Ingrid Mattson, the president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) wrote an interesting article on "Respecting The Qur'an". Here is the link: ( http://www.isna.net/articles/News/RESPECTING-THE-QURAN.aspx)
This article was published before the documentary movie "Fitna" was released. In the article, the author tries to champion concepts like multiculturalism and pluralism. At least she tried to flavor her article with such concepts. She wants people to accept that others may have different beliefs. They just need to respect each other. She defends free speech, yet, in the beginning of her article makes a grand accusation that Geert Wilders "has directed most of his hatred in recent years at Muslims." She continues by saying that "Wilders should be afforded the full protection of the law.. ". Very commendable, right? Well, she continues with the issue of respect saying that we "do not have to agree with each other or love each other, but we have to afford respect to each other. This means that we do not deliberately try to humiliate each other. Defacing or destroying symbols of each other's most cherished beliefs violates the basic principle of respect." Wilders' actions, according to her, are "designed to hurt, offend, and even intimidate." She does not like what he says because it goes against values of tolerance and communal harmony.
Dr. Mattson's article can be summed up in two points:
1. Wilders actions are hateful. His hatred was directed against Muslims.
2. Different groups need to respect each other. "Respecting" each other means we should not try to deliberately humiliate each other.
Both of the above statements or claims are false and unacceptable. The author's first claim about Wilders is just false. Facts testify against it. Wilders, in his "Fitna" documentary, talked about Islam and the Islamic beliefs. He showed how some of the Islamic teachings in the current day understanding of the Qur'an lead people to do horrible things against other human beings. What is wrong with that? Nothing. He is just trying to show the connection between some Qur'anic verses and actions of Muslims. In fact I think if Wilders hears that someone is accusing him of hating Muslims, he will laugh. He is dealing with Islam and its teachings. There is a clear and definite distinction between "Islam" and "Muslims". Dr. Mattson ignored this matter completely. The murderer of van Gogh, Mohammed Bouyeri, said during his trial "What moved me to do what I did was purely my faith (my emphasis). I was motivated by the law that commands me to cut off the head of anyone who insults Allah and his prophet" (Philippe Naughton, "Van Gogh killer jailed for life," Times Online, July 26, 2005). There are many events that I can quote here to show that Muslims react in a violent way against other human beings because of the Qur'an and the hate and violence it teaches and inspires. This is what Mr. Wilders did in his movie. The whole movie is pretty much showing certain Qur'anic teachings, then showing how people will listen and obey those teaching. Mr. Wilders is a no hate bigot. In fact, his movie did not give me anything that I did not already know.
The second point is also false and unacceptable. The author implied that Wilders was deliberate in not respecting Muslims. This is not true as I have mentioned during my discussion of the first point. However, Mattson wants more. She wants people not to say anything negative about Islam or the Qur'an, and especially the Qur'an, because that is a sacred matter to her. First of all, what she wants is control over free speech, a matter I reject completely and any decent human being should reject. Second, I do need to remind Dr. Mattson that her holy book, the Qur'an, accuses Christians and Jews and Polytheists of not being on the right path. They are infidels. Christians changed their scriptures. Christians lie and say that Christ was crucified. I do need to remind her that the most sacred of Christians' belief is that Jesus was crucified on the cross for the sins of humanity. The Qur'an denies that. Now, where is the respect that the Qur'an affords to other religious groups? In the Middle East, the mosque imam recites the Qur'anic verse about Christ not being crucified on the loud speakers, annoying everyone who does not want to be bothered with his voice or his mosque. Now, how is that for a "Respect" Dr. Mattson? Enlighten us.
What bothered me the most in Dr. Mattson's article is her grand claim that Mr. Geert Wilders hates Muslims. She did not provide any evidence to her claim. Not a single piece of evidence was provided. What bothered me the most in her article is her associating "respect" with controlling our right to criticize any belief that we do not see fit for humans. Does "Slay the infidels" ring a bell Ingrid?
The above two points bothered me a lot, especially coming from an academician with a doctorate degree. But, when academic honesty is no longer an issue, one can say anything.