[Make sure to read Robert Spencer’s contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
Morocco World News reported on Sept. 24 that Dutch human rights activist Edwin Wagensveld, whom it predictably called a “far-right Dutch extremist,” had once again torn a copy of the Qur’an “in a new provocative Islamophobic act” in from of Turkey’s embassy in the Netherlands. This was just one of many recent instances of desecration of the Qur’an, most of which have taken place in Denmark and Sweden. Several Islamic states are using them to attempt once again to intimidate the West into abandoning the freedom of expression and adopting Sharia blasphemy laws. This time, given the Left’s notable hatred for the freedom of speech, it just might work.
Morocco World News added that Wagensveld’s act “stirred outrage and frustration from many Muslim communities, who have repeatedly called on the international community to intervene to end such provocative acts.” Indeed. Turkey’s Daily Sabah reported on the same day that “in a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that Ankara condemns the spread of these “provocative attacks,” which are allowed to be carried out in European countries under the guise of freedom of expression.” The Foreign Ministry stated that “the countries where such attacks have taken place must now take effective measures against these provocations, which are recognized by the United Nations as acts of religious hatred and violations of international law.”
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry issued a statement of its own, condemning these “irresponsible acts that provoke the feelings of two billion Muslims around the world, fuel hatred and threaten peaceful coexistence.” It added that religious symbols must be respected, and that this was a “collective responsibility that everyone must adhere to.”
In response to an earlier act of Qur’an desecration, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry declared: “This senseless and provocative Islamophobic act hurts the religious sensitivities of over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.” It insisted that such acts were “not covered under any legitimate expression of the right to freedom of expression or opinion, which carries responsibilities under international human rights law, such as the obligation not to carry out hate speech and incite people to violence.”
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah said the burning “hurts Muslims’ sentiments across the world and marks serious provocation.” He said that the world should “shoulder responsibility by stopping such unacceptable acts and denouncing all forms of hatred and extremism and bringing the perpetrators to accountability.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said that Europe invokes the freedom of speech in order to “allow extremist and radical elements to spread hatred against Islamic sanctities and values.” He said that the burning was a “clear example of spreading hatred and fueling violence against Muslims” and had “nothing to do with freedom of speech and thought.”
Such responses demonstrate a superficial (at best) understanding of the freedom of speech, but as they come from Muslim countries, they’re understandable. Less forgivable was a recent statement of the High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, Miguel Angel Moratinos. His office said: “While the High Representative stresses the importance of upholding the freedom of expression as a fundamental human right, he also emphasises that the act of Quran-burning, amounts to an expression of hatred towards Muslims. It is disrespectful and insulting to the adherents of Islam and should not be conflated with freedom of expression.”
In other words, the High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations does not really believe in the freedom of expression as a fundamental human right at all. He believes that when someone threatens to kill you over your expression, you should adopt a respectful silence. In other words, he wants the West to submit to Sharia blasphemy restrictions.
Moratinos and others issued these condemnations in the first place because of jihad violence. That’s the only reason. If someone burned a Bible, would the act make any headlines at all? No. Would any ambassadors be summoned? No. Would the High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations start huffing and puffing about how the burning of the Bible was “disrespectful and insulting to the adherents of Christianity”? No.
What’s the difference? If you burn a Bible, Christians won’t kill you. If you burn a Qur’an, some Muslims will want very much to kill you. If you give in to them and curtail your activities accordingly, you’ll end up encouraging more such violent intimidation. Once the jihadis see that the West will give them what they want if they threaten violence, they’ll threaten ever more violence. That’s why Miguel Angel Moratinos is a fool who deserves the condemnation of all free people.