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Firebombing Free Speech

By Salil Tripathi

Three men are under detention here in London after allegedly tossing a petrol bomb at the home-office of Martin Rynja, who runs the Gibson Square publishing firm here. Gibson Square has shown the courage - or audacity, or foolhardiness - to publish "The Jewel of Medina", a novel based on the life of Aisha, the Prophet Muhammad's wife.

This is dangerous territory: Earlier this year, American author Sherry Jones discovered that Random House, which had decided to publish the novel and paid an advance for it, changed its mind and dropped the book. The publishing house did so after receiving unfavorable notices from a critic who was shown the manuscript, and following Internet chatter that suggested that the book would be highly controversial. Ironically, Random House publishes Salman Rushdie, who knows a thing or two about those who seek to silence others. When Random House pulled out of publishing the book, Rushdie expressed his disappointment, calling it "censorship by fear."

Rynja says he opposes censorship and champions free speech. Gibson Square has also published Robert Pape's study of suicide terrorism, "Dying to Win", and its forthcoming titles include the memoir of Levrenti Beria, Stalin's KGB chief, by his son Sergio, and a book about the killing of Father Popieluszko, which led to the unraveling of Polish Communism. If anything, Gibson Square is an equal opportunity offender.

We have been through this before, most notably with Rushdie himself. It was 20 years ago this autumn when the Indian author Khushwant Singh, then an editorial adviser to Penguin in India, told the publisher not to publish Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses," because it would lead to riots. Penguin complied; the Indian Government went a step further and prevented the book from being imported into India, making the world's most populous democracy the first to ban that novel. In February 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini declared the fatwa on Rushdie, forcing the Indian-born author into an involuntary exile, a period he has described later as his "plague years."

The following 20 years should have strengthened the resolve to defend free speech. But it has been a sobering period. The Japanese translator of "The Satanic Verses" was killed; its Italian translator and Norwegian publisher attacked. In the charged atmosphere following the attacks of Sept 11, a Moroccan immigrant murdered the outspoken Dutch film-maker Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam, after he collaborated with the former Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and made a film called "Submission" that many Muslims found offensive. In 2006, the Danish newspaper "Jyllands Posten" published cartoons depicting the prophet, which angered many Muslims further; riots followed in many cities. The UN Human Rights Council has passed a resolution against defaming religion.

British newspapers refused to publish the Danish cartoons, some congratulating themselves for having acted responsibly. British politicians also praised their restraint. That acquiescence has emboldened other faiths to demand bans on plays or art they do not like. In 2004, angry Sikhs attacked the Birmingham Repertory because the group was staging a play that dealt with rape and murder in a Sikh community center. Two years ago, a group of Hindus attacked an art gallery in central London, because it showed the works of Maqbul Fida Husain, the 93-year-old Indian painter whose many works include some in which he has painted Hindu deities in the nude. An upset Christian lecturer destroyed the waxworks models of soccer star David Beckham and his wife, Victoria "Posh" Spice, because they were dressed up as Joseph and Mary at a nativity scene at Madame Tussaud's. The petrol bomb attack in London is the latest installment of that saga.

This was an attack by a minority to force the rest of us into accepting that their right to take offense trumps others' right to express themselves. The more that's accommodated, fewer ideas will be explored, fewer novels will be imagined, art will be visualized, sculptures be shaped. It is an assault on our imagination.

We must assert and preserve our ability to say the unsayable, and argue the unthinkable, even if the book, the cartoons, the sculptures, the canvases, are not to everyone's liking and may not meet universal standards of artistic excellence (for who determines those, anyway?) Otherwise we will have to swallow our words and circumscribe our thoughts.

As Lisa Appignanesi, president of the English PEN, said: "The way to counter words is with other words, not petrol bombs and violent acts."

Salil Tripathi is a London-based writer, whose book on censorship by Hindu nationalists will be published in 2009 by Seagull Books. He is on PEN's Writers-in-Prison Committee in London.

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Comments (37)

Usama1 Author Profile Page:

Abhab, you continually misrepresent actual recorded history with your supercilious fiction for your personal crusade.
What you write should really be seen as fiction of extreme prejudice.

Usama1 Author Profile Page:

Albatross, the causation of the matter begins long before your atheist sensibilities are offended.

