This post can stand on its own, but it is a loose continuation of my rant from yesterday: Actions and reactions
In my never-humble-opinion, we are dealing with several things which overlap and muddle all discussions when we discuss ‘freedom of speech’, Islam and the now inevitable clash between the two. Here is my little breakdown:
1. Islamists – those for whom Islam is not just a religion, but a political movement bent on dominating the world (it is wrong to dismiss the things people say they believe – and want to do, even if it sounds outrageous to our sensibilities).
2. Muslims – these are people for whom Islam is a religion. It includes people for whom it is nothing more than their personal faith and who wish nothing more than to live in a free, democratic society. It also includes all the Islamists.
3. Islamists make claims and demands on behalf of all Muslims, whether all Muslims agree with them or not.
4. Making claims and demands is perfectly OK. I know I make enough of them!
5. Legislators are satisfying and accommodating these claims and demands. This is wrong.
Even if the Islamists DID have a mandate to speak for all Muslims (which they do NOT) it is unwise to grant any demands for special privileges to any group within a democracy, because this sets up official ‘classes of citizenship’. (Do we really want to follow the example of Malaysia, where there is one ministry to deal with the rights of non-Muslim women and then a secretariate to deal with the rights and welfare of only Muslim women, with no agencies permitted to participate in both?)
Also, accommodating the Islamists sets them up as ‘community leaders’ and this special status empowers the individual Islamist leaders. It physically, financially (as government programs for the community are often administered through them) and psychologically gives them the ability to control most of the Muslims in their community. Not only is very unfair to those moderate Muslims who want to enjoy democracy, it also, in a very real way, creates a parallel governance structure which is independent of the national government and free to pursue its own goals (which are often not compatible with the national government’s goals of maintaining terittorial sovereignity, and so on.)
6. By setting Muslims apart from society, and giving them a special, privileged status (real or perceived), a strong resentment against all members of this perceived special group will necessarily happen. That is human nature – people resent being treated (even if this is just a false perception) as second-class citizens, and, if they feel unable to change the governance structure which instituted this inequity, they will turn their resentment against the privileged group. This is dangerous.
I am in no way saying this is right, or should be happening. Rather, I am lamenting that human nature dictates that this is inevitable.
Let us look at what is happening in Europe now. No, let’s not dwell on the players: that is minutia. Let us examine the bigger forces behind the action….
The European Union (EU) has adopted many of the ‘multicultural’ attitudes from the UN. The UN has, over and over, accommodated lobbying from the Organization of Islamic Conference to accord special status to religions in general and to Islam in particular. And, regardless of the fact that the Western society is deeply rooted in the European renaissance – whose very existence began by criticizing religion and removing blasphemy from the criminal code… the EU has re-criminalized blasphemy.
In Holland, Geert Wilders, a sitting MP, is criminally charged. The prosecution charged him with making anti-Muslim statements. Wilders claimed he made true, supportable statements and quoted Muslim leaders. Wilders won, the charges get thrown out of court. The prosecution appealed. The appeals court – which over-rules the lower court in every way – ruled (on the day after President Obama’s inoguration – so the mainstream media focus would be elsewere) that the charges should not have been dropped and that the politician must face prosecution in that lower court because he is, in the appeals court’s opinion, guilty and must be punished.
You don’t have to be an accomplished jurist to understand the situation here. The lower court was told by its boss that this guy must stand trial because he is guilty. So, they have to try him and find him guilty. Even if they do not, the appeals court will over-rule them. Do you think there is even a tiny possibility this can be an impartial trial?
In Austria, Sussane Winter, a sitting MP, was actually convicted of ‘insulting Islam’. 24,000 Euros in penalties (I wonder what her court costs were in addition to the fine) and a suspended 3 month prison term. Her statements may have been phrased differently, yet the substance of what she said is in complete agreement with what the leading Muslim scholars are saying.
If re-criminalizing blasphemy is not going to plunge Europe into another era of ‘Dark Ages’, then what I found out while digging about on this definitely will!
The story comes from Belgium (and, yes, it does make on recount the Monty Python skit about the contest for the most insulting thing to call a Belgian…).
There, only a few years ago, some very, very strange stuff was happening indeed.
First, I must declare my political bias here – I deplore separatist parties. Frankly, I think it is wrong for a party to be in Parliament, if its main goal is to break up the state. Yet, if this party’s representatives are elected into parliament, I would never prevent them from representing their electorate. In this case, subverting the will of the electorate would be a greater wrong.
In Belgiun, there is was a separatist party of an ethnic minority. This party was – from what I have read – not too nice. But, what happened to it – that is even more ‘not nice’. It would appear that the Belgian Parliament actually passed some laws whose sole purpose it was to make this minority party illegal.
Not as scary as what followed…
The party ‘cleaned up’ – at least, on the outside, changed its name (slightly) and is now growing in popularity.
GROWING IN POPULARITY!
Is this the beginning of the backlash?
And if it is, will ALL Muslims be caught up in it, not just the Islamists??? I certainly hope not!!!