Muslim Hate of Free Speech

ROLLINS COLLEGE SUSPENDS STUDENT AFTER HE CHALLENGED RADICAL MUSLIM HATE SPEECH

MARCH 25, 2017

CENTRAL FLORIDA POST

The school’s academic double standard and complacency with dangerous hate speech is on full display.


By Jacob Engels


Not even a year after Radical Islamic terrorist Omar Mateen killed 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, Rollins College officials are punishing a Christian Conservative student who challenged a liberal Muslim professor and radicalized Muslim student during a conversation on the application of Sharia Law.


Marshall Polston confirmed to the Central Florida Post that Professor Areeje Zufari, who teaches a “Muslim Humanities” course at Rollins, has made outlandish claims against him and even filed a false police report.


Early on in the class, Polston said he realized the professor was harboring Anti-Christian beliefs, demonstrated by the professor’s assertion that the crucifixion of Jesus was a hoax and that his disciples did not believe he was God.


“It was very off-putting and flat out odd. I’ve traveled the Middle East, lectured at the Salahaddin University, and immersed myself in Muslim culture for many years. Honestly, it reminded me of some of the more radical groups I researched when abroad.”


Whether religious or not, I believe even those with limited knowledge of Christianity can agree that according to the text, Jesus was crucified and his followers did believe he was divine… that he was “God.” Regardless, to assert the contrary as academic fact is not supported by the evidence.


Polston says that he challenged her on this point during a class discussion and after that, Professor Zufari promptly failed him on a major essay and refused to provide input as to why she issued a 52% grade for the essay.


“I was upset, understandably. I’ve never gotten anything less than straight A’s, so I was really interested in figuring out how to possibly improve or at least understand the grade.”


This is when we step into the Twilight Zone. The teacher then reported Polston to the “Dean of Safety” at Rollins and cancelled class because she claimed he was making her feel “unsafe.”


When classes resumed, the professor decided to focus on a hot-button issue, the application of Sharia Law. During the discussion, according to Polston, another student made a shocking statement.


The student, a yet to be identified Muslim male, is said to have showcased a very strict adherence to the Quran in previous group talks. But this time, he went too far for many students in the classroom.


“He stated that a good punishment for gays, adulterers, and thieves was the removal of a certain body part, as determined by Sharia law.  It took a few seconds for me to realize that he actually said that, especially after what this community has faced with the tragic loss of life at Pulse,” explained Polston.


The Muslim college professor jokingly responded to the student that he was “in time-out” or something to that effect, and should remain quiet for a few minutes. Several students, of both Islamic and Christian backgrounds, thought the teacher should have reported the incident, but the request fell on deaf ears.


One student, who asked to remain anonymous, even reported the incident to the F.B.I., figuring it was better to say something than just ignore it.


That’s when Polston was summoned to the Dean of Safety’s office to discuss his probable suspension and how he was making Rollins College “unsafe” because of his difference of opinion with Professor Zufari and the hard-line Muslim student who displayed Islamic Fascist sympathies.


“They made it clear that they had not gotten a report about what the student said, and were more concerned about the danger I was causing to the campus. What danger? A difference of opinion in a college classroom is nothing out of the ordinary and certainly not dangerous. It was surreal and degrading. The bad grade was upsetting, but they were literally refusing to acknowledge the dangers posed by someone who advocated chopping off body parts on campus.”


The Central Florida Post reached out to the elite college’s media relations team several times earlier this week and never received anything back. We also texted the professor, who refused comment and seemed upset that she was being asked about the incident.


Now we have learned that Polston has been suspended from the school and ordered not to appear on campus or have any contact with Professor Zufari. That letter can be seen below.



Blasphemy is an unpardonable offence: PM


The Express Tribune

March 14, 2017

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that blasphemy is an ‘unpardonable sin’ and ordered authorities concerned to nab those responsible for posting such content on social media.


“Law enforcers should search for the people spreading blasphemous material and prosecute them under the law,” a statement quoted him as saying on Tuesday.


The prime minister also ordered stringent measures to be taken to stop blasphemous content from making rounds on social media.


“Love for Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the most valued asset for the believers,” he said, directing authorities to nab those involved in disseminating blasphemous material.


He ordered daily reports on the matter, saying international organisations should be contacted for the elimination of all blasphemous content. The Foreign Office, he added, should play its role in the regard, Radio Pakistan reported.


The PM’s statement came moments after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to submit a report on the activities of four bloggers – who went missing earlier this year and resurfaced a few days later – and how they had managed to leave Pakistan.


IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered FIA Director General Mohammad Amlesh to personally supervise the inquiry, pending before FIA, and ‘take action[s] which are necessary to achieve the objectives, strictly in accordance with law.’


Hearing a case of blasphemous material on social media, five bloggers had been accused of creating pages such as ‘Bhainsa’ ‘Mochi’ and Roshni.


Petitioner Salman Shahid, through his lawyer Tariq Asad, had approached the IHC stating that blasphemy was being committed through the pages.


Pakistan Telecommunication Authority chairman Syed Ismail Shah told the court that a number of pages containing blasphemous content had been blocked while efforts were being made to tackle the issue.


The chairman said there was a realisation of the gravity of the issue and assured the court that positive results would be achieved soon.



Attacking Free Speech is a Core Element of Terrorism

MAY 3, 2015
Afshin Ellian has a thing or two to say about terrorism.

He also has a few things to say about Islam – specifically political Islam – but many don’t particularly like to hear it. In fact, the threats against his life from radical Muslims, particularly in the Netherlands, where the Iranian dissident now lives, have become so frequent that at least one bodyguard accompanies him anywhere he goes.

But Ellian, a professor of jurisprudence at the University of Leiden, also knows a thing or two about freedom: he has spent his life pursuing it since his days as a student in Iran, where in 1978 he took part in the uprising against the Shah. After the revolution, the Ayatollah banned political discourse; threatened with execution, Ellian fled the country. He settled briefly in Kabul before further ideological conflicts led him to escape again, arriving as a political refugee in the Netherlands in 1989.

Now the human rights and counterterrorism expert works valiantly to protect the freedom that he so long fought for – even as he finds the most precious quality of that freedom itself now under threat: the principle of free speech.

It is this which recently brought him to the Nieuwspoort, a debate center for journalists and politicians in The Hague, a city not coincidentally known as “the International City of Justice and of Peace.” The occasion: the presentation of his latest book, simply and appropriately titled Freedom of Speech Under Attack.

