Last spring, Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, did an extensive interview with the subscription-only Dutch magazine, PAL NWS. It follows. Text in bold belongs to Sonja Dahlmans, who conducted the interview; non-bolded text is Ibrahim’s responses.
Mr. Ibrahim is an expert in Islamic history, more specifically, the military history of the Middle East. He is an American of Egyptian decent; his family are Coptic Christians who left Egypt to the United States, before he was born, in the hopes of a better life, away from discrimination and growing fanaticism. Mr. Ibrahim is the author of many books, such as Crucified Again and Sword and Scimitar. His latest book, Defenders of the West will be published this July.
Jihadism in Africa
Just recently the United States took Nigeria off of its blacklist of ‘Countries of Particular Concern.’ What is your view on this?
The situation in Nigeria started around 2010 with Boko Haram and others, targeting Christians. The United States would not put the country on their blacklist, especially not while Hillary Clinton was head of the State Department. She was very much criticized for this. Even her husband, Bill Clinton, tried to whitewash the persecution, apparently because their Clinton Foundation had some sort of business ventures in Nigeria. So they were minimizing what was happening in Nigeria. Bill Clinton said that “all this stuff,” with which he meant chopping people’s heads off and burning churches, “is a by-product of economics and the ‘haves’ versus the ‘haves-not.’” This went on for a long time; they did not list Nigeria on the blacklist. Finally, the last year of the Trump administration, in 2020, they did, but now they have taken it off again, one year later. Even though it is by far the nation with the highest number of Christians slaughtered around the world. It is really inexplicable.
Last year, 2020, I believe around 4200 Christians worldwide were killed for their faith, half of those victims, 2000, were from Nigeria alone. It makes you wonder why the United States does not consider this a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ anymore?
Because they keep trying to make it sound as if the people that are being killed are not persecuted for their Christian faith. What they do, for example, is highlight how Boko Haram might have killed a Muslim, too. But if you are a Muslim living among Christians you are not considered, in their mind, a real Muslim. Then the media use this to claim the violence has nothing to do with religion because a Muslim also died. People will buy into that narrative.
The role the media play
What I notice here in newspapers and other media is that reporters use the idea of the Fulani as herdsmen, so they will claim the butchering of Christians that is now going on, is due to an agricultural dispute over landownership or something like that.
Yes, right. Christians are farmers who live off the land and the Muslims are the Fulani herdsmen who take their flocks or cattle; they want grazing land, so it is portrayed as a territorial dispute. The problem with this, however, is that almost every time it happens Christians are getting hacked and Muslims, the “herdsmen,” are screaming “Allahu Akbar.” They are cutting off heads and justifying it by the use of Islamic slogans—so is it merely a land dispute or is there (obviously) something more going on?
I remember that during some of these attacks, Christians have actually been taken out of churches and were killed while the attackers shouted “Allahu Akbar.”
Yes, recently in Mozambique, they beheaded a pastor and gave his wife the head to go and give it to the police. Another point that I would like to make is that what is happening in Nigeria is spilling all over Sub-Saharan Africa.
You mean countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria?
Everywhere: In Mozambique, Mali, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Congo they have a group called the Allied Democratic Forces which has the word “democratic” in its name but it largely consists of ISIS-affiliated jihadists who terrorize and decapitate the people of that Christian-majority nation. People think that these are different issues, but when you really look at it, they are all close and a lot of these Islamic groups work together. They are often connected; they are definitely connected in ideology, which says a lot.
Another thing is that Nina Shea from the Hudson Institute, former USCRIF, said that the United States government now blames what is happening in Nigeria to climate change. That these killings and abductions are rooted in climate change.
I hear this all the time; they always come up with materialistic excuses because the leftist mentality refuses to accept that religion—especially not Islam—is or could be a factor. Therefore it must be about “equality,” maybe even “racism,” even though it is happening in Africa—who knows, as the leftist mentally has become increasingly more illogical. They will use anything they can from their arsenal of excuses to justify what is happening, including, of course, “climate change.”
Around 6000 ISIS jihadists returned to West-Africa from Iraq and Syria. This includes most of the countries that you have just named, like Nigeria, Mali, Niger et cetera. Why is this hardly ever mentioned in the main stream media, in your opinion?
