Sunday, May 14, 2006

Al Qaeda's War on Intellectual Freedom

On May 12, Agence France Presse reported the following:

A VIDEO by an al-Qaeda member posted on the Internet overnight calls on Muslims to attack Denmark, Norway and France for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

"Muslims avenge your Prophet .... We deeply desire that the small state of Denmark, Norway and France ... are struck hard and destroyed," said Libyan Mohammed Hassan, who escaped from US custody at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan last July.

"Destroy their buildings, make their ground shake and transform them into a sea of blood," said Hassan, dressed in military fatigues and a black turban, and holding an assault rifle.

Such statements echo the recent comments of Osama bin Laden, in which he called for the murder of "heretics" and "freethinkers", and should lay to rest any doubts about whether or not the jihadists hate freedom. As Amr Hamzawi points out, bin Laden and al Qaeda not only hate freedom, they also fear the consequences of its spread in the Muslim world:

The second remarkable aspect of bin Laden's videotape was his addressing, albeit by assailing them, Arab liberals. In previous videotapes, he accused pro-Western Arab governments and official religious institutions of seducing their populations away from the path of jihad. But this time he blamed Arab liberal intellectuals and writers for betraying the true spirit of Islam. For bin Laden, the liberals disseminate "blasphemous ideas" of democracy, human rights, and moderation, and in so doing diminish the degree of popular support for Al-Qaeda's jihad. The Al-Qaeda leader's decision to open a front against Arab liberals may threaten them, but it is also a testimony to their moral and political influence in the Arab world of today.

Arab reformist Dr. Shaker al-Nabulsi echoes these sentiments, and argues that al-Qaeda's threats against "freethinkers" are a sign of weakness. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) summarizes Dr. al-Nabulsi's views as follows:

Bin Laden's explicit threat, in his recent audio tape, to murder freethinkers and secularists in the Arab world is further proof that "the forces of oppression and darkness are drawing back every day, while the forces of light and enlightenment are advancing every day, albeit slowly."

Al-Qaeda's war against intellectual freedom is an integral part of their struggle to impose their barbarous totalitarian vision over the Islamic world. If they succeed, they will eagerly seek to wipe out intellectual freedom here in the West as well. If we choose to sacrifice the freedom and safety of Dr. al-Nabulsi and others for our own comfort, we will simply place ourselves and our liberties in even greater jeopardy.


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