In the interview, Hathout promotes himself as a “progressive” and an admirer of Malcolm X, calls terrorism as “the lousiest shortcut to failure” and stands by his criticisms of the Jewish state.
Q: You follow a more progressive Islam, one that respects a woman’s independence and a right to an education. Is this version winning out in the United States among younger Muslims or are they becoming more radicalized like their peers in Europe, the Middle East and Asia?
A: I underscore a version of Islam that I think is the real Islam ... from the higher sources, from the Koran and the model of prophet Muhammad. And we believe that our fair and neutral reading will lead to emancipation of women, equality of genders and to mercy and justice. ... I am afraid that this is sometimes overtaken by overwhelming anger and feelings of injustice.
Q: In 2000, during the height of the second Palestinian Intifada against Israel, you gave a speech using the word “butchers” to describe the state of Israel. Would you refer to a Palestinian suicide bomber in Tel Aviv as a butcher?
A: I refer to them as suicidal (people) who are committing crimes against civilians, and that’s absolutely wrong.
Remember, at that time, the Intifada was called the stone Intifada because they didn’t use weapons, they threw rocks. And I was very angry about (Israel’s harsh reaction), and I expressed that anger in the tone of my speech.
There was great brutality committed against the Palestinians ... which led me to say what I said. I clarified and, as a matter of fact. I apologized for the tone, not for the principle.
Q: What is terrorism’s appeal? Doesn’t it really just come down to the fact that it’s easier to hide in a crowd and lob bricks than to get involved in civil society, which always involves compromise and concessions?
A: Yes. Terrorism is the lousiest shortcut to failure. Terrorism does not achieve results. And I’m not talking only about this wave, I’m talking about history, whether in Russia ... or in Germany or in Europe or Ireland. Terrorism does not achieve things. What achieves things is the ability to deal with the opposite side ... to reach a compromise that does not violate human rights and justice.