonged stay in Iran or Saudi-Arabia. Life is not so cozy there, nor are there any lovers of foreigners or Moroccans.

I am certain that they, after a stay in the unsociable resort of Dar al Islam (the house of Islam), they would sigh in longing for the Dar al Harb (the house of peace, where Islam does not rule), namely Europe. At such a moment they too would look like those decent students of 1999 who protested for democracy.

9th of July or 18th of Tir was the day on which the gang of the Hezbollahs, with help from the Revolutionary Guard, finally stormed the university campus. They did what they were trained to do, namely killing and abusing innocent civilians. Hezbollah, the party of Allah, is the army of death.


Cube of lies

"In the beginning Arabia counted a few thousand friendly gods, until the prophet Mohammed came and destroyed those gods. And the cube that was built in Mecca as the house of the gods by people rich with imagination, the Kaaba, suddenly became the house of one God, namely Allah.

This rebellious God has literally killed all the other gods and taken possession of the cube. Allah consolidated Himself over all existing traditions that surrounded the cube. This, for the other gods, uncompassionate God declared the stories of all those poor gods and their peoples untrue and unhistorical. The monotheistic jihad against the other gods laid the foundations for political and ethical intolerance. According to the colonizer of the cube, all prior history was void. This way, Allah gave the signal for the beginning of a new history and he became the first modern professional revolutionary. Thus he laid the basis for possible terror and imperialism. The result is a population brought up in deceit and violence which moves around the geometric appearance of lies: the cube.

Every Muslim, every country has wanted to have his own cube since that day: the Al-Aksa Mosque in the city of the Jews; the tombs of the descendants to Mohammed in the heart of Babylonian civilization (contemporary Iraq); as well as in the heart of the Zoroastrian civilization (contemporary Iran). So far, the most recent cube is the tomb of ayatollah Khomeiny: the founder, and in some sense, the deceiver, of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This proves once again: all idols are forbidden in Islam, except their own.

Twenty-five years ago Khomeiny returned to Iran from France and made himself with his bearded men the master of the revolution of the people.. The French philosopher Michel Foucault, a European self-hater par excellence, sympathized with Khomeiny's revolution. Foucault's qualifications are incomparable: he spoke of a "regime of truth", and about "a unique moment of origin." When the first executions started, Foucault's sympathies for the regime of truth started to dissipate.

How has the regime of truth fared since? To illustrate, a few sentences from the speech of ayatollah Ghazali, former member of the Council of Guardians. This council applies and questions the laws of the sharia, and had recently excluded approximately 3,000 reformist minded candidates from participating in the parliamentary elections. Ghazali defended removing the reformists from politics and launched a blistering attack on the Americans, Europeans (especially the French) and on Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian woman who received the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

To strengthen his case, he added the following story: "A few years ago, during a celebration in Turkey, the partygoers threw the holy Koran under the feet of the dancers present there. They weren't afraid of anybody. There was a colonel who left the party after realizing his sin. After he left, a lightning bolt came from heaven and struck the party-goers and the place, an island where the party was held. All party-goers disappeared together with the island. Even their bodies were never found again. This is a divine punishment."

Where was this island? This populist spoofing reveals the brutality of a regime of lies that, with help of made up stories and threats, constantly tries to create a new zero-point from which to rewrite history. This kind of people have been deciding for twenty-five years for whom citizens are allowed to cast their votes. The sons of Allah guard with violence over the history that they themselves have set in motion.

This 'history', the Iranian revolutionary zero-point, is starting to become odious. Everyone in Iran is wrestling with the consequences of terror and the rule of lies. The reformist parliamentarians have risen too late against this tyranny. They should have listened to the real opposition (in exile), who warned them that the constitutional power of the Islamic regime forms an obstacle to a culture of democracy and human rights.

Iran, like other totalitarian countries, has a double power structure that flows directly from the constitution. We have to think of the former Soviet Union, where the party structure and the government structure were side by side and sometimes mixed together.

The power in Iran has more or less the same anatomy: the civil, lawgiving and security bodies that obey the spiritual leaders and those civil, legal and security bodies that are connected to the president. The spiritual leader, in conformation with the constitution, is the highest body of power. He is the sovereign, the center, the cube, the pivot around whom truth is supposed to revolve.

The parliamentarians had only one basis of power: the citizens, the voters. But they have failed to organize this basis of power in the past four years. Was this an intellectual mistake? No. They didn't dare to speak to the citizens in the streets, as Yeltsin had done, because they feared the consequences.

