Rushdie – Hebdo – Amini: European liberals and leftists have to raise their voices

Photo credits: AFP

Whether after the assassination of Samuel Paty, the assassination attempt on Salman Rushdie or the death of Mahsa Amini, the young Iranian who lost her life because she wore her headscarf “un-Islamically”: The fear of providing fuel for the right-wing, the Left in Europe, but also in the US, is ignoring extremist tendencies of Islamic movements. The “Islamophobia” accusation is intended to silence critics.

A few weeks ago, the 22-year-old Iranian Mahsa Amini was arrested by the state „Moral Police“ because she wore her headscarf “un-Islamically” in a Tehran subway. For them, she had broken the strict dress code. A refusal to obey – also a small piece of self-determination. First her freedom was taken from her, then her life.

She was killed because the ruling oligarchy and the mullahs hate nothing more than self-determined women. Just a few weeks ago, Iranian President Raisi issued a new order “to promote morality, for the hijab and chastity“, restricting women’s clothing in public spaces even more than before. Since then, more and more women have reported being forced into vans by morality guards, taken to morality guardian centers, where they are insulted and beaten.

Many parts of the Western Leftists stayed silenced, they practice political lethargy. No unequivocal condemnation of the Islamist delusion, no condemnation of the regime and its inhumane reality. Once again – and not for the first time.

Flashback: On October 16, 2020, 47-year-old teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in the street near his school in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. The act was barbaric. Paty’s “crime”: In his lesson on freedom of expression, he had shown cartoons of Muhammad from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and wanted to teach critical thinking, not belief.

The murder caused horror. FrenchPresident Macron then held a plea for freedom of expression at a funeral service and defended the caricatures and texts critical of religion. He received a lot of criticism for this, especially in the Islamic world. The Sunni legal institute Al Azhar in Cairo condemned Macron’s statements as “racist and likely to inflame the feelings of two billion Muslims around the world”. Shortly thereafter, protests broke out in Muslim countries and calls for a boycott of France. Meanwhile, Macron received hardly any support from Europe, not even from Germany, not from Austria! No clear words from politics, no major newspaper reprinted the caricatures, there were only a few solidarity demonstrations across Europe and the West. The voices remained in general rhetorics, condemning “terror wherever it comes from“, but nobody wanted to talk about religious madness.

Then Nice, then Vienna: Allah’s bewildered ground troops continued their murderous rampage. It is the gory framing of a process that has been going on for a number of years: intimidating the mind, fighting the right to freedom of expression, including the right to ridicule. Large parts of the left-wing political milieu are happy to claim that the murderous terror “has nothing to do with Islam”. Those who brand Islam as a doctrinaire and misogynistic ideology are quickly suspected of racism. The term Islamophobia is made a defensive battle term against any criticism of Islam.

Already after the assassination attempt on the Charlie Hebdo editorial office on January 7, 2015, when two masked perpetrators broke into the Paris editorial offices of the satirical magazine and brutally murdered eleven people (including a police officer assigned to personal security and another police officer on the run), there were numerous French left-wing intellectuals who bemoaned the “irresponsibility” of the satirical magazine. They ultimately blamed Charlie Hebdo for the bloodbath because drawings in the newspaper were repeatedly Islamophobic. What was on the cover?

A bearded man in a turban holds his head between his hands. He is crying or very angry, the speech bubble says: “It’s hard when you love an idiot.” So the Prophet complains about the attitude of his fanatical followers. In an enlightened, free society, this is called political caricature.

All religions agree on the invocation of “respect for religious beliefs”, and meanwhile not only them. Whereas in the past only ultra-religious and conservative circles insisted on unconditional observance of “freedom of conscience and religion”, they also pretend to be so progressive, anti-racist movements for restricting or abolishing freedom of expression.

The alliance between religious representatives and progressive thinkers says a lot about the intellectual dogmatic kinship. All of these skeptics state that secularism is worthy of respect as long as it accepts all religious beliefs. Laicism has always protected believers, but never a single religion.

While criticism of the churches and Christianity – including crude jokes about the pope and clergy – is considered legitimate, criticism of Islam is silenced with accusations of Islamophobia. The fact is that when it comes to political Islam, a large section of the left has so far been fatally speechless. Its silence is ignorant and shameful.

And it’s being exploited. It enables the fundamentalists on the one hand and officials of the Muslim associations on the other to occupy the public discourse and the collective consciousness. For example when they go out into the street. Not against the terror of insane fellow believers or for freedom of opinion and religion, much less out of solidarity with the victims and their families. Their demonstrative defense mechanism: “It’s not our fault, we don’t have to justify ourselves.”

Of course, there were – even if that was more than three decades ago – individual signs of left-wing solidarity against Islamism. Around 1989, when Salman Rushdie’s „Satanic Verses“ was published and the Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the writer to be killed for blasphemy.Since then, Rushdie has always been at risk, and he knew it. The Iranian mullah regime openly wanted and wants to have the British-Indian writer killed – for 34 years. This death sentence is justified by the fact that Rushdie’s book is still “against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran”.

Nevertheless, the writer has appeared in public in recent years, has written more books and given lectures. Since the turn of the millennium he has lived mostly in New York City, where a few weeks ago, shortly before the start of a public event about the US as a “place of asylum for authors and other artists and a home of freedom of speech”, he was attacked by a 24-year-old Islamist fanatic with a knife and seriously injured. Rushdie survived.

By insulting the “holy cause of Islam,” crossing red lines for more than 1.5 billion Muslims, Rushdie “exposed himself to popular anger,” says an Iranian government spokesman. No one has the right to blame the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kanaani said. An infamous, absurd assignment of blame. And Islam experts once again think they have to warn against criticizing Islam in general. They see the assassin, once again, as a confused loner. A comfortable denial of reality.

For Hamed Abdel-Samad, an Egyptian-German political scientist and author of books critical of Islam, this is pure hypocrisy. In an interview with a German newspaper, he vents his anger: “It makes me angry when it is said in the West that Islamist assassins are just isolated crackpots and that one shouldn’t hurt religious feelings either. That’s not tolerance, it’s hypocrisy – it creates retreats for authoritarian subcultures. Western politicians and intellectuals failed Rushdie because they didn’t stand for freedom of speech.”

Whether left-wing, liberal or conservative: everyone must raise the voice, because it is their proclaimed values that are trampled on and blown up with explosive devices in every Islamist terrorist attack without exception. It is about the fight against terror and religious arrogance – about defending the worldliness of our democratic constitutional state and against religious madness.

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