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Of heroes, villains and madmen

March 4, 2006

There are some things to admire, and others to dispute, in this thoughtful speech by Douglas Murray, delivered to the Pym Fortuyn Memorial Conference on Europe and Islam at The Hague in February this year.

For example, I dispute his call for the cessation of Muslim immigration into Europe. My view is that Europe was unwise, if misguidedly generous, to admit so many from among the poorest and least-educated populations of Northern Africa — such people having but scant chance of acculturating into a Europe so vastly politically and culturally to anything they had hitherto been aware of or exposed to. That such people were also Muslims was coincident. It was not their religion that rendered them hostile to European values, but their culture. Some may think this naive; but I made the best case I could here, at catallaxy, in the context of the racially-tinged riots at Cronulla, Sydney, a few months ago.

But I do agree with Murray that the time has come — perhaps it arrived long since — when we must shed the moral relativism that has become such a common feature of western liberal commentary on the relations between their own culture and that of Islam. If the west is to be able to defend itself against the danger posed to its existence, both cultural and political, by Islamic extremists, it must regain the simple, age-old moral understanding of right and wrong — and, even, resurrect the tired old categories of heroes and villains.

In that specific context, here are my offerings.
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Three heroes:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, under sentence of death in The Netherlands.

I felt stunned. Only now has it become clear to me how real and deadly the threat is. But I also understood that this fatwa isn’t just directed at me, but against Holland, against the entire Western world. We are all targets. In the eyes of radical Muslims, any country in which Muslims can be criticised openly is an enemy of Islam…..[Salman Rushdie] encouraged me, implored me, to remain strong.

Interview in Der Spiegel.


Nadia Anjuman
, who kept poetry alive in Afghanistan during the black days of the Taleban, beaten to death, apparently by her husband, for writing such words as these:

I am caged in this corner
full of melancholy and sorrow…
my wings are closed and I cannot fly
I am an Afghan woman and so must wail

More here.

Mukhtar Mai, ritually raped in Pakistan.

Of course, it hurts. You can understand that too, being a woman, the kind of hurt that woman must feel after going through such a violation. But I have to live. When it hurts really bad, I just go to my school, look at the firls and spend time with them to help forget the pain. But I will go on until I have even the slightest hope of justice. […] If I left…the perpetrators will think that Mukhtar gave up and left after everything that happened to her, that if they do that to a woman, the woman will leave, and they will get away with the crime.

More here.

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Two villains:

Mohammed Bouyeri, murderer of Theo van Gogh.

To the judges at his trial, this self-doomed child said:

I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion. I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do the same, exactly the same.

And to Van Gogh’s mother the killer, morally still-born, said:

I don’t feel your pain. I have to admit that I don’t have any sympathy for you. I can’t feel for you because you’re a non-believer.

More at Wikipedia.

Ahmad Abu Laban, the Danish imam who lead the delegation of Islamists to the Middle East to foment anti-Danish feeling over the Mohammed cartoons. They took the cartoons with them, together with three fakes, either drawn, acquired or commissioned by the imams themselves. Laban’s disingenuous self-justification was:

We want to internationalise this issue so the Danish government would realise that the cartoons were not only insulting to Muslims in Denmark but also Muslims worldwide. It was decided to take such a step because it is wrong to turn a blind eye to the fact that some European countries discriminate against Muslims on the grounds that they are not democratic and that they do not understand western culture.

Interview in Islam Online.

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And one man possessed:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of nuclear-aspirant Iran.

Our dear Imam ordered that the occupying regime in Al-Qods [Israel] be wiped off the face of the earth. This was a very wise statement. The issue of Palestine is not one on which we could make a piecemeal compromise… This would mean our defeat. Anyone who would recognize this state [Israel] has put his signature under the defeat of the Islamic world.

Transcript here.

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