Why are Muslims even in Europe? Sure, if Europeans were just in their own cities writing anything they want, so be it. Except Europe invaded, conquered, subjugated, exploited, and altered the Muslim world. For the record, the GDP of all the North African nations combined is less than the GDP of the Netherlands alone. And the largest trading partners of each North African nation is a European nation whereas trade between North African nations is essentially null.

So Europeans and American should come to understand WHY there are North African Muslims migrating to European cities: they are following the human designed and constructed flow of resources, assets, and capital.

So Europe enjoys the fruits of its colonization with the highest living standards in the world without the political headache of ruling conquered peoples. Instead, the petty Muslim dictatorships which serve Western interests can deal with that. All Europeans have to deal with is a few menial laborers.

And that's where 'freedom of speech' comes in. Its true goal is 'free enterprise' and the 'freedom' to advertise, market, propagate for the purpose of commerce. There is no inherit moral value therein. Morality is supposedly inherit in human cultures. But 'freedom of speech' makes morality equal and relative to amorality.
So if the son of a migrant laborer holds a moral standard in contradiction with the capitalist market, such as the dignity of the Prophet Muhammad and the honor of his marriage with Aisha, what is he to do?
Western powers used violence and the threat of violence to conquer subjugate, and alter the Muslim world. Turnabout is not fair play? But blowback is an inevidably. And ironically, that son of a migrant laborer is taking his actionable model from the West.

abhab Author Profile Page:

Fuzzy tells Tripathi:
“ I repeat : As surely as "the freedom of your fist stops where my nose starts', my right to " take offense " does, indeed "trump others' right to express themselves" when the context clearly indicates that the 'right to express oneself' is done in a way designed to cause affront.”

It is not publishing a story about a 6 years old child being violated by a 50 years old man that should affront you, but the behavior of the culprit that should be an affront to all of humanity. You want to censor the reporter instead of condemning the perpetrator. This is called barking on the wrong tree.

FUZZYTRUTHSEEKER Author Profile Page:

Mr. Tripathi,

As surely as "the freedom of your fist stops where my nose starts', my right to " take offense " does, indeed "trump others' right to express themselves" when the context clearly indicates that the 'right to express oneself' is done in a way designed to cause affront --- worse, to trigger small-mob violence that, it is hoped, will snowball into enough unrest to create a casus belli for invasion.

Look at Pakistan -- the violation of a country's sovereignty purportedly in hot pursuit of militants that ends up causing dozens if not scores of civilian victims.

Look at the situation in Gaza and in Hebron where the barbarity against a helpless people continues.

Pause and reflect for a second on the fact that Israel had approached the US authorities for back up for it to execute a preemptive srike against Iranian nuclear research facilities and was rebuffed, but for how long and with what Machiavellian aim in mind.

Consider the tension on the Syrian/Israeli border as well as the Syrian/Lebanon border.

Take a second look at the nuclear cooperation deal between the US and India, which I am not necessarily against, provided EFFECTIVE implementation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty is reinforced -- but can anyone count of that precondition being fulfilled? I would be very glad to listen to the arguments in favour of that condition being fulfilled.

Consider also the September 15, Washington Post opinion article by Henry Kissinger and Martin Feldstein advocating that 'the strong economies' of the US and Europe combine their diplomatic clout to send a strong message to OPEC owners of sovereign wealth funds that they cannot expect the timely (if ever!) honouring of the debt obligations ( by way of US dollar-denominated bonds held by these 'weak economy countries') of these 'strong economy countries' owed to these 'weak economy, oil-exporting countries'
because they operate a cartel that has held the 'strong economy oil-consuming countries' hostage!

Nope, Mr. Tripathy. This ain't no innocent exercise of anybody's right to the freedom of speech.


When Nikos Kazantzakis originally published his "Passio of Christ", the Vatican moved very vigorously to prevent its publication. When Salman Rushdie published his "Midnight's Children", it was banned in India and Indira Gandhi was furious against Salam Rushdie. When no more than about fifteen years ago, the Canadian writer, Hutchison, publi8shed his book on Opus Dei "Their Kingdom Come", the Vatican again moved to have it removed from the shelves of bookstores. Yes, it was later reissued, probaly with passages removed. (I know that for a fact because, having seen the book on a bookstore's shelf at Exclusive Bookshop in Johannesburg but not having my creidt card nor enough cash with me, I thought I'd come back the next day to get it. It was gone! I purcahsed and read the reissued version about a year later).

