Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer sends his translation of a surprising op-ed from Dagbladet.
Ole Martin Moen says things in this piece that one would not normally expect to see in the Norwegian media. In fact, don’t his words prove that he is an “Islamophobe”, just like — gulp! — Anders Behring Breivik?
From Norway, of all places, a remarkably sane opinion column:
Go ahead, insult
We need to stop the preferential treatment of Islam
by Ole Martin Moen
Criticism of Religion: When the pope visited the UK last year, thousands of protesters gathered in the streets to express their opinion of the Catholic Church: That it acts as brake on enlightened ideas and equality, and that it isn’t welcome in modern day Britain. The slogans were numerous. ‘Nope Pope!’ and ‘Go Home Pope!’
Most people believe that a big and authoritarian religion like Catholicism needs to be able to tolerate such protests. But ask yourself: How would a similar protest against Islam be dealt with? Quite differently. Slogans like ‘No to Imams!’ and ‘Imams go home!’ are hardly ever heard. No one would say that Islam isn’t welcome in a modern European nation. Geert Wilders had to stand trial for expressing similar thoughts.
Does Islam deserve a softer treatment than Catholicism? Hardly. Islam is the bigger religion of the two, and it has more political power. Islam is also the most oppressive. While Catholicism discriminates between men and women in matters relating to the church, Islam also discriminates in these matters in civil society. If a scantily dressed woman enters St. Peter’s Cathedral, she will be asked to cover more of her body. If she enters Mecca she will be jailed. In most Catholic nations gays can get married; in most Muslim nations they’re persecuted.
Catholic countries have freedom of expression, something that hardly any Muslim country has. Compared with Islam modern Catholicism is almost like Sunday school [Norwegian word for kids’ bible study classes].
I’m stressing the word ‘modern’, because of course both Catholicism and Christianity have dark histories. But Christianity has for almost 500 years been exposed to massive criticism. Christians have been told time and again how primitive it is to believe that a Jewish cult leader from 2,000 years in the past was God’s son. They have been put in their place, and they have matured and become sufficiently thick-skinned to stomach such criticism.
Islam has never been exposed to such criticism, but has instead been protected. Because of this Islam has never grown up. Instead Islam has been treated like a spoiled kid who throws a tantrum whenever someone says something unpleasant.
If Islam is going to grow up, rather than remaining an unbearable bully indefinitely, we have to stop protecting it and stop giving it preferential treatment. We have to be brave enough to treat it just as harshly as Christianity was with Øverland [A Norwegian author who was charged with blasphemy in 1933], and say that Islam is a backwards and dogmatic religion. We need to be brave enough to say that ‘Muslims are wrong’ just as easily as we say that ‘liberals are wrong’. We need to draw caricatures of Muhammad just like we draw caricatures of Jesus. We need to treat Kurt Westergaard like we treat Monty Python. We can’t demonize Geert Wilders’ Islam critique anymore than we demonize Anonymous’ scientology criticism.
Perhaps this will cause offense among some. That will only confirm that the criticism was necessary. Religions need to be insulted until they reach an insult-saturation point. Only when they’ve reached this point will they be able to tolerate criticism without screaming, hyperventilating and behave like spoiled children.