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Aux armes, mes amis!

The bizarre desire of Islamists to prolong the Jyllands-Posten ‘Satanic Cartoon’ saga has now escalated the whole issue and caused French newspaper France Soir to join the fight for freedom of expression and also republish the offending cartoons.

To quote what a commenter called Max wrote in an earlier article here on Samizdata whilst arguing with an outraged Muslim commenter:

The truth is that what Jyllands-Posten did was intended to prove that secular western values in Denmark have not been eroded by alien Islamic values. It worked and they won and by not letting it drop, muslims around the world are well on the way to turning a tactical success by an obscure danish newspaper into a glorious triumph for enlightenment values.

It was an act of will by which these Danes defended their values against yours. That you cannot even see you have fallen into a trap that bites harder the more you fight against it is a measure of the irrationality of your position.

Aux armes, mes amis!

54 comments to Aux armes, mes amis!

  • Pete

    Bravo to Le Soir, and similarly to Die Welt, La Stampa and others, and the timing in the UK couldn’t be better with yesterday’s Commons vote. And shame on Clinton and other apologists for failing to support the Danes.

    I wonder if any UK papers will be brave enough to follow suit?

  • Rich

    Pete, I’ll be bloody amazed if they do!

  • Rich: I was bloody amazed that a French daily would. So I guess it means there’s hope for the UK…

  • Verity

    Rich – Me too. But one of the cartoons was run in a Mexican newspaper today! (I’m trying to find out which newspaper, but there are so many of them. This is a real newspaper-reading country.)

  • I guess it all comes down to what Robert E. Howard said when he created the character of Conan the Barbarian:
    Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing“.

    To most “civilized” post-Enlightenment Westerners, Islamic Law (mainly based on the Hebrew Old Testament) is straightforwardly barbaric and repulsive in itself- see Hegel, Renan and other mainstream 19th century European thinkers who have contributed to shaping our view of Islam and the Orient.

    It’s sad to see this kind of cultural stereotyping still persists to that day, on both side of the cultural/religious divide for that matter: that hapless Danish cartoonist is as backward as his Saudi censors and probably views them as fanatical fools; whereas they’re probably utterly convinced that a second-tier Scandinavian newspaper must be part of some “Occidental Masonic conspiracy” designed to destroy Allah and his beloved bearded vicar!

    But it wasn’t always so Manichean: ironically, throughout the Middle-Ages and until the 18th century, many libertine Western aristocrats and free-thinking philosophers were actually attracted by Islam precisely because they viewed it as a more rationalist and modern faith than Christianity: after the defeat of Napoleon’s republican “Grand Army” and the return to power of the rightwing Catholic kings of France, several of Napoleon’s revolutionary generals choose to move to Cairo and some even converted to Islam.

    But this was then…the times have changed and two hundred years of fanatical Wahhabi activism boosted by Saudi Arabia’s immense oil revenues, compounded by France and England’s brutal colonial practices in the Middle-East and North Africa, and America’s unwavering backing of Israel’s war crimes have succeeding in tilting the Mohammedan collective psyche towards a very reactionary interpretation of Islam, which in many ways is simply a natural defense reflex albeit an obscurantist and backward one…

    Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states: “To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts. Whatever draws or presses another is as much drawn or pressed by that other”.

    Prescient words in many ways…

  • All of which is just dandy, Clive, except what this is really about is the right of Danish cartoonists and the newspaper they work for to be ‘backward’ without having their offices threatened by bomb attacks.

    I really do not give a rats arse about Islam or for that matter Christianity because both are irrelevant in the secular here-and-now in which this battle is being fought. The way I see it, we managed to get out from under Christan motivated censorship (there are still a few absurd ‘blasphemy’ laws around but they are now hardly ever enforced), so to hell with the idea that delicate Muslim sensibilities are going to be allowed to set us back 100 years.

    Also ‘brutal colonial practices’ and ‘Israeli warcrimes’ are not in the slightest bit germane to this. I really do not give a damn why were are where we are (and for the record I think you are quite wrong on that score), just that this event is a cultural schwerpunkt and what matters is seeing it in such terms. I see it as a chance not just to face down Islamists but also to drag people whose world view is best described as “Chomskyist” into this argument. For people who see the world as I do, this is the intellectual equivalent of a ‘killing ground’ and my enemies have just walked straight into the middle of it.

  • Verity

    Another smokin’ post, Perry.

    BTW, interesting that the free-speechfest that’s going on in Europe just now came about spontaneously, fired by principle, and with no government directives.

    Tony Blur and the European presidents and prime ministers need to meditate on this.

  • GCooper

    It’s hard not to be impressed by the tolerance and indulgence shown by posters and commenters here towards someone who, as far as I can see, has done nothing but confirm that rational argument cannot dissuade someone from an irrational point of view.

    I don’t have that sort of patience with religious zealots, I’m afraid – I won’t even argue with them. And I fear the time for a more robust approach than mere argument is upon us, anyway. This hissy-fit about the cartoons comes just as the islamofacists in Iran are making even more belligerent noises about their nuclear programme.

