Saturday, January 31, 2009

COMMENT: Between free speech and hate speech ...

Some readers will recall the enormous fuss surrounding Michael Backman’s column in The Age column, which contained two questionable remarks:

*That, through its excesses against the Palestinians, Israel was responsible for inciting Muslims across the world to hate her;

*That the West suffered because of this through terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists; and

*That Israeli trekkers were all badly behaved in Nepal.

The first two claims, while dubious, were more political judgments than racist remarks. There was a fair bit of emotion-charged debate at the Crikey website, with media writer Margaret Simons insisting The Age had some explaining to do while other Crikey contributors denied Backman was anti-Semitic at all given Israeli newspapers print complaints about Israeli tourists.

The Australian ran hard on the story, its editorial asking whether editors at The Age shared Backman’s ...
... [u]ndergraduate, ill-informed nonsense.
It continued:
There is no evidence that Backman hates Jews, but people who do will endorse his arguments and continue to cloak their anti-Semitism in a faux concern for the Palestinians.
In the same vein, I cannot claim that Janet Albrechtsen’s recent claims on her blog that ...
... a significant distinguishing feature between Muslim countries and the West has been our belief in freedom of expression ...
... show that she hates Muslims per se, even if she refuses to distinguish between different Muslim-majority states.

(I myself have gone on record about the lack of freedoms citizens in most Arab states enjoy. However, I distinguished between Arab League states (who make up around 15% of the world’s Muslim population) and other states. I also don’t cast aspersions on all 1.2 billion, knowing that around one third live as minorities.)

But will Albrechtsen’s arguments, ostensibly defending a far-Right Dutch politician’s freedom to compare Muslim scriptures with Hitler’s autobiography, be endorsed by people who do hate Muslims and allow them to cloak their hatred in a faux concern for freedom of speech? Read the 7 pages of moderated comments and judge for yourself.

Or to use language Albrechtsen will no doubt appreciate, being the free speech crusader she is, should the rights of a far-Right Dutch MP to offend racial and religious minorities be deemed more important than that of a British columnist? Indeed, the big question in my mind is this: why didn’t Janet Albrechtsen raise her voice in defense of Michael Backman? I won’t bother holding my breath for an honest answer.

Writing in the New York Times on January 29, Dutch journalist Ian Buruma addresses the prosecution of far-Right MP Geert Wilders. He begins with this observation:
IF it were not for his hatred of Islam, Geert Wilders would have remained a provincial Dutch parliamentarian of little note.
(I can't help but wonder the same about Janet Albrechtsen, whose rise to fame was on the back of her rather creative use of the work of European academics.)

Buruma provides the context of the Wilders prosecution, something Albrechtsen finds impossible to do with an equal degree of clarity.
[Wilders] is now world-famous, mainly for wanting the Koran to be banned in his country, “like Mein Kampf is banned,” and for making a crude short film that depicted Islam as a terrorist faith — or, as he puts it, “that sick ideology of Allah and Muhammad.”

Last year the Dutch government decided that such views, though coarse, were an acceptable contribution to political debate. Yet last week an Amsterdam court decided that Mr. Wilders should be prosecuted for “insulting” and “spreading hatred” against Muslims. Dutch criminal law can be invoked against anyone who “deliberately insults people on the grounds of their race, religion, beliefs or sexual orientation.”
Buruma acknowledges that Wilders' supporters are not all far-Right fruitloops.
Whether Mr. Wilders has deliberately insulted Muslim people is for the judges to decide ... When the British Parliament refused to screen Mr. Wilders’s film at Westminster this week, he cited this as “yet more proof that Europe is losing its freedom.” His defenders, by no means all right-wingers, also claim to be standing up for freedom. A Dutch law professor said he found it “strange” that a man should be prosecuted for “criticizing a book.”

Buruma then identifies the method used by Wilders, and in doing so provides an effective and nuanced antidote to Albrechtsen's simplistic linear free-speech rant.
In a bewildering world of global economics, multinational institutions and mass migration, many people are anxious about losing their sense of place; they feel abandoned by their own elites. Right-wing populists like Geert Wilders are tapping into these fears.

