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Australian Muslim Group Warns of "Worrying" Response to Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Forthcoming Visit:

The Australian (a newspaper) reports:

Nada Roude, of the NSW Islamic Council, said Hirsi Ali's comments on the prophet Mohammed were a "no-go zone".

"They (prophets) are not just like you and me, they have special status — you're supposed to show respect," Ms Roude said.

"There have to be boundaries in how far you go in respecting other's beliefs. The reaction from the community is likely to be quite worrying." ...

Ms Roude said there seemed to be a double standard about who was allowed to visit Australia, particularly as Hirsi Ali's visit appeared to have the potential to incite hatred.

"Muslims are not treated the same," she said. "There are a set of rules for one community and another for the rest of the community. Anyone who causes harm to our society because they have the right to express their opinion is not welcome." ...

A tip: When you warn that your religious community will respond to critical speech in a "worrying" way, it is that response — and your use of that response as an attempt to deter such speech — that has the most potential to incite hostility. Oddly enough, citizens of a free country are often hostile (sometimes even to the point of hatred) to ideologies that demand suppression of critical religious views. And if your view is that Islam is a religion of peace, and that the overwhelming majority of Muslims don't support religious violence, then condemn the (by hypothesis) small and unrepresentative segment of the community that is likely to act violently rather than using the "reaction from the community" as a threat in your political advocacy.

As to one set of rules for one community and another for the rest of the community, does Australia really try to exclude people who harshly criticize Christianity, or depict Jesus in a blasphemous light? Coercive government actions to restrict blasphemy of Christianity are not completely unheard of in recent decades in Western democracies — see Otto-Preminger-Institut v. Austria, in which the European Court of Human Rights upheld such an action (in 1994) — but I've heard of none in Australia, nor any attempts to exclude visitors to Australia based on their blasphemous religious speech. And if Australia does allow free speech on religious matters, then who is the one who's seeking "a set of rules for one community and another for the rest of the community"?

Thanks to InstaPundit and to Andrew Bolt's blog at the Herald Sun for the pointer.

Dave Griffith (mail):
5.29.2007 3:53pm
Mark Field (mail):

A tip: When you warn that your religious community will respond to critical speech in a "worrying" way, it is that response — and your use of that response as an attempt to deter such speech — that has the most potential to incite hostility


Excellent point. For example, if government officials or supporters were to indicate their "concerns" that certain free speech might "aid terrorists", such "concerns" might be expected to incite hostility against those exercising their free speech rights. Glad to see Instapundit's putting the weight of his authority against such behavior.
5.29.2007 4:07pm
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

Just to clear one thing up: Hirsi Ali isn't necessarily the champion of all things free. Recently she defended the role of the military in Turkey. (Which is a nightmare of a problem unto itself.) Not to mention that she works at the American Enterprise Institute, of all places.
5.29.2007 4:07pm
SG:
I see a topic like this and I wonder how long it will take someone to respond to Islamic-inspired threats of violence with complaints about America/Republicans/George Bush. But since Dave Griffith's post was empty, I'm not sure if the Tu quoque fallacy is the first or second response.
5.29.2007 4:20pm
Roundhead (mail) (www):
I was about to take on the speciousness of Mark Field and whomever's remarks, but I see SG has already tackled that one...

keep up the fine blog, Volokh conspiracy
Roundhead
5.29.2007 4:24pm
Cornellian (mail):
I wholeheartedly endorse Dave Griffith's 2:53 pm post - brilliantly concise.
5.29.2007 4:29pm
LM (mail):
Not to mention that she works at the American Enterprise Institute, of all places.

Hey, it's not fair to tar her with that brush. For one thing, she's a lot better looking than Irving Kristol.
5.29.2007 4:48pm
Maureen001 (mail):
I've heard Ayaan Hirsi Ali's opinions about Islam discussed and repeated by others. It somehow didn't make me want to go out and shoot anyone. I fear, however, that Ms. Roude's comments may cause different responses.

There have been a spate of books/films exploring the idea of Jesus and Mary Magdalene having married and born a line of offspring. Ironic, isn't it, that one doesn't hear threats from Christians that such an idea could trigger a violent repercussion. Wouldn't one think that Jesus, the Son of God, would have the "special status" expounded by Ms. Roude? Wouldn't Jesus warrant a show of respect and wouldn't those boundaries she refers to apply to Jesus as well?

So which is the religion of peace again?
5.29.2007 4:59pm
Fub:
Cornellian wrote at 5.29.2007 3:29pm:
I wholeheartedly endorse Dave Griffith's 2:53 pm post - brilliantly concise.
Typical internecine Zennie doubletalk I'd say, probably calculated to incite hostility against the Southern School. Somebody ought to shut him up.
;^)
5.29.2007 5:32pm
abb1 (mail):
...does Australia really try to exclude people who harshly criticize Christianity, or depict Jesus in a blasphemous light?

