Netherlands: Arabist Hans Jansen causes irritation among his peers

In the book 'Strijdsters van Allah' (about radical Muslim women and the Hofstad group), journalists Janny Groen and Annieke Kranenberg tell of a incendiary sermon by radical imam Fawaz Jneid, where he cursed Hirsi Ali and Van Gogh (see here). They did not know what to make of the sermon, which also urged Muslims to work against political enemies through legal channels, and so they gave the sermon tape to six Islam experts. Three Moroccans, who wanted to remain anonymous, all agreed - this was an inciting sermon, and all mention of staying rational were there just for the benefit of the Dutch authorities. This was clearly a political, mobilizing, activist discourse. If Fawaz would have wanted to calm the youth, as he claimed, instead of inciting them, he would have spoken completely differently.

Three Dutch experts were also consulted. Maurits Berger agreed that the sermon was filled with hate and calls to protect Islam from its attackers, but did not think this was inciting in the judicial sense. Ruud Peters said it was clear that Fawaz did not call for violence. Hans Jansen, on the other, just read the sermon, without knowing who the speaker was, and completely agreed with the Moroccan researchers. Amazingly, so did Muslims who often listened to Fawaz's sermons.


In his recent book Islam for pigs, monkeys, donkeys and other animals, Dutch Arabist Hans Jansen has put a cat in among the scientific pigeons. However, it looks like the media are taking him more seriously than his fellow Islam experts are. "Jansen has completely set aside his scientific scruples."

Hans Jansen has always been critical of his colleagues, but in his last but one publication Islam for pigs he attacks them in no uncertain terms. He writes:

"Most western professors with Islam in their portfolio like to talk with Muslims. It often has nothing to do with science. It is pure deception, in which malice cannot always be ruled out, although ignorance is of course increasingly common as it is everywhere else."

Fellow Arabist Professor Martin van Bruinessen from the Institute for Studies in Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) in Leiden is surprised by Dr Jansen's arrogant tone.

"I don't really know what he is referring to, but what he accuses his colleagues of can easily just as well apply to him."

Mr Van Bruinessen thinks that it's Mr Jansen's book, which is lying in front of him on the table, that is unscientific and misleading.

"It creates an image of Islam and Muslims which is much more dangerous that can be justified by the facts. Dr Jansen is not stupid, so the question is why does he write these kind of things."

An inconvenient truth

Professor Van Bruinessen expresses the growing irritation with Hans Jansen among his colleagues. He remembers when in the 1990s, Dr Jansen wrote facetious pieces about Islam. But since the Netherlands became obsessed by fear of Islam after 9/11, the professor from Utrecht has grown into a real phenomenon in the media, in which he presents himself as the only Dutch expert who dares to talk about the inconvenient truth of Islam without political correctness getting in the way. Dr Jansen's work is an important source of inspiration for anti-Islamic MP Geert Wilders. In the days after his film Fitna was put on the web, Dr Jansen appeared in several television programmes to explain its content.

In Islam for pigs, he sets out his vision by answering 250 questions about Islam. In the book, Islam is portrayed as a dangerous and violent religion. The Qur'an preaches peace, Dr Jansen admits, but only once everyone has submitted to the religion. Up to that time, evil and unbelievers have to be conquered, using violence if necessary.

The number of Dutch Muslims that reject al-Qaeda's brand of terrorism could be "lower than we think", according to the professor. Most Muslims do not see Bin Laden as a madman, but rather as a "super-activist, who is taking the ultimate steps according to Islamic rules in the fight against infidels."

Scruples aside

The title of the book refers to the terms used by the Qur'an for unbelievers and Jews, explains the author in the introduction. Professor Van Bruinessen says:

"If you take the time to look at the passages in question - for example on the site, you will see that this is just not true. The Qur'an tells about a people in the past that disobeyed God and was turned into pigs and monkeys as a punishment."

Professor van Bruinessen thinks this is typical of Mr Jansen's style.

"Since Mr Jansen received the title of professor, but in particular since the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, he has set all scientific scruples aside. He has become an anti-Islam polemist who has no reservations about completely misrepresenting the issues on purpose."Ayatollah

Islam expert Dick Douwes, professor at the university of Rotterdam, agrees.

"Dr Jansen takes certain verses from the Qur'an to prove that Islam preaches violence against disbelievers. But he completely ignores the fact that most Muslims have a different reading of the text. He is not acting like a scientist but more like an ayatollah who studies the scriptures and thinks it is up to him to tell others what the Qur'an says."

But if Dutch Islam experts have so many objections to Dr Jansen's statements, why is there so little opposition to what he says?

Professor van Bruinessen says most Arabists are just too busy with their own research and with writing scientific papers. Dr Jansen, who for several years now has only written populist pieces, is never actually taken seriously by his peers. "They have failed to realise for too long now that the media do take him seriously."

Source: Radio Netherlands (English)


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately many arabists do not see what there is but see what they want there to be. They are busy with their research and publishing papers and usually speak to people who think the way they think or to muslims who tell them things they like to hear.. They do not speak to "arab street".
That's why it is not surprising that muslim experts agreed with Hans Jansen and not with other european experts.

Anonymous said...

Virtually all the important jurists of classical and modern Islam agree with Prof. Jansen. The curses as pigs and monkeys levied against Christians and Jews in the Qur'an are interpreted to be a never-ending and divine condemnation of both groups.

Jews and Christians are allowed to live under Islam only as a despised and humiliated caste, that has no legal standing against the unsupported word of any Muslim.

To defend oneself against any physical abuse by a Muslim is to bring retaliation against your entire community. This is the law of social jihad.

Prof. van Bruinessen and Douwes are being disingenuous by restricting their comments to the Qur'an. The social history of Islam completely justifies the views of Prof. Jansen.