Category Archives: International

World Council of Churches Demonizes Israel – Again Does the German Protestant Church Know What It Is Doing? by Thomas Smith

  • Usually, in regular Lenten services, solemn memories of divine mercy on the sinners of the world take center stage for Christians. But not in this liturgy. Center stage was instead given to committing a sin of evil speech: launching a lie about an Israeli-made water shortage suffered by Palestinians. The lie is a sin in which all the member churches of the WCC are invited to participate.

  • Those leaders of Protestant churches, turned into political propagandists, used the pulpit of Jerusalem unjustly to call upon the Protestant faithful worldwide to listen to Palestinian water libels against the State of Israel.
  • This liturgy abused the biblical readings as a means of invigorating the equally false Kairos Palestine message, that Israel takes the Land of Palestine and has no right to be where it is.
  • A close look shows no scientific analysis, neither of water distribution nor of water politics for the territories of Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
  • The Palestinians certainly are experiencing a water crisis; the question is to what extent are they themselves are responsible for it, and to what extent are their own leaders responsible for keeping them as victims for effective international “marketing.”

On February 10 (Ash Wednesday in the Western Christian calendar), the Palestinian Lutheran Bishop, Munib Younan, on behalf of the World Council of Churches (WCC), launched the Lenten Campaign of the Ecumenical Water Network. Entitled “Seven Weeks for Water,” it was presented at the (German) Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Younan — a “yes-signatory/no-signatory” of the infamous document published by Kairos Palestine in 2009 — was flanked by other well-known supporters of Palestinian agitation against Israel:

  • Dr. Antje Jackelen, the Archbishop of Sweden, (another “yes-advocate/no-advocate” of the document)
  • Rev. Dr. Olaf Fykse Tveit, the General Secretary of the WCC (he heads the body that generated Kairos Palestine and continues to be its main sponsor)
  • Mrs. Hind Khoury, the current Secretary General of Kairos Palestine; also a Palestinian economist from Bethlehem and PLO delegate general to France 2006-10)
  • Mr. Dinesh Suna, the Coordinator of the Ecumenical Water Network

The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem, Israel. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

It was an impressive group of seasoned activists for Palestine who gathered for a ten-page prefabricated liturgy during an hour-long church service. The few people in the pews were to be sensitized about an alleged injustice to the Palestinian people: the supposed deprivation of rightful quantities of water by supposedly evil Israelis. In order to bring some action into this otherwise flow of distorted information, each participant got a cross of ash on his forehead — possibly one of the few remnants of the Christian custom of Lent.

In regular Lenten services, for seven weeks until Easter, solemn memories of divine mercy on the sinners of the world take center stage for Christians. But not in this liturgy. Center stage was instead given solemnly to committing a sin of evil speech: launching a lie about an Israeli-made water shortage suffered by Palestinians, a sin that all present were invited to commit daily for the next seven weeks; a sin in which all the member churches of the WCC are invited to participate.

Those leaders of the Protestant churches, turned into political propagandists without even any hindrance, used the pulpit of Jerusalem unjustly to call upon the Protestant faithful worldwide to listen to Palestinian water libels against the State of Israel. This liturgy abused the biblical readings as a means of invigorating the equally false Kairos Palestine message, that Israel takes the Land of Palestine and has no right to be where it is.

The WCC acolytes who gathered at the Redeemer Church are now set up to spread this propaganda through a confusing network of seemingly distinct organizations, all of which turn out — on closer inspection — to be WCC subsidiaries.

Two organizations were highlighted: first, the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace (PJP), launched in 2013 at the 10th WCC Assembly in South Korea. The PJP in Jerusalem was accompanied by three strategic support groups: the “Theological Study Group,” the “Reference Group,” and the “International Research Group.” Second, the Ecumenical Water Network (EWN), launched in 2008 as a network of churches and Christian organizations, to keep watch on water access. Although PJP and EWN seem to be two different entities, the WCC’s press center advertised its Seven Weeks for Water campaign as a

“pilgrimage of water justice in the Middle East, with specific reference to Palestine. The Biblico-theological reflections and resources for the seven weeks will be based on the water crisis in Middle East region and take into consideration issues of justice and peace.”

