March for Free Expression

The next phase

Monday, March 27, 2006

Contribution #1: And Rosta

This the first of a series of posts from people who have contributed ideas and analysis by email or in the comments section.
Dear Organizers,

You did an excellent job. Whereas the enemies of free expression delight in actively striving to suppress freedoms, free expression's supporters wish simply to enjoy their freedoms and find it onerous to have to actively defend them. (As a trade union rep I know how hard it is to mobilize members who would rather enjoy their protections without having to fight for them.) But we have to make a start and we need leaders to step forward as you have done.

The enemies of free speech have the backing of vast organizational infrastructures. The defenders of free speech don't -- yet. The rally showed that there are a few hundred people -- and a dozen principled organizations -- who in collaboration and coalition can work to build that organization.

I can't see the Voltaireans ever managing to hold bigger rallies than religious groups. Instead the defenders of freedom of expression need to build organized branches of support in key areas of society:

* in the universities
* in the press
* among elected politicians
* in the major political parties
* among religious groups

If the rally drew a line in the sand, this is what has to happen to defend that line.

While it is clear that the rally's organizers had a tricky job -- the need to galvanize support yet avoid press coverage presenting the rally as some anti-muslim BNP event, it will be important to avoid red-herrings: we must be able to defend the right to free expression without having to pass judgement on the beliefs of those whose rights we defend, and without having to pass judgement on the way some people choose to exercise their right.

Fraternally,

--And Rosta.

24 Comments:

Blogger St George said...

Regarding "the rally as some anti-muslim BNP event" does this imply that it is only the BNP who want to prevent Sharia Law coming to this country?

What a sad state of affairs for us.

7:23 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

We have made it clear that it isn't only the BNP, crusader.

7:35 pm  
Blogger St George said...

Who else, apart from the BNP is interested in resisting the Muslim Ummah?

I would like to have an option to vote for someone other than the BNP, but am not aware of an alternative. If there is one, I think I should be told.

8:03 pm  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Don't worry - just wait until islamaphobia hits new labour's agenda. Soon we can have trains that run on time and never crash - just like in Nazi Germany.

Of course we wouldn't put muslims in gas chambers or concentration camps - to start with. First we will use the cartoons to divide up muslims - never mind if he shaves his face or beard - if he refuses to look at the cartoons - he's obviously an extremist who should be deported.

The nice, liberal muslims can stay for now, all they have to do is renounce their religion, ah and they can't mention Allah or the Koran.

Some won't be able to change their appearance though. They will be affected by the cartoons, so they're loony terrorists and should go - so arrest them under anti-terror legislation, or just deport them.

If they run away they will have to hide. If we have ID cards they will have nowhere to hide. If they hide they won't be able to access any basic services, even utilities - and these are british citizens we're talking about. Why? Because one British Asian was involved in 911 (a non-Muslim as this act is Haram in Islam and not Holy as he claimed).

Good excuse to get rid of them all. Or as some put it - eradicate the religion. Sounds very tolerant. It is very obvious where this is heading and unless we stop it now our grandchildren will be feeling very very guilty, like some of my friends from Germany do.

9:11 pm  
Blogger aeneas said...

Once again, for the benefit of those who have apparently misrepresented my words, I will rephrase. What we need is an open and honest National debate including as many different groups as possible and discuss all aspects of free speech and all aspects of Islam, in an environment free from violence intimidation and threats. I suggested Ijtiad as a useful stating point because it represents, in my view at least, an area where it appears there might be some form of common area which we can build upon. What is wrong with starting with an area when we might agree on something?

The public, in my view, is ignorant of many aspects of Islam and/or freedom of expression and why it is considered important (or even sacred) in a Western Society. My suggestion is to create mutual understanding, and this hopefully leads to mutual respect. In addition, this makes it more difficult for extremists of all persuasions to poison minds through the use of fear.

11:30 pm  
Blogger Complex Piss said...

I would like somebody to give me an example of where Islam is 'tolerant' and 'open' to 'mutual,' 'respect' and 'understanding' of anything truly liberal, or secular, or non - religious?

What planet are you people living on? What bubble do you all co- exsist in where you really believe you can achieve any constructive debate with an idealogy - that is fundamentally, incompatable with western freedom?

