Saturday, February 11, 2006


Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan on the reaction to those controversial cartoons:
Muslims are asking for more respect, not more censorship.
Yeah well, if it's respect Muslim are after, violence, arson attacks and death threats aren't going to get it.

Theodore Dalrymple argues that Islam is, quite rightly, not respected in the west; the best minority Muslim populations can hope for is tolerance:
We do not, most of us, respect Islam any more than we respect people who speak in tongues. What we respect is the right of Muslims to practise their religion in perfect peace, in so far as it does not conflict with our laws. We also hope that we can find common ground with them in many other aspects of human existence: in business, in the professions, in literature and so forth. Tolerance is not a matter of respecting what is tolerated — if it were, tolerance would hardly be necessary. Tolerance is the willing, conscious suppression of distaste or disdain for other people’s ideas, habits and tastes for the sake of a wider social peace.

Surely Muslims in this country and elsewhere know perfectly well that we, most of us, do not respect their religion, in the sense of according it high intellectual, moral or artistic status in the modern world (the past is another matter, as a visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum, for example, will quickly confirm). Some among them find this intolerable, and therefore demand the kind of respect that young men of Jamaican descent and criminal propensities demand, knowing full well that such respect is indistinguishable from fear.

Again, you would not have to be a very acute psychologist to detect the fear in Mr Straw’s craven remarks, in the abject apologies of the Danes (who have nothing to apologise for) and in the statements emanating from the American government. Our government evidently finds it easier, or more politically expedient, to bomb distant countries than to face up to thugs a few hundred yards away.

The reaction of Britain and the United States will have taught Muslim extremists that if they are thuggish enough, they can intimidate powerful states, and that professions of belief in freedom of expression are hollow; in other words, that the terrorist tactics of the weak can impose censorship on the strong. Muslim extremists will have come to the not altogether mistaken conclusion that the men who control Western governments don’t believe in anything strongly enough to risk their own skins; in short, that they are decadent.
Fear is the way to shut people up.


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