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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Criminal

posted by on August 14 at 9:14 AM

Yesterday I posted an item from the NYT about an author—Taslima Nasreen—who was publicly attacked at a reading for suggesting that maybe, kinda, sorta Islam oppresses women. And could there be a better way to refute the charge than by violently oppressing Ms. Nasreen? Indian Muslims have stepped up their jihad against Ms. Nasreen. More from the NYT today…

Attacked and Charged in India

The Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen will face criminal charges for what the authorities called her anti-Islamic views, which prompted an attack against her by Muslims last week in central India, Agence France-Presse reported. A police official in the city of Hyderabad said Ms. Nasreen faced a charge of “hurting Muslim feelings.” On Thursday lawmakers and members of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Party expressed outrage over Ms. Nasreen’s criticisms of Islam for what she called oppression of women. The protesters disrupted a publication party by hurling objects at her and shouting for her death…. In March an Indian Muslim group from Uttar Pradesh state offered a bounty of 500,000 rupees (more than $12,000) for Ms. Nasreen’s execution.

Hurting Muslim feelings is a crime in India? Who knew?

RSS icon Comments

1

You know, reading this and other news stories about the Love Islam instills in all.... I really am not that supportive of public accomodations like foot baths for Muslims in Michigan's university system or frankly an public accomodation for any religon at any time.

BTW, where is the public OUTRAGE from all those moderate and tolerant members of Islam at? Why aren't they protesting in the streets in this country condeming this act? And, just a step further, why didn't they stand up to protest the bounty on Solmon Rushdie's head?

For all the talk of "moderate" religiousity we hear of I sure as hell never see anything from the "moderates". Why aren't they protesting at Westlake center like the fundamentalists do? And BTW, for those moderates out there, stop hiding behind "the media doesn't cover us" That is bullshit and you know it. You do not do anything for the media to cover!!!

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | August 14, 2007 9:27 AM
2

Nice place.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 14, 2007 9:28 AM
3

Criticizing Islam = illegal.
Assault and offering a reward for someone's head = legal.

I'm sorry, but I can't accept the notion that Christian and Islamic fundamentalists are exactly the same in terms of their danger to civil society.

Posted by tsm | August 14, 2007 9:30 AM
4

All we need is a couple more years of the current administration and I'm sure that insulting Jeebus would be a federal crime under some Patriot Act extension...

Posted by Just You Wait | August 14, 2007 9:30 AM
5

Just a suggestion to certain commenters.

All those Bush-is-fascist-dumbhead hyperboles? You're not only preaching to the converted here, you're spooging on them. I recommend trying something different. Just once. It's all I ask.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | August 14, 2007 9:34 AM
6

@tsm..... you have got to be joking? I have heard some shockingly naivity in my life but you have really pushed the envelope. Do we have to list the outragous things fundamentalist Christians do?

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | August 14, 2007 9:36 AM
7

This is an outrageous incident, but the fact of the matter is that over a million people have died in communal fighting in South Asia. It doesn't surprise me in the least that hurting Muslims' feelings would be outlawed. Yes, it's a contravention of free speech, but so is banning Nazism in Germany.

Posted by Gitai | August 14, 2007 9:46 AM
8

I wonder if she'll move to another country or stick it out there and fight the charges/jihad.

Posted by Phelix | August 14, 2007 9:48 AM
9

@6 - oh, please. No, you don't have to list the outrageous things Christians do. But if you do, then please, make another list of the outrageous things Islamic fundamentalists have done throughout the world, and compare and contrast. I maintain that there is a difference in their nature - insane though Christian fundies may be, in recent times they have largely resorted to civil means of achieving the insane ends they seek. How often do you hear of American TV preachers putting a literal bounty on their political opponents' heads, or mobs of Southern Baptists stoning a 17-year-old to death in the streets and cheerfully taping the whole thing on a cell phone, as happened in Iraq recently?