Because it goes against what they want you to believe or even think about. They do not want you to hear about how Christians are daily butchered for their religion. So, how can they get away from mentioning it? One of the worst examples that I can remember, was when 21 Copts were beheaded in Libya (2015). That was considered to be one of the worst and most notorious instances of Muslim persecution of Christians, not least because it was very vivid. At the same time in the United States a gorilla was killed in a zoo. Someone did the analysis and apparently that specific incident got around six times more coverage than the story of the 21 Coptic Christian men that were decapitated by ISIS in Libya. Imagine, a gorilla that got shot because something happened in a zoo gets six times more media coverage than 21 men getting their heads carved off because they refused to change their faith. The point is, the media work very hard, there is a vision of a world that they want people to believe in. If there is something out there that goes against that vision or worldview, well, the best thing to do is to ignore it. Then, if you really have to talk about it—as they did with the 21 Christians, as it was deemed “newsworthy” enough—then you come up with all those excuses (grievances, hijacking Islam), anything so it’s not about the obvious, namely, Muslims persecuting Christians.
For example, in Nigeria, whenever there is a dramatic Islamic attack on Christians that claims dozens of lives, then the media will mention it, but only in the context of the “authorized” narrative: “Well, it is because the Fulani are impoverished, it is about economics.” That is their way of doing damage control. Their first approach is to ignore it; if, however, that particular attack is “sensational” enough to warrant reporting, they do so but only under the secularist or materialist narrative. Moreover, whenever they can find something that helps them—let’s say a Christian that attacks a Muslim (almost always in reprisal)—then it will be all over the news. That is their way of neutralizing or making everything “even.” This way they can say: “See, it is the same thing.”
Remember the recent attack in England (Liverpool) that man who wanted to attack the cathedral? It was a big story, because they could say he was a Christian. Then they found out that he was going to the mosque frequently and the story fell away.
Refugee crisis in Europe
With Europe’s current refugee crisis, you would expect that what is going on right now in Africa would get a lot of attention, from the media, politicians, because it could worsen the flood of refugees coming to Europe. In Nigeria alone there are already over one million displaced people. At some point this too will become a problem for Europe; can they afford ignoring what happens in Africa?
If you look at how things are progressing, look at Europe now, I don’t know the exact numbers, but France, Germany and England have the largest population of migrants, certainly of Muslims in general. For some Muslims, this is a “demographic jihad”—or as some call it, the “jihad of the womb”—because Muslims tend to have many more children, not least because they have more wives too. What is happening in these Western European countries that have large Muslim populations is reminiscent of a non-stop headache. Look at France, Germany too. I recently wrote an article about Muslims attacking the Christian cross: apart from the Islamic world itself, these two European nations also have a large amount of these sorts of attacks. Obviously, nobody ever seems to know why and constantly seek for “motives.” It must be those Buddhists again [laughs]. So, obviously this will continue. I predict it will get much worse; what we are seeing now is just the beginning.
I saw a poll that said that in 2050 more than half of Europe’s population will be Muslim. Just by migration and birth rate. In some countries, for years already, the number one name for baby boys is Muhammad. I think people are just habituated and trained not to think of the long term. That is how the concept of “news” seems to work; just think about what is happening now. They don’t reflect on what is going to happen in the long term. I think deep down inside a lot of people are very nihilistic and they think they are old, or getting old, and by the time something really bad happens they will be dead, so it’s not their problem. They don’t think about their children, quite possibly because they don’t have children. I think there is a lot of fatalism in Europe about the whole situation.
The Dutch minister of Immigration and Migration (Ankie Boekers-Knol) said it was a given, that we are going to have more floods of refugees in the future.
The thing is, you will, but you can put a stop to it. Countries like Poland and Hungary do not allow it. You can do that, but they won’t—that’s the whole thing. It is not inevitable, it can be stopped, but they don’t want to stop it.
With regard to ignoring what is going on in Africa right now, jihad spreading all over the continent, what is your opinion on Western projects -funding projects- in these developing countries? For example, projects to help girls to get an education. In many of the countries we have just spoke about, schools for both boys and girls had to close down because of the threat of jihadist violence or abduction of schoolchildren. It would seem that is the biggest threat right now that needs urgent attention, not these projects?
