Pharyngula

Lars Vilks attacked again

Like last time, I expect this news will set off another fusillade of dissenting opinions, but too bad. Extremists have vandalized Lars Vilks home, trying to set it on fire (original article in Swedish here).

i-2a3638440e52793fb97ed4e968df186b-dog_mohammed.jpeg

In an undoubtably futile attempt to forestall what I expect will be common objections to this story here, I know that there are political ramifications to the cartoons of Mohammed. I know that many of them were motivated by racism and xenophobia. In this instance, though, I don’t care. Vilks drew a sketch. His enemies set his house on fire.

I would encourage Muslims to respond in kind, with their own cartoons lampooning Vilks (it shouldn’t be hard; the article about the arson has a picture of Vilks that looks rather deranged already). But when you respond to an insult to your beliefs with violence and destruction, you have moved beyond the boundaries of civilization, straight into barbarism, and you will get no sympathy from me.

Comments

  1. #1 vanharris
    May 15, 2010

    PZ, how can you expect people who believe in superstitious crap derived from the mythologies of Bronze Age Mesopotamian goat herders to behave rationally?

    For sane, rational people, such behaviour is completely unreasonable, but we aren’t dealing with sane, rational people. They are religious nut jobs.

  2. #2 fr0gfish
    May 15, 2010

    In the article he says that he had been in another city to get his glasses fixed after they were broken when he was assaulted the other day. And his homepage has just been hacked. The believers have been busy.

  3. #3 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 15, 2010

    His enemies set his house on fire.

    As we all know, Islam is a religion of peace.

  4. #4 JohnnieCanuck
    May 15, 2010

    …and they will kill you if you deny that it is a religion of peace.

  5. #5 Aaron Baker
    May 15, 2010

    Re # 1: “Bronze Age Mesopotamian goat herders . . . .”

    It’s Iron Age Palestinian goat herders, Goddammit; we’ve been over this before.

  6. #6 Aaron Baker
    May 15, 2010

    And I think I’d look pretty deranged, too . . . if someone had set my freaking house on fire.

  7. #7 Sili, The Unknown Virgin
    May 15, 2010

    Careful now.

    This is only one side of the story, I’m sure.

    (inappropriate wink goes here)

  8. #8 redrabbitslife
    May 15, 2010

    He might be a deranged right wing prick (he might not, I don’t know the guy, all I know about him I learned here), but this is nuts.

    This week, he’s been attacked in a lecture hall, had two attempts at burning his house down, and had his website hacked. Not to mention the bounty on his head which increased if his throat gets slit.

    Disproportionate response much?

    It’s a freaking cartoon. Not a very good one, at that. WTF?

  9. #9 AJ Milne OM
    May 15, 2010

    And I think I’d look pretty deranged, too . . . if someone had set my freaking house on fire…

    Again not especially on topic, I think actually the ‘slightly deranged’ look mostly has to do with some issue with his glasses… They’re not quite on his head right. That always gives an off-putting quality in portraiture. Hollywood likes to play with this especially for mad scientist characters. Hang ‘em far enough out on the nose, have the actor take ‘em off and rub his nose regularly or whichever, it creates a certain impression.

    And you’ll note that he was out of his house in the first place during the arson attempt to get them fixed. Didn’t take or he rushed home, I’d guess.

  10. #10 Day
    May 15, 2010

    Why don’t they just write his documentary for him, I mean they are giving him ammunition against them left and right, do these people even comprehend the irony of all of this?

  11. #11 Shplane
    May 15, 2010

    God damn. Shit like this makes all the anti-muslim xenophobia seem justified. I mean, as awful as that sounds, how can you want a group of people in your country if they’re going to start BURNING PEOPLE’S HOUSES DOWN the second they’re criticized in any way?

  12. #12 Blind Squirrel FCD
    May 15, 2010

    It’s a freaking cartoon. Not a very good one, at that. WTF?

    From Wiki:

    On 11 June 2007, Vilks was invited to participate in an art exhibition on the theme “The Dog in Art” (Swedish: Hunden i konsten) that was to be held in the small town of Tällerud in Värmland. Vilks submitted three pen and ink drawings on A4 paper depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a roundabout dog. At this time, Vilks was already participating with drawings of Muhammad in another exhibition in Vestfossen, Norway, on the theme “Oh, My God”. Vilks, who is a known proponent of institutional art, has stated that his original intention with the drawings was to “examine the political correctness within the boundaries of the art community”. According to Vilks, the art and culture communities in Sweden repeatedly criticize the United States and Israel, whereas Muslim values are rarely even questioned.

    The cartoon was not meant to be deathless art; it was a quick concept sketch.

    BS

  13. #13 Glen Davidson
    May 15, 2010

    But when you respond to an insult to your beliefs with violence and destruction, you have moved beyond the boundaries of civilization

    Oh, I don’t know, plenty of civilizations have incorporated such violence into its raison d’etre.

    Am I just being pedantic? I don’t think so. Granting that it’s well beyond civilization to attack him as they’re doing (because it’s against the tenets of Western Civilization today), but they’re in favor of a civilization that violates persons for the sake of idiotic beliefs.

    IOW, it’s altogether too possible to have a civilization that merrily visits violence upon people for “thought crimes,” etc. By doing so, they violate humanity corporately, but I can’t say that they’re particularly bothering the structures and possibilities inherent in “civilization.”

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  14. #14 jagannath
    May 15, 2010

    Appropriate cartoon on the issue

  15. #15 Birger Johansson
    May 15, 2010

    Regarding the poor quality of the cartoon: Elsewhere on Scienceblogs it has been pointed out that it was originally a sketch for an art installation. For some reason, the crude sketch was published.
    The subject for the art installation was apparently a “traffic roundabout dog”, a cultural grass-roots phenomenon where people make the cityscape less sterile by placing sculptures of dogs in the roundabouts.

    BTW, Vilks is not a nazi, even though this has been claimed.

  16. #16 Walton
    May 15, 2010

    God damn. Shit like this makes all the anti-muslim xenophobia seem justified.

    No. No it doesn’t.

  17. #17 Duckbilled Platypus
    May 15, 2010

    What I find particularly insightful is that, considering nobody has an f-ing clue what this particular prophet looked like and nobody could possibly positively identify a sketch as The Man, it means you’re OK to draw anything until you stick the label “Muhammad” to it.

    So – shouldn’t we start our very own Muhammad exhibition? Draw anything – a TV, an airplane, a ballerina, your national monument, Michael Jackson, a clock face, squid – and call it Muhammad.

    Bonus points for anyone who gets death threats over a flowerpot drawing.

  18. #18 Birger Johansson
    May 15, 2010

    @12 Sorry, I overlooked that it had been covered already.

  19. #19 fishiwiki
    May 15, 2010

    Pretty bad – despite the minor superficial damage, he says he’s now frightened, something he never mentioned before: http://www.aftonbladet.se/webbtv/nyheter/inrikes/article7131917.ab

    This is not acceptable, no matter what. This is a good reason why we need millions of people to join in on the “Draw Mohammed Day” – they might be happy to do so, but killing millions of people is definitely going to get them some seriously bad press.

  20. #20 Rob
    May 15, 2010

    To be fair, PZ, almost no one on the other thread condoned the use of violence against the cartoonist. They mostly objected to the suggestion that the cartoon, which they viewed as racist, be widely published as a response to the violence.

  21. #21 Galen
    May 15, 2010

    This is just wrong on so many levels.

    For whatever reasons those delinquents falsely believe that they are entitled to such action, even then they should realize that continuous physical attacks from a group vs. a single human being are unjustified and immoral. No matter what else is going through their heads at the time.

    If it again turns out to be a religiously motivated crime (Just to be cautious, we don’t really know yet, however likely it is.), I want to emphasize, that it’s up to the Muslims to deal with this problem.

    Their community has to control the idiots in their midst. They have the obligation as well as the means to do it. And if they don’t, the increasing stains on their public image are well deserved and far from mere prejudice.

    You have a homemade image problem, people, deal with it.

  22. #22 redrabbitslife
    May 15, 2010

    Personally, I’m totally offended by our local Elvis Festival. I mean, this is the King they’re mangling.

    Have some respect, people.

    Excuse me while I go make some molotov cocktails.

  23. #23 Duckbilled Platypus
    May 15, 2010

    “Draw Mohammed Day”

    There you go. And just when I thought I had a pretty fun idea, the Internet solemnly declares that no matter what idea you have, someone else had it before you.

  24. #24 Birger Johansson
    May 15, 2010

    @ 17: South Park had an episode where Jesus got Yahweh to actually come down to Earth in person….and he looked like a complete mutant. Apparently God is fair prey, but not his prophets.
    Other visualisation ideas: What about a Rorschach ink blot? The Michelin Man? Bambi? There are not any religious rules against portraying cute deers, are there?
    If I make a real-life drawing of a bloke named “Muhammed”, does that count? If I name my dog “Muhammed”, is that offensive? Suppose it is a Swizz avalanche dog that has saved dozens of lives, would it still be offensive?

  25. #25 kantalope
    May 15, 2010

    So Walton, when would anti-muslim feelings be justified?

    radical muslim types claim they are acting like jerks because of their religion. Moderates don’t condemn the conduct of the radicals much…it is always couched as “well they may have gone overboard but their actions are understandable…” and really, if they claim that they can’t be peaceable members of society because of their religion, don’t we have to take their word for it?

    The best part is that the ban on idols is supposed to keep the faithful on the path of peace…but now they have turned the ban itself into an idol. Oh, irony why are you so ironic?

  26. #26 Kirk
    May 15, 2010

    It’s a freaking cartoon. Not a very good one, at that.

    Maybe you’re on to something.

    Maybe the muslim fanatics aren’t killing people and burning houses and torching embassies and assaulting people because of cartoons of Mohammed.

    Maybe they’re just pissed about low quality cartoons, and unfortunately they aren’t very articulate about it.

    Maybe they just want the cartoonists to pull their socks up. They want to be on Calvin and Hobbes, and they’re pissed that it’s not being written anymore.

  27. #27 Alverant
    May 15, 2010

    You have to wonder why web comics like “Jesus and Mo” and “Gods Playing Poker” haven’t received threats. Especially the latter since it’s clearly their prophet and he’s doing the forbidden act of gambling. (Of course in the former, he’s doing the forbidden act of drinking, just not as often.)

