Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Islamists vs. Free Expression in Europe

In a piece for the English language edition of Der Spiegel, Claus Christian Malzahn lays out the recent history of Islamist attacks on European critics of Islam. As Malzahn points out, the jihad against Pope Benedict is merely the latest example of a long and depressing trend:

Twenty years ago in the German city of Bremen, Dutch comedian Rudi Carrell's life depended on police protection. His offense? In a satirical program on German television, he let fly with a lewd joke about the then leader of the Iranian revolution Ayatollah Khomeini. Mass demonstrations in Iran -- orchestrated, no doubt, by the government -- were the result. The threats of violence led to an apology by Carrell, and he never again made a joke about any Muslim -- at least not on television.

In February 1989, the Ayatollah then released a fatwa calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie for his novel "The Satanic Verses." The book, he and other Muslim leaders claimed, was a grave misrepresentation of Islam. Rushdie's Japanese translator lost his life as a result of the fatwa and Rushdie himself went into hiding, though the Iranian leadership distanced itself from the fatwa in 1998. There remain, however, a number of fanatical Muslims who yearn to see Rushdie dead.

Feminist and Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch parliamentarian who recently left Holland, also lives under threat of murder. In addition to a number of interesting books about the oppression faced by women in the Muslim world, she also wrote the screenplay for the short film "Submission." In one scene, a verse from the Koran -- demanding that women bend to the will of their husbands -- is projected onto a woman's naked body. The film was provocative, and the filmmaker Theo van Gogh paid for it with his life. He was killed on the streets of Amsterdam by a Muslim fanatic.

And then there's Flemming Rose, the Danish editor who a year ago published a series of Muhammad caricatures in his newspaper. Months after they originally appeared, the Muslim world erupted in protest against the drawings. He too must fear for his life.

Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, the Pope -- Who's Next?

(Link courtesy of Watch)

If Europeans refuse to defend their rights of free speech and expression from the Islamists, they may well end up losing them.


Anonymous Ed Merwin, Jr. said...

I guess it depends on how "free speech" is defined. Apparently the Islamofaciest of the day accept "free" speech as long as speakers agree with them, or agree to suffer the, ultimate?, consequences. In other words, a word is a word is a word...

9:01 AM  

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