But, yes, you will say that it would be legitimate, if the affront in publishing the book is deemed to be intentional, to take administrative measures to have the book censored. That I thoroughly agree with you, and I will support criminal cahrges being brought against those who protested in a violent fashion.

But there is a clear difference from my s and yours.

I repeat : As surely as "the freedom of your fist stops where my nose starts', my right to " take offense " does, indeed "trump others' right to express themselves" when the context clearly indicates that the 'right to express oneself' is done in a way designed to cause affront.

abhab Author Profile Page:

Usama defends his prophet's decision to abolish adoption thus:
"Men rejected their blood sons and chose to adopt adult men as their sons, passing on inheritance to other than their own kin."

Below is the true explanation for that abolition.
Mohammad inherited a freed Syrian slave from his first wife Khadija by the name of Zayd the son of Haritha and who after adoption was renamed Zayd the son of Mohammad.
The prophet visited his adopted son’s house one time and saw his daughter-in-law, Zainab bint Jahsh in her nightgown. He liked what he saw and hinted his interest to adding her to his harem. The young man was willing to do anything, including divorcing his wife, to please his father. The prophet would not hear of it. That is until the Messenger of Allah received a message from Allah through the Archangel Gabriel “commanding” him to marry his daughter-in-law. The daughter in law , Zainab, had to her credit balked at such an arrangement and relented only after she was shown the “command of Allah”.
The Arabs of Mecca questionwd this new arrangement that was unheard of in their culture. As usual, Allah interceded at the nick of time with a new edict; adoption was from that moment on abolished and retroactively . This would surely get Mohammad off the hook, since Zayd would no longer be his son and Zainab no longer his daughter in law. That did get him off the hook but at what price? It denied Muslim children throughout history the mercy of adoption and doomed them to a lifetime of deprivation.

youngm1 Author Profile Page:

There are some superfreaks here today.

albatros Author Profile Page:

I understand that some muslims can feel insulted by certain ideas and concepts. But I fail to see any understanding from those same muslims for westerners who feel insulted by their requests for censorship. In fact as an atheist, I am deeply insulted by demands for censorship by people who came to the west in search of a better life for themselves and their children. This is ungrateful and a sign of sheer ignorance. Muslims were accepted and given the chance to exploit the western liberties to their advantage. And now some of those muslims want to bully the west into accepting their points of view. Before crying 'islamophobia' the next time, above muslims might want to take a second to ponder the question if a lack of sympathies from westerners towards islam might not be their own fault due to blatant disrespect for western beliefs and traditions !

Usama:

Omar,

If a man and women agree to polygynous marriage based on strict moral standards, what's the immorality of that?

Are you the universal moral judge of preIslamic Arabia, Omar?
Men rejected their blood sons and chose to adopt adult men as their sons, passing on inheritance to other than their own kin. Obviously in America where a dog can inherit what one's own family is denied, there is no moral code regarding inheritance. As well, in America where men dump their semen at sperm banks and women pick and choose designer style their baby, the notion of blood relation has little significance.

But of the vast eons of human civilization, blood relations was the most important bond. And humans have often tried to destroy it for their own aims, usually serving the rich and powerful. Islam reenforced the significance of blood relations in a society which did not value it. In fact preIslamic Arabia was much like many societies today, where infanticide of girl babies was a common practice just as abortion of female fetuses is common. And men had their wives impregnated by rich, powerful men just as sperm banks serve women today. And warmongering, slander and lies were common in poetry and language just as it is today in the West, which contributes to centuries of Western imperialism and global domination.

As I mentioned previously, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is sponsored and supported by the AEI, which also supports the Wall Street style Capitalism, big oil domination, mega-media power. Those are her allies in this matter.
___________________

Omar,
can you provide some other source besides Ibn Ishaq regarding these people? Did the Quran support this? Like I said, most schools of jurisprudence do NOT ACCEPT Ibn Ishaaq as a scholarly source. The story of Abu Arak and Asma bint Marwan have no chain of narration and thus can be rejected as fraudulent and unreliable even if Ibn Ishaaq recorded it.

Regarding your defense and support for Uqba bin Muayt, there is no record that the Prophet (saaw) ever said Hell will care for his children. Children do not take the sins of their fathers- this is a tenet of Islamic doctrine found in the Quran.

