Charlie Hebdo and Sharia Versus Freedom of Speech
by ANDREW G. BOSTOM
September 21, 2012
My forthcoming book Sharia Versus Freedom, elaborates in great detail the grave threat, Sharia, Islam's totalitarian "universal law" poses to our bedrock Western liberties-especially freedom of conscience and speech.
Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French tabloid, has just published (9/19/12) a new series of cartoons lampooning Islam's prophet Muhammad.
According to one of contemporary Islamdom's most popular and respected clerics, Yusuf al-Qaradawi-who will no doubt raise vociferous objections to the publication of these caricatures, and perhaps even issue a fatwa calling for the "punishment" (i.e., death, imprisonment, etc.) of the cartoonist-Muhammad remains the "Jihad Model" for all Muslims justifying the creed's mission for violent subjugation of the "infidel" and sanctioning murderous "martyrdom operations," in modern parlance homicide bombings, to achieve that end.
As Qaradawi himself, legions of other mainstream Muslim legists, including the mainstream Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, and the laws of many Islamic nations affirm, Charlie Hebdo's publication of such "blasphemous images" is a criminal act punishable, at minimum by fine and imprisonment, or even death-all in accord with Islam's freedom of speech abrogating "Holy Law," the totalitarian Sharia.
Professor Carl Brockelmann (1868-1956), the renowned scholar of Semitic languages, and arguably the foremost Orientalist of his generation, made these candid observations about the sharia's injunctions pertaining to penal law, in 1939-Islamic law being "valid" eternally, and all too widely applied in Brockelmann's era, till now.
Blasphemy with respect to God [Allah], the Prophet, and his predecessors is punished by death, as is defection from Islam, if the culprit persists in his disbelief.
Almost three-quarters of a century later, Rising Restrictions on Religion, a report by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life issued August 9, 2011, examined the issue of "defamation" of religion, tracking countries where various penalties are enforced for apostasy, blasphemy, or criticism of religions. "While such laws are sometimes promoted as a way to protect religion, in practice they often serve to punish religious minorities whose beliefs are deemed unorthodox or heretical," the report noted. The Pew report, consistent with Brockelmann's assessment from 1939, found that application of the sharia at present resulted in a disproportionate number of Muslim countries, twenty-one-Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Western Sahara, and Yemen-registering the highest (i.e., worst) persecution scores on their scale. Furthermore, the Pew investigators observed,
Eight-in-ten countries in the Middle East-North Africa region have laws against blasphemy, apostasy or defamation of religion, the highest share of any region. These penalties are enforced in 60% of the countries in the region.
As a predictable consequence of this sharia-based application of apostasy and blasphemy laws by Islamic governments, the Pew report also documented that
the share of national governments that showed hostility toward minority religions involving physical violence was much higher in countries where laws against blasphemy, apostasy or defamation of religion are actively enforced than in countries without such laws (55% versus 22%).
Abundant contemporary evidence demonstrates that Islamic law and mores regarding blasphemy, today, remain distressingly incompatible with modern conceptions of religious freedom and human rights. Thus writing in the early 1990s, the esteemed Pakistani scholar Muhammad Asrar Madani, whose opinion was accepted by Pakistan's Sharia Court, defined "blasphemy," focusing on the Muslim prophet, as:
Reviling or insulting the Prophet (pbuh) in writing or speech; speaking profanely or contemptuously about him or his family; attacking the Prophet's dignity and honor in an abusive manner; vilifying him or making an ugly face when his name is mentioned; showing enmity or hatred towards him, his family, his companions, and the Muslims; accusing, or slandering the Prophet and his family, including spreading evil reports about him or his family; defaming the Prophet; refusing the Prophet's jurisdiction or judgment in any manner; rejecting the Sunnah; showing disrespect, contempt for or rejection of the rights of Allah and His Prophet or rebelling against Allah and His Prophet.
And in accord with classical Islamic jurisprudence (for example, the Risala of al-Qayrawani [d. 996]), Madani argues that anyone who defames Muhammad-Muslim or non-Muslim-must be put to death.
Moreover, the de facto contemporary Caliphate revival or "Islamintern" umbrella organization-the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly the Organization of Islamic Conference; OIC)-is moving ahead relentlessly with its two decades long "project" to impose Sharia-based Islamic blasphemy law worldwide, i.e., in non-Muslim societies as well. Craven politicians who have little regard for our unique Western liberties, both in Europe, and even the US-notably Secretary of State Hillary Clinton-are apparently amenable to these OIC efforts.
The cartoon adorning Charlie Hebdo's cover (see below) in fact lampoons orthodox Jews not merely Muslims. Reactions to this mockery from the respective French Jewish and French Muslim communities are quite edifying-the former taking any insults in stride while upholding the primacy of free speech; the latter in full angry grievance, Islamic supremacist mode, with a thinly veiled threat of violence from such an "irresponsible provocation," despite mouthing a platitude about non-violent protest.
A UEJF [Union of Jewish Students of France] communiqué declares: "People who attack Charlie Hebdo are targeting all those who defend freedom of speech." UEJF president Jonathan Hayoun adds: "Charlie Hebdo isn't provoking anyone by publishing those cartoons, they are just practicing one of the founding principles of our nation. As opposed to those who seek to reverse these values and make blasphemy an assault, Charlie Hebdo reminds us that freedom of speech is an unshakable value in France."
The president of the CFCM [French Council of the Muslim Faith] condemns "insulting drawings" and expresses "concern."Mohammed Moussaoui expressed "extreme indignation" after the publication of those cartoons that are "an insult to Islam and the prophet." The president of the CFCM [Muslim umbrella group] also says he is "concerned about what might happen in reaction to such an irresponsible provocation in an already tense situation." He said: "We have appealed to French Muslims to stay calm and to express their indignation by lawful means."
The incompatibility of Sharia mores and Western conceptions of freedom, if not steadfastly defended, were recognized by Beaumarchais, in his Marriage of Figaro, written at the close of the eighteenth century, which featured this freedom-of-speech monologue in Act V, Scene 3,
I cobble together a verse comedy about the customs of the harem, assuming that, as a Spanish writer, I can say what I like about Mohammed without drawing hostile fire. Next thing, some envoy from God knows where turns up and complains that in my play I have offended the Ottoman empire, Persia, a large slice of the Indian peninsula, the whole of Egypt, and the kingdoms of Barca [Ethiopia], Tripoli, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. And so my play sinks without trace, all to placate a bunch of Muslim princes, not one of whom, as far as I know, can read but who beat the living daylights out of us and say we are "Christian dogs." Since they can't stop a man thinking, they take it out on his hide instead.
More than two centuries later, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
If we are not willing to defend freedom of speech against Islam's Sharia-based, liberty-crushing totalitarianism, it will disappear.
Sharing in the defense of that bedrock Western freedom, I have reproduced Charlie Hebdo's caricatures (and translated French to English captions), below:
Intouchables 2. "Faut pas se moquer"
The Untouchables 2 "Must not mock"
Nine Muhammmad cartoons (from, p. 14)
Footnotes - click here
Andrew G. Bostom, M.D., M.S. (Providence, RI), is the author of the highly acclaimed The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims. He is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Renal Diseases at Rhode Island Hospital, the major teaching affiliate of Brown University Medical School. Dr. Bostom has published numerous articles and commentaries on Islam in the Washington Times, National Review Online, Revue Politique, FrontPage Magazine.com, American Thinker, and other print and online publications. More on his work can be found at www.andrewbostom.org.