Maybe not, but Christianity is the majority religion, there's no sensitivity issue here. I suppose they might censor, say, a notorious anti-semite, no?
5.29.2007 5:34pm
Russ (mail):
C'mon guys, it's really just a religion of peace.

And just like when they disapproved of what Theo van Gogh said, they'll kill you to prove it...
5.29.2007 5:42pm
JB:
What did she say about the role of the Turkish military? The Turkish military has been a positive force in many ways, enough so that simply praising it isn't in itself grounds for opposition.
5.29.2007 5:47pm
Michael B (mail):
re, Turkey's military,

What Hirsi Ali recently defended was Turkey's liberal institutions and its secular form of governance. She defended the military not as an institution that was beyond reproach but as an entity that, historically and presently, has helped to preserve that form of governance against Islamic political forces on the one hand and ultra-nationalistic forces on the other even if some elements in the military have at times evidenced sympathies with the latter. Turkey's military has been a necessary mediating force. (Likewise to defend the form of government is not to defend the recurring corruption that has occurred in government and politics.)
5.29.2007 5:52pm
Michael B (mail):
5.29.2007 5:55pm
ed o:
have we have the obligatory "christianity is just as bad as islam argument" based on those christers petitioning school boards to teach creationism yet?
5.29.2007 6:09pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
Everybody does it.

Mafia: "Nice place you've got here. Be a shame if anything happened to it".

Black leaders: "The jury better convict/acquit, or I'm afraid there will be riots."
5.29.2007 6:24pm
CJColucci:
There have been a spate of books/films exploring the idea of Jesus and Mary Magdalene having married and born a line of offspring. Ironic, isn't it, that one doesn't hear threats from Christians that such an idea could trigger a violent repercussion.

I think we're all pretty much agreed that Ms. Roude is wrong and free societies ought — politely, to be sure — to tell her what she can do to herself. But if we want to score cheap points, it is risky to rely on what one happens not to have heard about. There are crazies enough of all denominations to go around.
5.29.2007 6:34pm
ed o:
yep, but somehow the most homicidal of the crazies seem to congregate within one particular denomination-is it a cheap point to mention that simple fact?
5.29.2007 6:59pm
CJColucci:
yep, but somehow the most homicidal of the crazies seem to congregate within one particular denomination-is it a cheap point to mention that simple fact?

Yes.
5.29.2007 7:54pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
CJ.

Why? What's your definition of "cheap"? Seen the adherents of any other religion threatening death lately?
5.29.2007 7:57pm
neurodoc:
CJColucci accepts the contention that "the most homicidal of the crazies seem to congregate within one particular denomination (sic)," that being Islam, but he/she sees it as "a cheap point to mention that simple fact." So what is there to argue about? "Cheap" can mean "easy" (e.g., a "cheap" goal was scored because the goalie tripped and couldn't stop the attempt) and that works here.
5.29.2007 8:33pm
k parker (mail):
Martinned,

That cleared up nothing. The Turkish Army is, indeed, an institution in favor of freedom, as the results from its occasional interventions clearly show. You write as if the alternative were New England-style town-meeting democracy, when in actuality it would be some kind of more-or-less Islamist state.
5.29.2007 9:20pm
whit:
" There are crazies enough of all denominations to go around."

wow. talk about moral (and nonfactual) equivalence.

christians and jews have 'accepted' bashing and heresy of all sorts, from piss-christ, to last temptation of christ, etc. etc. in this country and others. where is the rioting, murdering, etc. in response to serrano, scorcese, etc.? sorry. it doesn't happen. even among hundreds of millions of christians and jews.

there are over 200 million christians in this country alone. how many of these "crazies" have killed, raped, murdered, rioted etc. over slights/criticisms/blaspheming incidents?

compare and contrast.

for pete's sake. the NYT etc. wouldn't even publish the fabled mohammed cartoons because they (rightly) suspected that there would be VIOLENT retribution for doing so.

i am 100% confident that you could walk around in downtown seattle (for instance) with a shirt that says "jesus was really the devil" (or some such) and at worse you might get some nasty looks, some arguments, etc.

i double dog dare you to try that with an anti-mohammed t-shirt in any majority muslim area.
5.29.2007 9:44pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I wasn't waiting for the tu quoque so much as for the moderate Muslims (not here, necessarily) to denounce Roude.
5.29.2007 9:46pm
Maureen001 (mail):
I'd say that the Jewish and Christians seem to have worked through all this nonsense a while back. Make no mistake, folks of both faiths have been just as intolerant in their relative pasts. But for some reason, the more outspoken followers of Islam are stuck in their primitively violent past, and hypersensitive, to boot. Not a good combination, I'd say.
5.29.2007 10:33pm
cac (mail):
Seeing as no Australian reader seems to have directly answered Eugene's question, the short answer is no, there are no restrictions on anti christian speech in Australia.