That is, the work of PJP and EWN is closely interlinked. Both groups, in fact, are committed to the Palestinian cause and can be best understood as parts of the WCC-sponsored network that implements the Kairos Palestine agenda.

A close look at the EWN website shows no scientific analysis, neither of water distribution nor of water politics for the territories of Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The EWN material also shows no reference to any of the existing water distribution analyses in Israel (e.g.: here and here). Neither is the well-documented mismanagement of water by the Palestinian Authority mentioned, nor is Israel’s just and generous over-the-quota water support for the PA areas.

The aim of the water campaign clearly appears to spring from an unjust and unsubstantiated discrimination against the State of Israel, as propagated in the Kairos Palestine statement. The intent of launching the Seven Weeks for Water campaign was unashamedly addressed by Tveit in his sermon,

“As the WCC’s Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is focused on issues of the Middle East, particularly in this year, we hope your stories and struggle for justice and peace will become the stories and struggle for the churches around the world. May this Lenten season help us to reflect on these issues more deeply. May the Seven Weeks for Water during this Lent help us to highlight the water crisis in Palestine and other places in the world in desperate need for more clean water.”

Such Palestinian narratives had been collected, a short time before the services at the Redeemer Church, under the watchful eyes of Bishop Younan, when the “International Research Group” met in Bethlehem. Dinesh Suna wrote on his Facebook page:

“The IRG meeting of the WCC’s Pilgrimage of justice and Peace started today at Bethlehem. To set the tone of the discussion we went to listen to stories of struggle to end occupation of Palestine by Israel. It was quite a touching moment for us to hear these stories…”

Did these people ever meet with Israelis, as well? Did the “International Research Group” ever research the countless academic water analyses, which are freely available on-line? There is no reference that either activity ever took place.

Instead, we are informed, the WCC’s PJP is organizing “two strategically important groups” in “the Holy Land” between February 9-17. One is PJP’s “Theological Study Group” at the Roman Catholic St. Anne’s Church in Jerusalem on February 9-11, “in order to deepen the theology for accompanying PJP.”

The other is PJP’s “Reference Group” in Bethlehem, February 12-17, presumably for parading more “eyewitnesses of the water crisis.” The Palestinians certainly are experiencing a water crisis; the question is, or should be, for their sake, to what extent are they themselves are responsible for it, and to what extent are their own leaders responsible for keeping them as victims to have them appear more wretched for effective international “marketing.”

Tveit and his WCC staff accompany both groups. The point of this money-intensive travel of those well-salaried clergy-cum-politicians is not to solve any misery. Rather, it is, as Tveit sermonized: “we hope your stories and struggle for justice and peace will become the stories and struggle for the churches around the world.”

In short, the WCC invites the Christian world to join in an assault upon the State of Israel. This is the actual underlying message of Kairos Palestine and PJP’s Seven Weeks for Water campaign.

Predictably, WCC’s PJP projects will find any number of young, enthusiastic, uninformed and naive Christian followers to deceive. And the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem is just a perfect location for launching more and more of such initiatives. How curious.

Also curious is that the German Protestant Church, owner of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem, and committed to reconciliation with Israel, seems to tolerate WCC approaches against Israel, under the local auspices of the Palestinian Bishop. Is Bishop Younan just a willing fig leaf for German Protestant Church agitation against Israel? Or does the German Protestant Church not know what is going on in its own church in Jerusalem?

Thomas Smith is a scholar based in the Middle East.

Women of Courage Betrayed by U.S. and the Media by George Phillips

  • Berta Soler and the other “Ladies in White” have been ignored by the Obama Administration — bypassed year after year. These and countless other brave women who are also human rights leaders — often falsely accused of crimes, and who are currently suffering in Iranian prisons — should be recognized as Women of Courage, but remain sidelined by the U.S. government, the media, and most notably by women’s groups.

