Taking A Stand Against Islamism

The Danish paper at the center of the Mohammed Cartoons controversy, the Jyllands-Posten, has printed a
manifesto signed by twelve Westernized Muslims and experts on Islam. The prose of the letter is moving and an excellent summation of the issues we, as a global society, face:

MANIFESTO: Together facing the new totalitarianism
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.

We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man’s domination of woman, the Islamists’ domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.

We reject « cultural relativism », which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of “Islamophobia”, an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.

We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.

12 signatures

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Chahla Chafiq
Caroline Fourest
Bernard-Henri Lévy
Irshad Manji
Mehdi Mozaffari
Maryam Namazie
Taslima Nasreen
Salman Rushdie
Antoine Sfeir
Philippe Val
Ibn Warraq

Bravo. We need far, far more intellectual pushback against Islamism, the totalitarian political ideology that attempts to disguise itself as a world religion.

UPDATE: By way of Michelle Malkin, I see that Paul Belien of Brussels Journal has posted a critique of the Manifesto, which takes the Manifesto’s authors to task for conflating secular -isms with a theocratic one. To wit:

The above paragraphs clearly display the manifesto’s defects. While Islamism can be considered the perversion of religion, the three scourges of the 20th century – Fascism, Nazism (National-Socialism) and Stalinism – were secular ideologies. Neither Adolf Hitler nor Joseph Stalin were theocrats. It takes “French intellectuals” to use mankind’s experience with National-Socialism and Stalinism as motivation for a rallying cry to oppose “religious totalitarianism” and a call for “secular values,” which they hold to be “universal values.”

There is no doubt that Islamism is a threat to freedom and human dignity. However, as we have warned before, some people – undoubtedly brave, but nevertheless mistaken – are prepared to destroy certain basic freedoms, such as freedom of education, in their fight against Islam and religion in general.

[…]

I cannot state this any better than Dr. Jos Verhulst, in his contribution to our Dutch-language section yesterday:

The great public secret behind the whole issue of the Danish cartoons is the following. Nowhere does the core text of the New Testament argue for censorship. There is not a single instance where the New Testament states that a non-Christian should be persecuted for his convictions or statements. With regard to those with whom it is not possible for Christians to co-exist, Christ simply preached secession: “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” (Matthew, 10:14). On the other hand, Christ did not allow himself to be censored: He said what He had to say, He “insulted” and “offended” the pharisees, and for this He was persecuted and finally murdered. The core text of Islam is different. It explicitly calls for the persecution and submission through violence of all who hold other beliefs.

It is true that throughout history there have been Christians and Christian churches who, in contradiction with the Christian core text, have engaged in persecution and censorship, and that there have been Muslims who have pleaded for freedom of expression and thought. Even today there are instances where the Vatican calls for censorship (see the Osservatore Romano of 5 February) while Dyab Abu Jahjah calls for freedom. But the dynamics of the core texts that have shaped both civilisations through the centuries, are diametrically opposed. Freedom lovers had the support of the one core text but not of the other.

Interesting stuff. Go ye and read the whole thing.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein is of the opinion that Belien most likely misread the intent of the Manifesto’s authors, in that they were specifically speaking out against totalitarianism, be it of the secular or religious variety, and that the fact that the authors are all of a “Leftist” bent is an encouraging sign for the West’s eventual ability to overcome this present scourge as well.

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