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Some Holy Books Are More Equal Than Others
by David J. Rusin • Sep 26, 2009 at 9:44 am
Does the Koran enjoy a protected status in the West that other holy books, such as the Bible, do not? Consider a pair of news items that emerged from Great Britain over the summer:
Free people must retain the right to critique all holy books and even to disrespect them in the crudest of ways — though taxpayers should never be forced into bankrolling such acts. However, one religious text appears to benefit from special protections in the public square.
It is hard to imagine that a gallery in the über-multicultural UK would use government funds to encourage defilement of the Koran, a point that Catholic officials made explicitly. First, we have the PC deference to and even promotion of Islam that are common on both sides of the Atlantic. Second, the fear factor comes into play. Last year IW noted that Islamist violence has left many artists reluctant to tackle Islam. Moreover, in 2009 separate allegations of intentionally damaged Korans fueled riots in Greece and murders in Pakistan. Bibles and Christianity are safer targets. Indeed, Christians responded to the Glasgow show with condemnations and online petitions.
America has witnessed its own double standards with regard to the Koran and the Bible. For example, an ex-student at New York's Pace University was charged with hate crimes in 2007 for depositing library copies of the Koran in campus toilets, but "a search of Lexis/Nexis did not disclose any hate crime prosecutions for destroying a Bible." As the Middle East Forum's Win Myers explained, "Anything goes — unless the keepers of Islam are offended."
In addition, while one can only speculate about Sebastian Faulks' thought processes, the speedy and groveling retraction of his comments is suggestive of the self-censorship and second-guessing that mute criticism of Islamic scripture but rarely apply to its Christian counterpart.
As a previous IW article warns, "There can be no true freedom in a climate of fear." And without freedom to scrutinize the book that jihadists themselves cite as inspiration, the West has little chance of understanding, let alone combating, radical Islam.