  • Why are we not only failing to help them, but instead washing our hands of them?
  • Disingenuously, Obama keeps repeating that his deal will “prevent” Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — when the deal clearly empowers Iran to get them.

Pope Francis, on his recent trip to Cuba, failed to embrace publicly the world famous “Ladies in White” (“Damas de Blanco”) — the wives and relatives of Cuba’s jailed dissidents.

“Ladies in White” was formed by Berta Soler in 2003 after 75 human rights activists and journalists were sent to prison by the Cuban government. The men in their family had been jailed for being activists. The “Ladies in White” were peacefully calling for their release.

This year, for twenty straight Sundays between April and August, members of the “Ladies in White” were arrested as well — for leading protests against the Castro regime for having imprisoned their family members and for suppressing human rights.

These women have also been routinely harassed and beaten during their peaceful efforts to stand for freedom.

After 75 human rights activists and journalists were sent to prison by the Cuban government in 2003, Berta Soler (left) formed “Ladies in White” with the female relatives of the political prisoners. At right: Cuban dissident Digna Rodriquez Ibañez, a member of Ladies in White, was pelted with tar by agents of the Cuban regime, in February 2015.

On September 20, on their way to a special meeting with Pope Francis in Cuba, Berta Soler and her husband were arrested by police. An additional 20 members of the “Ladies in White” were also arrested to prevent them from attending the papal mass in Havana.

Berta Soler and the other “Lades in White” have been ignored by the Obama Administration – bypassed year after year as one of the ten women honored by the U.S. Department of State at its annual Women of Courage Award.

Iranian women have also largely been bypassed for this honor. As members of the Obama Administration move forward with the policy of engagement with the brutal regimes in Havana and Tehran, it is important not to forget the courageous people, including women, who oppose them.

Since the inception of the award in 2007, eleven Afghan women and four Pakistani women have been honored as Women of Courage.

Although there are plenty of deserving candidates among Iranian women for this award, only one has been selected, and that, in 2010: Shadi Sadr, a lawyer and journalist who started a website dedicated to women’s rights activists in Iran and has represented activists in court.

The Women of Courage Award, which in the past also has been given posthumously, should also be awarded to Neda Agha-Soltan, whose was brutal murder was recorded live during the “Green Movement” protests in Iran in 2009 and gained world-wide attention.

Neda, as she has become known, was hailed by protesters as an “Angel of Freedom.” After her murder, the Iranian regime banned prayers for her. Her grave has been desecrated, posters memorializing her have been torn down, and her family has been targeted.

Unfortunately, members of the Obama Administration failed to give any support whatsoever for the Green Movement in 2009 and certainly do not seem likely to do so now. The current U.S. Administration evidently prefers clinging to a quixotic “Iran deal,” supported by only 21% of the American public, and that, in any event, many believe will have catastrophic consequences. Disingenuously, President Obama keeps repeating — most recently on a CBS 60 Minutes interview with Steve Croft — that his deal will “prevent” Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, when the deal is quite clear that it empowers Iran to get one.

There are also countless brave women, also human rights leaders, often falsely accused of supposed crimes, who are currently suffering in Iranian prisons. They, too, should be recognized as Women of Courage, but remain sidelined by the U.S. government, the media, and most notably by women’s groups.

One of these women, Bahareh Hedayat, was arrested in Iran in 2009 for her work in a student organization and the “One Million Signatures Campaign for the Change of Discriminatory Laws Against Women.”

The official charges against her included “acting against national security and publishing falsehoods”, “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “insulting the President.”

Just as she was finishing her prison term and scheduled for release, she was given an additional two years for a previously suspended sentence in 2007 relating to peace activism. The extension was added by Iran’s Revolutionary Court on the ethereal-sounding grounds of “acting against national security”, “disturbing public order” and “propaganda against the state.”

