Rheil Ghraibeh, a spokesman for Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, demanded an apology from Denmark. “˜Holocaust denial is targeted by laws in Europe. Why can’t we have laws that protect all religions and prophets?” he asked.” — from this article
But the “Holocaust” (perhaps “Nazi murder of European Jews,” a formulation less abstract and less easily alluded to in pro-forma fashion) is an event in history. The denial of it is participated in only by the most sinister, those who show an obvious lack of sympathy for the Jewish victims (impliedly “exaggerators”) and plenty of sympathy for the perpetrators (impliedly wrongly accused). Holocaust-deniers are simply lying about history.
But cartoons about this or that figure in this or that system of belief (in this case exhibiting some of the features of what we are accustomed to call a “religion”) do not deny history. Isn’t it true that in the Qur’an Believers are told to “strike terror” into the hearts of Unbelievers? Isn’t the Qur’an full of Jihad-verses, about using violence to subdue — to kill — non-Muslims? Do those who have engaged in what we have no trouble defining as “terrorism” merely engaged in combat, or qitaal, as mentioned 27 times in the Qur’an — that is, directly participating in Jihad through violence rather than through other means? If someone in the West (say, a Danish cartoonist or ten) wishes to express what an Infidel thinks of this, is he not entitled to?
Now, if Muhammad had never had sexual intercourse with little Aisha at the age of nine (she having been betrothed to him three years earlier, when she was six), and had Muhammad never taken part in the decapitation of the bound prisoners of the Banu Qurayza, and never attacked the inoffensive Jewish farmers (unaware of his existence) of the Khaybar Oasis, and never sanctioned the killing of Asma bint Marwan or Abu Afak, they might have a point. If he had never done any of these things and more, but Infidels insisted that all of these things had been done — that is, if Infidels had invented all those details of Muhammad’s life — there might be a point, a point about a denial of historical events. But all the absurd play with history demonstrates that the denial and fabrication of historical events is happening on the other side — from the attempts to invent the “Muslim discovery and settlement of Australia” to “Muslim members of Columbus’ expedition” to backdating of Muslim arrivals in the West, to a highly fantastical reading of Western history by Tariq Ramadan and others to make the Western world forget its own past and attribute to the world of Islam everything that came out of that West and that could not for one minute have been produced in the Muslim world.
All peoples, non-Muslims as well as Muslim, are capable of mass illogic. There is always a readiness to believe in absurd conspiracy theories, or in the quasi-divinity of a leader who can do no wrong. And all peoples, non-Muslims as well as Muslims, can find it possible to blame others for their own self-generated woes. But that mass illogic, that mental confusion, that readiness to believe the most absurd conspiracy theories, is demonstrably much more durable, and widespread, among Muslim peoples today. And it is perfectly reasonable to find the explanation for that in the habit of mental submission that Islam encourages, and the absence of free and critical inquiry within Islam, an inquiry that Islam discourages.
Danish papers, in an intelligent and necessary show of solidarity and refusal to be intimidated, recently reprinted the Muhammad cartoons. But where was The Times (of New York, London, Los Angeles)? Where were the Washington Post, The Telegraph, Le Monde, Figaro, and a thousand other places? They should all have, on an agreed date, or perhaps in staggered fashion, have reprinted the cartoons. And kept it up, and kept it up.
Perhaps an international Committee For the Defense of Free Speech needs to be formed. Its purpose would be to explain the extent of free speech, and those limits on it that are proper, and those that are not. And among those limits that are not proper are those that Muslims demand.
Those cartoons should not be of note. They should be so common as to evoke the same yawn of indifference that any similar efforts, directed at any other target, would evoke.