Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Freedom of Speech?

I mentioned yesterday “A Memorial to Oriana Fallaci”, the Counterjihad Conference 2008 in Florence sponsored by Una Via per Oriana that took place over the weekend. Our Austrian correspondent ESW was there representing Mission Europa — Netzwerk Karl Martell. She gave a speech which is reproduced below.


Freedom of Speech?
by ESW


Florence: ESWImagine the following: In May this year a well-known and highly accepted expert on Islam — notably a woman — was invited to speak in the Austrian city of Traun. The topic of her address was to have been “Islam in Europe — A Challenge to the Government, Society and the Church”. A group comprising members from religious and community organizations, including the Catholic and Protestant churches as well as Muslims, had organized the event, which was supported by the city of Traun. However, only five days before the event Omar Al-Rawi, in charge of integration matters in the Islamic faith community and member of the socialist party, strongly criticized the event. He wrote to the organizing committee that Mrs. Schirrmacher was a well-known anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim activist and that the city of Traun’s support was terrible. Due to Al-Rawi’s criticism the event was then canceled. Now, Mrs. Schirrmacher’s credentials are impeccable. Her book Women and the Sharia is considered a standard work, and she has held countless speeches and written articles in which she propagates the rights of Muslim girls and women. A well-respected German law professor and expert on Islam hit the nail on its head by saying, “I am very surprised that no one wants to hear her crucial arguments. She cites many facts and examples.”

Mrs. Schirrmacher was uninvited simply because one man deemed her unworthy of speaking. Did he even know what she was going to say? Did he care?

These happenings in May can be considered an assault on the basic right to freedom of expression and opinion. This assault was neither the first nor the last in a series of attempts by Muslims and Muslim organizations to suppress any kind of dissenting opinion, to suppress anything that seemingly goes against the teachings of Islam. Also contributing to the suppression of free thought is the labeling of anyone daring to speak out against Islam. “Islamophobe!” is the new battle cry. “Racist! Nazi! Right-winger!” We are none of that. The notion of Islamophobia — for which there is no agreed-upon definition — according to Roger Kimball is “a misnomer”, since a phobia describes an irrational fear. The fear of the effects of radical Islam is not irrational, but well founded. Kimball believes that we should actually speak of “Islamophobiaphobia”, the fear of and revulsion towards Islamophobia.

Attacking the freedom of expression and accusing critics of Islamophobia are part of a tactic referred to as “soft jihad”. We should worry more about this version of jihad, rather than the bloody version. Soft jihad uses and abuses the language and the principles of democratic liberalism not to secure the institutions and attitudes that make freedom possible, but to undermine that freedom and pave the way for theocratic intolerance (R. Kimball). Soft jihad, according to Barbara Kay, is law-abiding. It exploits liberal discourse and weaknesses in our legal systems to induce guilt about a largely mythical Islamophobia.

Let us examine the manifestations of both Islamophobia and the attempts to ban freedom of expression and how it is aided and abetted by the United Nations and the European Union and also some of its manifestations and particularities in Austria.

In spring of this year, free speech effectively died at the UN and, with it, around the world. The UN Human Rights Council caved in to a demand by Muslim member countries that religious matters, i.e. matters of Islam, only be discussed by religious scholars. Council President Costea explained that religious matters can be “very complex, very sensitive, and very intense.” Since the council is no longer allowed to discuss religious matters in depth, it will not do so. Period. Case closed. No more discussion about genital mutilation, stoning, or child marriage. None of this has much, if anything, to do with religion per se, but everything to do with Islam.
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This discussion of religion has a long history dating back to the late 1990’s, when Pakistan introduced the first “defamation against Islam” resolution to the Human Rights Council. Although the title was later changed to include all religions, Islam remained the focus of these resolutions, which have passed not only in the Human Rights Council, but also in the UN General Assembly. In March of this year, the Islamic nations were also successful in introducing a change to the mandate of the UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression who now “reports on instances where the abuse on the right of freedom of expression constitutes an act of racial or religious discrimination.” At first glance, all of this may look and sound good. However, on closer scrutiny one realizes that defamation of religions is not about protecting individual believers from damage to their reputations caused by false statements, but rather about protecting a religion, or some interpretation of it, or the feelings of its followers. According to Angela Wu, an expert on international law, “Defamation of religions protects ideas rather than individuals and makes the state the arbiter, thereby requiring the state to sort good and bad ideologies. This violates the foundations of human rights rather than the individuals who hold the ideas.” What is worrying about all this is the fact that these resolutions keep passing, as they have been for the past ten years. This could help the concept of “defamation of religions” to become an international legal norm.