Iran targeted another woman, Narges Mohammadi, after she met with the then European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in 2014. Doctors are requesting her be moved from prison to a hospital, to prevent a paralysis from which she is suffering from becoming worse.

Recent charges against Mohammadi from her arrest this May include “activities against national security and anti-government publicity” for participating in human rights campaigns and a campaign against the death penalty.

Also serving 14 years in prison is another opponent of the death penalty, Atena Daemi. The regime imprisoned her because of her Facebook posts and information on her mobile phone critical of the Supreme Leader, as well as her efforts against death penalty.

Daemi’s health is also poor. She is having increasing difficulty sleeping and seeing, and may have multiple sclerosis.

While frequent charges against these women include “insulting the Supreme Leader” and acting “against national security,” it seems as if their actual “crime” actual “crime” is freedom of speech.

The “Ladies and White” and so many other brave Cuban and Iranian women are merely asking for freedom and justice. Why are we not only failing to help them, but instead washing our hands of them?

George Phillips served as an aide to Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, working on human rights issues.

Will the West Please Stop Siding with Criminals? by Khadija Khan

  • What is agonizing is that people either enjoyed or criticized the joyful act of a teenager, but no one seems to be noticing that this public trial and her forced apologies only mean further isolation for the young Muslim women.
  • Most horrifying is that it seems that even the West has started to buy into the version of “modesty” that these extremists in the Middle East have been forcing on women.

  • Why has no one — especially politicized, self-absorbed women’s groups — come to help? Instead, as in the recent Women’s March, they have been advocating for more women’s imprisonment.
  • It is important for as many people as possible, both in Britain and world-wide, to say how much they love her beautiful spirit and that they totally stand by her right to dance, sing, play or have fun.

The growth in systematic abuse of women, especially by Islamists in the West, requires democratic governments to introduce strong measures to stop this abuse, before abusive mullahs start harassing women of all faiths, to force them to submit to their wishes.

The recent threats and harassment of a British “Hijabi girl” by Islamists in Birmingham, England, merely for a video showing her dance, have re-exposed the ugly face of this autocratic mindset that owes its existence to extremist states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Enslaving women in general and inflicting repressive agendas — such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, segregation, allowing no say in choosing a partner, education or profession, with abysmal living standards often part of the abuse — is just a small measure of the jihad that the Islamists have managed to unleash across the globe.

The video of “Hijabi girl” (her name is not known), happily dancing in public, was recorded and uploaded to the internet by bystanders.

The video led to aggressive shaming and harassment of the girl by the local Islamist “morality police”: men who ranted against her “impious” act and reportedly made her apologize publicly online.

Sobbing, she admitted how supposedly evil and shameless she was to have brought such dishonor to her family and religion.

It is important for as many people as possible, both in Great Britain and world-wide, to say how much they love her beautiful spirit and that they totally standby her right to dance, sing, play or have fun. These are very normal human activities.

Have things come to such a pass that now. even in Britain, only the most courageous can spontaneously express feelings of fun?

What is agonizing is that people either enjoyed or criticized the joyful act of a teenager, but no one seems to be noticing that this public trial and her forced apologies only mean further isolation for the young Muslim women.

To accept this coercion would be just a call on young Muslim girls to be quiet and submit, rather than ever even to think about showing their normal, lighter side. Most horrifying is that it seems that even the West has started to buy into the version of “modesty” that for centuries these extremists in the Middle East have been forcing on women.

The human rights groups seem to have become so apologetic towards the extremist abusers that they now turn their backs on the victims of these abuses — the people who need human rights groups the most. Perhaps they believe that supporting the poor girl would mean offending Muslims or the “symbol of Islam” (hijab) — which means they endorse the extremist version of Islam and the abuses that come with it.

The poor girl was shown no solidarity by any supposed champions of liberal causes. Instead, she was thrown to the hounds and left to face her torment alone.

It is also sad that the girl’s family has probably also given up, possibly due to the threats, and possibly out of fear of these extremists.

The massively destructive, wrong-headed political policies of Western governments — such as keeping silent on the abuses of women by Muslim extremists involving, for example, underage and forced marriages, female genital mutilation (FGM), sharia courts in the UK and accepting the existence of no-go zones where the extremists enjoy impunity and thrive — are also to be blamed for the increase in violations of women’s rights. Politicians and the policy-makers are apparently too scared of being accused of committing some fabricated “Islamophobia” or “infringing on the rights of Muslim citizens”, so they choose to keep their eyes shut to the plight of these women.

An image from the video “Right to choose: Spotting the signs of forced marriage – Nayana”, produced by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. In 2013, 1,302 victims of forced marriage sought help from the British government’s Forced Marriage Unit.

This is not an isolated incident in which a young Muslim girl was victimized by the extremists just for innocently being herself. In Canada, famous video blogger named Froggy, of Pakistani origin, suffered similar harassment. She was also vilified by puritanical extremists for wearing a hijab but living a Western lifestyle by hanging out with young men and uploading videos of teenage fun.

In Darmstadt, Germany, 19-year-old Lareeb Khan was killed in 2015 by her parents when she decided to take off her hijab and pursue a normal life. Her father, Asadullah Khan, claimed that he had killed his daughter to save the honour of his family. He alleged — whether it is true or not we do not know — that the girl was having sexual relations with a boy of whom her family disapproved.

Her mother admitted to being present at the time of Lareeb’s murder, but claimed she could not rescue her due to both fear and illness. Lareeb’s sister, Nida, however, stated that her mother was an accomplice to the crime, and used to thrash her.

In a pathetic attempt at exculpation, Lareeb’s parents claimed that they were victims of the extremist Pakistani state and society. However, they chose, when they were given refuge and protection by a Western state, to impose similar abuses.

Extremists use shaming and harassment as punishment and deterrence for any woman in their communities who tries to break a barrier to regain her life.

This double edged-sword not only silences the victims of the abuse but also sends a message to the other women also not to try to escape their imprisonment.

Why has no one — especially politicized, self-absorbed women’s groups — come to help? Instead, as in the recent Women’s March, they have been advocating for more women’s imprisonment.

The notion that a hijab or a conservative lifestyle is a matter of choice for Muslim women might sound sympathetic to Westerners. It is not. In reality, there is no choice. The supposed choice is, in fact, a one-way street from which trying to exit can cost a woman her life.

These extremist Muslims need to be taught by society itself that they must respect individual freedoms and equality — by law.

Many liberal women, doubtlessly well-intended, seem love to wearing hijabs supposedly “in solidarity”; what they do not understand is that for millions and millions of Muslim women, who dare not say so, it is not a symbol of freedom and “protection” — like a slave-owner “protecting” his property — but of repression and imprisonment. It is forced upon women, now even in the West, and, worse, with the wholehearted complicity of the West.

It is also a time for governments purportedly in favour of human rights no longer to sweep these mafia tactics under the carpet.

It is time for politicians, governments, policy-makers, clerics, human rights groups and “liberals” to stop siding with criminals who commit assault, battery, and even murder, and to start protecting their citizens.

Khadija Khan is a Pakistan-based journalist and commentator.

Will the Dutch Protect their ‘Decadence’ from Islamic ‘Redeemers’? by Giulio Meotti

  • “Erasmus… came to Holland because it was a haven for freedom of thought.” — Han ten Broeke, candidate for foreign minister in Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government.

  • The Islamic supremacists in the Netherlands see themselves as redeemers, rescuing the West from Fortuyn’s “decadence”: drugs, prostitution, gay life, a blasphemous press. But will the Dutch establishment be able to defend these freedoms?
  • You can be gay, decadent and willing to fight for your freedoms. If you are just gay and decadent, you are doomed.

