Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and George Szirtes

It the ones who have had to fight for it that really appreciate it. Those not to the manna born. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, for one.

SPIEGEL: But Muslims, like any religious community, should also be able to protect themselves against slander and insult.

Hirsi Ali: That's exactly the reflex I was just talking about: offering the other cheek. Not a day passes, in Europe and elsewhere, when radical imams aren't preaching hatred in their mosques. They call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they're just exercising their freedom of speech. When will the Europeans realize that the Islamists don't allow their critics the same right? After the West prostrates itself, they'll be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless.
And for another, George Szirtes.

In fact this is not about Muslims or Islam. It is about us and our assumptions, principles, integrity, and our long struggles to achieve such rights as we have achieved, rights we generally think worth having struggled for. And here I mean 'rights' as enshrined in laws, not manners, or habits of address or respect. ...
I would of course prefer an ethos of respect and politeness. But when it comes to the very principles of European liberty I want firmness and the determination to yield not an inch of vital life-giving ground.
Enough about this. It has brought to the fore a great question. Are we Europeans prepared to fight, not for our holidays, or electronic fun machines, or the article of faith that it's got to be right for me, but for the achievements of so many before us, and the greatest of which is, not love, but freedom? Will we give over apologising for having achieved so much, or will we shrink from the spitting rage that we're faced with? It doesn't require violence or chauvinism or the old Bolschevic demonisation of some group or other (no matter how much they might do it); it just requires self-knowledge, honesty and confidence.

(via Harry's Place)

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