Since raw nativism is out of fashion in the Netherlands, Mr. Wilders does not speak of race, but of freedom. His method is to expose the intolerance of Muslims by provoking them. If they react to his insults, he can claim that they are a threat to our native liberties. And if anyone should point out that deliberately giving offense to Muslims is neither the best way to lower social tensions nor to protect our freedoms, Mr. Wilders will denounce him as a typical cultural elitist collaborating with “Islamo-fascism.”

It is tempting to conclude (as Albrechtsen suggests) that Wilders is merely seekng to criticise a religious belief. Followers of that belief need not be afraid of that criticism. But is Wilders really just criticising a religious belief?

Comparing a book that billions hold sacred to Hitler’s murderous tract is more than an exercise in literary criticism; it suggests that those who believe in the Koran are like Nazis, and an all-out war against them would be justified. This kind of thinking, presumably, is what the Dutch law court is seeking to check.

One of the misconceptions that muddle the West’s debate over Islam and free speech is the idea that people should be totally free to insult. Free speech is never that absolute. Even — or perhaps especially — in America, where citizens are protected by the First Amendment, there are certain words and opinions that no civilized person would utter, and others that open the speaker to civil charges.

This does not mean that religious beliefs should be above criticism. And sometimes criticism will be taken as an insult where none is intended. In that case the critic should get the benefit of the doubt. Likening the Koran to “Mein Kampf” would not seem to fall into that category.

If Mr. Wilders were to confine his remarks to those Muslims who do harm freedom of speech by using violence against critics and apostates, he would have a valid point. This is indeed a serious problem, not just in the West, but especially in countries where Muslims are in the majority. Mr. Wilders, however, refuses to make such fine distinctions. He believes that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim. His aim is to stop “the Islamic invasion of Holland.”

There are others who share this fear and speak of “Islamicization,” as though not just Holland but all Europe were in danger of being engulfed by fascism once again. Since Muslims still constitute a relatively small minority, and most are not extremists, this seems an exaggerated fear, even though the danger of Islamist violence must be taken seriously.

However, a closer look at the rhetoric of Mr. Wilders and his defenders shows that Muslims are not the only enemies in their sights. Equally dangerous are the people whom Mr. Wilders and others refer to obsessively as “the cultural elite.”
Yep, those blasted leftwing university-educated elites who can only be exposed by their exact opposite - rightwing edlites with doctorates in law who get appointed to the boards of national broadcasters.

So what do I think of the movie? Well, I'm still wondering what all the fuss is about. It's rather ordinary, dare I say "undergraduate" and somewhat "ill-informed". The responses of another bunch of Muslim "elites" can be viewed here, and you can also

My Dutch co-religionists didn't exactly feel threatened by the movie.
The lawsuit against Mr. Wilders has been hailed in the Netherlands as a good thing for democracy. I am not so sure. It makes him look more important than he should be. In fact, the response of Dutch Muslims to his film last year was exemplary: most said nothing at all. And when a small Dutch Muslim TV station offered to broadcast the film, after all other stations had refused, the grand champion of free speech resolutely turned the offer down.
I guess that's what happens when you aren't one of the elites.

Speaking of which, feel free to watch the movie here and judge for yourself. I doubt Janet Albrechtsen would have the guts to broadcast this freely-available YouTube clip on her elite blog.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

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Anonymous said...
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Devshirme said...

"One of the misconceptions that muddle the West’s debate over Islam and free speech is the idea that people should be totally free to insult. Free speech is never that absolute."

This reminds me of when the tribesmen of the Quraish came to Abu Talib and asked him to stop insulting their religion. "Abu Talib, you are our elder and our chief, so give us justice against your nephew and order him to desist from reviling our gods, and we will leave him to his god." (Al Tabari, Ta'rikh al-rusul wa'l-muluk vol. VI, 1176.)

I think you could make a good case here for freedom of speech including the freedom to insult religions (such as polytheism) being an essential and integral part of Islam. To claim that insulting polytheism should not be allowed is contrary to the Qur'aan and scholarly opinion of every school, and hence unbelief. It should be loudly denounced as such.
Ask them, what should Abu Talib have done?

