Book Review: How Free Speech Led to Jihad

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 14, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Book Review: How Free Speech Led to Jihad


Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders has strong views on Islam and its growing influence in the West. In Marked for Death, he has penned a powerful book about his political odyssey in the Netherlands, where his Party for Freedom is the third-largest. His book places his personal saga in the context of broader events involving the political ideology of Islam.

In 2004, on a street in Amsterdam, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was brutally murdered by a Muslim of Moroccan descent. Van Gogh had collaborated with a Somali emigrant, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to produce the film Submission, about the abuse of women in Islam.

Incredibly, Dutch political leaders reacted to the murder by suggesting that Islam's critics should be penalized for insults and blasphemy. Meanwhile, van Gogh's killer had impaled on his victim's chest an open letter threatening death to Mr. Wilders and Ms. Ali, whose politics had put them on extremists' kill lists. Two days after the murder, both were whisked into hiding by police because of imminent threats of assassination.

Ever since, Mr. Wilders and his wife have been living in safe houses, under guard around the clock. Mr. Wilders never goes anywhere without his government-assigned security contingent. While he was in Rome to receive the Oriana Fallaci Free Speech Award in 2009, a colleague counted 35 policemen guarding the door when Mr. Wilders went to the restroom. He jokes that it was the best-protected pee of his life, but the routine he endures because so many Islamists want to kill him is hardly a laughing matter.

Mr. Wilders is a student of Islam. His overview of its origins and doctrine will be familiar in part to readers of such books as Bernard Lewis' The Crisis of Islam, Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower and George Weigel's Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism. He also offers carefully supported discussions of assorted Islamic practices, such as slavery, that are not as well-documented in these other works. Slavery continues today; having been approved by Muhammad, it cannot be repudiated.

Mr. Wilders draws effectively on the history of Islam to illuminate current events. Thus, he recounts the hijra, or migration, of Muhammad and his followers to Yathrib in the year 622. Taking advantage of its welcome and tolerance, Muhammad proceeded to overthrow the city from within. What was Yathrib became Medina, and there Islam's first mosque was Muhammad's propaganda center, the headquarters of his state .. and the barracks of his jihad

For Mr. Wilders, Yathrib is the model for the offensive via immigration, or migration, that Islam has undertaken against the West almost 1,400 years later.

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