World View: France Closes Embassies after Magazine Publishes Mohammed Satire

World View: France Closes Embassies after Magazine Publishes Mohammed Satire

This morning’s key headlines from

  • France closes embassies after magazine publishes Mohammed satire
  • Blasphemy laws in the UK and Ireland
  • Blasphemy laws in Pakistan
  • Identity Group Expansion

France closes embassies after magazine publishes Mohammed satire

The publisher of Charlie Hebdo, Charb, holds up the new issue
The publisher of Charlie Hebdo, Charb, holds up the new issue

France’s satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday published aseries of magazine with a series of cartoons, some of which depictMuhammad naked or in demeaning or pornographic poses. France’sForeign Minister Laurent Fabius said that the principle of freedom ofexpression “must not be infringed,” and added: “Is it pertinent,intelligent, in this context to pour oil on the fire? The answer isno.”

In view of the recent attacks on American embassies over the filmcultural centers, schools and other official sites to close on Friday– the Muslim holy day — in 20 countries. It also immediately shut downits embassy and the French school in Tunisia, the site of deadlyprotests at the U.S. Embassy last week. The French Foreign Ministryissued a travel warning urging French citizens in the Muslim world toexercise “the greatest vigilance,” avoiding public gatherings and

I really have to laugh at Fabius’ posturing about not infringing theprinciple of freedom of expression. Last year, France’s parliament passed an insane law making it aCRIME to claim that the war between Turkey and Armenia a century agowas not a genocide. And in some European countries, including France,you can go to jail if you deny the Holocaust.

Freedom of expression in France is only for those who do not insultthe Armenians or the Israelis. The French don’t like the Turks, soit’s OK to jail someone who sides with the Turks.

It’s worthwhile adding that you can be a “denier” or all sorts ofhistorical events without going to jail. You can deny that the FrenchRevolution ever happened, or that the Christian Crusades happened orthat the Protestant Revolution happened, without anyone sending you tojail. This shows how arbitrary laws banning freedom of expression canbe.

Blasphemy laws in the UK and Ireland

Blasphemy was a common law offence under Irish law when the 1937Constitution explicitly made it an offence punishable by law, thoughit was seldom enforced. Several attempts to repeal the law havefailed, and in 2009, a new Defamation Bill contained a claus saying,of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to afine not exceeding 100,000 euros.”

insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, therebycausing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of thatreligion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matterconcerned, to cause such outrage.”

Under this definition, I would assume that the film “Innocence ofMuslims” would be considered a violation of Ireland’s blasphemy laws.However, prosecution of blasphemy in Ireland effectively ceased whenthe Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1869, though a man wasprosecuted for burning of a Bible in 1885.

In Britain, prior to the 1900s, several people were flogged orimprisoned after being convicted of blasphemy. The last person inBritain to be sent to prison for blasphemy was John Gott, who wasconvicted for publishing pamphlets satirizing the Bible, in which hecompared Jesus to a circus clown. Michael Nugent

Blasphemy laws in Pakistan

This week, a businessman in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Haji Nasrullah Khan,has fled for his life and is in hiding, after being accused by hisneighbors of blasphemy. Protesters were demanding that all businessesclose their shops in protest of the movie “Innocence of Muslims,” andNasrullah refused. Scores of outraged religious parties activists andseminary students tried to attack Nasrullah’s house, leading to aclash. After that, they all went to a nearby mosque and claimed tohave witnessed Nasrullah committing blasphemy. They demanded that hebe arrested. Dawn

This is the kind of mass action that’s of interest to GenerationalDynamics. There have been blasphemy laws in Pakistan, Ireland, andBritain, but few people have been prosecuted in Ireland and Britain,and there have been no mass demands to convict someone of blasphemy asfar as I know in more than the last century.

In Pakistan, in 1927, the British colonial rules of the Indiansub-continent made it a criminal offence to commit “deliberate andmalicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class byinsulting its religious belief”. The law did not discriminate betweenreligions.

As in the case of the UK and Ireland, the blasphemy law wasrarely enforced. In the 58 years between 1927 and 1985, onlyten blasphemy cases were heard in a court under this law.

But things changed dramatically since the 1980s, and 4,000 blasphemycases have been heard since 1985.

This enormous change would correspond to the time of the rise of thePakistan generation corresponding to America’s Generation-X. From thepoint of view of Generational Dynamics, this generational change isextremely significant.

I’ve been trying to think of a corresponding mass change in attitudesin America in the 1980s that’s similar to Pakistan’s mass change inPakistan regarding blasphemy laws, and the obvious one is feminism.In the 1960s, women’s lib was a positive political force thataddressed real problems. But in the 1980s feminism became extremelydestructive. In divorce courts, charges of family violence explodedagainst fathers, with anecdotal evidence indicating that over 95% ofthem were phony, manufactured charges — just like most of the 4,000charges of blasphemy in Pakistan since 1985.

Possibly the height of feminist rampage was the “Duke Lacrosse rapecase.” In 2006, a black woman named Crystal Gail Mangum, aliasJanette Rivers, claimed that several members of the Duke Collegelacrosse team had raped her. District attorney Mike Nifong keptpursuing criminal charges against the team, for months after he knewfor a fact that the alleged attack had never occurred. (See “Collapse of Duke rape case represents cultural change”) This is exactly like blasphemy cases inPakistan, which are pursued even when it’s known that accusations arefalse. It’s worth pointing out that the New York Times editoriallyjoined Nifong in the false allegations, even when it was known thatthey were false.

There is little difference between a jihadist who makes false claimsof blasphemy on the one hand, and the New York Times and Mike Nifongon the other hand. In all three cases, they pursued charges that theyknew were false, and jumped in the sewer from where they could throwfeces at anyone who disagreed with them. Express Tribune (Islamabad)

Identity Group Expansion

In his book Clash of Civilizations, Samuel P. Huntington,described how small regional wars expand into much larger wars.Belligerents in the war identify themselves as part of larger ratherthan smaller groups — e.g., Muslims instead of Bosnians, orChristians instead of Croatians — in order to rally other nations insimilar identity groups to their side. This process of “IdentityGroup Expansion” unites belligerents on both sides, and makes a smallwar into a larger war. In the modern era, al-Qaeda linked jihadistshave very effectively used blasphemy laws as a tool to effect IdentityGroup Expansion.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these are examples ofmass phenomena that are typical of generational hatreds. As Iexplained in “The Legacy of World War I and the Holocaust”, this is also the same behaviorthat led to the 1930s Holocaust. This kind of mass generationalhatred only leads to one place: catastrophe.

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