Posted by tsm | August 14, 2007 9:52 AM
10
Taslima Nasreen... was publicly attacked at a reading for suggesting that maybe, kinda, sorta Islam oppresses women. And could there be a better way to refute the charge than by violently oppressing Ms. Nasreen?

I've invoked that very sentiment often in response to similar incidents, but I have to admit it misrepresents the attackers.  Aside from word choice, they're not angry about the accusation of oppression.  They're angry at being told there's something wrong with oppression.

In that twisted view, attacking Ms. Nasreen is a handy way of demonstrating the utility and virtue of oppressing women.

Cato @1, the thing about moderates (of any religion or ideology) is that they're, well, moderate.  By their nature, they generally don't attract much attention.

Posted by lostboy | August 14, 2007 10:05 AM
11

@9: You mean like Robertson calling for the assassination of Chavez? Or the fundies who claim that Katrina was an act of God smiting the homosexuals and sinners of New Orleans? Or the ones who put up wanted posters for abortion clinic workers...or who actually bomb said clinics?

It's foolish to pit fundies against one another. Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, etc. You name it - if the person is a fundie nutcase, then it's bad no matter how you slice it. Why? Because nutcases attempt to outdo each other to win followers and ultimately some call for acts that go beyond civil responses to complaints. Naw, Southern Baptists (no longer) stone 17 year old girls, but they do bomb abortion clinics and kill doctors. Different cultures...

Posted by B.D. | August 14, 2007 10:16 AM
12

tsm @9, you assume that the differences you point out are primarily due to the difference in religion, as opposed to climate, economic conditions, form of government, education level, perceived feasibility of peaceful change, place in the world pecking order, or any of the dozens of other major variables in play.

You've got a lot of controlling for selection bias to do before you can assert that either Islam or Christianity is inherently more violent than the other.

In fact, I recall reading recently that even Buddhists under the right conditions turn into a bunch of violent assholes.  I'll post the link later if I can find the reference.

Posted by lostboy | August 14, 2007 10:16 AM
13

Hurting Muslim feelings is a crime in India? Who knew?

India is not alone. It's also a crime in Sweden (from Wikipedia:)

Sweden prohibits hate speech, hets mot folkgrupp, and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten or express disrespect for an ethnic group or similar group regarding their race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual orientation. (Swedish Penal code, Brottsbalken, chapter 16, section 8.)

And it's a crime in Finland, and Denmark, and on and on.

Posted by JMR | August 14, 2007 10:26 AM
14

@11 - I said that Christian fundies "have LARGELY resorted to civil means"; Eric Rudolph types are not nearly as common. Robertson's Chavez remark, e.g., was off-the-cuff idiocy that public shaming forced him to apologize for; he didn't actually stand by it and offer a reward for killing Chavez.


@12 - in some sense, you may be right; this could be a culture of honor vs. culture of law issue. But right now Islamic fundamentalists still tend to appear in one of those settings, and Christian fundamentalists in the other.

Posted by tsm | August 14, 2007 10:30 AM
15

This is an outrageous incident, but the fact of the matter is that over a million people have died in communal fighting in South Asia. It doesn't surprise me in the least that hurting Muslims' feelings would be outlawed. Yes, it's a contravention of free speech, but so is banning Nazism in Germany.

This is problem with restricting speech - over time it gets mutated from restricting the speech of the bad guys (Nazis) to restricting the speech of the good guys.

Posted by JMR | August 14, 2007 10:34 AM
16

How can you hurt Muslim feelings by pointing out the reality of what they do?

What's next, apologizing to al-Qaeda?

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 14, 2007 10:41 AM
17

It should be pointed out that huritng feelings part sounds stupid cause of a lost-in-translation effect. The actual law isn't that stupid.

Posted by arandomdude | August 14, 2007 10:49 AM
18

tsm @14, thanks for the Wikipedia link.  It gets at my point more cleanly than I did myself.

Your rebuttal associating Islamic fundamentalism with cultures of honor, though, has the same correlation-is-not-causation problem as your original assertion.

