Writers’ Warning

The cartoon row has prompted a bunch of writers to issue a statement warning against Islamism, the new totalitarian threat, BBC reports. Three of the writers are from the Indian subcontinent; three are from Iran; three from France.

The full text of the statement follows.

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global totalitarian threat: Islamism.

We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

Recent events, prompted by the publication of drawings of Muhammad in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values.

This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field.

It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism between West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarian ideologies, Islamism is nurtured by fear and frustration.

Preachers of hatred play on these feelings to build the forces with which they can impose a world where liberty is crushed and inequality reigns.

But we say this, loud and clear: nothing, not even despair, justifies choosing darkness, totalitarianism and hatred.

Islamism is a reactionary ideology that kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present.

Its victory can only lead to a world of injustice and domination: men over women, fundamentalists over others.

On the contrary, we must ensure access to universal rights for the oppressed or those discriminated against.

We reject the “cultural relativism” which implies an acceptance that men and women of Muslim culture are deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secularism in the name of the respect for certain cultures and traditions.

We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of “Islamophobia”, a wretched concept that confuses criticism of Islam as a religion and stigmatisation of those who believe in it.

We defend the universality of the freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit can exist in every continent, towards each and every maltreatment and dogma.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits in every country that our century may be one of light and not dark.

The signatories:

Salman Rushdie – Indian-born British writer with fatwa issued ordering his execution for The Satanic Verses
Ayaan Hirsi Ali – Somali-born Dutch MP
Taslima Nasreen – exiled Bangladeshi writer, with fatwa issued ordering her execution
Bernard-Henri Levy – French philosopher
Chahla Chafiq – Iranian writer exiled in France
Caroline Fourest – French writer
Irshad Manji – Ugandan refugee and writer living in Canada
Mehdi Mozaffari – Iranian academic exiled in Denmark
Maryam Namazie – Iranian writer living in Britain
Antoine Sfeir – director of French review examining Middle East
Ibn Warraq – US academic of Indian/Pakistani origin
Philippe Val – director of Charlie Hebdo

Categories: Conflict

2 replies

  1. Very clear. Covering all main points of concern to any free thinker. Or rather any human being, for whom Freedom is indeed a Birth Right.


  2. Atanu
    This is all very good. But lets acknowledge that any attempt to stifle other totalitarianisms is itself a kind of totalitarianism. An analogy would be to say that the atheist and the theist are in the same boat. Each is a missionary for *his* own cause. All these philosophers, artists, etc. dont have any better a handle on the truth than the average person on the street. Neither do they have any handle on what will really deliver “world peace”. Everyone is a self-interested black-box of passion and past experiences.

    Free spirit? Yes, I want to be free from these corrupting influences as well – that tell me that I should be secular, critical, etc etc. Its all just NOISE to me.


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