In the post-Charlie Hebdo era, it is a book that defines our time.

Speaking to assembled press and his guest of honor, Flemming Rose – the publisher of Jyllands Postenand the renowned “Danish Mohammed cartoons” who also lives under guard – Ellian is clearly unbowed by the threats and attacks on his own freedom. To the contrary, he speaks the words many would prefer went entirely unsaid: Europe must defend itself against radical Islam. To do so, its strongest weapon, stronger than arms, stronger than money, is the protection of free speech.

Yet at the same time, the very principle of free speech is being abused by jihadists to destroy the democracies from which it was created, says Ellian. Recruiters for jihad, those who threaten apostates and Jews and who call for violence against the West rely precisely on the principles of free speech to spread their messages of hate. Consequently, he says, “democracy as a form of society must be understood in terms of a militant system. Whenever democracy is threatened by violence, it has the right to defend itself violently. The alternative would be suicide.” And freedom, he pronounces, “is no suicide pact.”

Ellian’s own confrontation with radical Islam in Europe dates back to 2000, when an article he wrote against the Prophet Mohammed’s orders to destroy poets led to death threats. (In addition to holding graduate degrees in philosophy and law, Ellian is a celebrated poet.) More threats followed, chiefly after the murder of Theo van Gogh in November 2005 by Muslim extremist Mohammed Bouyeri. Immediately after the killing, Ellian called on other Western intellectuals to “put radical Islam on the surgical table” and to fight back against politically correct censorship because, as he says now, “whenever a society applies self-censorship out of fear from terrorism, freedom dissipates.

Yet days after the presentation of Ellian’s new book, six members of PEN America, the prestigious organization for authors and writers that defines itself as a leader in the defense of free expression, called for a boycott against the association, citing its decision to honor the magazine Charlie Hebdo with its Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage award. When I tell him of this, Ellian’s fury sizzles through the phone.

“If you start with saying they shouldn’t make the cartoons,” he fumes, “you may as well say they shouldn’t write novels. After all, what have the Jews done? Why are they killed? Would the writers say they shouldn’t have been Jews? A writer who cannot tolerate such a prize is not worthy of the name ‘writer.’”

Indeed, it is precisely in the fight against terrorism, says Ellian, that the debate over free speech becomes most crucial – and where writers and intellectuals should speak out the most loudly.

“We in the West have the possibility of discussion,” he says, “the ability to talk about morals and religion. We can’t take on the model of the Islamic world. To the contrary: they need more freedom. We don’t need less.”

After all, it is just that inherent intolerance for debate that led to the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, the threats against people like Salman Rushdie and Flemming Rose and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (who, not coincidentally, studied under Ellian in Leiden) – and, of course, against Ellian himself.

That’s not to say that free speech has no limits, Ellian cautions, and this is what his book sets out precisely to address: what are the limits on expression and on speech, not only for philosophers and novelists, but also for jihadists? What can they say? What can they not say? Should speech that encourages hate and discrimination be criminalized? What about blasphemy? And what of the spread, particularly on the Internet, of anti-Semitism, and efforts to recruit others for jihad?

“For me,” says Ellian, “the limit comes at the point of calling for violence. But not like in France, where they have criminalized ‘glorification of terror.’ In my opinion, that goes too far.” He recently filed a civil complaintagainst Shabir Burhani, alias Maiwand Al Afghani, a former spokesperson for Sharia4Belgium, alleging threats and the promotion of violence. (Burhani, then a student at the University of Leiden, was alsoaccused of threatening Ellian directly in 2013. He has denied the charges.)

In the end, it comes down to a simple, basic principle: that freedom cannot be used for the purpose of limiting freedom – a form, as Ellian suggests, of suicide. But in the face of political Islam and Islamic terrorism, it can neither be absolute. “This,” he says, “is the core of terrorism. Terror wants to bring us back to 1,500 years ago. They want us to no longer write. But if you say, ‘you can’t talk about Islam,’ if you tell us to hold our mouths still, then terrorism has won.”

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.


Obama’s Religious Freedom Appointee Involved in Muslim Event Calling for Limiting Freedom of Speech

By Elizabeth Harrington 
March 26, 2013

(CNSNews.com) – America’s free-speech model is in desperate need of an update, says an American-Muslim human rights activist who recently spoke at an event linked to an Obama administration appointee.

Dr. Qasim Rashid argued that cyber-bullying laws could be used to limit freedom of expression – such as the burning of Korans -- in war time:

“When a nation is at war, many things that might be said in times of peace are a hindrance to this effort,” Rashid said on March 19 at Howard University.  “And their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and…no court can regard them as protected by any constitutional right.”

Rashid began his remarks by personally thanking Dr. Azizah al-Hibri, appointed by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in June 2011. Al-Hibri founded Karamah, a group devoted to the rights of Muslim women, and it was this group that invited Rashid to speak.

“I do want to start by thanking Karamah,” Rashid said.  “I was fortunate enough to have several constitutional scholars look at this paper and provide feedback. Dr. al-Hibri, of course…”

The topic of the March 19 event at Howard University was titled, “The Limits of Free Speech in a Global Era: Does America’s Free Speech Model Endanger Muslim Americans?”

“Our understanding of free speech today is not some long-held 227- or 235-year understanding,” said Rashid, a member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America, who presented a paper titled “In Harm’s Way: The Desperate Need to Update America’s Current Free Speech Model.”

Rashid quoted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who in 2011 said, “Free speech is a great idea, but we're in a war.”

Advances in technology that allow videos and messages to cross the world in an instant require a “revised speech model,” Rashid said.

“Most, if not all of you are familiar with the 2011 case where Terry Jones, a pastor from Florida, burned a Koran on March 20, 2011, and this event itself provides a prime example of the gap that advanced technology caused in America's free speech model,” Rashid said.

“So in addition to placing a big sign on his church lawn that said Islam is the devil, Jones burned the Koran, screened it live on the Internet and put in layman's translations so that people in war-torn [areas] in particular can see what he's doing,” he continued. “Now like the hypothetical KKK member who might burn a cross on his black neighbor’s lawn to target him specifically, Jones did the exact same thing by burning the Koran -- broadcast it and targeted Muslims in a war- torn country…to target them specifically.”

