Someone please explain to me the difference between these threats–the first two from Muslims directed against a French teacher who insulted the Prophet:
“You will never feel secure on this earth. One billion, three hundred thousand Muslims are ready to kill you.”
One of the threats came from a contributor to Al Hesbah, who wrote, “It is impossible that this day pass without the lions [jihadists] of France punishing him.”
The contributor called on his Muslim brethren in France to follow the lead of Muhammad Bouyeri, who murdered the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh after he made a film denouncing the plight of abused Muslim women.
“May God send some lion to cut his head,” the contributor said of Mr. Redeker, whom he described as a “pig.”
The following threats and boasts come from the Little Green Footballs (a stridently pro-Israel/ anti-Muslim site) comments section:
When is someone goimg [sic] to finally walk up to Ibrahim Hooper [executive director of the Muslim-American group CAIR] and put a bullet in his brain?”
Goat-fucking koranimals. Unlike my last war, this war, I may have to consider collecting a necklace of ears.
/loading more magazines/gotta finish post-FTX refit and weapons check.
LGF [since deleted]
How in heaven’s name does one side see itself occupying the high ground in this dispute? As far as I’m concerned, the Islamists and Islam-haters are both deeply tainted by hatred and barely repressed violence–even to the point of borderline homicidal rage.
The NY Times reports that a French high school philosophy teacher penned an especially virulent anti-Muslim commentary (French original here and English translation) in the conservative Le Figaro. For his trouble, Muslims have threatened and intimidated him so that he has gone into hiding:
Robert Redeker (French language site), 52, wrote in the center-right daily Le Figaro 10 days ago that Muhammad was “a merciless warlord, a looter, a mass-murderer of Jews and a polygamist,” and called the Koran “a book of incredible violence.”
…Mr. Redeker compared Islam unfavorably to Christianity and Judaism, although he admitted that the history of the Catholic Church was “full of dark pages,” and he criticized the hostile reaction to the pope’s remarks.
“Jesus is a master of love; Muhammad is a master of hatred,” Mr. Redeker wrote, adding, “Whereas Judaism and Christianity are religions whose rites forsake violence and remove its legitimacy, Islam is a religion that, in its very sacred text, as much as in some of its everyday rites, exalts violence and hatred. Hatred and violence dwell in the very book that educates any Muslim, the Koran.”
…“Islam tries to dictate its rules to Europe: opening swimming pools at certain hours exclusively for women, forbidding the caricature of this religion, demanding a special diet for Muslim children in school cafeterias, fighting for wearing the veil in school, accusing free thinkers of Islamophobia.”
What I find most deplorable in the argument against Islam is the historical amnesia that all anti-jihadists have about western religions. Every single one has dark strains of violence running right through their heart. How can we Jews see ourselves as pure as the driven snow when we have a story like the Rape of Dina in our canon? Or how about that would-be act of quintessential child murder: Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac. Or the genocide committed against the Amalekites, Moabites and Jebusites? Or the murder of 29 Palestinians by Kahane follower, Baruch Goldstein? Christianity has the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition in which Jews were killed by their hundreds of thousands.
How can any reasonable human being (and one can assume that a philosophy teacher should have enough knowledge of sources to be aware of these events) then make this lulu of a statement:
Judaism and Christianity are religions whose rites forsake violence and remove its legitimacy…
Would any person who loves his or her religion wish that their tradition better lived up to its values of peace and love? Sure. Would any person work their tail off to ensure their religion lived up to these values in the contemporary world? You bet. But which person who is knowledgeable about religious history could make such a statement with a straight face? It is either a lie or an ignorant swindle as a statement of history.
It’s also worth dwelling on the twisted logic of Redeker’s commentary. When Muslims ask to be allowed to honor their traditions in a public setting they are viewed in the same way conservatives view homosexuals who demand protection against discrimination: somehow they are asking for special rights Thus by asking for the right to observe their rituals French Muslims are somehow imposing them on non-Muslims, a preposterous notion:
Islam tries to dictate its rules to Europe: opening swimming pools at certain hours exclusively for women, forbidding the caricature of this religion, demanding a special diet for Muslim children in school cafeterias, fighting for wearing the veil in school, accusing free thinkers of Islamophobia.
If Muslims believe that the sexes should be separated in public settings like swimming pools, then why is it an imposition for public pools in heavily Muslim neighborhoods to observe separate hours for men and women? As a non-Muslim I can swim at other hours if I wish or I can swim in a sex-segregated pool with Muslims.
Why does Redeker have the temerity to call halal (a set of Muslim rituals that specify permitted and prohibited foods) a diet as if Muslims were merely trying to lose weight. No, these are sacred rituals which all believing Muslims must observe just as believing Jews observe Kashrut. In our own society, efforts are often made to honor ritual observance in public settings like schools, prisons or airline flights. Why is it chutzpah for Muslims in France to expect similar respect?
Why should the concept of wearing a chador freak out French conservatives so? In this country, we allow Jewish children to wear kipot and Muslim girls to wear special clothing to public school. Why is this issue considered so divisive in France?
I realize that France prides itself on being a secular Republic from which religion is supposedly banished. Allowing Muslims to be treated any differently than any other religion would, in the view of some, contribute to the toppling of some of those cherished Republican values. But if France is anything like this country, I would bet that despite the French desire to insulate public discourse from religion–that Christianity has plenty of opportunity to make its presence felt outside the bounds of the Church.