So on that narrowly defined point, I think Islam is in the clear. Score one to the real Muslims!

Likening the Koran to Hitler's book "My Jihad" needs to be judged on its merits. Is there any correspondence? Does Wilders explain his reasoning? Because if there isn't, the best antidote to this is to explain why Wilders' arguments are wrong. Trying to shut him up or punish him is the sort of thing the Nazis would have done, and so only makes his claims look true. And if there really is, then why would seeking to check such thinking be desirable?

Anonymous said...
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Irf said...

Devshirme, are you suggesting Hitler wrote his memoirs in Arabic? Or are you trying to compare the religious doctrine of struggle to Nazism?

Seriously, if you have nothing sensible to offer here, you should return to your friends at Blair's News Limited public toilet blog.

Devshirme said...


No, I'm not suggesting Hitler wrote his declaration of intent in Arabic. I simply note that the words 'Jihad' and 'Kampf' have the same meaning. It's a translation.

And I didn't try to make such a comparison (although I easily could have), I simply said that when Wilders makes the comparison, you need to first determine whether he has a point before you can condemn him for it. Because we don't want to put rules in place that effectively gag anyone genuinely trying to warn of its return, lest we find ourselves as unprepared for it as last time.

And after all, you've several times compared Mr Blair to Nazism - isn't that the same? Surely, given that, you don't think that comparing things to Nazism should be illegal? Or that it cannot be sensible?

Seriously, do you have any answer to the points I raise?

First, would you agree that the freedom to insult religions is an essential part of Islam, practised by the Prophet, and that those who claim it should not be allowed are "denying the obligatory character of something that by the consensus of Muslims is part of Islam", something which is given by al Misri as an example of apostasy/unbelief? (Umdat al Salik, o8.7 (14).)

Second, do you have any actual demonstration that Wilders' comparison of the Koran to Mein Kampf is invalid? If it helps, I can list some of the possible parallels between Jihad fi sabil Allah and Nazism that Wilders is thinking of (e.g. see al Misri o9-o11), but it would be better if you determined what his own arguments were and addressed them. Because it is by no means axiomatic or obvious that there aren't any.

Sensible answers for sensible questions. And I won't even descend to toilet insults, either. :-)

Irf said...

Devshirme, your reference to Hitler's book as "My Jihad" was a clear attempt to associate a religious teaching with the rants of a madman. Otherwise, why use that label? Your object was quite obviously to incite.

What is the difference between describing Blair's cyber-buddies as nazis and describing a religious teaching as Hitleresque? Perhaps you should read some of the posts moderated there and find out for yourself.

Personally, I really don't care about what people say about any religion. If you wish to criticise or even ridicule religious teachings, be my guest.

As to whether freedom to insult any religion is an essential part of Islam, I guess you would have to define what aspect of Islam. Are you talking about the requirement of Islamic sacred law? If so, are you talking about personal jurisprudence of Muslim minorities or collective jurisprudence of sharia-based states? Are you looking at this at a jurisprudential level or on the level of good manners?

In relation to your second point, you might be able to find comparisons between the rules of jihad stipulated in the sole classical jurisprudential text you have chosen to read and nazism. I could find parallels between modern zionism or evangelical "rapture" theology and nazism. I could also find comparisons between the current state of international law on armed conflict and the rules of jihad in a host of classical and modern jurisprudential texts. What does that prove?

Whatever jurisprudential texts might say, I personally have no problem with anyone making a film ridiculing or insulting a religion or indeed any other system of belief. If I did, I would never have posted Wilders' video on here.

I would be happy to discuss any intricate jurisprudential issues with you on e-mail or even in person if you are interested. I have advertised an e-mail address where I can be contacted. Feel free to e-mail me there.

Anonymous said...
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Devshirme said...


I don't believe Hitler was mad. Nasty, yes; wrong, most certainly; but he wouldn't have been able to do what he did, or bring an entire nation along with him, if he had been mad.

It is convenient to pretend that such beliefs could only be the product of mental illness - it avoids the necessity of facing all sorts of unpleasant issues. But Hitler was well within the range of normal human behaviour. His main distinction was gaining the power to put his beliefs into effect. I don't think Mohammed was mad, either.

