Good news from Potsdam, Germany, where the Hans-Otto theatre’s production of The Satanic Verses passed without incident.
The first ever stage adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s novel did draw some complaints from the German Islamic Council (“We regret that the religious sentiments of Muslims are being treated in a provocative manner”) and the Central Council of Muslims (“Freedom of expression and of art is important but offences against what is sacred in a religion is not something we value”).
For the past eleven years the organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), representing the 57 Islamic States, has been tightening its grip on the throat of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yesterday, 28 March 2008, they finally killed it.
The fundamental human right to freedom of expression was fatally curbed when the HRC voted hat the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression will be required to report on its “abuse” by anyone who speaks out against Islam in what is deemed to be “an act of racial or religious discrimination”.
Roy Brown of the Humanist and Ethical Union described the amendment, voted for by the OIC and supported by those bastions of human rights China, Cuba, and Russia±
Yesterday’s attack by the Islamists, led by Pakistan, had the subtlety of a thin-bladed knife slipped silently under the ribs of the Human Rights Council.
He is now calling for states who are genuinely concerned with human rights to withdraw from the Council, and possibly create an alternative organisation which is not in thrall to “a narrow, medieval worldview defined exclusively in terms of man’s duties towards Allah”.
On Friday the 28th March Geert Wilders released his anti-Koran movie Fitna on Liveleak:
As you can see, within hours Liveleak was forced to take it down when some idiots, presumably Muslims, decided to prove the point of the movie by threatening violence. UPDATE (2 April): It is up again. The threats can’t have been that scary.
Fitna is an unsubtle piece of anti-immigration propaganda, and makes extremely unpleasant viewing. Having said that, most of the unpleasant realities it portrays are simply the words and actions of Muslims speaking and acting in the name of Islam.
The UN head Ban Ki-Moon condemned the film, saying
There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence…The right of free expression is not at stake here.
Presuming he is accusing Wilders of hate speech, he misses the point completely. The film does show hate speech by radical Muslims calling for the “kuffar” to be killed. But reporting the hate speech of others cannot in itself constitute hate speech.
Indeed this weird double- think is endemic within the UN. When High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour says that governments should “they should prohibit any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence,” we do not know if she is talking about the hate-spewing imams shown in Fitna, or Wilders the messenger.
They should offer strong protective measures to all forms of freedom of expression, while at the same time enacting appropriate restrictions, as necessary, to protect the rights of others.
What does she mean by “rights of others”? It is not a no that your silly supremacist beliefs be respected, the UN Human Rights Council’s recently-expressed“deep concern” about the defamation of religion (read “Islam”) notwithstanding.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the blindest, most morally bankrupt and least self-aware condemnation of the movie came from the OIC’s Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who claimed that it “defamed Islam” and – as always – caused “insult to the sentiments of more than 1.3 billion Muslims in the world”.
Anyway, if you want to see the movie its still up on YouTube at the time of writing:
Reuters carries an interview with the Turbomb cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. The 72-year-old atheist has no regrets. Indeed, he believes that the publication of the Motoons was, all things considered, a positive thing.
I would do it the same way (again) because I think that this cartoon crisis in a way is a catalyst which is intensifying the adaptation of Islam.
Without a cartoon that provoked the Muslims, it would have been something else; a novel a play, a movie, this situation would have occurred sooner or later anyway.
He also makes clear his thoughts about his Turbomb cartoon, which has been subject to various misinterpretations, from “racist provocation” to “all Muslims are terrorists”.
I have no problems with Muslims. I made a cartoon which was aimed at the terrorists who use an interpretation of Islam as their spiritual dynamite.
The Pussy Parlure, a mirrored travelling theatre taking part in the city’s Fringe Festival, was to be set up in council-owned grounds adjacent to St Peter’s church. But the parish council expressed its concern that the venue was “too risque” and will offend members of the public who mistakenly believe the lawn is sacred ground.”
Now it appears that the show’s owner has agreed to drop the word “pussy” – even though it referred to cats. All advertisements for the acts state that they will take place in the “Parlure”.
As Barry Duke, The Freethinker editor, says:
This is outrageous! Yielding to pressure from a church is bad enough, but capitulating to one typified by its profusions of phallic projections and named after a Peter – a popular slang term for penis – is intolerable.
This site has been suspended while Network Solutions is investigating whether the site’s content is in violation of the Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy. Network Solutions has received a number of complaints regarding this site that are under investigation. For more information about Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy visit the following URL: http://www.networksolutions.com/legal/aup.jsp
It is surprising that the investigation should be so complex and time consuming that it was necessary to close the site. It consisted of a single page containing a picture of a Koran, and the words “Geert Wilders presents Fitna. Coming soon”.
The proposed boycott of Danish goods by Islamic countries has met with a lukewarm response, at least in Bahrain and Dubai.
Many Bahraini retailers have said they intend to continue to stock Danish products. In Dubai, Gulf News spoke to shoppers, who were by no means united in their support for th boycott:
Adelfried Saidely from Iraq, for example, said:
I am against the ban simply for the reason that I think it is an exaggerated reaction to an issue that has already been given more prominence than it deserves. The Danish newspapers are simply adding fuel to the fire and trying to gain maximum publicity for their respective organisations.