Thursday, 9 September 2010

Paving the Way to Another Holocaust

First they came for the Jews, and no one spoke up for the Jews, at least not in time; consequently millions of Jews suffered torture and the incomprehensible slaughter at the bloodied hands of the criminal Nazi regime. Now they’ve come for the Muslims, with their Quran-burning sessions in Florida, and the anti Ground Zero Mosque rhetoric and propaganda. Anyone with a drop of sense in the ocean of thought that forms their minds would agree that the Ground Zero Mosque that has been proposed to be erected is in fact a community centre for members of the Sufi faith, which is located at least a number of blocks away from Ground Zero.

Reverend Terry Jones has called for a ‘Quran burning day’ in Gainesville, Florida, to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocity. Apparently, “no one has been speaking out about Islam...”, and so, the ‘learned’ Reverend feels that by aggressively attacking the belief of millions world-wide by reprehensibly burning their sacred religious Scripture, one would be effectively ‘speaking out about Islam’. Perhaps Jones is exercising his right to freedom of expression; however, when does exercising the right to freedom of expression become an abuse of exercising such a right? If it takes the form of burning scriptures, then such an inherent right has already lost its meaning in blatant abuse, courtesy of Jones’ evil manifest in the form of the fascist intolerance that has hijacked the right to freedom of expression.

Jones presented the flawed fallacy that one “must send a clear message to radical Islam”; one may rightfully agree that ‘radical Islam’ is not a healthy Islam. However, what of Jones’ Quran-burning event – is that not in itself offensively ‘radical’? He further abominates that it is “time for America to be America”. When one last checked the founding definition of America, it was the ‘land of the free’, as sung in the U.S. National Anthem – let’s not forget that America was forcefully built on the blood of the massacred Natives. Where is such freedom, to hold a belief or faith without persecution or fear of repression, as guaranteed by international law (Article 18 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights)?

Human Rights NGO Neda for a Free Iran held that regardless of the pros, cons and criticisms of Islam held by people, when we fail to respect the sanctity of a religious belief simply because we disagree with it, we ultimately lose respect for humanity and fall down the slippery slope to fascism.

What, then, separates Jones’ hateful act of burning Qurans, demonstrating his intolerance for Islam, from the Nazi’s hateful act of grouping Jews and executing them simply because they were Jewish, and not the ‘Aryan German’ Hitler had a fetish for? As Keith Olbermann correctly asserts, such is the warning of the “thousand steps before a holocaust [becomes] inevitable; if we are merely at the first of those steps again today it is one step too close”.

As members of the human family, we all have a non-derogable duty to protect the sanctity of humanity: when someone comes for your neighbour, or their bible, or their Torah, or their Atheist Manifesto, or their Quran, then we honour that duty by speaking up loud and clear.


  1. Did you know that the imam behind the Ground Zero Islamic center is Feisal Abdul Rauf who advocates religious shaping of the nation's practical life, wanting to implement an Islamic state in the "land of the free"? And do you know that since 2006, Rauf has coordinated a series of international meetings with so-called "Shariah experts" ranging all the way from Muslim Brotherhood associates to your beloved Mohammad Javad Larijani. As he is obviously aware this information might be ‘bad publicity’ he has recently removed it from his website. So much for the peace loving Sufi... I would still allow them to build it – as you rightly pointed out this is the land of the free we are talking about - but would not help them fight their battle by hiding their true identity. Yes, we will let you build your center, and by the way, we know who you are.

    With all the respect I have for your NGO I am very sorry to hear the conclusion it has made: ‘when we fail to respect the sanctity of a religious belief simply because we disagree with it, we ultimately lose respect for humanity and fall down the slippery slope to fascism.’

    I am sure you meant well as I do not doubt the pureness of either you or your NGO, but I feel you are making a fatal mistake. Religious beliefs are not sacred. They are beliefs ABOUT THE sacred. Sacred is the right of everyone to believe what they want and not the belief itself. A belief is merely an opinion and as such does not deserve absolute respect just because it claims it.

    A lack of respect for religions is as far from being a lack of respect for humanity as you can get. Your concern with freedom of speech should not rest in protecting the scriptures, beliefs or religions as they should be just as harshly criticized and disrespected as any other opinion can be. Place your concern with the human being. He or she is the only sacred thing. I will always criticize religious scriptures, but I will never lose the love or respect for my religious friends because of their faith. You once posted a video that was truly disturbing - associating all Muslims with the attacks on 9/11. That was worthy of concern and condemnation as it was directly targeted against people not against a belief.

    This might sound insensitive, but I have no problem with someone burning a Qur’an or any other scripture, including my own belief if I ever put it down on a piece of paper and ornament it. I would not do it myself, but I would not mind it either. When they start burning people, either in the name of God or just for the fun of it – then call me. Actually even when they start threatening and killing people in the name of “hurt religious feelings”.

