I'm in doubt now: Are we hate infusing and fueling racists?
Recently, I went on stage with fellow Ex-Muslims to have a discussion and share our experiences and impressions specifically about Islam and Blasphemy. Our main guest, Waleed Al-Husseini is a former prisoner of conscience in his country of origin (Palestine). Because he questioned and criticized Islam publicly he got arrested, locked up and tortured. He came to fear so much for his own safety that he ended up seeking asylum in France where he's living now, though not exactly cleared from any threat.
I am originally born in France and the 2 other panelists were Cemal Knudsen Yucel and Jeanette who are respectively Turkish/Kurdish and of Pakistani descent.
Now, I have mixed feelings about my own interventions. It was my first time participating in that sort of event, I don't think my ideas are so well organized and I'm not as articulate as I wish I was. But I genuinely enjoyed sitting up there with my friends discussing what we believe is critical in the context of today's situation regarding Islam.
Cemal started the seminar by talking about Blasphemy in the Islamic world and showing a few disturbing pictures to illustrate what Blasphemers risk and endure as we speak. We could see pictures of men and women being lynched by mobs, shot in the head and/or burned for the crime of having questioned, doubted or dismissed Islam. Any of these acts apparently constitute an insult to Islam, or at least a part of the Muslims community, to the point that they are willing to kill human beings and then go on with their lives in apparent impunity. Then ensued a presentation by Waleed of his own experience with Blasphemy in a Muslim country and a quick presentation of both Jeanette and myself. I thought we would have a bit more of a back and forth conversation together between us but we quickly skipped to questions from the audience.
The second person to "ask a question" was Kari Helene Partapuoli (former leader of Anti-Racist Center) and I feel I didn't get to answer
Kari Helene Partapuoli's intervention got us all EX-MN quite (understandably) riled up. I would like to give Kari the answer I didn’t during the discussion. I’m including her statement below.
Please be aware that I’m not trying to ridicule anyone, I’m including what she said to be orderly. Clearly, anyone can be more articulate in written form than orally.
Please also watch the video of the event for your own reference.
Kari Helene Partapuoli: "Thank you very much, my name is Kari... Thank you all for your views on this discussion. Now in Norway you have around 150 thousand members of mosques and it's around the same number, 150 thousand of members of Catholic churches in Norway and this would be mostly immigrants from Poland. And you know of course that in Europe it's a diversity of religions and religion means a lot for a lot of people."
First of all Kari, thank you for taking the time to come and talk to us. These statistics that you provided, however, about the number of Muslims and Catholics in Norway, I fail to see how they can be relevant to the theme we were there to discuss that evening namely: "Blasphemy and Islam". Let me only tell you that in my opinion, it is too many in both cases. Yes, we know there is a diversity of religions in Europe and that it means a lot to many. You could also have acknowledged that for many, religion doesn't mean only good things, mainly bad things in fact. That for many people also, religions are meaningless, useless and/or harmful.
Kari Helene Partapuoli: "Now I'm wondering about... of course you're an organization called Ex-Muslims, so I'm wondering: Do you see?...
Do you have criticism of other religions as well or do you only see the fear of Islam?
Yes, we are called Ex-Muslims because the founders of this organization are specifically Muslim apostates. You are certainly not without knowing that Apostasy is punishable by death by the very doctrine of Islam (hence the perceived fear) and as a result, several countries will, if not apply sharia law themselves, let the religious zealots among their population carry it in total impunity.
Now, of course, we are critics of other religions, we are all atheists as far as I know. I certainly am and it is the study and the criticism of Catholicism which first led me to identify as “atheist” at some point in time. My friends from EX-MN have had a similar reflection as I did about their own religion and probably ended up labeling themselves "atheists" just like me. But there is a major difference between them and me I’d like to insist on, that is: By coming out publicly as unbelievers, but first and foremost as apostates of Islam specifically, they ran a considerable risk for their safety and that of their family. Many apostates of Islam or simple critics of it, living here in Europe today, are still hesitant to voice their opinions for fear of reprisal upon their families back in their home countries, the most vocal among them living under constant protection.
On my side, I had to fear virtually nothing due to my loss of faith and apart from a few animated Christmas diners maybe, my safety was never at stake nor did I ever lose any friend or even acquaintances because of my lack of belief per say, none that I know of in any case. But you are right, Judaism and Christianity deserve their fair amount of criticism. After all, Apostasy is punishable by death by both doctrines as well, a bit less obviously in Catholicism but hell is certainly guaranteed in the new testament for those who reject Jesus Christ as their savior. Maybe the Vatican is too busy protecting it's pedophile priests from international trials, and maybe rabbis are too busy cutting and sucking on little boys’ penises, but I have yet to hear about any sort of physical punishment for the crime of leaving these religions. There is no doubt that social rejection is happening but it's arguably for the best as far as the Apostates be concerned. It might be sad but not directly life threatening.
Kari Helene Partapuoli: "And also, you said something about religion being a private matter but do you accept Freedom of religion as much as you accept Freedom of speech? I mean, you are talking about living in a liberal democracy, for many of us, Freedom of religion and Freedom of criticism of religion are sort of the core values of this liberalism."
Yes, we absolutely recognize Freedom of speech as much as Freedom of conscience which can lead to religious beliefs or not, so we equally advocate for the Freedom FROM religion which Islam doctrine, on the other hand, doesn't recognize. We recognize the right for anybody to adopt whatever faith they see fit, but we oppose the right of organized cults to impose their doctrine and by extension the rules based on those doctrines on the rest of us who don`t subscribe to their beliefs. However, it is naive not to recognize the political game that cults are playing and how they are using their influence as well as how they are being used to influence governments.
Kari Helene Partapuoli: "I hear a bit here that there is a bit of criticism of parties we don't agree with.
That worries me, if you're gonna be serious about criticizing Islam you have to also be serious about Freedom of Speech and Freedom of opinion, I think.
So I'm hearing some worrying signals from what I'm hearing."
We couldn't be more serious about Freedom of speech and that is the exact reason that made us gather and address the problem of Blasphemy in Islam. I will simply assume that you know what Blasphemy is, but I would like to point you towards the fact that Blasphemy is precisely a form of speech, of which the Freedom is actually not guaranteed in Muslim communities, and for which the man you were talking to has been jailed, tortured and whose life is still in danger as I'm writing this. I have to say I think you have some nerves to come in front of these people and explain to them what are
the “core values of liberalism” from your Norwegian perspective while they have experienced the lack of that very liberalism in their countries of origins and/or from their own parents here in Norway. The least you could have done would be to give them the benefit of the doubt and ask real questions. If you are truly interested in what they have to say, if you are "serious about Freedom of Speech". Added to that the fact that Blasphemers towards Islam have paid with their life their "Freedom of speech" all over Europe , I find it very absurd to have to remind you of what happened to William Nygaard, here in Oslo in 1993(!) I don't even need to go on and cover what happened to a bunch of cartoonists in France, so called land of the human rights, a few years ago. I can simply stay in your own backyard and rest my case.
Kari Helene Partapuoli: "The last thing, I agree that criticism of religion is necessary, I think that you are painting a picture of Europe that's too positive, because I think that there are certainly European countries where you could not criticize Christian religion, this would be Catholicism and this would be for example, orthodox Christianity. So you're painting a bit too positive picture there and maybe a bit naive because, because your focus is maybe too narrow, I think."
First of all, nor Catholicism or orthodox Christianity are countries. However, I believe I covered that topic in my answer to your first question but I can add a layer: No! There is no European countri