What about the European Union, one might ask. The EU prides itself in upholding fundamental rights as demonstrated by the creation of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. The EU also prides itself in being at the forefront of human rights by making available to its citizens the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Again, all of this looks and sounds just wonderful, even reassuring, until one scratches the surface. According to its website, the agency’s areas of activities include the fight against racism, xenophobia, and related intolerance. What is meant by “related intolerance”? It is not explicitly stated. However, upon his nomination as director of the EU Agency of Fundamental Rights, Morten Kjaerum named rising Islamophobia his biggest challenge.

Honesty in dealing with the population has never been on the agenda of the EU. Again, the Charter of Fundamental Rights sounds innocuous until one takes a closer look. For instance, Article 11 of the charter grandly states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression.” However, the legal explanations make more explicit what is meant by this freedom, namely that it is “subject to conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, for public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others.” In essence, there is freedom of expression in the EU, but it is a very limited freedom, a freedom quickly abused by those who do not agree with free thought. As Fjordman succinctly sums up, “The anti-discrimination laws in Europe come from a small group of appointed leaders who respond to pressures from the Islamic world, not from their own people. If native Europeans vote “no” to the proposed EU-constitution, they are immediately denounced and ignored. If Muslims say they want a total ban on “discrimination and Islamophobia” in Europe, they get it immediately.”

To emphasize the above, the EU has introduced a framework decision to combat racism and xenophobia, which punishes certain forms of conduct as criminal offenses, such as public incitement to violence and hatred or public distribution of material containing expressions of racism and xenophobia. Punishment must be “effective, proportionate and dissuasive”. Remember that criticizing Islam de facto falls under the category “racism and xenophobia”. According to the Council of Europe, European governments “bear a special responsibility to ensure full respect for the freedoms of thought, speech, and religion.” Governments are also asked “to develop guidelines to combat Islamophobia in the media.” The EU even offers a special media toolkit “to promote the principles of cultural diversity in TV programs.” It’s all there for you to grab paid for with your taxes if you want to be re-educated as mandated by the EU and the Council of Europe. More recently, the United Nations admonished Austria for not doing enough to combat racism and stereotyping. The UN report suggests adopting “self-mechanisms of print media”, in short, introducing self-censorship. And while both the EU and the Council of Europe introduce framework decision after framework decision on the rising Islamophobia and discrimination in Europe, not one piece of legislation covers the rise of Christianophobia. Discrimination against Christians in Europe is mentioned in passing by a member of the Fundamental Rights Agency board, focusing on intolerance and discrimination against Christians, but also against members of other religions.

The Fundamental Rights Agency takes advantage of member states by asking their national officials to do the work, with the added advantage that their cost is borne by the national taxpayer (Booker, North. “The Great Deception” p. 525). For instance, data collection reports on the local issues of fundamental rights are compiled, and thus its research paid for, by the Austrian taxpayer, through the so-called RAXEN National Focal Points (NFPs). In Austria, two institutions, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights and ZARA (Zivilcourage und Anti-Rassismus Arbeit), compile this so-called data collection report. The 2007 report notes that no tendencies of Islamophobia were observed in Austria. As always, one needs to look closely for the real story. In this case it is found in the section called “Unofficial data and information”: “There were 37 cases of racist violence in 2006, where the victims were visibly belonging [visibly belonged] to an ethnic or religious minority recognizable by (…) a religious symbol, especially the Muslim headscarf.” The report furthermore notes that the “high vulnerability of Muslim women wearing a headscarf is striking”.

