Writers issue cartoon row warning
BBC news - March 01, 2006
The cartoons provoked outrage across the Muslim world
Salman Rushdie is among a dozen writers to have put their names to a statement in a French weekly paper warning against Islamic "totalitarianism".
The writers say the violence sparked by the publication of cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad shows the need to fight for secular values and freedom.
The statement is published in Charlie Hebdo, one of several European papers to reprint the caricatures.
The images, first published in Denmark, have angered Muslims across the world.
One showed the Prophet Muhammad, whose depiction is banned in Islam, as a terrorist bomber.
Many newspapers defended their decision to reprint the cartoons on the grounds of freedom of expression.
Almost all of those who have signed the statement have experienced difficulties with Islamic militancy first-hand, says the BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Paris.
They include Dutch MP and filmmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali and exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.
"After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global threat: Islamism," the manifesto says.
"We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all."
The clashes over the cartoons "revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values," the statement continues.
"It is not a clash of civilizations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats."
The writers said they refused to accept that Muslim men and women "should be deprived of their rights to equality, liberty or secularity in the name of respect for culture or tradition".
They also said they would not give up their critical spirit out of fear of being accused of Islamophobia.
"Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom, and secularism wherever it is present," the writers added, saying it is nurtured by fears and frustrations.
Full text: Writers' statement on cartoons
A group of 12 writers has put their names to a statement in French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo warning against Islamic "totalitarianism". Here is the text in full:
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global totalitarian threat: Islamism.
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.
Recent events, prompted by the publication of drawings of Muhammad in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values.
This struggle will not be won by arms but in the ideological field.
It is not a clash of civilizations nor an antagonism between West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.
Like all totalitarian ideologies, Islamism is nurtured by fear and frustration.
Preachers of hatred play on these feelings to build the forces with which they can impose a world where liberty is crushed and inequality reigns.
But we say this, loud and clear: nothing, not even despair, justifies choosing darkness, totalitarianism, and hatred.
Islamism is a reactionary ideology that kills equality, freedom, and secularism wherever it is present.
Its victory can only lead to a world of injustice and domination: men over women, fundamentalists over others.
On the contrary, we must ensure access to universal rights for the oppressed or those discriminated against.
We reject "cultural relativism" which implies an acceptance that men and women of Muslim culture are deprived of the right to equality, freedom, and secularism in the name of respect for certain cultures and traditions.
We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", a wretched concept that confuses criticism of Islam as a religion and stigmatization of those who believe in it.
We defend the universality of the freedom of expression so that a critical spirit can exist in every continent, towards each and every maltreatment and dogma.
We appeal to democrats and free spirits in every country that our century may be one of light and not dark.