Saturday, February 04, 2006

The new radical fundamentalism: Freedom of Speech

In the latest controversy, some "westerners" criticize radical fundamental muslims*) for being fundamentalists, because being radical, they will walk over bodies to obtain their "sacred" goals. And I must put "sacred" in quotes, because the Free Speech activists claim that nothing is sacred, and do not understand what the big deal is. But these people do have one thing sacred; free speech. Indeed, they see it as a fundamental right, and they can be down right radical in protecting it. This makes certain Free Speech® activists radical fundamentalists.

This right to Free Speech® is, if we believe the actions of Free Speech activists, not for just anyone to use. Only Free Speech® activists and those who agree with them seem to be allowed to use it. For example, George W Bush may threaten another nation in order to change that country's domestic policy, because that's freedom of speech. But Kim Jong II may not threaten the USA in order to change US foreign policy, because that's just down right bad terrorist behaviour.

Similarly, Danish cartoonists are allowed to draw caricatures of Prophet Muhammed (sacred to Muslims, if anyone didn't already know), because that's just freedom of speech. But offended Muslims are not allowed to burn the Danish flag (sacred to Danes and Free Speech® activists, if anyone didn't already know), because that's just down right bad terrorist behaviour.

Then we come to threats. "They have no right to threaten with violence," say Norwegian and Danish activists. "The drawings were published in countries where this is legal, they can't push their laws on us, so they have no right to threaten with violence." It is the inability to see these geographic and political barriers that is the trademark of the dangerous Radical Fundamentalist, right?

To a certain extent, the Free Speech activists are correct in this statement. They have no rights to threaten with violence in Denmark or Norway. That being said, Palestine, Saudi-Arabia, Syria and Iran are not Danish or Norwegian territory, and thus Norwegian and Danish law is completely irrelevant. Exactly what the laws in these countries say about threatening citizens of other countries with violence, I have no idea. I trust that their local authorities will deal with people who break the laws of their respective countries. But I certainly do have the impression that threats of violence are much more common in the Middle East in general, and so I assume that this is an allowed forms of speech there, and therefore do not take these threats to seriously.**)

A Norwegian can not complain about a Syrian breaking Norwegian law whilst in Syria. If, however, that Syrian comes to Norway and breaks Norwegian law on Norwegian territory, that's a completely different matter. Until that happens, Norwegian and Danish laws are completely irrelevant to the debate of what a Syrian, Palestinian, Iranian or Saudi may or may not do in their own countries. This is, after all, the Free Speech activist's argument for being allowed to draw Muhammed in Denmark.

From this, we can see that the Free Speech activists in these matters are not able to see the geographic and political boundries of their own cause. And this inability to see their boundries is why I would label them as radical fundamentalists, even dangerously so. While they don't wish to admit it, by purposely provoking a people that was already on its toes, Free Speech activists have supplied the spark that are causing an international bush fire in which people are dying. Their defence? "It's allowed."

In reality, the world will never rest as long as we have fundamentalists. You could say I'm a fundamental anti-fundamentalist, which is an oxymoron. But my anti-fundamentalism is not completely fundamental, as I am a big follower of the fundamental striving for the goodness in all.

*) By the term "Radical fundamentalist muslims" I refer to the small group of people who claim to be muslims, and fundamentally so. They are not really muslims, as they break just about every principle that Islam stands for. Similarly, by the term "Radical fundamentalist Free Speech activist" I refer to the small group of people who claim to be fighting for free speech, but in reality use this as a cover to achieve some not-so-sincere goals.

**) Acts of violence, however, I do take seriously. While I don't know the local laws well enough to make any comment of the legality of the ongoing violence in these areas, I reserve the right to keep distance and trust that local authorities will deal with anyone who breaks local laws.

Update 6.2.2006 A good friend of mine was wonderful enough to shed more light on the issue of whether the caricatures are really covered by Free Speech®: The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have two previous presedence-making rulings showing that Freedom of Expression does not cover defamation of religion.


Muslim said...

As Muslims we are required to respect all religions, be it people who are Christians, Jewish, Hindu

So i’m really surprised at the pictures published in the newspaper, and also of their false nature. Maybe people should read about Prophet Muhummmad peace be upon him, and realise that he was a mercy to all mankind.

Attacking the prophet peace be upon him by drawing such pictures is attacking Muslims directly.

We dont draw pictures of other prophets like Abraham, Moses, Jesus, infact we respect them, and would never think to do such drawings.

Gard E Abrahamsen said...