Well, the educational programs that they fund are really teaching or indoctrinating children in wokist ideology, that’s it. That is why it is okay to shut—or burn—down a Christian school; they don’t care about that fact. They will give money to another education centre because it is a whole different education. It is part of the general brainwashing going on around the world.
Does this include the idea that North Africa, when it was colonized, Christianity was forced upon them? While many people there actually know that this is not true and that they were Christian before they became Islamic. Would this be the message they will learn in these projects?
Absolutely. These messages are at their core anti-Judaeo-Christian. Christianity in fact was spread rather peacefully in North Africa and the Middle East. Islam came with the sword, killing people, giving them three choices: to embrace Islam, to pay the jizya or to die. Everyone used to know that, until recently; now it is a different story.
Now the “bad guy” is almost always a Christian. You see this for example in movies, on tv, these so called historical movies, when they are set in medieval times. The bad guy, the hypocrite, the most despicable character, is going to be the one carrying a large cross. The good guy is going to be a much “nuanced” person, secular minded. Of course such depictions are beyond anachronistic and have nothing to do with reality. It is not only in movies; books and education in general is all about demonizing Christianity, which is basically another way of saying Western civilization. At the same time they uphold and promote anything and everyone else, for example Islam.
This is why we in America Black Lives Matter (BLM). In America the whole idea of wokism is about one word: racism. Everything about Europe is racist, European history is governed by racist Europeans doing bad things to non-white people. That is really how history is now understood, especially among young people who are “woke.” Of course, with history you can do anything you want, including ignore the constants but then find one aberration and focus on that. That is what they do, this is spreading around. This seems to be part of the whole globalization project. The globalists, the elites, are trying to get everyone to believe in the same narrative. This will help them to distribute people all around the world and do what they’re going to do—dilute Europe especially. It is pretty sinister, actually, and is being used to demoralize Europeans and people. It is used to embolden the opposite.
Which it does?
Exactly. It does that here in America, Europe and it is doing the same all over the non-Western world.
The Netherlands plans to give millions to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to keep the United Nations personnel that is still there safe.
The dhimmi returns?
That is what jizya is. It is a tribute so you won’t kill us.
People in these European countries or in America, everyday people, do not want this. They see this for what it is.
I agree with you, but they are disenfranchised and don’t have much of a voice really. My website has been essentially wiped off of Google, almost. On Facebook they have shadow banned me which means people cannot see your posts. Most recently I found out when I was in Los Angeles on a Wi-Fi network from a large mall that they had banned my website on the claim that it was pornography. My point is that there are many people like us, but they do everything possible to make us disappear—to seem like we don’t exist. So it appears that there aren’t many people that think this way, because all you see are the people on tv that speak the narrative. We are made invisible.
Because the internet has a great reach which they want to control you mean?
During your lecture in the German Bundestag you spoke of the attacks on Christian churches, crosses, symbols et cetera which we have already covered but Christians are getting arrested as well, specifically in the United Kingdom. For example, there was an African Christian street preacher in London, who was debating Muslims and then got arrested for alleged ‘islamophobia.’ This all reminds me of a book that dr. Jamie Glazov wrote, United in Hate, in which he writes about what he calls the unholy romance between the Left and Islam.
Yes, I agree that it is an unholy alliance, but it is not even about Islam, it is about shooting down Christianity. That is how I see it. It seems like the Left and Islam are allies, but they believe in diametrically opposed things, like homosexuality, sexual liberation. Islam is opposite to all of that. What unifies them is that they both have the same enemy: Judeo-Christian civilization, everything the Bible teaches. Just as much as some on the Left hate Islam, their hate for the true enemy, Western civilization, overrides their own obstacles towards each other. Because to them those are secondary, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think the Left really likes Islam. I just think they hate Christianity so much more, prompting them to ally with Islam. On the other hand, Muslims have nothing but contempt for the Left but they will work for them, vote Democratic, etc., here in the United States. There is an old saying “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” They are both staunch enemies, Islam as we know from history is the staunchest enemy of Christendom. The Left, the whole Marxist thing, is also very anti-Christian. Again, you think to yourself ‘I thought they don’t care for religion,’ right? Doesn’t Marxism hate every religion?’ It is interesting now that we see it ‘likes’ Islam, works with Islam, you cannot criticize Islam. All that is done in a way to attack Western civilization—that is the fundamental purpose.
