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steyn in more serious mode on the growing nuisance of the iranian theocrats

The time draws closer when Iran must either conform of suffer direct action.

“Perhaps it’s unduly pessimistic to write the civilized world automatically into what Osama bin Laden called the "weak horse" role (Islam being the "strong horse"). But, if you were an Iranian "moderate" and you’d watched the West’s reaction to the embassy seizure and the Rushdie murders and Hezbollah terrorism, wouldn’t you be thinking along those lines? I don’t suppose Buenos Aires Jews expect to have their institutions nuked any more than 12 years ago they expected to be blown up in their own city by Iranian-backed suicide bombers. Nukes have gone freelance, and there’s nothing much we can do about that, and sooner or later we’ll see the consequences - in Vancouver or Rotterdam, Glasgow or Atlanta. But, that being so, we owe it to ourselves to take the minimal precautionary step of ending the one regime whose political establishment is explicitly pledged to the nuclear annihilation of neighboring states.”

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islamists suppressing freedom of speech by other means - the auroran sunset

One American magazine - Free Inquiry - built up the nerve to print one of the Danish cartoons (only a somewhat silly covering article appears to be on their website).

“[...] is time for the West to live and embrace the secularism it espouses, not to hide behind an outworn creed, a pagan pretense of religious magnanimity, a nutty and defeasible [huh?] belief that religion is benign and thus should be protected. Expression--instantiated as murder, arson, and riot--proves that some religious views are toxic and cannot be tolerated. To be blunt, the same violent religious "expression" expressed by Jews or Christians domestically would land them in jail, not get them a slot on Oprah or a conversation with Bill Moyers.

“Do we really do Muslims a favor by forgiving the trespasses we have brought into being through a century and a half of double dealing and political hypocrisy? Do we really want one rule book for secularized Christians and Jews (the vast majority), another for noisy, politically hyperactive, born-again Christians, and a third for noisy and lethal Muslims?” [Quoted from the Free Inquiry] the Borders group refused to stock this month’s issue of the magazine on the shelves of their 475 Borders and 650 Waldenbooks shops.

At Borders, it seems they have policy to uphold:

“I was shifting rows of books in our religion section and it happened to be that all of our Koran books (a section on its own) ended up on the bottom shelf. The next day I was informed by my General Manager that it is Borders policy as a whole (not my particular store) that due to complaints in the past from Muslim customers, we are not allowed to put our copies of the Koran on any shelf other than the top.”

Of course, at Borders, “We absolutely respect our customers' right to choose what they wish to read and buy and we support the First Amendment”.

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A Canadian newspaper - the Western Standard - also published the cartoons.

Now a Canadian imam, Syed Soharwardy, having failed to make the police arrest the editor of the paper for his unacceptable behaviour, now seems to have obtained the cooperation of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, another government agency.

The Western Standard is not taking it lying down:

“The hand-written scrawl and the spelling errors were what first disgusted me with the suit; but the arguments were what really got me. The complainant, Imam Syed Soharwardy, a former professor at an anti-Semitic university in Saudi Arabia, doesn't just argue that we shouldn't have published the cartoons. He argues that we shouldn't be able to defend our right to publish the cartoons. The bulk of his complaint was that we dared to try to justify it. He argues that advocating a free press should be a thought crime. [...]

“Our lawyers tell me we'll likely win, but it could cost us up to $75,000 to do so -- and the case against us is being prosecuted by government employees using tax dollars. We're a small, independent magazine and we don't have deep pockets to fight off nuisance suits, so please chip in if you can.”

This is, of course, the whole point of such attacks. Vexatious suits may not be as spectacular as beheadings, but they are still an effective method of stealing the time of those that will not bend to the will of an authority and of silencing opponents.

This form of litigation - litigation with neither merit nor serious chance of success if defended against - has become a way of life in the West. It is used by governments to silence and waste the time of critics. it is used by large companies to bully smaller companies, or simply as a negotiating tactic. It is used by chancers to blackmail money out of the rich, too busy to defend themselves against every petty suit. Now the islamics are attempting to use it to bully opponents into silence.

This tactic is legal and widespread, thus can not be considered as of the same order as the violence, threatened and actual, used by Islamics for the same purposes... However, legality aside, I have a hard time describing the tactic as ‘legitimate’.

In a similar case up in Denmark, another group of Islamics have also failed to get their government to prosecute and are now instead suing the cartoon-originating Jyllands-Posten.

“The lawsuit was filed Wednesday, two weeks after Denmark's top prosecutor declined to press criminal charges, saying the drawings that sparked a firestorm in the Muslim world did not violate laws against racism or blasphemy. [...]

“ 'We're seeking judgment for both the text and the drawings which were gratuitously defamatory and injurious,' Havemann [the islamists' lawyer] said.” [Quoted from]

Who is being defamed? Who is being injured? The only people with any serious claim are Islamic terrorists and their supporters, for it is they that are lampooned. Or perhaps a case could be made by some long-dead religious leader, who was apparently more inclined to ignore such critics.

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britain’s man of straw

Recommended reading.

“When the row about the Danish cartoons of Mohammed broke, no one was quicker out of the traps than our Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw. He roundly condemned what he saw as the irresponsibility of their publication.

“It was not clear why Mr Straw felt the need to speak up. Britain has no responsibility for independent, democratic Denmark, nor for the European countries in which the cartoons were republished.”

“ So the news that a Muslim is threatened with death by an Afghan court simply because he converted to Christianity should surely alarm Mr Straw. So far - and the case has been in the press for more than a week - we have heard nothing audible from him. President Bush has said he is "deeply troubled" by the case. Condoleezza Rice and many European governments have put strong pressure on the Afghan authorities to release the man, Abdul Rahman, citing Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes, in its definition of freedom of conscience, the right to change one's faith.”

The case against Abdul Rahman appears to have been sidelined, but threats remain.

Some interesting background.

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iran negotiator boasts of fooling eu3

“The man who for two years led Iran's nuclear negotiations has laid out in unprecedented detail how the regime took advantage of talks with Britain, France and Germany to forge ahead with its secret atomic programme.

“In a speech to a closed meeting of leading Islamic clerics and academics, Hassan Rowhani, who headed talks with the so-called EU3 until last year, revealed how Teheran played for time and tried to dupe the West after its secret nuclear programme was uncovered by the Iranian opposition in 2002.

“He boasted that while talks were taking place in Teheran, Iran was able to complete the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake - a key stage in the nuclear fuel process - at its Isfahan plant but at the same time convince European diplomats that nothing was afoot.”

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