Posted by lostboy | August 14, 2007 10:54 AM
19

Will @16, are you kidding?  The most powerful way to hurt anyone's feelings is to point out the reality of what they do.

Posted by lostboy | August 14, 2007 10:57 AM
20

Also the law acutally is more like hate crimes than "hurting feelings". Would be nice if someone checked with an actual indian fluent in English before highlighting that part, I bet you that police officer is not. Or at least wasn't aware of the way it would be taken in an international context.

Posted by arandomdude | August 14, 2007 10:57 AM
21

I've read a couple of pieces by Rushdie where he claims that the Indian government is terrified of Muslims within the country. Consequently, Indian Muslims can pretty much do whatever the fuck they want within their own communities, such as imposing de facto Shari'a, and the government will also, apparently, arrest anyone who dares criticize Indian Muslims.

Posted by keshmeshi | August 14, 2007 11:04 AM
22

I have to second the idea that it is the variables present in the lives of a particular religion's adherents that leads to whackjob fundamentalism--not the content of the religion itself. Fundamentalism is primarily a mental disorder that finds expression (and enabling) in an idealogy. If that idealogy, religious or otherwise, contains even a trace of reactionary thought (as most religions, being old, are somewhat predisposed to do), the fundamentalist mind will take it and run with it, defending its particular version of it against all threats to its supremacy. The fundamentalist can settle on Christianity just as easily as it can Islam, Judaism, Nazism, white supremecy, Capitalism, political parties, etc, etc, etc.

Posted by Acolyte | August 14, 2007 11:39 AM
23

"In fact, I recall reading recently that any mammal under the right conditions turn into a bunch of violent assholes. "

Violence is not due to religion. Violence is due to human nature.

Posted by Lee Gibson | August 14, 2007 11:54 AM
24

@15 Indeed, but the communal violence between Hindus and Muslims is fresh and raw, fresher indeed, that the atrocities of Hitler. Though the first Hindu-Muslim riots took place in 1809, it was only in 1948 that Partition claimed a million lives, and only five years since Muslims set a train on fire, killing 58 Hindus and Hindus retaliated by killing over 1,000 Muslims. They'd probably really, really like to see communal violence avoided, even at the expense of free speech.

Posted by Gitai | August 14, 2007 12:14 PM
25

Regarding the "where are the moderates?" commentary, I totally feel you. It doesn't seem like they're anywhere. But I think we're getting a false impression. A) Why would a moslem in the USA feel the need to do a march over shit moslems are doing in India? If agnostics went on a killing rampage in the UK, I don't think I'd feel compelled to protest it in Seattle.
B) The persecuted woman herself is the picture of what happens to moderate forces in a society ill enough to let fanatics run riot. That's why no one is protesting or raising fuss in India.
The only solution for the sane in that sort of time and place is to save up your rupees and move the hell out of the country. If you stick around to be a culture warrior, you'll likely become a casualty.

Posted by christopher | August 14, 2007 12:28 PM
26

Ah, the 2007 Dan Savage impotent rage continues.

"We non-Muslims are so oppressed by the PC police! Oh, why won't the world listen to us?! Why aren't they held accountable?! Won't someone think of the children!? Why is free speech in the developing world not being protected!" Oh I don't know, realistic limitations on our power and influence? The fact that Indians trying to cut down on violence at the cost of America's first amendment is probably a good thing? Maybe the yanks should just keep their big fat heads out of the world's problems, since they obviously don't understand the world very well.

Savage has become like Siddhartha walking outside and seeing the suffering of the world for the first time.

Posted by Jay | August 14, 2007 4:27 PM
27

I flirted briefly with the idea that Americans would pull their heads out of their asses in the days following 9.11, but no, of course the reaction would have to be sheer terror at the world outside, followed by xenophobia. An examination of US foreign policy, a critical look at the poverty most of the world lives, or a consideration of the limitations of "western power" were not on the menu. But instead we get "Oh noes, people are crazy in the non-westernized world! What are we going to do!?" Good show.

Posted by Jay | August 14, 2007 4:35 PM
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