Friday, October 13, 2006

The Muzzling of Islamic Criticism in the West

Not content to force their draconic religious restrictions upon the weakest members of their society in Islamic countries, it is becoming increasing obvious that militant Islamists are seeking to spread their reign of fear in western nations, as evidenced in two articles in yesterday's National Post. In the first article, the Ontario Attorney General is being asked by the Muslim Canadian Congress to take action against people who call others anti-Islamic or an apostate. Such terms, they say, should be considered a hate crime since such accusations are frequently followed by threats, violence, and even death. They are right; in many Islamic countries, this is exactly what happens. But in Ontario?

According to Farzana Hassan, president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, several of their members have been accused by conservative Muslims of being apostates and "anti-Islamic" and coming from Muslim countries, they know exactly what these words mean. They are not empty, idle words but constitute a very real threat of deadly violence. Such threats, say the MCC, have kept moderate Muslims from speaking out against violence done in the name of Islam.

I am hesitant to support this kind of action by the MCC for the reason that I am reticent about any hate crime legislation due to its tendency to be abused to silence legitimate free speech. But the fact that the MCC is asking for protection from their own Muslim brethren in Canada is ironic (given how we are always hearing how Islam is such a religion of peace from groups like the MCC) but also quite concerning.

The second article concerns a situation I read about a week or so ago about a French philosophy teacher who is in hiding after receiving death threats after publishing a commentary in the French daily Le Figaro on September 19 that criticized Islam and the prophet Muhammad. In his commentary, Robert Redeker wrote that the Koran revealed the prophet Mohammed as a "warlord without pity, a pillager, someone who massacres Jews and a polygamist." He wrote, "Hatred and violence reside in the book by which all Muslims are educated, the Koran." He was also critical of Muslim attempts to impose Islamic laws in Europe under the threat of violence (i.e. the cartoons of Muhammad).

In the days that followed, an Islamic website linked to al Qaeda published Redeker's cell phone number, address, and a map with directions to his home. He was bombarded with threatening emails threatening to kill him. He has since been forced into hiding and is unable to go to work.
While some like Reporters Without Borders and France's two largest teacher's unions have defended him, others have criticized Redeker for having gone too far in his comments. How typical! The fact is, Mr. Redeker has the right in a democratic society to make public criticisms of the Koran and Muhammad. Might he have made his points more diplomatically? Sure, but he does not need to, nor should he forced to do so. If he had chosen to moderate his statements that may have been the way of wisdom but the way of truth is not that narrow. As Christians, we are called to speak the truth in love, but when we fail to, this does not render what we say any less true; just harsh and unloving, neither of which are intrinsically criminal.

What is criminal, however, is the creeping pressure that all members of Western societies are feeling to keep their criticisms of Islam and militant Islam, in particular, quiet, often due to concerns over litigation or threat of violence. This we cannot allow and must resist. As a dear Egyptian brother once told me, "The spirit of Islam is the spirit of fear." We cannot give into it.

1 comment:

Kim T said...

Thank you Glen. May God be glorified.