Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Jihad Is Worldwide
And Coordinated, Part VI

A liberal gets it right. Here, in this article from the Nation, Abigail Esman discusses how Dyab Abou Jahjah, leader of the Arab European League, foments hatred of Western Civilization while living on European soil:

"This is the beginning of the war!" a French Muslim boy called out in the middle of the recent riots in Le Blanc Mesnil, just north of Paris.

But is it? Or was the war really going on already?

Few Americans have heard of him, but in Europe, more and more are becoming familiar with the name--and the ideas--of Dyab Abou Jahjah, founder of the now-international Arab European League (AEL) and the Muslim Democratic Party. Handsome, charismatic, well-educated and multilingual, he has the perfect makings of a political leader, or perhaps better said, a man poised to lead a revolution. And he knows it.

More to the point: As the fury of Muslim youth explodes across the landscape of Western Europe, it's time that others know it, too.

The AEL, founded in Belgium in 2000--in other words, before September 2001--now has branches in the Netherlands and France, and intends to spread across the EU, with plans to participate in future European Parliamentary elections as the Muslim Democratic Party. With battle cries like "Whatever Means Necessary" and frequent condemnations of America, Jahjah--who called the 9/11 attacks "sweet revenge"-- recruits Muslim youth to spread his ideology, a vague series of ideas that occasionally appear moderate but, when added together, call for violent resistance, the destruction of Israel and the introduction of Sharia (Islamic) law in Europe.

Most recently, Jahjah issued a public statement supporting Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration calling for Israel to be wiped off the map. "The foundation of Najad's reasoning is intellectually defendable," he writes in English (the statement in its entirety can be found here), "and despite the fact that his regime is no perfect example of political morality, I argue that his position on this matter is the only possible moral one." (Ironically, the man slain filmmaker Theo van Gogh once called "a pimp for Allah" continues his rant with mention of a "mythical racial-religious holy promise by some god in some religious book"--by which, of course, he means the Old Testament. Despite such statements, Jahjah repeatedly insists he has "nothing against the Jews.")

I've thought a lot about Jahjah in the past few days: Jahjah who never condemned the killing of van Gogh by a Dutch Muslim fundamentalist; Jahjah who finds the destruction of Israel "the only possible moral" option; Jahjah who has on several occasions incited riots on the streets of Antwerp and now defends the ongoing rioting of Muslim youth outside of Paris. I've thought of Jahjah as Muslim youths riot, too, in Arhus, Denmark, presumably in protest against the publication in a national newspaper of a cartoon drawing of Mohammed.

I've thought of Jahjah in all of this because his influence on European Muslim youth--men and women ages 18 to 30, mostly--has been significant enough that the Dutch intelligence service traces the rise of Muslim anti-Semitism and extremism in the Netherlands in no small measure straight back to the AEL.

And I think of this fact every day lately as I walk the streets of my mostly Muslim neighborhood: Suddenly, now, as an American Jew, if I normally wore a star of David or a chai around my neck, after Jahjah's declaration I would be too frightened to be seen with it on the street.

And the thing is, I have friends in my neighborhood--good people, kind people, women with headscarves and without them, men in Western dress or djellabas. They, too, are the victims of the Mohammad Attas, the Ahadi Nahjads, the Abou Jahjahs of the world. In some ways, they suffer most of all.

So Dyab Abou Jahjah scares me, and not just because when I wrote an article about him a year or so ago, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself under protective guard, called me after it was published to be sure I was OK.

Jahjah scares me because as one man he can--and does-- destroy the individuality of so many. While we remind ourselves repeatedly that the Mohamed Bouyeris and Mohammed Attas of the world are only individuals--and that's true--the danger is that the number of those individuals is increasing like brushfire, in large part through the encouragement and cheering of Abou Jahjah and others like him--those who pretend to be "moderate" enough to gain legitimacy, and then ignite the anger of others, many of whom were moderate when they first came to the AEL but don't stay that way for long.

And so we start to see them as a mass: We look at the rioters in Paris and become afraid of Muslims. Not just these Muslims but all the Muslims in the Paris environs, and by extension, all the Muslims in French-speaking Belgium and all the Muslims in the north and all the Muslims in the Netherlands and so on. And we go back again to "us" and "them"--"the Muslims," as if they were all one entity, and the rest of us.

This is what is going on outside of Paris and in Arhus, in Brussels and Berlin, even as I write. This is what goes on when the AEL holds meetings--closed to non-Muslims--in Rotterdam or Brussels, stirring whatever vulnerability, whatever latent anger (and what adolescent boy hasn't some of that? Then multiply it by poverty and alienation and see what happens) he can touch in the hearts of his audiences. Individual by individual, they become a group: They find the identity, the unity, the belonging that they crave, within that group. They become an "us," and the rest of us, of course, are "them."

This, too, is how it worked in Clichy: There was nothing spontaneous about these eruptions, officials announced after a week of ongoing chaos, a week of arson and shattered windows and a woman set on fire.

In Arhus, demonstrators said they'd been planning their uprising for weeks--possibly, that is, even before the paper published the cartoons. (That a group of suspected Danish-Muslim terrorists were arrested in Denmark at around that time may or may not be relevant.) And though Jahjah does not appear to be a part of the French or Danish fury as he was three years ago in Antwerp, he supports it.

While America has been looking elsewhere, the "war on terror" has rapidly been shifting its direction. No longer are the dangers restricted to the caves of Bora Bora; they have filled the streets of European capitals. Only if we start paying closer attention to what happens there--on those very streets of those same European cities--can the war, and peace, be won.