  28. #28 Blind Squirrel FCD
    May 15, 2010

    Birger Johansson @24

    If I name my dog “Muhammed”, is that offensive?

    Well, I wouldn’t recommend naming your teddy bear Mohammed.

    BS

  29. #29 ZK
    May 15, 2010

    @21

    I want to emphasize, that it’s up to the Muslims to deal with this problem.

    Bollox.

    The more usual response to attempts at arson and murder, in civilised societies, is to track down the perps, try then convict them, and send them to clink for a number of years. This regardless of which brand of men in funny hats they happen to follow.

  30. #30 windy
    May 15, 2010

    Longer video of the aftermath of the attack (some of you still think there was ‘no mob’?):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQQAWrIvBoI

    Comments from the Iranian artist who made the offending video:

    http://www.axess.se/blog/post/2010/05/15/Sooreh-Hera-om-Lars-Vilks.aspx

  31. #31 redrabbitslife
    May 15, 2010

    @Kirk: Maybe they’ll like the garish-colours-on-velvet version I have hanging on my fake-wood-panelling wall over my orange-and-brown sofa.

  32. #32 AJ Milne OM
    May 15, 2010

    Maybe they’ll like the garish-colours-on-velvet version I have hanging on my fake-wood-panelling wall over my orange-and-brown sofa.

    (Rummages in closet…)

    ‘Kay… I just know I left my pitchfork ‘n matching torch in here somewhere

    (/Death also to those who still own Naugahyde…)

  33. #33 Galen
    May 15, 2010

    @29:
    I want to emphasize, that it’s up to the Muslims to deal with this problem. – Bollox. The more usual response to attempts at arson and murder, in civilised societies, is to track down the perps, …

    Not saying the authorities shouldn’t deal with the crime after it has been commited, but that Muslims have to prevent lunatics emerging from their midsts, IF they care for what they are seen by other people. If they don’t care, and inactivity as well as unsuccessfulness will show that, they have to accept the label of being a dangerous group not to be trusted.

    We will not solve this, they must. (For a variety of reasons.)

  34. #34 Sastra
    May 15, 2010

    0 <— Mohammad

  35. #35 Sastra
    May 15, 2010

    Hm, that didn’t come out right.

    0 ( = Mohammad)

  36. #36 Kirk
    May 15, 2010

    @redrabbitslife
    :D

    I can imagine that it’s beautiful.

    Probably would go well with the rug with four dogs playing cards, which was always one of my favorites.

  37. #37 Jessie
    May 15, 2010

    It’s not up to Muslims to deal with this to any greater extent than anyone else. Islam is not one group with the same beliefs and it is not one community but is spread around.

    General labelling of some groups as trouble-makers is dangerous.

  38. #38 frog, Inc.
    May 15, 2010

    Re: xenophobia & racism.

    That’s not why they’re attacking him. If the reasoning of the attackers was that he was aiding and abetting racist violence against them, then we’d have a different discussion.

    But that’s not why he’s being attacked. He’s not being attacked for drawing ME’ers with big noses and secret plots to rule the world, or raping the white lasses or what not.

    He’s being attacked for blaspheming their idol — for not taking their little god of pencil & paper seriously.

    To bring in the history of racism and xenophobia here is completely inappropriate. It denigrates the work of those actually fighting against racism and puts it at the level of tribalistic solidarity, of protecting one’s “ideas” from challenge.

    The worst enemy of the left is the left, reducing important issues to their shadows.

  39. #39 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk25bzfeJzooxtW_G2Jo9aQu4IkVxU0jns
    May 15, 2010

    Jessie made my point before I could. Islam is no more a united front than Christianity, and lumping them together is bigoted, but distressingly common among Westerners. I have no respect for the faith (or any other), but we can’t lay this at the feet of all Islam. It would be like laying the Catholic kiddie-diddling scandals at the feet of all Christianity, even Lutherans ,C of E members, even some Unitarians who have squishy Christian leanings.

  40. #40 Pierce R. Butler
    May 15, 2010

    Look, people, once again we don’t know the whole story here.

    Have you considered that he might have been doing animal experiments in his home?

    * ducks ‘n’ runs *

  41. #41 MadScientist
    May 15, 2010

    Oh no, the usual bullshit about the “good muslims”. Oh, the “good muslims” wouldn’t do this. Well, those good muslims aren’t doing Jack Shit to stop it, are they? There are no condemnations of the barbarism which don’t also insert some pathetic excuse for the “good muslims”. Now what has the mohammedan cult done to prevent this? Nothing – in fact the mohammedan cult encourages it. Individual cult members may not do such things, but even the individual members don’t seem so keen to put an end to it; they just cry about being persecuted and how “not true muslim” would do such a thing. Now if there was just no worship of mohammed and allah, the loons would have to find some other excuse to murder.

  42. #42 Jessie
    May 15, 2010

    Islam has many adherents who are classified by others as ‘not sufficiently pious to be classed as proper Muslims’. It is not even vaguely one cohesive religion but instead has numerous factions who do not trust one another.

    The ‘them and us’ mentality expressed by many people in the West is truly frightening.

  43. #43 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    May 15, 2010

    There! A disclaimer! Thank you! Was that so hard? That’s /all/ I wanted!

    Fuck anyone who burns a house for- Actually, any god damn reason whatsoever, but especially as ‘retaliation’ for any kind of speech.

    Not saying the authorities shouldn’t deal with the crime after it has been commited, but that Muslims have to prevent lunatics emerging from their midsts, IF they care for what they are seen by other people.

    So it is entirely seemly then, that the Faitheists and Religionists compare us all to baby eating Mao and Stalin?

  44. #44 Pierce R. Butler
    May 15, 2010

    Birger Johansson @ # 15: Regarding the poor quality of the cartoon: … it was originally a sketch for an art installation.

    Would it be excessively pedantic to point out that such sketches were the original meaning of the word “cartoon”?

    Oh. Well – too late now…

  45. #45 Galen
    May 15, 2010

    @37 / @39
    It’s not up to Muslims to deal with this to any greater extent than anyone else.[1] Islam is not one group with the same beliefs and it is not one community but is spread around.[2]

    I’d challenge that [1]:
    (Assuming again, the perps were Muslims and religiously motivated for the sake of the argument.)

    People likely to know about tendencies of individuals to act violently on behalf of their believes will be found in the same group: their neighbours, families, friends, preachers, co-workers. They are in a position to positively influence and act against violent outbursts. On the other hand, a completely unconnected person neither knows nor can do anything effective. Thus, the former has a greater duty to take action than the latter. [1]

    If a whole group is in favour of violence, and noone inside will speak-out or realize the misdirection, it is again much more likely that a somewhat familiar, related second group with a slightly different, maybe less-fundamentalist mindset will be the first to notice and again be best positioned to influence the first. Much more so, than a group from a completely different cultural background. [2]

    Plus, however (un)justified it may be, as long as you stick with the label Muslim, you’ll be seen in relation (not in complete agreement!) to other people calling themselves the same.

    Hence, it is as much in their own interest as they are in the best position to do something about the radical elements of their general, diverse, wide-spread belief system. And from this, I think, a greater pressure/duty to act derives.

  46. #46 Galen
    May 15, 2010

    @43
    So it is entirely seemly then, that the Faitheists and Religionists compare us all to baby eating Mao and Stalin?

    They can compare “us all” (whoever that is), to whatever they want. They can even draw cartoons about it. I couldn’t care less. I do care about bringing bodily harm to other people. And I doubt either Mao or Stalin ate a baby.

    “Seemly”, wtf, it’s not even “seemly” to show ankle someplaces, and the ridiculousness thereof equals the length of the skirts in those places. What measure of right and wrong could that ever be?! It’s not seemly, but who cares? That’s at best a basis for being offended, and that again, is no basis for nothing at all.

  47. #47 frisbeetarian
    May 15, 2010

    I think all Catholics who don’t publicly and strongly criticize the Church for hiding rapists are cowards and I feel the same way about Muslims who don’t condemn this sort of violence, cowards. It makes me suspicious of either one.

  48. #48 Jessie
    May 15, 2010

    Galen
    Just because you label yourself as Muslim does not mean you are the same as other Muslims. It would be reasonable to expect people to know about the differences between them given coverage of the situations in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. I suspect many people choose to ignore this as it suits them to think of Muslims as ‘the enemy’.

    As far as responsibility is concerned, does someone who is white have a greater duty to deal with white supremacists than anyone else?

    Why do you believe that Muslims are not taking action to prevent violence? Do you just assume that nothing is being done?

  49. #49 Shatterface
    May 15, 2010

    ‘Jesus and Mo’ hasn’t faced death threats because ‘Mo’ isn’t Mohammed, he’s a ‘look-alike’. That gives the author a degree of plausible deniability.

    Nobody knows what Mo really looked like so I suggest just adding stickers with the word ‘Mohammed’ onto pre-existing pictures of other people. That way you aren’t drawing a picture of Mohammed, you are simply saying this picture you are already familiar with is Mohammed; after all, it’s a bit late to get offended by the Mona Lisa or Ronald McDonald.

    This would be something akin to ‘found art’. ‘Mohammed’ should be in Duchamp-style script.

  50. #50 Jessie
    May 15, 2010

    Frisbeetarian
    Should we expect PZ to watch the media and ‘publicly and strongly criticize’ anyone with a beard who carries out a crime? After all, if he doesn’t, it must mean he condones such a crime, mustn’t it?

  51. #51 Shatterface
    May 15, 2010

    ‘Would it be excessively pedantic to point out that such sketches were the original meaning of the word “cartoon”?’

    I’ve seen da Vinci’s cartoons and he’s no Gary Larson.

  52. #52 Galen
    May 15, 2010

    @48:
    As far as responsibility is concerned, does someone who is white have a greater duty to deal with white supremacists than anyone else? [1]

    [2] Why do you believe that Muslims are not taking action to prevent violence? Do you just assume that nothing is being done? [2]

    [1] Being white is not a believe system, you can’t turn you back on it and embrace another, therefore bad analogy. Having said this, I do believe it’s up to Americans to deal with American racists first, as it is to Europeans to deal with theirs first, etc. For reasons stated above. I don’t say nobody else should care, only they should care much more.

    [2] Because the violence is not prevented. Basically.

  53. #53 Galen
    May 15, 2010

    @50:
    Should we expect PZ to watch the media and ‘publicly and strongly criticize’ anyone with a beard who carries out a crime? After all, if he doesn’t, it must mean he condones such a crime, mustn’t it?

