I talk a lot about religion on here, but mostly about generic theism or Christianity. I don’t tend to talk about Islam, partly because I don’t know as much about it as I do about Christianity, and partly because I like my extremities the way they are.

Still, I was interested in the reaction to Johann Hari’s article in the Independent, Why should I respect these oppressive religions?. The Independent uses LiveJournal as a blogging platform, so you can comment there using your LJ account.

Hari says those who want to prevent criticism of religion (notably Islam) on the grounds of “respect” are gaining influence in politics, especially in the UN. He rightly says that this is a bad thing.

The article was published at the end of January, but the comment threads on it are still busy. simon_gardner has been working hard for the cause of secularist neo-atheist militant secularism (he doesn’t seem to get the point about induction, alas, but expat2009 doesn’t really explain it very well either).

The Statesman of India published Hari’s article and ended up with a small riot on their hands. The editor and publisher were arrested for “hurting the religious feelings” of Muslims. As jwz once observed, the Universe tends to maximum irony.

Back here on LJ, the Muslim commentators on the Hari’s post seem very interested in whether people are allowed to deny the Holocaust (and also in something called “Zionists”: from what I can gather these are the equivalent of evil spirits in the Muslim belief system). I can’t think why that’d be, but I’ve been trying to pin some of them down on the matter.

3 Comments on "R-E-S-P-E-C-T"

  1. Hari’s point in the first part of the article is that some people are misusing the ‘no discussion of Islam’ rule to prevent bringing to light human rights abuses.

    He doesn’t address the issue that many Muslims *do* find certain kinds of discussion of Islam very hurtful and upsetting, and there’s not much point in trying to tell them they shouldn’t.

    In my view, free speech isn’t an ultimate good, it’s about weighing one thing against another. Stoning of women accused of adultery seems like an important enough topic to justify ruffling a few feelings.


  2. Subject: Grilling Dawkins
    User pw201 referenced to your post from Grilling Dawkins saying: […] Muslim or Christian in need of molly-coddling lest he accuse people who disagree with him of being disrespectful. Her directness got quite a few interesting responses from Dawkins: Deism is Wrong but Respectable. There was a bit of fuss … […]


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