Hugh Fitzgerald: Van Klaveren Converted — Should We Be Disconcerted? (Part One)

The news several weeks ago that Joram van Klaveren, once a right-hand man to Geert Wilders in the Dutch Freedom Party, has converted to Islam, has disconcerted many. For he is the third person in the last few years to go from being a member of an anti-Islam party to converting to Islam.

Van Klaveren not only converted to Islam after years of anti-Islam political activity, but did so, he claims, in the middle of researching a book he was writing about, and originally against, Islam, when he began to realize that the faith he had long despised was in fact so attractive that he felt irresistibly drawn to it. Naturally, Muslims are rejoicing in this high-profile convert — what an example to hold up to the world, confirming the innate superiority and sheer wonderfulness of Islam, such that even its severest critics, once they look into it, are ineluctably drawn to it. The crowing can be heard from the Doha offices of Al Jazeera to the London offices of Al Arabiya. Van Klaveren can now go on the speaking circuit, for fat fees in the Gulf, where he will thrill waddling emirs in their dishdashas with thrilling tales of how he, the islamocritic, could no longer deny Islam’s Beauty and Truth.

This conversion comes close on the heels of two other conversions to Islam by those who were once  critical of it. The first was Arnoud van Doorn. Van Doorn is a bizarre figure. Once part of Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, the party broke with Van Doorn in December 2011, over charges of financial irregularities. In April 2012, Van Doorn announced his conversion to Islam. He expressed regret that he had been involved in making Wilders’ short film FitnaVan Doorn is now head of the European Da’wa Foundation. He has thus become not just a Muslim, but one entirely committed, as his occupation, to promoting the faith. He has been accused of antisemitic remarks, including one about a Jewish Canadian who paid a ransom to free Yazidi and Christian hostages, and about whom he tweeted “To sell at a profit?” Called out on it, Van Doorn claimed he had only been joking. Van Doorn has also described the failed coup in Turkey as the work of “Zionists.” On May 4, National Memorial Day in the Netherlands, when the more than 100,000 Dutch Jews murdered in the Holocaust were remembered, Van Doorn said that Palestinians were equal to the victims of the Holocaust. He has also tweeted “May Allah exterminate the Zionists.”

Interviewed for a Muslim publication, Van Doorn explained how his conversion came about:

I have studied the Quran based on curiosity, starting about a year ago (after I left the PVV). Before that I’ve only heard negative stories about Islam. The more I was reading (also Sunnah, Hadith, etc.) the more I was convinced that the Islam is actually a beautiful and wise religion. I have had a religious education as a Christian, so I shared already a lot of values. It is easier to convert from a Christian to Islam then from a “non believer” because I was known [sic –”familiar”] with the prophets, the angels, and the  discipline that is necessary within any religion.

You can find fanatics in any religion, all over the world. Unfortunately the 1% fanatics are showed on tv and other news media, and their influence is magnified. 99% of the Muslims is [sic]hardworking and  peaceable. If more people will study the true Islam, the more people will see the beauty of it.

As I said before: study Islam, step over your prejudges [sic– for “prejudices”], and you will see that the [sic] Islam is actually a beautiful and very pure religion, with a great history and high standards. We take care for each other in prosperity and adversity. It gives inner peace and wisdom, and it deepens your spiritual live. Life is more than money and materialism (the typical “western success factor”). You will become a stronger and better person.

Willie Dille was a member of Wilders’ party and of the city council of the Hague who, before committing suicide last year, explained on a video what led to her decision. She said that on March 15, 2017, a group of Muslims had kidnapped, repeatedly raped, and abused her. When they were done, they asked her: “Do you respect Muhammad? Do you respect Allah?” She said on the video that they had been ordered to rape her by a former member of Wilders’ Party, one Arnoud van Doorn, who was Dille’s fellow member on the city council in The Hague, in order to frighten her into silence at meetings of the council.

Van Doorn’s violently anti-Israel remarks did not prevent him in 2018 from tweeting some easy taqiyya: a photograph of himself shaking hands with a naive and smiling rabbi, together with the soothing text  “Muslims and Jews together against hate and intolerance. Together against antisemitism and islamophobia.”

Then there is Arthur Wagner, another high-profile revert,who was a leading member of Alternative for Germany,  the anti-Islam party that has the Homeric epithet “right-wing” permanently affixed to it, and is known for its mantra that “Islam doesn’t belong in Germany.” This once senior member of the party in Brandenburg, where he sat on the AfD’s state legislative committee, a member of the state committee with responsibility for churches and religious communities, caused a sensation in early 2018 by converting to Islam.

He resigned his position on the party’s national executive committee on January 11, 2018 for what he called “personal reasons.” He remains a member of the party. “The party has no problem with that,” its spokesman Daniel Friese said, adding that the AfD represents the interests of Muslims, and also of Christians and homosexuals.

Wagner became an AfD member in 2015 after switching from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

Wagner, who has changed his name to Ahmad, gave an interview to the newspaper Bild in which he explained that he had turned to Islam because he did not like his church’s acceptance of homosexual marriage. As he explained, “One of the reasons was the way the church has changed, which I don’t understand any more.” Wagner was previously a devout Christian and member of his local Protestant church.“It’s their attitudes to the AfD, to gay marriage,” he said. He also said he was unhappy that Protestant pastors had taken part in a gay rights parade in Berlin. “With children there! That’s just not right,” he said. In protest, he became a Muslim. An overreaction, surely, for he might simply have resigned from the Protestant Church, as his private protest, and left it at that. Or he might have found a group of Christian fundamentalists who were not accepting of homosexuality, but at least did not murder them. Instead, Wagner became a Muslim. For they know how to treat homosexuals — very badly — just the way Arthur Wagner thinks they should treated. In Gaza, they shoot them. In Iran, they hang homosexuals from cranes. In the Islamic State, the Jihadis had great fun throwing homosexuals from the roofs of tall buildings. It’s fun for the whole family. Enjoy the ghoulish show. Every single one of the  countries where homosexuality is punishable by death are Muslim: Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria (in the northern, Muslim states), Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Somalia. This is what Arthur Wagner embraced because he didn’t like Protestant pastors taking part in a gay pride march. I would call that reaction unhinged.

No doubt Muslims, and not only in Germany, were delighted with the news of Wagner’s conversion. In trumpeting news oft this revert, they perhaps skimmed over his declared reason for becoming a Muslim — as a way to protest tolerance, by embracing the most homophobic of faiths. For why should the Muslim media not tell the Muslim world that it was the light of Islam — its truth, its beauty — that had shown so bright that even someone like Arthur Wagner, from deep in the darkness of his islamophobia, could overcome the dismal company he had kept at the AfD and, a heartening example, revert to being a Muslim himself?

Might there be more to these curious cases of reverts than simply one of weak-minded Infidels  being persuaded that Islam was the one true faith?

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