Sunday, June 21, 2009
Indeed, I am holding the text of my 20-minute address inside a folder in one of my hands, now rigidly outstretched as I am being searched. The speech is called ``The Impact of Islam on Free Speech in the U.S.,'' but as I am checked for bombs and knives and whatnot, my thought is of the impact of Islam on free society everywhere.
Such a thought surely tops the heights of ``political incorrectness,'' I know. But what should I do - not express it? Not think it? Not even notice that Western civilization, in skewing to accommodate the jihad threat of Islam within, has already traded away too much precious freedom?
As the security officer continues patting me down, I follow this forbidden train of thought to the realization that it is only due to the incursions of Islam into the West - Islam with its death penalty for criticism of Islam - that I am now standing here under guard. Here we are (for there is a long line behind me by now), participants in a conference to consider Islam's censoring impact on free speech, and Danish security is doing its best to prevent Islam from censoring the speech of anyone here permanently. This strikes me as an exceedingly hard way to prove a point.
Not that there are many people likely to try outside the elegant, security-ringed conference room upstairs. In PC lingo, security in the basement is looking for ``terrorists'' or ``extremists'' - those postmodern designations for perpetrators of Islamic jihad that, presto, turn everything Islamic into something generic. Still, with Islam comes jihad, and with jihad comes Islamic law (Sharia), no matter what ``experts'' tell you. And because Islam is a growing presence in the West, Western countries must now and presumably forever expend vast sums of money and manpower to manage - not defeat, just manage - the jihad that can break out in acts large and small at any time. Increasingly, this also means deferring to Sharia. Finally, my pre-conference frisk is over. Hallelujah, I am no threat to society and allowed to pass. I go on to meet for the first time the great author Wafa Sultan, and meet again the great Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, the two most illustrious speakers on the conference roster.
Both Sultan and Wilders, of course, live under unrelenting, permanent and Islamic threat of death for their critiques of Islam, in a very real way suffering every day for defying Sharia's prohibition against criticizing Islam. But does the outrageousness of their plight resonate with their fellow citizens? I don't think so. I think we've all grown much too used to it, and dully complacent.
But imagine if I had written, circa 1970, that for his critique of communism, Ronald Reagan lived under unrelenting, permanent and communist threat of death in his beloved California, that he couldn't travel the streets of Los Angeles without a massive security retinue, that he could no longer even sleep in his own home. Wouldn't Americans have become rightly agitated over the communist enemy within?
I think the answer would have been yes, but the point is, no such mortal homeland danger existed at that time for those who spoke against the leading threat to Western-style liberty. Today, a mortal homeland danger does exist. I won't tell you what it was like to slip in and out of the Wilders security bubble during the course of his stay in Copenhagen, but suffice it to say, it is both a veritable shame and an outrage that his life depends on that bubble, and that for speaking his mind in defense of Western-style liberty he has lost his own freedom.
The same goes for Wafa Sultan, who, for attacking the repressiveness of Islamic law (under which she existed for 30 years in Syria), also lives privately a similarly wary, hunted life that necessitates protective security measures.
Remember, this is happening in the ``Free World.'' Whether in Denmark, Holland or the United States, the heavy hand of Islamic law is pressing in on its leading critics, squeezing the freedom out of their existence. It is time to say enough - literally enough, for example, and stop Sharia by stopping Islamic immigration - and throw off the rising chokehold of jihad-advanced Sharia. I guarantee it will take a lot more effort than just patting down the occasional free speechnik, but I also guarantee that for the sake of free speech it is worth it.
By Diana West
Monday, March 16, 2009
Second, Government of Nederland decided to prosecute president of a political party of this small European state for hurting the sentiments of Muslims with his film “Fitna” based on some controversial ayats of Quran. After the decision of government of Nederland Geert Wilders decided to visit few European countries with message of his controversial film and United Kingdom was one of them. Geert Wilders was banned from UK government and was told to refrain himself from entering into the borders of Britian. Geert Wilders tried to defy the government orders but he was arrested at the airport and expelled from Britain. Geert called this development as a great set back to the freedom of expression.
In third incident, one leading English news paper published from West Bengal in India “The Statesman” reproduced an article from a British news paper and this article become bone of contentious between News paper and Muslim society. Local Muslim groups objected to this article as they found it with some objectionable remarks on their prophet and in few hours of this publication anger come out on streets and local administration intervened and later succumbs to pressure of Muslim groups and decided to arrest editor of news paper with one of his employees although both were released immediately on bail.
