And this crisis's medal for extraordinary bravery goes to....
This week's medal for extraordinary bravery goes to the following individuals:
Salman Rushdie - Indian-born British writer with fatwa issued ordering his execution for The Satanic Verses Ayaan Hirsi Ali - Somali-born Dutch MP Taslima Nasreen - exiled Bangladeshi writer, with fatwa issued ordering her execution Bernard-Henri Levy - French philosopher Chahla Chafiq - Iranian writer exiled in France Caroline Fourest - French writer Irshad Manji - Ugandan refugee and writer living in Canada Mehdi Mozaffari - Iranian academic exiled in Denmark Maryam Namazie - Iranian writer living in Britain Antoine Sfeir - director of French review examining Middle East Ibn Warraq - US academic of Indian/Pakistani origin Philippe Val - director of Charlie HebdoWhat did they do? They signed a letter, published in France, warning the world about Islamic totalitarianism. In light of Theo Van Gogh, in light of the cartoon riots, in light of the myriad beheadings and bombings around the world, in light of the cowardice the American press displayed, this is an extraordinary act of bravery, and should be lauded as such. Here's what the letter says:
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global totalitarian threat: Islamism. We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all. Recent events, prompted by the publication of drawings of Muhammad 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 between West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats. Like all totalitarian ideologies, Islamism is nurtured by fear and frustration. Preachers of hatred play on these feelings to build the forces with which they can impose a world where liberty is crushed and inequality reigns. But we say this, loud and clear: nothing, not even despair, justifies choosing darkness, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology that kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its victory can only lead to a world of injustice and domination: men over women, fundamentalists over others. On the contrary, we must ensure access to universal rights for the oppressed or those discriminated against. We reject the "cultural relativism" which implies an acceptance that men and women of Muslim culture are deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secularism in the name of the respect for certain cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", a wretched concept that confuses criticism of Islam as a religion and stigmatisation of those who believe in it. We defend the universality of the freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit can exist in every continent, towards each and every maltreatment and dogma. We appeal to democrats and free spirits in every country that our century may be one of light and not dark. Signed by: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Chahla Chafiq Caroline Fourest Bernard-Henri Levy Irshad Manji Mehdi Mozaffari Maryam Namazie Taslima Nasreen Salman Rushdie Antoine Sfeir Philippe Val Ibn WarraqWow! I take my hat off to these brave people and hope that the weight of their names helps their message travel widely. You can do your bit, if you have a blog, by linking to this story at your blog and making sure this letter is read far and wide.