It's interesting how free speech, the right to criticise and ridicule god, prophet or religion, the separation of religion from the state and secularism as well as the non-right to threaten to kill, suicide bomb and massacre people are not applicable to Islamists and Islam!
I must admit, those of us who have fled the Islamic Republic of Iran are very familiar with this outlook on things. Cultural relativism's equal opportunity for all values and beliefs has often been shoved down our throats by many of the very same politicians, publishers and editors, telling us time and time again to respect 'our' culture and religion though it has been imposed by sheer force.
Now this racism of lower standards and relative rights regarding Islam is being applied to the European press as well! Beware!
From Jack Straw to frightened politicians and editors across the board, in unison with Ahmadinejad and others Islamists and their apologists, we are told that free speech and a free press do not mean the freedom to 'insult', 'offend', be 'inflammatory', 'insensitive' or 'disrespectful' to the 'beliefs of Muslims'.
I ask you, what use is free speech then if it merely deals with the mundane?
In fact, such freedoms only really begin to matter when they protect that which is sacred, uncomfortable and even offensive.
People in Iran have for decades been massacred, annihilated and beheaded for insulting and offending Islam – whether by improper veiling, for their sexual relations and sexuality, political opposition to god's rule on earth, demands for basic rights, and even for simply dancing, laughing, listening to music and yes, caricaturising and ridiculing. The banners, placards and fatwas threatening to do the same on the streets of Europe are very much business as usual for this movement and not in the least surprising.
Those who naively assert that the caricatures have encouraged this violence and 'extremism' have not yet recognised or understood this political movement. Or in the case of the likes of the Muslim Council of Britain or the Islamic Human Rights Commission (an oxymoron) and their apologists, are merely making more excuses for their brethren.
But come on, all can see that violence is intrinsic to this reactionary right wing movement, has always been so and hardly needs 'encouragement' from some caricatures. The herds of Hezbollah thugs on the streets of Europe and the Middle East are Islamists organised by Islamic states and groups after self-appointed and parasitic imams from Denmark toured Saudi Arabia and Egypt with a portfolio of the caricatures - and some more - to organise the mayhem on various streets across the world.
This political movement has to be challenged and stopped. One essential component of the battle that is ensuing is the uncomfortable task of criticising, and questioning its banner – Islam.
' What is clear is that when you come face to face with movements, which threaten freethinkers like Taslima Nasrin with death, you are obliged to once again refer to the Koran and say that this reaction is feeding from a well, which exactly formulates all this backwardness. The Koran could have been a historical book like many other historical books; people could look at it and not show much sensitivity but when a movement makes it the banner of a contemporary political struggle, then people are forced to take its banner from it, review it, look at it and ... discredit it.' (Iran will be the Scene of a Mass Anti-Islamic Offensive, Interview with Mansoor Hekmat, 13 June 1999.)
For those who are afraid to take this religion head on, don't worry – we are doing it for you here and in Iran...
(This was first published in WPI Briefing 190, February 6, 2006.)