Islam must be criticized 85

Muslims dread criticism of Islam, whether as mockery, reasoned argument, or distaste however expressed.

Some Muslims who spoke against the recent murder, by Muslims, of French satirists who mocked Muhammad, are – it appears, to no one’s surprise –  far more earnestly against free speech.

They spoke at a conference convened by a Muslim organization to examine ideas: Are there limits to freedom of speech? Is it immoral to mock a religion? Should it be made criminal to mock or in any way criticize a religion (especially Islam)?

Andrew Harrod writes at Front Page:

“Freedom of speech is not total,” proclaimed the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy’s (CSID) William Lawrence at its January 22 panel on the Muslim Response to Charlie Hebdo:  Understanding the Root Causes of Radicalization. Lawrence’s caveat disturbingly introduced false justifications for non-violently achieving the very sharia censorship sought by Charlie Hebdo’s jihadist murderers before a National Press Club audience of about fifty. …

Lawrence’s opening condemnation of the globally infamous January 7 Paris massacre as a “complete aberration” of “Islamic teachings” quickly gave way to criticism of the satire magazine’s victims. Their murders were “orgies of violence unleashed on . . . purveyors” of “bigoted provocations,” making Charlie Hebdo’s satire not just irreverent, but immoral in Lawrence’s estimation. “When did bigotry get so needy” that it sheltered behind free speech claims, Lawrence later asked while quoting an article criticizing cartoon racism, as if criticizing Islamic ideas equaled individual prejudice. Accordingly, Lawrence cited the legally discredited phrase from American Supreme Court history that “you can’t shout fire in a crowded theater,” a universal talking point of censors.

One’s race is not a choice. A race is not a set of ideas. A race cannot be “wrong”.

Ideas can be wrong. To determine how wrong an idea is, it obviously needs to be criticially examined.

Religious ideas are apodictic – established beyond all doubt –  to their believers. They brook no contradiction. Each religion believes it has the monopoly of “truth”, though none agrees with any other.

And in the name of this or that religious “truth”, uncountable millions have been persecuted, tormented, and killed.

Islamist and sharia apologist Dalia Mogahed [picked by Obama for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships – ed], continued Lawrence’s use of the Muslim “race” card implicitly blaming the Charlie Hebdo victims and focused on Europe’s “limits and boundaries of tolerance”. “Certain things will not be said” in the United States, “not because it’s illegal, but because it’s immoral,” she noted without defining Charlie Hebdo’s immorality.

It is immoral (though not necessarily always bad) to lie. It is immoral to make false accusation. It is immoral not to examine ideas. 

The lady goes on to confuse ideology with race:

Historic “offensive cartoons” of African-Americans make modern Americans “rightly cringe”.  Mogahed’s equivalence between racists and Charlie Hebdo entailed that the French should “hurry up and get enlightened” about satirists. Yet Mogahed bemoaned how many instead sought merely to “reassert our right to offend”.

If someone feels offended when reasonable fault is found with an idea of his, he has no one to blame but himself. If he cannot find cogent argument to support his contention, he stands corrected whether he likes it or not.

CSID President Radwan Masmoudi, like his fellow panelists, wrongly equated religious ideas with individuals as worthy of protection. He emphasized that “every freedom also has limits” and excluded a “right to transgress on others” during audience questioning.

Should freedom have limits? We say in our Articles of Reason: My liberty should be limited by nothing but everyone else’s liberty. 

 Masmoudi described a “big debate” over whether free speech includes a right to “insult others” or “religion”. …

Asked about speech restrictions in Muslim-majority countries … Masmoudi referenced a supposed “right not to be insulted’. “It is dangerous to insult people based upon their race or . . . religion,” Masmoudi elaborated with once again a race/religion conflation. Such offenses are “not . . . conducive to peace or a democratic society” …

A statement, that, in which a threat is only very lightly veiled.