Australia does (in my view) err too much on the side of restricting free speech. For instance, the notorious holocaust denier Irving has been denied entry and saying even mildly derogatory things about Aborigines can carry substantial civil penalties, but these restrictions do not apply to being rude about Christians.

Potentially they might, given that there are laws in some states about religious vilification. But predictably enough these have been used by other religions against Christians being derogatory about Islam and I suspect any attempt by Christians to make similaruse of the laws would be knocked out. There is an analogous situation with racial vilification laws where the mildly derogatory term "pom" used to describe the English is not considered vilification while "abo", "leb" etc are.

While the double standard does irritate me, on the whole I'm happier to be part of a culture that is sufficiently mature to be expected to take such comment as part of living in a civilised society.
5.29.2007 11:12pm
whit:
maureen, i agree. one explanation i think makes sense is that christianity and judaism have gone through a reformation that islam has not. heck, even buddhism (which has major hippiegranolapeacenik cred in the USA) has a fair amount of violence in its history,

islam needs to go through a reformation.
5.29.2007 11:16pm
SmokeandAshes (mail):
Whit - I agree that islam requires a reformation but I am afraid that their doctrine cannot have one. They believe that the Koran was delivered to Mohammad by Allah himself so that any interpretation is considered blasphamous. This is the reason that madrassah's teach the koran in arabic by rote with no room for interpretation of the meaning behind the words. I admit I have no idea how a reformation could happen but I am afraid that only a bloody and prolonged conflict could do it and I don't know if the west would (except for a nuclear bomb on our or Europe's shore) be willing to go to facilitate that reformation.
5.29.2007 11:46pm
abb1 (mail):
...the double standard does irritate me...

This is not a double standard, but simply a recognition of the fact that the dominant group can't be a victim. Suck it up, fella. And if you want to be a victim, move somewhere where you'll be a part of persecuted minority and enjoy.

And it's the same with violence: marginalized minority (constantly insulted and bullied by people like you, fellas) is much more likely to respond with sporadic violence than the dominant group. That's just how it is, the laws of nature.
5.30.2007 3:23am
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

Just to clarify: As I noted, the role of the Turkish military in upholding or stopping, depending on one's point of view, the development of Turkish democracy is immensely complicated, and I don't have any clear point of view on it. On the one hand, having the army periodically unseat democratically elected governments is hardly a desireable situation, but on the other hand it would harly be desireable or democratic to have the country degrade into islamic theocracy. Similarly there are many other countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi-Arabia, that are extremely unfree, but where very few people would recommend having free and fair elections any time soon. (Incidentally, as a guest pointed out on the Jon Stewart show recently, the country in the Middle-East that is most fundamentally democratic, in the sense that it does not only have fair and relatively free elections, but also free media and NGOs is Iran. Literally the only blemish on their democratic track record is the significant power of the council of watchers.)

Because of the complexity of the problem, it is not at all clear which opinion on the issue counts as defending "freedom", hence my remark. If nothing else, Hirsi Ali's stated opinion went against what is politically correct, just like many of her opinions in the past. I certainly did not mean to go on record as saying she was necessarily wrong.
5.30.2007 6:14am
whackjobbbb:
martinned,

Hmmmm, so you and John Stewart's guest think Iran is the most "fundamentally democratic" nation in the ME? Really?

Guess Israel don't count, eh? Afterall, it's not a nation, it's a "zionist entity", and your good democrats in Iran only want to do the right thing and obliterate it.
5.30.2007 11:13am
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

My bad. I didn't think about Israel. Obviously, I should have said "islamic country in the middle east". If Turkey is in the Middle East, it is clearly more democratic than Iran. But the point was a) that bringing democracy to countries as of yet unaccustomed to it isn't that easy and b) that some places where the Bushies would like to bring democracy are already quite democratic. (Although the recent "referendum" in Syria was obviously a total hoax, just like similar "referenda" that are periodically held in Egypt.)

AFAIK, Jordan is reasonably democratic, although the King controls the executive. Saudi-Arabia and Kuwait are hereditary monarchies with very little in the way of public involvement in the running of their country.

Tricky issue. (Incidentally, I am aware that I/we have digressed somewhat from the original topic.)
5.30.2007 12:02pm
whit:
"This is not a double standard, but simply a recognition of the fact that the dominant group can't be a victim. "

rubbish. this reminds me of the leftist canard that whites cannot be victims of racism, or blacks can't be racists because the former has "power" and the latter doesn't.

it is a double standard, and it is illogical and frankly demeaning.
5.30.2007 12:08pm
SG:
"And it's the same with violence: marginalized minority (constantly insulted and bullied by people like you, fellas) is much more likely to respond with sporadic violence than the dominant group. That's just how it is, the laws of nature."

