Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

The Islamization of Europe must be vigorously opposed
On Prophet Muhammad Cartoons

THE great British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty: "Strange it is that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being 'pushed to an extreme'; not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case."

The cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten raise the most important question of our times: freedom of expression. Are we in the West going to cave in to pressure from societies with a medieval mindset, or are we going to defend our most precious freedom: freedom of expression, a freedom for which thousands of people sacrificed their lives?

A democracy cannot survive long without freedom of expression, the freedom to argue, to dissent, even to insult and offend. It is a freedom sorely lacking in the Islamic world, and without it Islam will remain unassailed in its dogmatic, fanatical, medieval fortress; ossified, totalitarian and intolerant. Without this fundamental freedom, Islam will continue to stifle thought, human rights, individuality, originality and truth.

Unless we show some solidarity, unashamed, noisy, public solidarity with the Danish cartoonists, then the forces that are trying to impose on the free West a totalitarian ideology will have won; the Islamisation of Europe will have begun in earnest.

This raises another more general problem: the inability of the West to defend itself intellectually and culturally. Be proud, do not apologise. Do we have to go on apologising for the sins of our fathers? Do we still have to apologise, for example, for the British Empire, when, in fact, the British presence in India led to the Indian renaissance, resulted in famine relief, railways, roads and irrigation schemes, eradication of cholera, the civil service, the establishment of a universal educational system where none existed before, the institution of elected parliamentary democracy and the rule of law?

On the world stage, should we really apologise for Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe? Mozart, Beethoven and Bach? Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Brueghel, Ter Borch? Galileo, Huygens, Copernicus, Newton and Darwin? Penicillin and computers? The Olympic Games and football? Human rights and parliamentary democracy? The West is the source of the liberating ideas of individual liberty, political democracy, the rule of law, human rights and cultural freedom. It is the West that has raised the status of women, fought against slavery, defended freedom of inquiry, expression and conscience. No, the West needs no lectures on the superior virtue of societies who keep their women in subjection, cut off their clitorises, stone them to death for alleged adultery, throw acid on their faces, or deny the human rights of those considered to belong to lower castes.

Ibn Warraq is the author of Why I Am Not a Muslim and the editor of The Origins of the Koran, The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, and What the Koran Really Says.
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