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Australian preacher Wisam Hadad, a central figure in the radical Salafi and jihadi community in Australia and among English-speaking jihadi followers on social media,[i] recently commented in an online audio lecture about the controversy surrounding the relations between Muslims and France following the re-publication of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo magazine. Once again, the cartoons sparked a wave of outrage among Muslims, leading to deadly terror attacks in France and calls to boycott the country. Hadad, aka Abu Ousayd Al-Islami, declares that Muslims must not remain silent in the face of insults to the prophet by France, singling out President Emmanuel Macron. He writes that when Muslims see evil, they must oppose it with action [“the hand”], speech [“the tongue”] or in their hearts. He concedes that Muslims in the West are unable to take action, and must therefore focus on speaking out against such offenses or boycotting French products. At the same time, he stresses that according to Islamic law the only appropriate punishment for insulting the prophet is death, and that, while he isn’t calling for anyone to do anything “crazy” he wouldn’t lose sleep if anyone were to do such a thing. Hadad’s comments were made in an audio lecture titled “The Ultimate Response on The Insults of Our Prophet,” published on the Salafi Central YouTube channel and disseminated on his Facebook account.[ii] The clip has so far received slightly more than 1,000 views.
The 28-minute lecture begins with a short insert from a French ISIS song called “Blood for Blood.”[iii] This is followed by a Quranic verse vowing punishment for those who offend Allah or the prophet Muhammad, shown against the backdrop of an image of President Macron. The lecture is accompanied by footage of current events related to its content. For instance, when Hadad discusses the need to respond with outrage to the Muhammad cartoons, the footage displayed is of flag-burning and heated protests.
The following are highlights from the lecture delivered in English, lightly edited for clarity:
Hadad begins: “It has become the norm that if somebody attacks [the prophet] the norm is to stay quiet. The norm isn’t to react... If this is what the norm is, it hasn’t worked. Year after year after year the [infidels] make it worse in their attacks on [the prophet].
"Today my brothers and sisters we must understand that there is a war of ideas. This war is being headed at the moment by the people in France. And on top of them by the prime minister [sic, should be president] of France, where he speaks against Islam, speaks against the Muslims, allows cartoons that are drawn showing the prophet in the worst of ways, to be made public, or under the title of freedom of speech. And this is their hypocrisy, it is not freedom of speech, it is freedom to insult the Messenger of Allah and the Muslims."
Hadad refers to what he views as hypocrisy in the Western attitude toward freedom of speech, saying that in Australia, if one spoke against the Anzacs, he would be jailed, and that one can be jailed if he speaks against the “Jews killed by the Germans.”
He quotes Quran 3:118, according to which what the unbelievers conceal in their hearts is much worse than what they express, saying that what is surprising, therefore, is not how the non-Muslims behave, but how the Muslims react.
Hadad attacks Muslims who remain silent in the face of insults to the prophet Muhammad, especially clerics and leaders of Muslim countries who speak in favor of freedom of speech or “bow to the unbelievers.”
He then urges that Muslims respond to the perceived insults, but stops short of encouraging violence, although he does implicitly condone it: “My dear brothers we should know that we should react in whatever way we are possible to [sic]. We know from the hadith... that when you see an evil, change it, with your hand, with your tongue, and if [those options are] not [possible] than hate it in our heart. We are miles away from France, but by Allah we have hearts and we have tongues. We should be speaking up against this.”
Hadad warns that if Muslims remain silent about the current insults to Islam, then the next generation will learn that they are the norm and will not respond to similar or worse insults in the future. He continues, “No one’s saying to go and do anything crazy. No one is saying to do anything like that. But we must show our [zeal] for [the prophet] in whatever way we can. And by Allah, if someone was to do something in honor of [the prophet] I would not lose a moment of sleep.”
He adds: “We should know my dear brothers, and the world should know that the prophet Muhammad is the red line.”
Hadad stresses that under Islamic law certain punishments were set for certain transgressions and the punishment for those who insult the prophet, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, is death. “A person who insults [the prophet], Muslim or not – is to be put to the sword... And we do not and we should not hide away from this... My dear brothers, we have to show our love for [the prophet], we have to show that we are angry. It is not alright to be silent. It is not alright to show that we are cowards. If we continue to do so, and we continue to stay silent about the insults against [the prophet], we should not hope for any victory from Allah.”
Hadad concludes: “My dear brothers, yes we are in the West, yes we are here, but we have a tongue. Speak up against this. Say that you detest this. Say that you reject this. If you want to go a step further, boycott French products, anything that is made in France – boycott it... It’s the least that we can do, it’s a small amount that we can do to show our hatred and to show our loyalty.” Hadad mentions the success of the boycott on Danish products after the outcry against cartoons of the prophet Muhammad published in Denmark. He ends with a prayer: “Make du’a [pray] to Allah that he destroy these people. We ask Allah to destroy the people who are insulting the Messenger of Allah...”
[i] MEMRI JTTM recently published a comprehensive report about the network of jihadis in Australia, of which Hadad is a key figure. See Network Of Jihad Supporters In Australia Still Going Strong, August 13, 2020.
[ii] Facebook.com/Abu-Ousayd-al-islami-WH-1055321001209852, November 6, 2020.
[iii] See MEMRI TV Clip: ISIS Music Video in French Featuring Children: Your Roads Will Be Rigged by Mines, Our Swords Are Sharpened to Slice Necks, April 29, 2016 and MEMRI JTTM report, ISIS Nasheed In French Sung By Children Vowing To Take Revenge: 'Our Sabers Are Sharpened To Slice Necks',May 1, 2016.