By Stephen M. Flatow
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas denounced as “heinous” the attack on French satirists who mocked Islam. That must have come as quite a surprise to the Palestinian satirist of Islam whom Abbas recently jailed, tortured, and forced to publicly recant.
The massacre of the staff of the Charlie Hebdo magazine was a “heinous crime, condemned by morality and religion,” Abbas declared in a telegram to French President Francois Hollande.
Abbas never uses such language when commenting on Palestinian terrorist attacks in which Israeli Jews are murdered. At the most, he’ll say that he is against “all terrorism.” Usually he’ll add a reference to “state terrorism,” which is his way of saying that whatever some Palestinian did, everything the Israelis do is worse.
Sometimes, Abbas’s “condemnations” are issued only in English, and don’t even appear in the Palestinian news media, which is where they are needed. Even when they do show up in the PA’s media, though, they come with a wink and a nod that Abbas’s followers understand.
Consider, for example, how Abbas’s condemnation of the Nov. 18 Jerusalem synagogue massacre was interpreted by Member of Parliament Najat Abu-Bakr, who is a representative of Abbas’s own Fatah movement. Abu-Bakr told Al-Quds Radio on Nov. 19, “The Palestinian president is forced to speak this way to the world and these statements result from his responsibility for the Palestinian people.” In other words: When he condemns killing Jews, don’t worry, he doesn’t really mean it-he’s just forced to say these things to the outside world.
But the real irony in Abbas’s condemnation of the attack on the French satirists, and his joining others in the Paris march, is to be found in his own brutal treatment of a Palestinian satirist.
A few years ago, Walid Husayin, a blogger who resides in the PA-ruled city of Kalkilya, made the mistake of “spoofing Koranic verses,” as the New York Times put it. On October 31, 2010, Palestinian Authority security men burst into the internet cafe that Husayin frequented and hauled him off to prison.
Article 37 of the PA’s Press Law forbids “articles and materials harmful to religion and doctrines guaranteed by law,” that is, “harmful” to Islam. That’s the “democratic” Palestinian justice system that American money and experts have helped create.
Husayin spent 10 months in a PA prison. One can only imagine what that was like. Finally, smarting from international criticism-not that there was very much of it-the Abbas regime released Husayin. But in the months to follow, he was repeatedly re-arrested and interrogated for days at a time. On one of those occasions, Husayin said, he was “beaten with cables” until he vomited blood, and “forced to stand in a painful position” for various periods. PA security men also smashed his computers and warned him to stop blogging.
Husayin got the message. He posted a public apology, begging forgiveness from the Muslim world for his “stupidity.”
Mahmoud Abbas’s condemnation of the Paris attacks rings hollow when one realizes that his words apply precisely to his own actions. The PA’s arrest, torture, and suppression of Walid Husayin for daring to spoof the Koran was a “heinous crime,” one that violates “morality and religion.” Why should American taxpayers’ dollars continue to be used to prop up his totalitarian regime?
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.