Regarding Uqba:

BUKHARI, BOOK 60: Prophetic Commentary on the Qur'an (Tafseer of the Prophet (pbuh))

Volume 6, Book 60, Number 339:

Narrated Urwa bin Az-Zubair:

I asked 'Abdullah bin 'Amr bin Al-'As to inform me of the worst thing the pagans had done to Allah's Apostle. He said: "While Allah's Apostle was praying in the courtyard of the Ka'ba, 'Uqba bin Abi Mu'ait came and seized Allah's Apostle by the shoulder and twisted his garment round his neck and throttled him severely. Abu Bakr came and seized 'Uqba's shoulder and threw him away from Allah's Apostle and said, "Would you kill a man because he says: 'My Lord is Allah,' and has come to you with clear Signs from your Lord?" (40.28)

Imam Ahmad reported Uqba threw a placenta of a dead camel on the Prophet while he was praying at the Kaaba. Uqba also stepped on Muhammad's neck when he was praying at the Kaaba.
Uqba was also rich enough in Makka to conspire against the Muslims for years and he fought on the side of the Makkans at the battle of Badr.
There are only two captive Muhammad executed after the battle of Badr. And just as God himself preferred the execution of prisoners, Muhammad chose to free many of them, and for others, he allowed ransoms be paid. And for those whose families could not pay, he had them teach children how to read as payment for their freedom. But Uqba was one of the two he had authority from God to execute. And Uqba was recorded even by nonMuslims to be a vile, despicable man. He sealed his own fate. And no one has greater right to life and death than God.


Really, your examples fail to mention the dozens of hypocrites who spread lies, rumors, betrayal for years- including leading soldiers off the active battlefield- and the Prophet didnt lift a hand against them. And this is supported by the Quran as well as multitudes of sources.

Alec:

Harish,
No one is denying that some muslims are doing terrible things on a regular basis. I am denying, though, that they are the only ones that kill in the name of religion. You exact phrase;

"As far as I know only the Muslims kill people who they say show disrespect towards their religion.
Can this author point out when Hindus (or others) actually murdered someone for "insulting" their faith?"

demonstrates the fact that you refuse to recognize that some adherents of every religion, incluiding Hindus, perform terrible acts in the name of protecting their faith. You asked for specific examples of Hindus murdering people based on their religion and I gave you several examples. Are you ignoring the examples becuase they do not happen with the same frequency as in the muslim world? If so, it seems that you are implying that because Hindus or others do not commit as many atrocities as muslims that it is oaky, which is absurb. Even one murder in the name of religions is too many.

Ahmad:

Are you equally upset by the treatment Imus received? These shock jocks or shock writers have found an easy way to become famous and what they are doing is really no different from screaming fire in a crowded theatre. As for Salmon Rushdi, in retrospect, he is living proof of a mediocre writer who would not have not have gotten any recognition other than for writing something shocking.

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Omar:

Usama pontificates:

“He (Mohammad) taught that its ok for man to cry, to kiss and hug his children, to be merciful, kind, and caring to his wife, his neighbors, his family, to care for his parents and orphans, even to care for animals, both wild and domestic.”

Which wife?
As for the care of the orphan, if he truly cares for them he would not have prohibited adoption simply in order to marry his daughter-in-law.
Merciful? Let us count the weays.

Uqba bin Abu Muayt
Uqba harassed and mocked Muhammad in Mecca and wrote derogatory verses about him. He was captured during the Battle of Badr, and Muhammad ordered him to be executed. "But who will look after my children, O Muhammad?" Uqba cried with anguish. "Hell," retorted the prophet coldly. Then the sword of one of his followers cut through Uqba’s neck.
Source: Bukhari, vol. 4, no. 2934; Muslim, vol. 3, nos. 4422, 4424

Asma bint Marwan
Asma was a poetess who belonged to a tribe of Medinan pagans, and whose husband was named Yazid b. Zayd. She composed a poem blaming the Medinan pagans for obeying a stranger (Muhammad) and for not taking the initiative to attack him by surprise. When the Allah-inspired prophet heard what she had said, he asked, "Who will rid me of Marwan’s daughter?" A member of her husband’s tribe volunteered and crept into her house that night. She had five children, and the youngest was sleeping at her breast. The assassin gently removed the child, drew his sword, and plunged it into her, killing her in her sleep.
Source: Ibn Ishaq, pp. 675-76 / 995-96.