The parliamentarians measure by two standards. During the last presidential elections the Council of Guardians removed 800 candidates. The representatives did not protest against this. Moreover, we remember how president Khatami abandoned the students in the summer of 1999. At the moment when students in Tehran were being brutally repressed, a scared president appeared as a brother beside a determined spiritual leader (Khomeiny) in the eight o clock news on Iranian television. It was disgusting to watch, as he did not even try to protect his own voters.

Deceit seems to be almost genetically determined here. From whom did we learn this? From the prophet? Who knows! The reformists were not yet prepared to relinquish the cube of lies, the republic of terror. Will they ever regain the confidence of their citizens?"


Dreamers of all Nations

"Old Europe with its old thinkers is searching desperately for the enemy, not in the dark parts of the world, but here in the free world. The enemy has to look like us. He is living inside us. There has to be something that binds us to our enemy and something that separates us.

The Old European voice says, or tries to say: "Oh, people, something has gone terribly wrong with our political civilization." And consequently the resurrected Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels inform us: the American government has turned its back on its own tradition, which has its roots in the Enlightenment, is throwing the geopolitical order upside down and is creating hotspots of global hatred and violence. The authors of this message (...) emphasize that the war against terrorism -something that does not exist, and without the possibility of an enemy who surrenders, cannot exist- has ended the gradual consolidation of a relatively stable peaceful community of nations. (...)

What is this fantasy and who is living in this fantasy? Do the terrorists and the tyrannical regimes belong to the domain of the fantasy? Before 9/11, both Europeans and Americans lived in this fantasy world, in a relatively stable and peaceful theme park (...).

The majority of humankind on earth, on the other hand, is living under the regime of darkness: abuses of human rights, poverty and disease. This majority did not and does not feel itself at home in this nihilistic geopolitical order of the relatively stable and peaceful community of nations. The civil war in Algeria, the Taliban/Al-Qaeda tyranny of Afghanistan, the totalitarian regime of Iran and Saddam's genocidal order are parts of this dark world that exceed the imagination of those innocent Europeans. (...)

The enemy does exist and it is political Islam. The problem is that precisely this enemy is living in an undisturbed fantasy world. In Civilization and its Enemies, the Next Stage of History, Lee Harris uses the term fantasy ideology as pivotal to his account of terrorism. The fantasy ideology is the domicile of the revolutionaries, within which, according to Harris, the fantasy-dreamer has already projected upon us the role we play in his fantasy.

The question is now which meaning should be attributed to the word war. (...) World wide terrorism, with sometimes quasi-national powers, makes the application of the classical concept of war even harder. Contemporary Islamist terrorism shows elements of both war and organized crime and concerns both the statutes of warfare and criminal law.

We should not evade this complexity by declaring the Americans as our enemies, and it should impel our respectable thinkers (...) to a closer examination. Regime change, not necessarily by means of military intervention, is the way in which the enemy can be made to surrender. Yes, the 21st century has to become the century of regime change, the era of a global transition to a culture of human rights and democracy.

For the first time we are really standing on the threshold of possible catastrophe and chaos, by the combination of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, as noted by Mohamed El Baradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But the Old European, the dreamer, has a different analysis of the enemy. The Republican Right is the enemy.

It is cheaper, safer and without risk to have your civilized brother on the other side of the ocean as your enemy than the bearded men with possible nuclear teeth in Iran or Madrid. Apart from the fact that America does not understand the European left-right dynamic, I do remember that in Iran we once considered Western indifference and cooperation with that 'relatively stable and peaceful community of nations' extremely reactionary. In this and not elsewhere lied and lies the source of anti-Western sentiment. (...)

Of course we have to be critical of the Americans in this situation, but also of ourselves. We should not blind ourselves with primitive feelings of hatred against an American president who is not ours. (...) Unfortunately we cannot choose our problems, they remain as they are. But it looks now as if anti-Americanism is uniting the dreamers of all nations.."


Shrouded in Thick Fog

In a recent column about the impending trial of Saddam Hussein, Ellian argues that it is not possible to try tyrants objectively. But despite the dilemmas involved, such trials are very necessary for historic memory. This column translated is in its entirety, followed by fragments of other columns.

