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Sep 21 2012

Islamic Scholar Wants International Speech Limits

Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, Vice-Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IMUS), has written a public plea for the UN and Western governments to make it criminal to “provoke the feelings” of Muslims and to “denigrate” their “religious symbols.” He begins by laudably calling on Muslims not to react with violence:

To the world’s Muslims: Expressing outrage in the face of the maligning of God or the Prophet Muhammad is a moral right, as faith cannot be devoid of feelings and immunity from provocation. It is from the completeness of our faith that we love the Prophet Muhammad more than our wealth, more than our beloveds, more than even our own selves. It is from our complete love of him that we follow God’s commands, specifically where He says: {And do not let a hatred of a people prevent you from being just; Be just, as it is closer to true faith} and {No soul bears the sin of another} and {He who kills a soul not in recompense for another soul or in retribution for the sowing of corruption, is as if he has killed all of humanity} – Qur’an. Consequently, we implore you not to inflict violence upon anyone, whether foreign delegations or otherwise. You should not destroy property or flout the values and cherished principles that you defend, as attacking innocents, killing foreign diplomats and ambassadors contravenes religious and moral principles before it contravenes political ones. It is important that we not forget the Prophet Muhammad’s praise for those who exercise restraint upon becoming angry. You should prevent those individuals who behave recklessly from actions that are unreasonable and immoral. We ask the Muslim youth to be disciplined in word and deed, and to act appropriately.

We call upon Muslim religious authorities, governments, and community and organization leaders, to devise a strategy to deal with such situations in the future. These situations will likely reoccur, so it is important to manage the conflict before it does.

But then he calls for the criminalization of the “denigration” of religion:

We are extremely concerned with a small active minority in your countries that seeks to perpetuate a state of conflict and war.

We estimate that such objectives do not serve the general interest. Therefore, it is our hope that you reconsider and criminalize the denigration of religious symbols, as such provocations do not serve the principles of free speech, principles that you and us both seek to uphold.

No, I’m sorry, that’s not true. You do not seek to uphold free speech, you seek to destroy it. If we are not free to criticize your religious views, we do not have free speech. Religious beliefs deserve no special protection, no matter how strongly you feel about them. Ahmed el-Tayeb, Egypt’s Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar and one of the most influential Sunni leaders in the world, has made a similar demand that their beliefs be protected against “blasphemy.” The Center for Inquiry is rightly objecting:

“Let us not go down this path, a path that inevitably leads to the persecution and demonization of individuals for their beliefs—or lack of beliefs—about religion,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “Free expression is a fundamental human right. Too many are already sitting in jail, or have been injured, terrorized, or killed for exercising that right. It’s bad enough that these ‘blasphemy laws’ exist at all, anywhere in the world. To enact them on a global scale would represent a huge step backward for human rights.”

That’s the understatement of the century.

32 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    My answer: “WAAAAHHHHHH!”

  2. 2
    anubisprime

    I am down with that dawg…as long as they do not provoke my feelings or denigrate my pentacle or pentagram.

    Or throw my ass in jail or worse for not drooling to the same delusion as they are!…very down indeed!

  3. 3
    dingojack

    I notice Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah quotes several passage from the Quaran calling for restraint, but doesn’t see that it is Muslims (who claim this as a holy book) that should be the ones following the text to which they are apparently so devoted.
    Dingo

  4. 4
    Ace of Sevens

    And I want a dirtbike.

  5. 5
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    If we pick up the pace and initiate a policy of permanent blasphemy they’ll either get bored of it or riot themselves into a coma.

  6. 6
    erichoug

    I am willing to fight to the death to protect your right to believe in any faith you choose. So long as you are willing to fight to the death to protect my right to make fun of that same faith.
    Eric Houg – 2012.

  7. 7
    janiceintoronto

    Ohh! Great idea ZincAvenger!

    How about renaming the U.S. to something like, “The United States of Mohammed and Allah Sucks!”

    It’d be interesting to watch.

    /silliness

  8. 8
    Gretchen

    If we pick up the pace and initiate a policy of permanent blasphemy they’ll either get bored of it or riot themselves into a coma.

    “We” as in the American federal government cannot do that, because it would violate the Constitution. What the American federal government could do is reiterate that the First Amendment protects religious expression whether reverence or blasphemy, expression that is sacred or profane, but unfortunately it has not, opting instead to declare that respect for “religious feelings” is an American value.

    Which it isn’t. Or at least, it’s only as American a value as disrespect for religious feelings is.

