The prior piece told three stories. They were fictitious stories. But they have happened in real life – different names and locations. The substance was similar; the restraints on freedom the same.
There are “Hate Laws”, “Blasphemy Laws”, “Public Speech Abuse Laws” on the books in several countries. The most vile may be in Pakistan (295-C; outlines punishment for derogatory remarks about Muhammad, execution is one result) where the restrictions in play are mostly the imposition of Islamic Laws with restraint on anything considered defamatory or questionable towards Allah or Muhammad, having nothing to do with direct attacks against individuals. The Law has been applied in a fashion far exceeding, I would believe, its original intent. That is, except to the fundamentalist Muslims – Islamists are most comfortable with the increasing net of anything THEY consider blasphemous spreading over Pakistan.
In addition any other religion must be practiced privately, if at all, as non-Muslims, kafir’s, that could possibly cause a Muslim to consider or change their religion would violate the Blasphemy Laws. Negative comments, however defined, are outlawed. I could not write this Blog.
Discussions on free speech, if restricted,the restrictions can be labelled as curbs on blasphemy. That is the problem with restricting free speech and Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws should be a sign of the trouble restrictions can generate.
On Jan 4 (2011) Punjab governor Salman Taseer was assassinated. He was a moderate in a Country (Pakistan) that has many extreme elements. Due to the restraints on blasphemy – what is restricted are any expressed concerns for Islamic Law, which he criticized – he sought the Law be repealed. (B = blasphemy) Examples: Defense of the rights of non-Muslims = B. Defense of the rights of dissident Muslims = B. Criticism of the Blasphemy Laws = B. Doubt the use of stoning to punish adultery = B. Criticism of the policies of the Country of Pakistan = B. Tribes or sects or separate groups that call themselves Muslim (Ahmadis, and now possibly the Ismaili Muslims, followers of Aga Khan) can be classified as non-Muslim, their views blasphemous. Reformers = B. Mourning Taseer’s death = B. Attending his funeral = B. If this is the standard then any Jew or Christian would be similarly classified just as Ahmadis or Ismaili. Refer to The Weekly Standard magazine, January 24, 2011, Blasphemy in Pakistan, by Paul Marshall & Nina Shea, for more on the examples provided.
From The Weekly Standard article, the closing statement is most telling. Said by the daughter of the assassinated Punjab governor, Sara, “this is a message to every liberal to shut up or be shot.” This is not what American wants. We do not want Liberals restricting Conservatives’ speech; we do not want Conservatives restricting Liberals’ speech, no matter how much it ‘hurts.’
[And here is the latest (http://m.macon.com/macon/db_984/contentdetail.htm;jsessionid=2550BC4814190A91B5110B169CFAA629?contentguid=N7iuvKpe&detailindex=0&pn=0&ps=5) Islamists kill another Pakistani official over blasphemy law – Macon Telegraph]
The Stance of Politicians
Is this what any free country, democracy, wants. Our politicians cannot be soft on any issue that attacks freedom of speech. The cartoon example, Obama bowing to the Ayatollah, is what we must avoid; no politician should posture himself in such a fashion. Protecting freedoms is essential.
Although many prominent Islamist leaders deny the Holocaust, cries are often heard that the persecution of Muslims, as vocal Islamists in the UK often claim (representing their political faction and not the majority of Muslims – being heard politically as a spokesperson for all Muslims), could result in outlandish attacks on this minority group engendering results akin to the Holocaust. Appeals to the conditioning of uninformed politicians, those that clearly do not Understand Islam, but who wish to protect their governmental seats, who desire to be seen as objective and sensitive to minorities, seems to be working.
