Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rushdie and Freedom

(Reuters) Osama bin Laden's second in command has warned that Britain faces fresh attacks as "punishment" for Salman Rushdie's recent knighthood… The British threat - addressed directly to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown - came in a 20-minute audio tape posted on jihadist websites by Ayman al-Zawahiri.  He threatened "a very precise response" in retaliation against Britain for having knighted the controversial novelist in the Queen's Birthday Honours last month.  Zawahiri, considered the de facto leader of al-Qaeda since bin Laden has not been heard from for years, said it insulted Islam to reward the author of The Satanic Verses.  "I say to Blair's successor that the policy of your predecessor drew catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq and even in the centre of London," Zawahiri said, in an apparent reference to the recent failed car bomb attacks. "And if you did not understand, listen, we are ready to repeat it for you, God willing, until we are sure you have fully understood."

Now for those critics of the “West,” exactly what issue involving “social justice” is Zawahiri pursuing?  Is Salman Rushdie trying to steal Muslim oil?  Is he advocating the bombing of Muslim women and children?  Has, in fact, Rushdie done anything unethical?  The very fact that numerous Muslim leaders called for his death via fatwa over the years makes his criticisms of Islam valid at least a little bit, does it not?  Shouldn’t his most vigorous defenders be Muslims who appreciate his use of his right to freely express his thoughts?  Aren’t they the potentially largest beneficiaries of his past efforts?  Yet there is widespread support in the Islamic world, as well as sacred textual support for death to blasphemers and apostates to Islam.

In fact, there are Muslims who do support Rushdie, but the truth is that many “moderate” Muslims, justlike many moderate Christians or Jews, have no idea what they’re talking about, and cannot coherently argue a reasoned position.  A majority of Christianity, for example, in this country support school prayer which is clearly unconstitutional; they believe in a young earth which is clearly not true.  Hell, one survey claimed that over 20% say they believe in both Creationism and Evolution, which cannot both be true, and which was obvious from the context in which the question was asked.

What is the point of all this?  The point is that religious belief, even casual belief, clouds the mind and one’s use of reason.  And the result is that Muslims around the world often support the death of a person who represents freedom of thought and speech – for Muslims.

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