Abu Afak
Abu Afak, an centenarian elder of Medina, belonging to a group of clans who were associated with the god Manat (though another account has him as a Jew), wrote a derogatory poem about Muhammad, extolling the ancestors of his tribe who were strong enough to overthrow mountains and to resist submitting to an outsider (Muhammad) who divides two large Medinan tribes with religious commands like "permitted" and "forbidden."
After the battle, the prophet queried, "Who will deal with this rascal for me?" That night, Salim b. Umayr "went forth and killed him." Ibn Ishaq p. 675 / 995.
On and on and on.

John:

Usama makes a good point--What's called "free speech" can definitely serve as a tool to promote western cultural hegemony. But free speech is bigger than that. It's about the free speech of muslims as well. And the question still exists: What limits should be placed on individual expression? There can be no clearly defined lines in this matter. Not every muslim is going to be insulted by the same things. So, how many muslims (or christians) does one have to insult before they are censored?
There is no answer. There is no way to regulate the offense of the other. Everything must be voiced, and we must learn to live on the same planet without killing each other.

Usama:

When it comes to criticism and ridicule of Islam, the media cry is: allow it because its 'free speech'.

But that same media censors and suppresses 'free speech' in favor of Islam and in support of Islamic ideas, practice, concepts, worldview, law, politics, etc.

In fact Western media and literature is highly censored to suppress Islamic viewpoints, except for those that comply with Western and American interests.

Why should Muslims ever consider 'free speech' as legitimate since it has been a tool which supports imperialism and Western cultural, political, ideological supremacy?

I love the Prophet Muhammad more than I love my own family, even my own self. And yet I still am an individual. And 100s of millions of Muslims for centuries have been like this. Kings, emperors, sultans, generals are humbled by the power of the personality of the Prophet Muhammad (saaw). Why should I ever accept futile attempts by insignificant writers to denigrate him?

You know, dimensions of the impact of the Prophet Muhammad (saaw) are usually suppressed and ignored by such books. He taught that its ok for man to cry, to kiss and hug his children, to be merciful, kind, and caring to his wife, his neighbors, his family, to care for his parents and orphans, even to care for animals, both wild and domestic.

Southerner:

I read an excerpt of "The Jewel of Medina", and it was riveting. I have read many historical novels, this was no different. In fact, as a westerner, it was very interesting; I saw a culture I know very little about, and it was like looking into a closed room. I would like to read the whole book.

Harish:

It would be waste for me to write how many Muslims have blown up in last 24 hours. But good websites are major newspapers, europenews.dk, thereligionofpeace.com and faithfreedom.org

Omar:


LW says:
“Muslims are not Mohammedans, and my understanding is that such a reference insults Muslims by placing the Prophet on an equal ground with Allah.”

It is true ! They do not place Mohammad “on equal grounds with Allah”. They put him above Allah. Whenever two of them quarrel the first salvo would be to curse each other’s Allah and no one will stir. On the other hand let someone curse Mohammad and see what happens.
Furthermore it is not enough to believe in Allah to be considered a Muslim. To be a Muslim a person needs to believe in the prophethood of Mohammad and acknowledge that whenever he/she is confirming his /her faith.

LW:

Muslims are not Mohammedans, and my understanding is that such a reference insults Muslims by placing the Prophet on an equal ground with Allah. Beyond this the anger, desire to shed blood, and violent kneejerk reaction to anything they disagree with places fundamentalist Muslims (as well as fundamentalists of any stripe) outside of socially accepted norms in western democracies. Many Christian Americans did not like Andy Warhol's interpretation of "art" as a crucifix suspended in urine. However, nobody tried to blow up Andy.

AMH:

Re: The Jewel of Medina
Why would anyone write about such filth? It is insulting to the Mohammedans and disgusting to everyone else.

mohammad allam:

To Rohit
Congratulation for nice posting based on love to humanity and honesty.

Alec:

Harish,
That was, as I said, just one example. I am not implying that Hindus have done as much in the name of their religion as others, but we cannot be blind to the fact that every religion has its adherents who take things to the extreme. As far as more recent examples:
August 2008-Hindus burn a christian orphanage, letting the children escape, but locking the two adult caregivers inside to die
August-September 2008- Hindus in the same area burned dozens of churches and at least 1000 homes. The 5000+ homeless are living in the surrounding forests, because they were threatened and told not to return, at least 10 deaths have been confirmed
Septemeber 24, 2008- 50 hindus in Gorakhpur attacked a christian missionary. They attempted to lynch him, but villagers came to his defense and prevented the mob from killing him.
August 25, 2008- a hindu mob torched a christian clinic for people with leprosy and their families. No one was killed, but all the patients and their families were forced to leave the center and have no place to go to for medical care or support.

