Saturday, September 30, 2006

UPDATE on Free Speech, Europe and Islam.

We mentioned a couple days ago the story of this French philosophy teacher, Robert Redeker, who is now under police protection after receiving death threats over an op-ed article which he wrote in a national newspaper. IHT has a pretty informative article with interesting details:
"Jesus is a master of love; Muhammad is a master of hatred," Redeker wrote, adding: "Whereas Judaism and Christianity are religions whose rites forsake violence and remove its legitimacy, Islam is a religion that, in its very sacred text, as much as in some of its everyday rites, exalts violence and hatred. Hatred and violence dwell in the very book that educates any Muslim, the Koran."
Many Muslim scholars would disagree. (see our post here or this Informed Comment or this site, or that one) and Redeker's views are flawed at best. Besides, he is not a theologian but a philosopher so what businness doe he have writing such crap in a national newspaper?
He also wrote,
"Islam tries to dictate its rules to Europe: opening swimming pools at certain hours exclusively for women, forbidding the caricature of this religion, demanding a special diet for Muslim children in school cafeterias, fighting for wearing the veil in school, accusing free-thinkers of Islamophobia."
Clearly, Redeker has a biased agenda. He confuses cultural (over)sensitivity with political extremism. I personally don't necessarily support the "opening swimming pools at certain hours exclusively for women" for instance but it does not mean Islam tries to "dictate ts rules to Europe" either. Too strong a word in my opinon.

And now here are some details concerning the death threats:
The author of several books on philosophy, began to receive death threats by telephone, e-mail and in the Internet forum. The forum published photos of him, what it said was his home address, directions to his home and his cellphone number.
That's got to be scary. Maye that's why he went over the top and sounds paranoid as in the next comment:
Asked to describe the sort of threats he had received, Redeker said: "You will never feel secure on this earth. One billion, 300,000 Muslims are ready to kill you." Among the threats was one by a contributor to Al Hesbah, an Internet forum that is said to be a conduit for messages from Al Qaeda and other jihad organizations.
In a letter to a friend published this week in Le Monde, Redeker wrote that one website condemning him to death included a map showing exactly where he and his family lived, along with photos of him and his workplaces. (Time)
It is important to say that while Redeker should have the right to say those things, they must be criticized for what they are - Islamophobia. It is not because he faces death threats that his words are wise and true. That's probably why... while "two large teachers' unions, in separate statements Friday, also threw their support behind Redeker's right to speak freely, one of them made clear, "We do not share his convictions."

This is a perfect case where this famous quote attributed to Voltaire applies best:
Monsieur l'abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.


At 02:50, Blogger Richard said...

Thank God I've come across your perspective on Redeker's stupid commentary. I've written about it as you have--denouncing his utter ignorance about Islam while denouncing equally the stupid people who believe that threats & violence are the way to resolve an intellectual/theological debate.

But there are almost no other blogs I've been able to find who've taken our pt of view. Another ?--have you been able to find any other Muslims or Muslim sites which have denounced the threats? I've only seen the quote fr. the Imam of the Paris mosque & no others.

I've also had a long argument at my blog w. a French right winger shouting impertinence at French Muslims. I'd be curious if you had anything to say to this guy as I'm not French & can only rebut what I know to be wrong about what he writes--which would be less than what an informed French person could rebut.

At 13:28, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neither of you have really proved that the French philosopher is ignorant of what he is talking. Both of you assume that he is a "right winger" and that's good enough for you to go beserk against him. Where's the prove from the Qoram that proves that Islam is not what Redeker says it is? Where does the concept of jihad fit into all of this? Did or did not Mohammad lead the first jihad against the infidel? Did or did not Jesus die at the cross for our sins instead of leading the Jews against the Roman infidel? Give me a break!

At 14:15, Blogger Joker & Thief said...

Actually I never said he was a "right winger". In fact, he is not. He has written many op-eds in the French leftist newspaper Libération and the communist newspaper L'Humanité. He is known for being a bit of a maverick but more than that, he is know for being a "provocateur". He likes to provoke with "unconventional" opinions and that's fine with me. Only I suspect him to focus too much on the provocation and not enough on the content. (read the copy of his controversial op-ed on this blog)
My point, once again, was to say that it is his absolute right to provoke but we can still criticize his opinion, can't we?
I do not think I went "beserk" by the way. (?)
As far as Q'ran is concerned, I must say I do not know enough to be able to discuss it at length. Have you read the entire text? Do you speak Arabic? I don't.
However, I do know that the history of Islam is not just one of violence but also one of peace and progress and great contribution to our civilization. In the same way that the history of Christianity is not just one of peace and love nut also of warfare and massacres. Therefore, it seems to me that there are different ways to understand religious texts and the problem is not the religion or the religious texts but what people do with it.
The concept of "jihad" is discussed by many scholars as meaning different things. As far as the wars perpetrated by Mohammed, the are undeniable as the raids on the caravans but they have to be put into context. The same can be said about the O.T in the bible.
As a Christian myself, I will not speak against another man's religion (or lack of it) and make generalization precisely because I have had that happen to me about by own faith and religion. I do not think I should make judgements.
Yes, I do believe that Jesus died at the cross, was the son of God and died for us - how much more peace-making can you be... yet some people killed in his name, colonized in his name, burned people in his name, waged civil wars in his name, and still today, some blow up abortion clinics in his name... but does that say anything about who Jesus was. No. It says a lot about the people who use his name to do evil.


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