  9. 9
    raven

    Guy is a religous kook and a flaming hypocrite. Although that is a tautology.

    1. In the Middle East, a favorite pastime is demonizing Israel and the Jews. There is as we know, a long standing conflict between them that has resulted in several wars.

    The Iranian government spent $5 million of a film showing a Rabbi kidnapping a xian child, bleeding it out from a slit throat, and using the blood to make matzo soup. This is the ancient xian blood libel. IIRC, there is a Moslem textbook for kids that claims the Jews are descended from gorillas or turning into gorillas or some such.

    2. I don’t know or recall if the ME Moslems libel and demonize xians. They do persecute them a lot.

    A. 2/3′s of Iraqi xians, the oldest xians known, have either been killed or fled. To be sure, this has to be shared with George Bush and the Theocons. It’s a side effect of Bush’es excellent adventure.

    B. There is a perennial conflict beween Egyptian Moslems and Coptic xians. Since the Copts are 10% of the population, guess who ends up getting the worst of it.

    C. In Nigeria, the flat earther Boko Harum has been attacking xian civilians on a regular and random basis for being…xians.

    D. Indonesia, Pakistan, etc..

    Oddly enough, whenever Boko Harum or the othes attack and kill a few xians or a few dozen, we in the west don’t riot for a week or two.

  10. 10
    DaveL

    I wonder if bin Bayyah would be willing to have imams arrested for impugning atheism? Or Scientology, or Raelianism, or Mormonism, or the Church of the Subgenius?

    I’m guessing probably not.

  11. 11
    davidmc

    All I said was “That piece of halibut was fit for jehova” keeps popping into my head for some reason.

  12. 12
    Abby Normal

    DJ, I read that differently. When he quotes the Qur’an he’s specifically speaking to Muslims, calling on them to show greater restraint. I didn’t get that he was attempting to us them to justify his plea for international blasphemy laws. It was more like, “Muslims, the Qur’an says violence is not the way to react to these insults. Everyone else, quit intentionally insulting Islam and make it illegal to do so.” He essentially wants to replace chaotic mob violence with orderly state violence, which wins him little in my book. But he at least places the responsibility of following the Qur’an on his fellow Muslims.

  13. 13
    Chiroptera

    Therefore, it is our hope that you reconsider and criminalize the denigration of religious symbols…

    Is this the same guy that Wikipedia says is currently living and teaching in Saudi Arabia? ‘Cause if so, then I think that he should be directing most of his attention to his host government.

    -

    …as such provocations do not serve the principles of free speech, principles that you and us both seek to uphold.

    What about those cases where the provocations do serve the principles of free speech? ‘Cause if that sounds like a nonsense question, then “you and us” don’t both seek to uphold the same principles.

  14. 14
    dingojack

    abby – having re-read it I have to agree with you.
    Dingo

  15. 15
    dingojack

    My answer to Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah would be:
    And didn’t Blasphemy Laws work out just soooo well in Pakistan?
    Dingo

  16. 16
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    @dingojack, #15:

    Due to the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, a few Christians got killed. Some inconsequential innocent people got killed. Fearful deference to Islam was increased.

    Sounds like it’s working as intended to me.

  17. 17
    Gvlgeologist, FCD

    My understanding is that Mohammed didn’t want to be depicted because he was concerned about being idolized. When Muslims riot or otherwise complain about him being depicted in movies, comics, etc. (whether in a favorable or unfavorable light), aren’t they, in effect, idolizing him?

    If I’m correct in understanding this, I suppose you could make a point that it is only blasphemous if you portray him in a favorable light, but not in an unfavorable light.

    Hmmm. I wonder how that would go over?

  18. 18
    TGAP Dad

    If you go to that page, notice that there is a “contact” link! Howsabout we ALL hit that and give him a little piece of our minds about his precious-but-oh-fragile religion and prophet?

  19. 19
    Raging Bee

    raven: Saudi school books (approved by the Saudi ministry of “education”) teach kids to hate and denigrate Jews from at least the fifth-grede level, if not the third. I wrote about that back in 2006, and I suspect things haven’t improved much since then:

    http://motherwell.livejournal.com/67757.html

  20. 20
    Raging Bee

    PS: The ads here just get creepier — while strangely appropriate — every day. “Sharia-Compliant Home Financing?” I hope that’s better than a subprime mortgage…

  21. 21
    Michael Heath

    Re the video; I have three major beefs:

    1) A few Muslims act like juvenile delinquents when somebody defames their religion.