I just want someone with the guts to STAND UP and say to the big MAC,

"This is part of the way of life that we practice here.. You can like or not like it.. but we will not compromise these freedoms for anybody, under any circumstances."

Is that right-wing? Is that racist? Is that disrespectful?

12:44 am  
Blogger Complex Piss said...

I found an example of how Islam and National Socialism can find common ground.. But sadly, I could not find anything where it can find mutual common ground with Liberal Western Democracy.. I am still searching..


"This division of Bosnian Moslems (the 13th Waffen-Gebirgsdivision der SS "Handschar" ), established with the help of Greater Germany, is an example for Moslems in all countries... Many common interests exist between the Islamic world and Greater Germany, and those make cooperation a matter of course... National-Socialist Germany is fighting against world Jewry. The Koran says: "You will find that the Jews are the worst enemies of the Moslems." There are also considerable similarities between Islamic principles and those of National Socialism... I am happy to see in this Division a visible and practical expression of both ideologies."

Amin El Husseini

I know this was written years ago, but still...


Interesting.. I never knew this but I am not suprised.. Anyone want to dispute this? I wish someone could..

1:10 am  
Blogger St George said...

Complex Piss, you are right to point out the commonality between Islam and National Socialism. Indeed they have much in common in terms of wanting to dominate the world and eliminate all opposition. The difference is that we rumbled the National Socialist, but so far the Islamists have got under the radar undetected.

8:34 am  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Runnymede Trust:
The Runnymede Trust has identified eight components that they say define Islamophobia.
This definition, from the 1997 document 'Islamophobia: A Challenge For Us All' is widely accepted, including by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia.
The eight components are:

1) Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
2) Islam is seen as separate and 'other'. It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.
3) Islam is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist.
4) Islam is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism and engaged in a 'clash of civilisations'.
5) Islam is seen as a political ideology and is used for political or military advantage.
6) Criticisms made of the West by Islam are rejected out of hand.
7) Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.
8) Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural or normal.

10:30 am  
Blogger mostazaf said...

1) Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.

Islam is monolithic. Show me one Muslim that will criticize Prophet Muhammad for pedophilia. And if he or she does so, would not get killed.

3) Islam is indeed sexist and barbaric in many ways - to wit QesAs - a finger for a finger, an arm for an arm.

Many of the others also are correct.

So according to your idiotic measure, if anyone talks about the FACTS of Islam, then he must hate Islam?

In other words, free speech to be damned.

10:42 am  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Nadeem Kazmi is a member of the Al-Khoei Foundation, an Islamic charitable organisation based in London

The cartoons do seem to be insulting to me and, although I don't know the motives behind them, they could have been avoided.

I understand satire and I don't think satire has any limits but these are verging on the racist.

They have a very 19th Century depiction - the attire conjures up the demon Muslim - but they are given a very 21st Century twist - that Islam is a big threat.

The illustrator may have been testing the waters but I think that was dangerous and irresponsible in the current climate.

I embrace freedom of expression but with freedom comes responsibility. We embrace debate and there are many questions that can be asked about Islam that are very legitimate, such as the question about whether it is violent or not. But there are legitimate ways to conduct a debate - and this was not one of them.

We have to be very aware in a multicultural, multi-faith and multi-ethnic society. It is a time of great crisis between communities.

Muslims are feeling under siege since 9/11 and the London bombings last year.

It is interesting that these cartoons were first published in Denmark, where there is an official Nazi party.

10:47 am  
Blogger Anonymous said...

"So according to your idiotic measure, if anyone talks about the FACTS of Islam, then he must hate Islam?"

You have just exposed yourself for what you are.

10:49 am  
Blogger mostazaf said...

anonymous: You have just exposed yourself for what you are.

And what is that? Do you have a f***ing name for it you COWARD? Say it.

Is this a threat?

Peter Voltaire, could you please check into these MAC Islamists. They appear to be threatening me. I feel threatened. Maybe I should lodge a complaint with the police?

Does anybody know who these MAC people whe issue personal threats are?

10:53 am  
Blogger St George said...

mostazaf:

"Does anybody know who these MAC people whe issue personal threats are?"