    And since it is a pastor who is behind the whole plan, it is probably his ‘religious belief’ that what he is doing is right. Ever thought of that?

    And I truly doubt that you would have been as concerned if someone burned the so-called Atheist manifesto or let’s say a book on Darwin’s evolution theory, which is already being persecuted from schools in the ‘land of the free’ because of – again - religious beliefs.

    (I will continue in a new comment as it is too long)

  2. I have noticed in your blog that you like to advocate what is the real Islam and how the IRI violates that.
    What you and many like you are doing is interpreting religion through your own morality. I have no problem with that except that it denies religion in itself. It places you above what is supposed to be God. Imagine being born into a faith. You either embrace it or question it. If you blindly embrace it you are a true believer – regardless of what it says, you believe that it is the word of God therefore you follow it – by doing so you also intrinsically accept anything that might be against your own moral or rational judgment as you could not possibly be wiser than God himself.
    If on the other hand you do question it, you doubt the supposed God himself. You only accept him insofar as his words are in accordance with your own judgment. It is clear that in the second situation the ‘sanctity of a religious belief’ disappears and it is even clearer that in the first situation your religious belief merits even less respect as you would rape, kill, torture or indeed do anything your supposed God would tell you to do.

    You would no doubt condemn the words of Ayatollah Yazdi when he called the rape of a prisoner being sentenced to death equivalent to a Haaj pilgrimage and be quick to explain that this is not Islam. But you see, it does not matter whether it is or not. It is a ‘religious belief’ and I hope to God you agree with me that it is not sacred. Even if he wrote it in beautifully crafted verses in a book bound in velvet with golden letters and even if 99% of the population on this Earth would believe it was the word of God.


  3. Whether we like it or not, there is a right of free and obnoxious speech in the US. I do not agree with this fringe preacher in Florida, but I do not think his act is paving the way for a new Holocaust. There is hatred and fear prevalent in the public discourse in the United States, and I hope that it loses its voice soon.

    When I was a child, the Nazis successfully sued for the right to march in a primarily Jewish neighborhood with high number of Holocaust survivors. Maybe it's time to revisit that decision to get a little perspective: Of course this happened in the pre-24/7 internet world. Still, we must preserve our respect for free speech even as we try to counteract racism, bigotry, and prejudice.

  4. "As members of the human family, we all have a non-derogable duty to protect the sanctity of humanity: when someone comes for your neighbour, or their bible, or their Torah, or their Atheist Manifesto, or their Quran, then we honour that duty by speaking up loud and clear."

    Nothing else matters. This should be all that counts, doesnt matter whether religion is a croque of shit, or true gospel. At the end of the day, free speech is free, but it comes with responsibility.

    Kudos Mehrtash!

  5. Thank you for gracing my blog with your stimulating comments; it is an honour to read them here, and an honour to respond to them.

    VIEWFROMIRAN: Who would have thought that something as small as a spark could be the start of a raging forest fire? Rosa Parks (rest her soul) refused to budge, next we had the momentous civil rights movement. Everything has a start.


    Thank you for the enlightening facts about the Imam at the Sufi centre - I would be grateful if you would kindly provide myself and blog readers with the source of your information?
    I am assuming that your comment about Mohammad Javad Larijani being my ‘beloved’ was nothing more than sarcasm; otherwise I would be inclined to take serious offence.

    It is not the religion itself that I purport is worthy of respect, but rather the respect for human integrity that we endeavour not to offend anyone belonging to any group. If we provide constructive criticism, and the target group is offended then that is a matter for their weakness being incapable of handling constructive criticism. However, to burn either the Bible, Quran, Torah or any other scripture does in no way provide ‘constructive’ criticism – it is a malicious attack. Such was the point that ‘Neda for a Free Iran’ was articulating.

    By all means, criticise the scriptures in exercising free speech; however, to burn them is tantamount to violent protest – where is the greater good in that? What constructive purpose does that serve? All that the burning does is vent out frustration in one of the most negative methods conceivable. Burning scriptures is an act - I fail to see the correlation between burning scriptures (act) and ‘free speech’ (speech). As an act it instigates unequivocal offence, disrespect and malice. If one cannot show respect then what makes them any better than the object of their opposition? When one criticizes, one must do so with integrity; burning scriptures lacks that integrity.

    You would not “lose the love or respect for [your] religious friends because of their faith” because you would not be violently attacking them by burning it; criticizing is an exercise of intellectual reasoning and the right to freedom of expression. Burning scriptures is not.

    I have entertained whether it is in accordance with the Reverend’s religious beliefs (Christianity) to burn scriptures; yet I have failed to find any such acts advocated in Christianity. Christ never raised an arm, and always endorsed methods of peaceful discussion in counteracting views and attitudes that conflicted with his testament. Christ advocated turning the other cheek, how do you think he would feel today to see people burning scriptures in his name?