Rashid noted that government officials warned Jones that his actions might provoke violence, and while Jones said he knew it, he burned the Koran anyway, sparking deadly protests in Afghanistan and a condemnation by Pakistan’s government.


Militant Muslims Cutting Out Tongues

by Raymond Ibrahim

November 12, 2012

Why so much violence against the tongue? As the Sheikh of Islam himself: Ibn Tamiyyah, once wrote, "Waging war verbally against Islam might be worse than waging war against it physically."

A professor of Islamic exegesis at Cairo's preeminent Islamic university, Al Ahzar, Dr. Abdullah Badr, recently proclaimed on Egyptian television that a new day has arrived: apparently from now on, there will be absolutely no more toleration for anyone who speaks against Islam—including people who speak against the implementation of Sharia law and its seventh century punishments.

Badr is currently on trial for possibly libeling and defaming a female Egyptian artist, Elham Shahin, whom he called, among other disparagements, a "whore." An unrepentant Badr appeared again on TV, and made the following oath:

I have sworn to Allah, that any dog—for that is how Allah described them, for they are like dogs that are constantly panting—that any dog who mocks the Sharia, or mocks Islam, or blames it, we will cut out his tongue. I say this without hesitation: We will cut out his tongue! That's it. The time of transgressing against Islam, and speaking insolence, has passed—it is over. Today, the People of Lies [code for secular people] defend their falsehoods with great zeal; so shall we defend Islam with all our might—no matter what it costs, no matter what it costs! Let the whole world burn, but Islam not be mocked.

None of this is figurative. Days after Dr. Badr made these pronouncements, on October 30, a roaming band of Salafis in Suez attacked, severely beat and tried to cut the hand off a young Egyptian grocery store worker because he prevented one of their gang from using the store bathroom without permission. The bearded Salafi had said: "I do not ask for permission."

The assaulted youth's brother, angered at what had happened, then "insulted the men." Accordingly, Suez's new roaming band of Sharia enforcers, who call themselves the "Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," after Saudi Arabia's "morality police," claimed that he had insulted Islam and ordered that the man's tongue be cut out. This is the same group that earlier stabbed to death a young Egyptian man for walking in public with his fiancée.

The father of the two boys, a longtime local, gave more detail, including how he had never seen the Salafi group, who "spoke in formal/Quranic Arabic;" also, in this video, the father explains how one of the Salafis, "a short man," kept screaming at the top of his voice that his son "has insulted the religion! His tongue must be severed as soon as possible!"

With help from others, the youth managed to escape Sharia justice.

Not all attempts of tongue-cutting have failed, nor is this matter limited to the Salafis of Egypt. On May 3, 2011, a poet in Yemen had his tongue cut out by "unknown assailants," supposedly for writing a poem in praise of the Yemeni dictator Ali Abdallah Saleh, who opposes the Islamist uprising there. The prophet Muhammad regularly had poets who offended him assassinated, including one woman slaughtered while suckling her baby in her house at night.

Also, in April 2011, in "moderate" Bahrain, a muezzin was attacked, beaten, tortured—including with boiling oil—and had his tongue cut, reportedly to Islam's war cry, "Allahu Akbar!" in a wave of violence by Bahrain's opposition forces.

In the non-Muslim world, Muslims are also hacking at tongues. In Australia,

A Muslim man was recently sentenced to eight-and-a-half years' jail time "for severing a woman's tongue." Among other things, he invaded the apartment of a non-Muslim woman he was formerly involved with and "smashed an empty bottle over the 20-year-old's head several times, fracturing her eye socket. Tahir then dragged a knife across her face, cutting her mouth and severing her tongue, the court heard."

Why so much violence against the tongue? For the same reason that Dr. Badr would rather see the whole world set on fire rather than Islam insulted: the tongue—which utters words and free speech—is fundamental to exposing and combating the things of Islam, whether formal Sharia law or whether the violent, supremacist culture born of it. As the Sheikh of Islam himself, Ibn Taymiyya, once wrote, "Waging war verbally against Islam may be worse than waging war physically."

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

The Islamic Supremacists Advance

by Robert Spencer
Human Events
12/27/2011

The cause of freedom is by no means dead, but 2011 was a banner year for Islamic jihadists and supremacists the world over. Their advance was swiftest and most significant in three areas:

1. The “Arab Spring”: Widely hailed in the mainstream media as a flowering of Western-style democracy and freedom, in reality the revolutions across North Africa and the Middle East were from the beginning actually Islamic supremacist in nature. Fueled by the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups of like mind, the “Arab Spring” ushered in governments all across North Africa that are dedicated to the imposition of Islamic law and the eradication of all remaining vestiges of Western notions such as free speech and equality of rights for women and non-Muslims. The governments that are coming to power are certain to be even more virulent anti-American, authoritarian, and violent than the ones they supplanted.

Unsurprisingly, Barack Obama enthusiastically applauded these developments, actively aided them with U.S. military might in Libya, and abetted the false media narrative with some spin of his own. Speaking about the Libyan revolution in March, Barack Obama hailed “the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny,” and also praised “the peaceful transition to democracy in both Tunisia and in Egypt.”

Now, as Egypt rushes headlong toward becoming a Sharia state and going to war with Israel, Obama is scrambling to hold at bay the forces he is largely responsible for unleashing.

2. The new domestic anti-terror policy: Meanwhile, at home the Obama Administration brought to its logical culmination a policy of ignoring and downplaying the beliefs, motives and goals of America’s jihadist enemies that began during the Bush Administration. After a series of “exposes” in Leftist media journals about alleged “Islamophobia” (i.e. truthful and accurate analysis of how Islamic jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism) in terror training materials used in the FBI and other agencies, aghast Obama Administration officials promised to scrub training materials of anything that connected Islam with Islamic jihad terrorism, and to reeducate agents who had been exposed to such materials.

The suicidal idiocy of this was immediately apparent when several officials were pressed on how they proposed to identify potential terror threats, and they started talking about behaviors associated with Islamic piety. But the mainstream media didn’t press these officials on the obvious contradiction. Nor did anyone ask how Administration terror analysts proposed to deal with the fact that Islamic jihadists often give their groups Islamic names (such as Hamas, which is an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, and Hizballah, the Party of Allah) and explain their actions in Islamic theological terms – other than to stick their fingers in their ears and yell, “La la la, I can’t hear you.”

