Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ban a Book for Freedom!

According to an article written in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten (hello, old friend!), a German vigilante citizens' group is attempting to ban the Qur'an—in the name of freedom and Western values.

An indictment has been prepared in five German states, "charging that the holy book of the incompatible with the German constitution." What's the problem with the Qur'an?
The Quran says that it is the words of Allah. According to the views of several, including leading, Moslems in Germany, it is literally and absolutely true at all time and in all places, the indictment says.
That's weird. The U.S. is run by a man who, as a fundamentalist Christian, believes the same thing about the Bible. But that's ok, because it's Christian, and no Christian has ever stood in the way of freedom or liberty. Plus, there aren't any rational Germans who would believe such nonsense. Not, say, the current Pope...
The indictment is against the 200 verses of 114 suras (chapters) of the Quran that are not compatible with the constitution, including demagoguery, incitement to murder, murder and mutilation, war, acceptance of thievery against infidels, meaning all non-Moslems. Verses are also pointed out where the equal rights of men and women are not upheld and where people of different faiths are oppressed.
It's been a while since my Sunday school days, but I seem to remember something in the Bible about smiting, there's certainly a bit about stoning homosexuals, and it might have a thing or two to say on the equality of women, too. Oh, here's one: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church" (I Corinthians 14:34-35). You go, Paul! Tell it like it is!

Now, where was I? Oh, right, the Qur'an is an evil book full of violence and hate and should therefore be banned. It's also been a while since my last world history class, but I think the Germans have been down this path before. I can't remember how that turned out...

According to Jutta Starke, author of the Hamburg indictment against the Qur'an, "it is a task of Sisyphean dimensions to inform the media, politicians and churches of the true intentions of Islam in the enlightened world of the West." It's a shock that her fingertips don't burn whenever she tries to type the word "enlightened" on her keyboard. As if Islam has a "true intention." Islam, like any other religion, has many different followers with many different agendas. To try to paint all Muslims as equivalent to the worst among them is pure demagoguery. Hey, maybe her indictment should be banned!

The driving force behind the attempt to ban the Qur'an in Germany is a group called Bundesverband der Bürgerbewegungen (Federal Association of the Citizen Movements, in English), that we'll call BDB for short. By their own account, the BDB "is a union of citizen movements, which are engaged in preserving liberal-democratic principles and against the formation of islamistic [sic] enclaves in Europe." I can't remember when banning books became part of the "liberal-democratic" tradition, but it's been a while since my last "bullshitting away liberal values" class, too.

On their website, one can find a grotesque political "analysis" of Islam, and a link to their info page where the set out the values that they're fighting for and complain about the fact that they are being overrun by Muslims who breed too much.
Home region (Heimat) means recognition, preservation and respect for our culture, language and circumstances in life. The development of islamic-dominated communities within a democratic country is undermining democratic principles and is preventing integration. The BDB is making an effort for the conversation and the protection of our home. Diversity of the regions with its different cultural characteristics is a responsibility for us. We are not alone with this agenda in Europe.
So, the BDB wants to maintain the diversity of Germany's regions, which means limiting the influence of Muslims who, being so different, take away from Germany's diversity. Follow that logic?

Amongst the proposals of the BDB is a new standard for immigration. In addition to a language test and proof that a prospective immigrant has "unlimited willingness for integration," the BDB proposes the following:
—Cultural differences are resulting in borders and have to be considered, which means further immigration from the islamic countries should be limited

—Renuncation [sic] of islamic power symbols of muslims living in germany

—Prohibitation [sic] of clubs and unities hostile towards integration
Remember, this is to be done in defense of freedom and liberty. It also assumes that all problems with integrating Muslims into German society are caused by the Muslims themselves, apportioning no blame to a German population that treats Muslims like second-class citizens (if they’re lucky).

They affirm that religion and politics must be kept separate, but seem oblivious to the fact that an attempt to use the laws to prevent Muslims from practicing their religion flies entirely in the face of free expression. There shouldn't be an established state religion, but the government ought not prevent the free expression of religion either. Banning the Qur’an would kind of do that. Freedom is a two-way street, but these Germans want it to be one-way, and hell, the Muslims can be speed bumps, for all they care.

The total lack of awareness that what they're doing is absolutely antithetical to notions of freedom and liberty, from the BDB to the sycophantic Jyllands-Posten write up, is proof that these people are not concerned with universal liberty. When they get behind efforts to ban the Qur'an, it becomes clear that their purpose is not to defend freedom, but to keep Europe for the Europeans. Dressing their bigotry up in the garments of the enlightenment is a grievous insult to the defenders of liberty wherever they may be found.
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