    You do not know me, so you cannot for certain predict what I would or would not object to. I object to burning atheist scriptures, such as ‘Darwin’s evolutionary theory’, as again, I am an advocate of free speech – not the abuse of the exercise of free speech. People should be provided with options to read about whatever they like in order for them to reach an informed decision in endorsing their chosen beliefs.

    I do not advocate what the ‘real Islam is and how the IRI violates that’ - I illustrate how the IRI violates the very Islamic laws it claims to endorse and rely upon when grossly violating human rights! Please, kindly take heed of this difference.

    If a religion advocates rape, torture and murder, one does not burn their scriptures in effectively combating such; instead one should educate why such religious principles are in error, and make others aware of this. If such fails, then I still do not see how burning scriptures would serve any further constructive purpose.

    The Islamic cleric Ayatollah Yazdi’s deplorable statement is not a ‘religious belief’ endorsed by Islam, for it has not been supported by the primary sources of Islam; it is merely a ‘personal belief’ furthered, by no credible or robust justification, in the name of Islam.


  6. honour..? grace..? I dont think so, as your dear commentators were only sharing their very personal view and sadly with not much logic or strong reasoning. However, I found grace and honour in your comment with your truthful, strong and powerful reasoning and not personal. Truth has no limited angle and is always enlightening. I 100% agree with you. With regards to all of you.

  7. Mehrtash, Actually Rosa Parks was part of an existing civil rights movement. She was already active. She refused to budge because there was a whole group behind her with a strategy for sparking civil disobedience and protest.

    I take your point about the spark. I am worried that in the 24/7, twitter, facebook, blog media circus we live with today that extremists have access to a much larger and dispersed audience. That is the question I would love to address: how do we keep marginilized, extremist voices marginilized? (+ even though I write for viewfromiran, I didn't mean to use that login since I now longer live there...)

  8. @Mehrtash, btw, nice response.

  9. First of all let me just say this is going to be another very long comment so anyone who did not find logic in my previous one is kindly asked not to read it.

    Dear Mehrtash,

    Thank you for your very attentive reply. I always enjoy debating with you and miss it grately.

    Of course that was sarcasm. Do not take offence :)

    ‘It is not the religion itself that I purport is worthy of respect’ – I am glad to hear that. I assumed it was because of the words you chose ‘sanctity of religious belief’.

    I would still strongly disagree that burning paper, whatever written on it, is tantamount to violence. If you look at the history of free speech in the USA you will see how even the burning of the cross - KKK style - was allowed unless it was meant as a direct threat to a particular person. Forgive me for not having the time to do a strong analysis here and give you all the case names and facts about the history of free speech in the USA. But I promise I will as soon as I have time to do so which will be in a month or so.

    My point is – I DO NOT see any good in burning a cross or a Quran per se. But as you are afraid of the slippery slope to a holocaust of Muslims, I am afraid of the slippery slope to the death of free speech when it comes to religions. And it is already happening. You only have to look at the UN Resolutions against the defamation of religion or the proposed Treaty – all introduced by Pakistan, who has the most ridiculous laws on blasphemy, with mandatory death sentences for defaming the Prophet and life imprisonment for desecrating the Quran. In practice these laws are used to settle personal scores and it resembles the persecution of witches in the middle ages. A neighbour comes up with a rumour that you said something against the Prophet and there goes your freedom. Or even life. Furthermore these laws only work one way. The Ahmadis not only do not have protection, they are ‘blashphemers’ themselves if they for example recite their prayers in the same way as Muslims do and can be sentenced to death for merely affirming their own belief which is that Mohamed is not the last prophet.

    Not to mention the fact that pastor Jones received more than 100 death threats by now and that there have been threats and protests all over the world. Not to mention the threats Southpark creators have been receiving for including in a cartoon a censured Mohamed or a Mohamed in a bear suit. Not to mention the death threats following the Danish cartoons. Not to mention the assassination of Theo van Gogh. By screaming so loudly against this particular act we are giving legitimacy to these irrational reactions.

    I remember you once said that you do not believe there can be a law generally written in accordance with morality yet it can be in some cases moral to break it. The situation is somewhat analogous here. Obama says he knows this act would not be unconstitutional yet he says it is against all American values. I probably do not have to stress how much I disagree with this statement. If it is not unconstitutional let it be.

    Stand up for freedom of expression – do not stand on the side of condemnation. I believe – I strongly believe – you are all wrong here. It’s not about the burning of the Quran or respect for Muslims. It’s about freedom. Either we fight for it or we slowly but surely lose it. The more we back down, the more oppression will grow. It’s like a hostage situation.

