Posts Tagged ‘Harris Sultan’

Sultan and Khan Attack the Islamic Preachers of Jihad and Slavery

April 12, 2022

One of the books I’ve been reading recently was Jonathan A.C. Brown’s Slavery and Islam. I did so partly to see whether there was any truth in the accusation by the islamophobic right that the Muslim grooming gangs were rooted in Muslim sex slavery. They aren’t. They’re just evil men with a racist attitude to Whites, who wanted to rape and degrade young girls. Brown states in his introduction that his book was a response to the shock he and the overwhelming majority of Muslims the world over felt when ISIS revived sex slavery. His book is also partly an attempt to answer the question why, if slavery is such a monstrous crime, did it take so long for Christians, Muslims and other religions and philosophies to ban it. His conclusion is that slavery wasn’t condemned but regulated by religions like Christianity and Islam because it was too much a part of everyday life for previous civilisations to consider outlawing it. Not even rationalist philosophers like Aristotle argued against it, because they felt it was too indispensable. Aristotle apparently said that it could only be banned ‘when looms drive themselves’. Brown therefore concludes that abolitionism arose in the west when a series of social and technological changes showed that society could still survive and prosper economically without slavery. Part of his argument is that it survived so long in Islam because Muslim slavery was more benign than western chattel slavery and even the western treatment of free workers. It was heavily regulated, slaves had rights, most could expect to be manumitted in 8-10 years and female slave concubines could rise to become powerful women, the mothers of Ottoman emperors and caliphs.

Brown’s a White American convert to Islam and a professor of the religion at one of the American universities. He amasses a wealth of information and sources to prove his point. At the same time, it strikes me that he’s producing a biased account of Islamic slavery intended to impress the reader with its comparative mildness. Others have produce much more critical studies to Islamic slavery. The White European and American victims of the Barbary pirates complained of constant beating by their masters. They were given meagre rations and expected to make money for their masters. They lived in particular fear of being pressed into the pirates’ galleys. As oarsmen they were kept chained to their benched night and day, fed little and deprived of sleep. Many were driven to ‘strange ecstasies’ – madness. Another fear was that, if their relatives and friends back home could not raise the money to ransom them, their masters would sell them on to the big Ottoman slave market at Constantinople, and they would be lost among the enslaved masses of the Ottoman empire for ever.

Nevertheless, despite the book’s bias, Brown chronicles the process of abolition in the Islamic world and the attempts by Muslims themselves to abolish slavery. Sometimes this was by sincere reformers, who felt that Muhammed had intended slavery to be banned eventually, but circumstances prevented him from doing so in his own time. Sometimes the bans were simply for reasons of diplomatic expediency. Islamic states and rulers wanted to make treaties with western nations. These wanted to ban slavery around the globe, and so their Islamic partners did so. Brown notes the existence of radical Muslim groups we haven’t heard about in the West, because their radicalism is that of left-wing opponents of racism, sexism and homophobia in the West. These include movements like the Progressive Muslims.

But unfortunately, despite the hard work put in by Islamic abolitionists, the fanatics are coming back to preach aggressive jihad and the enslavement of the kufar.

Harris Sultan and Nuriyeh Khan are two ex-Muslim atheists with their own channel on YouTube, which attacks religion in general and Islam in particular. They are very concerned about the rising intolerance in the Islamic world, like Pakistan where people have been murdered on the mere accusation that they have committed blasphemy. A few days ago they discussed a recent case in which a schoolteacher was murdered by three of her pupils, because one of them apparently had a dream in which the teacher blasphemed against Islam. It’s sheer, mindless fanaticism, though there’s also the suspicion that there may have been more mundane motives for the killing. They’ve also attacked similar trends among extreme right-wing Hindus in India and also among the Sikhs. and recently they’ve put up a couple of videos showing Muslim preachers calling for or defending aggressive jihad and the enslavement of non-Muslims.

One was an Indonesian preacher on Zakir Naik’s PeaceTV. Naik’s a Muslim anti-Christian polemicist. This delightful preacher told his congregation that in 50-60 years, Muslims would be strong enough to make war and invade the non-Muslim world. If non-Muslims allowed them to take over their countries without struggle, they would be allowed to keep their homes and property. If, however, they fought back, or continued with un-Islamic practices like nightclubs after they allowed Islam to take over their countries, they would be conquered by military force and enslaved.

The other day they put up another video of a female professor of Islam at one of Islam’s most prestigious universities, al-Uzzah, as recorded and translated by Memri TV. This woman attacked the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis. But she was in favour of Muslims enslaving non-Muslim women as sex slaves, because this would humiliate them. This particularly shocked Nuriyeh Khan. As a modern, liberated woman she found it deeply distressing and incomprehensible to hear another woman advocating such vile treatment of the members of her own sex. Sultan also made the point that the Israelis weren’t enslaving Palestinian women for sex. If they did, this would be a crime against humanity and would be condemned by the international community. This is probably true, but condemnations by the UN haven’t stopped the decades long process of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by the Israeli state, the erection of a system of apartheid or the imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children.

To show what these policies meant in practice during Ottoman history, they show clips from a Hungarian TV series about Magyar, Serb and Croat girls, who are carried off into slavery by Ottoman raiders. These kill the girls’ fiances and husbands. At the slave market they are stripped and humiliated with their breasts and buttocks prodded by prospect male buyers. This is historically accurate. Under the sharia the only legitimate source of slaves was prisoners of war, and so Muslim states were engaged in warfare and raiding for slaves to supply the slave markets. And Brown states in his book that female slaves were treated like this.

