Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The freedom to criticize religions.

These days, one can't mouth off quite as easily for fear that s/he may be called racist, close-minded, or living in the Dark Ages.

In her most recent column at The Guardian, Polly Toynbee writes of her fears that 'atheists, feminists, and anti-racists' might not be able to criticize certain aspects of Islam simply because the UK government wants to make incitement to religious hatred a crime. This proposal primarily deals with two 'warring' religions, Islam and Christianity.

Because there's been so much media devoted to Islam and Muslims today, in my view there's a growing opinion of people who think that they've been undeservedly persecuted due to terrorists using their religion as a front for their political concerns and gripes.

Have we been lulled into thinking that because of our sense of fair play, we automatically assume that everything being said and written about Muslims is wrong?

In a sense, it is, for no one in their right mind would assume such a sweeping generalization.

But because of it, have we forgotten the more bloody sides of Islam, which is to wage 'war' against all their enemies? It is written in Koran, the Holy Book of Islam. Granted, there are verses that speak of peace (Islam itself means peace), but what will happen if a budding terrorist takes these verses into his own understanding and slaughters innocents? It's the same for the Bible, which has its share of violence as well.

This is precisely why Toynbee is arguing that the Koran and the Bible should be excluded from the incitment to religious anger proposal, should it ever be passed.

She is also correct in saying that the 'deformed branch' of Islam, the one that fosters terrorists, is that which ought to be criticized.

We must accept the fundamental right to criticize religions without being labelled as racist.