It is not the speech that hurts; it is actions taken. Such actions are not due to what is said, but the responsibility of the perpetrator alone. There is no excuse. All religions should be able to practice their beliefs. When the practice of one religion is to restrict or harm other believers, then this is an area of concern. Such actions take the religion beyond the line of demarcation of freedom of expression and clearly define it as ‘hate.’ The Quran does not teach love, but calls for ‘enmity’ – hatred – towards those who do not regard Allah as their god. According to Farid Mahally, “What is accepted as commonplace in Christianity is a dim reflection in the Qur’an. While “God is great” [Allahu akbar] is a statement of faith, affirmation and expression, “God is love” [Allahu muhibba] is absent from the attributes of God. Such a profound contrast between the two religions, Islam and Christianity, demands an inquiry as to why.” (http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Themes/love.htm) Each religion, however, should honor and respect the other, possibly attempt to learn from one another. There is certain to be dispute, to be differences, even strong expressions from the most fundamental of each religion objecting to the practices, belief and values of the other, but that should not be cause for passage of laws, incarceration, attacks or death – except to those that so act and harm others in conformance with their feelings. It is not the words, the cartoon, the images, it is the physical attacks that cause harm that need to be punished as would any such actions that physically hurt others, or are about to, brings out the civil police to maintain order for the common good. The ‘common good’ becomes the operative term.
The Islamists War Zone – No Boundaries
If what the Islamists appear to desire is an army without boundaries. If their objective is to define a culture that weaves its way throughout the world, every corner, every nation, with the Quran in its most vile form of interpretation their standard, then we have a Holy War to deal with. Allah is the figure head, Muhammad the prophet, his life of 23 years under the direction of Allah the path they wish to follow, with 7th Century traditions adhered to, then we must resist. We must fight not the Islamists, but for freedom. Our politicians must fight on behalf of those who prefer freedom, for men and women to avoid exile under totalitarian control, being watched and disciplined by the Islamic police, living in areas where the desires of tribal leaders can be satisfied with bribes and gifts (until the money runs out and they demand more) to the detriment of others, and being subjected to empowered Imams and ayatollahs, their fatwas and edicts. The restrictions on Free Speech have been cultivated by the successful attacks against Salman Rushdie and The Satanic Verses. Islamists want ‘no’ criticism. Ban all. Let us perpetrate our cause without any watchful or critical eye; always prepared to kill or blind the observer of their intended destruction of freedom under the guise of a world all for Allah. The Islamists are not speaking for the ‘common good’, not at all, and this is what needs to be recognized and dealt with by politicians and government leaders everywhere.
If the pot is always aboil then touching the water will always hurt. Islamists are active
● Using terrorist tactics,
● Using tribal controls,
● Employing multitudes of checkpoints, in areas when and where possible, where bribes to pass are necessary,
● creating turmoil in the name of cultural protections when the culture itself cannot be defined in global terms,
● having variances in thinking towards Muslim’s which exist in each tribe, area, country, and family;
● with country leaders who must be adept at handling international issues, local issues, tribal issues, and political issues simultaneously (“Dancing on the Heads of Snakes” as noted by Victoria Clark, author of the book, Yemen – Yale University Press, New Haven, CT 2010), always subject to assassination attempts and having to use added pay, increased benefits, and police action to quell dissent (knowing also democratically elected officials may never last in such cultures),
● knowing how one defines and interprets the Quran and this Ideology is a moving target; not one accepted program outline exists,
● where guerrilla methods have proven effective against the largest armies, and will continue to be until similar but preemptive tactics are used, along with vast intelligence networks, to stop the guerrilla thugs.
● where world leaders, the wealthy countries, are more than willing to step in if another leaves to provide Aide to the weak, the poor, and the perceived vulnerable Country, weaponry and other funding, to gain access – yet seldom understand the culture or the ways,
● where locals take advantage of the money from international sources, wanting no strings, and providing little in return in terms of stability,
● where stability may be a curse, the desire for progress an impediment to control,
● where the Islamist sees an opportunity to grow their disjointed, separate, independent, and militant force united only in a desire for destruction, shouting Allahu Akbar and having a gun, brainwashed to live and die for Allah, taking anyone else they can with them – why – for publicity for the Islamists.
● Where the Islamists can gain control, make inroads into Muslim cultures and become enriched by the practices of democratic societies in ways we may never understand.
