The Islamic propaganda machine has turned Western democratic values inside out to the Islamists’ advantage. Cloaking themselves in the rhetoric of multiculturalism and tolerance, Islamists succeeded in getting the United Nations General Assembly to pass a resolution late last year condemning the defamation of religions – but the only religion mentioned in the resolution was Islam. This follows in the wake of a declaration by the UN “expert” on racism, who told the UN Human Rights Council last September that “Islamophobia today is the most serious form of religious defamation” and constituted a threat to world peace.
This was payback time for those insulting Danish cartoons that so upset the Islamic world and led to the very specter of violence in the name of Islam that the cartoons were meant to critique in the first place. Totally ignored were all the cartoons, editorials and television programs in Muslim countries that regularly promote hatred of Jews, Christians, and members of other faiths.
Playing on “enlightened” Westerners’ guilt and their fear of being branded Islamophobes, the Islamists managed to silence any vigorous defense of the virtues of free expression and freedom of conscience. Next the Islamists intend to leverage their UN resolution to pressure Western countries into adopting blasphemy statutes aimed at protecting their religion from “hurtful” or “defamatory” remarks of any kind. A spokesperson for the Organization of Islamic Conference, the 57-member state group that pushed for the defamation resolution, said last March that there is “a dire need to fill the judicial vacuum of deficiency in dealing with the question of respect for religions” and demanded “effective and legally binding measures for combating defamation of all religions.” In their conception of “Truth,” since Islam is the only true religion and Islam forbids Muslims to criticize their religion in any way, it would simply make no sense to allow the lesser among us who are infidels to show any disrespect to Islam.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of what happens in those Islamic societies where “defamation” of religion is already a crime. Is this the direction that we are willing to risk taking in deference to some notion of multicultural “respect”?
On August 30, 2006, the South Jakarta District Court opened a trial hearing against Teguh Santosa, editor-in-chief of Rakyat Merdeka (RM) Online, who was accused of violating Indonesia’s Criminal Code on defamation against a religion. The journalist faced five years' imprisonment if found guilty. The case began when RM Online republished three of the Danish cartoons. A group of people who saw the cartoons accused RM Online of defaming Mohammed and Islam.
RM Online withdrew the cartoons from its website and released an apology to Muslims who felt that their religion had been degraded by the republication of the cartoons. Teguh Santosa also stressed that there had been no intention to insult any parties, only to fulfill the journalistic duties of seeking out and sharing information.
However, contrition was not enough. A group of Muslims filed a complaint against RM Online to the police, and the Jakarta High Court followed up by prosecuting RM Online Editor-in-Chief Teguh Santosa, accusing him of insulting Mohammed.
In Bangladesh, Mohammed Arifur Rahman, a cartoonist, was arrested in September 2007 when street demonstrations by Islamist groups followed the publication of one of his cartoons. He was charged with “hurting religious feelings” and detained in jail pending trial. The charge carries a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment.
On April 3, 2006, Saudi Arabia's domestic intelligence agency, al-Mabahith, arrested journalist Rabbah al-Quwai’i on charges of “doubting the [Islamic] creed” and for “harboring destructive thoughts.” While based in the town Ha’il in the northern part of the country, Rabbah al-Quwai’i had written on the phenomenon of shaikhs leading groups of teenagers to participate “in ritualistic burning of musical instruments and books,” which they considered contrary to the prevailing Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.
And what if the Taliban were to ever re-emerge as a governing authority? They have published a shadow Afghan constitution outlining what they would impose if they return to power. Women would remain veiled and uneducated. Any un-Islamic thought would be banned and punished in accordance with Shari’a.
The Taliban claim they would uphold human rights unless “contrary with the teachings of Islam”. This, by the way, is not a fringe idea of the Taliban. The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam is a declaration of the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which affirms Shari’a as the sole source for defining what human rights should mean. Thus, Article 22 of the Cairo Declaration restricts freedom of speech to those expressions that “would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari’a.” The Islamists now are seeking to turn this subordination to Shari’a on questions of human rights into a universal principle, in effect replacing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which they deride as a secular understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Do we want to subordinate our faith in human reason and the ability to sort through our differences peacefully through democratic institutions to an alien system of beliefs that denies each of us the right to speak our own mind without fear of retribution? Do we want a society of thought police in which we are forced to respect Islam, no matter what crimes against humanity are undertaken in its name? Is it defamation of Islam to point out how it is used to justify calls to murder innocent civilians, misogyny or suppression of any dissent?
