The Danish caricatures of Muhammad have created a cultural, political and economic crisis all over the world. This conflict cannot be understood within the context of a “clash of civilisations”. The Islamist offensive begun in the name of “defending Muslims’ beliefs” aims to silence everyone who wants to criticise or express his or her beliefs freely. The Islamists are going after freedom of expression even in Europe, where it has historically been safe. They have built a prison and a cage for freedom in the countries where they hold power. But they are not satisfied with that: they want to put freedom of expression in Europe in the same cage. Their goal is that from now on, no one should be dare to say anything against Islam or the prophet Muhammad, even in Europe.
On the other hand, in the name of defending freedom of expression and democracy, the European right is seeking to attack anyone who comes from the so-called Islamic world. According to them, those of us who are from eastern or Middle Eastern countries have a different culture and different civilisation. We have lesser rights; so to speak, we do not have the same freedom of speech and expression. Don’t they understand that we, many of whom fled to this country from laws and constitutions based on Islam, have the same right to freedom? The Islamic regimes there deprived us of this elemental right – now they want to repeat it here in the heart of liberal democracy! We should not be lumped together with those who assaulted us and violated our rights.
We say “No to the attacks of the Islamists on freedom of expression”.Everyone is free to voice his or her opinions, to make clear and express his or her thoughts. We say “no to the voices who consider us lower human beings”. I am against both the Islamists and the right wing who, in my opinion, promote racist ideas. We need freedom, absolute freedom.
Bahar Munzir: The representative of
Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq/ Norway
*This article has been published in a Norwegian newspaper, “Aftenposten”, on 07.02.2006.