Ein Blog über Religion und Politik

Wie Blasphemiegesetze zur Unterdrückung religiöser Minderheiten führen

Von 4. Oktober 2012 um 15:05 Uhr

Ich habe es ja vorhergesagt: Blasphemiegesetze sind des Teufels. In Ägypten sind jetzt zwei minderjährige Kinder koptischer Herkunft wegen Gottelsästerung verhaftet worden, aufgrund der zweifelhaften Aussagen eines radikalen Imams.

Hussein Ibish hat zu der Problematik einen sehr klarsichtigen Essay geschrieben. Der Kampf gegen eine globale Blasphemiegesetzgebung, wie sie jetzt von den Vertretern vieler islamischer Staaten gepusht wird, ist eine entscheidende Front für alle freiheitsliebenden Menschen. Und, um das gleich hinzuzufügen: Eine notwendige Ergänzung – kein Widerspruch! – zum Kampf gegen grassierende Islamhetze:

After all the grandstanding by various Muslim leaders at the recent U.N. General Assembly meeting, and by the Organization of Islamic Conference, on the need for global anti-blasphemy laws, the Egyptian legal system has been thoughtful enough to provide us with a timely demonstration of what such restrictions look like in practice. Two Coptic Christian children Nabil Nagy Rizk, 10, and Mina Nady Farag, 9, were arrested yesterday on charges of “insulting religion” in the governorate of Beni Suef. The two children are being held in a juvenile detention center awaiting further investigation and possible criminal prosecution.

The children stand accused by the Imam of a local mosque of destroying papers, including some containing Quranic verses. The incident is disturbingly reminiscent of an ongoing scandal in Pakistan in which a Christian girl is being persecuted for allegedly destroying copies or pages of the Quran.

This is what anti-blasphemy laws inevitably lead to: the arrest and persecution of religious minorities, including children, in order to “protect sensibilities” of religious majorities. What it shows is that anti-blasphemy laws have nothing to do with “respect” or “sensitivity” to religious sentiments but are all about authority, control and social domination.

Because these laws appeal to extra-legal and extra-constitutional sentiments, values and principles that exist above and beyond the law itself, they lend themselves perfectly to abusive and discriminatory application. In the case of prosecutions regarding the dissemination of the inflammatory, offensive anti-Islam online video clip “The Innocence of Muslims,” a Coptic Christian named Albert Saber has been arrested and remains in detention for allegedly posting the clip online. But no measures have been taken against the Salafist Al-Nas television station that broadcast significant portions of the video to its large audience in the earliest effort to whip up a public frenzy that led directly to the violent incidents that rocked the Middle East a few weeks ago.

Al-Nas defended its actions as responsibly alerting the public to a “threat” to Islam, but in fact it was the principal vehicle for disseminating the content of the clip in the Arab world. Had they ignored it, the ensuing chaos might well never have come to pass. The channel cynically served as the main public relations vehicle for the video, because the Saudi-funded extremist station and its radical backers understood that their political allies would be the direct beneficiaries of public outrage, which they were delighted to stoke to a fever pitch.

Yet they have not been prosecuted under Egypt’s anti-blasphemy laws, because they are extremist Muslims purporting to act “in defense of Islam.” So anti-blasphemy laws are again revealed to be entirely about social and political context, authority and control, and nothing to do with content.

Amazingly, there has been virtually no pushback or reaction to remarks by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in his recent U.N. speech, which sought to place the blame for the violence entirely at the feet of the authors of the video and implicitly exonerated the rioters and extremist organizations behind them for the deaths for which they were directly responsible. He alleged that “freedom should not cross reasonable limits and become a tool to hurt and insult the dignity of others and of religions and faiths and sacred beliefs as we have seen lately, which regrettably led to the killing of innocent people who have not committed any crime.”

This is a perfect window into the through-the-looking-glass world of blasphemy-ban advocates. In this reality, those who engage in offensive speech (and there’s no question that the video is patently Islamophobic and hateful) bear the full responsibility if others cynically exploit their intentional, calculated provocations for their own political and social purposes. If people are killed, that’s the fault of the provocateurs, not the killers. These statements implicitly absolve extremist and violent reactions to provocative speech and suggest that the proper response is not to denounce and yet still protect offensive expression, but to suppress it in order to prevent a violent reaction.

The Emir, in effect, was making common cause with the violent extremists, using their deplorable and criminal behavior as a rationalization for the suppression of offensive speech. It’s a thinly-disguised exercise in bullying, and an updated version of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger’s old “madman” diplomatic strategy: if you don’t make an agreement with me on my terms, you’ll bear the full responsibility for what those other crazy people do.