General elections in the Netherlands are over, but now begins a much bigger campaign: who will defend the famous Dutch freedoms?

Only in the Netherlands is it conceivable that a politician such as Geert Wilders, a brave maverick who for 13 years, 24 hours a day, has lived under police protection; held rallies while wearing a bulletproof vest; moved from one secret location to another one and was guarded as if he were an Asian potentate. The country has already had two political assassinations related to Islam: the politician Pim Fortuyn, and the filmmaker, Theo van Gogh. Another Dutch MP at the time, Ayaan Hirsi Ali — whose name, with Wilders’s, was next on the hit-list pinned with a knife to van Gogh’s corpse — ended up fleeing to the United States. Only Wilders’s protection, generously provided by the Dutch government, has so far avoided a third political murder.

The Netherlands has already had two political assassinations related to Islam: the politician Pim Fortuyn (left), and Theo van Gogh (right), a filmmaker. (Image sources: Van Gogh – Wikimedia Commons; Fortuyn – Forza! Nederland video screenshot)

In the Netherlands, the philosopher Baruch Spinoza became the prophet of tolerance, Karl Marx investigated capitalism and John Locke penned his “Letter on Tolerance”. The mainstream media has claimed that Wilders’s rise and the new “populist” shift of Prime Minister Mark Rutte (who, in January, told immigrants to “act normal or leave“) has been a betrayal of that Dutch tolerance. Exactly the opposite is true.

It is from this tolerance that hard Dutch liberalism gets the will to fight against intolerance. Tolerating the intolerant does not sound like the way to have tolerance continue. This is how the Dutch multiculturalists turned their great legacy upside-down. The Dutch see themselves as “Enlightenment fundamentalists“, upholding the values of Enlightenment — even in the Islamic world.

The question now is: will the Dutch defend these freedoms or instead gradually dismantle them? Dutch Minister of Justice Piet Donner recently suggesting introducing Islamic sharia law into the Netherlands by democratic means.

The “hard liberal” Dutch tradition goes back to Pim Fortuyn, a homosexual proud of the supposed “decadence” of his country, its tolerance, and the freedoms it offers. As the late British journalist Alexander Chancellor wrote:

“The Muslim fanatics berate the West for its decadence, and many in the west guiltily agree that they have a point, but Fortuyn did not think so. He crusaded on behalf of what many would regard as decadence, and was so concerned for its survival”.

Fortuyn considered permissiveness the heart of Western culture. He was a “hard liberal”, militantly defending the post-9/11 Judeo-Christian, Western values ​​against Islamic intolerance, in the same way as Oriana Fallaci, Bat Ye’or, Michel Houellebecq and Geert Wilders have been trying to do.

After last week’s Dutch elections, it is time for the Netherlands to rediscover Pim Fortuyn’s legacy and ideas. A flamboyant, shaven-headed homosexual who taught sociology, Fortuyn wore elegant Italian suits, lived in a palatial home in Rotterdam and wrote a great book entitled, “The Islamization of Our Culture“. He promised resistance against Islam, “a cold war against Islam“, as he called it in an interview in Rotterdam’s Dagblad.

“You have said”, the newspaper Volkskrant reported in an interview, “that foreigners snatch all our blonde women, and then turn around and call them ‘whores'”. “No”, Fortuyn calmly corrected him. “I said Islamic men do that. That’s quite different, sir, than ‘foreigners'”. Then, the Volkskrant asked, in what would become the defining moment of Pim Fortuyn’s life, “why the hate toward Islam?”. “I do not hate Islam”, Fortuyn said. “I find it a backward culture. I’ve traveled a great deal in the world; and wherever Islam rules, it is appalling”.

The Islamic supremacists in the Netherlands see themselves as “redeemers,” rescuing the West from Fortuyn’s “decadence”: drugs, prostitution, gay life, a blasphemous press. Will the Dutch establishment be able to defend these freedoms?