    If the Church of Beards was an organized religion, PZ a paying member, and the crimes motivated by the Creed of Beard, I’d strongly expect him to leave his faith behind, if members can’t change the demeanor of their leaders and thus their fellow believers. In beards.

  54. #54 Ströh
    May 15, 2010

    This isn’t a “Muslim problem”. This is a problem with some people who are Muslims.

    Put it this way: last night I watched “Mississippi Burning” from 1988. In it is a scene where a number of black people riot after a miscarriage of justice at the local court where a number of white offenders are given overly lenient sentences for crimes against black victims.

    Do they riot because they are black? In a way, yes they are. They would not riot if they were not.

    Is their behavior explainable by some quality we may call “blackness”, or as a local racist deputy in the movie puts it, that they are just “a bunch of crazy blacks”? No. They riot because they feel discriminated against.

    The same way of thinking must be applied to these events. The perpetrators do in a way commit their crimes because they are Muslims but this does not even begin to explain the true reasons behind it all.

    The solution is not to judge the entire group by the acts of a few. The overwhelming majority of Muslims, I’m going to guess well over 95 %, are no more likely to commit crimes than the average Swede. Some may like to call them “silent supporters” but the fact of the matter is that they commit no crime. They are lawful citizen and cannot deserve to be punished for the crimes of others, that goes against the entire principle of justice.

    Criticize Islam all you want for believe me, it is deserving criticism. But stop when you start to create stereotypes based on Islam and apply them to people: they may not fit very well and could easily cause more harm than good.

  55. #55 Kausik Datta
    May 15, 2010

    Pardon me, Jessie. In your fervor, you may have been carrying the metaphor a bit too much.

    Should we expect PZ to watch the media and ‘publicly and strongly criticize’ anyone with a beard who carries out a crime?

    If you find someone committing a crime in the name of the beard, it is probably likely that PZ would speak out against it.

    The idiots and thugs who have been attacking Vilks are being decried as Muslims simply because they claim to be undertaking the violent acts in the name of Islam, purportedly to defend the tenets of their faith. Do you understand this?

    That is the reason all the Muslims – moderate, hardliner, this sect, that sect – run the risk of getting lumped together with the lumpens. And Galen is right, this will continue unless the moderate Muslims speak out more convincingly to decry such acts, and to denounce the perpetrators. It cannot be ‘them and us’. It has to be ‘them and them’.

    And plenty of moderate Muslims across various countries, intellectuals, artists, poets, authors, have already distanced themselves from these dastardly acts. But they are but a speck amidst a sea of followers of a religion that is actively interpreted to promote violence and fundamentalism.

    Was it you who brought up the context of pedophilia and the Catholic church, and whether all Christians should denounce them? The inequities of the Church have already engendered widespread outrage, but at least the pedophile priests did not pretend to be doing it in the name of the Church. If they did, the fallout would have been massive.

  56. #56 Ströh
    May 15, 2010

    #52:

    That’s a nice thought but you now as well as I that is never the case. Hostile groups are always most forcefully acted against by the groups they attack, not the groups that are loosely affiliated with them.

    Was the NAACP created by white people disgusted by how the KKK tried to champion them? Well, no. Although a fair group became an active minority.

    Are the European left wing parties overly active in reining in the Marxist extremists who riot at G8 and European Council summits, or assault Neo-Nazis? Not really.

    How much resistance do the nutcases of the Tea-Party movement face from the republicans in the US although the former should be appalled at how former how corrupted conservative ideology? None. In some case they even receive support.

    Simply put, people do not tend to go strongly against aggressive movements when they do not see that they have anything to lose by not doing it and sees nothing to gain. It goes against human nature. The demand of moderate Muslims to be the first in history to do so in order to receive any form of equal treatment is a bit inhumane, bluntly put.

  57. #57 Galen
    May 15, 2010

    Hope Ströh didn’t refer to me as “creating stereotypes”, not sure, though.

    The previous in a nutshell: Those in the best position to achieve a positive effect, who also coincidently have an interest in this effect as they will benefit from it the most, should act first.
    Everyone else step in afterwards, but less will be achieved and much slower.

    This is fun, but it’s getting too late. :) Back for more tomorrow, I guess. Good night everyone.

  58. #58 MarkL
    May 15, 2010

    If I were an artist, I would try drawing and painting beautiful, devotional representations of Mohammed, showing all the important scenes of his life. That ought to create some cognitive dissonance.

  59. #59 Jessie
    May 15, 2010

    @52:

    Being white is not a believe system, you can’t turn you back on it and embrace another, therefore bad analogy. Having said this, I do believe it’s up to Americans to deal with American racists first, as it is to Europeans to deal with theirs first, etc. For reasons stated above. I don’t say nobody else should care, only they should care much more.

    I don’t see how the fact that being white is not a belief system is relevant. I was talking about responsibility for those you regard as part of your group. I don’t feel a particular responsibility for the actions of other people who share characteristics with me and don’t see why Muslims should feel responsibilty for the actions of those who share characteristics with them.

    Because the violence is not prevented. Basically.

    Just because some violent acts happen, you cannot assume that others have not been prevented. It would be hard to prevent every single one. Sometimes, I suspect that family and co-workers are as surprised as anyone else.

  60. #60 MarkL
    May 15, 2010

    P.S.,
    surely I”m not the only one who thinks the Abrahamic religions went downhill after Judaism.
    (I was raised Episcopalian).
    I have a lot of respect for what I read in the OT, where men contemplated the deepest issues of human life with their whole hearts and minds.
    As PZ has alluded to, the honest recognition of God’s arbitrary and capricious nature in books such as Job can be seen as the glimmering of an understanding that there really is no God taking care of us. The story of Jacob and Esau clearly shows that the “God”-given right of primogeniture is in conflict with how the same “God” bestows his gifts on children, for another example
    Sure, some of the OT is brutal and vicious, but it wasn’t out of the norm for the era.

    Then comes Jesus, whoever he was.
    The NT is such a vapid wish-fulfillment fantasy, with the depth of rice paper, and books like Revelation which read like they were written by a psychotic. Then there was Paul: the Tony Roberts of the 1st Century. He certainly knew some tricks of human psychology, but he set back the course of religious philosophy while creating the church.

    I know almost nothing about Islam, but considering how many people were slaughtered to spread Islam after Mohammed died—nothing like the way Christianity originally spread—I can’t believe it was an improvement on the preceding versions.

  61. #61 Ströh
    May 15, 2010

    #57: I meant it in a general way, not a critical way. We all create stereotypes all the time – you actually did by even mentioning American and Europeans dealing with “their” racists. Stereotype may not be the right word due to its controversial undertone, lets call it “categories”.

    American racists are the moral responsibility of Americans only because they happen to belong to the same broad category. An american may still claim that this is unfair, they could say that “us Northerner can’t be blamed for what those Southerner are up to” and reject the original category for two new ones, to mention another example from the american civil rights period. A Southerner can then claim that it is all about what state you live in. A state-dweller can say it’s a matter of city. And so on, straight down to family members refusing to feel shame for what the black sheep has been up to.

    Of course everything would be easier if all categories would accept the category imposed on them and begin to combat only the faults within said category before going after the faults of categories.

    The reason this so rarely happens is because the reality really is more complex than that and that even when such struggles exist they may be overlooked because they do not fit the predetermined pattern.

  62. #62 Galen
    May 15, 2010

    Quicky:
    @56: “In order to receive any form of equal treatment”? Not sure what you mean here.

    Apart from that: Simply put, people do not tend to go strongly against aggressive movements when they do not see that they have anything to lose by not doing it and sees nothing to gain.

    Exactly my point: I refuse to hold the inactive free from blame any longer. Chosing convenience above telling off maybe parts of their family and friends is the wrong choice. It justifies directing part (!) of the blame on them. It may be natural, may have always been this way, but that’s no excuse: If you can’t act differently, live with the blame.

    Gn8

  63. #63 Insightful Ape
    May 15, 2010

    “Religion of peace” is not just a mistranslation. It is a conscious misrepresentation. “Islam” means submission (to allah). And as evidenced here, it extends to those who do not practice it.

  64. #64 MarkL
    May 15, 2010

    Stroh,
    It seems to me that your analogy between Mississippi Burning and the attacks on Vilks are not at all.
    One difference is that the offence of Vilks is completely trivial compared to what happened in Missisippi.
    Second,it’s worth pointing out that Vilks is a private citizen, attacked and terrorized for one drawing he made, whereas in Mississippi the protests were against the legal authority which was abusing his power. In fact, Vilks is the one who is being discriminated against and terrorized by a mob.

  65. #65 secularguy
    May 15, 2010

    “I … don’t see why Muslims should feel responsibilty for the actions of those who share characteristics with them.”

    The way I see it, when you claim adherence to a thought system and ideology such as Islam or Christianity, you are supporting that system, which makes you responsible to some degree.

  66. #66 Ströh
    May 15, 2010

    #62

    Equal treatment in the sense of presumption of innocence would be my idea. In other words, not behaving as anyone reading a Qur’an on the bus or spitting after women in burkhas. I’m not saying you do this or condone of it, I’m quite certain you don’t, I’m saying that it is unfair to start treating some people badly – directing part of the blame on them – based on what other people do. After all, how do you suggest we urge the Muslims to act if not acting has no negative consequences in the way you put it?

    It is astonishing how we can be so agreed on the background but still differ so greatly on the outcome of an action. As I understand it you see it this way: if we start using negative incentives (sticks) on moderate Muslims when extremists commit crimes, the moderate Muslims will stop the extremists from committing crimes in order to avoid the stick.

    The way I see it, it is far more likely that they will first feel the pain and then proceed to ally themselves even further with extremists and hope to wrest the stick away from us. Using force (any force) on a population to get to a radical minority will almost always result in a radicalization of the group as a whole. A highly unenviable outcome.

    Populations are not mechanistic, they act in a dynamic fashion. We should know this by now after observing centuries of occupations failing because the chose to alienate the occupied populations rather than allying themselves with it, for example.

  67. #67 Ströh
    May 15, 2010

    # A piece fell out of the previous post. It should be “behaving as if people reading the Qur’an on the bus are all terrorists”, obviously.

  68. #68 MarkL
    May 15, 2010

    Secularguy, there is no legal basis for your idea—in fact, what you suggest is known as collective punishment and is considered repellent by civilized people.