The current situation in Austria epitomizes the success of institutions such as the Fundamental Rights Agency and the Council of Europe. Eurabia is fully implemented and going ahead full steam. Interfaith dialogue between Christianity and Islam is one case in point. There is no questioning of the oft-repeated, mantra-like assertion that Christianity and Islam are Abrahamic religions, that there is a common ancestor, Abraham, uniting all monotheistic religions. Why are the visible differences in religious practice not raised? Reference to a “common ancestor” does not help us today to solve our problems in peaceful coexistence. In addition, Austria is forced to contend with the “Law on Islam”, introduced in 1912, which states: “The doctrines of Islam, its institutions and customs shall enjoy the same protection, unless they are in contradiction to state law.” However, the Quran has never been scrutinized for such contradictions! The Law on Islam and the Islamic Faith Community are considered the definitive problem solvers. Unlike members of other religious groups, those of the Islamic faith enter the political spotlight by demanding “integration by participation”. This means, according to one representative of the Islamic faith community, that although Muslims are not religiously defined, they do want more participation. The insistence on a more detailed explanation was met with accusation that the inquirer was an enemy of Islam.

The implementation of the Eurabia concept has permeated society as a whole. This is evident in numerous areas, such as the media, the sciences, the integration policies, or the schools. The media, for instance, either practices rigorous self-censorship or disinformation as well as deliberate non-information. The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation has been sugar-coating Islam for many years and routinely does not question Muslim claims. In one radio show the listener is not told whether or not Islam provides a foundation for terrorism. Another point raised was that the terror attacks in Great Britain were committed by British citizens. Why was the fact that the terrorists were naturalized Pakistanis neglected? At a conference of imams in Vienna, topics for discussion were, among others, how Muslims in Austria are continuously being excluded. However, it was not explored how acceptance can be expected if the Western way of life is rejected and Westerners are considered infidels. Euphemisms are used for Muslims: “Asian youth”, “südländisch aussehend” (having a southern appearance).

Integration policies are geared towards favoring immigrants over the native population. There is an official government agency — the Austrian Integration Fund — catering solely to immigrants and their “problems” by offering “effective, unbureaucratic assistance in finding accommodation, job-seeking or language learning”. Successful asylum seekers are even granted scholarships as well as other financial assistance to help them integrate into Austrian society. For those wanting to learn more about integration, the Integration Fund offers an “Intercultural Conflict Management” course open only to students with a migration background or those familiar with intercultural conflict. Integration policies, however, do not assert any claims on the immigrant other than softly forcing them to learn the German language. Yet even these free language courses — at the taxpayer’s courtesy — are deemed excessive by the Islamic faith community.

To conclude, there is a widespread and multi-pronged approach in silencing dissenting opinions. The European Union does not constitute a safe haven for freedom of speech; rather, it furthers the opposite by launching and instating countless programs to curtail this very freedom. We should not endorse what Senegal’s president Wade wants: “I don’t think freedom of expression should mean freedom from blasphemy. There can be no freedom without limits.” What we must stand up for every day is what Voltaire so famously said: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” This would mean the right to say “I think Islam suspicious and dislikable” and “I’m sick of constantly being told that all religions should be considered equal and that the brutal Islamic behavior is our fault” without being labeled racist or xenophobic. This would be a step in the right direction.

13 comments:

Fjordman said...

Excellent speech. And yes, the pro-Islamic anti-discrimination laws, which are exclusively designed to silence and outlaw any opposition among Europeans to the gradual dismantling of their countries and elimination of their cultures, are the best argument against the EU system and indeed the very concept of "international law."

We need to give the enemy a name. Let's call it "Globalism." Globalism is the enemy within which needs to be defeated. Globalism is not just the impersonal forces of technological globalization, but a Utopian ideology stating that erasing all nation states and national cultures (especially European ones) is not just inevitable but a positive good which should actively be promoted and forced down people's throats. Opposition to this should be banned as "discrimination," "racism," "extremism," "nationalism" (the terms are used as synonyms).