    What I, personally, find depressing is the vile pusillanimity being shown both by the British media and our own, disgustingly weak, government. We are likely to have to take strong, concerted action in the West to protect out culture against this threat and it is shaming to see Britain behaving in such a cowardly and craven manner.

  • Verity

    GCooper – Britain as a recognisable entity has been swirling down the plug’ole for eight years.

    I see there is not one Anglosphere newspaper supporting free speech. Iceland, check. France, check. Germany, check. Italy, check. Holland, check. Spain, check. Mexico, check.

    The British have had free speech beaten out of them.

  • Pete

    Interesting to see the sneering spin on CNN: France Soir is a failing newspaper desperate to get new readers and in any case is owned by an Egyptian, apparently.

    Well done CNN, that’s the Clinton spirit.

  • Dale Amon

    Does anyone know if the cartoons are for sale on t-shirts yet? That’s one way to bring them into the Anglosphere.

    Of course it is arguable that on the streets of NYC no one would notice or care, which is perhaps one reason it is not so big a deal in the US. It is only a big deal when you feel you have slid so far that you *must* take a stand or else surrender to the night.

  • For people who see the world as I do, this is the intellectual equivalent of a ‘killing ground’ and my enemies have just walked straight into the middle of it.

    Blimey! Have you been eating a lot of red meat lately because you sure have been coming up with a lot of very “quotable” remarks lately.

  • Pete_London


    If you find some do let us know.

  • Paul Marks

    Even taking the period of the early 1600’s to the early 1800’s (and in this period Islam was much weaker than it had been) the Muslims took about one million Christian European as slaves (this, of course, excludes the Africans that the Muslims took as slaves).

    The endless denoucing (and correct denoucing) of the European slave trade, rather leave out the attacks on Europe – attacks that went as far north as Iceland (and included direct attacks on Britain – for example on the coast of Devon). And made people on the high seas and in coastal communites live in fear for centuries.

    Further back in time (during the early “middle ages”) Muslims sacked whole European cities in France and Italy (inculding Rome) – no city on the the coast of the Med was safe.

    And of course there is the extermination of the Christian and Jewish communities of Arabia by the prohet of the Muslims.

    And the conquest (and savage repression) of the Persion civilization and other civilizations futher east.

    Also the conquest of the Middle East and North Africa (once Christian lands) by fire and sword. For all the talk of the “Pact of Omar” (itself life in exchange for a serious of humiliations) many people in the Middle East and North Africa (such as the Berbers) faced the choice of Islam or the sword.

    The wars against the Christian lands of what is now southern Sudan were going on into the 16th century.

    And Muslim attacks against Ethopia continued after that. The sack of Gondar and other cities occured after the death of General Gordon (that is correct the Muslims were not just interested in the Sudan).

    Nor should one forget the various Islamic groups of Turks (the behaviour of the first wave of these invaders set off the Crusades as a response and the last wave, the Ottomans, finally destroyed [Constaninople in 1453 and a few holdouts over the next century] Byzantine civilization (a civilization they had been attacking since the mid 11th century – especially after the great defeat of 1071).

    Praise of the enlightened Islamic civilization of in Spain does rather leave out the destruction (by the Muslims) of the Visigothic Kingdom (the land of such scholars as Isidora of Seville) and of the war to take over France and the rest of Europe (only defeated by Charles Martel). One must also remember the annual offensive conducted by even the most tolerant Muslim rulers in Spain (before they lost the military power to do so) against areas of Spain that never accepted their rule.

    I am also getting a little tired of the Muslims getting the credit for Spanish irrigation systems (as if the Roman civilization had never existed), for “Arabic numerials” (Indian) certain types of steel (Central Asian and preIslamic) the lateen sail (also preIslamic and widespread – for example the Byzantines used it in the time of Justinian) and various other things.

    Islam did indeed have a fairly tolerant view of preIslamic learning in some periods, however the great “closing” of the Islamic system of thought (the judgement that there was no new fundemental knowledge to be discovered) occured in the early middle ages in the main part of the Islamic world. There have always been Muslims who rejected this closing – but they became a small minority.

    For all the vile behaviour of the Roman Catholic church in the middle ages (and after – and the vile behaviour of its Protestant enemies), it was never its main doctrine the no great new things remained undiscovered (for all its persecution of people who discovered things that it did not like).

    A more tolerant view persisted in Spain (where the last of the old ruling family of the Muslims (the Umayyads) fled and founded a new Caliphate) – but this system of government in Spain (i.e. the famous civilization of Cordoba (from 929) this fell into Civil War in the 11th century – long before it was retaken (retaken for it had been a Christian city for more than 500 years before it became a Muslim city in 711 – and when the Muslims captured it they virutally destoyed it) by the Christians in 1236.

    And one thinks of the evil intolerace of Ferdinand and Isobella in the late 15th century one must also think of the intolerance of the waves of Muslims from North Africa who came into Spain during the periods of civil strife after the fall of the Cordaba Caliphate.

