Whenever I have reported on immoral acts by religious fanatics – Catholic, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim – I am accused of "prejudice", and I am not alone. But my only "prejudice" is in favour of individuals being able to choose to live their lives, their way, without intimidation. That means choosing religion, or rejecting it, as they wish, after hearing an honest, open argument.
A religious idea is just an idea somebody had a long time ago, and claimed to have received from God. It does not have a different status to other ideas; it is not surrounded by an electric fence none of us can pass.
...The protestors said I deliberately set out to "offend" them, and I am supposed to say that, no, no offence was intended. But the honest truth is more complicated. Offending fundamentalists isn't my goal – but if it is an inevitable side-effect of defending human rights, so be it. If fanatics who believe Muslim women should be imprisoned in their homes and gay people should be killed are insulted by my arguments, I don't resile from it. Nothing worth saying is inoffensive to everyone.Read the full piece. It quotes one of the Islamic fundamentalists who called for the arrest of the newspaper’s editor and publisher as saying he was willing “to lay down his life, if necessary, to protect the honour of the Prophet” and that no one has “the liberty to blaspheme any religion or its icons on grounds of freedom of speech”. The whole mess makes me think of passages in Aatish Taseer’s book Stranger to History: A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands, which I finished recently. More on that in a bit.