Is this also the reason it doesn’t work to debate them in any logical way?
Yes, neither of them. The idea of wokism, everything they believe in, isn’t logical. Islamism is not logical, just look at the Hadith and some of the bizarre stuff Muhammad supposedly said, but you’re not supposed to talk about any of that . If you do, you will get cancelled or called an islamophobe or a racist, a homophobe, they have endless terms. But you can say anything about Christianity and attack it, the more you do that, the greater you are, the more enlightened and a great-thinker you are. I think it is very obvious, though people don’t see it in that sense. I think that if you are a secular thinker, you will not understand what is happening, because it seems very diverse and there are different groups, but if you look at it from a historical point of view, these two camps, it is very obvious and historically consistent. At least to me it is.
When you think of Islam, when you put it in a distinctly theological paradigm, you can say that Islam is a way of physically attacking Christianity, through force. This Leftist ideology, on the other hand, is more like subverting, you know—not openly attacking and killing but rather going into the body itself like a cancer and subverting it for ill. Even today most people complain about their own churches that seem like woke centres that don’t care anymore about Biblical teachings, it is just about, again, propagating the narrative that everyone else is talking about.
In Sweden, just a few months ago, when there were elections for the State Church there, people who were not even Christians, who were opposed to the Church’s teachings, were candidates in those elections, trying to change the church from within.
Yes, that is what they do. It is insane. This is what I think is happening, you have two sides of one coin: one is by force, violence, death, like the Roman pagan Empire back in the day; the other is more subtle, works underneath the radar, acts like your friend but is really betraying you. And that to me is what Western culture is gravitating towards.
Is the ignoring of Christian persecution part of that?
Yes, exactly, because ignoring Christian persecution is one thing that they have to do in order to convince everyone of a certain worldview. In this worldview Muslims are innocent and “misunderstood.” All seeming aspects of religious hostility are really about inequality, economics, and the like. So, to bring up something that I bring up all the time—Muslims systematically attacking and killing Christians just because they are Christians—throws a big wrench in their machine. Like I said, how do you deal with that? Well you just ignore it completely, until a huge attack happens then you take it on, but then you repackage it in a way so it still doesn’t look like Christian persecution, but as something else. When all is said and done and you have no excuses left, you just say: “Well, the people who did this are terrorists and they have nothing to do with Islam. They have hijacked Islam which is really a religion of peace,” and that is that.
And this is the order in which these things are dealt with?
I myself noticed that at university where I study my professors also ignore this, they cannot think about this, the persecution of Christians, happening. Especially that this now is becoming a thing in Europe as well. They blame it on racism or just hatred of all religion and not Christianity in particular.
Because they have all these filters. “He is white, he is black,” so you know who is innocent and who is the bad guy, obviously, right? They have brainwashed people, really; it is mass-indoctrination. That is why Christian persecution under Islam doesn’t fit in. If we had the opposite, I have no doubt that if a Christian would persecute a Muslim for his religion that would be all over the news, non-stop—even if it were to happen in the least known third world country that nobody has heard of, because it would help their narrative, it would make it more believable: “See, here we go; just like we’ve said, whites are racists and Christians are also persecuting innocent Muslims.”
I have also noticed that here in the media what is happening in Myanmar was almost entirely framed around the ‘Rohingya Muslims’ being persecuted. Leaving out that the Karen, Kachin and Chin countries there are also persecuted, and leaving out that the Rohingya can also be Christians who are not only persecuted by the Tatmadaw but also by the Rohingya Muslims. Same thing with the Uyghur Muslims in China, the entire world knows about that from the press, but nothing is written about the Christian persecution in China. The same narrative, Muslims are the “victim” you have mentioned.
Yes, and anything that does not fit into or possibly undermines that narrative, they will just leave it out.
