As German leaders traditionally do on visits to Israel, Chancellor Angela Merkel recently visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the Holocaust. There she termed the Holocaust "a source of deep shame" for Germany, and spoke of Israel’s existence as a pillar of German politics. Germany, once again, apologizes for the Holocaust and is willing to do what it takes to redeem itself – even if it was financing a second Holocaust against the Palestinian people; a typical manifestation of the European guilt-ridden political conscience. And typically, we, Arabs and Muslims are to pay the price.
It seems like a new crusade has started against Arabs and Muslims in the wake of September 11, 2001, led by neo-European Nazism. The victims are no longer the Jews, but Muslims spread over Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, and anywhere around the globe.
The wars, bombings and secret prisons where suspect Muslims are tortured and killed are but few aspects of the "crusade" U.S. President George W. Bush launched. Was it not for so much contradictory evidences, we could have passed it for another of his many misfortunate slips of the tongue.
Along a number of unjustified wars, sanctions and pressure policies against Arab and Muslim countries, intensive media campaigns rally to deform the face of Muslims and Islam. Even as citizens of Western democracies, Muslims find themselves subject to legal and political acts of hatred and harassment.
Some of the European official policies against Muslims in Europe, such as deportation and deprivation of citizenship, have made some Jewish leaders warn that they are "the same taken against Jews in 1930s."
The French Historian Gerard Nueril reminds us that both Hitler and Mussolini deprived Jews of citizenship, and he warns that "the procedures taken against Muslims in France today strongly remind us of how France treated the Jews in the thirties of last century."
Denmark has become the country heading the spear of hatred against Islam and Muslims. In the 1990s, the Danish Popular Party considered Muslims in Denmark a growing segment of the population – a "troubling problem." After September 11, other Danish parties started sharing the same concern, and talking against "Muslims in Denmark" became a tool in election campaigns. The media started focusing on emigrant problems and accused Muslims of "violence" and "extremism." Even the Queen herself joined the choir and expressed worry over the problems that her "Muslim" subjects represented. A Danish Popular Party candidate in Copenhagen, Luis Ferivrette, described Danish Muslims as "cancerous disease in the Danish society." The party’s spokesperson, Martin Henriksen, said that "Islam, since its beginning, has been a terrorist movement," and he warned against allowing Danish Muslims candidacy to the Parliament or city councils. Henriksen describes Danish Muslim converts as "moral criminals" and takes pride in the fact that "criticizing Islam is the official policy of [his] party." Within this context, the cartoon contest organized by Yandposten came as a natural result.
Facts show that Europe is launching a new Holocaust against Muslims around the world. What is happening to Muslims in Europe today is almost identical with what the Jews suffered at the beginning of the century. Muslims in Western countries find themselves obliged to change their names and suppress their religious identity to avoid a racist witch-hunt against them. "Freedom of the press" and "freedom of expression" do not permit violating or ridiculing other people’s sanctities. Otherwise, no European country would have banned the mere discussion of the Jewish Holocaust.
The Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, brought to humanity a message of peace, mercy and tolerance. The Muslim civilization that ensued from Mecca set the foundation for today’s scientific and social development. What did those who dared insult him bring to humanity in comparison? They only brought hatred and anger and intolerance. Their actions, like those of Nazi Germany, should only be "a source of deep shame," as Merkel put it.
However, unlike the descendents of the culprits of the Holocaust, their conscience is not guilt-ridden yet with this new crime against humanity. When such guilt will start rectifying Western politics toward Muslims is a disquieting question. Nazis accused Jews of violence and terrorism. They launched media wars of hatred against their faith and sanctities. The result was the Holocaust; one of the ugliest crimes against humanity. As Europe has recently passed a law that forbids doubting the Holocaust, today it should pass another law that bans racist insults against Muslims and Islam. It is more prudent to prevent the making of a new Holocaust, than to wait for more European apologies to Jews and Muslims alike. [Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban is the Syrian expatriates minister]