Harish:

Alec, I was talking about daily basis, not something that happened 10 years ago.

Read the paper and see how many have Muslims blown up in the last 24 hours in the name of Allah during Ramadan?

b. keith vipperman / artistkvip:

it would seem to me that free speech is not really an option or should not be the question...fundamentally thoughout history men and women have always said and stood upon words and thoughts and concepts to which the believed to be the truth in some case and in others where they have been paid coercerce or manipulated or terrorized by the wealthy into not talking... the ones standinding upon conviction and truth have nowhere else to go ... or should they.. even if they be incorrect because it is in the avenue of time and experience that the very best and most thought of ideas when peacefully put to the test against each other that humanity truely gets its bet ansers and help...men a nd women who belive in God do not fear the words of men... the time and effort.... if you beieve in these words... then would be spent to bring to justice those who are criminal or violent or mentally deficient, who would deprive us all from finding out the ultimate truth... violence sometimes delays but never stopps the truth, the oppressessed merely rest until they can again if they are standing upon conviction and truth and at time peacefully on faith, take up thier steady walk forward.... where do the those who try to deny them for monetary and power reasons expect them to go ... time and numbers insure the ultimate out come if you are a mathematician or one who believes in the devine of what ever religion or non religion.. it must eventually happen... why not today. we are in the information age ..people are not stupid, they are sometimes tired or tempararily fearful but that is a temporary human conditon,,, and you dont want these people angry peacefull i dont think ;-)

Can Baskent:

What has been widely missed (or intentionally ignored) is the fact that there is a hierarchic order in religions from believer's point of view. Why a Muslim is a Muslim, or a Buddhist is Buddhist simply stems from the fact that he thinks that his religion is "superior" to the others. Otherwise why would he choose the weaker/inferior religion? Thus, once you accepted that your god is the superior one, you then have the right to think that others are inferior. This does not immediately justify the violence. For this, you should consult to the verses about jihad in Quran, or to some other Vatican church orders about crusades. The (most) religions are for nothing but to rule and dominate the other people - be it violent or volunteer submission.

It is also clear that religions restricted the free thought for centuries. Either from a sentimental believer's point of view or from a religious clerk's point of view, some forms of thought have always been "insultive". Inquisition was not a coincidence, Islamic fetwas are not random.

This also explains why impressionists painters do not murder cubists painters, or futurist novelists do not assault realist ones.

ZZim:

Why are these people posting about Palin here? Can they not find the right link? Or are these posts just spam designed to make Fareed Zakaria's opinion appear to be widely-held? Or perhaps just more astro-turf? I have trouble believing it's accidental.

Anonymous:

" I believe in a woman having the right to choose as far as abortion goes.."

Are you talking about RU-486 taken immediately after conception, or are you talking about the killing of a six month old foetus which is much closer to a baby than to a bunch of cells?

When people talk about "right to choose" or "abortion is murder" they need to understand just what it is that they favor and what it is that they oppose. Pregnancy is a continuous process which consists of one cell eventually becoming a baby. It is a huge mistake to think that all moral (and legal) choices are the same for all nine months.

rohit:

"This was an attack by a minority to force the rest of us into accepting that their right to take offense trumps others' right to express themselves"

To be quite honest, those who want to "express" themselves are also a minority. I am myself a Buddhist, but I don't wake up every day with the thought, "Let me see, how shall I `express' myself today by insulting Muhammad, Jesus or Krishna?"

There is a small minority in the Arts and Literature who persistently confuse creativity with being outrageous, and the rest of us, like sheep, think there is an attack on free speech when there is a protest by those who are insulted by this "Avant Garde".

Just what HAS the Avant Garde contributed to civilization? The Internet? The telephone? Nothing of any value. They have poked their fingers into many eyes, Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, the list is endless. And the world gains nothing from the adventures of these adolescents.