"Saddam Hussein is standing trial. His first confrontation with an Iraqi judge was memorable. The man who once could have had thousands of citizens murdered with a wave of his hand, was suddenly a suspect of genocide, murder, rape, kidnapping and flogging opposite a young Iraqi who asked him his first name and last name. Being questioned is a nightmare for tyrants. The tyrant is an enigma, the omnipresent question. All subjects are only questioned by the tyrant and his people, because the tyrant can only exist as a question. "I am Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq", answered the tyrant to the question: "Who are you?" The tyrant cannot have a name that stands alone, because the tyrant represents a function. Saddam is not Saddam, he is and remains the president of Iraq.

The trial against Saddam shall once again confront the world with questions about the legitimacy of these kinds of processes. At the same time this constitutes the battle between memory and forgetting. These questions and problems we should relate back to the Nuremberg Trials, where Nazi leaders were put to justice.. Richard Overy begins his impressive book Interrogations: The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands by noting that if Churchill had gotten his way, there wouldn't have been any important war criminals in 1945 left to prosecute and Nuremberg wouldn't have had a military tribunal. Churchill wanted to declare them free and have them shot without intervention by judicial authorities. From this perspective, Hitler deserved a court-martialed execution. President Roosevelt was also initially inclined toward prompt executions. In October 1944 Stalin told Churchill that there should be no executions without trials. Even Pravda had called in March of 1945 for a swift and correct prosecution of Hitler's gang.

Molotov, the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, wanted trial by a special international tribunal. That the Soviet Union, the regime of Stalin, demanded a proper and decent treatment of Nazis was miraculous in itself: the totalitarian Soviet Union wanted to put the other totalitarian regime on trial.

The Soviet attitude should be understood in the context of the prosecution of the Soviet regime against dissidents and former comrades. The Moscow show-trials were brief, and without exception the accused confirmed their guilt and the correctness of the accusations. They even begged forgiveness from the great leader of the proletariat, comrade Stalin, because of their betrayal against international socialism and the revolution. Not only the dissidents, but also their relatives were frequently executed. They were all, according to the official reading of Stalin and Stalinists, enemies of the people. Probably Stalin also imagined that the Nazis, just like the enemies of the people, could be tried quickly and efficiently and be eliminated.

It is interesting to note that on behalf of the Soviet Union, Major-General Iona T. Nikichenko negotiated the way in which the Nazis should be put on trial. Who was this general? He was a key figure, according to Overy, during the show-trials of the 30s in the Soviet Union. All of this is rather ironic.

Eventually Roosevelt agreed to try the Nazis in a special tribunal. The Americans and the British knew that it could be a worrisome process. Because imprecisely formulated accusations, the possibility of the lack of concrete evidence and other juridical problems could lead to acquittals. How could Hitler and Goering be acquitted? Did a judge exist who assumed them innocent until proven guilty?

In the end the Allies agreed about the founding of an international military tribunal for the prosecution of Nazi criminals. The tribunal would primarily be based on American principles of law complemented with quite a few British elements. Soviet procedures were not deemed appropriate. But a few Soviet criminals were allowed to try Nazi criminals. Here we see the dark shadow of the Nuremberg tribunal.

And the truth? Did it reveal the truth? The Nazi leadership professed innocence. To illustrate, I quote from Overy's book, a conversation between Goering and Hess, that was recorded during the hearings.

Goering: "Don't you know me?"

Hess: "Who are you?"

Goering: "You must know me, we've worked together for years."

Hess: "I've lost my memory for some time. It's terrible, but the doctors tell me that it will return by itself."

Goering: "Don't you remember that the Fuhrer at a gathering of the Reichstag declared that if anything would ever happen to him, I would be his successor, and if anything would happen to me, you would be my successor? You don't' remember that?"

Hess: "No (...) It's all shrouded in a thick fog"

Has Milosevic revealed the truth about Serbian acts against the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica? No. The president of the civil war and genocide is suffering from high blood pressure and has complaints about his heart: he is playing a powerful game with the law. It is highly duplicitous and illogical that one should consider that tyrant-presidents, who are legitimate military targets, should be tried objectively. Despite these dilemmas, the trial is and remains a legitimate and sometimes even necessary option. Nonetheless, these types of trials are highly problematic cases. Saddam's trials will be an even riskier process than the trials in the Hague.

And the truth? Saddam had once heard "in the media" about Halabja, the village where Kurds were murdered with chemical weapons. The individual and collective loss of memory will also strike Iraq. And then one day a general will say to another general: "It's all shrouded in a thick fog."


Resistance is a matter of conscience

In his most recent column, Ellian draws a distinction between resistance and terror.