Of course, it’s an even worse form of bullying to arrest children on trumped up charges of “blasphemy.” Yet this is happening, time and again, in several Muslim-majority states. The latest examples from Egypt are only the most recent.

That’s what the push for a global anti-blasphemy ban—which will not and must not succeed—is ultimately designed to do: rationalize such oppressive restrictions in those Muslim-majority states where they actually apply. And, in practice, that means religious minorities, including children, will inevitably be subjected to grotesque abuses. If this isn’t a wake-up call for everybody who thinks they are committed to freedom and democracy, I don’t know what will be.

Leser-Kommentare
  1. 1.

    Und, um das gleich hinzuzufügen: Eine notwendige Ergänzung – kein Widerspruch! – zum Kampf gegen grassierende Islamhetze

    Allgemeiner gesagt: Die Beleidigung eines Glaubens soll erlaubt sein, Hetze gegen seine Anhänger nicht. Klingt vernünftig – aber wo ziehen Sie die Grenze? Senkt die Herabwürdigung religiöser Inhalte die Hemmschwelle für Gewalt gegen die Gläubigen (“was wir in dieser interessanten Schau sehen, wird anderswo tatsächlich noch ernst genommen”) und gehört deshalb ebenfalls verboten?

    • 4. Oktober 2012 um 15:27 Uhr
    • Arjen van Zuider
  2. 2.

    Ich halte das für wortklauberei. Ich denke , zumindest für strenggläubige, ist kritik am islam = islamhetze.

    • 4. Oktober 2012 um 15:54 Uhr
    • ernsthaft
  3. 3.

    Ich denke , zumindest für strenggläubige, ist kritik am islam = islamhetze.

    Wohl nicht nur für Strenggläubige. Wenn man Islam mit Gewalt und Rückständigkeit assoziert, dann fühlt sich jeder Gläubige angesprochen. Wer will schon einem derartigen Verein angehören? Das zieht einen ja runter. Deshalb darf über den Islam und seine Jünger nur noch positiv berichtet werden.

    • 4. Oktober 2012 um 16:28 Uhr
    • unlimited
  4. 4.

    Durch den Atheismus fühlt sich jeder Gläubige beleidigt. Deshalb kann Religionskritik keine Rücksicht auf Gläubige nehmen.

    • 4. Oktober 2012 um 16:44 Uhr
    • pinetop
  5. 5.

    Das ist ja ein hervorragender Artikel, Herr Lau, den Sie hier eingestellt haben – mit außerordentlichem “Berührungspotential” aufgrund seines Inhalts und aufgrund seiner klaren und eindringlichen Worte.

    “That’s what the push for a global anti-blasphemy ban—which will not and must not succeed—is ultimately designed to do: rationalize such oppressive restrictions in those Muslim-majority states where they actually apply. And, in practice, that means religious minorities, including children, will inevitably be subjected to grotesque abuses. If this isn’t a wake-up call for everybody who thinks they are committed to freedom and democracy, I don’t know what will be.”

    Ihre Einleitung hingegen gefällt mir nicht:
    “Ich habe es ja vorhergesagt: Blasphemiegesetze sind des Teufels.”

    Um Blasphemiegesetze abzulehnen und zu verurteilen oder zu begrüßen, braucht es keine kristallglasgestützten Vorhersagefähigkeiten, keine Analyse von welcher politischen Situation auch immer – es braucht schlicht eine Haltung!

    Und Ihre erneute Anleihe im Vokabular der religösen Hardliner gefällt mir gerade in diesem Zusammenhang hier nicht: warum malen Se gerade hier “den Teufel” an die Wand, in einem Bericht über die erschreckenden Aktionen und Ambitionen im Namen einer Religion, die diesen detailliert beschreibt und ihm explizit einen Teil der Menschheit mitsamt der ihr zustehende Behandlung zuweist!?

    “Der Kampf gegen eine globale Blasphemiegesetzgebung, wie sie jetzt von den Vertretern vieler islamischer Staaten gepusht wird, ist eine entscheidende Front für alle freiheitsliebenden Menschen.”

    Auch hieran habe ich sprachlich herumzumäkeln: könnte man das vielleicht ohne “Kampf” und “Front” etwas weniger martialisch formulieren?

    Hätte die Einleitung an der Stelle geendet, hätte man sie nicht weiter erwähnen müssen. Statt dessen benutzen Sie diesen eindringlichen Appell des Autors Hussein Ibish um Ihr “ceterum censeo” anzuhängen!