Frankly, if Muslims do not want to be insulted by these idiots, I fully understand them. OK, there should be honest criticism and historical research. But disrespct to Islam poisons the atmosphere and prevents such research from taking place.

ryuge:

Palin and Obama are the same age, but Governor Palin has run a state and a town and a commercial fishing operation, whereas Obama has never even run the local McDonald's. Next to her resume, a guy who's done nothing but serve in the phony-baloney job of "community organizer" and write multiple autobiographies looks like just another creepily self-absorbed lifelong member of the full-time political class that infests every advanced democracy.

mohammad allam:

There is difference between lover of art and literature and lover of using the art and literature for being famous in the world.In present time there is fashion in the west to be famous not on the basis of creativity and masterpiece but so called abusive literature.Who knows these little dwarf of world of art and literature for their original contribution.These man of literature wants cheap popularity .For this cheap populrity they can cross to any limits.These people even donot know the aims and objective of the art and literature.They dodnot know how powerfull these contribution to the developemnt of human experience and joy.
In my opinion the art and literature play the role of unifying force not the destructive force for which art is a gift of God.
In the name of freedom of speech ,they are trying to interfering in the religious faith of other.Is western concept of liberty allows that an individual by taking the liberty dishonour the collective group of society?.These fellow forget that liberty has limitation and this is limited by the right of other.They can ask for right but who will care for other rights?
The west know that Muslim around the world how much attach to their religion and religious people.The attack on them by character assination will torture mentally Muslim.In my opinion they are following this very well and religious biogot and popularity hunger monster combination making the situation in the world worse.
The liberal Muslim wants to end the terrorism and all those other violence activities by having a collective responsibilites and share with west.But these felloe by abusing the other religion making this path difficult.Either these fellow donot want a good relation with west and islamic world or they are enemy of both.we shouldnot tolerate these so called matser of money maker.The Fundamentalist is strenthend by these fellow.The world cannot be rule on your daed end literature.
These fellow lives in palace and high security zone.They have not lived in remote areas of Africa,Asia and many Muslim countries.where from any foolish type of act of these scholar put the lives in danger.they ahve not seen the rioting mob and killing of innocent.Let them to come and live in such areas and publish book,then you will know what is life.Then you will know how your every abusive publishing giving death to innocent people.If you want o put lievs of Humanity in danger then you are not man of literature.A man of literature weeps for humanity where even a single life is lost.They never deliberately put life of people in danger.
What i say about MR salman Rushdie.If a muslim practice the system of marriage with two or more woman then it is inustice against then what about his marriage after marriage.Is it not a sort of worse system of polygamy where you enjoy the body and left the person in distress.
The peace can be bring in the world when we will respect each other faith and symbol of faith.What these people doing,they dishonouring other people and encouraging the hostility.By this way we cannot have peace.other hand we should not allow these 40% royalty seeker monster to destroy the peace of world.
I think the best one contribution will be from these writer to write about their mummy and papa relation,their own life story and put their own life on critical examination.Then i will see how much they are fair in writing and master of critical analysis.These typw of their writing will help the coming generation to understand the social relation perfectly.

Chrisc:

Governor Palin’s New Clothes (redo)
By Chris Chalfant

We must be diligent in driving home the point that Sarah Palin could be a devastating blow to our country and to the rest of the world. People are watching this election from all corners of the globe. Now that it is evident the economic crisis is global, people need to be assured that we will be able to recover from this economy. She is unraveling in front of the American Public. It may have worked the first time to have a surprise debut at the RNC without former knowledge of the Alaskan Governor, but there is too much accurate, informed negative material out on Ms. Palin now for all of the people to be fooled all of the time, even if she does get a passing grade at the VP debate on Thursday. Sarah Palin is a great cheerleader, but cannot think for herself. As a female who has worked very hard to achieve success in a male-dominated profession, I am sorry to have to say that, but she is an embarrassment to hard-working women. Her behavior is hurting the feminist movement, as it is giving further fodder to already sexist men to say “I told you so.”

It is embarrassing and frightening to recognize that Mrs. Palin does not realize the potential consequences of her flippant remarks to serious international issues. The things she has said about Russia, Iran and Pakistan are alarming, and need to be considered as a grave concern to Americans and other leaders around the world. I can only think that her coaches advised her to sound strong about military, about “Country First,” but in my opinion, her comments come across as “Strike first without blinking, regardless of potential for diplomacy.”

I am very concerned that people are not getting the journalism which clearly shows Mrs. Palin’s “new clothes”. I look at Sarah Palin speak at rallies on TV, and she comes across as very comforting, personable and compelling. If I were not well-informed, I could see being swayed by her personable approach. I cringe inside, knowing that others are falling for her shtick. As evidenced in the polls, some people ARE fooled all of the time. I have been calling voters in Pennsylvania and in Ohio. It is evident that people have limited and one-sided access to media because of Big Media dominance, lack of funds for computers, or mountains which interfere with the possibility of broadband communication, such as the crucial state of Pennsylvania.

