Firoozeh Bazrafkan Convicted of Insulting Islam…in Denmark?
“I refuse to sign petitions for that book of his…”- Germaine Greer referring to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses
“One person said he wanted to chop me up and feed me to his dogs. I reported it to the police but they didn’t charge him because the threats weren’t threatening enough.” – Firoozeh Bazrafkan
According to The Copenhagen Post, artist Firoozeh Bazrafkan was fined 5,000 Kroner for “violating anti-racism legislation” after her blog entry was published in the Jyllands-Posten newpaper: “I am very convinced that Muslim men around the world rape, abuse and kill their daughters. This is, according to my understanding as a Danish-Iranian, due to a defective and inhumane culture – if you can even call it a culture at all. But you can say, I think, that it is a defective and inhumane religion whose textbook, the Koran, is more immoral, deplorable and crazy than manuals of the two other global religions combined.”
Bazrafkan’s statement is problematic because of its lack of quantifiers; she types all Muslim men as one entity. Watch the Academy Award winning film A Separation, not the over rated caricature laden Argo, to get a more accurate picture of Iranian society. Most Iranian men are decent folk, and it’s poor art to focus on extremes as if they are the rule. But poor art is not racism.
The fact the Aarhus Police have found that she has committed racism worthy of a fine is by far more problematic. Islam is not a race. Racism is the belief in the inferiority and superiority of specific ethnic groups. Bazrafkan is criticizing culture and that’s different. Furthermore, criticizing culture, religion or nationalism is arguably legitimate free speech. Calls for violence are the exception and not “free” speech.
Michel Focault, in his admiration of Khomeini’s Revolution, set the stage for liberals like Germaine Greer to misread the dangers of fundamentalism. This conflict exploded after Salman Rushdie’s fatwa, and signaled the start of a new battle over what ideas can be tolerated. From 1989 to the present the polemics have intensified, and the cowering thought police has created a new form of European chauvinism, patronizing Moroccans, Persians, Afghans, Pakistanis and other minorities by not considering them worthy of secular government, women’s rights and Western liberty.
What must secular and/or ex-Muslims think when they see that criticism of religion, a crime under their own governments, faces similar restrictions in the governments of liberal dominated Europe? The Danish government’s message to oppressed Muslims reads that they are not worthy of the same freedoms. Denmark has joined Bazrafkan’s home country of Iran in censoring free speech, and this is a shame.
Naguib Mahfouz: “No blasphemy harms Islam and Muslims so much as the call for murdering a writer.”