Thursday, February 08, 2007

MANIFESTO: Against The New Totalitarianism

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism. We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others.

To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.
We reject « cultural relativism », which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.

We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.

Statement signatories:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Chahla Chafiq - Iranian writer exiled in France
Caroline Fourest
Bernard-Henri Lévy
Irshad Manji
Mehdi Mozaffari - Iranian academic exiled in Denmark
Maryam Namazie
Taslima Nasreen
Salman Rushdie
Antoine Sfeir - director of French review examining Middle East
Philippe Val
Ibn Warraq

+ Salman Rushdie discusses free speech, fundamentalism, America's place in the world, and his new essay collection:

"There may well be another alternative. I grew up in a Muslim family in India, and I know what is meant by that other Islam. My grandfather was a very religious man. He went to Mecca for the Hajj and prayed five times a day. Yet he was the most tolerant and open person I ever met. If you go into any Muslim country, you will find that dispute between radical Islam and moderate Islam. It is not a question of how the West perceives the East, but of what's happening inside the East. If you go to Muslims in India, they can tell you immediately about that battle with those other Muslims. For example, the kind of Islam that is being forced on Kashmir is very much a kind of Arabist Islam, which is alien to Kashmir. It is not liked by Kashmiris, who have a more Sufistic tradition, which is much more mystical and much milder.
The problem is, how do you tell the truth while not demonizing the people who don't deserve to be demonized?"


+ LONDON (Reuters) - Five men have been charged under anti-terrorism laws after a series of police raids in the central English city of Birmingham last week, British police said on Friday.
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"I remember I asked old Childs if he thought Judas, the one that betrayed Jesus and all, went to Hell after he committed suicide. Childs said certainly. That's exactly where I disagreed with him. I said I'd bet a thousand bucks that Jesus never sent old Judas to Hell. I still would, too, if I had a thousand bucks.

I think any one of the Disciples would've sent him to Hell and all— and fast, too— but I'll bet anything Jesus didn't do it."

-- J.D. Salinger, The Catcher In The Rye

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