by Khadijah Ali (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 3, Ramadan, 1443)
From politicians to prostitutes and clergymen to conmen in the west, all have one thing in common: extreme hatred of Islam and Muslims. Hardly a day passes by without some Islamophobic incident occurring. Anti-Muslim hatred has long surpassed the stage of verbal abuse. It has now become acceptable to murder peaceful Muslims in cold blood in their places of worship as well as on the streets.
We will recall such murders shortly but first let us consider what is underway in Sweden, a country supposedly known for its tolerance and easy-going lifestyle. An extremist right-wing Danish-Swedish politician, Rasmus Paludan has been on a Qur’an-burning crusade that has resulted in violence in several Swedish cities. Paludan leads the group, Hard Line (Stram Kurs in Swedish), that expresses extreme hatred of immigrants and Islam.
His acts are not only sacrilegious but also extremely offensive to Muslims especially in the month of Ramadan. This is the month in which the noble Qur’an was revealed from on high. Muslims make extra effort in this month to recite the Qur’an and study it. Paludan’s decision to indulge in his criminal acts is, therefore, doubly offensive.
He, of course, couches his criminal acts under the rubric of “free speech”. What has free speech to do with burning the noble Qur’an, a divine Book that nearly 2 billion Muslims follow worldwide? Paludan makes no secret of his anti-Muslim hatred.
“The enemy is Islam and Muslims. The best thing would be if there were not a single Muslim left on this Earth, then we would have reached our final goal,” he said in a December 2018 video. His “final solution” for Muslims has a familiar ring.
The son of a Swedish father—we are not sure if he is even a legitimate child but such issues are moot in a “liberal” societies like Sweden or Denmark where women and men indulge in all kinds of promiscuous behavior—Paludan first came to public attention in 2017 when he started making anti-Muslim YouTube videos. He started his scandalous acts in Denmark by burning the Qur’an in public. To add insult to injury, he would sometimes wrap it in bacon.
Denmark gained notoriety for being the first to publish insulting cartoons of the noble Prophet (pbuh) as far back as 2005. They came to be called the “Danish cartoons” and were quickly taken up by such other racist publications as Charlie Hebdo in France. The flood gates of abuse of the Prophet of Islam and desecration of the noble Qur’an were opened.
Racist politicians have taken up such racism and Islamophobia to new heights. In France, for instance, politicians competing for the presidency try to out-pace each other in their verbal attacks on Muslims and Islam. France was also the first country in Europe to place ban Muslim girls from wearing the hijab in state schools as early as 2004. And in another move reflective of the moral degeneration of such societies, in France, a girl is allowed to have sex at 15 but she has does not have the right to wear the hijab before turning 18.
Paludan’s Islamophobic acts are aimed at drumming up support ahead of Danish legislative elections in September. There is a constituency that responds to such racist cant. Even they constitute a minority, governments for some strange reason seem to pander to these racists and bigots, reflecting the deep-seated hatred of Islam. The Danish-Swedish politician has also faced jailed sentences—albeit for a short duration—for racism and defamation but these have proved insufficient to deter him from his criminal acts.
His group, Hard Line did not win a single seat in the last Danish national elections in 2019. Paludan hopes that by his anti-Islamic antics he will gain some support since he plans to run again in the June 2023 vote. So far, he has failed to garner the necessary number of signatures to even secure his candidature.
While he may fail to get the requisite signatures, his Qur’an-burning campaign is aimed at normalizing Islamophobia in society. Such normalization leads to attacks on Muslims resulting in the death of innocent people. Who is unaware of the murderous assault on the Quebec City Mosque on January 29, 2017 that resulted in the murder of six worshippers and injury to 19 others? Or, the New Zealand Mosque attacks in Christchurch that led to the murder of 51 Muslim worshippers as they gathered for Friday prayers in March 2019. In June 2021, four members of the same family were mowed down by a truck in London, Ontario.
Apart from uttering platitudes, politicians have done little to address this serious threat to the survival of their Muslim citizens. It seems as if they agree with the attackers even if they utter verbal condemnations of such acts. In some instances, even verbal condemnation is lacking. Instead, politicians have joined in denigrating Muslims as is evident in France, Britain and a host of other western countries.