EU-Ministers considering Arab demands
It may no longer be enough to just combat discrimination, a presentation document at meeting of EU-ministers says.
As a pendant to the Muhammed-affair, the Foreign Ministers of the EU are considering complying with Arab demands to "fight defamation of religion."
So far the EU has voted against these kinds of proposals at meetings of the UN General Assembly, but they are now considering reversing that. So a written presentation document aiming at bettering the relations between Europe and the Islamic countries.
It raises the question of whether, considering recent events, we should reconsider the EU's approach to these matters at the UN General Assembly, the document says.
The Islamic Conference, the OIC and the Arab League have demanded guarantees that the Muhammed-affair will not be repeated.The site also offers a transcript of an interview with EU Foreign Commissioner Benita Ferroro Waldner:
Commentator: Why couldn't you just put the Muhammed-affair to rest?
BFW: Because I don't think this was a sporadic incidence. I think it was the peak of an iceberg, if you want. It showed a frustration among Moslems. And I think what we have to do is really engage with them, clearly speaking up about our fundamentals but also see where is, so to say, the border of that, the limit of that. And I think the limit of our Freedom of Speech is there where, indeed, the freedom of "the other" starts and where we have to show a responsibility and a respect and also tolerance for each other. But I also see it as a two-way street.
As I've said before, this is an argument for appeasement and surrender, surrender of one of the most basic of Western Enlightenment principles: that ideas, even deeply and dearly held ones, must be open to constant challenge and criticism (including criticism that will inevitably be overheated and at times even rude). Yes, the West, and in recent years especially Western Europe, have retreated from this principle, at times allowing restrictions on advocacy of Nazism, advocacy of racism, criticism of homosexuality, and even blasphemy. But this is no reason to ignore yet another retreat, especially a retreat as significant as the one that some in Europe seem to be counseling -- significant precisely because much in Islamic theology, culture, and politics (and no doubt much in Christian, Hindu, atheist, etc. theology, culture, and politics) needs to be challenged and criticized.
I certainly hope that Europe resists these recommendations, which are dangerous precisely because they come now from inside and not just from outside. I wonder, though, whether it will.