Tuesday, May 3, 2005

 

A call to all Intellectuals: "Please joke about Islam!"

On November 2nd, Theo van Gogh, who made the film Submission Part 1 together with member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, was murdered by a Dutch-Moroccan Islamist, referred to in the Dutch media as 'Mohammed B.', who grew up and was educated in the Netherlands and had become radicalized only in the last two years. Following the murder, Afshin Ellian called upon all intellectuals and lawmakers to discuss Islam more openly.

"The first poet whom Mohammed A. (ibn Abdollah) had declared the enemy of Islam was called K'ab ibn al-Ashraf. The prophet gave the order to murder the poet with a knife. According to Ibn Ishaak the terrorists had driven the knife so deeply into his body that it emerged from his backside.

The prophet Mohammed A. was an example to Mohammed B., who slaughtered Theo van Gogh as the enemy of Islam. Welcome to the Middle East. But aren't we in Europe? The artistic, philosophic and judicial critique of religion is an essential aspect of European culture. W.F. Hermans and other writers often used sharp and sometimes crass words about Christianity. Christ in an erotic movie, laughable aspects of the reformed faith are taken to be acceptable.

Yet here there seems to be a kind of self-censorship when it comes to Islam. Who would dare to make a film about Mohammed's erotic appetites? Would Youp van 't Hek [a Dutch comedian] ever make piercing jokes about Allah? Would Jan Mulder [writer and columnist] dare to declare Mohammed a lunatic? The Dutch Muslims have been taught that it is not allowed to express critical thoughts about their religion. For this reason Islam is being strongly discriminated against. Dutch culture treats Islam as forbidden territory for critical thought, and in this respect, the Netherlands appears like the backward cultures of the Middle East. When Muslims are treated separately, it becomes understandable that a great part of Muslims had a deadly hatred for Theo van Gogh.

Hereby I call upon all artists, writers and academics to stop discriminating against Islam. When on television and in hundreds of theatres jokes are being made about Islam, and when academics will start treating Islam more critically, then Muslims will learn tolerance. The terrorists can intimidate and eliminate a handful of critics of Islam, but they can never kill hundreds of critical minds.

Come on friends, and enter the brothels and torture chambers of Mohammed A. and Allah, you will find great inspiration there. Come on, fellow academics, put Islam on the operating table of philosophy. Otherwise it will remain a question how many murders our society can deal with."

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