To conclude this interview, what about Turkey’s role, because that also get very little attention. Concerning the attacks on the north of Iraq and Syria, recently there was a debate in Dutch parliament on the persecution of the Yezidis by ISIS but hardly anyone spoke about what also happened to Christians there. They talked about it as if this was something from the past while these attacks still occur and the Yezidis and the Christians are now in the middle of a violent conflict between the Kurds and Turkey. ISIS also is treated as if this is from the past, while they are still very much alive. Turkey’s president, Erdogan, is broadening his influence, their military basis in the region but also their ties with the Taliban in Afghanistan and in some parts of Africa. Someone called this Erdogan’s “Ottoman dreams.” Would you say the same?
Oh absolutely; the thing you have to remember about Turkey is that, unlike the other Islamic caliphates or sultanates of history, the Umayyads, the Abbasids, etc., the Ottomans are the most recent ones. A few much older people that lived under the Ottoman Empire are probably still alive because it was dissolved in the 1920’s; many still living had parents that lived under the Ottomans and so heard first-hand accounts. Turkey also provided weapons to Boko Haram in Nigeria.
They can still remember, you mean?
Yes, it is really still in their memory, especially for Turks—the greatness of the Ottoman Empire, which went on for almost half a millennium. In their mind that is still part of living history. Erdogan especially is always citing history; he is always extoling and praising the Ottoman sultans. I always find that interesting, because here in America now with all this “wokism,” the Founding Fathers are now all racists; after all, they were white and evil, right? But in fact, as compared to the rest of world history up till then, they were decent and ethical people who achieved many good things, but Americans are now taught to disavow them. In the Islamic world it is the opposite. Mehmed II, who was really a nasty person, and a notorious paedophile, burned churches, massacred Christians, enslaved women and children, and so on; yet he is presented as a great and wonderful ruler that Erdogan apparently wants to emulate. This just shows you how opposite things are between the West and the Islamic world especially. The West’s actual good past is demonized and the Islamic world’s bad past is praised and presented as something to re-emulate. Erdogan, especially, I have been following him, he is very much in love with history and the Ottoman glory. So, when you mention all the things that you just did, considering the Taliban and Iraq and all that, and his role in bringing all the migrants to Europe and funding jihadist mercenaries in Azerbaijan, it is very clear he sees himself as someone trying to put together something like the Ottoman Empire, which is, again, founded on Islamic principles and the sunna. A lot of Muslims in general like him.
And especially the ones living abroad, in the West?
Yes, because many of them agree with that vision.
Some of the Christians living in Turkey say that they are being used by the regime for propaganda of the regime’s well treatment of religious minorities?
I have seen that too, where they come out and say “yes, we are treated well,” but later on you find out that they were compelled by Turkish authorities to make such an announcement. He [Erdogan] is bad news, much of what he is doing or is behind. And it is not him, I think; it is just the spirit of the age, which means that if he would get out of the picture, there would be someone else who would be the same or even worse. That sort of thinking has no end; it is not limited to only one person seeking to bring back the “glories of Islam.” It is rather ongoing within the whole culture.
Is there something, in your opinion, that still could be done?
The easiest thing that could be done is what Eastern Europe is doing. You just stop migration; that is one very easy thing that is well justified and should not at all be deemed controversial. Any nation can or at least should have the right to say: “We are over-populated, this is the end of it; we don’t want any more.” But then you will still have the Muslim population that Europe already has; but at least it won’t get worse, you can start remedying things. Yet they don’t even want to do that much. If they can’t merely do that, then they can’t do much of anything. Basically, it is suicidal. This is why I always compare and contrast between history and today: the big difference is that back then Muslims were attacking Europe by swords and spears and Europeans were defending and trying to keep them out. Now they are not coming with swords and spears; they are being welcomed in and then, when they are in, some take the sword and do what they do. It is easy to just stop it, but they are not doing that and the people obviously do not have much voice or any say in the matter, so I think it will get much worse before it can get better.
What about de-radicalization, the governmental programs like that?
That is a joke. So many times it has been proven wrong, I remember this Usman Khan of London (London Bridge attack), they were touting him as a great graduate of their de-radicalization program. You know, saying how wonderful he was and that he was supposedly de-radicalized—but then, soon after “graduating” from their program and being released, he killed people, screaming “Allahu Akbar.” It is silly, that they put so much effort and money in that sort of programs. I am sure that some people do get de-radicalized, like they would have anyway, even without such a program. They can lose faith, that might happen just by itself, but I don’t think that these programs are the way to solve this.