March 01, 2006

MANIFESTO: Together facing the new totalitarianism

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global 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.

The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed 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 of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.

We reject « cultural relativism », which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.

We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.

12 signatures

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Chahla Chafiq
Caroline Fourest
Bernard-Henri Lévy
Irshad Manji
Mehdi Mozaffari
Maryam Namazie
Taslima Nasreen
Salman Rushdie
Antoine Sfeir
Philippe Val
Ibn Warraq

Published in Jyllands Posten 28th of february 2006.


Blogger tomdg said...

Very interesting article. I think there's a growing backlash against Islam, and in particular against the demands of some muslims that everyone must live according to their rules and laws. Trevor Phillips of the Commission for Racial Equality made a good comment on the subject recently, too.

I was half tempted myself to try to create an anti-protest during the recent protests, something like "don't let Islamic extremists censor the BBC". Just as well I didn't, I'd probably have been arrested for breach of the peace.

It's nice to see that people are starting to realize that relativism is stupid and dangerous (as well as intellectually lazy). As a Christian I don't agree with "secular values for all", but at least they are seeking "promotion" rather than enforcement of these ideals. They're entitled to that; like them I don't think I can enforce my (Christian) views on anyone but I would want everyone to choose them for themselves. Just so long as we don't get to a situation where I'm not allowed to try to persuade others to my point of view, that then becomes a new form of "totalitarianism and obscurantism".

The mention of democrats is also strange. Democracy is inherently relativistic: "Islamism" is no more acceptable when its adherents form a democratic majority. It could be argued that the ideal of freedom of speech is also relativistic.

But I admire the honesty of the article. I too think that Islam is bad and should be defeated, and that this cannot be done by arms. I too reject cultural relativism. These are interesting times, and make strange allies. Just like the atheists and Christians and Muslims who joined forces to campaign against the incitement to religeous hatred bill.

2:47 pm  

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