3. The war against the freedom of speech. Related to the Obama Administration’s Orwellian efforts to deny the Islamic jihadists’ own stated motives and goals is its signing on to Islamic supremacist efforts to suppress speech that is critical of Islam, even when it is truthful and within the context of anti-terror efforts. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a 56-nation body that constitutes the United Nations’ largest voting bloc, has been trying for years through the UN to compel Western states to criminalize “defamation of religions,” by which it means Islam only, and specifically efforts to analyze and resist the advancing Islamic jihad. After years of opposing these efforts, the Obama Administration signed on to a UN resolution condemning religious stereotyping and negative profiling, and calling on member states to act “to address and combat such incidents.”

One man’s “religious stereotyping and negative profiling” is another man’s accurate analysis of the Islamic jihad threat. Any effort by governments to “combat” such things would necessarily involve controls on free speech that would leave the determination of what actually constitutes stereotyping and negative profiling in the hands of a politically correct government official. If the OIC is pulling the strings, the result will be a muzzle on free speech that will render the U.S. mute and defenseless against the jihadist advance.

But that muzzle isn’t in place yet. So in 2012, it is all the more imperative for free people to speak the truth about jihad, and demand that truth from our elected officials – before it becomes illegal to speak it. 


A double standard for Islam

By J. ROSENBLUM 
10/29/2010
Jerusalem Post


Hate speech laws are applied in West against those critical of Islam, but never against Muslim imams who mock Jewish, Christian infidels.
Islamists everywhere demand respect for Islam, the prophet and the Koran, and threaten murderous mayhem should that demand not be honored. At the same time, they do not hesitate to express their contempt for other religions and their adherents, as well as the system of democratic rights protecting the freedom of religion.

Nor are those threats to be taken likely. More than 50 people died in violence triggered by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1989 edict against Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, and all those connected with its publication or distribution. Dozens of Europeans are now in hiding or under police protection because of death threats from Muslims.

Sadly, the West has to a shocking degree acquiesced in this double standard. The Washington Post removed from its website a cartoon including the words “Where’s Muhammad,” even though it contained no depiction of him; South Park’s producers edit episodes mentioning Islam but not those ridiculing Christianity; Yale University Press deleted all the actual cartoons from a book on the Danish cartoon controversy. Australian preachers were fined for quoting the Koran, and leading Dutch politician Geert Wilders was put on trial for his strident criticism of Islam.

Hate speech laws are applied in Europe against those critical of Islam, but never against Muslim imams who mock Jewish or Christian infidels. Even here, Tatiana Susskind was sentenced to two years in jail for posting a cartoon of the face of Muhammad on the body of a pig, but preachers from the Islamic Movement can broadcast what they want about Jews and Judaism.

The double standard conveys to the Islamists two dangerous messages. First, violence works; the West is terrorized. Second, Islam is the one true religion: Behold, even Westerners treat it with a deference not shown to Christianity or Judaism.

INTELLECTUALS AND cultural elites have played a major role in fostering the West’s acceptance of voluntary dhimmitude by manipulating the level at which the debate takes place whenever it touches issues of Islam. In part, intellectual attitudes are motivated by fear; in part by a refusal to acknowledge a civilizational struggle between the West and expansionist Islam. For some, the frisson of seeing their own bourgeois society under attack contributes to the fun.

The recent uproar over the threat of an obscure Florida pastor to burn the Koran provides a classic example of the different ways the debate is framed depending on whether Islam is perceived as the “aggressor” or the “victim.”

The Koran burning would undoubtedly have been protected “symbolic speech” under settled First Amendment doctrine. Burning the American flag, another highly charged act, has been protected by the Supreme Court. At the same time, it must be conceded that the Koran burning is highly offensive to Muslims and has no purpose other than to offend.

Let’s compare the response to the threatened Koran burning to another recent hot-button issue: the Ground Zero mosque. In discussing the proposed mosque, President Barack Obama focused, or at least claimed to focus, on the impermissibility under the First Amendment of banning only mosques from a particular area. He expressed, or claimed to express, no opinion on the propriety of the project.

The issue of the propriety of the project or the implicit message it would convey to the broader Islamic world was beyond the pale of legitimate discussion, proclaimed New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. He professed to be totally uninterested in the fact the project’s initiator, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is an advocate for the spread of Islamic law (Shari’a) or that he has assigned America part of the blame for 9/11 or that he initially described the site of the mosque as so close to Ground Zero that debris from one of the hijacked airplanes fell on it. That the building of the mosque will be viewed by Islamists worldwide as an example of Islamic religious structures replacing those of the conquered infidels is irrelevant.

Pastor Terry Jones, by contrast, was immediately condemned by Obama (“un-American”), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (“disgraceful”) and Supreme NATO Commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus. The latter argued that the Koran burning would endanger allied troops and make the Taliban’s recruiting easier.

In short, critics of Jones – just about every single person in America – framed the discussion of his proposed action in terms of its propriety or impact, and ignored its protected status under the First Amendment, while defenders of the Ground Zero mosque talked only of the First Amendment, and ruled out of court issues of propriety or the boost the mosque would give to the Islamist narrative of Islam triumphant.

Even more striking is the contrast of the calumny heaped on Jones, with the public discussion of grossest offenses to Christianity. Christians who protested the taxpayer-supported Brooklyn Museum of Art’s display of a picture of Jesus’s mother on a background of buttocks and female genitalia or the use of a National Endowment of the Arts grant to produce a jar with a plastic crucifix in urine (Piss Christ) found themselves pilloried by their cultural betters as philistines and lectured on the privilege of living in a society in which even the most transgressive art can find a public forum.

Only transgressive art that might rile notoriously irritable Muslims gets a pass. US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer seriously entertained the idea, in response to a question from George Stephanopoulos, that Koran-burning might be compared to shouting fire in a crowded theater if Muslims in Afghanistan would go on murderous rampages in response. He thereby treated Muslims as possessed of rage response instinct that completely bypasses all higher brain function.

THE DISPROPORTIONATE media attention focused on Jones served the Islamist cause by giving credence to the charge of Islamophobia, which is constantly used to exclude discussion of Islam from the free marketplace of ideas. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, for instance, felt compelled to “apologize to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness directed at you.”

Yet Islamophobia is largely a fiction. Jones, one person in a nation of more than 300 million, did not constitute a wave of anything. Hate crimes against Muslims are exceedingly rare in America – even after 9/11, the Fort Hood massacre, the attempted Times Square bombing and a dozen other foiled terrorist attempts. Hate crimes against Jews and Jewish institutions are eight times as common as those against Muslims.

