Thursday, June 14, 2007

Jihadist Literature Still Banned in Australia

Australian newspaper The Age reports that an Australian court has upheld that country's ban on two of the seminal works of jihadist ideology. The books in question, Defence of the Muslim Lands and Join the Caravan, were written by Abdullah Azzam, the mentor of Osama bin Laden:

The Classifications Review Board banned their sale last July after concluding both books "promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence".

But the civil libertarians took issue with that conclusion, also arguing the two decisions involved errors in law.

The books originally were allowed for sale, but were banned after the federal attorney-general asked for a review of the December 2005 Classification Board decision.

In linking to this article, Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer says the following:

Of course, Join the Caravan is readily available online, but nonetheless, this is a good principle to uphold. Would these "civil libertarians" have fought for the right to circulate Mein Kampf among Germans in the U.S. during World War II?

I find myself surprised that a writer who has justifiably condemned the banning of his own works would advocate banning someone else's, no matter how odious the ideas they contain. To answer Mr. Spencer's question, yes, I would have fought for the right for anyone in the U.S. to read Mein Kampf during World War II. How better to truly understand the full extent of the threat posed by the Third Reich than to read the bizarre rantings of its leader. In fact, not only was Mein Kampf not banned in America during the war, the U.S. government actually profited from its sales by virtue of having seized the book's copyright.

Mr. Spencer fervently believes, as I do, in the necessity of confronting the dangers posed by Azzam's legacy. How can we enable people to comprehend that threat if we deny them the ability to study the ideas that underlie it?


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