Probably everyone remembers the brutal murdering of Theo van Gogh the Dutch film maker and the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed that led to riots, death threats and so on. Well, it’s happening again, this time with South Park! An extremist Muslim coalition from within the US has put out a death threat against the makers of South Park. Islam is not a threat to Western democracies? I think it very much is. In fact extreme Muslim organisations in Western countries are using free speech to attack free speech, which is both hypocritical and intolerable in a liberal democracy.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has warned us about Islam in her books The Infidel and The Caged Virgin (if we needed more warning). She’s done so in the most eloquent, well argued and convincing form possible. Then again, maybe we need the makers of South Park attacked before the underlying issues become obvious again.. and again. ‘Allah commands you to terrorise the infidel’. Hm, indeed, Islam is a very peaceful religion… not!
(Now to those of you who are also on the Left but happen to sheepishly avoid this topic and hide under the Left’s cultural relativism all I can say is that now is a good time to challenge some of your own ideas. These issues matter a great deal for the world right now. I’m not talking about terrorism, I’m talking about issues of inter-cultural dialogue, peaceful coexistence, our duty to defend women and children of minorities and not allowing them to be used and abused by their own men and hide behind the veil of cultural difference and ignorance, the essential right to free speech… if in any doubt I truly and deeply recommend reading any of Hirsi Ali’s books before you want to engage in an extended debate)
Will we start censoring ourselves? Many organisations, writers, film makers etc are already doing just that, the terrorising and shutting down of free speech is already under way and often working very well. This is tragic. I’m with Hirsi Ali, we must stand by freedom of expression and not allow our liberal values to be eroded and be bullied and terrorised into silencing ourselves. Important message for our times: not to be tolerant with intolerance.
I’m not a fan of CNN but this is a lucid explanation of this particular issue and the second half contains an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali whom I consider to be the most eloquent and wonderful author on the topic…
A wonderful new development is the ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’ which is a wonderful new subversive way of expressing your support for free expression, one that I hope one day will make fundamentalist blackmailing completely ridiculous and untenable.
*In the meantime I have also received a page of the most extreme cartoons depicting Mohammed and Allah. I think this page contains many unncessarily vulgar cartoons while others are apt, expressive and contain important points. However, regardless of whether they appear reprehensible for some or not, it is essential that we all defend our liberal democratic rights to free expression. Vulgarity and offensiveness in return can be criticized, ostrasized, mocked and attacked, but NOT with systematic intimidation, threats or killing. Many Muslims may never stop fighting against such cartoons but the more we all print them and disseminate them and talk about them, the more the tide will turn on this particularly weird chapter on free speech*