    “Und, um das gleich hinzuzufügen: Eine notwendige Ergänzung – kein Widerspruch! – zum Kampf gegen grassierende Islamhetze:”

    Und das finde ich nur peinlich. Für mich fehlt da jeder “sense of perspective” und gleichzeitig scheinen Sie Menschen zu unterstellen, sie würden sich aufgrund der geschilderten Vorfälle wie der Vorstöße in den UN in “Islamhetzer” verwandeln statt weiterhin ihren Verstand kritisch zu nutzen.

  6. 6.

    - “Das Meer ist durchgängig, der Irrtum liegt bei den Inseln” (Charles Péguy) –

    When a thing happened that had not happened before,
    a confusion often descended upon people,
    a fog that fuddled the clearest minds; and
    often the consequence of such confusion was rejection, and even anger.
    • A fish crawled out of a swamp onto dry land and the other fish were bewildered, perhaps even annoyed that a forbidden frontier had been crossed …
    • The birth of language angered the dumb …
    • A scientist observed tortoises and mockingbirds and wrote about random mutation and natural selection and the adherents of the Book of Genesis cursed his name …

    This was the question his novel had asked: How does newness enter the world?

    The arrival of the new was not always linked to progress. Men found new ways of oppressing one another, too, new ways of unmaking their best achievements … and men’s darkest innovations, as much as their brightest ones, confused their fellow men.
    • When the first witches were burned it was easier to blame the witches than to question the justice of their burning.
    • When the odours from the gas ovens drifted into the streets of nearby villages and the dark snow fell from the sky it was easier not to understand …
    • When a Pakistani politician defended a woman falsely accused of blasphemy he was murdered by his bodyguard and his country applauded the murderer and threw flower petals over him when he was brought to court.
    Most of these dark newnesses were innovations that came into being in the name of a totalising ideology, an absolute ruler, an unarguable dogma, or a god …

    Something new was happening here: the growth of a new intolerance.
    It was spreading across the surface of the earth, but nobody wanted to know.

    A new word had been created to help the blind remain blind: Islamophobia.
    To criticise the militant stridency of this religion in its contemporary incarnation was to be a bigot.
    A phobic person was extreme and irrational in his views, and
    so the fault lay with such persons and
    not with the belief system that boasted over one billion followers worldwide.
    One billion believers could not be wrong,
    therefore the critics must be the ones foaming at the mouth.

    When … did it become irrational to dislike religion, any religion, even to dislike it vehemently?
    When did reason get redescribed as unreason?
    When were the fairy stories of the superstitious placed above criticism, beyond satire?

    A religion was not a race. It was an idea, and ideas stood (or fell) because they were strong enough (or too weak) to withstand criticism, not because they were shielded from it.
    Strong ideas welcomed dissent.
    ‘He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill,’ wrote Edmund Burke. ‘Our antagonist is our helper.’ …

    It was Islam that had changed, not people like himself,
    it was Islam that had become phobic of a very wide range of ideas, behaviours and things.
    • In those years and in the years that followed, Islamic voices in this or that part of the world — Algeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan – anathematised theatre, film and music, and musicians and performers were mutilated and killed.
    • Representational art was evil, and so the ancient Buddhist statues at Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban.
    • There were Islamist attacks on socialists and unionists, cartoonists and journalists, prostitutes and homosexuals, women in skirts and beardless men, and also, surreally, on such evils as frozen chickens …

    … The creators of ‘Newspeak’ in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four … renaming the propaganda ministry the Ministry of Truth and the state’s most repressive organ the Ministry of Love.
    ‘Islamophobia’ was an addition to the vocabulary of … Newspeak.
    It took the language of analysis, reason and dispute, and
    stood it on its head.

    … the fanatical cancer spreading through Muslim communities would, in the end, explode into the wider world beyond Islam. If the intellectual battle was lost – if this new Islam established its right to be ‘respected’ and to have its opponents excoriated, placed beyond the pale and, why not, even killed – then political defeat would follow.

    from: Salman Rushdie. Joseph Anton – A Memoir. Jonathan Cape, London, 2012 – pages 343 -346

    • 4. Oktober 2012 um 21:38 Uhr
    • Publicola
  7. 7.

    PS – #6

    “The American humourist H. L. Mencken memorably defined puritanism as ‘the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy’,
    and very often the true enemy of the new Islam seemed to be happiness itself.”
    from: Salman Rushdie, op.cit.

    • 4. Oktober 2012 um 21:41 Uhr
    • Publicola
  8. 8.

    Korrektur … A phobic person was extreme and irrational in his views

    • 4. Oktober 2012 um 21:45 Uhr
    • Publicola
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