Though I do not know France as well as I know Israel or the U.S., I’d be willing to bet that Muslims there are not asking for any privileges that are not already available to Christians or Jews.
Redeker graces himself with the moniker “free thinker” when he is anything but. He is an hidebound intolerant demagogue. And if Muslims are calling him an Islamophobe I think they are right. He is needlessly afraid that Islam will somehow cause the disintegration of his precious French culture, when it will do nothing of the sort. In fact, the values and traditions of Islam will enrich the French if they’d only relax and give it half a chance. And the converse is also true, that French Muslims will be changed for the better by their experience as members of French society.
Instead of being at war with each other, they should try living together and learning from each other.
Another tired old Cold War rhetorical trick is to equate any movement you don’t like with Communism:
As in the past with Communism, the West finds itself under ideological watch. Islam presents itself, like defunct Communism, as an alternative to the Western world. In the way of Communism before it, Islam, to conquer spirits, plays on a sensitive nerve. It prides itself on a legitimacy which troubles Western conscience, which is attentive to others: it claims to be the voice of the oppressed of the planet. Yesterday, the voice of the poor supposedly came from Moscow, today it originates in Mecca! Again, today, western intellectuals incarnate the eye of the Koran, as they have incarnated the eye of Moscow. They now excommunicate people because of Islamophobia, as they did before because of anti-communism.
This is nothing more than hysterical nonsense: Chicken Little saying “the sky is falling.” It posits a west so weak and tottering that a mere puff of wind from the Muslim faithful would be enough to send it crashing to earth. I believe that the west is much more resilient than Redeker gives it credit for. We have weathered worse threats in the historic past and we will weather threats in the future. None of them need threaten the existence of a liberal, enlightened and tolerant western liberalism.
Redeker fancies himself as someone whose arguments are so powerful that “western intellectuals,” “useful idiots” all (Redeker’s stale phrase), must “excommunicate” him from the club. If I were one of those intellectuals I wouldn’t even give him the satisfaction of expelling him. I’d just point out his idiocy in a public space like this one and move on.
I must caution that I do not approve of the violent Muslim response to Redeker. It is impermissible. No violence of any kind is acceptable in the midst of religious debate. All that being said, I do believe that people who make such irresponsible statements should face moral (not physical) consequences.
As I wrote about the Muhammed cartoons incident, our Supreme Court ruled that a man cannot falsely yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater and expect that his speech will be protected under the First Amendment. The dope in the theater, just like Redeker, is engaging in “unprotected speech.”
Redeker’s commentary falls into this category because it is base incitement to religious hatred. He certainly had a right to make stupid, unfounded accusations. But he also has a right to expect that he will make his opponents extremely angry. So this self-pitying complaint by him to fellow French conservative philosopher, Andre Glucksman, seems obtuse and self-serving:
It’s quite sad. I exercised my constitutional rights, and I am punished for it, even in the territory of the Republic. This affair is also an attack against national sovereignty – foreign rules, decided by criminally minded fanatics, punish me for having exercised a constitutional right, and I am subjected, even in France, to great injury.”
Yes, he has a constitutional right to say stupid things. But he has no right to expect that he will not face consequences for his stupidity. And as this French government official stated:
Education Minister Gilles de Robien…cautioned that a “state employee must show prudence and moderation in all circumstances.”
I find attractive the notion that in a society there are many sources of friction among the groups which comprise it. It is wise and prudent to attempt to find a way to navigate the shoals of this sea of divergent opinion without provoking our neighbors to fury. It is the interests of all of us to try to live together in temperance and tolerance and not to provoke our fellow merely because we can.
I am in favor of a free exchange of ideas. But I am also in favor of a certain degree of prudence and moderation especially when you know your views will stir great enmity. But Redeker appears to believe in complete license when it comes to expressing his views. This is chutzpah of the first magnitude.
I strongly disagree with Elaine Sciolino’s characterization of the debate in Europe:
The Redeker case is the latest manifestation in Europe of a mounting ideological battle that pits those who believe Islam and the Prophet Muhammad can be criticized in the name of free speech against those in the Muslim community who believe no criticism can be tolerated.
I think this is far too charitable to the Redekers of the world. I do not view what they are doing as criticizing Islam in the name of free speech. Rather, they are deliberately insulting Muslims because they detest their religion. They are at war with Islam because they view Islam as being at war with them. They dress up such incitement as free speech and drape themselves in their national flag and constitutional rights. To me, this is mere window dressing for their real intent which is the creation of a pliant western Islam or its banishment entirely from western society.
As for the second half of Sciolino’s statement: while SOME Muslims believe no criticism of Islam can be countenanced, I’m certain that this is NOT the view of the majority of Muslims. The vast majority of Muslims believe that their religion should be accorded the same level of respect as other western religions like Christianity or Judaism. They also believe that their religion, when attacked, should be characterized fairly and accurately. This is something none of the Muslim haters manage to do in their diatribes. I’d be pissed too if I was a Muslim. As a Jew, I sometimes get pissed when my own religion is misunderstood or mischaracterized especially in a public setting. Why is it treif for a Muslim to feel the same way?
There is nothing wrong with criticizing religions. I criticize my own and other religions here in this blog regularly. But I always try to do so by being as accurate as I can in characterizing the beliefs I am criticizing. I try to avoid the luridness and vitriol which characterizes diatribes like Redeker’s or Little Green Footballs. Why can’t the Islam-haters give the religion the respect it deserves even as they criticize it?