    For all the disgusting activities of Christians the majority Christian view is that most of the Bible (including most of the New Testiment) is NOT the direct word of God – it is the word of various men inspired by God.

    This is not and has never been the majority view of Muslims of the Koran. This is held to be the literal and direct word of God (revealed to the Prophet and then written down by scribes under his direction)

    Given some of the contents of the Koran this is unfortunate.

    The “rationalism” of the Muslims that one writer above mentioned is actually this – a getting away from the messing business of various interpretations of an contradictory text (the Bible), this is not a rationalism that libertarians should welcome.

    Nor is the Islamic doctrine of predestination – another thing various Western philosophers found “rational”.

    Such determinism was always a powerful view in Christianity as well, but it has been (and still is) resisted.

    Once there had been great resistance to predestination (i.e. really determinism) in Islamic thought – but such resistance (apart from a tiny minority) collapsed in the early middle ages.

  • Johnathan

    BTW, interesting that the free-speechfest that’s going on in Europe just now came about spontaneously, fired by principle, and with no government directives.

    Tony Blur and the European presidents and prime ministers need to meditate on this.

    A very good point, Verity. Yes, I get the feeling there is a spontaneous movement from the ground up to defend free speech.

  • Verity

    Paul Marks, thank you for that knowledgeable summing up. The Religion of Peace. You’ve got to love it!

    It seems to me the Arabs have never produced or invented anything. Even oil … Westerners had to discover it, Westerners had to extract it, Westerners had to refine it and explain what it is used for, while the Islamics sat around thinking, “Uh.”

    No wonder they pray five times a day. They haven’t got anything else to think about. Almost all the courses in university in Saudi Arabia are in “Islamic studies”. A qualification from hell.

    The Persians produced some charming and elegant paintings and the Lodi architecture in Delhi is perfectly lovely. But, of course, they are Iranian.

  • Verity

    What are all those seethers going to do now? They’ll have to recruit armies of extra seethers to go to meetings with the UN and form sub-committees of transEuropean councils of mosques to make “representations” and veiled threats to heads of seven more secular Western countries. Mullahs for mayhem. Oh, god, more plane tickets to buy; more hotels to book. (Bags I Mexico!) It never ends. More whining and cringing. More taqqya and kitman. More wailing. Sometimes I have to ask myself if it’s all worth it.

    Infidels! You can’t live with ’em. You can’t behead ’em.

  • Rich

    Nice comment on the BBC “Have your say”

    “Come on BBC – either you are going to conduct a serious debate, including showing the cartoons in question so open-minded people can give an informed opinion, or you’re not.
    If in order to protect Muslim sensibilities regarding the portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed you feel you have to refrain from publishing the cartoons, there is no debate. You’ve already decided they shouldn’t be published. So why bother asking what I think?

    easterhay, Buenos Aires”

    Emphasis mine.

    It has 210 positve approvals so far.

  • Matra

    The French have buckled already



  • The French buckling quickly is hardly news now is it? Anyone shocked?

  • Verity

    Thanks, Matra. I can’t st-a-a-a-a-a-nd it! What kind of a name is Lakah? Egyptian? Maybe “lakah” is Arabic for asshole.

  • Patrick

    Mind you, only days ago a French court condemned a politician, Christian Vanneste, to pay 3000€ to three gay associations after he said that homosexuality was inferior to heterosexuality on the moral plane, and that homosexuality represented a threat to humanity’s survival!! All in the name of a ‘law for the liberty of the press’ 🙂

    Verity, I’ve been sending letters to my paper, The Australian. I suggest everyone do the same. If we can only get them published in every country, there’ll be no more Muslim ambassadors, and no more trade with terrorists! 🙂

    NB has anyone looked at the pictures that the BBC has published? Kinda revealing, no? Including Amr Moussa, famously described by the Economist as a pavlovian dog (in very close to as many words, as well (no link – if you have a subscription, search ‘Pavlov Moussa’).

  • Julian Morrison

    At least this time they declared war briefly before they surrendered. It’s a start, hmm?

  • Verity

    Yes, Julian Morrison. (sigh)

    But what kind of a name is Lakah? Sounds Egyptian or Indian Muslim. In which case, the editor knew what he was doing and did it anyway.

  • Julian Morrison

    Verity, you can’t draw much of a conclusion from a name alone. Any more than I’m a Roman.

  • Verity

    Yes, Julian Morrison, re above. The French were braver than the British who, within my lifetime, which isn’t that great, would have been the first to bully through with the cartoons.

    I turned to The Telegraph and it had the story and – a link! I thought to the cartoons! The Torygraph was going to run the cartoons! Alas, it was a link to an earlier story.

    I turned to The Times. Headlines: Allies signal Iraq pullout; Moira Shear dies; Lib-Dem reneged on deal; Blair urged to make a swift reshuffle; Monty’s £15m divorce settlement. On the side: new birdflu vaccine; rainforest eden faces death by chainsaw; Iran fights back labelling the US a fake …; car in crash that killed four children had been stolen; press digs in over cartoon fury.

