If you’ve been following the secular websiteosphere at all, you’ll know about some of the free-speech intimidation that’s occurred this week, including the dissolution of a meeting of the Atheism, Secularism, and Humanism Society at Queen Mary College in London after a Muslim began filming the meeting (a talk by Anne Marie Waters critical of sharia law) and then threatened to kill those attending. I have found little about this incident in the press (try Googling it), and nobody but atheist bloggers calling attention to the religiously-based threat. And why hasn’t that guy who filmed and threatened the audience been arrested?
At any rate, there are two other incidents worthy of mention, including the unfortunate attack on a Jesus and Mo cartoon at University College London (and the resignation of the student—president of a secular society—responsible for its publication and Salman Rushdie’s decision to cancel his appearance the Jaipur literary festival because of death threats.
According to Joan Smith at the Independent, who summarizes these incidents, press coverage has not only been minimal, but there has been a fair amount of sympathy for those Muslims whose feelings were hurt.
Two of these incidents happened in Britain; the other in India. Both countries are secular democracies. Free speech is the backbone of those democracies, and, except for a few intimideated democracies like Canada and Ireland, free speech applies to all forms of criticism, political or religious.
Most religions are pernicious, but Islam, with its ridiculous displays of hurt feelings, its threats to kill not only apostates but critics, and its claim to be a “religion of peace,” is the most pernicious of all. Where are the “moderate” Muslims condemning this kind of bullying? I haven’t been able to find any, though I’m sure some dedicated reader can find an obscure criticism or two from the Islamic world.
As usual, Muslims who claim not to be extremists stand by silently while their coreligionists try to dismantle freedom of speech via threats of death. The silent ones are enablers. And until I hear a chorus of condemnation from Muslims throughout the world, I will claim that the concept of “moderate” Islam is a fiction. “Moderate” Islam is largely confined to those countries in which Muslims are a minority. When they predominate, the real face of that faith shows itself.