There's a reason why the western impression of Islam is the way it is; radical fundamentalists who cry "kill the infidels" are getting a disproportionate amount of airtime.

And the reason for THAT, is that someone who sits quietly, saying "we must love and respect each other" is boring and doesn't sell papers or make people watch TV.

Advertising-based mass media must shock people in order to earn money. Hence, anything portrayed in media tends to be purposely polarized.

Anonymous said...

Well. The Norwegian publisher of Rusdie's Satanic verses was shot with pretty real bullets.

The Dutch movie maker Theo van Gogh got his throat slit with a pretty real knife.

What muslims do not seem to accept is that our societies have a tradition that is not fully compatible with muslim law, and that we do not see any rush to correct that.

In a country like Denmark, with lots of pretty heavy jokes and works of arts just about any religion, first and foremost cristianity, one cannot expect that islam should be spared.

If a Western woman cannot accept the dress code in the Mecca region, she should probably not go there. Likewise, if a muslim cannot stand what a Danish spoken, Danish newspaper with no distribution in arab states, choose to bring, he should probably not buy that paper.

For most Danes and Norwegians, the law of God has not any place in society. Can you cope with that?

What really makes me mad about this case is that a person that has travelled to Denmark to benefit of the good sides of that country, reacts so strongly to Danish culture that he, among other fake pictures, takes a picture from the French pig squealing championchip, and he himself (my guess) decides to tell us that this is what the Danish newspaper printed as an image of Muhamed. That imam probably was the very first person to ascociate the picture with Muhammed. The man on the photo had no knowledge about the later uses of the image, and it was taken before the drawings were printed in any paper. If things are as bad as I think they are; Should not that imam be beheaded or something, acording to muslim law?

Now, why do I guess that he did it himself? Because he told the Danish paper Ekstrabladet that the picture had been sent to three Danish muslims anonymously, but still refusing to let the paper speak to the recipients? Why would he not want to clear his name?

Why did a Danish imam tell BBC World on the air that this picture had been printet in Jyllands-Posten, knowing that it was a lie? Where is his honor? Where is the punishing islam when the lies of one of its leaders cause death?

The Danish imams' travel to Saudi-Arabia has cost lots of jobs. More than 1000. Now, if someone did a shameful act like that to your country; what would be your reaction? His was to blame the paper for the consequences of his own lies.

Now, if you retreat you will have your prophet in peace, as long as you respect tradition. This means that if anybody would like to make a childrens book about islam, and would like to include pictures of Muhammed, you will accept. The tradition in Denmark is that childrens books have pictures, like it or not. Accept the book, and let it be a bridge between our cultures.

And there we are, right where it all started... With a childrens book and the frustrations that nobody dared to draw Muhammed.

That self sensorship of Danish drawers was what made Jyllands-Posten publish the drawings. And if you look at the drawings most of them really deal with the fear of muslim retaliation. At least one of them does not depict the Prophet in any way.

So what about it? The Danes were in Denmark first, and they do have this strange habit of drawing everything. Can you take it?

Gard E Abrahamsen said...

If Mr(s) Anonymous had actually read my post, (s)he would know that I do not support violence. There is also a difference between radical fundamentalist muslims and the average Muslim on the street, just like there's a difference between African-murdering Klu Klux Klan member (radical Christian fundamentalist) and the average Christian on the street. And just like you can't hold the entire nations of Norway and Denmark responsible for the act of one editor, you can't hold all Muslims responsible for the acts of terror groups and oppressive regimes.

There is also a big difference between one paper putting out some offensive drawings, and a campaign amongst several newspapers and online sites to republish the drawing as a response to the burning of flags. (The reproduction campaign started before the protests became violent, and has also been performed without regard to the copyright holder's wishes.)

As far as the proper punishment for the imam who falsified the materials in his tour of the Middle East, that would depend on the country he lives in. As far as I have understood Sharia law, it's "man's law that should not conflict with the Holy Quoran, certified by religious leaders." In Denmark, the Muslim must follow both Sharia and Danish law, which means that strict regulations (what is, and isn't allowed) are in place (alcohol not allowed, even though it's allowed in Danish law, etc), though the various reactions must be modified so as not to break Danish law in the process.

In Iran, the imam might very well have his tongue cut off, as my understanding is that his tongue is impure and therefore not protected by divinity. Alas, I currently have no way of confirming this.

To a different matter; as everyone who are talking so loud about Freedom of Speech refuse to put their own names to their own opinions, as if they had something to fear, I have turned of anonymous comments.