We do understand freedom. We may now realize we are not prepared to protect it as necessary. We must learn to, however. I am not seeking limiting the expression of the Islamists, but I feel it is an imperative that their hateful actions must be curtailed, watched, and prevented. If they form an army, warriors of a non-sovereign country, then indeed we must see their suzerain as Muhammad and Allah and know they are unified under Sharia Law and bounded only be the covers of the Quran. The CEO is imaginary (or dead). We can fight such tyrants, such disparate governments, guerrilla governments that can find refuge in Muslim controlled areas, even now when no one has evolved as the papal authority for all Islam, or a faction of Islam (such as Sunni or Shite) as the representative for all Muslims. That will not happen in my lifetime.
The war with and within Islam will continue, while the war outside of Islam grows engaged in a battle for the freedom of all people. We are faced with an Ideology hidden behind the mask of Allah; it has godlike characteristics but all too often is used by tyrants to get their way and enhance their fortunes at the expense of believers (those told by their families they are Muslim, they were born a Muslim, and must remain a Muslim otherwise be subject to death – independent thinking not allowed.) The war is to free those subjected to think for themselves, explore the world outside the Muslim-umma, to ask questions, explore other faiths, discover freedom, discover safety, experience neighborly love, experience a loving Lord, and find their Way.
Purveyors of hate towards anything that is not their own ideology must be stopped to insure freedom of speech is preserved.
Politician’s in democracies must know this too.
Obama does not understand Muslims or Islam.
Alternative to Democracy
In the Muslim world it is not democracy as the West knows it that is possible today. But what may be possible is the formation of nations, nations under God, under Allah, where ethical and moral values are respected but in the common arena. Stephen Prothero in an article, In changing Egypt, where will faith fall?, in USA Today, Monday February 21, 2011 (pg. 7A) calls what I refer to as “civil religion.” He defines “civil religion” as “close enough (to Christianity in Western democracies and Islam in a Muslim nation) to reassure citizens that their nation’s projects conform to the will of God yet far enough to convince citizens (everyone) that they are not replacing submission to a dictator with submission to a clerical cabal.” Secularism, may be the answer, with underlying values and civil laws founded on common Biblical-Quranic modern principles.
The root to stability in the modern world may be embracing cultural values of a country, be it Egypt, America, Turkey, Singapore, Iraq, Ethiopia, Yemen, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, China, Japan, and so on focused on their history and cultural heritage combined with “civil religion” that provides structure for the common good. It may not be the goal of an independent nation to be dependent on a world-Umma of Muslims dictated to in terms of obedience and adherence to Quranic interpretations of a religious scholar, but to be respected for its own established footing.
Let those who enter here know who we are and where we came from, become a part of our culture, and evolve with us. Do not enter here and start your own country, blend in and become part of this country and its growing, emerging character. Multiculturalism should be out the window and those that enter your shores should adhere to the principles of the land to which they emigrated; if not then return from whence they came and be otherwise happy. Why come to a place to be belligerent, disrespectful and abusive, when you can go home.
Today is a good day to get down on your knees and pray for your voice to be heard, your disagreements to be expressed, your differences to be aired, and your opinions to be shared. Defend the rights of people to speak out on issues with which they disagree. Do not blame the speaker for the bullet from a gun of a dissident. Know the truth about the criminal, his background, his intentions and then judge whether a collective body is at work attempting to enforce their creed. We must take responsibility for our actions. If as a united team in committing violence then all must be herded and condemned for their crime. Taking responsibility for one’s actions will help ensure the freedom to speak one’s mind.
Pray you can remain strong in light of the evil that God allows in this world, knowing that you will find your place at His side when the Day of Judgment arrives. In the meantime, do what you do for the honor and glory of God, respect the Ten Commandments and treat your neighbor regardless of religious preference as you would want to be treated. Be prepared, though, when your neighbor does not feel the same. Defend your home, your family, and your rights. Defend your freedom. Do not be afraid to speak your mind.
Thanks be to God for your saving Grace, from taking us from being like Adam to being like Jesus, knowing the spirit that has been born within due to the ultimate sacrifice will be alive in His eternal kingdom. We must deal with our physical being, our sinful being, knowing we have been saved, and wanting to live for our Lord. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9 – NIV)
Grace and Peace,