If by "incite" you mean either to incite violence or hatred, no that wasn't my intention. (Incidentally, did you intend to incite hatred of Tim's blog? Is that why you think such comparisons are necessarily incitements?) I don't suppose you'll believe that, but as I'm not clear on what evidence you're basing your assertion, I'm at a loss how to answer it more helpfully.

Certainly I find it interesting that both leaders chose the same word for their effort to bring the world under the domination of the ideology they developed. The parallel is in the facts of the case, not something I made up. But I'm not intending to incite anything by pointing that out. It is the Nazis and the Jihadists who incite any hatred, by their beliefs and methods.

I note that under the title 'Objectives of Jihad', al Misri cites Qur'aan 9:29, to fight those who do not believe in Allah and the last day... until they pay the poll tax and are humbled. The associated description of the purpose and methods of Jihad is very clear and unambiguous. Being a religious teaching does not excuse it.

As for Tim's blog, I've read the posts you quoted from there earlier. In one someone jokes about Obama eating a hamburger offending Muslims - which supposedly shows ignorance of Jews not eating ham either - as opposed to the joke being that hamburgers are named after the New York town of Hamburg, and are made from beef. The joke is not so much about religious dietary taboos, but about religious representatives making an unjustified fuss about it. (Which some Muslims have done.) I don't see any relationship to Nazism in that. Unless it is your position that all religious jokes are tantamount to Nazism?

Next up we do have a reference to skin colour. But I'm not clear on whether the connection you draw was intended, or whether it was just a way of pointing out a particular individual. If they'd said "the person with glasses" would that have been prejudice against the short sighted? Weak stuff, and a long way from Nazism in any case. A more pertinent question would be why there was anyone listening attentively.

Then you quote someone who is upset about the video clip of the cleric extolling the virtue of wife-beating, and of the Muslims, yes, Muslims, who broadcast it. It's quite an interesting example in that rather than generalising to all Muslims, it does narrow it down to just those that published it. And since you've already said that there are Muslims who condemn it, you surely would agree here? And finally, the writer confirms both their belief and hope that this is a fringe view - surely they get points for that! - and simply note the lack of evidence. This person is projecting a quite positive view of Muslims generally, despite the lack of justification. No Nazism here!

And the final one, noting hypocrisy in objecting to torture of terrorists, while condoning torture of disobedient wives. If the Guantanamo guards had beat their prisoners as the clerics describe beating a wife, it would have been so classified. And since you've already said you don't believe in wife-beating, I'm not sure what you're objecting to here. It doesn't seem to fall into the category of obvious Nazism.

So really, I don't see why you're making this connection, when most of what they say is stuff you claim you believe in yourself or say you don't object to. Certainly, it's harder to find a connection between that and Nazism than it is Jihad or dhimma restrictions like the zonnar.

Now, you complain about me citing "the sole classical jurisprudential text you have chosen to read". It isn't the only one I've read, just the most conveniently to hand. On Jihad, they all say the same. I'd be a bit more impressed if you had given some other examples and references that said something different, but you don't. But even the existence of one such reference, endorsed by a wide range of Islamic scholars as being both current and correct, is a significant issue that you can't just wave away in that manner.

What does it prove? It proves that every major school orthodox Islam, according to a group of people who ought to know, plans world domination and the eventual subjection, conversion, or death of all non-Muslims. That's precisely what it says. I have asked you repeatedly for authoritative Islamic arguments and references to demonstrate and explain why this is not so, and why people who are evident experts in Islam believe it is.

I don't want it to be so. I don't want to fight with you about it. I only want you to give straight answers. What is the proof that offensive Jihad is not a communal obligation on all Muslims? Not something to convince ignorant Westerners - we need something with half a chance to convince nutcase Jihadists who know their theology. If you can't even convince me, you definitely won't convince Meshaal or Qaradawi. Or if you can't, because the terrorists are in fact correct about what Islam requires, then please admit it and say what your sort of Muslims will be doing to change that.

