One of the most important human rights is the freedom of expression. Not just because this is vital to human creativity. But because it is the only way we have of protecting our other rights – by identifying and exposing violations of human rights.
It is no accident that freedom of expression is one of the first things restricted by oppressive regimes – and even democratic governments when their leaders are criticised.
This is why the current clamour to limit the freedom of expression in the interests of “religious tolerance,” “multiculturalism” and “respect” is so insidious.
It’s not a matter of balancing the creative and artistic rights of Danish cartoonists, authors like Salmon Rushdie or Dutch film makers against the need for religious tolerance and respect. It’s a matter of sacrificing the human rights of women, gays and the non-religious which are regularly violated in the name of religion.
Requiring us to ignore persecution of fellow humans so that we don’t offend somebody’s religious feelings.
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, Christianity, human rights, interfaith, Islam, religion
Tagged Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Fitna, Geert Wilders, Salmon Rushdie, Submission, Theo Van Gogh
It looks like Ayaan Hirsi Ali will get national police protection anywhere in the European Union (see Writer to get EU protection). According to this Guardian report “Franco Frattini, the European commissioner for justice and home affairs, told the Guardian that Hirsi Ali and any other persons facing threats to their lives because of their opinions or writings, would be guaranteed protection wherever they went in Europe and that the host country would bear the expense.”
Other sources are suggesting that agreement on this is not yet complete and (“British sources said a pan-European deal could not be “that simple” since there were cost and legal implications to authorising such special police measures”). However, it does look like a decision has been made in Hirsi Ali’s case. This is very welcome news for many of us who have been concerned for her safety ever since the Dutch government withdrew funding for her protection while she was in the US.
Hirsi Ali, whose life was threated after she made a film, Submission, attacking Islamic treatment of women. Her colleague, Theo Van Gogh, who directed the film was murdered on an Amsterdam street in 2004.
This decision has wider significance than Hirsi Ali. There are a number of other people in Europe in her position – under threat of death because of their criticisms of Islam
I agree with Ron Brown’s comment on this:
“Today is a big day for free speech and humanity. The EU’s promised protection of Ali sends a strong message: that we will stand together and protect each other and our right to speak freely.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is author of the books Infidel and The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam.
From faith to reason
Limits to respect and toleration
The Trouble with Islam
Ayaan Hirsi Ali described her journey from faith the reason at the recent AAI Convention. The video (see below) of her talk is well worth watching. Hirsi Ali is a Somalian who claimed political asylum in The Netherlands to avoid an arranged marriage. Her work with refugees and public comments on the violence against of women in the Dutch Muslim community (as well as the eventual rejection of her religion) led to death threats. With film-maker Theo Van Gogh she produced a short film Submission describing the plight of women under Islam. In November 2004 van Gogh was murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri, an Islamic extremist. A note, attached to van Gogh’s body with a knife, contained a further threat to Hirsi Ali’s life. The Dutch government took her in to hiding, moved her to the US and provided body guards for her protection. Early this month Ayaan Hirsi Ali returned to the Netherlands, where she remains in hiding, because the Dutch government is no longer prepared to finance her protection in a foreign country.
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, book review, diversity, faith, god, Islam, religion, supernatural, superstition, terrorism
Tagged Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Holland, International Atheist Alliance, Mohammed Bouyeri, National Statement on Religious Diversity, Somalia, Theo Van Gogh