justFeatures: Around campus, we have been seeing a few posters that this newly formed group [Coalition for Tolerance] has been putting up with quotes from articles you have written in the past. During your lecture today, or afterwards during the question session, people asked you about two of them. But about this last one-
Daniel Pipes: What I would suggest you do is to look to the answer.
Editor's Note: The quotation on the flier from a August 2003 New York Post column reads, "Muslims are only 4 percent of Denmark's 5.4 million people, but make up a majority of convicted rapists."
Two members of the Danish parliament said Pipes' allegation was false, as Denmark does not track the religion of its criminals. Pipes responded in the Canadian newspaper, The National Post saying, "Statistics Denmark does, however, produce are numbers on immigrants from Third World countries and their descendants, which it reports makes up five percent of the population; and it is known that Muslims make up four-fifths of this element. The latest police figures show that 76.5 percent of convicted rapists in Copenhagen belong to that five percent of the population, and from that we drew our understated conclusion."
justFeatures: Right, I saw the answer ... I saw the statistical backing for it ... but could you explain: what was the reason, what was the motive, for including this fact in the article?
Pipes: Well, there is, in much of Europe ... a two-sided problem: Muslim immigrants are not integrating, and the host societies are not reaching out to integrate them. So what you're finding is a growing body ... of immigrants and their children that are alienated from the society at large, that are not generally that conversant in its culture, sometimes in its language ... There was a famous case in France where there was a soccer game, and the Muslims of France started rooting for Algeria. Several problems affect the population, including unemployment and poverty, and these are facts that the Europeans in general are having a hard time coming to terms with.
justFeatures: My roommate is a Turkish Jew who lives in Istanbul, and this past Saturday morning he was woken up by a phone call from his father telling him about the dual bombing attacks in Istanbul...The current Turkish government-ruling party, I'm sorry-is generally considered a moderate Islamic government. What can you say about the future of Turkish-Jewish relations, and about the future of the Islamic movement in Turkey?
Pipes: I resist the term moderate Islamist. I think it is by nature totalitarian and aggressive. Some show it, some have a temperament that is more aggressive. It's like talking about moderate or extremist Nazism. It's the same phenomenon, though not all are killers, not all are as vehement, but it is still the same totalitarian movement. The Turkish question is a very complicated one, but there is a significant body of opinion in Turkey, unlike any other Muslim country, that is devotedly secular, Attaturkist. This has been the ruling elite, but has now been challenged in the past decade, and which way Turkey is going-towards Islamism or staying a secular republic-is an open question. There was a Prime Minister who was an Islamist in 1996-97, and he was thrown out. The new group is much more conscious of the steps it takes, but I think it is still heading in the same direction ... towards militant Islamicism, carefully, slowly.
justFeatures: In your lecture you said that the Palestinians do not accept Israel and that Israel needs to somehow get them to accept Israel before negotiating with them, before putting things on the table basically. So two questions ... what could convince the Palestinians to accept Israel, and what do you think Israel should do, or the U.S. should do, in the meantime, until that happens?
Pipes: Israel needs to formulate a policy with our encouragement that will ... convince the Palestinians that they have lost the war, it's over. And there are different means to achieve that. Some of them are military, as in Germany in 1945, but others are not, as in the Soviet Union, or South Africa in 1991. In both of those latter cases, through a complex set of developments, the Soviets or South African whites came to the conclusion that it wasn't workable anymore and gave up on it, and something like that needs to be applied to the Palestinians. They need to realize this is not working, it's not successful.
justFeatures: Over the summer I was on a program in Israel, and Ranaan Gissin (Ariel Sharon's spokesman) spoke to us. I asked him afterwards what he thought of the nuclear threat of Iran. Yesterday, I believe it was, the chief of the Mossad in Israel actually said that a nuclear Iran would be the greatest threat Israel has ever faced. Now, Gissin said Israel should react diplomatically, that it should be a matter of international diplomacy with pressure being put on the Iranians to stop their nuclear program. What do you think about that? Do you agree with him?
Pipes: Well, ideally we would have diplomacy, and if that fails then it will be military. The Iranians shouldn't be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, period. And that's ultimately the Americans' responsibility.
justFeatures: Do you think there is any hope that there could be a counterrevolution [in Iran]?
Pipes: Iran is one piece of good news in the Middle East. There is this abandonment of militant Islamic ideology, but it takes time, and they can probably sooner develop nuclear weapons than they can have a counterrevolution. But yes, it's in the cards. And so our policy should be twofold: one, have very strict red lines, that if the Iranians running the government go beyond that, we do what's necessary. And two, stay away otherwise, and let Iran develop in the way it is going, which is congenial to our interests, towards moderation.
justFeatures: The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the 1920s, I believe, but we didn't really see this militant, terrorist Islam, at least from my understanding, until the 1970s.
Pipes: Well, not internationally. There was plenty of it, for example, in Egypt in the late 1940s, with the murder of a Prime Minister and so forth. It tended not to be seen by the outside world. They hated Britain and the United States, but didn't do anything about it of any note. It was really in 1979, when they came to power for the first time, that they started to have more ambitious plans.
justFeatures: So that is why you think militant Islam has seen a surge around the world since then, because they came to power?
Pipes: Well, that's one thing. That's more a symptom than a cause. The causes lie in a deep sense of frustration and rage at the West, a sense of competition with that Islam had a better civilization, and the way to reestablish its strength was through militant Islam. I don't think it has to do with American foreign policy. I don't think it has to do with Iraq or Israel or anything specific like that. I think it has to do with something much deeper, a question of identity, of what one is, of what being a Muslim means, and while it is not a majority, it is a very potent minority, full of great ideas and strong ambitions.