    Tenth item in. But no depiction of the cartoons. Oh the formerly fearless British press.

  • Verity

    Julian – Morrison doesn’t sound like a Roman name. Lakah sounds like a Hindu Kush kind of name. Lately Osama territory.

  • Silva

    Definitely the Danes have the right to create anything, let it even be offensive to whoever.
    However, all the reprints seem rather as a story-hunting than the Fight for Freedom (of speech) to me.
    That is a) a slight hypocrisy & b) already really a provocation towards Muslims.

    My point is, that this is exactly how every spiral of hatred starts growing, when it’s TWO eyes for one.

  • However, all the reprints seem rather as a story-hunting than the Fight for Freedom (of speech) to me.

    Then you obviously have not been following this story very closely. It is a variety of Muslim activists and government who have kept this story alive (Link)and speaking of provocations, it has been Muslim nations pulling their embassies out of Danmark and threatening trade sanctions unless the Danish government abridged the rights of free expression of certain Danes.

    Can you not see the importance of backing up a key Western value here?

  • Verity


    As English is obviously your second language, could you describe your thought above in even simpler pidgen English? What the hell is your thought here?

    : ” However, all the reprints seem rather as a story-hunting than the Fight for Freedom (of speech) to me.
    That is a) a slight hypocrisy & b) already really a provocation towards Muslims.

  • Kim du Toit

    F*** ’em if they can’t take a joke.

  • Hector

    Has anyone seen that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (a show made by American Jews with Hollywood/NYC default left-of centre views, thus illustrating that the devil has all the best tunes) with the rabbi who has a photo of his brother-in-law on his desk who the rabbi said he wants to remember because he was killed on 9/11, and when pressed for the sad details, explains that his brother-in-law was killed in NYC on 9/11 when a bicycle courier knocked him down on 57th Street? Priceless, hysterical, and sick. Perhaps worth remembering that there was no Nazi humour, no feminist humour, and no gentle Soviet self-mockery of the Five-Year Plan. And that Muslim humour, just like Mark Steel, Jeremy Hardy et al (see Laban’s 15/01/06 Biased BBC post and comments) is no laughing matter. We need to LAUGH at these clowns as well as fight ’em. And Dale, on the T-shirt line, do you know where you can buy a T-shirt with the Private Eye cartoon of the 2 proud Palestinian parents with their baby strapped with grenades saying: “Look! He’s just taken his last steps!”

  • pommygranate

    Update on BBC’s view of the cartoons.

    My sources tell me (and they are reliable) that there was an editorial meeting today where the topic of whether to publish the cartoons on the BBC website was discussed.

    It was apparently one of the most heated meetings to date. Opinion split down the middle and a decision to be made early next week. Leading proposal is a compromise whereby a link to a website showing the cartoons will be displayed but not the cartoons themselves.

  • llamas

    Kim du Toit wrote:

    ‘F*** ’em if they can’t take a joke.’

    and I do not disagree. This is the day-to-day expression of Jeffersons famous dictum

    “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

    However, ‘f*** ’em if they can’t take a joke’ is an attitude which can only work in an arrangement of mutual tolerance, and that’s not what we have here. A few Western nations still have the moral fibre to maintain a society where this attitude prevails – as we see from the news last night and today, everyone else is going wobbly. I truly believe that the reason that this issue is not resonating in the US is simply because the vast majority of Americans are so used to their First Amendment freedoms that they simply cannot conceive that anyone would take the pressure of the Islamists seriously. Hence KdT’s expression.

    Unfortunately, as the rest of the Western world appears to turn gently to Jell-O on this issue, the fact that Muslims can’t take a joke is rapidly becoming something that can’t be dismissed. Pretty soon, all those vacillating nations are going to learn that many Muslims are quite happy to shoot or behead people for making a joke about them, at which point the attitude of ‘f*** ’em’ is not going to get the job done. Western minds can’t get around this, because it’s just a joke. We are shortly to learn that ‘just a joke’ doesn’t fly with these folks.

    People have been beaten up over this. I predict that, within 30 days, people will be killed as a result. Over a cartoon. And those who lacked the moral fibre to stand up for Enlightenment values, publish the cartoons in all their mediocrity, and tell the Islamist practitioners of medieval values to go pound sand will have that blood on their hands. As Verity has observed, I think this trivial issue is a line in the sand, and is being pushed forward by Islamist activists as a test case – it needs a robust and unified response. Unfortunately, it’s not getting one – or not in Europe, anyway.



  • J

    “Lakah sounds like a Hindu Kush kind of name.”

    My, we are reaching new depths. I know it’s traditional on the internet to lower your politeness and intellect to the lowest level, but I guess I should refrain from saying what kind of name Verity sounds like…

  • mike

    J: hmm, perhaps you should seeing as how you can’t be bothered to type a proper name into the comment-posting section, let alone think up of a cool name with a certain philosophical pedigree.

    To everyone wanting to know where to get a T-shirt: for christ’s sake save a picture of whichever cartoon you want onto a disc and take it to a print shop – you’ll get your T-shirt next day for a tenner.