MAC is simply a front for Hizb ut-Tahrir - a particularly nasty group of fundamentalists who are even banned in many Muslim countries and have been earmarked for banning here.

Their objective is to fly the Islamic flag over Downing Street

Stop the HUT

11:50 am  
Blogger Complex Piss said...

"Muslims are feeling under siege since 9/11 and the London bombings last year."

Gee, I wonder why this is? I see nobody from the Muslim Community demonstrating against these "barbaric" acts of terror. I see nothing but Muslims making excuses and blaming everyone but themselves for this. And Muslims feel like their the real victims here?

Muslims are milking the negative attention for their own agenda, and the 'cartoon jihad' was a calculated campaign that took several months after they were published to finally boil over into the barbaric acts of violence that you saw across the globe.

Muslims need to convince me more that they are the true victims here.
Until then I am afraid that people will continue to be suspicious of them.. I certainly am..

11:55 am  
Blogger Ian the Atheist said...

And what is wrong with wanting to eradicate Islam?

islam, in common with christianity, judaism and all other supernatural religion is wrong. point blank wrong.

A world without any of these moronic religions would be a significantly better place.

There is no invisible sky fairy called Allah, or Jehovah, or Thor, or Apollo. They were all made up by people, to explain the bits of the world they didn't understand.

In the intelligent enlightened world, if you see something you don't understand, you read a book and educate yourself. You don't fall on your knees and praise an invisible make believe super-daddy.

Religion is a mental illness, a disease.

Western society tolerates the quaint old christianity strain because it's most common proponents know better than to claim that their fairy tales are actually true and to be taken seriously.

A lack of education and basic scientific understanding in the islamic world has so far prevented the "ummah" from moving on to this stage - where religion is something that people just give a nod to every now and then, rather than something that any sane person would actually believe to be correct.

Islam is a threat to Western society simply because a much greater proportion of believers in Islam are still living under the misguided impression that it's actually true.

The greater opportunities for travel in the last century have meant that people are able to migrate huge distances in a short time - the world is becoming a smaller place, but in the same way that this allows people from less developed (and in some cases, such as Afghanistan, downright backwards) cultures to experience a modern and open society, it exposes that society to backwards and primitive influences. These influences have to be confronted - it's not racist to defend a culture that's worth defending. It's not racist to say that a society where you can freely and openly discuss opinions is superior to one where changing your religion carries a death sentence!

You say that wishing to eradicate the religion of islam isn't very tolerant..

That's quite right - religion should not be tolerated, it should be confronted as the ridiculous superstition that it is.

11:56 am  
Blogger publicansdecoy said...

Ian,

Do you have a problem with people who follow religion privately? What harm does it do you if people choose to believe in, as you put it, an invisible sky fairy? So long as they are not seeking to impose that view on to you, why should it matter to you what they believe? Why do you feel the need to force them to see things your way?

Religion isn't necessarily a problem. The aggressive evangelism that it often entails is. Your own evangelising for atheism is no different.

-x-

6:16 pm  
Blogger Ian the Atheist said...

> Do you have a problem with people who follow religion privately?

No, in the same way I don't have a problem with people who get horrifically drunk, take drugs or physically harm themselves for sexual kicks.

But let's be honest - we know that there are always friends and family who bear the brunt of these behaviours. religion is no different.

>What harm does it do you if people choose to believe in, as you put it, an invisible sky fairy? So long as they are not seeking to impose that view on to you, why should it matter to you what they believe?

How incredibly naive. Whether they seek to impose their views on me or not, if they allow their sordid little illness out into the public domain it impacts on the rest of us. When the religious demand special schools to propagate their nonsense, demand special laws to let them kill animals in vicious ways or mutilate the genitals of their children, it impacts on all of us. When religious idiots refuse to allow their children to be vaccinated, it increases the risk of illness spreading to the rest of us.

Nobody exists in splendid isolation.

> Why do you feel the need to force them to see things your way?

Because these are not equally valid positions with simply an opinion to seperate them. Belief in a god is an absolute fantasy - there is no evidence to support a supernatural god, and there never has been.

> Religion isn't necessarily a problem.

Yes it is.

Religion is always a problem, because it denies, at it's very heart, the ability of mankind to have manifest control over our own destiny.

