Opportunist Religionists Forcing Blasphemy Law On To Europe

Belgian Islamists staged a march through Brussels on Tuesday, demanding that the European Commission institute a Europe-wide blasphemy law. The marchers delivered a letter of protest about the cartoons to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Danish Embassy. The president of the Union of Brussels and Neighbourhood Mosques said: “We oppose the widening chasm between the Muslim community and other European citizens that has incited hatred and fear of Islam, due to these irresponsible acts [the publication of the satirical cartoons].”

In their letter to the European Commission and the European Parliament, the Islamists warn that the “wave of irresponsible humiliation” caused by the cartoons may be dangerous. “This attitude can only exacerbate conflict, fuel hatred and reinforce the logic of the clash of civilisations,” they said.

The letter asks for the European Union’s top decision-makers to “act determinedly to prepare a draft law that forbids every kind of blasphemy, so that all groups in society can leave in peace and harmony”. Such a law would “be completely consistent with the EU’s protection of freedom, human rights and sacredness, and the elimination of all acts that lead to racism and xenophobia,” they said.

EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana signalled this week that the EU might be supportive of this idea, stating “We are working on some ideas. I cannot be very precise, but we are working on some ideas that maybe it is possible to get through,” according to Reuters. Deutsche Welle quotes Mr Solana’s spokeswoman Cristina Gallach as saying “They want mechanisms to guarantee this is not repeated and we should be able to find it in UN conventions on human rights.”

The editor of the Danish newspaper that first published the controversial prophet Mohammed cartoons said the media was giving Muslims special treatment as a result of the subsequent uproar. “It turned out that the freedom of the press crumbled much more quickly than I thought. It seems to me that the freedom of the press the world over is being limited as Muslims are being given special treatment,” Jyllands-Posten editor Carsten Juste told the Danish daily Kristelig Dagbladet. “The result is that these privileges are going to be extended even further,” Juste warned, saying he was “very ill at ease with what is happening at the moment”.

Juste said religious belief was a private matter, but it had entered the public arena like never before. “Now we have to be careful about things we never thought we would have to be careful about,” such as writing about the oppression of women in Muslim societies.

Meanwhile, an Iranian government minister has demanded that the European Union ban the publication of caricatures that satirise “holy figures” of any religion, including the allegedly offensive Prophet Muhammad cartoons, Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Motaki told a news conference in Yerevan on Tuesday: “Today I will hold negotiations over the phone with the foreign minister of Austria, which currently holds the EU presidency. During the conversation, I will suggest including the issue of respect for all prophets of any religions in the EU agenda.

“The publication of the caricatures satirising the Prophet Muhammad in the Danish press is an indication of religious intolerance.” said Mr Motaki, whose president recently threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the map. Mr Motaki said that he thought the cartoons, “are intended to cause a collision of civilisations.” His self-righteous blathering takes on a grotesque irony when matched with the announcement from Amnesty International this week that Iran is planning to execute two teenage girls who fought back against rapists. (http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/document.do?id=ENGMDE130052006)

The United Nations is currently considering what can be done to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons which might, in the hands of its mentally unstable president, be used to carry out his threat to Israel.

On Monday, East Asian Muslim and Christian leaders wrapped up their two-day meeting in the Indonesian capital Jakarta by urging the UN to make a “universal declaration” strictly banning blasphemy. Din Syamsuddin, leader of Indonesia’s second largest Muslim organisation, the Muhammadiyah, said the forum proposed that the UN should issue a declaration of “human responsibility” in order to prevent more examples of blasphemous or insulting acts toward religions, the Jakarta Post reported on Tuesday.

“I shared the idea during rounds of discussions with other religious leaders here, and I personally agree that the UN should issue a universal declaration of human responsibility, apart from the universal declaration of human rights,” he told a news conference. “Because having the freedom without responsibility could lead our civilisation to absolute liberalism.”

Din said the declaration would allow people and institutions to exercise freedom of expression, but also make them responsible in their actions. Rev. Fr. Joseph Chusak Sirisut, director of the Bangkok-based religious and cultural research center in Saengtham College, said there was a similarly insulting cartoon when Pope Benedict was inaugurated last October. “Press freedom should not insult religious figures,” he said.

Extremist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi has added his influential voice to the pressure on the United Nations to adopt a resolution banning blasphemy to head off similar incidents in the future. He also urged the European Union to criminalise blasphemy against any religion, including pagan religions.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is pressing for a ban on religious intolerance to be part of the “bedrock” of a planned new United Nations human rights body. According to the text of an OIC proposal, the new UN body should state clearly that the “defamation of religions and prophets is inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression” and that states, organizations and the media have a “responsibility in promoting tolerance and respect for religious and cultural values.”

In Britain, an alliance of writers and artists are launching a campaign to abolish the medieval blasphemy law that offers the Anglican Church special protection. Launched by English PEN, a lobby group for freedom of expression, the campaign is led by best-selling author and NSS honorary associate Philip Pullman and National Theatre Director Nicholas Hytner. Salman Rushdie, who is facing death threats for his novel The Satanic Verses and playwright and film director Hanif Kureishi are also expected to join the campaign.

“The right response would be to get rid of it altogether and let religion, like every other form of human thought, take its chance in free, open debate,” Hytner told the Times. “Exactly the wrong response would be to extend them [the blasphemy laws] to cover other religions,” he added.

See also:
Present state of blasphemy laws in Europe
Pakistanis say no compromise on blasphemy law
Italian minister makes Mohamed cartoon t-shorts
Blasphemy laws are first step in handing control to Islamists
See here for excellent cartoons that satirise the cartoons.
Russian prosecutors investigate newspaper’s religious cartoon
Russia uses cartoon to clamp down on free speech
Russia closes newspaper over cartoons Cartoons and Islam
Weed out school text books offensive to Muslims
Islam cartoons will go in Danish textbook