Monday, December 03, 2007

Freedom from the pre-modern Islamists

Gillian Gibbons' has received a Presidential pardon in Sudan, which is a tremendous relief - but for it to come to this is an indictment on the Sudanese legal system. She has also said she wants to go back to teaching in Sudan and "I have great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone and I am sorry if I caused any distress". Her choice of course, although whilst still in Sudan and having had her freedom achieved by Muslim peers means, at the very least, she is hardly going to say anything else while she is still there. She has nothing to apologise for, and her respect for Islam is misplaced. Of course it may be unlikely she has been shown the extend of local calls for her execution!
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Neverthelessm what this shows is what happens in an Islamist state. It has a legal system that besides having laws against blasphemy (don't forget blasphemy is still a crime in NZ, and the last English prosecution for it was 1977, although it would be fair to say as a law its time is nearly up), doesn't even apply actus reus or mens rea to the crime. At worst she was negligent, she not only had no intent, she didn't DO anything.
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Pity the Sudanese we never hear of who ever get accused of such a "crime". With mobs of thugs who regard execution as a legitimate punishment for blasphemy, something not seen in England since the 18th century, locals who inadvertently let children do something like - name a teddy bear - wont have the British Government or British Muslim peers on their side. The state of Sudan is just another instrument of initiated violence, and has the blood of hundreds of thousands on its hands because of Darfur.
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Sudan needs to go through the renaissance, throw off the shackles of Islamist violence and have a state that protects citizens from each other, not turn on them because some offend others.
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Of course, it's easy to throw stones when Western liberal democracies still have, largely nascent, laws against blasphemy. These should go, forthwith, there is NO excuse. A handful from the religious dark ages will come out and preach censorship, but they should be ignored.
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By the way, the US Supreme Court decided in 1952 that "It is not the business of government in our nation to suppress real or imagined attacks upon a particular religious doctrine, whether they appear in publications, speeches or motion pictures" overturning the New York state blasphemy law. New Zealand and those European countries with such laws could do worst than to follow this example.

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