The Western media consistently downplays the scope of Islamic threat, perhaps in an effort to calm its fears. The overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide are peace-loving fellows, we are assured, and only a handful of bad apples spoil the image of the rest. Ignored are the worldwide network of Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi mosques and the vast number of Muslim Brotherhood-inspired offshoots – not just al-Qaida and Hamas, but groups in Western countries promoting Shari’a as the only legitimate system of law.

Endemic problems in virtually the entire Arab and Muslim world are ignored. On a Freedom House scale of freedom (on which seven is the least free) the median for Arab nations is 5.5. For the rest of the world it is 2.5. Whether it is child brides in Gaza, institutionalized selection of dancing pre-pubescent boys as mistresses by older males in Afghanistan or widespread clitoridectomy in much of the Muslim world, the media take a pass. All these phenomena deserve more attention than Jones’s antics.

When Khomeini pronounced it the duty of every Muslim to kill Salman Rushdie and all those promoting his book, British intellectuals rallied to his defense. Recently, when Mollie Norris, a cartoonist for a Seattle alternative weekly, had the misbegotten idea of promoting “Draw Muhammad Day,” she was advised by the FBI to change her identity and go underground. Her own paper contented itself with a laconic announcement, “Mollie Norris no longer exists.”

The story of an American journalist fearing for her life in America received scant coverage.

No wonder Paul Berman titled his recent book on Western responses to Islam The Flight of the Intellectuals.

The writer is the director of Jewish Media Resources. He has written a regular column in The Jerusalem Post Magazine since 1997, and is the author of eight biographies of modern Jewish leaders.


1ST AMENDMENT UNDER FIRE

Conference on Islam canceled as hotel fears head-bashing
Corporate exec reacted to warning 'protests could erupt into violence'
Posted: October 24, 2011
By Art Moore


For the second time in less than a week, a major U.S. hotel has canceled an agreement to host an event on radical Islam's threat to America's freedoms, due to threatening messages to management.

The Preserving Freedom Conference, scheduled for Nov. 11 at the top-rated Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., features Robert Spencer, author of 10 books about Islam and director of Jihad Watch, and Pamela Geller, a WND columnist, editor of the blog Atlas Shrugs and author of the book "Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance." WND is a co-sponsor of the conference.

Stephen Eckley, senior vice president of hotels for Amerimar Enterprises in Denver – the Hutton Hotel's managing corporation, told WND it was his decision to cancel the event.

Eckley said he "wasn't exactly sure what the content of the program was," but he explained that he canceled it because of the threat of physical harm to people at the hotel.

"They were veiled threats that there were going to be protests that could easily erupt into violence," he told WND in a telephone interview.

Sessions planned for the conference include "The European Experience" with Shariah, "Religious Persecution Under Shariah," "The Dehumanization and Diminishment of Women in the West Under Shariah," "The Muslim Brotherhood In America" and "Fighting Islamist Propaganda in the Media."

Spencer and Geller are co-founders of the activist group Stop Islamization of America, which helped lead opposition to the so-called Ground Zero mosque in New York City.

As WND reported last week, the Hyatt Place Hotel in Sugar Land, Texas, near Houston, canceled a tea party event featuring Geller after complaints reportedly by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR. The D.C.-based Islamic group has sued the co-author of a WND Books expose, "Muslim Mafia," which documents CAIR's founding as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent of terrorist groups such as al-Qaida and Hamas.

Commenting on the Nashville cancellation on her Atlas Shrugs blog, Geller said Eckley "has caved to Islamic supremacist demands."

She warned that free speech, "the cornerstone of our constitutional republic, is in serious jeopardy."

Get your autographed copy of Pamela Geller's "Stop the Islamization of America" directly from WND.

Under the strict interpretations of Islamic law, or Shariah, practiced in many Muslim countries, she noted, criticism of Islam is punishable by death.

Geller said it's becoming increasingly apparent in the U.S. that "opposing the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth is now forbidden in the war of ideas."

Spencer told WND the conference will go on.

"We will find a new venue," he said, "but the Hutton Hotel's capitulation to Islamic supremacist threats and intimidation is a disgrace and a disquieting reminder of just how much the freedom of speech is threatened in America today."

On his JihadWatch.org website, Spencer emphasizes that his work is "based largely on quotations from Islamic jihadists and the traditional Islamic sources to which they appeal to justify violence and terrorism."

"My work sheds light on what these sources say." 

A weekly columnist for Human Events and FrontPage Magazine, Spencer has led seminars on Islam and jihad for the U.S. Central Command, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Army's Asymmetric Warfare Group, the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the U.S. intelligence community.

'Threat to my staff and my property'

Asked to respond to charges that he was "caving in" to radical Muslims, Eckley insisted he had "no idea" what the sources of the threats "were complaining about."

"All I am responding to is the threat to my staff and my property," he said.

Eckley said that management received "several calls, emails, letters and personal calls."

He refused to divulge any names but said he was not aware of any organization being behind the calls.

Eckley said he didn't know if any of the threats came from Muslims. A few of the complaints, he said, came from regular hotel customers, who he knew were not Muslims.

Geller pointed out that Nashville, with one of the nation's highest Muslim populations, is a "gateway city" for refugee resettlement.

Other scheduled speakers for the Nashville event are Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, William J. Murray of the Religious Freedom Coalition, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, Christopher Holton of the Center for Security Policy, Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition, James Lafferty of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force, Barrister Paul Diamond of the United Kingdom, Father Keith Roderick, Bishop Earl. W. Jackson, actor and former congressman Fred Grandy and Wafa Sultan, an ex-Muslim activist. 

Free speech threatened at University of California, Irvine

By DOVID ELIEZRIE
Published: Feb. 9, 2010

Rabbi Eliezrie is president of the Rabbinical Council of Orange County

Free speech's survival is at stake at UC Irvine. Its fate is in the hands of UCI Chancellor Michael Drake. 

On Monday night there was an assault on this most treasured principle of Americans. Michael Oren, a respected academic and Israel's ambassador to the United States, attempted to make a presentation to about 500 students, faculty and community members about U.S.-Israeli relations. A raucous group of protesters time and again interrupted his effort to create a bridge of understanding over the contentious issue of the Middle East.  The protesters screamed and shouted attempting to drown out the ambassador. One of one, they were removed by security officials who stood on the perimeter of the UCI Student Center.

