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The "Theological Iron Curtain"
Western values like freedom of expression are pummeled by totalitarian Islam; of course, in backward and repressive Muslim societies. But, now they're trying to bring their repression to the rest of us by evoking a special standard for "blasphemy." Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom writes:

Some of the world's most repressive governments are attempting to use a controversy over a Swedish cartoon to provide legitimacy for their suppression of their critics in the name of respect for Islam. In particular, the Organization of the Islamic Conference is seeking to rewrite international human rights standards to curtail any freedom of expression that threatens their more authoritarian members.

In August, Swedish artist Lars Vilks drew a cartoon with Mohammed's head on a dog's body. He is now in hiding after Al Qaeda in Iraq placed a bounty of $100,000 on his head (with a $50,000 bonus if his throat is slit) and police told him he was no longer safe at home. As with the 2005 Danish Jyllands-Posten cartoons, and the knighting of Salman Rushdie, Muslim ambassadors and the OIC have not only demanded an apology from the Swedes, but are also pushing Western countries to restrict press freedom in the name of preventing "insults" to Islam.

The Iranian foreign ministry protested to Sweden, while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asserted that "Zionists," "an organized minority who have infiltrated the world," were behind the affair. Pakistan complained and said that "the right to freedom of expression" is inconsistent with "defamation of religions and prophets." The Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs called for rules specifying new limits of press freedom.

These calls were renewed in September when a U.N. report said that Articles 18, 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights should be reinterpreted by "adopting complementary standards on the interrelations between freedom of expression, freedom of religion and non-discrimination." Speaking for the OIC, Pakistani diplomat Marghoob Saleem Butt then criticized "unrestricted and disrespectful enjoyment of freedom of expression."

The issues here go beyond the right of cartoonists to offend people. They go to the heart of repression in much of the Muslim world. Islamists and authoritarian governments now routinely use accusations of blasphemy to repress writers, journalists, political dissidents and, perhaps politically most important, religious reformers.

Examples follow at the link.

Not only should we continue to "insult" Islam -- and all religions, social or political movements we find reprehensible -- we should use any kind of coercion available to us (political capital, propaganda on the Internet, and economic sanctions) to force these primitivists to stop imprisoning, otherwise persecuting and even killing critics of Islam. Oh yeah, and like Marshall says, we should "condemn" them, too.

The ammunition we need to fight back against the totalitarianist sympathy-grubbers is in Walter Benn Michaels' book, The Trouble With Diversity, which points out that religious beliefs are simply beliefs, no different from Republican beliefs or Democratic beliefs -- contrary to the notions of those who equate being against somebody's beliefs with racism.

Posted by aalkon at October 7, 2007 7:52 AM

Comments

We're battling not just weird beliefs, but a human tendency for secrecy and don't-scrutinize-me-too-closely.

I have a reputation for being hard working and diligent, but I skipped out on work yesterday. I hope no one notices.

I just came from a liberal blog where the guy was raging against defense companies making record profits. I pointed out that publicly traded companies put their performance on the line by publishing their financials, and being traded on the stock exchange. If you abolish companies (which the poster seemed to imply), and give the work to our various government agencies, you lose a lot of scrutiny, because the various government agencies become somewhat akin to religions, where you are supposed to believe what they do is okay, just keep writing checks.

I proposed a stock market for bureaucracies, where taxpayers could direct their money to the agency deemed to be best with the money. So after establishing some measure of performance, one could "buy" more stock in the Dept. of Interior, and less in the Dept. of Agriculture, if the value for the money was felt to favor that department. I imagine the Dept. of Energy would quickly wither away.

Posted by: doombuggy at October 7, 2007 9:01 AM

Muslims put forward an ideology that requires unequal LEGAL treatment for non-Muslims, and then think THEY are the ones being discriminated against when non-Muslims criticize this ideology.

I've highlighted Islam's double standard to Muslims countless times. It goes right over their heads. Their attitude is that Muslims deserve respect and non-Muslims don't.

When you actually talk to Muslims it becomes apparent that real compromise is impossible and any compromise made by non-Muslims is culturally suicidal.

Where was the Muslim outcry when Muslims destroyed the ancient Bhuddist statues?

Posted by: winston at October 8, 2007 9:49 AM

Good post, winston.

"Where was the Muslim outcry when Muslims destroyed the ancient Bhuddist statues?"

Outcrying that it wasn't done sooner, I suppose.

Posted by: doombuggy at October 8, 2007 7:56 PM

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