A Dutch politician and self-styled Muslim dissident urged Europeans to stand firm on Thursday in an international crisis over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, saying it was "necessary and urgent" to criticise Islam.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali praised newspapers in many countries which have printed the cartoons, considered blasphemous by many Muslims, but said others had held back for fear of criticising what she called "intolerant aspects of Islam".
"Today I am here to defend the right to offend within the bounds of the law," she told a news conference organised by her publisher during a visit to Berlin.
"It's necessary and it's urgent to criticise Islam. It is urgent to criticise the teachings of Mohammad."
Hirsi Ali, who was born in Somalia and brought up as a Muslim, has received frequent death threats for her criticism of Islam, including in a controversial film called "Submission" for which she wrote the script.
Its director Theo van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death by a Dutch-born Islamist militant in 2004, and a note threatening Hirsi Ali was pinned to his chest with a knife.
"Many Muslims are peaceful people; not all are fanatics. As far as I am concerned they have every right to be faithful to their convictions. But within Islam exists a hard-line Islamist movement that rejects democratic freedoms and wants to destroy them," the Dutch liberal member of parliament said.
She heaped shame on editors and politicians who had argued it was insensitive or irresponsible to reproduce the Mohammad cartoons, including one showing him with a bomb in his turban.
Meanwhile, from the Telegraph: 100,000 Muslims to vent anger in London at cartoon protest.
A mass demonstration of 100,000 Muslims will take place in London next weekend as anger continues over publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
The Muslim Action Committee, an umbrella group which claims to represent more than a million Muslims, said it would do as much as it could to prevent the ugly scenes seen last week when protesters carried placards issuing death threats and one man dressed as a suicide bomber.
But they said they needed to "channel" growing anger felt by communities across Britain that Muslims were being persecuted and made to feel like "second class citizens".
Muhammed Zahny is upset -- and not about the cold wind that is keeping customers away from his store on Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue.
"If I lose money, I don't care," says Mr. Zahny, who owns "Islamic Fashions." "But if I lose respect, then I have nothing left."
Zahny, originally from Egypt, says the recent republication of Danish newspaper cartoons depicting Muhammad, the messenger of Islam, as a terrorist is a sign of great disrespect for Muslims that's caused him pain. "There is no joke to be made about prophet Muhammad," he says.
But other American Muslims say their fellow adherents are overreacting. "When can we begin a civilized conversation, instead of this undignified and sometimes violent answer to what was quite simply an insult?" a member of the Progressive Muslim Union asked on an online forum.
The two sides illustrate the diversity of American Muslim opinion about the simmering global controversy. But they also dramatize a larger divide within the community about Islam's attitude about free expression. Many of America's estimated 2 to 3 million Muslims are angry, but instead of throwing stones, they are calling for American-style protests, such as boycotts of Danish products like cheese and yogurt.
Still, some fear that the violent demonstrations against the cartoons in Arab and European countries could spread here.
UPDATE I: From the Ayn Rand Institute: "Muslim Opinion" Be Damned by Alex Epstein.
As Muslim groups express outrage and issue death threats over cartoons depicting Mohammad, many Western leaders are responding, not with condemnations of the death threats, but with condemnations of the cartoons--and of the newspapers that published them.
This is the latest example of the apologies and hand-wringing that occur anytime there is any widespread display of Muslim anger. To listen to most of our foreign-policy commentators, the biggest problem facing America today is the fact that many Muslims are mad at us. ...
So-called Muslim opinion is not the unanimous and just consensus that its seekers pretend. It is the irrational and unjust opinion of the world's worst Muslims: Islamists and their legions of "moderate" supporters and sympathizers. These people oppose us not because of any legitimate grievances against America, but because they are steeped in a fundamentalist interpretation of their religion -- one that views America's freedom, prosperity, and pursuit of worldly pleasures as the height of depravity. They do not seek respect for the rights of the individual (Muslim or non-Muslim), they seek a world in which the rights of all are sacrificed to the dictates of Islam.
The proper response to Islamists and their supporters is to identify them as our ideological and political enemies -- and dispense justice accordingly. In the case of our militant enemies, we must kill or demoralize them -- especially those regimes that support terrorism and fuel the Islamist movement; as for the rest, we must politically ignore them and intellectually discredit them, while proudly arguing for the superiority of Americanism. Such a policy would make us safe, expose Islamic anti-Americanism as irrational and immoral, and embolden the better Muslims to support our ideals and emulate our ways.
A true Muslim moderate is one who protests desecrations of all faiths. Those who don't are not moderates but hypocrites, opportunists and agents for the rioters, merely using different means to advance the same goal: to impose upon the West, with its traditions of freedom of speech, a set of taboos that is exclusive to the Islamic faith. These are not defenders of religion but Muslim supremacists trying to force their dictates upon the liberal West.
UPDATE III -- Feb. 14: More observations on "moderate Muslims" from Rule of Reason blog: Islam makes 'Freedom of Speech' the new Ground Zero by Ed Cline.
The reader also wondered about the "more secular Muslims living and working in capitalistic Western countries" who "probably fall into a non-fundamentalist category." These are the very same "silent" Muslims who let the killers "misrepresent" their creed. They are silent either from fear of retaliation or because they agree with the killers but are too timid to say it outloud. Their brothers in Paterson, New Jersey and in Brooklyn danced in the streets and passed out candy when the WTC was attacked, celebrating the event with the same gleeful fervor as their brothers in the Arab countries.
If one wanted to witness a grotesque instance of men celebrating the destruction of the good because it is good, the "Arab street" here and abroad provided it on 9/11. One needn't be a fundamentalist to be a mute follower or silent sanctioner.
Posted by Forkum at February 9, 2006 05:29 PM