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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Italian Reactions to Muhammad Film Protests

Jihad Watch has my article Italian Reactions to Muhammad Film Protests:
The violent attacks on people and symbols representing the USA and the West in the Islamic world are one of those situations in which it becomes clear where people stand.

People are forced to make a choice here: they either point the finger at those whom they consider responsible for having provoked Muslim outrage, in other words guilty of exercising freedom of expression, or recognize that peaceful coexistence cannot be achieved by sacrificing the basic principles of our civilization, and that appeasement only leads to more and more aggressive demands.

It's similar to kidnapping and making ransom demands: governments are reluctant to give in to those requests, because they know that capitulation would encourage further kidnappings. But in dealing with the Muslim world, this logic - in fact any logic - is hardly ever applied.

Appeasement cannot work for the following reasons. Islam and European civilization are incompatible, not just because Islam is bent on destroying anything which is not Islam - what you may call the "supremacist reason" - but also because our fundamental principles and Islam's are in direct, logical contradiction, and trying to reconcile them is like squaring a circle. A conflict of interests can be solved with negotiations and compromises, but a logical contradiction, like that between a square and a circle, cannot be solved at all. We may call this the "cardinal reason".

It's interesting to note that Western authorities recognize the link between the religion of peace, specifically Friday prayers, and violence:

"Meanwhile, police said that German embassies and consulates in Arabic countries would be on high alert after Friday, a religious holiday, as some experts fear that violence could again escalate." (Islam versus Europe)

"France confirmed on Friday it would allow no street protests against cartoons denigrating Islam's Prophet Mohammad that were published by a French magazine this week." (Jihad Watch)

Why is it that when Muslims are closest to their religion, through mosques, Friday prayers, Ramadan, they get more enraged and aggressive?

Another criterion to separate people's positions is by looking at what they think of the "Arab Spring".

The Italian missionary-blogger-journalist Piero Gheddo in an article called "Where has the Arab Spring Gone?", after having praised both the revolts that brought democratically-elected governments in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia ("We cannot think that democracy, freedom of press and speech are positive only for us Christians") and Islam's glorious history ("Muhammad's religion spread by the sword but also gave rise to a civilization of great splendour, admired even by Christian sages and travellers"), writes:

"We live in 2000 AD, Islam still lives, as a culture, religion and worship of its past, in 1400 after Muhammad. It has not yet adapted to modernity. Muslim peoples are attracted to it, while the political and religious authorities try in every way to exploit Islam to save their power.
"Not only that, but there are objective difficulties in saving in the modern world the many good things that exist in Islam: the historical-critical reading of the Quran that would make it contemporary is not allowed because it is the word of God in the literal sense; in Islam there is no comparable authority to the Pope and the Bishops, every mosque or madrassa follows its own way; in Islamic law there is no notion of absolute dignity of every man and woman, which makes all creatures equal in their rights; and finally there is no distinction between religion and politics."

I said that people are forced to make a choice, but it seems that some, like Father Gheddo, are very skilled at avoiding it.

An on-the-fence position has been that of Pope Benedict XVI who, in his trip to Lebanon, invited to peace and dialogue among followers of the various religions. His situation is obviously complicated by his role of head of state and the fear that his words might be the trigger for new attacks on the Christian minorities who are like hostages in Muslim-majority countries.

A more robust answer came from a 2-day international conference on 15-16 September in Florence, organized by the association Una via per Oriana Fallaci on the problem and dangers of Islam, which was also a commemoration of the late Florentine journalist and thinker.

The focus of the conference was on the persecution of Christians inside and outside the Islamic world, Europe's progressive repudiation of its classical liberal values, and the sources of what the participants called "Christianophobia".

Christianophobia derives, according to expert on geopolitics Alexandre del Valle, from four myths, one of which is

"The myth that Islam is compatible with freedom and that Islamic violence against Christians is only a reaction to wicked behaviours on the part of Christians in the past as well as today. The current violence is excused as indignation provoked by the film The Innocence of Muslims, considered blasphemous by many Muslims, even if its contents have the sacred texts of Islam as their sources."

I must admit that I don't particularly like the neologism "Christianophobia", simply because unintentionally it seems to legitimize its counterpart "Islamophobia" from which it is probably derived, and in so doing it establishes a prima facie, superficial equivalence between the two religions.

Nevertheless, it seems to be in fashion in the current Italian debate, partly because of the recent Venice Film Festival's screening of Paradise: Faith by Ulrich Seidl, a movie that has as its highest point a sequence in which the protagonist, actress Maria Hoffstatter, engages in autoeroticism using a crucifix.

The double standards between the treatment of Muslim and Christian sensitivities, in this case as in that of the "Piss Christ" "artwork", are so blatant to provoke nausea.

"Violence explodes in the Muslim world. Western politicians compete in apologizing for the blasphemous Islam film. Do we need to burn down embassies and kill for someone to apologize for the blasphemous movie about Christianity which received the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival?" asks the blog Basta Bugie (Enough of Lies).

The question of free speech and where, if anywhere, the line should be drawn is worth exploring, maybe in another article. But that double standards should not be tolerated is so simple that does not require further analysis.
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