    “I predict that, within 30 days, people will be killed as a result. Over a cartoon.”

    Could happen. In which case we should boycott Islamic goods – oops there aren’t any. Silly me.

  • Alice

    Today the editor of France-Soir Jacques Lefranc has been fired by his semi-egyptian boss Raymond Lakah. Now any Frenchman knows that his leaders take their orders at the moskandantur.



  • Della

    llamas writes:

    People have been beaten up over this. I predict that, within 30 days, people will be killed as a result. Over a cartoon. And those who lacked the moral fibre to stand up for Enlightenment values, publish the cartoons in all their mediocrity, and tell the Islamist practitioners of medieval values to go pound sand will have that blood on their hands.

    No, the person doing the killing will have blood on thier hands.

    Taking a local example; Thomas Hamilton, the mass murderer, killed 19 children in Dunblane because people there kept calling him a pedophile (which he was). I met the guy once when I was a child at school, and I got the impression that he was attracted to boys in my class, I never called him a pedophile but if I did would I have blood on my hands for those murders he later committed?

    I say fuck ’em. If it wasn’t this it’d be something else, they’re just looking for trouble.

  • Henning

    Jordan makes the leap !!!!!

    A Jordanian tabloid ( Al-Shihan ) on defiantly published three of the cartoons that have triggered outrage in the Arab and Muslim world. (Link) middel of page.

    ” “Muslims of the world, be reasonable,” said the editor-in-chief of the weekly independent newspaper Al-Shihan in an editorial alongside the cartoons, including the one showing the Muslim religion’s founder wearing a bomb-shaped turban.

    “What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony in Amman?” wrote Jihad Momani.

    He told the AFP news service he decided to publish the offending cartoons “so people know what they are protesting about…

    People are attacking drawings that they have not even seen.” ”

    Interesting, will the islamic world now boycut Jordan for printing the cartoons ??? And demand an apology from the jordanian govement !!!!

  • Verity

    Seeeeeee? I said elsewhere that Lakah sounded Egyptian. Then I thought of the area of Jammu and Kashmir, in the far north, called Ladakh, so I thought maybe it was from the Himalayas or Hindu Kush. J, you are depressing in the narrowness of your frames of reference.

    Llamas (forgive the capital L but it is the beginning of a sentence. I was torn, but convention won), thank you for picking up on my comment. This is the flashpoint and something is going to be resolved. That something is who has ascendancy and who is going to dictate the terms on which the world is run.

    The British are supine. Iceland and Norway, being Viking countries, I can understand. But who would ever have thought the Spanish would have the backbone where the British failed?

  • llamas

    Della wrote:

    ‘I say f*** ’em. If it wasn’t this it’d be something else, they’re just looking for trouble.’

    Agreed. But the ‘f*** ’em if they can’t take a joke’ response only works in a society where you can say this, and walk away, and the other guy is left standing there looking like an idiot.

    And the Islamists who are pressing this issue, and getting people all het up over something they’ve never seen, are trying very hard to turn that sort of society – the sort that we (mostly) enjoy – into their sort of society – the kind where you can’t say that. The kind where there are things which you cannot say. The kind of society where the freedom that’s expressed in the ‘F’EITCTAJ’ response is reversed, to something that says ‘if you make a joke, we’re going to f*** YOU.’

    Take a look at Saudi Arabia. That’s what they want.

    And the opinion makers, opinion formers and opinion reporters in many Western nations are helping them in their quest. In their eagerness to please and to not offend, they are changing society’s rules, to the point where it will become acceptable to suppress some expressions, by force if necessary. Today, the suppression will be voluntary. Tomorrow, if the Islamists get their way, it will be compulsory.

    We may already see that the beast feeds on itself. France Soir publishes the cartoons, and the next day, the editor gets his walking papers from his half-Arab boss. Will that fact be reported widely? No, it will not – after all, we wouldn’t want to give any offence, now would be?

    This kind of appeasement perfectly matches Churchill’s definition – being nice to the alligator in the hope that he will eat you last. But eat you, he will, if you do not robustly resist.



  • pommygranate

    Our much maligned friend, Tomahawk, suggests an interesting idea over at Harry’s Place

    We need an organisation devoted entirely to the defence of free speech against incursions from multiculturalists and medieval religious fanatics. Every time one of these nutters pops up on TV demanding that certain words be banned, the main media outlets could automatically turn to a spokesman for a free-speech body. It could be called “Outspoken”, “Speak Free”, or some such.

    Come back Tommo, we miss you.

  • Verity

    I don’t agree, pommygranate, and not because the suggestion comes from Tomahawk. There is no need for such an organisation. We have a constitutional right to freedom of speech. The creation of a spokesbody to defend freedom of speech would be dangerous, especially given the current occupant of No 10, because it suggests that freedom of speech is negotiable and needs an advocate.

    It is our right. Freedom of expression does not need an advocate. It just is. It exists. I believe having an advocacy organisation for its protection would weaken it by giving the wrong impression, which would be clasped eagerly to the breasts of the Islamofascists and Tony Blair and his crowd.

