(This article was first published in Dutch by the Belgian Magazine Knack on July 10, 2021)
Dyab Abou Jahjah
The debate on Ihsane Haouach in recent weeks has been much more meaningful than many think. I do not want to analyse the grounds that led to her sacking here. What I do want to do is explain what woke Islamism is and how it manifests itself in Europe.
Let me be clear about one thing. When we talk about Islamists, there are many variations, and in the Arab world democrats have to remain in dialogue with the most moderate versions in the hope that one day they will evolve into some kind of Muslim democrats. This seems to be the case, for example, with the Tunisian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Annahda Party, which lost the elections and transferred power peacefully.
But here in Europe we are beyond that. Europe cannot be complacent with a movement that wants to place the sovereignty of the people under the umbrella of divine law. No matter what demographic changes are taking place.
De woke campagne tegen Michel Bauwens heeft een nieuwe fase bereikt. Een open brief tegen hem wordt ondertekend door veel mensen uit het woke spectrum, waaronder professoren, activisten en opiniemakers die hem ervan beschuldigen “alt-right” te zijn. Die absurde brief heeft nu Vlaanderen bereikt en circuleert in cultuurhuizen. Mensen binnen deze cultuurhuizen die een probleem hebben met de inhoud, voelen zich te geïntimideerd. Ze vrezen voor hun inkomen.
✦Opinie Dyab Abou Jahjah (De Morgen 5 Februari 2020)
De vzw Let’s Go Urban is in opspraak, maar geen alleenstaand geval. Tijd om de uitwassen van de Vlaamse integratie-industrie aan te pakken.
I do not know if it is an honour I should claim, but I believe that I am the first person to have introduced the term decolonisation into the national public debate in Belgium, not in relation to the liberation of the colonies in the third world, but in function of what was known in the early years 2000 as the “integration and immigrant debate”.
By Dyab Abou Jahjah
“ I went for a stroll downtown the other day, you can barely recognise the city with all these foreigners everywhere, it felt as if I was in another country”.
I remember this conversation with my Lebanese neighbour in Sidon, as if it was yesterday. It was 2013, I was still living in Lebanon back then, and I was still fully in the anti-racist activist mindset. So of course, I started preaching about tolerance and how we are all human beings. Since my neighbour was complaining about Syrian refugees I also added that we are all Arabs to my speech.
Looking back with some more perspective, I realise that my response to my neighbour was a bit arrogant and on the limit of insolence. Of course we are all human beings, my neighbour was aware of that and does not need me to imply that he did not recognise the humanity of the Syrian refugees. And of course Syrians and Lebanese are as close as Flemish and Dutch, culturally, linguistically and historically, my neighbour knew that as well. Yet what he did that day was expressing a genuine sentiment that many Lebanese share since the massive influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon end of 2011 and in the years that followed.
By Dyab Abou Jahjah
"Samuel Paty's cause is my cause, and should be the cause of any citizen who loves freedom. Paty was not Islamophobic, he taught his students important values of tolerance and proportionality. The fact that some people cannot see him as a victim is also a reflection of the rise of dogmatic sectarianism and tribalism."
Dyab Abou Jahjah
The events unfolding in the United States of America, and the growing momentum for the #BlackLivesMatter movement, are a welcomed development for people, such as myself, who were on the barricades fighting racism for decades in Europe. However, the anti-racist struggle should remain a struggle for equality and human rights, and not be transformed into an elitist and dogmatic discourse on why one identity is good and the other one is bad.
Dyab Abou Jahjah
It is a bit odd to me that Leonard Cohen passed away few months ago without me writing about it. The man has composed a big part of the soundtrack of my life. But above all, and more than his music that is at times over-harmonic to be enjoyable, Cohen the poet is what interests me the most. Together with that of Mahmood Darwich and Nizar Kabbani, his poetry influenced me both politically and spiritually. Cohen was very political, and I am not speaking about that moment in his life when he went to sing for the Israeli troops during the 1973 war in Sinai. That Cohen who thought to rediscover his Jewish identity by posing on a picture with a mass murderer like Ariel Sharon was just a short lived phase in the existence of a more sophisticated soul.
J’avais 4 ans lorsque j’eut ma première conversation politique. Ma mère et moi étions assis sur la terrasse de notre maison à Hanine, un village situé au Sud-Liban. C’était une journée ensoleillée et nous nous reposions à l’ombre de notre figuier. Par moments, les sons paisibles de la nature étaient interrompus par le bruit des hélicoptères qui vrombissaient derrière les collines. Ma mère voulut que l’on rentre à l’intérieur. Je protestais. « Dyab, insista-t-elle, les hélicoptères israéliens se rapprochent, c’est plus sûr à l’intérieur. » Je me souviens d’avoir demandé pourquoi. « Parce ce sont de mauvaises personnes, qui pourraient nous tirer dessus. », me répondit-elle. Quelques mois plus tard, ces mauvaises personnes nous prenaient effectivement pour cibles.
The first political conversation that I ever had was at the age of four. I remember myself sitting in in the porch of our village house in Hanine, south Lebanon, together with my mother. It was a sunny day, and we were resting in the shade of our fig tree. The peaceful flow of natural sounds and sun rays was only disturbed by the thrumming noise of helicopters coming from behind the surrounding hills. My mom wanted us to go back inside, to which I objected. She then said, “ Dyab, the Israeli helicopters are coming nearby, it is safer to be inside”. I remember asking her why? Why is it safer? And my mom answered “because these are wicked men, and they might shoot at us”. Few months later, the wicked men did shoot at us.