Censorship and control

Our old friend Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has called on the Pope not only to apologise but to actually retract the ‘offending’ statement from his recent lecture.

“He, in effect, stopped short of apologizing and the real apology is to retract his remarks, which should be omitted from the lecture,” Qaradawi told his own website Islam Online.

In other words Qaradawi wishes to censor the Pope.

This is the problem with Islamists – I can accept Muslims disagree with the Pope. (Does anyone remember that Catholics and Muslims do actually disagree about loads of stuff?) I can even accept that some of them are offended but the demand for apology is something else and Qaradawi’s desire to censor reflects what is it that is so disturbing about that demand.

Essentially the demand that the Pope apologise is itself a call for censorship because it urges negation of a previously stated comment and calls for obedience. The Islamists are not asking the Pope to think again, to change his mind, to open up to the possibility they may be right or even to convert, they are saying – shut up. This attempt to silence reflects the totalitarian nature of Islamism.

Qaradawi could have responded to the affair by saying – “Pope, you are badly wrong and I will prove it to you. I’ll debate this matter with you publicly and show to millions of Muslims and everyone else who cares that I am right and you are wrong.”

But he, as an Islamist, is incapable of taking such a position – debate and discussion are out of the question – submission is the only option but Qaradawi doesn’t have the balls to come out and say that.

Which leads me to a point that I considered writing about when Orianna Fallaci died last week. The Fallaci view, the position taken by others who also use the word ‘Eurabia’, is that the Muslim immigrants in Europe are a fifth column, here to convert us and to help in the jihad against the West. This is dangerous nonsense and a conspiracy theory.

Of course, the violent hardcore jihadists, the Bin Laden Brigades, would love for the conspiracy theory to come true – there is nothing they would like more than a genuine fifth column in Europe.

But I suspect what concerns those Islamists, such as Qaradawi, whose focus is on winning power and enforcing sharia across Muslim-majority populated countries, is the risk that Muslim immigrants in Europe become a successful part of secular societies. It would be a nightmare for those reactionaries fighting against modernity if there were an example of millions of Muslims, comfortable with their faith, leading successful and contended lives in secular democratic societies. An integrated and thriving Muslim population in Europe would be a kind of West Berlin to the Islamists. In time, the Muslims of our continent may turn out to be far more dangerous to the Islamists than to democrats.

In order to stop such a nightmare scenerio, the Islamists need the Muslims of Europe to be poor, uneducated, unsuccessful and alienated – they need them to feel they are under attack and to be living proof that there can only be misery under the rule of infidels and in the lands of secularism. Debate with the Pope, accepting that an alternative view of Islam exists and should be met with discussion, would be conceding to the terms of enlightened Europe. Instead the response is the desire for censorship and an attempt to reinforce the image that Europe is the home of Islam hatred and there can be no joy found there.

Al-Qaradawi may not be daft enough to think that he really can control the Muslim population of Europe but he is certainly clever enough to realise that he needs to try – if only to send the message that such discussion is not going to be on the agenda in the Middle East when his boys take power.

Why was the publication of the Satanic Verses and later the Mo-toons met with such a violent reaction? The Islamists knew they were never going to be able to succeed in imposing censorship across the West but they were sending the two key messages – the West will bring you only humiliation and by the way, don’t even think of writing critical books or drawing satirical cartoons on our manor.

I am sure there are many other motivations at play in this and I’d be interested to hear your views in the comments, but I reckon that control and authority are the key issues.

The Qaradawi view is surely this: The Pope can exist, Catholics can exist, but they should never venture into discussions of Islam, that is our territory.

As with communism and fascism, Islamism operates in a very similar fashion to the mafia – and the Pope has just discovered he crossed onto someone else’s patch.

Hat Tip: Martin Sullivan.