Day By Day

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Defending Fundamental Values

From Der Spiegel:

The often violent protests that erupted in the Muslim world in the wake of the cartoon controversy have often been manipulated and fuelled by Islamists. The bile currently being flung at the pope is no different.

But the attacks against the pope are especially grotesque. The severe criticism -- often coupled with threats of violence -- directed at the speech held last Tuesday by Benedict XVI is not just an attack on the head of the Catholic Church. The malicious twisting of the pope's words and the absurd allegations made by representatives of Islam represent a frontal attack on open religious and philosophical dialogue.

That so many in the Muslim world joined the protests against the pope merely show just how influential Islamist extremist groups have become. The political goal of the Islamists is clear: any dispute between Christianity and Islam must obey the rules handed down by political Islamism.

Bending to this demand would be a mistake -- indeed it would be tantamount to turning one's back on freedom of expression and opinion. What will come next? Perhaps a complaint that Allah feels insulted by the numerous European women who don bikinis during a summer trip to the beach. It could be anything really -- militant Islamists will always find something. But the response needs to be firm. Freedom of speech, after all, is a vital value and needs to be defended. Any attempt to make political speech hostage to some imagined will of God must be resisted.

Read the whole thing here.

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