>Your own evangelising for atheism is no different.

This is about where I grab my crotch, say "right here" and make a comment about your mother. There is no comparison between my use of strong language to describe religion and the excesses of the sky fairy brigade.

Abdul Rahman, I am sure, would much rather be declaring his undying love for Jebus in a secular nation, where the worst he would face is being called a moron for it, rather than his current situation.

I'll also draw your attention once more to my earlier statement.

Religion and atheism are not equally valid choices to make.

One is a rational response when faced with an incredible weight of scientific evidence, the other is as sensible as sticking a banana in your ear and singing a song about the king of the potato people.

It's a dangerous fallacy to think that you are assuming some higher moral position by "tolerance" of these beliefs.

When presented with a request for a room to be set aside to pray in, rather than falling over ourselves to accomodate in the name of "tolerance", why not stop for a second and ask for a perfectly reasonable test - place the required form in a glass case on the wall.

When Allah signs his name on the form, he can have the room for his followers. Hell, he can have the whole bloody building at that point.

Why is it unreasonable to ask for this degree of proof? Because we all KNOW that this will never happen. You could watch that form from now till the sun burnt out and no divine signature would ever appear.

I know this. You know this. Hell, even the true believers know this.

So why tolerate their delusions? what possible good does it do to pretend that there is a shred of truth in these ridiculous religions, when we know that they are a bunch of bollocks?

7:03 pm  
Blogger mymind said...

there are dark conections between the two
nazi=IsLame

http://mymind-nazimuft.blogspot.com/

7:57 pm  
Blogger Andy M said...

According to the rubric "this blog does not allow anonymous comments". Why then are there so many posts here headed 'anonymous'? We should ask blogger to adapt their software to allow blog holders a genuine option to deny anonymous comments. You will note that the 'anonymous' posts here link to a non-existent blog. The sinister character of the content of these posts bespeaks BNP, in all its odiousness. Fuck off, anonymous.

Posting anonymously won't do, here at least. If you want to engage in debate, at least allow others to come back at you. Otherwise, you are just shouting, boringly. You will gain no converts this way.

There are, of course, degrees of anonymity. I write a blog under a pseudonym for one simple reason. I am afraid of people who might try to hurt me or my family. This is a result of a climate of fear that was created by Muslims following the publication of 'The Satanic Verses', in this country, by a British writer. I am afraid that if I upset some lunatic enough with what I write (and it is a real possibility), my last post may consist of the word 'aaagh'. The last words of Theo Van Gogh were 'Can't we talk about this?'

I wish to resist this climate of fear. That is one reason why I was in Trafalgar Square last Saturday. I have no animus towards Muslims per se, but I do think that Islam itself is a pernicious religious doctrine which does very little good, and a great deal of harm. I think the same about Christianity and Judaism, for what it's worth.

It is my right, in this country, to think that AND to SAY it. It is absolutely no good if I am allowed to think it, but NOT say it. The cartoons, which in my view have no particular merit in themselves, are simply an exemplar of this principle. I'm not sure that I would die for this principle, but I'm bloody well prepared to fight for it.

And that includes you, anonymous. Fear the might of Barmcake! (I know kung fu, by the way).

9:20 pm  
Blogger Ismaeel said...

Ian the Atheist,

judging from the 20th century and the actions of avowed atheists such as Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao etc i would say that atheism is the most dangerous set of ideas known to man.
You cannot empirically prove God but neither can u disprove his existance.
Also you cannot empirically prove love, hate or other emotions, but we know they exist from the effects they have.

9:26 pm  
Blogger Ian the Atheist said...

Hi Ismaeel

> Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao etc

blah, blah, blah.

I concur that these were monstrously evil people, but then, so was Jeffrey Dahmer, a mass murdering born again Christian, or Osama Bin Laden, a mass murdering islamist.

That they were atheists is frankly irrelevant. The difference, you see, is that Atheists and rationalists don't need an external explanation for whether someone is a good or a bad person. If someone is basically a good person, they will try to do positive things with their lives, whether or not they believe in a sky fairy. If someone is an evil murdering scumbag, then that's what they are. I hate religion with a passion, but I'm not about to say that it's the sole cause of someone turning into a monster.

