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Beating Freedom of Speech By: Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, April 24, 2007


On Thursday, April 12, a gang of Somali thugs on a downtown Oslo street attacked Kadra, a Somali woman who now lives in Norway, and beat her senseless, breaking several of her ribs. They were enraged at her for her recent statement that the Qur’an’s views of women needed reevaluation. They also might have been angry because of her role in revealing the widespread support among imams in Norway for female genital mutilation; Kadra exposed their support for this horrific procedure using a hidden camera in a 2000 documentary for Norwegian television.

As they beat her, Kadra’s attackers shouted Allahu akbar – Allah is great – and recited verses from the Qur’an. “I was terrified,” she said. “While I lay on the pavement they kicked me and screamed that I had trampled on the Koran.”

 

The following Tuesday, two men in Mississauga, Ontario, attacked journalist Jawaad Faizi, who writes for the Pakistan Post, a newspaper based in Mississauga. The attackers told Faizi to stop “writing against Islam,” and particularly to stop criticizing an Islamic organization, Idara Minhaj-ul-Quran, and its leader, a Muslim cleric named Allama Tahir-Ul-Qadri.

 

Faizi, a native of Lahore, Pakistan, said, “I had so many problems back home as a journalist, but I’m shocked that this is happening here.”

 

Of course, “writing against Islam,” or being perceived as having done so, has always been dangerous, as Salman Rushdie and many others can attest. The New York Times reported in 2002 that a professor at the University of Nablus in the West Bank, Suliman Bashear, who “argued that Islam developed as a religion gradually rather than emerging fully formed from the mouth of the Prophet,” was for this novel and, from the point of view of traditional Islam, heretical teaching, thrown out of a second-story window by his students. In 1947, the Iranian lawyer Ahmad Kasravi was murdered in court by Islamic radicals; Kasravi was there to defend himself against charges that he had attacked Islam. Four years later, members of the same radical Muslim group, Fadayan-e Islam, assassinated Iranian Prime Minister Haji-Ali Razmara after a group of Muslim clerics issued a fatwa calling for his death. In 1992, the Egyptian writer Faraj Foda was murdered by Muslims enraged at his “apostasy” from Islam — another offense for which traditional Islamic law prescribes the death penalty. Foda’s countryman, the Nobel Prizewinning novelist Naguib Mahfouz, was stabbed in 1994 after accusations of blasphemy. Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, many non-Muslims have been arrested, tortured, and sentenced to die on the slimmest of evidence. 

 

But for such things to happen in Iran and Egypt, two countries where Islamic radicalism is widespread, is one thing; to have them happen in Oslo and Mississauga, Ontario is quite another. But this kind of thing has happened before in the West. On November 2, 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was bicycling through the streets of Amsterdam when Mohammed Bouyeri, a Muslim wearing traditional Islamic clothing, began shooting at him. After Van Gogh fell off his bike, Bouyeri ran up to him and began slitting his throat, attempting to behead him. In his agony, van Gogh pleaded with his killer, “Can’t we talk about this?” Bouyeri replied by stabbing van Gogh repeatedly and leaving a note on a knife stabbed into the body. The note contained verses from the Qur’an and threats to other Dutch public figures who opposed the flood of Muslim immigrants into the Netherlands.

 

Bouyeri killed van Gogh because of the filmmaker’s twelve-minute video Submission, which had aired on Dutch TV a few weeks before the murder. A collaboration between van Gogh and the Somali ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was then a member of the Dutch Parliament, Submission decried the mistreatment of Muslim women — and even featured images of battered women wearing see-through robes that exposed their breasts, with verses from the Qur’an written on their bodies.

 

At his trial, Bouyeri was unrepentant -- and absolutely clear about why he murdered van Gogh. “I did what I did purely out my beliefs,” he explained, Qur’an in hand. “I want you to know that I acted out of conviction and not that I took his life because he was Dutch or because I was Moroccan and felt insulted….If I ever get free, I would do it again.” He was, he said, acting in accord with Islamic law: “What moved me to do what I did was purely my faith. I was motivated by the law that commands me to cut off the head of anyone who insults Allah and his prophet.”

 

The attacks on Kadra and Faizi show that there are many others in the West today who believe that they must likewise act upon Allah’s commands and victimize those whom they deem to have offended Islam.

 

This is a challenge to all Western governments, for it is a challenge to the freedom of speech that is rooted in the constitutions and laws of Western states, and ultimately is intimately connected with the freedom of conscience and the Judeo-Christian view of the dignity of the human being before God. Western leaders should move now to make it abundantly clear that attacks on “blasphemers” and “heretics” will not be tolerated; that those who believe that Sharia should be the highest law of the land are not welcome here; and that the West will defend our Judeo-Christian culture and heritage.

 

Otherwise, only one thing is certain: there will be many, many more such attacks.


Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of eight books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is available now from Regnery Publishing.



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