Sunday, November 19, 2006

Why the Choudhury Case Matters

Courtesy of the blog of Congressman Mark Steven Kirk, Janet Albrechtson explains in The Australian about why the case of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is so important:

WHILE Taj al-Din al-Hilali is now an international star, having attracted worldwide headlines for his recent outpouring of Western hatred, another Muslim man has barely registered on the media's radar screen. This man is facing the death penalty charged with blasphemy, sedition and treason. He was in court on Monday. His crime? He has been advocating peace between Muslims and the West. You won't have heard of this man. But it's time you did. From a small country half a world away, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is fighting Islamic extremism the only way he can: with words and ideas.

The West could learn something from this man. Slow on the uptake, we have finally worked out that the war on terrorism is, in the long run, a battle of ideas. When terrorists fly planes into skyscrapers, blow up a Bali nightclub, a Spanish train, the London Underground or an embassy in Indonesia, the worldwide media understandably gives maximum coverage to the death and destruction. For Islamist terrorists, it is another win in the propaganda war for Osama bin Laden, al-Qa'ida and every radical racing to join the jihad cause.

The West has been slow to realise that the only real way to fight terrorists who preach death and devastation based on a perverted Islam is by presenting an enlightened alternative to those thinking about joining the jihadists.

In some ways, it is the Cold War all over again.

(Emphasis added-DD)

The lack of intellectual freedom in the Arab and Muslim world has been crucial in facilitating the rise of radical Islamism. For one thing, it has fostered a climate in which free thought and expression is discouraged, thus helping enable Islamists to silence those they disagree with. In addition, the atmosphere of censorship and intimidation has stunted the growth of moderate viewpoints in opposition to the current ruling regimes. The only alternative that has been able to emerge is the totalitarian vision of the Islamists. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury and other Muslim liberals are risking their lives to change this situation. They deserve our support.


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