"What is resistance? Where do you draw the line between active resistance and terrorism? Applying violence in certain circumstances to attain a political end is a dramatic act. This decision to resort to violence is subject at all times to rigorous judicial and ethical considerations, because the committer of violence is suddenly judge, prosecutor and executioner in his own case. In this the committer of violence will always try to appeal to the common good.

The moment when the decision to commit violence is taken, a true rebel should delay it as long as possible, because the political and human consequences are absolutely unpredictable. Moreover, the usually cited historical examples provide insufficient understanding for predicting possible consequences of armed resistance. It is precisely history that gives us a frightening picture of applying violence in resistance.

Why is it so risky? Firstly the progress of history is unpredictable. Armed resistance of particular groups usually works counterproductively and promotes anarchy and more terror.

Secondly, the odds are very high that violent resistance will result in a terror-state, as happened with Cuba. The committers of armed resistance are actors and not thinkers. And because these actors become progressively angrier, more frustrated and less patient while bearing more hatred, when they rise to power they will consider all who think otherwise as their enemies upon whom they will apply the trusted mechanism of terror. Whoever wants to initiate armed resistance, must first appeal to his conscience and be prepared to face all possible risks. Resistance is a matter of conscience. True resistance never wants to appear tyrannical.

Can we think of criteria for what constitutes armed resistance? When is the international community, or the media, entitled to raise sympathy for armed resistance? There are a variety of possible situations:

1. Tyranny. There is a ruthless tyranny against which all peaceful means have been tried in vain, and an absolute majority of the population has made it clear to the tyranny that they do not want to live under that regime any longer. In principle a brief armed uprising on the side of the civilians could make an end to the tyranny. The armed resistance of the Iranian revolution, for example, did not take longer than three days and cost only a limited number of lives. It should be added that the Iranian army had been weary at that point from shooting at unarmed civilians daily for more than six months. The fact that a terror-regime arose after that has to do with the murderous and mendacious nature of political Islam and its uniformed killers: ayatollahs, imams and sheiks.

2. Occupation. Here one would imagine that this could be the most obvious reason for armed resistance. At this point Europeans have one frame of reference and that is the Second World War. This was, however, a unique situation and it is not only misleading but also wrong to apply it thoughtlessly to all other situations. This misconception can lead to bizarre cases: the international community is now paying the price of Western financial, military and moral support of the Afghan Mujahedeen that gave rise to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Therefore, Soviet occupation was not a justifiable ground to support islamo-fascist groups in Afghanistan. The West should have organized peaceful (Afghan) resistance more thoughtfully and patiently, and brace itself for the day on which eventually the democratic resistance groups would rise up. Western diplomats, politicians and journalists on both sides of the ocean must never forget this bitter lesson; they bear a moral responsibility for their mistakes. They do not have the right to endanger innocent civilians and rule of law on the basis of a romantic love for the oppressed.

This bitter lesson is immediately applicable to our attitude towards the Palestinian and Chechen cases. The Islamic mass-terrorists (amongst others, Hamas, Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Hezbollah) all belong to the same jihadist spectrum. They are the enemy of both the Western, and eventually, the Eastern peoples: our democratic regime is in a state of war with them. Those who support these enemies, whether financially, militarily, or logistically, are supporting an armed jihad by criminals, and should be charged by the public prosecutor for being associates of criminals.

The murdered children of Beslan bring this painful truth to mind: the enemy is ruthless. For this reason we should make it clear to these enemies that they cannot find support here.

Were there other alternatives for the Palestinians or the Chechens? The Palestinian negotiators should have negotiated seriously, and not secretly hope that they could win a war of exhaustion through Hamas. The Chechens should not have blown up apartments in Moscow during peace negotiations (200 were killed in 1999), which brought the Red Army back into Chechnya. Thanks to the peace agreement, the Chechens were in a position, through European organizations (where Russia is also involved) to demand the implementation of human rights. After that they could have pursued a mechanism regarding the trial, or establishment of the truth, about the criminals of the first Chechen war. These paths, and not armed resistance, have to be supported by the international community.

Every people has to show first that it is concerned with establishing a rule of law. If that is not the case, then it is very much in question whether their aims should be supported by the international community.

What would a Turkish Kurdistan have been like under the great Leader Öcalan? How would Palestine have been ruled by the prophetic shadow of Sheik Yassin? The Afghan tragedy teaches us that we must never support the inhuman pursuit of tyranny and terror. But we do have a duty to support human rights, security and peace, if necessary, with armed force."


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