Atanu Dey On India's Development

Forbidding Expression – Part 2

If your government is manipulated into disregarding the law of the land by rioting murderous mobs, you might be a third-world country.

{Continued from part 1.}

Taslima Nasreen got hounded out of Kolkata by rioting Muslims. The state of West Bengal displayed its spinelessness and instead of providing protection to a visitor, gave in to intimidation and violence. She was packed off to Jaipur. The fear of murderous mobs compelled the Rajasthani government to kick her out. She is now hiding somewhere in New Delhi, the capital of India. One does not expect state policy to be dictated by rioting mobs but it appears that Indian policy is.

To be fair, no government of the civilized world is quite equipped to deal with the menace of Islamic extremism. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s case illustrates the weak-willed incompetence of even governments of the so-called first world countries.

Like Taslima Nasreen, Ayaan too became the object of Islamic anger because she began writing against the repression of women sanctioned by Islam. She’s become a fugitive. Here’s what Sam Harris and Salman Rushdie (no stranger to being the object of murderous threat) wrote in an Oct 9th International Herald Tribune article:

As you read this, Ayaan Hirsi Ali sits in a safe house with armed men guarding her door. She is one of the most poised, intelligent and compassionate advocates of freedom of speech and conscience alive today, and for this she is despised in Muslim communities throughout the world.

The details of her story have been widely reported, but bear repeating, as they illustrate how poorly equipped we are to deal with the threat of Muslim extremism in the West.

Read the whole article.

Harris and Rushdie don’t mince their words in their condemnation of the Dutch government’s broken promises of protecting Ayaan.

It is important to realize that Hirsi Ali may be the first refugee from Western Europe since the Holocaust. As such, she is a unique and indispensable witness to both the strength and weakness of the West: to the splendor of open society, and to the boundless energy of its antagonists. She knows the challenges we face in our struggle to contain the misogyny and religious fanaticism of the Muslim world, and she lives with the consequences of our failure each day. There is no one in a better position to remind us that tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.

. . .

There is also the matter of broken promises: Hirsi Ali was persuaded to run for Parliament, and to become the world’s most visible and imperiled spokeswoman for the rights of Muslim women, on the understanding that she would be provided security for as long as she needed it. Gerrit Zalm, in his capacity as both the deputy prime minister and the minister of finance, promised her such security without qualification. Most shamefully, Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister, has recommended that Hirsi Ali simply quit the Netherlands, while refusing to grant her even a week’s protection outside the country during which she might raise funds to hire security of her own. Is this a craven attempt to placate Muslim fanatics? A warning to other Dutch dissidents not to stir up trouble by speaking too frankly about Islam? Or just pure thoughtlessness?

At least in the case of India it is clear that speaking too frankly about Islam is forbidden. And the disturbing thing is that the prohibition does not arise out of respect for someone’s sensibilities but rather out of fear of being killed.

I think that the first thing that has to be admitted is that we are afraid of Islam. I know that I am and I openly admit to being a card-carrying Islamophobe. Fear is natural and is a good first response for self-preservation. If you are not afraid of that which threatens your life, you are unlikely to leave too many descendants in the Darwinian game of life.

What I am afraid of is that the supporters of Islam are not inclined to engage those who criticize Islam in debate or rational inquiry. The first impulse is to respond violently and often the call for the murder of those who question Islam.

Sometimes the race card gets pulled out, especially in the US. If you criticize Islam, you are a racist. Sam Harris puts paid to that charge:

Especially unscrupulous critics of my work have claimed that my critique of Islam is “racist.” Such criticism is almost too stupid to merit a response. But, as prominent writers can sometimes be this stupid, here goes:

My analysis of religion in general, and of Islam in particular, focuses on what I consider to be bad ideas, held for bad reasons, leading to bad behavior. My antipathy toward Islam–which is, in truth, difficult to exaggerate–applies to ideas, not to people, and certainly not to the color of a person’s skin. My criticism of the logical and behavioral consequences of certain ideas (e.g. martyrdom, jihad, honor, etc.) impugns white converts to Islam–like Adam Gadahn–every bit as much as Arabs like Ayman al-Zawahiri. I am also in the habit of making invidious comparisons between Islam and other religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Need I point out that most Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains are not white like me? One would hope there would be no such need—but the work of writers like Chris Hedges suggests that the need is pressing.

As I regularly point out when attacking Islam, no one is suffering under the doctrine of Islam more than Muslims are—particularly Muslim women. Those who object to any attack upon the religion of Islam as “racist” or as a symptom of “Islamophobia” display a rather nauseating insensitivity to the subjugation of women throughout the Muslim world. At this moment, millions of women and girls have been abandoned to illiteracy, forced marriage, and lives of slavery and abuse under the guise of “multiculturalism” and “religious sensitivity.” This is a crime to which otherwise well-intentioned apologists for Islam are now accomplices.

I think it would be good if people agreed to examine ideas without feeling offended if their ideas are seen to be silly and idiotic.

Enough for now but there is more to come.

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