After repeated interruptions, Oren stepped out. In a side room, officials from the university, the Jewish community and the Israeli Consulate were questioning if the ambassador should continue. The real question was would the university be a place for an exchange of ideas or one where totalitarianism and verbal violence would hold sway.

The ambassador told Chancellor Drake, "It's not about me speaking, it's about the right of academic freedom on campus." I told Drake that it was time for him to consider suspending or expelling students who believe they can use violence and intimidation to impose their views on others.

Eventually, Drake returned the hall, lamented the acts of the protesters and made a plea for civility.

In my view, his words were weak, lacking the determination needed. It was the chair of the Political Science department, who made a stronger statement, saying that "there would procedures taken against those who had attempted to destroy the evening." 

Finally, Ambassador Oren returned. A short while later, several people marched out, with the ambassador stating, "I wished they would have stayed, then we could have had a dialogue."

This is not the first time that UCI has been the focus of violent acts by radical Arabs. The university administration last fall sent information to the FBI, alleging that members of the university's Muslim Student Union collected money at a campus event, which then was given to an organization that provided funds to Hamas, which could be a violation of federal law, according to JewishJournal.com. Many Jewish students fear attending UCI since they know they will be victims of hostility and hate.

The real question is: What will the university administration do? Will it continue to sit on the sidelines, immobilized, fearing to act? Will administrators allow UCI to become a place of mob rule? Or will they take decisive action against those who attempt to impose their will.

It's time that UCI consider suspension, and even expulsion, of those students who do not respect the basic tenets of free speech and academic freedom. The protesters attempted to terrorize the ambassador into silence. They almost succeeded. Such people are a threat to all in a civil society. If the university administration refuses to act, it becomes an accomplice to their acts of verbal violence and intimidation.

The shame is that Monday night could have become a remarkable opportunity for exchange and understanding. If the protesters would have challenged Ambassador Oren's ideas, maybe small window of peace could have been opened. Instead, they chose to impose their views with violence and stifle any opportunity to talk. It is they who are destroying peace and the chance for a better life for all in the Middle East.

 

Freedom of Speech Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Friday , October 02, 2009
By Lauren Green
Fox News

The artist whose cartoon shook the world says his fight for freedom of speech is not about bashing religion, but about preventing violence and the criminalization of ideas.

“I have no problem with religion,” says Danish artist Kurt Westergaard, who was in the U.S. this week to inaugurate the first International Freedom of Speech Day, Sept. 30, which just happened to coincide with a more irreverent celebration called International Blasphemy Day.

Westergaard had very little to say about the latter event, which was marked by anti-religious antics and was sponsored by the Center for Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism.

“For me,” Westergaard says, “It’s not about blasphemy. It has to do with terrorism, threats, killings, other terrible things.”

The two events shared a common goal but differed widely in approaches. Both endorsed the right to express ideas without fear of criminalization. And both chose the anniversary of the deadly protests over Westergaard's cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad as the day to honor that fight.

The Center for Inquiry said its focus was “the right of individuals to express their viewpoints … about all subjects, including religion.” Events included a “Blasphemy challenge,” a contest in which participants were invited to submit videos containing phrases, poems or statements that would be considered blasphemous and were required to include the phrase "I deny the Holy Spirit."

The day featured De-Baptisms, where former believers denounced the Christian sacrament, and an artist’s exhibit with an irreverent depiction of the crucifixion of Christ, entititled, “Jesus gets his nails done.”

It was blasphemous, as intended.

“It strikes me as completely cracked,” said Diana West of the International Free Press Society, which sponsored Westergaard’s trip to the U.S. “The probable threat to freedom of expression is not coming out of Christianity.”

The Free Press Society, on the other hand, is squarely focused on Islam, which West says “is not a religion structured like Christianity or Judaism. It is not simply a divinity and faith. There’s no separation of Mosque and State.”

West says International Freedom of Speech Day offered an opportunity for “the media to do some soul-searching.” The concern, she said, is that journalists will tacitly abide by Shariah law under fear that their speech, illustrations or writings will bring death threats.

She said that was the impetus behind the Danish newspaper Jylland-Posten creating the forum for the series of "Muhammad" cartoons it published in 2005. A publisher of a children’s book could find no artist to depict the prophet Muhammad, because Islamic law forbids any visual representation of its Prophet, and the artists feared retribution.

Westergaard said all he did was depict “some people from the Muslim society who has [sic] a variant of Islam which inspires killing and terror.”

“Afterwards,” he said, “it turns out that I was right.”

Blasphemy Day organizers said they weren't out just to bash Christianity, as some critics claimed. Nathan Bupp, vice president of communications at CFI, pointed out that it was their magazine, “Free Inquiry,” which first published the Muhammad cartoons in the United States.

“I’m critical of all fanaticism and dogmatism,” Bupp said.

But Dr. John Rankin, president of the Theological Education Institute, says it’s simply easier to attack Christianity than Islam. He noted that apostasy laws (converting from Islam to another religion) carry a death sentence in some Muslim countries.

“You can’t be a former Muslim without persecution," he said. "But you can be a former Christian and safely bash Christianity.”

 

The cost of criticizing jihadists

UN resolution is part of Islamic muzzle

Nat Hentoff

Washington Times
Monday, February 9, 2009

Geert Wilders - a film producer and also a member of parliament in the Netherlands - is facing a prison term there for "insulting" Muslims. His short film "Fitna" in 2008 juxtaposed verses from the Koran with scenes of violence committed by jihadist terrorists. The Dutch appellate court refused a free-speech defense because the insults were so egregious.

If convicted, Wilders faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison. Said the defendant: "I lost my freedom already four and a half years ago in October 2004, when my 24-hour police protection started because of threats by Muslims in Holland and abroad to kill me."

I have heard from Muslims in this country that jihadists around the world have more than insulted traditional Muslim law by their fierce punishments of both non-Muslims and Muslims who have acted in speech or writing against jihadists' reinterpretations of the Quran. Some of these protesters, exercising freedom of conscience, have been killed for their "blasphemy."

What awaits Wilders in the Netherlands may be a harbinger of what will happen if a nonbinding Dec. 18 U.N. resolution, passed by a strong majority in the General Assembly, becomes international law. The resolution urges U.N. members to take state action against (punish) "defamation of religion" and "incitement to religious hatred" caused by defamation.

