FOREWORD

This book is a much-expanded version of an article titled Het Islam-negationisme, published in the September 1992 issue of the Flemish Catholic monthly Nucleus, combined with a review of Sitaram Goel's book "Hindu Temples, What happened to them, vol. 2: The Islamic Evidence". The review was written for Infoerient, the Dutch language periodical of the Asian and Islamic Studies department of my Alma Mater, the Catholic University of Leuven, under the title Een Heiden tegen het Negationisme ( A Pagan's Stand against Negationism). However, after some dilly-dallying and moving it around like a hot potato in the mouth, it was decided that publishing this review was too dangerous: the good relations with the embassies of Islamic countries might be harmed, aqnd the dominant trend in what is called public opinion might object to this highlighting of a frank critique of Islam.

This censorship is at once a good illustration of how the effective prohibition of Islam crticism has fast become a worldwide phenomenon. When I discovered the Islam problem during my first stay in India in 19988, and the concomitant pressure against Islam criticism, it had still seemed a Third World problem, far removed from post-Enlightenment Europe. Today, after the Rushdie affair, the threatened or effective murder of Islam critics (like the Egyptian Farag Foda), and the threats and administrative sanctions against Islam critics in Europe by non-Muslim authorities (like the sacking of the French civil servant Jean-Claude Barreau), the taboo on a frank discussion of Islam has the whole world in its grip. A study of Islam negationism, i.e., the denial of its historic crimes against humanity, has become even more necessary.

This book develops a theme I have touched upon in my earlier books on India's communal problem, Ram Janambhoomi vs. Babri Masjid and Ayodhya and After, viz. the practice of systematic distortion out of political motives, especially the destruction wrought by Islam in its jihad against Hinduism.

In my study of the Ayodhya controversy, I noticed that the frequent attempts to conceal or deny inconvenient evidence were an integral part of a larger effort to rewrite India's history and to whitewash Islam. It struck me that this effort to deny the unpleasant facts of Islam's destructive role in Indian history is similar to the attempts by some European writers to deny the Nazi holocaust. Its goal and methods are similar, even though its social position is very different: in Europe, Holocaust negationists are a fringe group shunned by respectable people, but in India, jihad negationists are in control of the academic establishment and of the press.

I want to dedicate this book to Boutros Ghali, the new secretary-general of the United Nations Organization. As a Coptic Christian in Egypt, he has risen to unusually high posts in the administration of his country, probably higher than young Copts can today reasonably look forward to. Though he was sidelined in the end by being promoted to the symbolic post of deputy prime minister, he gave hope and pride to the fellow-members of his community by climbing as high as possible for a non-Muslim in a nominally secular state. Of course, in his difficult position he cannot speak out against the Islamic oppression which his own community has suffered; but in his own way, he has contributed to alleviating the hold of Islam on his part of the world. He played a key role in the Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, for which Egypt was thrown out of the Arab League and president Sadat was killed by Islamic fanatics. The Camp David treaty proved that a nation can put its national interests and its desire for peaceful co-existence above its commitment to pan-Islamic brotherhood with its programme of hatred and destruction. It has reminded us how in the end, reason is bound to defeat Islam.

Delhi, Innocents' Day (28 December) 1992



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