By what twisted argument should Islam be less compatible with humour than other religions?

The Independent has a nice big (translated) excerpt from Charb’s book.

Stéphane Charbonnier was a cartoonist and writer. He was a supporter of the French Communist Party. And while, under his editorship, Charlie Hebdo aggressively poked fun at Catholicism and Judaism as well as radical Islam, his book – published in France last week – is a passionate rejection of the allegations that, under his editorship, Charlie Hebdo was “racist” or “Islamophobic”.

In the book, Charb, as he was always known, defends his publication of cartoons mocking radical Islam and caricaturing (but never mocking) the Prophet Mohamed. He argues – from a left-wing, anti-racist, militantly secular viewpoint – that the word “Islamophobia” is a trap, set by an unholy alliance of Muslim radicals and the unthinking, liberal Western media. The real issue, he says, is racism and Charlie Hebdo was never racist…

He argues from a left-wing, anti-racist, militantly secular viewpoint.

That’s important.

Really, the word “Islamophobia” is badly chosen if it’s supposed to described the hatred which some lame-brains have for Muslims. And it is not only badly chosen, it is dangerous. From a purely etymological viewpoint, Islamophobia ought to mean “fear of Islam” – yet the inventors, promoters and users of this word deploy it to denounce hatred of Muslims. But isn’t it odd that “Muslimophobia”, or just “racism”, isn’t used instead of “Islamophobia”.

Why has this word taken over? From ignorance, from idleness… but also because those who campaign against Islamophobia don’t do so to defend Muslims as individuals. They do so to defend the religion of the prophet Mohamed.

They do so to silence atheists and secularists and freethinkers who want to talk about the ways religion is an obstacle to human flourishing. They do so to shore up and protect the illegitimate power of religion and religious authority figures. They do so to keep humanity enchained.

So, yes, we are in the middle of an explosion of racist behaviour – yet the word “racism” is used only timidly, and is on the way to being supplanted by “Islamophobia”. And the campaigners for multiculturalism, who try to foist the notion of “Islamophobia” on the judicial and political authorities, have only one aim in mind: to force the victims of racism into identifying themselves as Muslims.

Anything to trap people more firmly in the religion of their ancestors.

However, why do the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, who know that their drawings will be exploited by the media, by the retailers of anti-Islamophobia, by far-right Muslims and nationalists, insist on drawing Mohamed and other “sacred” symbols of Islam? Simply because the Charlie Hebdo drawings do not have the vast majority of Muslims as their target. We believe that Muslims are capable of recognising a tongue-in-cheek. By what twisted argument should Islam be less compatible with humour than other religions?

By the argument from the racism of lower expecatations.


  1. ZugTheMegasaurus says

    Something that’s been bugging me about this topic for a while is that the people who are quickest to shout out an accusation of Islamophobia seem to hold far more negative views of Muslims than do the accused. Just saying, “Muslims can handle seeing this; they’re rational adults,” is apparently Islamophobic.

    Well, what’s the alternative then? Muslims are weak? Muslims don’t understand commentary or humor? Muslims are irrational? I think it’s exactly that, and I think it’s rooted in the stereotype of Muslims that’s actually problematic: that they’re a bunch of angry terrorists.

    It’s just mind-boggling to me that somehow treating Muslim people just like people of any other religion is somehow bigoted or denigrating to them. In my mind, it’s arguing the opposite that’s condescending.

  2. rjw1 says

    “He argues from a left-wing, anti-racist, militantly secular viewpoint.”
    He does, and it’s a genuine leftist viewpoint.

    “the campaigners for multiculturalism,”

    Institutionalised multiculturalism must be one of the more toxic ideologies to emerge from the loony Left. All liberal democratic societies are intrinsically multicultural, it’s not the business of any secular state to promote the ideology

    @1 ZugTheMegasaurus

    “Muslims can handle seeing this; they’re rational adults,” is apparently Islamophobic.”

    Agreed, there appears to be a latent racism in that patronising attitude. It also follows that Muslim terrorists are also responsible , to some degree, for their own ‘radicalisation’, it’s not all Western society’s fault.


  3. johnthedrunkard says

    The ‘twisted argument’ that makes Islam incompatible with humor is: violence. The Pew polls, however we want to wish away the suggestion, show that scores of millions of Muslims support religious violence, including suicide bombing and murder.

    Perhaps we can nit-pick the numbers, but even the most eager kumbaya singers are mute in the face of millions of cheerleaders for killing.

    And it isn’t just Muslims. Ever since the Rushdie fatwa, it seems that all sorts of religious groups are becoming more confident in their ability to control secular society by threats and bullying.

    Anti gay-rights campaigns, Haredis interfering with public transportation and international passenger flights, creationists infiltrating schools all over the U.S., the avalanche of legislation to invade the reproductive privacy of women.

    They are learning, they see that the professionally ‘offended’ and self-proclaimed ‘community leaders,’ can bully their way into a level of power that they could never actually earn.

  4. rietpluim says

    I guess for some it is hard to see the difference between hatred and genuine criticism.

  5. says

    Millions of Muslims! Millions!

    Oh come on.

    In the UK the most outspoken organisations, the ones that call for sharia law and beheading those that call Islam violent can manage maybe, maybe a dozen protesters. The news cameras show angry Muslim faces in close up because they have to, pull the camera back and it would be mostly space. I think the largest group they managed was the anti CH rally the other week which had at most 200-300 people bused in.

    The “community leaders” that end up on the news are the loudest and the most telegenic , and also the biggest embarrassment to the millions! the millions I tell you! Of genuinely moderate Muslims who never appear in the Daily Mail. Its these community leaders that cant organize more than 200 ordinary Muslims to turn up, even if they lay on the buses and sandwiches (or maybe bhajis).

    World wide I’m absolutely certain that this pattern is repeated. Billions! Billions!!!!!! (too many !?) of moderate Muslims wondering why the shouty fuckers don’t just STFU. The problem is, in a theocratic society those that do violence in the name of religion aren’t legislated against, so it takes massive bravery to stand up against them (like the recent protesters in Bangladesh did) and the eleventy guzillion moderate Muslims are just ordinary people with ordinary levels of bravery.

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