In Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror movie “The Shining”, Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, in an attempt to murder his wife and 6-year old son, chops his way through a closed door with an axe, shouting “Heeere’s Johnny!” It has become an iconic image.
Last Friday, the Shining was reenacted in real life, when a 28-year old Somali man, armed with an axe, smashed his way through the glass door into the bungalow of the 74-year old cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, in a middle-class suburb of the Danish town of Aarhus. The door, made of reinforced bullet-proof glass, eventually gave way, but Mr. Westergaard, who uses a walking-stick, had time to get to the bedroom of his 5-year old granddaughter, wake her up and lock themselves up in his bathroom.
The Westergaard bathroom has been converted into a panic room. It has a steel door and is equipped with an emergency button directly linking it to the police. It took the officers three minutes to arrive. Meanwhile, the Somali was smashing at the steel door with his axe, shouting “Blood” and “Revenge” as he tried to work his way in: “Heeere’s Muhammed!”
When the police arrived, the Somali attacked an officer with his axe before he was shot in the knee and shoulder by other officers. Mr. Westergaard and his granddaughter escaped unharmed, though the horror they have been through is beyond description. The incident is reminiscent of another real-life horror scene, which unfolded six years ago in broad daylight in an Amsterdam street, when a young Moroccan, named Mohammed Bouyeri, ritually slaughtered the Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh. He slit van Gogh’s throat because the latter had made a documentary movie about the place of women in traditional Muslim societies.
Kurt Westergaard was lucky that Friday’s attack occurred relatively early in the night, around 10 pm, when he was still sitting in his living room and immediately saw what was happening. He was lucky to have reinforced bullet-proof glass, which gave him time to drag his grandchild from her bed and flee with her into the bathroom. He was lucky to have a panic room. If the attack had happened in the middle of the night, when Westergaard was asleep, he might not have had the same alertness and might not have reacted as quickly. He, his granddaughter, or both, might have been hacked to pieces.
Five years ago, when the death threats against the cartoonist started, the Danish authorities converted the Westergaard bungalow into a fortress. They replaced all the windows with bullet-proof glass, transformed the family bathroom into a panic room, and installed surveillance cameras around the house. These measures saved Mr. Westergaard, but only barely so. The Westergaard family will need even better protection in future.
Five years ago, Muslim clerics placed a price of 1 million dollars on Kurt Westergaard’s head because he had drawn a cartoon depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammed with a bomb tucked inside his turban. This cartoon, Mr. Westergaard said, “was an attempt to expose those fanatics who have justified a great number of bombings, murders and other atrocities with references to the sayings of their prophet. If many Muslims thought that their religion did not condone such acts, they might have stood up and declared that the men of violence had misrepresented the true meaning of Islam. Very few of them did so.”
Very few of them do so today. The newspaper editorial which the “moderate” Gulf News, based in Dubai, wrote on 2 January about the Westergaard assassination attempt reads as follows:
“There is no doubt that the cartoon was deeply offensive to all Muslims. For his work, Westergaard is regarded with the greatest possible contempt by all who believe in the true faith of Islam. Targeting him, however, is descending to the level of a contemptuous and despicable man.
“This revenge attack merely again serves to highlight the insult wrought by Danish newspapers, stoking the embers of insult with the oxygen of hatred.
“Westergaard and his ilk are better forgotten.”
Though Gulf News condemns the assassination attempt, it calls it a “revenge attack” and morally equates it with Mr. Westergaard drawing a “deeply offensive” cartoon. Gulf News criticizes the would-be assassin, not for attempting to kill the cartoonist, but for having “descended to the level” of this “contemptuous and despicable man.” Have we missed something? Did Mr. Westergaard also try to kill a man with an axe? No, he merely made a drawing with a pencil.
There is a world of difference between voicing a political opinion – however offensive, contemptuous or despicable it may seem to some – and hacking someone to pieces. An assassination attempt can never be equated with an insult. Drawing a picture, making a documentary, writing a book, or wording an opinion, can never be equated with setting out with an axe to kill someone. This is obvious. Yet, it seems that even the “moderate” Muslims of Gulf News in the United Arab Emirates fail to understand it.
It is simply impossible to harbor any illusions about “the true faith of Islam” as long as Muslims fail to recognize this distinction. “An eye for an eye,” says the Bible, thereby restricting the extent of retribution to an equitable punishment. A cartoon for a cartoon, that would be fair. The Koran, however, does not restrict the extent of retribution. On the contrary, Islam demands a head for a cartoon (Westergaard), a head for a book (Rushdie), a head for a movie (van Gogh), a head for a political statement (Wilders). Anyone who “offends” Islam, the Koran, Allah or his Prophet, deserves capital punishment.
Two years ago, Westergaard’s wife was fired from the kindergarten where she used to work. She was sacked because several parents expressed concern for the safety of their children. It is not hard to understand the worries of the parents of the children Mrs. Westergaard cared for. These parents were afraid that one morning some axe-wielding barbarians would show up at the door, screaming “Heeere’s Muhammed!” Their concern is reasonable, because everyone knows what they are capable of. Nevertheless, instead of kicking out Mrs. Westergaard, as the kindergarten did at the request of the worried parents, the parents should ask themselves whether the time has come to kick out the barbarians within the gates.
It is time for the West to open its eyes to “the true faith of Islam.” As long as the West fails to do so, it will not be able to withstand those who are hacking their way to the heart of our civilization. The would-be assassin of Kurt Westergaard was a 28-year old Somali who had been living in Denmark since he was 16. The man had a Danish residence permit, despite being a member of a terrorist organization. The Danish authorities knew him to be a member of al-Shabaab, the Somali branch of al-Qaeda. Five months ago, this same fanatic had been arrested and imprisoned for seven weeks in Kenya on suspicion of involvement in a plot to murder U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton by blowing up the hotel where she was staying.
What would Gulf News have written if that attack had succeeded? That “Clinton and her ilk are better forgotten?” Far worse than how Muslims would have condoned the latest act of Muslim terrorism, however, is the fact that Denmark allowed this man to return to Denmark. Surely, if Kenya was able to kick the man out as an unwanted alien, Denmark could have done the same?
The Danish authorities allowed him to return. They say that they did not have the means to follow him around all the time, given that, although he was known to be dangerous, he had not committed any actual crimes yet. But they should not have allowed him in. Dangerous Somalis have a place of their own. It is called dangerous Somalia. Denmark is the home of people like Kurt Westergaard, his wife, his granddaughter, and other Danes.
On Saturday, the Danish Minister of Integration, Birth Rønn Hornbech, announced that Denmark had learned its lesson and that it would make it harder for foreigners to get a residence permit if they refuse to integrate. Why do Western authorities not refuse entry to every Muslim who does not sign a binding obligation to live under our laws rather than those of Islam? If Muslims, including “moderate” ones, do not want to do so, there are 56 states worldwide belonging to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, where they can either stay or return to.
It is not unreasonable, intolerant or “Islamophobic” of ordinary citizens not to want to harbor axe-wielding, throat-slicing fanatics in their own neighborhoods. Heeere’s the law, Muhammed! You cannot live here and impose your barbarian way of life on us.