All believers, of course, should continue to be protected in their right to believe in any religion of their choice (or no religion at all) and to freely express their beliefs. But that does not mean that their beliefs or the acts that such beliefs purportedly justify are immune from criticism.
There is no concept of defamation of religion in our Declaration of Independence or the Constitution that would override freedom of expression. Our founding fathers sought to break the yoke of religious absolutism and tyranny and to free the human spirit within every one of us. Those who came before us and fought for our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness would roll over in their graves if they saw us shrinking from our duty to protect those same rights for the generations to come against today’s enemies of freedom.
Human rights have provided another playground for Islamic propagandists to manipulate the truth about themselves and the West. They condemn racial profiling of Muslims as an over-reaction to 9/11, while denying any link between global terrorism and radical Islamic ideology. They relentlessly attack Israel as a Nazi-like apartheid state that tramples on the human rights of its non-Jewish populations, while denying the ethnic cleansing and religious persecutions that are daily occurrences in their own countries. Far more often than not, the Islamists dupe the United Nations, international human rights organizations and Western elites in the media and academia into going along with this story line.
Why isn’t Iran’s atrocious human rights record front page news, considering the fact that Iran is on the planning committee for the Durban II follow-up conference on racism and a leading candidate for a seat on the UN Security Council next year? Iran’s widespread human rights abuses (especially against the Baha’i faith), including summary executions, disappearances, torture, and arbitrary arrests receive little attention from either the mainstream press or the UN Human Rights Council, while Israel’s every action in self-defense is placed under a microscope. For example, a human rights group in the Ahwaz province in southern Iran recently reported a massacre of residents in that province and pleaded for international organizations to intervene to stop the killings. Nothing has been done. Instead of elevating its scrutiny of Iran, the Human Rights Council effectively dropped its monitoring of Iran while redoubling its obsessive focus on Israel.
We are fighting a two-front war against the Islamists. The violence-prone jihadists, who consider the West the “far enemy” that must be destroyed in order to save the Islamic Ummah, are using all the technological tools they can muster to kill us en masse. This would include nuclear weapons as soon as they get their hands on them, which makes the fragile situation in Pakistan today so dangerous. The Cold War deterrence strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction does not work with an ideology that exalts death over life.
We are also facing a subversive war of ideas in which more moderate-seeming Islamists exploit the vocabulary of Western values in order to undermine those values slowly but surely from within.
We must fight back on both fronts by staying on offense and by using our technological superiority to render their source of wealth for funding terrorism and their propaganda obsolete. The development of alternative fuels to completely end our sole reliance on Middle Eastern oil should be an urgent priority for our next president immediately upon taking office.
We must also find better ways to expose the moral bankruptcy and ultimate futility of Islamic ideology to the masses drinking the Kool-Aid served to them by the Islamist extremists. Since there is no viable movement of true Muslim moderates willing to stand up for reconciling Islam and democracy, we have to stop pretending that Islam as it is practiced in its predominant form today is a moderate, peaceful religion. It is not. Unless responsible leaders of a Muslim reformation come forward and lead a counter-charge against the extremists, we must completely destroy the radical Islamic infrastructure that forms the basis for indoctrination and intimidation.
Finally, we cannot compromise on our own core beliefs such as separation of church (or mosque) and state, equality, and freedom of expression. This means no appeasement of Islamic “sensibilities” in the name of multiculturalism. It means rejecting insidious ideas such as legislating against “defamation” of religions. It means refusing to subsidize the UN’s embrace of the radical Islamists’ agenda in whatever forum it appears.
As long as Islamists do not respect other peoples’ beliefs, we should not demean ourselves by coddling theirs to our own detriment.