Why Angela Merkel Wants to Ban the Veil

Dec. 15 2016

In a recent editorial, the New York Times roundly condemned the German chancellor’s support for a ban on the burqa, accusing her of “bigotry” and of abandoning her position as the “bulwark” of liberalism; the paper also accused those who applauded the proposal of “Islamophobia.” Benjamin Haddad begs to differ:

[Merkel] continues to show openness to migrants and refugees, but is merely asking them to embrace and live by the basic liberal principles upheld by Germany. She is not responding to the rise of populism [as the Times asserts], but to the rise of a form of militant Islamism that is not necessarily violent but that advocates segregation from European societies. Indeed, Merkel is consistent; the New York Times isn’t—she stands against far-right populism and against extremist forms of religious practices. . . .

[Furthermore, the] “Islamophobia” argument is absurd; in truth, the charge should be directed at opponents of the ban, not at its supporters. As the Times rightly notes, only a small minority of Muslim women wear the burqa. By claiming that the ban is an assault on Islam, the editorial board thus reduces Islam to its most rigorous, extreme, and marginal interpretation. The liberal tolerance on display here plays directly into the hands of extremists who are trying to turn any questioning of their patriarchal and reactionary worldview into “racism.” . . .

There is a legitimate debate to be had over the extent to which such measures are an infringement upon free speech [and religion]. Many European countries are more comfortable banning hate speech, Holocaust revisionism, and degrading behaviors than is the United States, where the First Amendment generally prevents such prohibitions. . . .

But the Times editorial page doesn’t have a word to say about the worldview the burqa represents. Besides, the paper’s commitment to free speech did not extend to reproducing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons out of solidarity with the victims of the terror attacks, “because it had to consider foremost the sensibilities of Times readers, especially its Muslim readers.”

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at American Interest

More about: Angela Merkel, European Islam, Immigration, Islamophobia, New York Times

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter