Wole Soyinka asks: who is really bringing Islam into disrepute? He mentions the riots and death fatwa over the ‘Miss World’ contest and a journalist’s comment in Nigeria two years ago.

Predictably, I denounced the murderous orgy. To my astonishment, some liberal voices of the Western world, always liberal with the blood of others, and liberal in defense of the aggressor, chose to concentrate on the “impropriety” of importing “Western decadence” to the pristine innocence of and polluting her cultural values…The core of the main discourse was nearly lost – the sanctity of human lives over and above the claims of any icons of faith, however universally revered. Through such distractions is impunity born, and the law of the mob and its manipulators tacitly endorsed by the appeasers of the world.

As we have been seeing for the past several weeks – impunity is born, and the law of the mob and its manipulators is tacitly endorsed by the appeasers of the world. The more violent the protests are, the more bashful mumbling there is about respect and sensitivity. I wonder – were there a lot of liberals wandering around German towns the day after Kristallnacht, saying everyone should be sensitive and respectful about Nazis’ feelings and beliefs?

The Danish government, thank goodness, declined to assume the burden of guilt by succumbing to the call to apologize for the conduct of one of its citizens, an individual who at no time was accused of being its official, representative or spokesman, but a free agent in his own cause, however censurable. The proposition that a government should act as monitor for individual choice within a free society is repugnant.

The Danish government has done some apologizing now, unfortunately – perhaps understandably, in the circs, but unfortunately.

Even more determinedly, however, must we reject the attempt of any sectional authority or quasi-state to foist its will on those who do not subscribe to the mandates of its beliefs, cultures and values.

That’s exactly what we must reject. We must not embrace it or applaud it or sympathize with it or march beside it, we must reject it. Will-foisting is held in oddly high esteem at the moment, and that is a catastrophe. That’s a giant step down the road to theocracy, and we must reject it.

What the atavists of religion have done is to expand the “territory of insult” into a limitless one…More to the point, they have raised questions about the followers of the Prophet and their understanding of the world’s complexity.

And not only their understanding of the world’s complexity, but their priorities, and their compassion – as Soyinka also notes.

Is it in the midst of this rampaging, racist obscenity called Darfur that the world is being invited to shift even its hazy focus, close down shop on vital concerns, wallow in an orgy of remorse, while the United Nations suspends its operations on behalf of traumatized humanity, all on account of some obscure cartoonist possessed by the Muse of irreverence? Clearly the world is askew, but not in the way some see it.

Spot on. Stonings and beheadings, fine; cartoons, the end of the world. Disrepute.

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