Following is a quote taken from an Associated Press item of today:
Algeria is proposing an initiative under the auspices of the United Nations that would limit freedom of expression in order to prevent the stigmatizing and denigrating of Islam.
I can’t speak for you, but I have a problem or two with Algeria’s proposal. First problem is the attempt to further restrict the right of freedom of expression. This is nothing more than censorship and that it would under be the umbrella of the UN wouldn’t change that. There are already too many restrictions on who can say what to or about whom. These restrictions masquerade under such names as racism; homophobia and many other “isms” and “phobias” you can think of without too much difficulty. If you find the word “censorship” too harsh, try “politically correct”, which in my view is just a politically correct term meaning “censorship”.
The United Nations has lately proven itself amazingly inept at solving any problem put before it – Kofi Annan and Syria anyone? – so why on earth would Algeria think having the UN back their proposal would do any good? I’ve read that many nations now consider the UN to be as antiquated and out of touch as a dial telephone and that attitude, if correct, means those nations probably would just ignore such an initiative. Algeria, being a Muslim country, perhaps isn’t aware, or more likely overlooks, the fact that some countries, such as the US and Canada, have in place legislation to protect freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to criticize other religions. Perhaps Algerians would be more amenable to a law that prevents them from speaking against Islam, but I can’t see any western country even attempting to pass such an act or amend an existing act.
Second, I find, as I said in the title, this is very one-sided. The Q’ran tells its readers that Christians and Jews are considered “people of the book” and are to be treated accordingly, with the same respect due another Muslim. Of course we are aware that fundamentalists in the Muslim faith, much like fundamentalists in any other religion, pick and choose which verse or sura is going to be used to justify their personal belief and that one is usually ignored. If Algeria were truly serious, their proposal would have extended that to preventing stigmatizing and denigrating all religions. But they couldn’t do that because many fundamental Muslims would rebel against them.
The extremists, and yes let’s be honest with ourselves and admit it is the extremists who are waging their war against the non-Muslim world, castigate Christians and Jews and even some other Muslim sects who they don’t feel are “Muslim” enough. Not only castigate, but on occasion kill these others. Remember the song from the sixties recorded by Original Caste, “One Tin Soldier”? It contained a line which religious fanatics of all stripes have taken to heart and seem to apply when dealing with “infidels”. That line is “Kill them in the name of heaven, we can justify it in the end”.
Algeria’s proposal is nothing more than a blatant attempt to muzzle all criticism of a religion that appears to have been taken over by extremists and fanatics, while at the same time allowing that religion the freedom to say or do anything they wish against every other religion in the world. It is far too one sided and if the United Nations has any sense and balls at all, it will vote it down. But we both know that is unlikely, don’t we?
Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist (that hasn’t been banned yet) – we need love too.