Latest from the Washington [bleep].
Here is a good example of the not-completely-wrong sort of writing that does so much to cloud the issue over Islam’s fundamentally hostile and intolerant nature. Here Paul Marshall appears critical of practices in Islamic countries such as repressing speech on the grounds of blasphemy. OK. But the article gives the impression — falsely — that anti-blasphemy laws are somehow aberrant in the Islamic dispensation. Hardly. Muhammad himself had critics and deriders of his faith assassinated.
Some of the world’s most repressive governments are attempting to use a controversy over a Swedish cartoon to provide legitimacy for their suppression of their critics in the name of respect for Islam. In particular, the Organization of the Islamic Conference is seeking to rewrite international human rights standards to curtail any freedom of expression that threatens their more authoritarian members.
Islamic tyrannies hardly need the Swedes to justify repressing Islam’s detractors. What isn’t pointed out here is that the OIC already does not accede to the UN Declaration on Human Rights but accepts only an “Islamic Declaration of Human Rights,” which explicitly accepts the paramouncy of Islam, i.e., the systematic repression of the human rights of freedom of speech, religion, conscience, etc, etc. Maybe the [bleep] could point this out someday?
The issues here go beyond the right of cartoonists to offend people. They go to the heart of repression in much of the Muslim world. Islamists and authoritarian governments now routinely use accusations of blasphemy to repress writers, journalists, political dissidents and, perhaps politically most important, religious reformers.
As the late Naguib Mahfouz, the only Arab winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, and whose novel Children of Gebelawi was banned in Egypt for blasphemy, put it: “no blasphemy harms Islam and Muslims so much as the call for murdering a writer.”
A pithy comment — except that it utterly contradicts Islamic teaching. Blasphemy laws and calls for heads on platters may be bad PR in the West, but it comes straight out of orthodox Islam.
Repressive laws, supplemented and reinforced by terrorists, vigilantes and mob violence, are a fundamental barrier to open discussion and dissent, and so to democracy and free societies, within the Muslim world.
Well, duh. The writer is clearly under the mistaken impression that Islamic countries want “democracy,” etc. or that they care about what the infidel world thinks of them.
When politics and religion are intertwined, there can be no political freedom without religious freedom, including the right to criticize religious ideas. Hence, removing legal bans on blasphemy and ‘insulting Islam’ is vital to protecting an open debate that could lead to other reforms.
This last sentence is a good example of a statement that is simultaneously technically correct and fantastically bone-headed. One might as well have said that stopping the deportation of Jews in Nazi Germany or the destruction of churches in the Soviet Union was “vital to protecting an open debate that could lead to other reforms” — it completely misunderstands that nature of the regimes in question. It is the nature of Muslim countries to repress anyone critical of Islam just as it was the nature of the Third Reich to be anti-Jewish or the Communists to be anti-Christian.
Paul Marshall, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, is writing a book on blasphemy.
A “book on blasphemy?” Another politically correct abstraction that purposefully avoids the peculiar nature of Islamic attitudes toward blasphemy, etc. One expects it will be something like Amanpour’s series on religious “fundamentalism” — projects intended to show that all seriously religious people are dangerous whack jobs just itching for the opportunity to fly a 767 into a crowded office building.