  • pommygranate

    Verity – but haven’t the events of the past few weeks shown the contempt politicians of this country, cowed by the religious extremists, hold for free speech. It needs to be defended and it needs defenders.

  • Pete_London


    The events of years have shown the contempt that politicians hold for free speech and, yes, of course it needs defending. But Verity’s right. The moment some kind of ‘official’ body is created with a remit to ‘oversee’ (it won’t be to ‘guarantee’) free speech is the moment that parameters are drawn limiting free speech.

    No, my free speech is mine, it is not awarded by the state and the state may not proscribe or limit it. In the same vein, my free speech is mine to exercise and protect, the state simply cannot and will not do that. The greatest defence of free speech comes from its regular and bold use. Politicians, islamists, anyone with aims and ambitions to limit what we may say must be reminded of their impotence every day and that comes by opening your mouth and saying exactly what you think without fear or qualification.

    Frankly, Tomahawk’s idea is silly. When every time one of these nutters pops up on TV demanding that certain words be banned the interviewer should simply do his job and humiliate the evil swine. When Abdul Kaboom demands that the Danish government punish journalists (Arab interior ministers, meeting in Tunis, declared: “We ask the Danish authorities to take the necessary measures to punish those responsible for this harm and to take action to avoid a repeat.”) Abdul should be ridiculed, told that in civilised countries governments cannot punish journalists for publishing cartoons, reminded of the fine traditions of western liberty and told to sling his hook if he doesn’t like it.

  • Verity

    Yes, Pete_London. The minute we appoint a spokesman to oversee free speech is the moment our right to it is diminished. The way to hang on to free speech is, as you say, by opening our mouths and saying exactly what’s on our minds.

    I note that the British press has already been cowed by Blair’s obscene Religious Hatred bill. It is unbelievable that newspapers in Spain and Italy have shown solidarity with the brave Danish editor and prime minister by printing the story and the weak-kneed milksops editing British papers have not.

    I will tell you exactly when I knew the game was up for the British press: when Alastair Campbell gained ascendancy over them eight years ago and scared the pants off them. They allowed themselves to be frightened to death by this loud-mouthed street commie. They were supine before his bullying. Anyone who can’t stand up to a piece of vicious rubbish like Alastair Campbell is not going to stand up to ignorant, hysterical, bomb wielding Muslim fanatics.

    Freedom of the British press: R.I.P.

  • Alice

    In France, the Haute Autorité de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l’égalité (HALDE), silly body including muslims, can now fine anybody : up to 5.000 € for an individual or 25.000 € for a company, WITHOUT TRIAL.


    The freest speech left in France is the one of the MOSKANDANTUR.

  • Paul Marks

    B.B.C. Radio 4’s “In our time” show was on today just after the 9a.m. news (a shorter version will be repeated after 9.p.m.).

    The programme was on the Abbasids (the family,who traced, their line from the Prophet’s uncle and who overthrow and virtually exterminated the Omayyad’s (I like all these names as people can not agree on how to spell them – which lets me off the hook).

    The last of the Umayyad family flees off to Spain in the mid 8th century (although a great new Caliphate there is really 10th century, although the fomal title is indeed claimed from the time of fligh) and the Abbasids move the capital of the Muslim world from Syria to the new city of Bagdad.

    We enter the world of Muslim rulers of the popular mind – high sounding artificial names, the Harem (eventually giving up formal marriage totally) the vast court ritual and so on.

    Almost needless to say the programme concentrated on the positive aspect of the Abbaside Caliphate.

    The art, the poets of Basra and Bagdad the mathematicians, astonomers and philosophers of Basra and Bagdad (I missed the ending of the show due to work commitments – but I rather think that the closing of fundemental philosphical and scientific work, which happened near the end of the Abbasiade period was missed out).

    However, a few less positive things were mentioned – like the special tax on nonMuslims and the forbidden of them from owing or carrying weapons, not that would bother the servile population of this country of course.

    Nor would being (in various periods) forbidden to build new churches or repair old ones (the Persion Zorastrians had things a lot worse) – nobody much goes to church now anyway. So turning the leading churches (such as St Paul’s or Westminster Abbey) into Muslim holy places might not really upset people.

    Wearing the special yellow badge might upset them – but there we go. And Caliph Mahdi’s (775-785) inquisition did not get a mention (rather before the Catholic inquisition of the 1200’s in southern France).

    The Abbasides were very good at building up administrative structures (which the show seemed to think was a good thing).

    However, the most interesting thing mentioned (which I must confess I did not know) was that the great Abbaside claim (based on the astrological calculations they claimed help justify there revolution) was that they it was their destiny (oh the blessed determinism again to destroy Byzantium and take Constaninople.

    And this was a good thing – because it would lead to the end of the world.

    So year after year, century after century the Abbaside would lauch their attacks on the Byzantines (sometimes in semi ritual, sometimes in deadly earnest).

    And each time (thanks to things like “Greek fire”) the Byzantines refused to just die and let the world end.