    (it continues)

  10. That is why I stress there should be no ‘special’ respect for religious beliefs. Not even the demand for criticizing it with ‘integrity’. I would do it with integrity. You would as well. But there should be no rule demanding it from us. Burning scriptures is a right to freedom of expression whether it is dignified, reasonable, respectfull or not.
    I wish I could find a statement from a judge who came from Germany to live in the USA and sat on one of the free speech cases, but I can’t seem to right now – will look it up with the rest of it, when I have time, I promise. If I can trust my memory enough though, what he said was that if he learned anything from living under oppression and his much happier days living in the USA it was that one should protect freedom of expression as much as possible. Even when we disagree. Even when we are repulsed.

    Well I think I do know you. But you are right – I cannot for certain predict what you would object to. I believe I used the words – “I strongly doubt”...

    Fair enough about not advocating real Islam. I should have explained my point more carefully. I admit being superficial. (I am not sure about this last word. I know which word it is in my language, but I can’t really find the English equivalent:))

    My point about Yazdi was exactly that there is no difference between a ‘personal belief’ and a ‘religious belief’. It’s the same Mehrtash. Every religion has as many interpretations as it has followers. What exactly would it take to make it a ‘religious belief’ in your opinion? If Yazdi called it something other than Islam (because it clearly isn’t) and had a billion followers? And I would repeat the same point about the Pastor. He decided not to do it in the end anyway, but if his ‘good angels’ as Obama calls them told him otherwise it would have been his religious (personal) belief to do it. The real opinion of Christ does not really matter here.

    Let me finish this – and I apologize for making it so long again – by stressing how much I believe in what I say. Yes... it’s my personal or even religious belief. And I am not just speculating, but am certain that in this moment, seeing all the condemnation, I feel more anxiety than any religious person would feel having seen his scripture being burnt. My religion – the belief in freedom is not just being symbolically objected to – it is being killed for real. I literally feel pain. I feel as if I can’t breathe. And it’s not a nice feeling. That is also the reason why I write these long comments here. Your opinion really matters to me and I would like to feel less alone ‘against the world’ right now. So thank you Mehrtash for reading them and replying, even if you disagree.

    Much love and respect for you


    P.S. There are several sources on the internet regarding Larijani and the imam but I think this one has proof as well... otherwise google it yourself. There are other sites.

  11. You have successfully muddled the issues and muddied the water. It's not the death of free speech, it's common sense.

    Just because there are laws, case-precedents, and UN Resolutions on a certain issue, it does not necessarily mean they are correct and demonstrate just ethics. The number of times the above have got it wrong, and I disagree with the laws, case precedent and UN Resolution that you mentioned.

    Just as they have 'the right' to offend and instigate disturbing the peace, we have the right to condemn it and object to it, as I have done so on this blog.

    Regarding the rest of your points, let us agree to disagree.

    Thank you for your posts.

  12. ‎"lex mihi esse non videtur, quae iust non fuerit" ("that which is not just does not seem to be a law"). St. Agustin

  13. Dear Mehrtash,

    I have been reading (or listening) about this debate in your fine blog as well as in national and international media.

    The issue here is hate and bigotry, it does not matter where it comes from and what it hides under and who or what it targets, if there is a law which is unjust do we have to obey the law or is it our duty to oppose it? Do we have to sanction stoning to death for adultery since it is in the books of IRI, and as they say can we yell and shout fire in a crowded and darkened theatre in the name of free speech?

    Instigating the disturbance of the peace and commiting an act of terrorism is wrong and has nothing to do with free speech, I think the devilish pastor as stupid as he sounds is not that stupid either and what ever forces were behind him are showing up their hands.

    On Sep 9th on more than a few occasions he declared he never intended to burn the Qurans...
    he was flown to NY to meet with the Imam to make a deal for him to stop the construction of a multi faith Islamic center and move it away from the proposed location...after all it was an act of blackmail on his behalf to stop the I want to see who is going to defend the freedom of speech by the Imam to build his center ;)

    I would say that "freedom of speech would not allow a person to do what ever he wants and instigate unrest, potential loss of life and disturb the peace...

    very the same that it does not entitled a couple to engage in copulation and act of love making or traveling nude in public square,
    these are all the same, there should be a balance between accepted morality and the fibre of free speech.

  14. Dearest Mr Mobasseri,

    Such an honour to have your words of wisdom here; thank you.

    You have hit the nail on the head, your point is on the money and I am interested in finding out what 'anonymous' has to opine on your arguments. Freedom of speech/expression comes with responsibilities, not to be abused.

    If it's freedom of expression to burn scriptures or crosses, then equally, it is freedom of expression or the like to build a mosque NEAR Ground Zero (as the proposed construction site was never intended to be on GZ) - even if it is run by extremists. Reverend Terry Jones' plan to burn scriptures is nothing short of extremism.