    2) More Muslims argue just like the Catholic hierarchy; that we mustn’t denigrate religion

    3) In spite of the U.S. embassy in Egypt retracting their claim the U.S. is respectful of religion, President Obama is now arguing it’s an American value to respect religion. Fuck that, it is not.

    What the President should be doing is arguing it’s an American value to protect speech along with promoting more speech in the face of speech people find repugnant. Those arguments should also be accompanied with him vociferously condemning those who lie; and pointing out that those who are slandered and libeled should seek and receive justice in the civil courts.

  22. 22
    anubisprime

    Raging Bee @ 20

    “Sharia-Compliant Home Financing?” I hope that’s better than a subprime mortgage…

    Not by much… the only difference being if you default on a Sharia mortgage they chop your head off instead of other dangly bits!
    Or maybe they do both, they are very inconsistent and completely volatile!

  23. 23
    Dr X

    So he thinks it would be dandy to switch from local, vigilante persecution of people with whom he disagrees, to globalized, legalized persecution. He’s no better than a slogan-shouting, Molotov-cocktail-hurling Islamist hooligan; the only difference is that he has more ambitious plans shrouded in prettier language.

  24. 24
    Michael Heath

    Gvlgeologist writes:

    My understanding is that Mohammed didn’t want to be depicted because he was concerned about being idolized. When Muslims riot or otherwise complain about him being depicted in movies, comics, etc. (whether in a favorable or unfavorable light), aren’t they, in effect, idolizing him?

    You are correct in your understanding and therefore make a most excellent point.

  25. 25
    Dr X

    @Michael Heath:

    What the President should be doing is arguing it’s an American value to protect speech along with promoting more speech in the face of speech people find repugnant.

    It is galling that the president has refused to speak clearly and firmly about the real American principles that are at stake. This should be a teaching moment. There are too many Americans who don’t get it, never mind how many people outside of the US don’t get it. This is a moment that calls for a major address explaining not just free speech, but the First Amendment, addressing those hypocrites who believe in free speech and freedom of religion for me, but none for thee. But Obama is afraid to tell the truth. He fears he might lose a few votes among some American dolts out there who wanted to prevent the construction of the Community Center-Behind-the-Strip-Club-in-lower Manhattan, the ones who were appalled by the desecration of the sacred ground known as Wall Street.

  26. 26
    Bronze Dog

    My understanding is that Mohammed didn’t want to be depicted because he was concerned about being idolized. When Muslims riot or otherwise complain about him being depicted in movies, comics, etc. (whether in a favorable or unfavorable light), aren’t they, in effect, idolizing him?

    I award you one (1) internets. I might make my own blog post on this quote on the weekend.

  27. 27
    lofgren

    teach kids to hate and denigrate Jews from at least the fifth-grede level,

    However, gifted children may start Jew-hating as early as the third grade, and a student who excels can take the Jew-hating AP exam and graduate from high school already Jew-hating at the college level.

  28. 28
    Tâlib Alttaawiil (طالب التاويل)

    earth to muslims:

    grow the f–k up

  29. 29
    busterggi

    Can’t we all just get along and tell theocrats to go fuck themselves/

  30. 30
    baal

    “Sharia-Compliant Home Financing” is a complicated idea. My take on it is that the FEDGOV wants to get the Muslim community to use banks so that all of their transactions can be watched easily and regularly (like they do to the rest of us). The reason Muslims don’t use regular banks for mortgages is that they are forbidden from paying or receiving interest. As such, to get the Muslims into regular banking, you need to formally do away with interest. The usual method is to call the deal a profit-share where the home owner pays principal + some additional amount the represents the property’s value going up (and they refuse to call that piece interest).

    Regular banks do it for the extra business but it’s not clear that they came up with the idea by themselves.

  31. 31
    Dr X

    However, gifted children may start Jew-hating as early as the third grade…

    Lofgren wins today’s internets.

  32. 32
    eric

    Bee @20:

    PS: The ads here just get creepier — while strangely appropriate — every day. “Sharia-Compliant Home Financing?” I hope that’s better than a subprime mortgage…

    AIUI, it means the bank charges fees instead of interest, because interest = usury = immoral. Of course as a practical matter, the bank’s gross profit on your loan probably works out to be exactly the same. And the payment structure is probably the same too. And the tax write-off. IOW, two different financial instruments, same result.

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