“Decadence” can become lethal for a country when it turns into hedonism, devirilization, the decline of education, and loss of historical memory. By “decadence”, however, Islamic supremacists seem to mean all Western freedoms, not just Dutch permissiveness. But these freedoms are what we should be proud of. And these are what we must be ready to fight to protect. Fortuyn did, and he paid the ultimate price: his own life. Theo van Gogh also did with his film on the submission of women under Islam. After van Gogh was slaughtered by Mohammed Bouyeri, the film immediately disappeared from public view.

The Dutch Left also needs to rediscover its roots. A debate about integration was started in the Netherlands not by the “xenophobic” right wing parties, but by Paul Scheffer, a respected academic belonging to the Labour Party, who in 2000 wrote an essay entitled, “The Multicultural Disaster” — before Fortuyn and Wilders had ever entered the picture. Scheffer wrote of a lenient Dutch people whose multicultural policies had failed to promote the Dutch culture in immigrant communities. Unfortunately, the Dutch Left took the opposite path and that is why it was severely beaten in the election last week.

Mark Rutte’s party also has a lot to learn from this hard liberalism. It was the liberals who put into practice many of Fortuyn’s ideas: banning the burqa, which many Muslims call a way of “protecting” their women, but others call a symbol of Islam dominating women. Prime Minister Rutte’s reaction against the Turkish Republic’s interference in Dutch life would be unthinkable in other European countries: Rutte, fearing Wilders’ rise, stood for his country’s independence and refused to bow to Islamist pressure to allow Turkish President Erdogan’s ministers to address a rally in Rotterdam.

In France, in fact, the authorities allowed Turkish rallies, and thereby showed a submissive mentality to political Islam. Rutte and the Dutch would be wise continue on their road, which is what allowed Rutte to retain his government. Fiscal conservatism may be important, but Western values are, too.

After Fortuyn’s murder, Wilders set himself as the “defender of liberalism“: on gender equality, separation of church and state, and personal autonomy. Unlike many liberals in the United States and Canada, however, Wilders is not willing to surrender these freedoms to Islam. Liberals and feminists in the United States refuse to stand for women’s rights in the Muslim world. They never raise the question of the separation of mosque and state. Instead, they blamed the carnage that the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo suffered in 2015 on freedom of expression.

Did the Dutch “hard liberals” ever think about Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s brave battle for female rights under Islam, Theo van Gogh and other Dutch journalists, or the crusade Wilders has been leading to protect the country from Islamist intolerance?

Why are the LGBT militants not condemning the crimes of Islam, as Pim Fortuyn did? The editor of an LGBT magazine in Bangladesh was just hacked to death by Islamists; how come no one from the LGBT community in the West condemned or spoke out about it? Why are gay activists keeping silent about homosexuals being murdered by Islamists after, in Florida, a Muslim terrorist butchered 50 of them?

You can be gay, decadent and willing to fight for your freedom. If you are just gay and decadent, you are doomed.

Han ten Broeke, a candidate for foreign minister in Rutte’s government, recently justified the Dutch ban of Turkish ministers by noting that Erasmus came to the Netherlands “because it was a haven for freedom of thought”. This Erasmian tolerance remains very strong at the heart of the Dutch identity, but the presence, among them, of non-European, illiberal Muslims keeps testing the limits of it. The Dutch libertines and libertarians in line with Fortuyn and Wilders do not seem willing to commit suicide, unlike the liberals of Middlebury College in the US, who seem busy trying to lynch any conservative who stops by their campus.

The Dutch and the Europeans should be proud of what Islamic fundamentalists call “decadence”, but they also must be ready to fight to defend it. “Safe spaces” are not enough. The world does not provide them. Otherwise, they will all end up in one of the “safe houses” that Geert Wilders’s puritanical tormentors have obliged him to spend his life in. “I am in jail”, he has said; “They are walking around free”.

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.

