Free Speech: Yes, As Long As Allah Likes What You Say

Today’s online version of the German magazine SPIEGEL contained an article (an excerpt from the bestselling book, “Hurray! We’re Capitulating!”) about the difficulties European nations face when they try to reconcile democratic values such as freedom of opinion, tolerance, and mutual respect with the irate reaction of their Muslim population whose sensitivities get all too easily offended. Using the publication of some inocuous cartoons about Muhammad in a Danish newspaper and the resulting Islamist uproar that included the burning of several Danish and Norwegian embassies as an example, author Henryk M. Broder predicts the decline and eventual demise of freedom as Western countries know it. The conciliatory reaction of some of the European governments to enraged Muslims throwing firebombs is based on feelings of powerlessness and fear, a tendency to avoid conflict, and “… an overriding concern about the balance of trade”, Broder claims.

In the face of the Europeans’ inability to successfully counteract the Islamist attack on democracy, Broder offers one solution: surrender. He repeats an idea by the former Danish polititian Mogens Glistrup ( an outspoken critic of immigration laws and in particular opposed to let Muslims immigrate to Denmark — a fact the article fails to mention) who planned how Denmark should deal with a possible Sovjet invasion during the Cold War: disband the Danish army and replace it with an answering machine saying “We surrender” in Russian.

Read the article:The West and Islam: “Hurray! We’re Capitulating!”

Is Broder exaggerating? Or maybe intolerant? Were the European Union foreign ministers right who accused the Danish newspaper which printed the offending cartoons of doing something “unacceptable,” “offensive” and “objectionable”? When reading Broder’s article, one sentence immediately caught my eye: “The OIC [Organization of the Islamic Conference] had already made clear what it wanted in its ‘Declaration of Human Rights in Islam’ in 1990: ‘All have the right to freely express their opinions in a manner that does not run counter to Shariah law’.” Wait a minute. Opinions can run counter to law? Says who? Not being all that familiar with Shariah law, I had to look it up.

I found some disturbing information. Islamic Shariah is considered the sole source of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam which in turn is understood to be the Islamic counterpart and response to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In other words, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , not a legally binding document in itself, did not sufficiently incorporate the cultural and religious concerns of non-Western countries; therefore, Muslim countries formulated their own Human Rights Declaration, this one based on the law of Shariah.

Shariah means “the path to the watering hole”, and it is more than just a set of laws — it is a way of being, with precise rules of conduct for every possible situation in the life of a Muslim. The source for these rules or laws is Allah, and by extension Muhammad and his disciples; the Koran serves as documentation and proof. Besides being a matter of belief, the law of Shariah has been adopted by several governments, thus overriding the secular legal system of the country. Some horrific cases caused public outcry: quite recently, an Afghan man who had converted to Christianity faced the death penalty for this crime. Earlier, a woman in Nigeria risked being stoned to death because she, who was divorced, had sex with a man. In Iran, two male teenagers were publicly executed because they had a homosexual relationship.

Obviously, the law of Shariah would be a poor choice when it comes to the protection of free speech and expression. And yet, a large part of the Muslim population of countries like England, Canada, and Denmark is in favor of having some form of Shariah law be adopted by their country of choice, polls show. Surrender? I don’t think so…

The weird thing is that the only websites I came across that were critical of fundamentalist Islam, the Shariah law and it’s possible introduction into the legal system of democratic countries are right-wing conservatives who know that the name of the One God isn’t Allah, but — well, GOD, damn it. Maybe it IS better to capitulate, after all.


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2 Responses to Free Speech: Yes, As Long As Allah Likes What You Say

  1. seneca says:

    We Westerners truly are different from other cultures.

    As citizens of Rome, we are the product of the merger of the beautiful philosophy of the ancient Greeks and the Judeo-Christian ethic into the Roman empire.

    The Greeks gave us the Rule of Law, and that law was secular. Kings could not harm a citizen without trial.

    The Persians and, to my knowledge, the rest of the world, are not inheritors of the rule of secular law.

    We are different from the Muslims at our very core.


  2. Diane says:

    I found an interesting definition of the word “surrender,” an “acceptance of despair.”

    This defines what it would be like to live under Shariah Law.

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