That's completely absurd. While what you say is (largely) true today in civilized parts of the world, the rest of the world, and almost all of history would vehemently disagree. Pogroms don't occur against majority Jewish populations, Africans weren't kept as plantation slaves because they were the majority, etc. Look at history, majorities are far more likely to abuse minorities because they are the majority. Minorities get victimized because, lacking numbers, they are weaker than the majority. That is the law of nature. You know, nature, red in tooth and claw?

The fact that you confuse the highly eveolved way that Western culture operates today with the "laws of nature" is really quite frightening. Civilization is decidednly not a law of nature and it's unclear how much stress if can take before it unravels. Nada Roude's threat strikes at one of the underpinnings of our civil society; the right to speak out without the fear of retaliatory violence. If that becomes an accepted way to respond to ideas you disapprove of, it won't be the majority that suffers most under that standard.
5.30.2007 12:49pm
abb1 (mail):
it is a double standard, and it is illogical and frankly demeaning

Certainly every bully always like to feel victimized, but it doesn't make it so. A dominant group can not be a victim, that's not only logical, it's quite obvious.


SG,
I said "sporadic violence"; spontaneous outbursts of violence, like school and postal shootings in the US. People who feel bullied will commit such acts, that's a natural law.
5.30.2007 2:05pm
whit:
"Certainly every bully always like to feel victimized, but it doesn't make it so. A dominant group can not be a victim, that's not only logical, it's quite obvious. "

it is neither logical nor obvious. and dominant group =/= bully.

christians are the dominant/majority religion in the US. doesn't mean they are bullies.

furthermore, groups are made of individuals.

your viewpoint is illogical, demeaning, and just plain silly imo.
5.30.2007 2:10pm
abb1 (mail):
Of course Christians are not bullies, all I'm saying is that they as a group can not be bullied, they control everything. They can easily dismiss (and most of them do) petty insults. A minority is in a different situation, different psychology.
5.30.2007 2:29pm
SG:
"A dominant group can not be a victim"

So explain to me: were the 3000 people killed on 9/11 not from the dominant group or were they not victims? How about the Spaniards in Madrid train bombing? Or the British on 7/7? Or the school children in Beslan? In all of these cases, there seemingly were victims (in my mind the bodies make it unambiguous) and they were in the dominant group.

Perhaps you'd care to revise your assertion?
5.30.2007 2:33pm
whit:
"Of course Christians are not bullies, all I'm saying is that they as a group can not be bullied, they control everything. They can easily dismiss (and most of them do) petty insults. A minority is in a different situation, different psychology."

the idea that they control everything is absurd, but i see you are steeped in this leftist groupthink that only groups/people who are members of groups that are not dominant, can be victims.
5.30.2007 2:35pm
Falafalafocus (mail):
[sarcasm] I thought that the jews controlled the media. That goes along with the other conspiracies found in the Protocols. I believe that the democratic leader of Iran can shed some light on the subject.

Obviously, the jewish minority are a bunch of bullies then. Law of nature. [/sarcasm]

As to Roude, well free nations seem to harbor a disturbing number of freeriding people who want the benefits but none of the responsibility that goes along with "freedom".
5.30.2007 5:15pm
Maureen001 (mail):
It is only in a true democracy (read: majority rule) that a minority is without power. In a republic, the rights of the minority are protected.

That's why the Founding Dads went for the republic thing and not the democracy thing.
5.30.2007 6:41pm
abb1 (mail):
9/11 is, to a degree, an example of spontaneous violence I was talking about. According to wikipedia:

His [Mohamed Atta's] German friends describe him as an intelligent man with religious beliefs who grew angry over the Western policy toward the Middle East, including the Oslo Accords and the Gulf War. MSNBC in its special "The Making of the Death Pilots" interviewed German friend Ralph Bodenstein who traveled, worked and talked a lot with Mohamed Atta. Bodenstein said, "He was most imbued [sic] actually about Israeli politics in the region and about U.S. protection of these Israeli politics in the region. And he was to a degree personally suffering from that."




In a republic, the rights of the minority are protected.

No, a republic is nothing but representative democracy. It may or may not protect rights of minorities and to various degrees.

In the US, for example, ethnic Japanese were sent to concentration camps in the 40s. Thousands of Muslims were arbitrarily arrested and thrown to jails in 2001.

Yet, of course, one can't imagine Christian European-Americans rounded up behind barbed wire just for being Christian European-Americans, because it's the dominant group.

So, is it really surprising that the minorities feel a bit differently when their religion is being demonized? Not at all.
5.31.2007 5:30am
abb1 (mail):
Not to mention that the "Founding Dads'" republic practiced slavery for a long time and Jim Crow laws for a long time afterwards - how's that for protecting the rights of the minority? A little reflection and humility wouldn't hurt you, guys, here.
5.31.2007 6:40am