  69. #69 Ströh
    May 15, 2010

    #64: Correct, but that was’nt the point of the analogy, which I pointed out.

    The point was to illustrate how easy it is for an outside observer to oversimplify an explanation for an event down to a simple common denominator.

    The black people rioted because they were being discriminated against. The deputy only saw one of the things they had in common, that they were black. Not their shared emotions.

    The same thing applies here: these people are not attacking Vilks because they are Muslims but because they have so incorporated Mohammed into themselves that they feel real emotional anguish over what Vilks have been doing and lash out. They may not be in the right, but they act in an understandable factor. What I can not understand is why they did incorporate Mohammed to such an extent into themselves – but this is they key to the true explanation of the events, not the fact that they are Muslims. Otherwise we would have seen tens of thousand of angry rioters, not a mere dozen.

  70. #70 MarkL
    May 15, 2010

    Stroh,
    It seems as if you almost want strip the significance of Islam from the incidents, which I can’t agree with.
    Look, even in the US, Christian religious extremists are investigated if they form conspiracies to commit violent acts. In these cases, for these people, their beliefs are an essential part of understanding their actions; the same applies to those Muslims in Sweden who are trying to kill Vilks.
    If there’s a need to investigate certain religious organizations which are fomenting violence, there should be no more hesitation than if one were investigating an Elk’s lodge on similar grounds.

  71. #71 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    May 15, 2010

    They can compare “us all” (whoever that is), to whatever they want. They can even draw cartoons about it. I couldn’t care less. I do care about bringing bodily harm to other people.

    You suck at reading comprehension.

    You said this:

    Not saying the authorities shouldn’t deal with the crime after it has been commited, but that Muslims have to prevent lunatics emerging from their midsts, IF they care for what they are seen by other people.

    You impute the blame for crazy people in Islam to moderates.

    I turned this claim around:
    Do we, and PZ, have the blame for not stopping Mao and Stalin?

    And I doubt either Mao or Stalin ate a baby.

    All atheists do. Have you not been getting the invites to the monthly barbecues? I’ll talk to the clerical department, there’s no reason for yout o miss out for that.

    “Seemly”, wtf, it’s not even “seemly” to show ankle someplaces, and the ridiculousness thereof equals the length of the skirts in those places. What measure of right and wrong could that ever be?! It’s not seemly, but who cares? That’s at best a basis for being offended, and that again, is no basis for nothing at all.

    I blame Civ4 and too much of it.

    “It is entirely seemly for a young man killed in battle to lie mangled by the bronze spear. In his death, all things appear fair.”

  72. #72 secularguy
    May 15, 2010

    MarkL

    my comment wasn’t intended to say anything about any “punishment”, collective or not, or anything “legal”.

  73. #73 Ströh
    May 15, 2010

    MarkL, Islam plays an enormous part in why these particular Muslims behaved as they did and I detest it for it.

    The problem comes when you do this: first you conclude (correctly) that Islam is the greatest single cause for the actions. You then decide to start cracking down on Islam in every believer by stating that they are co-conspirators. Then you think this will somehow make them less religious and will thus weaken Islam. This just isn’t the case.

    I’m not an accomoditionist or apologist in any sense of those words, but I don’t think this is the time to use the whip on Islam in Sweden. Whips are effective when attacking structures that have achieved dominance over time, like Christianity in the United States. It shocks people into seeing them as something other than objective truths.

    But using violent extremists as whips on Islam in Sweden will not work because that whip is all used up – Islam have been beaten into a corner in this game ever since 9/11, continuing to whip Muslims over this will only convince some of them even further that we will never stop whipping no matter what they do.

    There are certain facets in Islam where whips of the right kind could do the trick: discussing why Muslims in Somalia would stone a raped child with a Muslim would be an effective whip, for example, as it would force that person to take a new look on those tenets used.

    But at the moment it would be much more effective if we showed that we are not after the very identity of every Muslim in Sweden, we are not the Borg attempting to assimilate them. Islambashing has gone far further than what could ever be considered beneficial for society.

  74. #74 MarkL
    May 15, 2010

    Stroh,
    Are you in Sweden?
    I don’t know the extent of “Islam bashing” there, nor did I suggest that any action be taken against Muslims in general.
    That said, there’s no reason extremist mosques can’t be investigated.
    For instance, any Mullah in Sweden who in his official capacity repeats the fatwa against Vilks
    ought to be charged with some crime, and possibly deported, as a fatwa with a is a conspiracy to commit murder.

  75. #75 MarkL
    May 15, 2010

    Does Sweden have hate crime laws?
    IMO, such laws are appropriate for dealing with the people attacking Vilks.

  76. #76 Givesgoodemail
    May 15, 2010
  77. #77 Ströh
    May 15, 2010

    MarkL, Actually I am. I just happen to have accidentally adopted an east-coast sleep schedule. Now that I think of it, perhaps it is a bit silly of me to somehow assume you now all the finer details about the situation. Of course there is no way you can.

    Actually: all of that can happen. I some cases it actually already has. Mosques with known extremist connections are being investigated and have been for some time and mentioning something in a religious sermon is no defense against prosecution. Actually, a Christian priest was sentenced to jail over gay bashing some years ago in a high-profile case, it fell under “Incitement to Hatred”. Imams have been involved in prosecution for lesser crimes. A Mullah repeating the fatwa could easily be sentenced to jail for “Incitement to Murder” which is a serious crime.

    The situation for Muslims in Sweden have taken an increasingly sharp turn for the worse since 9/11. Like many other European nations we risk getting a designated Anti-Islamic party in parliament in the election this fall – when you talk about putting the pressure on Muslims on Sweden today you talk about preventing them from building mosques, making any form av Burkha och Niqab illegal, closing the borders completely for asylum seekers from Islamic countries and deporting the whole family of anyone committing a crime.

    These events do not occur because the pressure is not enough. They are caused by too much pressure.

  78. #78 Ströh
    May 15, 2010

    MarkL: Yes, we do have hate crimes, but they would not be applicable here. The Swedish version of hate crime refers to attacking someone due to their race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

    Preventing Vilks from executing his freedom of speech could be a factor a prosecutor brings up in court to argue a more severe penalty, however.

  79. #79 Xenithrys
    May 15, 2010

    One explanation I have heard of the Islam = peace idea is that peace can only exist within an Islamic society where everyone is a Muslim. Outside Islamic societies a state of war exists when Muslims coexist with infidels, until the infidels all become Muslim I guess. As an idea, I guess it explains some things, though I doubt everyone in say Saudi Arabia finds the society there harmonious and peaceful.
    And if anyone burns my house down or tries to kill me, I’ll retaliate by drawing a cartoon of their prophet.

  80. #80 Ken
    May 15, 2010

    It’s always annoying when some radical moron from a group you identify with does something like try to kill someone you disagree with.

    If an atheist were to attack a pastor I would condemn the action. But here’s the thing. I would NOT then say things like “While he shouldn’t have done such a terrible thing, I understand and sympathize with why he did it and to prevent such a thing from happening again we should take away the pastor’s right to preach since his sermon offends all atheists.”

    I would say that I did NOT understand why the moron thought he had the right to resort to violence and that that in no way is there any reason to resort to violence because I am offended by someone else’s beliefs and words no matter how disrespectful I found them to be.

    Anyone who claims they understand and sympathize with such violent attacks is a dangerous person. Anyone who thinks the proper response to the attacks is to censor anyone who may offend someone else is even more dangerous.

    Those who consider violence in the name of their beliefs rather than open discussion need to be discouraged by others within their own belief system. They should not be encouraged by trying to justify such behavior.

  81. #81 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk25bzfeJzooxtW_G2Jo9aQu4IkVxU0jns
    May 15, 2010

    I see my point was ignored, and Jessie’s overly stretched one used as a jumping-off point. Hmmmm. Very interesting.

  82. #82 MadScientist
    May 15, 2010

    @Ken #80: That’s the problem I have with the unwarranted excuses for the “moderates” – whatever the hell that means. There is no unconditional condemnation of the action; it is always “gee, I don’t agree with that, but the victim did insult us” or something similar. I’d like to see a muslim group say “hey, it’s a fucking cartoon, get over it and get a life”. According to one news story I’d seen lately there are even muslim clerics receiving threats from other muslims because they agree that the bhurka (hijab, qitab, and all else) should be banned. It doesn’t help that their bible promotes violence in the name of mohammed or allah, but who dares say the koran is a crock of shit? The various jesus cults also engaged in murder and rape – hey, it’s all Old Testament god stuff – but there aren’t many jesus cults these days who would use the bible as an excuse for that behavior. At some point the apologists came up with the “it’s not meant to be taken literally” story. So when will the muslims get to that point and reject their bible as a source of morals? In the meantime we have folks like Osama Bin Laden who remain faithful to the words of the koran and the very existence of non-muslims is offensive to him.

  83. #83 windy
    May 16, 2010

    I see my point was ignored, and Jessie’s overly stretched one used as a jumping-off point. Hmmmm. Very interesting.

    Not really. What reason is there to assume that sectarian differences are relevant here?

    we can’t lay this at the feet of all Islam. It would be like laying the Catholic kiddie-diddling scandals at the feet of all Christianity, even Lutherans ,C of E members, even some Unitarians who have squishy Christian leanings.

    If I get a bunch of Catholics, Lutherans and C&E:rs running after me chanting “JESUS! JESUS!” because they think I insulted their prophet, I might just conclude that this has something to do with Christianity, even if the Unitarians don’t join in.

  84. #84 Ibis3
    May 16, 2010

    This wasn’t done in response to the newest installment of the ‘drawing Mohammed’ controversy, but there are cases of moderate (I use the term relatively) Muslims condemning violence:

    “In our view, these attacks are evil, and Islam requires Muslims to stand up against this evil,” the imams said in their fatwa.

    Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, said attacks on Canadian or U.S. soil are essentially attacks on Muslims.

    “We are part of this society,” he said. “This is my home, and if anybody attacks on Canada, in fact, attacks on my home.”

    The imams said it is a duty of every Muslim in Canada and the U.S. to safeguard the two countries.

    “They must expose any person, Muslim or non-Muslim, who would cause harm to fellow Canadians or Americans,” they said.

    Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/01/08/canada-muslim-fatwa-attack-canada-united-states.html#ixzz0o3n7fc76

    I think this is the sort of thing that we’re calling on the moderates to do. Encouraging imams and other Muslim leaders to denounce violence and report those who wish to cause harm to others is not the same as Muslim-bashing.

    and MarkL @#60
    I’d venture to say that you don’t know a lot about either the history of ancient Israel or Christianity. And I don’t know what bible you’ve been reading because I’m not sure how anyone who’s actually read it (and isn’t rationalising most of it away because they believe it was divinely inspired) could find anything to respect in the old testament. It hallows genocide, condones slavery, and makes a virtue of misogyny.

    They didn’t tell you, but Christianity was also spread by the sword and enforced with the stake. The only difference is that instead of invading armies, the bloodshed was mostly perpetrated through law and over a greatly extended timeline. Most of the records are lost (or never existed), but all you have to do is look at the law codes of the “barbarians” to get a glimpse of how the second major wave of conversion occurred. For example, in one law code, the penalty for having a shrine to another god was to be flogged then tied behind a horse and dragged around one’s village three times.

    In other words, don’t kid yourself into thinking that any of the three Abrahamic religions were anything but brutal from the ground up.

  85. #85 DLC
    May 16, 2010

    The points to take away from this are : First, that nobody deserves being attacked for speaking out, even if their opinion is hateful or racist or simply something disagreeable about some religion.
    I shouldn’t need to quote Voltaire to this crowd, but I will — “I do not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it “. Second : yes, it reflects poorly on any Islamic anywhere when these idiots do this kind of thing.
    Kindly spare me the No True Scotsman fallacy.
    “No true Muslim would . . . ” Bollocks.

  86. #86 Ken
    May 16, 2010

    Ibis3 #84:

    Past Christians certainly had much to be blamed for. For the moment I’m concerned about the behavior of people in the present. The modern Christians who rationalize the killings of abortion clinic workers are also evil and deserve to be called out for their moronic views.

    Those moron Christians actually think that there is no difference between a toddler and a fetus. (Which is the same twisted logic that supports the “Every Sperm is Sacred” rationale against masturbation.) The moron Muslims who rationalize the violence are doing this over a CARTOON!

    There does seem to be a disparity there, despite both views being very wrong.

    And yes, I think that if the vast majority of Muslims reacted in the same way that Syed Soharwardy did, it would help in the long run.

    Maybe the vast majority of Muslims do think that way. Maybe it’s just the media that likes to quote the morons for publicity. If so, they need to make their collective voices a lot louder.

  87. #87 WilliamJansen
    May 16, 2010

    I think it is to early to say, that they were trying to vandalize his home. This smacks a lot more of a murder-attempt.

    As for “the political ramifications” of drawing Muhammed. As a resident in Scandinavia, and a close follower of the local debate, I do feel damn close to certain that both Vilks and the Danish Muhammed-cartoons are an attempt to desensitize Muslims to religious satire. This process of desensitization is a necessary part of integrating a foreign element into the culture, and I do believe it comes from a very sincere place, that Muslims are here to stay, and we’d better talk straight about Islam and it’s relation to Scandinavian traditions of satire. These cartoons actually have plenty of Muslims supporters, who encourage them to keep going.

  88. #88 nonsensemachine
    May 16, 2010

    Somehow I doubt drawing a guy’s house on fire is more satisfying than actually doing it.

  89. #89 Katharine
    May 16, 2010

    Tomorrow I’m sticking an innocuous drawing of Muhammad up on the Muslim Students Association billboard.

  90. #90 Bernel
    May 16, 2010

    Just to be clear, this was not about the old cartoons, but about this video that Vilks showed:
    http://www.dumpert.nl/mediabase/33434/98ff6c9b/allah_ho_gaybar.html
    It is a bit more professionally designed to offend.

  91. #91 itsgood2bchildfree
    May 16, 2010

    The idea that you have to have a touchy-feely dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims to reach the point where you agree to disagree about depicting Mohammad but agree that it’s wrong to torch a guy’s house for drawing Mohammad is going way too far. No Muslim should be invited to such a dialogue, because I don’t want to be in the same room with a Muslim who tells me “it’s wrong to torch a guy’s house, but…” and then goes on a missive about how his personal feelings should override my human rights and freedom of expression. That is 100% grade-A pig excrement. It’s exactly what’s wrong with moderate Muslims. At least an extremist will tell me to my face he doesn’t believe in my right to exist or express myself. He won’t chip away at my rights little by little behind my back like a moderate.

    Mohammad should be depicted in whatever way people want him to be, regardless of the hurt feelings of crybaby Muslims.

  92. #92 windy
    May 16, 2010

    this video that Vilks showed [...] is a bit more professionally designed to offend.

    It could seem that’s all it is, if you ignore the context:

    Hera made her film to expose the hypocrisy between homosexuality and Islam. According to her, married Muslim men in Iran and Saudi Arabia frequently sleep with other guys even though homosexuality can still get you imprisoned, whipped, or even publicly executed. So she invited gay two Iranian exiles to conceal their identities by wearing masks of Muhammed and his son-in-law Ali and then suggestively posed them.

  93. #93 great.american.satan
    May 16, 2010

    http://christophocles.com/Mohammad.jpg

    My humble quickly-tossed-off contribution. Four years of art school, ladies and gentlemen!

    -

  94. #94 Ratio
    May 16, 2010

    I would encourage Muslims to respond in kind, with their own cartoons lampooning Vilks (…) and you will get no sympathy from me.

    Those criminals won’t get any sympathy from me either. I’m no cartoonist but I hope my respond will be counted in.

    I hope we are not jumping to conclusions that the thugs are muslims and doing in the name of Islam. Can we get more evidential facts that these goonies represent the whole muslim community and that they are just executing a greater conspiracy theory by the world of Islam to destroy Sweden and other puritan scandinavian countries? Starting with Lars Vilks?

    Talking about muslims to apologies for the misdeed done by any muslim criminal be it Osama or Saddam or the above is like asking all christians to apologies for the deeds of the spanish inquisition and slaughtering of non-christians during the crusade in Bethlehem. There will be millions of apologies flying around from all corners of the world and we don’t have to do anything else but keep worrying about some misfits who is going to terrorise the unfortunate non-muslim or vice versa because Islam is a religion of terror?

    Rightfully said by some here that pushing the muslims in Sweden to a corner will only cause more harm than good. Especially so when the whole world is watching. I am sure Sweden has good governance system to deal with communities of different cultures. Different communities behave and react differently to a certain degree where in some countries due to lack of education and exposures will have profound impact on the mentality of the people. Whence in one community it is taboo but others it would be a non-issue. Respect and tolerance is the way to live together.

    Lets not burn down the whole house just because we don’t like the colour of the paint.

  95. #95 Sclerophanax
    May 16, 2010

    For Draw Muhammad Day 2010 I intend to do a pastiche of medieval muslim depictions of Muhammad. A discreet, downright respectful piece that no sane person, even a particularly thin-skinned one, should have a problem with. Let’s see how they try to justify attacking that.

  96. #96 windy
    May 16, 2010

    How about inviting Vilks to Copenhagen to give the interrupted lecture? Even if originally off topic, it can probably be considered to be “Gods and Politics” territory by now.

  97. #97 Galen
    May 16, 2010

    @66:
    Equal treatment in the sense of presumption of innocence would be my idea. [...]
    I’m strongly convinced of this fundamental principle in the legal system, and any thought of damaging it would be plain crazy. Just to be clear.

    Also, when I talk about handing out blame, I’m not inferring an amount punishable as offence! I’m talking moral responsiblilty, not legal.

    It is also very important to keep in mind that blaming two people doesn’t imply blaming them to the same amount. I think many here more or less consciously blunder into that trap. Coarse example:
    The person actually committing a religiously motivated crime is to blame for all the injuries, destruction and grief caused by his action for, say, 85%. But I hand 10% to his buddy who knew about it and didn’t prevent it, 3% to his Imam who neglected to stress the peacefulness of all ways, even though he is convinced of it, 1.5% to his parents for doing a bad educational job, and 0.5% to the city’s mayor for not pushing enough for the interfaith-friendship week in the local budget board, that got later cancelled for lack of money. Hope, you get the general idea, the figures are ofc completely arbitrary in this example.

    I’m saying that it is unfair to start treating some people badly – directing part of the blame on them – based on what other people do.
    In a perfect world, yes, I’d happily judge every person on the planet in accordance to his recent full psych-evaluation. 6,821,200,000 means a lot of paper work. Hence, we categorize and group, can’t do justice to the particularities of each individuum in day-to-day life.
    Again, in the legal system, court, totally different story: The individuum is important, everything has to be looked at unbiased and in detail before judging.

    And maybe the most relevant bit to take away from my point of view: All this blaming works both ways: If you are Muslim, doing something nice will better the public image of Islam. Invite your neighbours for dinner, explain your faith in the open classroom week at your local school, take an active part in the public life, reduce misconceptions, sponsor a hospital wing – and don’t discriminate between the beneficiaries.

    After all, how do you suggest we urge the Muslims to act if not acting has no negative consequences in the way you put it?
    The negative consequences are exactly the declining public standing, which I’m sure many Muslims are concerned about. And the way to go about it, is to take action from within the religious group.

  98. #98 https://me.yahoo.com/a/NNElX.lopoxuMge1_bGvXqFvnkbkcEId0Nbpsg--#c96d1
    May 16, 2010

    The US has killed probably the order of 1 million Iraqis.

    Maybe the Iraquis should draw millions of cartoons lampooning the US.

  99. #99 Kristjan Wager
    May 16, 2010

    As for “the political ramifications” of drawing Muhammed. As a resident in Scandinavia, and a close follower of the local debate, I do feel damn close to certain that both Vilks and the Danish Muhammed-cartoons are an attempt to desensitize Muslims to religious satire. This process of desensitization is a necessary part of integrating a foreign element into the culture, and I do believe it comes from a very sincere place, that Muslims are here to stay, and we’d better talk straight about Islam and it’s relation to Scandinavian traditions of satire.

    Bullshit!

    The very same newspaper that originally published the cartoons in Denmark had a couple of years before rejected some cartoons, by one of their regular cartoonists, making fun of Jesus. These were rejected because Jyllandsposten didn’t want to offend their religious readers (who are often quite fundamentalist Christians).

  100. #100 Galen
    May 16, 2010

    @59:
    I was talking about responsibility for those you regard as part of your group. I don’t feel a particular responsibility for the actions of other people who share characteristics with me and don’t see why Muslims should feel responsibilty for the actions of those who share characteristics with them.

    a) If you care about the public image of your group, it is about how other people regard someone as part of your group.
    b) If you don’t care about the public image, all this is pointless. Then go home and be content the way it is. (Not you personally. ;)

    Just because some violent acts happen, you cannot assume that others have not been prevented. It would be hard to prevent every single one. Sometimes, I suspect that family and co-workers are as surprised as anyone else.

    Religiously motivated violent acts can all be prevented. That’s in the name. Transform your religion into a peaceful one. Be civilized, don’t hurt other people. As last resort, take away religion.
    From a more practical, smaller scale view, though: If family and friends objectively couldn’t do anything about it, maybe because they couldn’t know – (next to) no blame on them. If they chose not to do anything – rightfully throw the mud.

  101. #101 Kristjan Wager
    May 16, 2010

    The negative consequences are exactly the declining public standing, which I’m sure many Muslims are concerned about. And the way to go about it, is to take action from within the religious group.

    How do you know that the religious groups don’t take action?

    In Europe, at least, bad news about Muslims have a much higher tendency to get published than any good news. If an iman preaches peace and tolerance (as many do), it’s not reported, but if any of them preach hate, it’s front page news (plus they get a visit from the police).

    I know that in Denmark, there are religious Muslims who work hard to stop the violent tendencies of certain subgroups. Mostly successfully. Unfortunately, we only hear about those cases where they are not successful.

  102. #102 Kristjan Wager
    May 16, 2010

    Religiously motivated violent acts can all be prevented. That’s in the name. Transform your religion into a peaceful one. Be civilized, don’t hurt other people.

    History has not so far demonstrated this to be true.

    Religions tend to become less violent over time, but even so, there are always a violent fringe. Just look at the Christian Identity movement in the US, or the Jewish settlers in Israel.

  103. #103 John Morales
    May 16, 2010

    Kristjan,

    I know that in Denmark, there are religious Muslims who work hard to stop the violent tendencies of certain subgroups. Mostly successfully. Unfortunately, we only hear about those cases where they are not successful.

    How do you know this, since you don’t hear about them, by your claim?

  104. #104 Jessie
    May 16, 2010

    In Europe, at least, bad news about Muslims have a much higher tendency to get published than any good news.

    I live in the UK and I agree with you. Scary stories about Muslims will lead non-Muslims to treat them as the enemy within and Muslim moderates to believe that they are not a part of our society. That makes integration harder.

  105. #105 Mr T
    May 16, 2010

    In response to this claim:

    As for “the political ramifications” of drawing Muhammed. As a resident in Scandinavia, and a close follower of the local debate, I do feel damn close to certain that both Vilks and the Danish Muhammed-cartoons are an attempt to desensitize Muslims to religious satire.

    Kristjan Wager writes:

    Bullshit!

    The very same newspaper that originally published the cartoons in Denmark had a couple of years before rejected some cartoons, by one of their regular cartoonists, making fun of Jesus.

    Vilks is not a newspaper. No matter what his real intentions were, they have no necessary relationship with the intentions of the newspaper. This is nothing more than guilt-by-association. We shouldn’t judge peaceful Muslims by the actions of their violent counterparts, nor should we judge Vilks by the actions of racists.

  106. #106 Ken
    May 16, 2010

    The “But you are being unfair to Muslim’s” excuse won’t gain much traction on this blog where people like to point out how stupid ANY religion is.

    The violent radicals who are attacking Vilks associated Islam with their actions. If I were Muslim I would be yelling constantly about how I agreed with how terrible the actions were without trying to make excuses such as “but you don’t understand just how offensive that is” or “but you don’t realize how peaceful the rest of us are” or but you don’t understand that it’s really the media’s fault.”

    I was raised in the part of the world where making fun of the predominant religion (Christianity) and offending their believers was not only allowed but was a respectable way to make a living, such as Monty Python’s popular movies, television shows, and now even a Broadway musical.

    Look at South Park. They managed to easily get away with disrespecting EVERY major religion on the planet (along with many other institutions) until they “crossed the line” by making fun of Muslims.

    There are radicals in each of the religions being made fun of that sometimes try to do terrible things in the name of their group. There seems to be a difference, though, when it comes to Islam in modern times, which is why some people here single it out.

    It has been suggested that this difference is in the way that the “moderate,” or “mainstream,” Muslims react to these radical violent believers who associate themselves with their faith.

    “It’s the fault of how the Christian media covers us!”

    I try to regularly watch and read Al Jazeera precisely to get a different viewpoint than Christian-dominated news programs. The BBC, PBS, and Al Jazeera all seem to make an effort to be non-biased unlike other so-called news programs. (Fox, CNN, etc.) And they all seem to report regularly on the reaction of the general Muslim communities of the world to be the “but you don’t understand” crowd instead of vehemently and unequivocally condemning the violent actions.

    If Muslims want to change the attitudes toward them they need to start by never making excuses for the violent actions being done in the name of their beliefs. Then they need to hire a good PR firm (there are some really good ones in New York) and get the word out about your condemnation of these actions!

    Don’t bother with the excuses. Especially on an atheist blog.

  107. #107 Ratio
    May 16, 2010

    I wonder if the theory of penalizing a group of people with the same belief when a person/s of that group has committed a crime can hold water.

    Lets test this :-

    In the prisons of Saudi Arabia most of the criminals are muslims, so does Indonesia and many parts of the muslim countries, thus all muslims or at least the buddies of the criminals, the imams of the countries, the parents of all the criminals and mayors of the cities must be guilty by association? That would be billions of offenders.

    In prisons of the christian dominated countries like the US, scandinavia and most of europe, the criminals are mostly christians. Does guilt by association counts here?

    Should we book-em all?

  108. #108 coughlanbrianm
    May 16, 2010

    @John. #103.

    How do you know this, since you don’t hear about them, by your claim?

    This struck me as a fairly obtuse question. What am I missing?

  109. #109 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 16, 2010

    I wonder if the theory of penalizing a group of people with the same belief when a person/s of that group has committed a crime can hold water.

    Lets test this :-

    In the prisons of Saudi Arabia most of the criminals are muslims, so does Indonesia and many parts of the muslim countries, thus all muslims or at least the buddies of the criminals, the imams of the countries, the parents of all the criminals and mayors of the cities must be guilty by association? That would be billions of offenders.

    In prisons of the christian dominated countries like the US, scandinavia and most of europe, the criminals are mostly christians. Does guilt by association counts here?

    Should we book-em all?

    While I agree with the point you are trying to make, that analogy doesn’t work at all.

    There’s a difference between committing a crime and committing a crime because the religion you subscribe to commands you to do it.

    If all the Christians and Muslims in your example above were in prison for committing crimes due to commands by their religion or religious leaders then you might have a point.

  110. #110 Kristjan Wager
    May 16, 2010

    How do you know this, since you don’t hear about them, by your claim?

    I know this might come as a shock for you John, but it is actually possible to be friends with Muslims. My claim about not hearing about it, is on the general level, not the individual level.

  111. #111 Ströh
    May 16, 2010

    Mr T: Kristjan was quoting a section where someone claimed that Jyllandsposten’s motives where completely dependable – something that isn’t true, which he made evident by pointing out how they had refused to publish a cartoon of Jesus some time earlier. Vilks presence in the quote was coincidental and he didn’t mean that Vilks was a newspaper (obviously)

    As for the rest: Look, no-one is defending these people, no-one is claiming Islam did not play a part in their actions and shouldn’t be condemned and no-one is claiming those moderate Muslims who quietly support this are not to be blamed in some way. But assuming that they all are and taking it to the streets with a megaphone shouting “Islam is a religion of violence! Islam out of Sweden!” is not a very bright thing to do.

    Islam has gained almost no ground at all in Sweden because of extreme hostility from xenophobic parts of the population. Muslims are almost prevented from using their legal rights as citizens when it comes presenting suggestions in the public forum without someone shouting “Islamic takeover! Muslims are parasitic demand-machines!” And yes, the latter is verbatim. A few examples:

    School lunch. In Sweden lunch is provided free of charge (well, except taxes) to all students from the first to ninth grade and in most high schools. In some schools children of Muslim immigrants have become a majority and suggestions have been made that the school provide a kosher alternative: cue protests that they are corrupting Swedish food culture and that “when in Sweden you eat like a Swede”. Never mind that many schools have adopted vegan alternatives after suggestions from the (much smaller) vegan minority based on just as tenuous faith-based views, without any resistance.

    Public pools. In some cities, groups of Muslim women have rented pools for a few hours each week so that they can go swimming with no men watching. Cue protests that they are occupying our pools and that “when in Sweden you swim like a Swede”. Never mind that anyone can rent the pool for a fee and that womens groups have rented them for years so that they can get some privacy for water gymnastics or just to get away from the prying eyes of, you guessed it, men.

    The calendar. Swedish calendar have each day devoted to one or two names, usually the male and female version of one. Recently an MP from the Environmentalist Party proposed that we update the calendar in face of Sweden’s changing demography. He suggested replacing first names which no-one is called anymore, like Vikram, with some of the more common names without representation, like Muhammed. Cue protests that the names in the calendar are sacrosanct parts of the Swedish culture which cannot be polluted by “foreigners” and that “when in Sweden you’re name is Swedish”. Some extreme suggestions have even included stripping refugees of their foreign names and replacing it with Swedish ones, Ellis Island style, in order to “facilitate assimilation”. Yes, some neo-fascists openly claim that assimilation – not integration – is the only successful way of approaching immigration. Never mind the Borg, I guess.

    This is the political landscape we are forced to work in at the moment. This is the level of hostility Muslims are already facing. Is it really a good idea, then, to go out of our ways to vilify Islam even further? I think we may want to wait until Muslims can live their lives unharassed before we pat ourself on the back about our “superior, peaceful Swedish culture”.

  112. #112 Knockgoats
    May 16, 2010

    coughlanbrianm@108,
    You’re missing that John Morales is deliberately obtuse on this particular issue.

    Mr.T@105,
    Try reading what you are responding to: the reference was to the paper that published Westergaard’s cartoons, not Vilks’s, and was specifically pointing out the hypocrisy of that newspaper, which refused to publish satirical cartoons of Jesus, as evidence that its publication of the cartoons was not well-intentioned. (That, need I say, is absolutely no excuse for the violent response.)

