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← The Pakistan killings are not about blasphemy

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by Jos Gibbons

The Pakistan killings are not about blasphemy

Those denouncing blasphemy laws get repeatedly killed. I wonder what it’s about?

Western liberals are happy to denounce white extremists, while covering up militant Islam with a blanket of political correctness

Not this Western liberal!

However brutal they were, they respected their version of due process.

Is that the limit of their due process, that they only massacre the innocents of their own nation?

They did not say Taseer and Bhatti must die because they were apostates, nor claim their targets had committed blasphemy. Taseer and Bhatti had not said the Koran was the work of men not god. They did not denounce Muhammad's morality or offer any criticism of his life and teaching. They confined themselves to the point that Pakistan’s death penalty for blasphemy was excessive and barbaric. Their killers blew them away for blaspheming against blasphemy.

The basic gist of Islam is that everything it ever says, including its rules about how to behave and how to treat those breaking said rules (and even sometimes how to treat those who do not enforce the latter), is 100 % correct in the literal words on the page. Therefore, to question any of its policies, including policies on how to punish blasphemers, amounts to a form of, as the religious call it, blasphemy.

Once the global wave of terror had passed, no one wanted to put themselves through what Rushdie and Penguin had been through, and a silence descended. Even the supposedly militant "new atheists," whom genteel commentators damn for their vulgarity, steer clear of religions that might kill them. Close readers of Richard Dawkins will notice that almost all his examples of clerical folly are drawn from the Catholic and American evangelical churches, whose congregations are unlikely to firebomb his publishers.

Did the UK’s legislation governing the freedom of the press recently pass an amendment to the law requiring all articles about anything wrong with any religion or its adherents to bring up the new atheists at some point? Because I literally never see articles by British journalists fail to adhere to such a law, as if execution awaited such miscreants. I’d love to know why the critics of new atheists qualify as genteel, but it’s much more important for now to focus on the charge that new atheists avoid Islam for fear of death. Firstly, it isn’t true; besides Sam Harris doing so at great length (including an entire chapter, The Problem with Islam), notice Cohen concedes “almost” all examples concern Christians. Dawkins has, in fact, repeatedly mentioned Islam sucks for having the death penalty for apostasy. Secondly, insofar as there is a bias towards critiquing Christianity, Cohen has misattributed it. Survey atheist critics of the world’s religions en masse, and you will find they almost always focus on whichever religion is dominant in their own cultural background, as this is the one on which they’re most expert. As Dara O’Briain clarified in his latest stand–up, he avoids jokes about Muslims not out of a fear of the repercussions, but because neither he nor his audience knows the relevant facts.

The difference between Islamism and the rest is that liberals are happy to denounce white extremists, while covering up militant Islam with the wet blanket of political correctness. They maintain it is illicit to criticise religious ideas.

Please don’t generalise about us. You know the people who condemn such behaviour? They are also often liberals.

Arab liberals will search the net for guidance. They will discover that far from offering strategies that might help, timorous western liberals have convinced themselves that it is "racist" to criticise raging fanatics who no longer even bother to pretend that they are anything other than liberalism's mortal enemies.

Unless they read anything by Sam Harris, who classifies himself as a liberal, and who correctly identifies the religion–is–above–criticism as neither liberal nor conservative, but in fact a rare part of their consensus.

Sun, 06 Mar 2011 16:42:02 UTC | #599398