As I've said before, tu quoques against other beliefs and religions are both irrelevant and counter-productive. I'll as cheerfully condemn all those bits of other beliefs as I do with Islam, when its appropriate - but their failures do not excuse Islam's one jot, and it is only Islam's being discussed here. But since you bring it up, neither modern zionism nor evangelical theology have anything even close to Nazism outside the fantasies of the less expert propagandists. For a Muslim to keep on bringing it up just plays into the stereotype of Muslims as credulous Jew-haters. Please, stop hurting yourself that way.

Congratulations on posting Wilders' video, and not having a problem with it. That wasn't quite the question I asked though. I asked about Islam's take on it, and on your view on those pushing for a ban on insulting religions. Why is it so hard to say?

A private discussion isn't what I'm after. Your lambasting of Wilders and Blair for criticising was public. Your justification for doing so (or its absence) ought to be public too.

My apologies for the length of all that. I do appreciate your patience in answering so far.

Irf said...

"Now, you complain about me citing "the sole classical jurisprudential text you have chosen to read". It isn't the only one I've read, just the most conveniently to hand. On Jihad, they all say the same."

Just consider the logic (or lack thereof) of what you have typed. You say that you have cited the most convenient jurisprudential work. You then make the extraordinary claim that ALL jurisprudential texts say the same thing.

Wow. You are such an extraordinary authority. You have read in their original languages (Turkish, Bosnian, Urdu, Bengali, Farsi, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, numerous African dialects etc) a host of jurisprudential works. They all say exactly what your own prejudices suspect.

Maybe I was unfair in describing Blair as Nazi-like. I'm not sure if even the Opinion Editor of an American-owned tabloid would make such an extraordinary claim.

Go read up on the history of (Western) customary international law. It has only been since the end of the Second World War that non-defensive war has been described as aggression. Rape only became regarded as a war crime after the Bosnian conflict in the 1990's. This is the state of customary international law based on Western European and American law, based (allegedly) on a Christian religious heritage. And when Europeans feel slightly guilty for their crime against humanity known as the Holocaust, they decide to call it a Judeo-Christian ethic.

Compare this to the situation under the broad corpus of other legal traditions - Jewish, Islamic, Hindu and others. Compare this to the rules against killing non-combatants, against destroying houses of worship, against destroying crops etc contained in jurisprudential works of Judeo-Muslim works.

Why did millions have to die in 2 world wars before Europeans suddenly decided that war for war's sake might be a bad idea? And on that basis, should I be a student of Devshirme school of prejudice and demand that all Christians of European heritage prove to me that they do NOT have warlike aggressive intentions toward me?

(Notice how I say European Christians. I don't blame my poor Christian brothers and sisters from Kerala or Sri Lanka or Latin America in the way you insinuate each and every Muslim necessarily behaves a certain way.)

But how could my simplistic logic and my admission of relative ignorance compare tp the eternal and infinite hubris of Devshirme?

Devshirme said...


Don't be silly! When I say "all" I obviously meant "all the ones I've read".

Conversely, you assert that the claim that they all say the same on the aim and obligatory character of offensive Jihad to be "extraordinary". On what basis? You don't even quote one jurisprudential text in support of it.

You seem to be trying to insinuate without saying (because I'd obviously call you on it) that such an opinion is rare, controversial, a minority opinion. And yet it is an opinion endorsed by the Imam of of the Mosque of Darwish Pasha, the President of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (and member of the Islamic Fiqh Accademy at Jedda and President of the Fiqh Council of North America), and the General Director of research, writing, and translation at al-Azhar Islamic Research Accademy. It "conforms to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni Community (Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama'a)."

Are you really trying to indicate to me that these people wouldn't know if this was a controversial minority opinion among the Sunni Community, and say so? And I'm supposed to believe that on the basis of... what, exactly?

You? When you can't provide a single reference; only point out that I haven't confirmed absolutely that there isn't even one? When even that wouldn't solve the question of how any modern and clearly very knowledgeable Muslim could sincerely believe this was orthodox Islam?