    Like Rutee, I condemn the arson without reservation, and welcome PZ’s disclaimer. I am alarmed at the number of people here favouring the collective attribution of guilt, and/or unable to distinguish between Islam, a ludicrous and revolting belief system, and Muslims, most of whom are neither better nor worse than most Christians or atheists. The parallel with the RCC, by the way, is not valid: unlike Islam, the RCC is an organisation, with official membership and leadership structures, policies, etc. Islam is not.

  113. #113 Mr T
    May 16, 2010

    Ströh and Knockgoats:

    Sorry, I misunderstood. If that was Kristjan’s point, then I agree that they were acting hypocritically. I also agree that racists have appropriated legitimate criticisms of Islam for their own ends, and confused the issue: not remotely surprising. Make of that what you will, I suppose.

  114. #114 Anti_Theist-317
    May 16, 2010

    Lets put together a reward, PZ. A hit for the people who attack freedom. In this case the hit will be on those who assault Vik. I will be the first to donate.

    I forget how much I offered last time. But, now we have some new circumstances to consider.

    If 10,000 people give a buck it is not the $100,000 muslims offered for his head. If 10,000 people give 10 it is. If 1,000 give 10 bucks it is not the $100,000 but it is a decent reward. Even if 1-10,000 people only give a dollar it is still a decent reward for a decent human to do what they ought to do for free… I do not have the link but I discussed this in another similar thread a day or two ago.

    I do not have the network. But, I will send my $26 in advance to reward those who protect the safety and freedom of those who have courage to speak out.

  115. #115 Ströh
    May 16, 2010

    Anti-Theist-317: How very enlightened of you. Stooping down to the level of those we criticize.

    Maybe you’re not aware of it, but the hit you are suggesting would be murdering a 17-year old boy and an 18-year old girl. That will teach those ruthless fanatics, I’m sure.

    Here’s my suggestion: that we let the law take care of it rather than appropriate Bible-style “head for a fingernail” justice.

  116. #116 Knockgoats
    May 16, 2010

    Mr T.,

    Thanks – kudos for admitting error!

    Anti-theist-317,
    I’ll be a little more direct than Ströh: you’re a dangerous loony – fuck off.

  117. #117 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    May 16, 2010

    Lets put together a reward, PZ. A hit for the people who attack freedom. In this case the hit will be on those who assault Vik. I will be the first to donate.

    Rule of Law. This isn’t it.

  118. #118 Gregory Greenwood
    May 16, 2010

    Anti-theist-317 @ 114;

    Lets put together a reward, PZ. A hit for the people who attack freedom. In this case the hit will be on those who assault Vik. I will be the first to donate

    I do not think that assassination is the best tool for the maintainance of freedom of expression.

    Assaulting or seeking to harm someone who you disagree with is a disproportionate response, but so is the extrajudicial murder (not that I agree with the judicially-sanctioned murder usually referred to as execution) of the malefactor.

    Two wrongs do not make a right. It is just as hypocritical to say “respect free expression, or we will kill you” as it is to say “Islam is a religion of peace, and we will kill you if you say otherwise.”

  119. #119 Mr T
    May 16, 2010

    Knockgoats: Sweden, Denmark? Bah! They’re all the same, right? I place the blame squarely on lack of sleep and inadequate supplies of coffee.

    I don’t think there is such an excuse for Anti-theist-317. What a vile creature.

  120. #120 Ken
    May 16, 2010

    Ströh #111:

    Is it really a good idea, then, to go out of our ways to vilify Islam even further? I think we may want to wait until Muslims can live their lives unharassed before we pat ourself on the back about our “superior, peaceful Swedish culture”.

    You don’t need to “vilify Islam” to unequivocally and without reservation vilify the radicals who turn to violence in the name of Islam. I still say it’s not good enough to say things like “We condemn the actions, BUT things like this happen because Muslims are being harassed and persecuted so you better stop harassing them!”

    I do NOT blame all Muslims for the attacks. I do blame the many moderate and mainstream Muslims for expending more energy rationalizing the violent attacks and using the incident as an excuse to complain about harassment rather than vilifying the attackers.

    As I’ve stated earlier, the same applies to the Christian “moderates” who rationalize attacking and killing abortion clinic workers.

    And if an atheist ever attacked a Muslim (or Christian) for drawing a disparaging cartoon of, say Richard Dawkins, I would condemn the action without any reservations or addenda about how atheists are harassed. That’s a different fight and I wold be worried that some might misinterpret such complaints as rationalizations of the violence. I would make every effort to be sure all mainstream atheists did the same, and try hard to make sure that the media understood our views.

    Still, you have the freedom to discuss the issues any way you like. But if you want a wider acceptance of your beliefs, it might be a good idea to clearly separate vilifying violent radicals from complaining about harassment.

  121. #121 Ken
    May 16, 2010

    Anti-theist-317 should be reported and tracked down for organizing a murder-for-hire scheme. Hopefully PZ will pass the IP address along to the authorities.

    While Anti-theist-317 should be free to say he would like to see the death of others, to actually plot and provide material support for such a plan is against the law in most places and should be.

  122. #122 mfd512
    May 16, 2010

    when you respond to an insult to your beliefs with violence and destruction, you have moved beyond the boundaries of civilization, straight into barbarism, and you will get no sympathy from me

    PZ gets it real close to right with this statement. The problem is, for the folks who perpetrated this assault and now fire, that is civilization. That is how disputes are settled where they came from. We judge it barbarous. We accept large numbers of people with that concept of behavior into our civilization out our peril.

  123. #123 ivo
    May 16, 2010

    One explanation I have heard of the Islam = peace idea is that peace can only exist within an Islamic society where everyone is a Muslim. Outside Islamic societies a state of war exists when Muslims coexist with infidels, until the infidels all become Muslim I guess.

    This is the same explanation I heard from a (completely serious) muslim colleague of mine. In the same long unreal conversation we had, he revealed to me the following:

    - He thinks that the Islamic republic of Iran proves the point: Iran has never been so well off as since it has become a theocracy (he’s grown up in Teheran and has emigrated to Switzerland sometime in his teens).

    - He thinks the fatwa against Rushdie is justified (he’s not sure he can argue for it, but it has to do with the above point and anyway those bearded wise men know best).

    - He’s NOT a violent man, but if he crossed Rushdie in the street it would be his duty as a good Muslim to try and kill him.

    What really scared me is that the fellow harbouring such extreme fascism in his mind is a phd student in mathematics, a thouroghly nice and likeable diminutive guy who, in my opinion, would have trouble killing a fly, let alone a mammal. At some point he must have realized how crazy all that sounded, because he became more and more distressed to be talking with me, and in the end he made me promise not to repeat what he’d told me, because people could have misinterpreted it all and thought of him as some fanatic…

    Actually, I felt sorry for him. As well as very angry for his abysmal moral cowardice. Islam translates as “Submission”, indeed.

  124. #124 Anri
    May 17, 2010

    Posted by: MarkL (In part):

    For instance, any Mullah in Sweden who in his official capacity repeats the fatwa against Vilks
    ought to be charged with some crime, and possibly deported, as a fatwa with a is a conspiracy to commit murder.

    (emphasis mine)

    I’m sorry, but I just wanted to ask… deported to where? Are you making the assumption that every Mullah in Sweden is foreign-born? Or am I missing something?

    This might not be a major point, but it caught my eye.

  125. #125 Love F
    May 17, 2010

    To those of you who accuse him of racism: After the fire, he explicitely said (as quoted in the article) that “This is fundamentalists. Those who want harm in my may are part of the mob existing around this. It is an extrem and small group, but sufficiently many to make a mess.”

    A racist wouldn’t have thrown in that last line.

  126. #126 secularguy
    May 17, 2010

    … the assumption that every Mullah in Sweden is foreign-born?

    I don’t know the proportion or number of native-born mullahs or imams in Sweden, but a couple of years ago there was a political proposal to set up a Swedish university education of imams, which caused some controversy. One rationale for that proposal was that too many imams in Sweden are foreigners with little knowledge of Swedish society, which is considered a problem.

  127. #127 Walton
    May 17, 2010

    Damn, I should have known what this thread would turn into.

    Anti_Theist317 is beneath contempt, and I’m glad people have called him out on his vile remarks.

    But it really fucking scares me that every time Islam is mentioned around here, the violent Islamophobe nuts come out of the woodwork and start advocating violence against Muslims. It does sometimes worry me that the tolerance for anti-religious rhetoric around here allows some pretty offensive shit to slip through the net.

    Any honest person must understand, and take into account, that the far-right in Europe is increasingly using verbal attacks on Islam as a cover for anti-Asian racism, in much the same way that the American far-right uses illegal immigration and “border security” as a cover for anti-Mexican bigotry. There is a real danger of parts of the secular/atheist movement being hijacked as cover for anti-Muslim hate. Those of us who are liberal atheists and secularists have an obligation to speak out against that, and to prevent secularism from being abused as a pretext for bigotry and the promotion of violence.

    This is not, I would add, just an issue relating to Islam: there are a few people around here (Holbach and a.human.ape spring to mind) who have also made disturbingly violent and vicious comments about Christians, and I’ve called them out on that as well. But it is particularly scary when these comments are made about Muslims, because Muslims in European and American society are an already-marginalised minority group who already face bigotry and discrimination and are a common target of the far-right.

  128. #128 Rorschach
    May 17, 2010

    because Muslims in European and American society are an already-marginalised minority group who already face bigotry and discrimination and are a common target of the far-right.

    This gets asserted a lot, but I never see any evidence of it.Muslims are a minority in Europe, yes well, so are Mormons.As to the discrimination, what do you mean, the fact that european residents are not fond of stoning children or wrapping women into whole-body rugs ? There is, and has always been, xenophobia in Europe, but you have to show that your claim is true, that what Muslims are experiencing is discrimination beyond the pre-existing level.
    Don’t get me wrong, I do not doubt that there is “unreasonable fear of dark-skinned bearded folks in tunics” in Europe.

  129. #129 Walton
    May 17, 2010

    Rorschach: Speaking primarily from a British perspective, far-right political parties and the right-wing press over here regularly scaremonger about Muslims. If you look at the literature put out by the BNP and other hate groups, much of it focuses primarily on attacking Islam and stirring up popular fears about Muslims “taking over the UK”. And in less extreme form, the tabloid press also raise fears about Muslim immigration, to which even the mainstream poliotical parties have a worrying tendency to pander. Muslims are the most visible and high-profile religious minority, and since the majority of British Muslims are also of Asian ethnicity, there is a strong link between Islamophobia and racism in Britain.

