We all remember Yasir Qadhi, right?
He’s speaker at the Global Peace and Unity Event, who had this to say about the Holocaust:
All of these Polish Jews which Hitler was supposedly trying to exterminate, that’s another point, by the way, Hitler never intended to mass-destroy the Jews. There are a number of books out on this written by Christians, you should read them. The Hoax of the Holocaust, I advise you to read this book and write this down, the Hoax of the Holocaust, a very good book. All of this is false propaganda and I know it sounds so far-fetched, but read it. The evidences [sic] are very strong. And they’re talking about newspaper articles, clippings, everything and look up yourself what Hitler really wanted to do. We’re not defending Hitler, by the way, but the Jews, the way that they portray him, also is not correct.
Well, here he is again, at a recent lecture posted in the last few days to Youtube.
Qadhi begins by talking about the MoToons. He argues that he is not calling for criminalisation of insulting or depicting Mohammed. He explains that “I understand, in this country, that’s not going to be possible”. Instead, what Qadhi calls for is what he terms “self imposed silencing”. Qadhi wants the MoToons to become “culturally taboo”.
And then he hits us with it:
David Irving is a famous – or I should say infamous – historian. And he became infamous because he wrote many books talking about the Holocaust, and saying that this figure of six million is too many. It wasn’t six. It was lesser than that.
He wasn’t denying the Holocaust. What he was doing was questioning the history of the Holocaust.
Now I stand here and I say unequivocally, “I do not support David Irving”. I am not a Holocaust denier. I am not.
But, what I find amazing was that nobody – not one single person – stood up and said, “You know what, he’s a historian. He should have the right to write his books and papers. Nobody did that. And in fact, laws were passed against him. And as I said, there are thirteen countries which have anti-Holocaust laws. Not just to deny. To question the figure ‘six million’. If somebody says, “No, there were in fact five and a half million”, some countries will put you in jail for that.
And so it so happened that the Jews of all these countries that took David Irving to court. Even though he wasn’t living there! And the courts all ruled with the Jews of those countries. So much so, that when David Irving visited the country of Austria – a democratic, a secular, a western country – Austria had already passed a law against him. The court case had already been closed and shut. He was guilty. And so as he stood up to deliver his speech, lo and behold the police came – he’s a British citizen – the police came and arrested him. And put him in jail where he remained for almost one year. For what crime? For what crime?
For daring to question the figures of the Holocaust.
He goes on to claim that nobody, and not one major media outlet opposed Irving’s jailing.
Where to start. Let’s do a list.
1. David Irving is a Holocaust denier. He was held to be so in a court case, which he himself had brought against a writer and a publisher, in which he alleged defamation.
2. David Irving’s most recent position has been to play down the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Before that, his argument was that Hitler himself had known nothing of the plan. Before that, he argued that there was no such plan at all.
This is a familiar path, trod by Holocaust deniers, who cannot circumvent the evidence, and therefore play the ‘numbers’ game.
3. David Irving was not convicted of arguing that only “five and a half million” Jews were murdered by the Nazis. I think it very unlikely that somebody would be prosecuted if they engaged in such debate, seriously. Rather, he was convicted for denying that Jews were gassed at Auschwitz, for claiming that Hitler had known nothing of what had happened, and many other similar statements. Upon his arrest, he claimed to have ‘changed his mind’.
The judge in his case said:
He showed no signs that he attempted to change his views after the arrest warrant was issued 16 years ago in Austria. … He served as an example for the right wing for decades. He is comparable to a prostitute who hasn’t changed her ways. … Irving is a falsifier of history and anything but a proper historian. In the world of David Irving there were no gas chambers and no plan to murder the Jews. He’s continued to deny the fact that the Holocaust was genocide orchestrated from the highest ranks of the Nazi state.
4. David Irving is a neo Nazi. He went to Austria, not to speak at a historical conference, but at a rally of neo Nazis. He did so knowing that Austria was a country which criminalises Holocaust denial, and intending to run the risk of prosecution.
5. I do not support the criminalisation of Holocaust denial. The reason that countries with Nazi pasts, and involvement in the genocide of European Jews in the 1940s criminalise Holocaust denial, is because the only people who do so are not historians – as Qadhi claims they are – but Nazis and liars. I do not think that lying should generally be a criminal offence, and I believe that there are better ways to fight Nazis than criminalising one aspect of their customary conduct.
6. The “Jews of all these countries” did not take David Irving to court. The prosecutor of Austria took him to court.
7. I opposed Irving’s jailing. So did Oliver Kamm, Stephen Pollard, and Norman Geras. Arguments for and against his jailing were canvassed widely in all newspapers at the time. Here is a collection of them in The Guardian. You’ll see that one of his defenders is Index on Censorship. And here is Oliver Kamm in the Jewish Chronicle, this week, denouncing Irving’s jailing.
So, what can we say about Qadhi?
Remember, this is a man who spoke on the platform of the Global Peace and Unity Event, this year: a conference organised by the Islam Channel, which is run by Mr Mohammed Ali Harrath, who is a convicted terrorist.
Other speakers included prominent parliamentarians from all the major political parties. Only the Tory denounced the cranks and extremists who followed and preceded him onto the platform.