    Of course the Ottoman Turks finally took Constaninople in 1453 – but by then the claim that this would lead to the end of the world (and a happy new world for the faithful) was no longer strong (the Abbidades having failed to live up to their “inevitable destiny” some centuries before).

    The first great attack by the Abbasides against Constaninople was in 782 (Caliph Mahdi’s people had interesting plans).

    A few other dates I have looked up.

    826 – Muslim (temporary) conquest of Crete.

    827 – begining of the Muslim conquest of Sicily.

    838 – Muslims attack Marseilles and (about this time) begin attempted conquest of southern Italy.

    846 – Muslims sack Rome.

    867-886 – great stuggle of the Byzantines against Muslim conquest of southern Italy.

    888 – Muslims occupy Garde-Freinet in Provence.

    902 – last Byzantine stonghold in Sicily falls to the Muslims.

    904 – Muslims capture Salonika.

    961 – Byzantines recover Crete.

    964-66 – Byzantines recover Cyprus.

    977 – Fresh Muslim invasion of southern Italy.

    981- 983 – Otto II Germanic Emperior of the West attempts to defend Italy (key defeat July 15 982).

    997-998 – second expedition of Otto III (“King” since 983) in Italy.

    1003 – Muslims ravage Leon. It is useful to remember that at no time was ALL of Spain peacefully under Muslim rule (that is a modern myth). Even in 722 there was a Muslim victory over the Muslims at Covadonga. The Asturians pushed the Muslims out of Galicia and the Basques rose against the Muslims. An effort was made to recapture Saagosa in 778 which failed, but Barcelonia was liberated in 801 (so much for the long period of peace and unity in Spain). Even the Muslim capital of Cordoba briefly fell to the Christians in 1010.
    However, Muslim attacks on the north were sometimes effective (with great destruction).

    1004 – Muslims sack Pisa in Italy.

    1006 – Muslim advance in India (invasion of the Punjab had been in 664)

    1008 – Fall of Peshawar to the Muslims.

    1009 – Muslims “profane Holy Sepulchre” in Jerusalem.

    1011 – Muslims sack Pisa (again).

    1015 – Muslims conquer Sardinia

    1016 – Comming of the Normans to Southern Italy – begin long war, first against the Muslims and then against the Byzantines and the Muslims (although these two groups were not allied).

    1030’s – start of the great reconquest of those areas of what is now Spain and Portugal that had fallen to the Muslims (not completed till 1492). Mass Muslim counter attack in 1080’s – great armies from North Africa.

    1064 – The Seljuk Turk Muslims (having taken Bagdad in 1055) conquer Armenia.

    1065 – Seljuk Muslims begin conquest of Asia Minor (now Turkey) first Muslim attacks against Asia Minor had started in the 7th century (Armenia fell in the war of 654-661 and again 693 to 862).

    1071 – Manzikert, most terrible defeat of the Byzantines in Asia Minor.

    1072 – Normans finally manage to defeat Muslims in Sicily.

    One could go on with these wars – year after year, century after century.

    And I have ignored the early wars – the extermination of the Jewish and Christian communities in Arabia by the Prohet. The conquest of the Christian Middle East and North Africa (forgotten now although the wars in Sudan were going on till the 16th century – a resistance of some 800 years, and Ethopia has still not fallen although the population balance has changed). Damascus 665, Ctesiphon 637 (rest of Persia 641-643), Egypt 640-642. Tripoli 647, Cyprus 649……

    People forget that the death of Gordon at Khartoum (1885) in the (by then) Muslim Sudan was followed by the raiding into Ethopia by the Muslims (the sack of Gondar and other places). Part of a struggle to destroy nonMuslim powers which had been going on since the 6th century A.D. (i.e. from the time of the Prophet).

    Such things as the destruction of Persia and other eastern civilizations (although they did come back later in Islamic form) is only a little better known.

    Nor is the practice of African slavery (something the Muslim powers did long before the Northern Europeans got into it).

    No doubt Muslims could point at endless attacks by Christians and other nonMuslims (Chinese, Hindu’s, African pagans and so on).

    However, I think the above (and the endless pages I could write) indicates that the idea that there was once a happy long period of peace and mutual respect is mistaken.

    The riots in Paris would not have come as a great shock to Charles Martel – he defeated the Muslims at Poitiers in 732 (Visigothic Spain having fallen in 711-713 and Visigothic Septimania having fallen in 720).

    Islamic civilization has in many ways (such as abstract art and poetry – although many of the great poets of the Arabs were preIslamic) given much to the world. However, by fate (as the majority of Muslim thinkers would claim) Islam and the West have normally been enemies (although brief periods of cooperation have occured – for example against the Marxist Soviet Union) and world history seems to be reverting to type.

    As Winston Churchill pointed out in his work on the Sudan campaign. Muslims seek conquest as a religious duty (which is perhaps more noble than the reasons Britain sought it in some places) and they were advancing through Africa in 1880’s and 1890’s (as they had advanced through the East Indies a century or so before – by war before the Dutch came [failing to take Bali but taking most of Java] and then by peaceful conversion).