    In the end, it’s important to look at the subtext here: a lot of Islamophobia is cover for racism. British society, like American society, is still in many circles deeply racist; but the racism gets subsumed into attacks on “acceptable” targets. In America, it mainly gets subsumed into Tom Tancredo-style rants against illegal immigration, and measures such as the recent law in Arizona; in Britain and much of Europe, it gets subsumed into verbal attacks on Muslims and criticism of Islam.

  130. #130 windy
    May 17, 2010

    Still, you have the freedom to discuss the issues any way you like. But if you want a wider acceptance of your beliefs, it might be a good idea to clearly separate vilifying violent radicals from complaining about harassment.

    Indeed.

    To the people in Sweden who now think that Islam is uniquely violent, we could point out that only some years ago the Ecce Homo exhibition elicited threats and arson attempts in Sweden. Of course, only a tiny minority reacted violently in that case, as well. But the response from society at large was not “maybe we should be more careful about offending people, in order not to radicalize any more of the nice moderate Christians. Why don’t you limit your criticism to the violent radicals?”

  131. #131 Rorschach
    May 17, 2010

    In the end, it’s important to look at the subtext here: a lot of Islamophobia is cover for racism.

    Yeah, this I also see asserted a lot, see the last Vilks thread.
    I can’t take that argument seriously at all, since believers in Islam, or Judaism, or whatever religion really, are not all of one race. (that is ignoring the fact that the term “race”, and therefore “racism”, doesn’t make any sense at all in the 21st century, but I guess you could argue that the racists are too dumb to realise that)

  132. #132 snottyprofessor
    May 17, 2010

    Religion of Peace? Prophet of Peace? Really?

    I AM A PROPHET OF MERCY; I AM A PROPHET OF WAR

    (Source: Al-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer, Vol XX, 168, 180)

  133. #133 Walton
    May 17, 2010

    I can’t take that argument seriously at all, since believers in Islam, or Judaism, or whatever religion really, are not all of one race.

    That’s true but irrelevant, and you’re being naive. The fact remains that the majority of Muslims in Europe are of Asian ethnicity, and there is an association, in the minds of both the racists and the public in general, between Islam and particular ethnic groups. And therefore, it is not surprising that the BNP and other racist hate groups use criticism of Islam as a cover to disguise anti-Asian racism.

    Do you really think that when far-right Islamophobes fulminate against “tides of Muslims taking over this country”, or make other such bigoted statements, they’re talking about white Britons converting to Islam? No. They’re using anti-Muslim rhetoric as a proxy for racism against Asians, and their racist audiences understand that. And we shouldn’t let them hijack the rhetoric of secularism or women’s rights as cover for their racism.

  134. #134 Walton
    May 17, 2010

    Sorry, blockquote fail at #133. This:

    I can’t take that argument seriously at all, since believers in Islam, or Judaism, or whatever religion really, are not all of one race.

    is a quote from Rorschach and should have been blockquoted. Need more coffee…

  135. #135 windy
    May 17, 2010

    Those of us who are liberal atheists and secularists have an obligation to speak out against that, and to prevent secularism from being abused as a pretext for bigotry and the promotion of violence.

    Don’t we also have an obligation to clearly say that giving offense against any religion must be permitted in a secular society, without the whole time redirecting the discussion to the harassment of muslims? If the problem is that criticism of Islam in some countries is associated with racism, shouldn’t we be promoting non-racist but nonapologetic alternatives, instead of hand-wringing?

    By the way, if you can’t support your assertion in the last thread that Vilks is a “vile far-right racist”, what convinced you?

    I found this article (in Swedish) from a secular muslim who says that moderate and secular muslims feel threatened and harassed because of rising extremism in certain neigborhoods in Sweden. Another racist Islamophobe?

  136. #136 Ströh
    May 17, 2010

    Walton: It seems we are of one mind on this issue. I think I’ve mentioned that here in Sweden we have the “Swedish Democrats” – a version of the BNP, who public admits to be admirers, forced to submit to the more timid style of Swedish democracy yet is no less a threat.

    Someone asked for proof that Muslims in Europe are being discriminated against. Of course it’s impossible to provide hard proof for that, what on earth would that look like? All you have to do is keep a close eye on the commentaries on web publications for this to be abundantly obvious: no matter the topic, it’s there. Muslims are constantly being accused of being more criminal, of being parasites and more often than not to be plotting World Domination.

    One extremely obvious example of where racism is fused with anti-Islamism is when anyone from the Arab world is considered a Muslim until proven otherwise. Some even claim that, say, Christian Syrians are untrustworthy since they come from a predominantly Muslim country – they are considered “Muslim by proxy” so to say.

  137. #137 Rorschach
    May 17, 2010

    If the problem is that criticism of Islam in some countries is associated with racism, shouldn’t we be promoting non-racist but nonapologetic alternatives, instead of hand-wringing?

    This.

  138. #138 Ströh
    May 17, 2010

    windy:

    It must be possible to both be critical of Islam and still not lend a hand to those who attack Islam only to get to it’s predominantly Asian followers. Sadly, it is difficult and many fall over on the wrong side unintentionally – it is therefore extremely important to raise awareness of the issue.

    Now is not neither the time nor the place to go on an all out attack on Islam on Europe. Asian immigrants have been pushed towards Islam by racism and will only further radicalize if this last bastion is not allowed some leave.

    Today, Muslim is almost a synonym for Asian immigrant. For that reason we should take a careful approach in matters such as this and speak of how Islam has a disturbing tendency to inspire violence rather than blatantly state that Muslims are violent – a stereotype that the far right loves to perpetuate daily. The difference may look like semantics but is nonetheless highly important to make.

  139. #139 Galen
    May 17, 2010

    @132:

    Religion of Peace? Prophet of Peace? Really?
    I AM A PROPHET OF MERCY; I AM A PROPHET OF WAR

    War is good for business. Peace is good for business.
    - Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, #34 and #35

    The point: This only states a certain concept is regarded applicable in whatever situation you currently find yourself in, be it war or peace. Not much of a statement really for a religion, or a philosophical school.

  140. #140 windy
    May 17, 2010

    This.

    thanks, R. :)

    —-

    It must be possible to both be critical of Islam and still not lend a hand to those who attack Islam only to get to it’s predominantly Asian followers.

    Right. But that’s not what I was asking about.

    BTW, I think you have Asians on the brain since Walton mentioned it several times – I don’t think “predominantly Asian” is a very informative way to describe muslims in Sweden, as I’m sure you know there are large groups of African and European origin in addition to the Middle East. While the latter are technically Asian, in Britain it’s mainly South Asians that are meant.

    Now is not neither the time nor the place to go on an all out attack on Islam on Europe.

    Fine. Drawing a picture or giving an art lecture or any other such activities are not an all out attack.

  141. #141 Rorschach
    May 17, 2010

    Now is not neither the time nor the place to go on an all out attack on Islam on Europe.

    Apart from the fact that I think you calling criticism of violence against a cartoonist an all out attack is hyperbole, why is this not a time to criticise Islam ? When is the right time then in your opinion ?

    Today, Muslim is almost a synonym for Asian immigrant.

    Where ?
    And what do you mean by “Asian” ? As far as I can tell the existing angst is mainly about dark-skinned middle-eastern men, who look like the guys that flew planes into buildings and those who tend to blow themselves up at the promise of 72 virgins.

  142. #142 windy
    May 17, 2010

    dark-skinned middle-eastern men, who look like the guys that flew planes into buildings

    Most of them weren’t particularly “dark-skinned”…

  143. #143 Ratio
    May 17, 2010

    Lars Vilks attacked again

    For whatever reason PZ has over this blog, the ‘fire’ has sure subsided. I watched yesterday’s TV news from home, there was Vilks walking around his vandalised house sadly saying he will not come back, and I felt very sorry for him. I wish him well and safe. To the dastardly morons I hope they get their due punishments.

    It is very enlightening to read the threads here maturing to be more responsible. Stroh, Walton, Rutee, Mr.T, Windy, Knockgoats, Kristjan (sorry if I couldnt name all) amongst others, thank you.

    From what I gather, the discussions here has lead towards recognising that the western world which has already matured and advanced, is now entering into a phase of globalised social restructuring and re-inventing herself. Racism, religious bigotry, persecution-by-association, superiority-complex, hatred, jealousy and most obvious here is FEAR. Afraid to accept changes while the world have moved on.

    I suppose it will take sometime before the clash of cultures will simmer to an agreeable level of acceptance and Europe will remain the darlings and admired by the whole world. Just please look before you leap.

    As for countries scrambling for solutions to integration of different races, they may look towards a third-world developing country like Malaysia. A multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation. Its no bed of roses there but the experience there is worth looking into.

  144. #144 mfd512
    May 17, 2010

    Ratio you commented

    As for countries scrambling for solutions to integration of different races, they may look towards a third-world developing country like Malaysia.

    Did you mean any countries in the world who are looking for solutions to cultural integration should look to Malaysia?

    Or did you mean that Malaysia, as compared to other majority Muslim nations, was a decent example?

  145. #145 windy
    May 17, 2010

    Ströh: you mentioned Christian Syrians in Sweden. Do you think the Ecce Homo exhibition should have been stopped, because the Syrians experienced it as an “all out attack” on their faith?

  146. #146 Ratio
    May 18, 2010

    Dear mfd512, I am just pointing to a country with multi-whatever they have there. Good and bad lessons are aplenty to nourish the minds and souls. Social engineering is at play too. Nope, I am not trying to say that Malaysia is a shinning example of a country that the whole world should follow.

    Just to drop a bombshell (bigger than nuclear-scale), for a muslim-dominated country here we have morons ditching unborn and newly-borned babies into trash cans, gutters and rivers as though they are garbage. Over here people are so shocked this could happen and today’s frontpage news is that it is still happening.

    Govt and NGOs are now scrambling to create centres for these unfortunate souls. Naive young couples (mostly school children and teenagers) who committed adultery and bore child out of wedlock are too ashamed and with nowhere to turn to and fear of society’s scorn and mockery decided to ditch and hide their crime.

    Now that this heinous crime has been brought out in the open, unwanted newly born babies are secretly being ditched to these centres, mosques, temples and other charity places (those alive ones of course) by these lost souls.

    You see. There are bigger fish to kill here than cartoons, literally speaking of course.

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