The main force behind this resolution, which was sponsored on its behalf, is the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Following the combustible cartoons of Prophet Muhammad that were published in Denmark in September 2005, this organization had a key role in expanding the violent protests against those cartoons in a number of countries.

On Feb. 9, 2006, I received a copy of a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan from a longtime source of mine. He was acting against Sudan's National Islamic Front government killing, raping and enslaving of black Christians and animists in southern Sudan. He was John Eibner, director of Christian Solidarity International, which was instrumental in rescuing many of those captives from slavery in the north of Sudan.

Eibner told Annan (as I reported at the time in the Feb. 14, 2006, Village Voice): "The role of the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), representing 57 Muslim states, in creating a climate for violent confrontation over the cartoons [was shown when] the OIC set the stage for anti-free speech demonstrations at its extraordinary summit in Mecca in December 2005.

"The Muslim states," Eibner continued, "resolved - through many demonstrations - to pressure, through a program of joint Islamic action, international institutions, including the U.N., to criminalize insults of Islam and its prophet. ... On the 4th of February - the day the mob violence commenced - the Organization of Islamic Conference described publication of the caricatures as acts of 'blasphemy.' Blasphemy is punishable by death, according to Sharia law."

Revealingly, although there was outrage when, on Oct. 17, 2005, the Egyptian newspaper Al Fagr published the cartoons on its front page, there was nothing like the furious demonstrations elsewhere until after the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit meeting in December 2005.

After the OIC's focus on the cartoons at the Mecca summit, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon and Qatar went on to carry the inflammatory message of blasphemy. And the OIC's grand plan to get international institutions to criminalize insults of Islam began to work. On Feb. 9, 2006, the European Union asked for a voluntary code of conduct to prevent offending Muslims. And on the same day, Annan concurred with an OIC proposal that the U.N. Human Rights Council "prevent instances of intolerance, discrimination, incitement of hatred and violence...against religions, prophets and beliefs."

Last Dec. 18, the OIC triumphed with the U.N. General Assembly's passing of the nonbinding but rousing "defamation of religion" resolution on behalf of the OIC, which emphasized only Muslims and Islam by name as the forbidden targets of such "defamation." Pressure may well continue to enshrine this resolution into international law.

The OIC had a New York Times ad on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, "An Invitation to a New Partnership," addressed to President Obama. The organization wrote: "Throughout the globe, Muslims hunger for a new era of peace. We firmly believe that America, with your guidance, can help foster that peace, though real peace can only be shared - never imposed."

The OIC, however, was at the time fresh from its U.N. victory to actually impose silence on critics of Islamic jihadists, who have long been working to hijack the true Muslim religion. And why has the press, particularly the American press, continued to be so silent on this U.N. attack on individuals' right of conscience throughout the world to call jihadist terrorism what it is? You might want to ask your news sources why they have ignored this global gag rule on free expression.

Nat Hentoff's column for The Washington Times runs on Mondays.

 

United Nations Anti-Blasphemy Resolution Curtails Free Speech

Monday, October 06, 2008

By Jennifer Lawinski

FOX News

Religious groups and free-speech advocates are banding together to fight a United Nations resolution they say is being used to spread Sharia law to the Western world and to intimidate anyone who criticizes Islam.

The non-binding resolution on “Combating the Defamation of Religion” is intended to curtail speech that offends religion -- particularly Islam.

Pakistan and the Organization of the Islamic Conference introduced the measure to the U.N. Human Rights Council in 1999. It was amended to include religions other than Islam, and it has passed every year since.

In 2005, Yemen successfully brought a similar resolution before the General Assembly. Now the 192-nation Assembly is set to vote on it again.

The non-binding Resolution 62/145, which was adopted in 2007, says it “notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of 11 September 2001.”

It “stresses the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred, against Islam and Muslims in particular.”

But some critics believe the resolution is a dangerous threat to freedom of speech everywhere.

The U.S. government mission in Geneva, in a statement, told the U.N. Human Rights Council in July that “defamation-related laws have been abused by governments and used to restrict human rights” around the world, and sometimes Westerners have been caught in the web.

Critics give some recent news events as examples of how the U.N. "blasphemy resolution" has emboldened Islamic authorities and threatened Westerners:

-- On Oct. 3 in Great Britain, three men were charged for plotting to kill the publisher of the novel "The Jewel of Medina," which gives a fictional account of the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride. FOXNews.com reported U.S. publisher Random House Inc., was going to release the book but stopped it from hitting shelves after it claimed that “credible and unrelated sources” said the book could incite violence by a “small, radical segment.”

-- An Afghan student is on death row for downloading an article about the role of women in Islam, FOXNews.com also reported.

-- In December 2007 “a court reportedly sentenced two foreigners to six months in prison for allegedly marketing a book deemed offensive to Aisha, one of the Prophet Muhammad's wives,” the U.S. government said.

-- A British teacher was sentenced to 15 days in jail in Sudan for offending Islam by allowing students to name the class teddy bear Muhammad in November 2007.

-- In February 2007 in Egypt an Internet blogger was sentenced to four years in prison for writing a post that critiqued Islam.

-- In 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered after the release of his documentary highlighting the abuse of Muslim women.

“It’s obviously intended to have an intimidating effect on people expressing criticism of radical Islam, and the idea that you can have a defamation of a religion like this, I think, is a concept fundamentally foreign to our system of free expression in the United States,” said former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

Passing the resolution year after year gives it clout, Bolton said. “In places where U.N. decisions are viewed as more consequential than they are in the U.S., they’re trying to build up brick-by-brick that disagreement with this resolution is unacceptable.”

Kevin “Seamus” Hasson, founder and president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest law firm in Washington that opposes the resolution, said it is a slap in the face of human rights law.

“The whole idea of the defamation of religion is a Trojan horse for something else," Hasson said. "When you talk about defamation, you talk about people being defamed and people being libeled, but ideas can’t be defamed. Ideas don’t have rights, people have rights.”

He said the resolution is a shield for Islamic fundamentalists who retaliate against perceived offenses and want to make Islamic Sharia law the law of the land. He said the resolution passes under the guise of protecting religion, but it actually endangers religious minorities in Islamic countries.

