Friday, September 21, 2012

Criticizing Islam

In the Sept. 18 editorial, the Lariat editors argued that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula abused his right to free speech because his obscure film, “Innocence of Muslims,” angered the Muslim world, which then rioted violently in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere.

After paying mere lip service to Nakoula’s right to free speech, the editors accused him of “[letting] loose much of the force that pulled the trigger” to the gun that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stephens. By contrast, the condemnation of the actual murderers/rioters was lukewarm: “Obviously, setting things on fire and killing innocent people whenever a religion is insulted is not the smartest or the most effective decision.” Understatement of the year!

The editors should have supported Nakoula’s exercise of free speech, and condemned the Muslim riots, no excuses, no equivocations. By absolving the rioters of sole responsibility for their crimes, they made it more difficult to talk critically about Islam.

Nakoula’s claims in “Innocence of Muslims” are not for the sake of provocation alone. While I can’t speak to Muhammad’s alleged homosexual activity, the charge of pedophilia has merit. Muhammad’s wife, Aisha, was 6 years old when they were married and 9 when they consummated. Concordantly, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the legal age for girls to marry is 9 years old. The Lariat editors said Islam “undoubtedly disapprove of” this, despite the facts.

A big reason Islam is still in dire need of a reformation is that internal criticism is treated as blasphemy, punishable by death. If we treat external criticism of Islam with scorn as well, we excuse the Muslim world from countering criticism with arguments and honest soul-searching.

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