Will President Trump’s Visit to Saudi Arabia Tackle Terrorism and Promote Religious Freedom? by A. Z. Mohamed

  • A number of recently published books on the history, culture and internal workings of Saudi Arabia cast doubt on the ability of the kingdom to undergo the kind of change required to tackle extremism when its chief aim is to preserve and enhance the power of the royal family.

  • The government in Riyadh neither believes in nor permits religious liberty and free speech for its own citizens or for Muslims elsewhere. Indeed, the kingdom’s human rights record is abysmal at best.
  • Although Trump is right that America should not “dictate to others how to live,” he needs to consider how he can “build a coalition of partners” whose entire way of life is indelibly linked to the cause and spread of the very extremism, violence and global terrorism that he aims to eradicate.

As part of his first official trip abroad at the end of May, U.S. President Donald Trump will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Brussels, Belgium.

According to a statement released by the White House, Trump’s meetings with King Salman and other key figures “will reaffirm the strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia and allow the leaders to discuss issues of strategic concern, including efforts to defeat terrorist groups and discredit radical ideologies.”

The goal may be commendable, but it is hardly attainable in a country like Saudi Arabia, ruled politically by an absolute monarchy and theologically by Wahhabism, both immensely radical.

Saudi Arabia is ruled politically by an absolute monarchy and theologically by Wahhabism, both immensely radical. Pictured: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (left) visits Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (center) on April 19, 2017 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Image source: Jonathan Ernst – Pool/Getty Images)

In testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, Georgetown University professor and Middle East expert Daniel Byman explained the “paradox” this presents:

“On the one hand, the Saudi government is a close partner of the United States on counterterrorism. On the other hand, Saudi support for an array of preachers and non-government organizations contributes to an overall climate of radicalization, making it far harder to counter violent extremism.”

Byman is not alone in this assessment. A number of recently published books on the history, culture and internal workings of Saudi Arabia cast doubt on the ability of the kingdom to undergo the kind of change required to tackle extremism when its chief aim is to preserve and enhance the power of the royal family.

That the announcement of Trump’s trip coincided with the signing of an executive order on “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” could not have been more ironic. The government in Riyadh neither believes in nor permits religious liberty and free speech for its own citizens or for Muslims elsewhere. Indeed, the kingdom’s human rights record is abysmal at best.

Moreover, during his speech in the Rose Garden to introduce the executive order, Trump said that another reason for his upcoming foreign trip was to “unite Islam, Judaism and Christianity in the common cause of fighting ‘intolerance'” — a claim just as jaw-dropping, given Saudi Arabia’s role in the persecution of Christians across the Middle East.

This is not to say that the U.S.-Saudi relationship is not valuable or crucial in many respects. Both countries consider ISIS and al-Qaeda to be serious threats. Neither wants Iran to obtain regional hegemony, while hoping for a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal. Both want to guarantee the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf.

In addition, Saudi Arabia remains a key U.S. investor and trading partner, and is the largest recipient of American-made arms. Even during the years of the Obama administration, when relations were strained, the U.S. provided Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons. Today, the Trump administration is pushing through tens of billions of dollars’ worth of arms sales to Riyadh; and garnering American support in its raging conflict against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen is at the top of the Saudi agenda.

In a piece in Foreign Affairs last summer, Professor F. Gregory Gause III — head of the International Affairs Department at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University — wrote that the relationship between Washington and Riyadh serves immediate American interests, but in the long term, Saudi Arabia is far from being a faithful and effective partner in battling radical ideologies. The Saudis simply do not have the same values, worldview or strategic vision as their U.S. counterparts.

In his Rose Garden address, Trump said:

“Our task is not to dictate to others how to live but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism and bringing safety, opportunity and stability to the war-ravaged Middle East.”

Although Trump is right that America should not “dictate to others how to live,” he needs to consider how he can “build a coalition of partners” whose entire way of life is indelibly linked to the cause and spread of the very extremism, violence and global terrorism that he aims to eradicate.

A.Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.

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