“Who could possibly be in favor of defamation?” Hasson said. “God may well punish blasphemy in the hereafter, but it’s not the government’s job to police in the here and now.”

Paula Schriefer, advocacy director for Freedom House, a member of the Coalition to Defend Free Speech, agrees.

“You have to remember that many of the governments that are pushing forward this idea are not democratic governments,” she said. “Citizens of Pakistan or Egypt, who have been two of the ringleaders of this movement, are frequently put in prison or arrested. Even if they’re not arrested, the fear of being arrested creates an environment of self-censorship.”

Floyd Abrams, Visiting Professor of First Amendment Law at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, said that while Americans are protected by the Constitution at home, the U.N. resolution could affect those who travel to countries with anti-free-speech laws and isolate Westerners who oppose restricting religious dialogue.

Neither the Pakistani, the Indonesian nor the Egyptian missions to the U.N. responded to requests for comment. All three are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

 

Concerns rise in Europe that freedom of expression is being eroded


The Associated Press

November 8, 2006


ROME: A Mozart opera canceled in Germany, surrealist art removed from a London exhibition, villages in Spain changing centuries-old festivities.


In recent months, several artistic or cultural events have been scaled down or scrapped in Europe apparently to avoid offending Muslims, raising concerns about freedom of expression.


Many believe the violent reaction by Europe's Muslim minorities to perceived insults to their religion has created a climate of fear in which self-censorship is becoming more common. And concerns that passions might even spill into Islamic terrorism — rarely far from European minds — have contributed to the urgency.


Europe has long grappled with the question of whether Islam is compatible with the West's democratic values.


The 1989 fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie over his novel "The Satanic Verses" was one of the first signs of a fault line that turned deadly in 2004 with the slaying of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by a Muslim fanatic who was angered by the documentarist's depiction of Islam.


Van Gogh's collaborator Ayaan Hirsi Ali was forced to go into hiding. About a year later, violent protests erupted over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published in Denmark. And in September, Muslims reacted with outrage over comments on Islam by Pope Benedict XVI.


It has all raised thorny questions for Europeans.


Is it worth risking lives over free speech? Should there be laws protecting religious sensibilities? Or, as the publishers of the Danish cartoons have argued, can provocation be an effective political tool, a way of asserting one's loyalty to free society?


Many observers say Europeans are becoming overly cautious about offending Muslims, a tendency they see as imperiling the foundations of their society.


"We pretend not to see that it's the principles of liberalism that we are trampling on," said Angelo Panebianco, a leading Italian political analyst.


The Whitechapel Art Gallery in London said this month that it was removing some photographs by Hans Bellmer from an exhibition to avoid upsetting Muslims in the neighborhood. Part of the surrealist artist's work featured dolls of naked female children.


In September, a Berlin opera house canceled a production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" that depicted the beheading of Muhammad, leading German Chancellor Angela Merkel to warn against "self-censorship out of fear." The company has since announced it will stage the opera in December.


This fall, traditional Spanish festivals commemorating the country's expulsion of the Moors have also been scaled down, including one which did away with the custom of blowing up the head of a Prophet Muhammad dummy with firecrackers.


Meanwhile, many governments are debating whether to limit Muslims' ability to express their religious affiliations as a means of encouraging them to integrate.


Former British foreign secretary Jack Straw created a stir recently by saying wants Muslim women to abandon the veil — a view supported by Prime Minister Tony Blair and much of the British public. It was a striking shift in a nation that takes pride in multiculturalism.


Questions of self-censorship on religious grounds are not limited to the debate over Islam.


Earlier this year, theaters in Britain dropped plans to produce "Jerry Springer — The Opera" after it was targeted by a small but vocal group Christian group that picketed the London theater staging the show featuring a diaper-wearing Jesus Christ who says he is a "bit gay."


A controversy over a play that offended Britain's Sikh community highlighted a religious-secular split in 2004. The play's author, a Sikh woman, went into hiding after receiving death threats.


And Christian groups in Europe reacted with outrage at Martin Scorsese's 1988 "Last Temptation of Christ," which
depicted Jesus dreaming about marrying and having children. A Paris cinema showing the movie was firebombed.


However, Europe's debate on free speech has focused on Islam because of the frequency of confrontations, the way they often involved thousands of angry Muslims, and their level of violence.


One leading European thinker believes it is dangerous and disingenuous to underestimate the power words have to wound people at the very core of their being.


"Words are not innocent," French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy told the Corriere della Sera. "Language is not a neutral means ... it is charged with meaning, with violence."

 

Indian Muslim Extremists Attack Human Rights Activist Author At Book Launch
August 9, 2007

Linda Young - AHN News Writer

Hyderabad, India (AHN) - Exiled Bangladesh feminist author Taslima Nasreen was attacked by Muslim extremists on Thursday in Hyderabad, India at a launch of a Teluga language version of one of her novels. Muslims have accused the humanist rights activist of ridiculing their faith and religion in general.

Nasreen, who was attacked by a group of lawmakers and members of a political party, retreated into a corner where supporters protected her. The group of 100 assailants had broken into a meeting where the author was presenting a translated version of one of her novels.

The attack on Nasreen was only the most recent incident against her. In March, an Indian Muslim group called for her execution and put a bounty on her head. Nasreen is a former Muslim who says she has become an atheist.

Nasreen is a physician, author, feminist human rights activist and secular humanist who won the 1994 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Calls for her execution because of her writing caused her to flee Bangladesh for Sweden in 1994. She has lived in Calcutta for the past two years and has applied for citizenship.

Nasreen vowed not to be cowed by her persecutors.

BBC news quoted Ahmad Pasha Quadri, one of the lawmakers, as saying, "Our protest is against Taslima Nasreen because of her writings ridiculing Islam. We want the Indian government to send her back to Bangladesh."

Although Muslim extremists have accused her of ridiculing the Koran and calling for it to be changed, she has denied those charges.

On her website Nasreen wrote, "Nature says women are human beings, men have made religions to deny it. Nature says women are human beings, men cry out NO!"

She continues: "If any religion allows the persecution of the people of different faiths, if any religion keeps women in slavery, if any religion keeps people in ignorance, then I can't accept that religion."

But she doesn't categorize the attacks on her or the increasing conflicts that are contributing to conflict around the world as religious struggles.

On her website, she said she characterizes such conflicts as a "conflict between the future and the past, between innovation and tradition, between those who value freedom and those who do not."

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