Sunday, May 16, 2010

"We either have free speech or we do not."

Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who sparked controversy by drawing Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog, was physically attacked on Tuesday while giving a lecture at the university of Uppsala, north of the Stockholm.

“The man was sat in the first row and suddenly he rushed at me. He punched me in the head and I lost my glasses,” said Vilks, adding that at the very most he was “a little bruised”.

The Muslims who showed up to protest knew ahead of time what the lecture was going to be about. Why attend if you know that what is going to be shown will offend you? Because, they don’t want anyone insulting their imaginary friend. Nevermind that Vilks spent time making fun of other religions. That does not matter to the protesters, because they believe that Islam is the only “true beliefs” and if no one else protests so violently, well…that just proves to them that Christianity, Buddhism, and all other religions are untrue but Mohammad and Islam are true and according to extremist Muslims, the right to free speech does not apply to Islam.

I was a bit frustrated to see Swedish non-Muslims just sit there there doing nothing at all during the whole ordeal. No one stood up in defense of free speech. It’s like our friend Pat Condell says, people are afraid to stand up to Muslims because of the risk of violent retaliation. The actions against Vilks shows that the fear is not unjustified. Because of the violent threats by Muslim extremists (which are carried out all too often), groups and organizations choose to just back down and let them have their way.

For Mr. Vilks, who has booby-trapped his own house and says he sleeps with an ax beside his bed, the right to unfettered speech – regardless of whether it offends Muslims – is a point of principle. “This must be carried through. You cannot allow it to be stopped,” he told the Associated Press, saying he wouldn’t hesitate to give the address again.

But the university apparently disagrees. Officials said they would “not likely” invite Vilks again because of the incident. In some quarters, the university’s reponse is adding to concerns that violence and threats from some members of the Muslim community are effectively muzzling free speech.

Last month, Comedy Central edited a “South Park” episode showing Mohammed in a bear suit in response to veiled threats by a New York-based Muslim group.

Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art pulled a collection of art of Mohammed to avoid offending Muslims, who believe that the depiction of any of the prophets is a form of idolatry.

And Brandeis University professor Jytte Klausen says that Yale University Press prohibited her from using several 2005 Danish newspaper caricatures depicting Mohammed with a bomb on his head in her book “The Cartoons That Shook the World.”

“When it comes to depicting the Prophet, this has nothing to do with social issues or integration,” says Professor Klausen. “This is about a political movement by sectarian groups where [depicting Mohammed] has now become a primary trigger for political contention. The university pretty much told [Vilks] to shut up and go talk somewhere else, and I find that reaction very dangerous and problematic. It means that the extremists have achieved what they wanted.”

Here is the video of what happened after the attack on Vilks:


Anthony said...

If Christians burned down a mosque or attacked Muslims every time they made fun of Jesus I wonder what the media would then have to say?

Stardust said...

I am pretty sure that most Muslims consider Jesus to be a prophet who they respect. They don't recognize him as the Messiah, but they do think he should not be mocked either.

But I do see your point. If Christians behaved that way, what would the news media have to say? Why, they would say that they are not "True Christians" or they will blame it on atheism like they do much of the time when a church arson happens, etc.