Such is the analysis of CSID, described by Lawrence as the world’s “preeminent NGO” for the “study of democratic and Islamic thought” and their “modern synthesis”. Not free speech under murderous assault, but offense to Muslim religious sensibilities, falsely equated with prejudices like racism, formed the panel’s main concern demanding, where possible, legal restrictions.


Every idea needs to be tested by critical examination. It is the only way to arrive at the truth. Truth is elusive, and absolute certainty (outside of abstract systems such as mathematics and logic) impossible. But the pursuit of truth is the most important mission of mankind.

It is because absolute certainty is impossible that every idea needs to be subjected to critical examination.

Ideas that are propounded with the most certainty are the ones that most certainly need to be criticized.

Religious ideas are propounded with the most certainty, so religious ideas most need to be criticized.

Yet it is widely considered specially wrong to criticize a religion. To do so is called disrespectful at the very least. At worst it is called “blasphemy” and in some societies the “blasphemer” is severely punished, even executed.

The West has grown powerful, prosperous, and ever more inventive by criticizing ideas. Doubt is the cause, the secret, the trick of its power, prosperity and inventiveness.

Science is the most fruitful application of doubt. A scientist tries continually to prove his ideas wrong. If he fails in that, he succeeds in establishing a truth. Philosophically that truth may remain forever provisional, but it will serve us well. The blood does circulate. The earth does go round the sun.

At present there is a clamor swelling in the forums – physical or electronic – where religious and political panjandrums meet, to demand protection of religion from criticism. The loudest demand comes from Islamic leaders. Though they say religion as such should be protected, they mean only one religion, their own. They want the world to agree that to criticize Islam is a criminal offense. They want laws laid down in every country to make criticism of Islam a crime. Why? Because they recognize that criticism is the most lethal weapon that could be used against them. Words can destroy Islam.

As we say in our Articles of Reason: Many a belief can survive persecution but not critical examination.

Lamentably, powerful Western politicians on the sinister side of Western thought, the political Left, are helping the Muslims achieve their aim. Already most Western European countries have laws sheltering Islam from any criticism, and critics of Islam have been prosecuted and convicted. (Go here to read an ex-Muslim’s condemnation of these prosecutions.)

A counter-clamor is needed: millions of Western voices raised, daily, hourly, continually, against the ideas that constitute the religion of Islam.

Why we must challenge Islam 181

The greatness of the West resulted from the Socratean wisdom that all ideas must be questioned. (Though it endured a thousand dark years when the Catholic Church forbade and punished all such questioning.) Critical examination is the wellspring of science. Our superiority in science and technology – and economic and military might – came about precisely because we doubted, questioned, examined, and experimented.

Islam is backward because it does not permit criticism. It does not allow any questioning of its beliefs. It punishes doubt and dissent.

If we give up criticism at the behest of our implacable enemy, we will be abandoning the mainstay of our might and poisoning our civilization at its root. If we silence our objections to Islam, we allow Muslims to claim that it is the Truth.

Nothing is more important for our survival than freedom of thought. Thought is argument. Argument is progress. We cannot accept any restriction on our expression of ideas. None. Ever.

We should do everything we can to make this absolutely clear to those who believe in an unquestionable orthodoxy like Communism or Islam.

Islam cannot be allowed to claim immunity from criticism on the grounds that it is a religion. Religion is anti-reason, and of all ideas those of religion are the least defensible.

The sacredness in which some hold a belief cannot preserve it from doubt. Reason knows no blasphemy. If Islam appalls us, we must be free to say so in whatever terms we choose. If Muslims take offense, let them try winning us to their beliefs by arguing with us and not by killing us. Violence is no argument. Murder persuades nobody. It might compel obedience, but never intellectual conviction.

Let us express our offense at being assailed by blunt ignorance, and at being ordered by foolish politicians to hold our tongues. If Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton cannot understand that Islam must be criticized, may – considering its doctrine and practice – be denigrated, they must not be left in a position to pay our mortal enemy the ransom of our freedom.


Jillian Becker  September 23, 2012