We must make every effort to inform people of the grave mistake they may make by voting for a McCain-Palin ticket. Let’s hope that Tina Fey will help voters see the absurdity of John McCain’s greatest judgment in error (that is until his claim to saving the U.S. from financial ruin by fake-canceling his campaign last week.) John McCain’s health record shows statistically that Mrs. Palin has a one-in-five chance of succeeding him as President within his tenure. Let’s take this one seriously. Voter registration is coming to a close within the next week, and absentee voting in Ohio starts today. You can make a difference.

Alec:

Harish,
To name only one time that Hindus have murdered people for insulting their faith, the Australian missionary Graham Staines and his sons, who were 8 and 10 years old. The convicted ringleader defended the murders by telling the jury that he had witnessed the christians eating beef on Christams day, and since eating beef is an insult to the faith, they "decided to kill the christians."

Baron:

I need to check with a woman on that one. They seem to know better on certain matters. What is the deal woman? "I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it." Mae West. I guess we're back to the wild-wild West again. I would of made a fortune, except I found all the wrong women and at all the wrong times. I guess timing is half the battle and the rest is knowing not what to say. Being a man, the action is the fun. It's more fun with a woman and a woman with a fortune needs censors and ships to protect her, thus nothing bad gets through. It's all good, it's safe now.

ting_m_1999:

Abusing free speech must be treated like any other crime committed under human freedom

ilona rose:

I agree with this:
As Lisa Appignanesi, president of the English PEN, said: "The way to counter words is with other words, not petrol bombs and violent acts."

Excellent article and much needed for us all to remember that Free Speach is something we need to demand and protect.

There are always going to be ideas we do not agree with, whether it is something simple as not eating meat to something as important as believing terrorism is amoral. I happen to eat meat, but I do not hate vegetarians. I believe in a woman having the right to choose as far as abortion goes, but I do not want to destroy the anti-abortionists that mame and kill in the name of their cause. When they break the law, it is up to our legal system to punish them. If there is a book that offends me, I just won't read that book. That is the difference.

Free Speach is a right that people have died for for thousands of years, all over the world and is still happening. There are books I probably will never read, but that does not mean they should all be burned. I cannot push my ideas on you, but I should be able to share them with you, without fear of being killed.

What is going on in the world in the name of religion is totally against what most religions preach. Free speach is so important, especially in these tormented times we live in. I want to know what my friends and enemies alike think and believe in. To not publish a book because of fear is giving in to that fear. We must all stand up to that minority who think death and terror is a way to force their ideals on us. (Key word was minority, meaning a few.) Humanity depends on it from us. It should be a mission of all the world's governments to severly punish those who insist on using terror to censor views that may be different than their own.

And BTW, Fareed Zakaria, I totally agree with your story about Palin not being qualified to be VP. Palin is an excellent example of McCain's poor judgement. It is obvious how ignorant he thinks the American people are and personally, I am insulted. I am even more insulted by the transparent grandstanding he did in the last week regarding the financial crisis his party got us into in the first place. His rudeness during the debate was an insult to the whole debate process. When the VP debate is over, let us see how many people still "identify" with Palin. And if they do, we seriously need some help. The SNL skits about her were the funniest when they used the actual words she said. It is very sad when you think about it. Asking her to bow out now would be the kindest thing they could do. No one would hold it agaisnt her. It is too late for McCain anyway.

ZZim:

Hear, hear. Great article Salil, thanks for writing it. It's nice to see editorials defending free speech in the Mainstream Media. I was seriously dissappointed the way the US press failed in its (non-) coverage of the big cartoon hullaballoo.

And thanks to Martin Ryjna for showing the moral courage that Random House cannot.

Harish:

As far as I know only the Muslims kill people who they say show disrespect towards their religion.

Can this author point out when Hindus (or others) actually murdered someone for "insulting" their faith?

Anonymous:

I do agree with Fareed Zakaria regarding Sarah Palin. She is not qualified for the Vice President office. Unfortunately, this issue is clouded with the fact that she is a woman. I think that she is a bright and plitically savvy person, but she just does not have the experience to function at the highest level of government at this critical time of our nation. Thanks for potining the obvious, Fareed!

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.