    Their numbers (and, to be fair, their courage) can always be counted upon to be vast (a high birth rate? but one must not forget conversion – the first generation may be converting against their will, but the next gerneration…..).

    So every few years there is a desperate battle (somewhere in the world) against overwhelming and fantical hordes. (Even at the time of the Crusades the “Iron Clad Men” [to give one name of the Crusaders] always assumed that they would be vastly outnumbered).

    One can only rely on reason (not that the Crusaders ever had much of that) and superior technology to turn the tide – whether it be Greek fire or Maxim guns.

    Which means that if the Muslim attitude to science (and more importantly to the individual private ownership of land and to free prices) had always been a tolerant one they would have taken over the world long ago (which might be a good thing – at least, it could be argued, it would mean less war).

    I wonder if Winston Churchill would be put in prison for “Storm on the Nile” (or whatever it was called – that seems rather like the title for one of the “Four Feathers” films). Although the bit about land and prices was not his.

    If I am put in prison for the above, well – such is life.

    All I can see (and say with truth) is that I have always rather admired Islamic civilization. But I do not accept its basic religious doctrines and I will not pretend history is other than it is.

  • llamas

    Well, if long and detailed posts are allowed, then I think it is time to post this:


    SECTION I. Well aware that

    the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds;

    that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint;

    that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to extend it by its influence on reason alone;

    that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as
    ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men,
    have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own
    opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as
    such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and
    maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and
    through all time:

    That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness; and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal
    conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours
    for the instruction of mankind;

    that our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way;

    that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor
    under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude
    his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or
    propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a
    dangerous falacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because
    he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule
    of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own;

    that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally,

    that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.

    SECT. II. WE, the General Assembly of Virginia, do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

    SECT. III. AND though we well know that this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.

    This is what Islamist fundamentalists will not accept, because they cannot accept it. They honestly belive that their religion entitles – nay, commands – them to impose their beliefs upon others, by force if necessary, and that their religious belief is superior to all others and trumps any and all other principles, no matter what. No compromise is possible, or even permitted, with any secular principle.

    We’d better start to see some of the same determination in defence of the principles of the Enlightenment, that these folks display in the defence of their beliefs.



  • Paul Marks

    I do know that Mohammed did not start his campaigns till the 7th century.

    My apologies for any other slips I may have made above.

    Although, of course, no apology for any offense caused by accurate typing.

    Any more than I would apologise to fellow Christians for saying true (but deeply uncomfortable) things about the behaviour of some Christians.

    As for the basic theologial differences between Islam and Christianity – I have already said as much as I wish to say.

  • Verity

    llamas – Thanks for that reminder of the incredible intelligence and forethought of America’s founders. It really is mind-boggling. No wonder America is the most powerful and democratic country the world has ever known (I accept that it is becoming less free).

    You know, without the guidance of America’s founders, and without the pluck and optimism of America’s first settlers, I wonder where the hell Canada would be today. And Mexico doesn’t even bear thinking of – (although their press did run one of the cartoons).

  • Paul Marks

    I also praise what Ilamus has remembered.

    As for what to do if a group of politicians decide to pass statutes that violate natural law – natural right.

    The Constitution of New Hampshire (1784) deals with that question by reminding its readers of the right to revolution. In the United States Constitution the Second Amendment is the real defence of the First Amendment.

    The right to self defence against violators – be they muggers on street corners, or politicians in their legislature.

    If a person tells you may not express an opinion on your own property (they can ask you to leave if you are on their proerty) then you can tell him to go to Hell – and if they threaten violence you can defend yourself.

    This applies when dealing with a local thug or to the political leadership.

    And it also applies if your opinion is that a certain religious group, or racial group (or everyone over six feet tall) is plotting to take over and should be resisted.

    And it means that anyone should be allowed to say their religion is the only way to God (and all other religions are the road to Hell) – AND that noone should be allowed to force you to go to their church (or any church).

  • Matt O'Halloran

    Verity: “You know, without the guidance of America’s founders, and without the pluck and optimism of America’s first settlers, I wonder where the hell Canada would be today.”

    True in the sense that Americans loyal to His Majesty the King– perhaps as many as one in three, now written out of America’s history books and junk movies such as ‘The Patriot’– fled in large numbers to Upper Canada (now Ontario). These Tories formed the nucleus of resistance to rebellion which coalesced into the splendid, pacific, loyal transcontinental Dominion which has just returned a conservative party (soi-disant) to government.

    I also wonder what the Founders who counselled Americans earnestly against centralised government, foreign adventurism and large standing armed forces would make of the USA which was erected on the ruins of their loosely confederal republic in 1860. Pity the original and genuine United States of America only lasted 80 years; that’s what happens when constitutions are synthetic, rather than organic growths.

  • Paul Marks

    And apart from the small island of Sark (now being forced to have a “modern government” in any case) what “organic growths” to we have left?

    The United States has many defects, but it is still is a less unfree nation than the United Kingdom or Canada.