Originally Posted by Botnst
Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, the Pope -- Who's Next?
By Claus Christian Malzahn in Berlin
The pope has apologized for the outrage amongst Muslims sparked by his recent comments. But the episode proves once again that criticizing Islam is dangerous.
Twenty years ago in the German city of Bremen, Dutch comedian Rudi Carrell's life depended on police protection. His offense? In a satirical program on German television, he let fly with a lewd joke about the then leader of the Iranian revolution Ayatollah Khomeini. Mass demonstrations in Iran -- orchestrated, no doubt, by the government -- were the result. The threats of violence led to an apology by Carrell, and he never again made a joke about any Muslim -- at least not on television.
In February 1989, the Ayatollah then released a fatwa calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie for his novel "The Satanic Verses." The book, he and other Muslim leaders claimed, was a grave misrepresentation of Islam. Rushdie's Japanese translator lost his life as a result of the fatwa and Rushdie himself went into hiding, though the Iranian leadership distanced itself from the fatwa in 1998. There remain, however, a number of fanatical Muslims who yearn to see Rushdie dead.
Feminist and Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch parliamentarian who recently left Holland, also lives under threat of murder. In addition to a number of interesting books about the oppression faced by women in the Muslim world, she also wrote the screenplay for the short film "Submission." In one scene, a verse from the Koran -- demanding that women bend to the will of their husbands -- is projected onto a woman's naked body. The film was provocative, and the filmmaker Theo van Gogh paid for it with his life. He was killed on the streets of Amsterdam by a Muslim fanatic.
And then there's Flemming Rose, the Danish editor who a year ago published a series of Muhammad caricatures in his newspaper. Months after they originally appeared, the Muslim world erupted in protest against the drawings. He too must fear for his life....
Quoted from Applebaum's piece in Washington Post:
By this, I don't mean that we all need to rush to defend or to analyze this particular sermon; I leave that to experts on Byzantine theology. But we can all unite in our support for freedom of speech -- surely the pope is allowed to quote from medieval texts -- and of the press. And we can also unite, loudly, in our condemnation of violent, unprovoked attacks on churches, embassies and elderly nuns. By "we" I mean here the White House, the Vatican, the German Greens, the French Foreign Ministry, NATO, Greenpeace, Le Monde and Fox News -- Western institutions of the left, the right and everything in between. True, these principles sound pretty elementary -- "we're pro-free speech and anti-gratuitous violence" -- but in the days since the pope's sermon, I don't feel that I've heard them defended in anything like a unanimous chorus. A lot more time has been spent analyzing what the pontiff meant to say, or should have said, or might have said if he had been given better advice.