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"Free speech for me, none for thee"

The pro-Ramadan chorus focuses on "academic freedom" when arguing in favor of allowing him into the USA.

It would be nice, however, if these supporters would request that Ramadan return the favor regarding dissenting views. According to this May, 2004 article in the American Thinker:

The first visible sign of [Ramadan's] fundamentalist view appeared when, in 1993, he lobbied actively to outlaw a play called Mahomet, which represented the Muslim Prophet in a light that did not fit with Ramadan’s views.

Something about this really bothered me - did the author mean Voltaire's Mahomet?

It appears that the author did indeed mean Voltaire's play. This 1994 archived article from Banned-Books.com indicates that the city of Geneva did indeed ban Voltaire's play that year!

The city of Geneva has once again proven Voltaire's subversiveness-by preventing performance of his play, "Mahomet, ou le Fanatisme." . . . When a plan to restage "Mahomet" in Switzerland was proposed, Muslim "cultural centers" overtly denounced "blasphemy" and covertly hinted at violence. Geneva's authorities yielded to the pressure, and religious fanatics were appeased once again.

So a prime defender of free speech is silenced yet again. As the Banned-Books.com article relates:
Voltaire wasn't actually attacking Mohammed. His main targets, thinly disguised, were religious fanaticism in general, and Christian fanatics in particular. . . . Rejecting the cruel, terrorizing, vindictive Jehovah portrayed by most Christian clergy in his time, he turned to the remote mild God of the British deists. And, in "Mahomet," he attacked fraudulent and persecuting priests.

I suppose Tariq relied on literary deconstruction to get at the subtext of Mahomet in order to complain that it was "bigoted." Edward Said's Orientalism thesis matched with covert [hints] at violence." Sums up Islamism nicely.

October 24, 2004 | Permalink


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