We have constant discussions as to whether or not our current weakness is caused by deeper-lying, structural flaws in our civilization or whether it is promoted by certain powerful groups with a dangerous agenda. My answer is that it is both. The ideology of Globalism is indeed promoted by certain elite groups much more than by the average citizen, and these ideas are enforced from above. This is happening all over the Western world, but it is particularly dangerous in Europe because of the legislative powers of the European Union and its authoritarian, non-elected oligarchy. Which is why the EU needs to be be totally destroyed as soon as humanly possible.

There are both left-wing and right-wing Globalists. They have different agendas, for instance with left-wing Globalists putting much more emphasis on silencing free speech and promoting "international law" through the United Nations, while right-wing Globalists concentrate more on the free flow of people across borders, just as they want free flow of goods and capital across borders. The current Presidential election campaign in the USA between Obama and McCain is a race between a left-wing and a right-wing Globalist. Both want open borders, if only for slightly different reasons.

Joanne said...

Muslims have Freedom of Speech in the non-muslim lands, but the non-muslims do not. It seems to me that when Muslims complain, the rights of non-muslims are taken away, so when Muslims speak, the non-Muslims should be in an uproar about it. Just bombard the authorities with complaints....surely, there must be a few people who can make a fuss.

Anonymous said...

Did you all see that Charles removed his Oriana Fallaci badge from LGF? I don't know when it went down, but I'm guessing it was recent.

Robin Shadowes said...

This is happening all over europe in country after country. The freedom of speech is silenced and more rights of native europeans is taken away day by day in favor of muslims. So far cyberspace is the only free zone of expressing yourself. But for how much longer will it last before the iron fists of the elites will strike down upon us?

Fjordman said...

Natalie: You are right. I just had a look at the LGF home page, and they don't carry the Fallaci photo which they used to have. I guess she was a Fascist, too. There are many Fascists out there, apparently. I hope LGF-ers check under their beds when they go home. You never know.

So, what are they going to call LGF's "Fallaci Award" this year?

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Fjordman: I'd describe it as emulsification, obliterating everything unique in the name of conformity and homogeneity.

heroyalwhyness said...

Fjordman stated:

"There are both left-wing and right-wing Globalists. They have different agendas, for instance with left-wing Globalists putting much more emphasis on silencing free speech and promoting "international law" through the United Nations, while right-wing Globalists concentrate more on the free flow of people across borders, just as they want free flow of goods and capital across borders. The current Presidential election campaign in the USA between Obama and McCain is a race between a left-wing and a right-wing Globalist. Both want open borders, if only for slightly different reasons."

Excellent encapsulation of the infuriating choices we face in this election. I am so stealing that paragraph.(attributing it to you Fjordman - of course)

Erich said...

Fjordman speaks of left-wing Globalists, as well as right-wing Globalists.

Directly related to this is the phenomenon of left-wing Anti-Globalists -- most of whom I would wager are Islam apologists and who see in Globalism the latest phase in the nefarious history of Western Empire with its Jewish, Masonic, and "Illuminati" string-pullers.

Erich said...

On the topic of Muslim students in the West, I have read about the case of Muslim students who have refused to use the plus sign (+) in math classes, because it resembles a crucifix. And of course, along with Voltaire, Muslim students have shown an animus against Dante (who put Mohammed in Hell in his Inferno).

On a broader scale, there is an remarkable asymmetry here between West and Islam, with regard to the nexus between cultural self-criticism and cultural tolerance of others:

A.

West: Promotes self-criticism of its own history, its own values.

Islam: Suppresses self-criticism of its own history, its own values.

B.

West: Promotes "respect" for the history and values of Islam.

Islam: Promotes criticism and condemnation of the history and values of the West.

Furthermore, the asymmetry manifested by both A and B is much stronger than the mere presentation suggests. I have left out qualifying adjectives and adverbs that would be appropriate to illustrate this.

Add to this dynamic of asymmetry two more facts:

1) Islam is profoundly anti-liberal and anti-secular, aside from being profoundly anti-Christian;

and

2) innumerable Muslims have been, and continue to be, attacking and plotting to attack and kill Westerners -- as well as trying to undermine the West in grander institutional terms.

With these two additional factors, the whole thing becomes a tragic-comedy of monumental proportions.

Conservative Swede said...

Natalie,

Did you all see that Charles removed his Oriana Fallaci badge from LGF?

Thanks for notifying us. I predicted that this would happen some 10 months ago.

Erich said...

Spencer sure does occupy a rarified, paradoxical and privileged limbo in the Anti-Jihad Blogosphere -- he unfairly by implication demonizes Filip Dewinter; yet Spencer praises Fallaci to the skies; meanwhile Dewinter is honored by a Fallaci organization and is invited to deliver a speech there; Gates of Vienna site & supporters commend Filip Dewinter; meanwhile Gates of Vienna site & supporters see nothing wrong with Spencer; meanwhile Spencer refuses to criticize Charles Johnson; meanwhile Gates of Vienna supporters criticize Charles Johnson and now note that Johnson has removed his Fallaci badge signifying a formal repudiation of Fallaci.

Meanwhile Spencer remains unscathed... (except from cranks like me who are either dismissed or forgiven for their incomprehensible "hobbyhorses").

Conservative Swede said...

Erich,

Yes I was going to mention this too. What strikes me is that if it would be so damaging for Spencer's credibility to be associated with Dewinter, how come Bat Ye'or has no problem with it? (I thought of this when I saw the photos of the event).

Has Bat Ye'or lost her credibility now then? Must "credible" people dissociate themselves from her now?

No, there's something else with Spencer here; having to do with his inner beliefs. Or is it the American environment that creates this conformism, this climate of fear?

Still the net effect of what Spencer is doing is vastly positive. However, quite as I said about Charles Johnson 10 months ago that he held on to things that were wildly opposing, that would end up with him taking down the Oriana picture from his sidebar. In the same way, Spencer is holding contradicting opposites within him. There is a much better chance that he will hold them in equilibrium though. I certainly hope he can, because he's definitely doing a lot of good. But if the equilibrium slips, that overall image might change.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

It helps that he isn't obsessed with proving Europe is full of fascists.

What we see in the difference between Charles and Spencer is that Charles - who bangs on about creationism like it's the worst thing in the world - is a big fan of inductive logic, whereas Spencer is deductive.

Why this matters is simple: relying purely on inductive logic to study the world is, at the very best, unreliable. Saying that "one european is fascist, therefore all europeans are fascist" is a very crude example of inductive logic. That's where Charles sits. At beast it's used to create a hypothesis - "The first examples of european parties I have encountered appear to be fascist, therefore I will attempt to test the idea that all similar parties are fascist."

I'm pretty sure that's where Spencer sits, but I'm also sure his primary focus is on Islam rather than us lot, so he's not spending much time testing the theory. If he focussed some effort on it I'm sure he would do so and I'm sure he'd realise that the "fascist problem" is entirely imaginary. Personally I think it would be better if he stuck to textually demolishing Islam and didn't distract himself with these issues.

Charles, meanwhile, is ignoring contrary evidence, overwhelming contrary evidence at that. As Einstein once said, when a hundred german scientists wrote a pamphlet arguing from logic that his theories must be wrong - "All it would take is one test." All it takes is one contradiction to the theory and it all comes falling down - and we've had that conttradiction. What anti-semitic party would support Israel? What fascist - in the pejorative sense - would support the free market and small government? What authoritarian would support the deconstruction of the most authoritarian and unrepresentative government since the fall of the soviet union? Ironic that Charles is so down on creationism when he uses the precise same methods of, shall we say, certain unscientific types to "prove" his faithful belief that Europeans are all secret goose-steppers.

(For the record I'm also a creationist, but I've never held that the bible is a scientific thesis and it is eminently possible to have faith and still trust science)