March 1, 2006

'Islamism' and the rise of religious totalitarianism

A number of prominent European intellectuals have picked up on the theocratic impulse that's very much a part of radical Islam. Motivated by the recent furor over the Danish cartoons, these intellectuals have issued a manifesto that calls for resistance to "religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all."

The manifesto, which has notable contributors such as Bernard Henri-Levy, Taslima Nasreen, Caroline Fourest and Salman Rushdie, proclaimed that after having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism. The statement was originally published in the French newspaper Charlie Hebedo.

The statement reads:
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.
This is obviously serious stuff, and I'm sure it will go very noticed by Islamic hardliners. That being said, the text is so severe and so scathing that I'm inclined to think that the Western press will largely avoid its seeming political incorrectness -- even if it is true.

Tags: , , , , , , .

No comments: