If Christopher Hitchens were alive, he’d be having a field day with the news about the violence triggered by the anti-Muslim video, “The Innocence of Muslims.” Why? Well, he criticized radical Islam as an irrational and often violent attempt to map its moral system on the entire world. As such, he thought it was as big a threat as any other system that tries to limit freedom.
Hitchens leveled his gaze particularly at the fatwa, a religious edict issued when the religion, the prophet Mohammed and the god Allah are offended, however slight it may be. Hitchens classified this type of mentality, shared by Islamic terrorist cells like Al Qaeda, as “Islamofascism.” Whether that term is PC is not the point of this article, but the violent riots in Libya which killed a U.S. ambassador could be considered a form of fascism.
All free people should abhor the way in which Muslim protesters are rioting. Credit is due to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for stating that this sort of violence is unacceptable, even if the free speech expressed in that shitty anti-Muslim video was hateful.
These protesters need to grow the fuck up and accept the rest of the world’s right to free speech. It doesn’t matter who was behind the video and why, only how some Muslims decided to react in violent temper tantrums.
77% of the world’s population isn’t Muslim, and not all Muslims are in agreement with the radicals; but these jackasses act as though everyone, even the idiot filmmakers, should respect their god. No: the faithful are not entitled to a world in which reverence is paid to Mohammed or Allah. These Islamic extremists could learn a thing or two from their ancient ancestors—principally, how to observe one’s religion and not force it onto foreign populations. Ancient Africa, the Middle East and Asia were great places of learning—now they’re often the breeding grounds for violent irrational behavior amongst certain sects.
Islamic extremists—not Islam as a whole, of course—used a similar tactic in the 1989 fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing, of all things, a fictional book, “The Satanic Verses.” They couldn’t accept a fictional portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed, especially since Rushdie’s novel explored discarded Qur’an verses thought to have been inspired by Satan. A riot in Pakistan prompted Ayatollah Khomeini (the ruling authority of Iran and of Shia Muslim sect) to issue the fatwa against Rushdie, stating:
“The author of the ‘Satanic Verses’ book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death… If someone knows them but is unable to kill them, he should hand them over to the people for punishment.”
No other major religious sect goes to such lengths to silence critics. It’s worth noting that Rushdie’s Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi was murdered as a result of the fatwa, while two other translators escaped attempts on their lives. Bookstores in American and Europe were bombed.
Then, of course, there is the case of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was murdered by a radical Muslim named Mohammed Bouyeri for directing the short film “Submission.” The film, scripted by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, dealt with Islam’s history of violence against women. In the aftermath, “Submission” was withdrawn from the International Film Festival Rotterdam so as not to offend Islamic extremists. The producers and the jury didn’t want to encourage more bloody radical violence.
In both of the above cases, radical Islam (though Khomeini’s Shia sect is mainstream), achieved their universal aim: silencing free speech and getting non-believers to bow before them, their prophet and Allah.
Neither Rushdie nor Van Gogh were saying that Islam had no right to exist, or that there were no truths to be found in its beliefs. They were simply criticizing the religion. For Rushdie, it was the absurdities and contradictions of Islam. Rushdie, for instance, incorporated the story of Ibn Abi Sarh into the narrative as the character Salman the Persian. Ibn Abi Sarh was one of Mohammed’s scribes, and later left the new religion after he concluded that Mohammed was a false prophet. Salman has the same doubts in “The Satanic Verses.”
“The Satanic Verses” was Rushdie’s satirical challenge of Islam’s divine, infallible religious document. As Rushdie himself wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in 2005:
The insistence that the Koranic text is the infallible, uncreated word of God renders analytical, scholarly discourse all but impossible. Why would God be influenced by the socioeconomics of seventh-century Arabia, after all? Why would the Messenger’s personal circumstances have anything to do with the Message?
Those offended by the book simply couldn’t handle the satire.
Theo Van Gogh, on the other hand, sought to confront Islam’s institutionalized sexist violence. These were both legitimate criticisms, not blasphemies—unless, of course, one is a radical or happens to follow a powerful sectarian leader such as a Khomeini.
As a result of radical Islam’s continued inability to deal with free speech, or abide criticism of its religion, however well-reasoned or idiotic it may be, people have again died. This time it was the U.S. ambassador to Libya. And for what: to further enflame anti-Western sentiment that might help entrench Islamic extremism in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere?
Who will it be next?