>i would say that atheism is the most dangerous set of ideas known to man.

It's certainly dangerous to the continued existance of your moronic religion, Ismaeel - let's face it, all this nonsense of dressing in white, walking around a pillar three times and hurling rocks at it.. what on earth makes you think that an all powerful creator being cares so much about you throwing rocks at a stone pillar that it should be considered the high point of your spiritual life? can't you see how ridiculous that is?

>You cannot empirically prove God but neither can u disprove his existance.

and the same is true of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Thor, or Apollo. It's an absolutely pointless argument, as we don't have to prove that God doesn't exist.

I can demonstrate that your god (and don't worry, because the same is true of all gods) is utterly impotent, incapable of even the slightest act. I have a pen on my desk here. If your god can make it stand on it's tip spontaneously, I'll fall down and worship him right now.

Heck, I'll call the BBC and get the cameras over here to film it - except we both know that this won't happen. Try as you might, you won't find evidence that as much as a blade of grass has been moved by divine action because god does not exist

>Also you cannot empirically prove love, hate or other emotions, but we know they exist from the effects they have.

Actually, you can prove love, or hate, or any of these other emotions - they are complex yet beautiful cascades of neurotransmitters as various areas of the mind activate in sequence - quite explainable, perfectly understandable, and no less wonderful for being within the realm of human knowledge.

10:30 pm  
Blogger publicansdecoy said...

Ian,

Once again you are confusing religion itself with evanglising on its behalf.

>>When the religious demand special schools to propagate their nonsense, demand special laws to let them kill animals in vicious ways or mutilate the genitals of their children

This sort of behaviour transgresses private pursuit of religion and heads into the territory of evangelism. I dislike a lot of what Dawkins says, but the points he made recently on religious schools were fair.

I wasn't trying to gain any moral high ground, I was merely giving my own tak on things. And I don't think it is fair to insist that a religion should be eradicated. How on earth can you claim that aim is consistent with the principles of free expression?

9:23 am  
Blogger Ian the Atheist said...

Hi David,

>Once again you are confusing religion itself with evanglising on its behalf.

no, I don't think so - demanding rooms to pray in is not really done in an attempt to spread the religion. I guess, at a stretch you could consider circumcision to be evangelising to your child, but that's really stretching the meaning of the word.

I personally consider these things to observance of a religion, rather than evangelism.. and in the same way we don't tolerate junkies shooting up in public, we shouldn't tolerate these demands on the rest of society.

When it comes to junkie + needles, nobody really cares whether the junkie in question is encouraging other people to try some of his smack. If it's done outside of their home, it's not on.

>I wasn't trying to gain any moral high ground, I was merely giving my own tak on things.

And I'm glad to hear your views. I'm a bit of a nippy sweetie about these things, and quite enjoy a robust exchange. no offence intended.

> And I don't think it is fair to insist that a religion should be eradicated.

actually, I didn't say that I wanted a religion to be eradicated. I want all of them eradicated, wiped from the face of the earth if you will.

How many followers of Baal or Thor still plague us with their nonsense?

Let's look forward to the happy day when Jebus and Doh-Hammud join these other has-beens in the old god's graveyard.

> How on earth can you claim that aim is consistent with the principles of free expression?

Easily, and without a hint of duplicity.

Does someone get to stand up and say "god made the world, and we must all follow him". Yes. Absolutely, and no law should ever interfere with your absolute 100% right to do so. I'd defend their right to do so, whilst calling them an imbecile for believing it.

Do they get to stand up and say "god made the world, and we should all pass a law that says we should follow him". No. never, not whilst 10 of us are still standing.

Does someone get to stand up and say "God? don't talk shite. there IS NO GOD", again, absolutely. that it offends the religious doesn't matter one iota.

Does anyone get to pass a law that says "you can't say that, you have to respect and tolerate his beliefs". No. absolutely not. and that's the crux of this discussion.

So, yes, I want to see religion eradicated through the application of science and education. I don't want to see religion given one *second* of schooling time, other than a "whacky and zany beliefs down the ages" class, and I want to see the state give nothing but ridicule to any belief that isn't supported by evidence.

Freedom of Expression is a world apart from Protection in Law.

12:35 pm  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home