In April 2008, during his keynote address to the first conference of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, Professor Bernard Lewis warned of the ominous limits on scholarly analysis of Islam imposed by political correctness and multiculturalism:
The degree of thought control, of limitations on freedom of speech and expression is without parallel in the Western world since the eighteenth century and in some cases longer than that. … It seems to me it’s a very dangerous situation, because it makes any kind of scholarly discussion of Islam, to say the least, dangerous. Islam and Islamic values now have a level of immunity from comment and criticism in the Western world that Christianity has lost and Judaism has never had.
The politicized prosecution of Dutch MP Geert Wilders for his free speech criticism of Islam is a case study illustrating Professor Lewis’ most grave concerns. But it is also possible that the outrageous proceedings against Geert Wilders may have pushed the Western freedom-stifling agenda of Islamic correctness too far.
This past Friday (10/15/10) Dutch prosecutors asked the presiding judges to acquit Mr. Wilders on all charges of inciting hate and discrimination. Wilders was unsurprisingly “very happy” with the prosecutors’ recommendations, adding with his usual plainspoken lucidity:
I do not insult, I do not incite to hatred, I do not discriminate. The only thing I do and will continue to do is to speak the truth.
As the Associated Press reported, however, there was a caveat:
The move by prosecutors signaled their belief the case against Wilders was weak, although judges could still disagree and convict him. The defense begins its case next week and a verdict is scheduled for next month.
Former U.S. federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy underscores this concern regarding the presiding judges. He reminds us that the Dutch prosecutors never desired to charge Wilders, but they were in effect “overruled” by the Dutch judiciary:
In 2008, the office of the public prosecutor declined to charge him. The lunatic judges are the ones who’ve been behind this all along, representative as they are of the transnational progressive thinking responsible for having such “crimes” on the books in the first place. In 2009, the Dutch Court of Appeals issued an order essentially overruling the prosecutors and ordering that Wilders be charged.
With refreshing sobriety, Dutch prosecutor Birgit van Roessel argued in her summation that Wilders’ statements were made as an integral part of the public debate “about the immigration and integration of non-Western foreigners, especially Muslims. Standpoints can vary considerably and emotions can run high, but … it is a debate that it must be possible to have.”
And most importantly, Ms. van Roessel further acknowledged:
Many of Wilders’ statements seemed to denounce Islam as an ideology or its growing influence in the Netherlands, rather than being intended as an abuse of Muslims as a people or group.
During a March 2009 interview with the Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby, Wilders had earlier rejected the notion he “hates Muslims,” while providing a frank characterization of the totalitarian nature of Islam:
I have nothing against the people. I don’t hate Muslims. But Islam is a totalitarian ideology. It rules every aspect of life — economics, family law, whatever. It has religious symbols, it has a God, it has a book — but it’s not a religion. It can be compared with totalitarian ideologies like Communism or fascism. There is no country where Islam is dominant where you have a real democracy, a real separation between church and state. Islam is totally contrary to our values.
By making this latter claim, Wilders shattered a corrosive modern taboo, enforced rigidly and without forgiveness by cultural relativist politicians and government bureaucrats as well as influential “savants” in media, academia, and religion.
But Wilders’ assessment not only comports with scholarly observations made (primarily) before the advent of the postmodern Western scourge of cultural relativism, it is supported by contemporary hard polling data from 2006 -2007, and a more recent follow-up reported February 25, 2009. At present, overwhelming Muslim majorities — i.e., better than two-thirds (see the weighted average calculated here) of a well-conducted survey of the world’s most significant and populous Arab and non-Arab Muslim countries — want these immoderate outcomes: “strict application” of Shari’a, Islamic law, and a global caliphate.
Specifically, the World Public Opinion.org/ University of Maryland poll (released February 25, 2009) indicated the following about our putative Muslim ally nations of Egypt and Pakistan: 81% of the Muslims of “moderate” Egypt, the largest Arab Muslim nation, desire a “strict” application of Shari’a, Islamic law; 76% of Pakistan’s Muslims — one of the most important and sizable non-Arab Muslim populations — want this outcome. Furthermore, 70% of Egyptian Muslims and 69% of Pakistani Muslims desire the re-creation of a “single Islamic state or caliphate.” Elsewhere, I have detailed the totalitarian impact of these fulfilled Islamic desires — based upon their doctrinal and historical application across space and time.