All those examples that have been described above did not have any connection between them but still they indicate for one common question. Are we living in the era of Islamic censorship?
This question should be answered by us if we boast to be living in modern world where everyone enjoys the equal freedom. Some times it seems as we are surrounded with hypocrites and pseudo-liberals where Islam has been given privilege on every other religion because no author, publisher, commentator find itself in any regulation or self imposed censorship when it comes to the subject of critical review of any religion other than Islam. Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Jainism all the religions and its scriptures, deities and prophets have been painted in every possible ways which is nothing less than vilification of these sacred figures but any of this religion never approached UN to pass a resolution to stop the criticism or critical review of their scriptures or deities. This difference is pregnant with some larger implications on the society.
Values of modern world could not be imposed on other religions giving full immunity to one because one religion has potential to turn their anger in violence which could ultimately culminate in clash of civilizations.
In last few years world has been exposed to a new threat of extremism and intolerance and this phenomenon is cultivated with theory of atrocity on Muslims. It is very difficult to understand why Muslims around the world always talk about their grievances and impose the responsibility of their grievances on other countries and people. Core of this theory revolves around the exploitation of resources of Middle East from western countries in common and US in particular but it is not the only case even India is also not out of the orbit of this theory. Indian Muslims also being taught how they have been treated with second class partisan behavior. But the most important aspect of this theory is how honest its propagators are and this is the parameter from which we can measure the honesty and political motivation behind this theory.
Theory of atrocity on Muslims is very much related with privilege of Islam and danger of Islamic censorship. Muslims around the world have not only been told how that they have become victim of exploitation but they are told their religion has also been targeted. This theory has made the Muslim across the world over conscious about their religious identity and every step for modernity is proportionate to merging of their religious personality with modern world. This fear psychosis of Muslim society has been exploited by Islamic religious and political leaders very shrewdly.Continue reading here
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Emerging Muslim Freethinkers and the Battle of Civilizations
by MA Khan
05 Mar, 2009
The Muslim world is obviously in a mess. Political instability, unbridled corruption, lack of economic development, widespread intolerance and violence, and lack of freedom, liberty and human rights are some of the traits that characterize Muslim societies most glaringly. All indications suggest that things will get only worse over coming decades.
Amongst many factors that differentiate Muslim societies from most other progressive and more peaceful societies are its missing freethinkers—namely critics and reformers—who are able to criticize the troublesome aspects of its societal core, its religious foundations. Other societies had its problems in the past. However, those societies allowed the emergence of progressive freethinking scholars, philosophers and reformers. They exercised variable measures of liberty to criticize, to point fingers at, the underlying reasons, including the religious ones, of the many ills of their societies. Jewish societies produced brilliant minds like Benedict de Spinoza, Carl Marx and Albert Einstein amongst many other; Christianity produced great thinkers like Rene Descartes, Emmanuel Kant, David Hume, John S Mill, Bertrand Russell and many more. Some of these thinkers, Spinoza for example, attracted ire from religious authorities, faced excommunication. Nonetheless, their ideas and views were not choked out; instead, they were disseminated with some measure of ease; security to their life was not threatened. The resilience, the power, of their progressive and reformative social, political and philosophical ideas eventually triumphed. As a result, those societies reformed, secularized, progressed and prospered.
But Muslims societies, the core of which is most intimately integrated with its religious ideals, have never really allowed the emergence of its own breed of freethinkers and progressive reformers, particularly over the past eight centuries.
As long as intolerance of dissenting ideas remain in force, Islamic world will unlikely emerge from its current malaise and lack of material progress. It is unlikely to change any time soon. There is, however, a glimmer of hope. Kicked out of their home countries, some Muslim dissidents—harbored by the liberal West—are showing their intellectual prowess. Muslim apostates like Ibn Warraq and Ayaan Hirsi Ali have written bestselling books. Most of all, they, for the first time, are pointing fingers at the debilitating nature of the Islamic theology, which must undergo modernization as have other creeds.
Read it all here
Saturday, March 7, 2009
If what happened to Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury, editor in chief of the Bangladeshi Weekly Blitz and peace activist, and his colleagues, happened in Tibet or Burma, for instance, the international media would rush to these regions and report about them meticulously, and human rights activists worldwide would take to the streets and demonstrate against the oppressors.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Whenever a religious belief is criticised, its adherents say they're victims of 'prejudice'
by Johann Hari
The right to criticise religion is being slowly doused in acid. Across the world, the small, incremental gains made by secularism - giving us the space to doubt and question and make up our own minds - are being beaten back by belligerent demands that we "respect" religion. A historic marker has just been passed, showing how far we have been shoved. The UN rapporteur who is supposed to be the global guardian of free speech has had his job rewritten - to put him on the side of the religious censors.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated 60 years ago that "a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief is the highest aspiration of the common people". It was a Magna Carta for mankind - and loathed by every human rights abuser on earth. Today, the Chinese dictatorship calls it "Western", Robert Mugabe calls it "colonialist", and Dick Cheney calls it "outdated". The countries of the world have chronically failed to meet it - but the document has been held up by the United Nations as the ultimate standard against which to check ourselves. Until now.
Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, led by Saudi Arabia, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and speak freely failed to "respect" the "unique sensitivities" of the religious, they decided - so they issued an alternative Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. It insisted that you can only speak within "the limits set by the shariah [law]. It is not permitted to spread falsehood or disseminate that which involves encouraging abomination or forsaking the Islamic community".
In other words, you can say anything you like, as long as it precisely what the reactionary mullahs tell you to say. The declaration makes it clear there is no equality for women, gays, non-Muslims, or apostates. It has been backed by the Vatican and a bevy of Christian fundamentalists.
Incredibly, they are succeeding. The UN's Rapporteur on Human Rights has always been tasked with exposing and shaming those who prevent free speech - including the religious. But the Pakistani delegate recently demanded that his job description be changed so he can seek out and condemn "abuses of free expression" including "defamation of religions and prophets". The council agreed - so the job has been turned on its head. Instead of condemning the people who wanted to murder Salman Rushdie, they will be condemning Salman Rushdie himself.
Anything which can be deemed "religious" is no longer allowed to be a subject of discussion at the UN - and almost everything is deemed religious. Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union has tried to raise topics like the stoning of women accused of adultery or child marriage. The Egyptian delegate stood up to announce discussion of shariah "will not happen" and "Islam will not be crucified in this council" - and Brown was ordered to be silent. Of course, the first victims of locking down free speech about Islam with the imprimatur of the UN are ordinary Muslims.
Here is a random smattering of events that have taken place in the past week in countries that demanded this change. In Nigeria, divorced women are routinely thrown out of their homes and left destitute, unable to see their children, so a large group of them wanted to stage a protest - but the Shariah police declared it was "un-Islamic" and the marchers would be beaten and whipped. In Saudi Arabia, the country's most senior government-approved cleric said it was perfectly acceptable for old men to marry 10-year-old girls, and those who disagree should be silenced. In Egypt, a 27-year-old Muslim blogger Abdel Rahman was seized, jailed and tortured for arguing for a reformed Islam that does not enforce shariah.
To the people who demand respect for Muslim culture, I ask: which Muslim culture? Those women's, those children's, this blogger's - or their oppressors'?
As the secular campaigner Austin Darcy puts it: "The ultimate aim of this effort is not to protect the feelings of Muslims, but to protect illiberal Islamic states from charges of human rights abuse, and to silence the voices of internal dissidents calling for more secular government and freedom."
Those of us who passionately support the UN should be the most outraged by this.
Underpinning these "reforms" is a notion seeping even into democratic societies - that atheism and doubt are akin to racism. Today, whenever a religious belief is criticised, its adherents immediately claim they are the victims of "prejudice" - and their outrage is increasingly being backed by laws.
All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don't respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don't respect the idea that we should follow a "Prophet" who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn't follow him.
I don't respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don't respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. This is not because of "prejudice" or "ignorance", but because there is no evidence for these claims. They belong to the childhood of our species, and will in time look as preposterous as believing in Zeus or Thor or Baal.
When you demand "respect", you are demanding we lie to you. I have too much real respect for you as a human being to engage in that charade.
But why are religious sensitivities so much more likely to provoke demands for censorship than, say, political sensitivities? The answer lies in the nature of faith. If my views are challenged I can, in the end, check them against reality. If you deregulate markets, will they collapse? If you increase carbon dioxide emissions, does the climate become destabilised? If my views are wrong, I can correct them; if they are right, I am soothed.
But when the religious are challenged, there is no evidence for them to consult. By definition, if you have faith, you are choosing to believe in the absence of evidence. Nobody has "faith" that fire hurts, or Australia exists; they know it, based on proof. But it is psychologically painful to be confronted with the fact that your core beliefs are based on thin air, or on the empty shells of revelation or contorted parodies of reason. It's easier to demand the source of the pesky doubt be silenced.