I would much rather my "prejudices" be wrong. I would much rather there be a large body of books, authoritative opinions, legal demonstrations, and theology that explains why the claims of Islamic terrorists are not so. I want somebody to tell me where they are, so next time I see someone going on about it, I can give them the truth. And that's why I'll ask any Muslims I come across who claim that supremacist Jihad is not authentic Islam to give me such an explanation.

And every single one I've asked has failed. They do usually imply that there are such sources and that they're widespread, but they never actually present any, and they never manage to explain away the apparently authoritative sources that claim the contrary. And yet, in all that time, only one has ever acknowledged the point.

(I don't wish to insinuate that each and every Muslim necessarily behaves a certain way, but it would make me much happier about it to find more than one that doesn't.)

I shouldn't have to dig through thousands of obscure foreign-language textbooks. The information should be plain and obvious and widely available, and known to any Muslim. If you're telling the truth, that is.

"Maybe I was unfair in describing Blair as Nazi-like."

That's very good of you! Seriously! I respect that.

"It has only been since the end of the Second World War that non-defensive war has been described as aggression."

Not so. It has only been since the UN Charter came into effect that it was considered illegal to fight a war for other than self defence or to maintain international peace and security. (And Europeans can present the UN Charter as evidence of their good intentions - what's the Muslim equivalent?) It has often been described as aggression prior to that.

And in any case, I didn't describe it as "aggressive", I described it as "offensive" - as opposed to "defensive". Both are fard, but the offensive Jihad is fard al kifaya, while defensive is fard al `ayn. I wanted to avoid the usual diversionary tactics.

As a European, I don't feel even slightly guilty over the Holocaust. I wasn't there. I bear no responsibility for it. (And had I been, I would have fought to oppose it, as my ancestors did.) We are not all the same, either.

My responsibility is only to do what I can to stop it happening again, in this present age. If 'the Europeans' advocated killing Jews again, I would speak out against them, even though I was one of them. Likewise, as a Muslim you bear no responsibility for Islam's past, you can only hope to do something about its present.

It is not about being European or Australian, Muslim or Christian; it is about being one of those people who oppose such terrors, and not giving allegiance or succour to any movement that currently advocates such. And that includes religions.

You haven't answered my questions:

First, would you agree that the freedom to insult religions is an essential part of Islam, practised by the Prophet, and that those who claim it should not be allowed are "denying the obligatory character of something that by the consensus of Muslims is part of Islam", something which is given by al Misri as an example of apostasy/unbelief?

Second, do you have any actual demonstration that Wilders' comparison of the Koran to Mein Kampf is invalid? - That it doesn't call for world domination, by force if necessary?

Answering me could be as simple as saying "yes" and "no".

I can understand you not liking the second question, although honesty would cost little and saying you don't have one in no way means that there isn't one, but what's to dislike about the first?

Irf said...

Devshirme, I tell you what. I will save you the effort of getting up at 3:31am to provide detailed comments and responses. I repeat my offer for us to discuss these matters by way of exchange of e-mails. Of course, if you are not serious about such a discussion, that's fine.

This blog is not devoted to discussions about matters pertaining to Muslim sacred law and religion. There is another blog I maintain for such matters called 'Madhab Irfy'. I'd be happy for this discussion to continue there.

Just one last issue before this discussion is adjourned ...

"And yet it is an opinion endorsed by the Imam of of the Mosque of Darwish Pasha, the President of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (and member of the Islamic Fiqh Accademy at Jedda and President of the Fiqh Council of North America), and the General Director of research, writing, and translation at al-Azhar Islamic Research Accademy. It "conforms to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni Community (Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama'a).""

It sounds to me like you are referring to the endorsements at the beginning of Nuh Keller's translation of Umdat as-Salik. Do these endorsements represent an endorsement of the accuracy of the translation of the original Arabic text? Do they represent an endorsement of all opinions and rulings expressed in the book?

I'll be posting your questions and my responses at the Madhab Irfy blog at some stage in the future when I have the time. Look out for the discussion there and feel free to contribute.

Irf said...

Oh, and for the record. I do not regard it as incumbent upon me to force my own or anyone else's religion on the people around me. I also don't regard the term 'jihad' (in a military sense) as referring to anything other than a just war. By necessity, this means it is a defensive war. I leave the defense of offensive wars to offensive people.

