In an editorial today entitled “Under Siege,” the New York Times laments the recent violence committed by radical Islamists against Christians in Egypt and Iraq. Yesterday, the Times ran an editorial entitled “A Brave Man Killed,” in which it lamented the assassination of Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province who had called for the repeal of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law. This law, popular with Pakistan’s Muslim majority, imposes a mandatory death sentence on anyone convicted of insulting Islam.
Under the anti-blasphemy law, a Christian mother of four was sentenced to death.
The Times recognizes these symptoms of a virulent disease but is incapable or unwilling to connect the dots in order to decipher its cause or scope – global Islamic fundamentalism.
Pakistan is imploding because of the rising influence of radical Muslims inside and outside the government. As reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute, on January 4, 2011, just a few hours after the assassination of Salman Taseer, more than 500 Pakistani religious scholars and clerics issued a statement lauding the assassin, who was Taseer’s bodyguard. They praised the assassin for keeping alive a “tradition of 1,400 years in Islam” which requires the killing of anyone committing an act of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.
The two most powerful Muslim countries today – Saudi Arabia and Iran – are Islamic fundamentalist regimes intolerant of any religions other than Islam.
We saw what happened when the fundamentalist Taliban ran Afghanistan.
Christians in Sudan and Nigeria have suffered violence and persecution at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. The Sudanese are trying to solve this problem by holding a secession referendum to split off the more non-Muslim southern portion of Sudan from the Muslim majority north. Not so fast, says the spiritual leader of the radical global Muslim Brotherhood. This leading Sunni scholar, Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, has warned that it is prohibited for a Muslim to vote for the secession of South Sudan. Does anyone really believe that the violence will end if the secession is approved?
Even supposedly moderate Muslim regimes are infected by the Islamic fundamentalist disease. Turkey, for example, opposed the appointment of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to the post of Secretary-General of NATO because of his unwillingness to apologize for the cartoons of Mohammad that had appeared in the Danish press and sparked riots and violence throughout the Muslim world.
Ruled by an Islamic party, Turkey is beginning to turn away from the principles laid down by the founder of the modern day secular Turkish state, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He believed that Islamic religious law must be separated from secular law.
We must liberate our concepts of justice, our laws and our legal institutions from the bonds which, even though they are incompatible with the needs of our century, still hold a tight grip on us.
We are witnessing a worldwide attempt by Islamic fundamentalists to fuse mosque and state together and to establish the absolute supremacy of Islam where they rule. They will use whatever means is most effective in the circumstances to accomplish their objective, whether it be via terrorism or via stealth infiltration and manipulation of existing institutions.
I have argued in my book Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations and Radical Islam that radical Muslims are using the United Nations to accomplish the same thing through their contamination of international law with sharia (Islamic law) principles. The fifty-six member state Organization of Islamic Conference – which wields enormous influence at the United Nations – has been relentless in pursuing a binding international treaty in the UN General Assembly that would forbid insult to or mockery of religion and its accompanying practices, symbols, artifacts, and figures. It has managed so far to push annual resolutions through the United Nations Human Rights Council and the General Assembly declaring the “defamation of religions’ to be a violation of international law (Islam is the only religion specifically mentioned). The sponsor has often been Pakistan, a country with the law making blasphemy a capital offense.
The Times is incredibly naive in believing that the problem with such blasphemy laws is how its supporters “have shaped the debate” about them. Radical Islamists are relentless in making sure that there is no real debate at all. Anyone who wants to change the blasphemy laws in countries such as Pakistan, already cowering from Islamic fundamentalist violence, is marked for death.
In the West, where democracies value freedom of expression, the radical Islamists play on Western guilt by complaining about Islamophobia and religious discrimination. They play the race card. And they are succeeding in laying the groundwork for limitations on freedom of expression.
It is alarming, to say the least, that the Obama administration not only decided to join the Islamist-dominated UN Human Rights Council (which regularly produces free speech suppression resolutions), but co-sponsored its own resolution with Egypt. Although this resolution purports to protect freedom of expression, it feeds right into the radical Islamists’ agenda. It condemns “the promotion by certain media of false images and negative stereotypes” and calls for action against anything that smacks of “negative racial and religious stereotyping.”
President Obama delivered his June 2009 speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, hosted by Al-Azhar University and the University of Cairo. During his “Cairo speech,” proposing a new beginning in Islamic-U.S. relations, Obama praised Al-Azhar University as a “beacon of Islamic learning,” a place “that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.” However, as I describe in painstaking detail in Lethal Engagement, this “beacon of learning” expelled a professor and student – both devout Muslims. The university then turned them over to the Egyptian police for arrest for simply raising questions about Islamic fundamentalism and its consequences such as the persecution of Christians and mistreatment of women.
Islamic fundamentalism, as expressed through sharia law, contradicts the notion that all human beings are entitled to be treated with equal dignity and have inalienable rights. Sharia law separates believers from non-believers, sanctioning inferior status, if not outright death, for the latter. In this worldview, religious tolerance is a one-way street. Women in Islam are degraded to submissiveness under misogynist laws. Children are taught to hate. Critical thought that questions official Islamic doctrines is regarded as the crime of defamation of Islam, punishable by death.
Western democracies must recognize that we are facing a global threat from a supremacist political-religious ideology that is at complete odds with self-government, human reason and individual liberties. We must challenge the ideas and methods of radical Islamists at every turn, not make excuses for them, accommodate them or pretend that a serious threat to our freedoms does not exist.
Joseph Klein is the author of a recent book entitled Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations and Radical Islam.