But a free society cannot be structured to soothe the hardcore faithful. It is based on a deal. You have an absolute right to voice your beliefs - but the price is that I too have a right to respond as I wish. Neither of us can set aside the rules and demand to be protected from offence.
Yet this idea - at the heart of the Universal Declaration - is being lost. To the right, it thwacks into apologists for religious censorship; to the left, it dissolves in multiculturalism. The hijacking of the UN Special Rapporteur by religious fanatics should jolt us into rescuing the simple, battered idea disintegrating in the middle: the equal, indivisible human right to speak freely.
From Common Dreams
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
A religious state that protects and facilitates the development of all religions adhered to by the people without any differences in treatment arising from the number of a religion’s adherent?In this context, it is essential that the State has a constitutional obligation to protect the freedom of religion of each of its citizens, when the Constitution is held in one hand, the holy book must be held in the other hand. This means that these two things have to work in harmony and that one cannot contradict the other.Maldives is one of the countries that lack experience as regards the protection of freedom of religion through the constitutional reform mechanism. In fact, this mechanism is an important tool in other countries when the freedom of religion finds itself under attack by state action.Constitutional reform in Maldives is confined to the review of laws. This means that the Maldivian constitutional system and its practice need to be developed more seriously. Due to the lack of constitutional protection mechanisms, there are currently huge obstacles in the way of citizens seeking to affirm their basic rights to freedom of religion.The Maldives is going through a period in history which the nation has never seen before. Through the constitutional reform Shariah Law is included or not. In a modern and in a liberal democracy the constitution and its government function on basic human right in which includes.1. A secular state.
2. A just and trustworthy government.
3. A free and independent people.
4. A vigorous pursuit and mastery of knowledge.
5. A balanced and comprehensive economic development.
6. A good quality of life for the people.
7. Protection of the rights of minority groups, religion and women and children.
8. Cultural and moral integrity.
9. Safeguarding the environment.
10. Strong defense capabilities
Out of the above ten most basic human rights. A free and independent people are one of the main principles of Islam and in a constitution. In a Shariah law or in a constitution or both combined, the most important is to create free and independent people.
Independent people are able to produce dynamic and positive new ideas which are beneficial for the promotion of individuals, families, society and country. Independent people are not a society which exempted from the rules law and ethics. It must be used as a base to develop a strong society and country. An independent and free people must be able to select and choose for themselves, besides adopt an open attitude towards external cultures and traditions which do not go against values and ethics and that contribute towards the development of the nation. It is not merely slogans and declarations but requires sacrifices and serious efforts which contribute towards the development of the country.IF Shariah Law is to be included in the constitution, what is the reason to make or amend the constitution at all?
when rule of law and regulation is written in Allah’s words in Holy Quran?
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
"UN-acceptable censorship: The United Nations tries to outlaw criticism of Islam," by Floyd Abrams for the Daily News, January 14:
Almost 500 years ago, on the wall of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses, characterizing as "madness" the notion that papal pardons could absolve individuals for their sins. As viewed from Rome, Luther had maligned, even defamed, the church. Luther was eventually excommunicated. His conduct ultimately led to the creation of a Protestant Church in Germany and a Reformation throughout Europe.
It is difficult to believe that in the 21st century anyone would seriously propose that conduct such as Luther's should be deemed illegal. But a few weeks ago, the General Assembly of the United Nations took a giant step in that direction. It adopted - for the fourth straight year - a resolution prepared by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference calling upon all UN nations to adopt legislation banning the "defamation" of religion. Spurred by the Danish cartoons of 2005, some of which portrayed the Prophet Muhammed in a manner deemed offensive by the OIC, the resolution was opposed by the United States, most European nations, Japan, India and a number of other nations.
Nonetheless, it has now been adopted. [...]
From the very first OIC resolution to the current one there has never been any ambiguity about its purpose: to intimidate those who might criticize Islam. As phrased in the original OIC resolution introduced by Pakistan in 1999, Islam was "frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism." But it is a fact that however one may debate about whether "Islam" bears any responsibility for acts of terrorism ranging from the murderous 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington to the more recent massacre in Mumbai, terrible acts of violence have been committed in the name of Islam. It is also the case that repeated human rights violations, including female genital mutilation, also have occurred in the name of Islam.
It is one thing to urge that all Muslims should not be criticized because of these acts. But the notion that it may or should be made a crime even to "associate" Islam with crimes too often committed in its name is inconsistent with any notion that both freedom of speech and religion should be protected. What cannot be even negotiable is the freedom, the unfettered freedom, to publish challenging books, movies and - yes - the Danish cartoons.
Be sure to read it all.