Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Intellectuals vs. Islamists

From the Summer 2006 issue of Middle East Quarterly:

On October 22, 2005, the France 2 television talk show Tout le Monde en Parle aired an interview with writer Salman Rushdie and French actor and Islamist Sami Nacéri. Left on the cutting room floor was an ugly incident during taping when Nacéri accused Rushdie of debasing Islam. If an imam asked him to kill Rushdie, Nacéri went on, he would himself shoot the bullet into Rushdie's head. He then pantomimed firing a gun at Rushdie.

Philippe Val, editor of the French left-wing weekly Charlie Hebdo, described the omitted segment in the November 2 issue of the magazine. French reaction was minimal. While some journalists debated whether celebrities made appropriate commentators, there was little discussion of France 2's decision to delete the offending segment.

On February 28, 2006, in response to Nacéri's threat, France 2's censorship, and the decision of several newspapers not to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, twelve prominent Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals issued a manifesto first published on the French website Proche-Orient.info. The translation, replicated below, was later published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten. The willingness of prominent thinkers, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to stand together suggests that intellectuals recognize the totalitarian nature of Islamism and are determined not to cede terms of the societal debates to Islamists.


(emphasis added-DD)


The text of the manifesto makes clear the extent of the Islamist threat to intellectual freedom, and the necessity of opposing it. The following passage in particular lays out the stakes:

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.

We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity, and secular values for all.

The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilizations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.



It would be nice if more people in the library profession, both in the US and internationally, could come to this realization.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Greg said...

People accuse me of being a reactionary chickenhawk but even I balk at stuff like this. You wonder how it can possibly be true. It is true, but still hard to fathom.

10:37 AM  

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