Devshirme said...

I shall have a look.

Yes, the endorsements are from Keller's translation. They claim to endorse both the accuracy of the translation and of the commentary and additions from present-day experts to bring matters up to date.

Irf said...

But do the endorsements necessarily endorse each and every ruling or opinion expressed in the book?

Further, the excerpts you have provided from Keller's book - are they excerpts from the translation of the classical text? Are there any variant readings mentioned? Have you provided the full context? Are there other associated rulings you have neglected to mention? What about commentary from opposing books?

It seems to me you have cited a tiny amount out of context and then imposed your interpretation on 1.2 billion people, many of whom have never read or heard of the book. You've superimposed your own prejudices on millions of people who have no access to writings in English or Arabic and hence cannot read or process Misri's book, Keller's translation or your jaundice.

And when invited to engage in a genuine dialogue over e-mail, you run away. Funny that.

I might go and find books written by Vatican jurists during the Crusades justifying holy war using Biblical sources and then impose those rulings on Iraqi Nestorian and Greek Orthodox Christians.

Or better still, I'll find some sermons from modern day American televangelists. No need to translate these. I'll then use these sermons to establish using your logic that each and every Christian hopes for Armageddon and the Rapture, a time when Jesus Christ will return to earth to finish the Holocaust that Adolf Hitler never had a chance to prosecute.

Then I'll challenge you with the impossible task of proving to me that all Christians don't believe in the Book of Revelation.

Makes sense? You have my e-mail address. Let me know what you are on your way to the "Madhab Irfy" blog. I won't bother wasting the time of readers there unless I really have to.

I somehow doubt I'll hear from Devshirme ...

Brett_McS said...

"Mr. Wilders, however, ... believes that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim."


Mr Wilders has been careful to state that while there are moderate Muslims, there is no such thing as moderate Islam.

A somewhat more challenging proposition to argue against, no? Hence the strawman.

Irf said...

Wilders says there is no such thing as moderate Islam. Does that mean ...

1. All Dutch mosques be closed down?

2. All Dutch Muslims be required to abandon their religion, failing which they be deemed not "moderate" enough and therefore a security risk?

3. Dutch Muslims refusing to disown their ancestral or adopted religion be expelled and/or detained?

Brett, do you think these proposals should be entertained in Australia?

Anonymous said...

Brett, do you really write for "A Western Heart"? What are you, some kind of neo-Nazi wacko?

Brett_McS said...

You don't want to take up the challenge?

Sonnabend said...

Irf..I find it hard to disagree with Wilders....especially since 102 people DIED because of some cartoons..that 102 including an elderly nun who was murdered from behind.

We have paid a stiff price for our freedoms, and agree or not, banning Wilders was an attack on that freedom.

102 dead.

Over some damned CARTOONS.

Irf said...


1. Who is this "we" you speak of? Is the "we" defined by race, language, culture and/or religion? Would it, for example, include myself?

2. Using your logic, should I find it hard to disagree with Osama bin Ladin when he says that the "Crusading West" are out to kill Muslims? After all, if one looks at the death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan (and more recently in Pakistan), and if one looks at the influence which the so-called Christian Right has had on American foreign policy, the conclusion reached by bin-Ladin might be seen as quite sensible. Should I then call for bin-Ladin to be allowed to speak in the West?

Personally, I am not opposed to allowing the likes of Wilders or the BNP fruitloop or David Irving or Raphael Israeli or others of their fringe ilk to be allowed into Australia. As for what the UK government allows or doesn't allow on a temporary visa for a speaking tour, it doesn't really affect me. I don't live in the UK.

Irf said...

Brett, I'd be happy to talk about the merits of Islam or other religions, but not on this blog. Feel free to raise it on the Madhab Irfy blog where these issues are discussed.

Anonymous said...

"Mr Wilders has been careful to state that while there are moderate Muslims, there is no such thing as moderate Islam."

What the f*ck? Is Wilders an expert on Moslem theology??

Wilders should go join his buddies on some Afrikaaner Nazi camp in South Africa.