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A press conference in Oslo with Haitham al-Haddad

I watched this so that you don’t have to!  Here are a few quotes with approximate times:

 “I agree that I hold views that might seem odd to the Western liberal society” (10:20)

Views like this perhaps?

“from my angle it does make perfect sense” (on the death penalty for apostasy in the context of an Islamic state) (13:25)

But that’s fair enough because …

“treason is a capital punishment (sic) in most European countries”  (14:25)

Why has he been misrepresented by so many?

“There is a group of maybe Zionists who are trying to spoil my reputation” (15:30)

And finally:

“I am not promoting anything that is not part of the mainstream Islam” (27:30)

Haitham al-Haddad complains (about 17:50) that it has been implied that he supports hudud punishments in the West, right now.  Of course there is some difference between calling for such punishments in the UK and saying they should be practiced in an Islamic state – but it still means that Haddad’s ideal is a horrific theocracy.

There was a strange moment around 30.00 when he seems to claim that his support for very young girls marrying is only a semantic quibble – he asserts that Muslims ‘call this marriage, you call it something else’.  But I don’t suppose he really thinks that a 15 year old girl should ‘marry’ some boy one month, and then later decide that she prefers another.

Some points are less controversial (35.30) – most religions have criteria for marriage and divorce which differ somewhat from the law of the land.  There is the Jewish get, for example, and many churches will not marry divorcees.

“Let us respect them as we want them to respect others” asserts Haddad at 38.30, yet earlier in the interview he rejects this notion of reciprocity, calmly, and I suppose with a sort of internal logic, insisting that Islam is quite different from Christianity, and that Christianity must make its own mind up how to deal with its apostates.

Like so many stricter Muslims he echoes (and in effect lends support to) those who might seem to be his opponents.  He brushes aside as ignorant or obdurate Muslims who don’t agree with his views.   However there are Muslims who would fume at his statement that ‘I am not promoting anything that is not part of the mainstream Islam’.   For example I have been informed I am a bigot simply for suggesting that some Muslims supported the death penalty for apostasy.  Although that person seemed unnecessarily tetchy – I hope his/her opinions prevail, and, in the meantime, I’ll end with a link to The Islamic Far Right Blog’s even handed Christmas post.