Now this TV series raises a number of issues. There’s a bitter hatred of Muslims in Hungary and the Balkans. These countries were invaded and conquered by the Ottomans. The Turks only succeeded in conquering two-thirds of Hungary, and it was later reconquered by the Austrians, hence the Austro-Hungarian empire. But Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and Greece, for example, spent five hundred years as provinces of the Ottomans. Most of the hatred, though, dates from atrocities committed by the Muslim forces during these nations’ wars of independence. A revolt on one of the Greek islands was put down with terrible massacres in the 1820s, after which 17,000 + Christian Greeks were enslaved. It should be noted too that the Christians were also capable of committing atrocities of their own against Muslims, but this received much less publicity in the west. During the Second World Bosnian Muslims united with the forces of Croatian Fascist leader Ante Pavelic to perpetrate appalling massacres on the Serbs. The Fascists wanted to have 1/3 of the Serbs converted to Roman Catholicism, a third forced in slavery and another third simply wiped out. Concentration camps like those for Jews in Nazi Germany were set up. Captured Serb women and children were thrown off mountains to kill them.

It was memory of these horrors that spurred the Serbs in their turn to commit horrific atrocities against Bosnian Muslims during the War in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. One of the paramilitary groups responsible, under a particular vicious brute called Arkan, had taken part a few years earlier in a re-enactment of the Battle of Kosovo Polje at the end of the fourteenth century in which the Ottoman forces defeated the Christian armies and conquered Serbia. However much based in fact the Hungarian TV series is, it worries me that it has the potential to inspire a similar genocidal hatred of Muslims. Hungary has attracted international criticism from the EU amongst other for refusing to admit Muslim asylum seekers. I also seem to recall that Serbia also refused to let the mass caravan of migrants from Syria and the Middle East pass through their country on the way to western Europe in 2012. But I might be wrong. At the moment Britain is going through a period of post-imperial guilt because of the enslavement of indigenous peoples during the empire. But I wonder how tolerant we would be, if we had not been the conquerors but the conquered.

But the Hungarian TV series also raises questions about TV series about the enslavement of Blacks in America and Europe, such as Alex Haley’s landmark book, Roots in the 1970s. Since then there have been a number of films, TV shows and documentaries about the enslavement of Blacks by westerners, such as Amistad and 12 Years A Slave. These are partly a response to the poverty, racism and marginalisation experienced by many western Black communities which it is argued have their basis in their enslavement. But if it is not only permissible but laudable to produce such historical dramas about transatlantic Black slavery, why shouldn’t series about the enslavement of Whites by Muslims also be shown? I doubt that any mainstream western European or American TV station would want to show such a series like the Hungarians because of the fear that it would promote islamophobia. But nevertheless, this occurred, and its legacy is felt in Orban’s Hungary and other parts of the Balkans.

But it’s also frightening to see that, after ISIS shocked decent people across the world, the preachers of hate in the Dar al-Islam by picking up their ideas and calling for jihad and sex slavery.

I wish the heirs of the great Islamic abolitionists every success in combating these intolerant fanatics, and the continuation of an international order marked by peace, respect and dignity for everyone, regardless of their colour or religion.

I haven’t posted the videos by Harris and Sultan here, because they make harsh comments about Islam as a whole. I’m not an atheist and genuinely don’t wish to upset Muslim readers of this blog. This is a time when the Conservatives are forcing working people of all religions into ever greater poverty. European Muslims are, in general, the most impoverished group after Blacks. See the book The Crisis in Islamic Civilisation. It shouldn’t matter what our individual religious faiths are or their absence thereof. We all need to stand together against genuine intolerance wherever it is found, and the Tories’ and neo-liberals to drive us further into poverty and despair.

If you want to see their videos, please look for them on YouTube. Their titles are

Sheikh Assim Al-Hakeem unveils the GRAND plan of Islam

Female Islamic scholar says Muslim men have a right to humiliate infidel women

Just remember, these monsters don’t speak for all Muslims.

Macron to Regulate French Islam in Campaign against Islamism

February 15, 2022

The ex-Muslim atheist Harris Sultan discussed the plans of French president Emmanuel Macron to tackle radical Islamic preaching in the country’s mosques in video with his co-host Nuriyeh Khan on their channel a few days ago. France, like Britain, has suffered a series of Islamist terror attacks, one of the worst being the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Macron has therefore decided to start clamping down on preaching in the mosques. He intends to set up a board that will monitor and censor the imams’ sermons. At the same time the importation of imams from abroad will be restricted and an emphasis placed instead on creating and promoting home-grown Muslim clergy. Sultan approves of these measures. He states that they were doubtless going to be greeted with shouts of ‘islamophobia’, but thinks that’s just BS. He also approved of the fact that Macron wasn’t trying to outlaw the wearing of the hijab. This became a major cause of Muslim outrage in France a few years ago when the government tried to ban it in schools because it was against the French state’s official policy of laicism, secularism. Out of a Muslim population of five million, only a few thousand women wear the headscarf and any ban on it would have the danger of pushing Muslims into the hands of the Islamists, not away from them. As for the proposed board, Harris states that French Muslims can’t really complain as such a board exists in Saudi Arabia, where every sermon has to be passed by the state censors. In his own country of origin, Pakistan, no such board exists and as a result the country has become increasingly radicalised.

Sultan is particularly appalled at religious intolerance and violence, not just in Islam, but also in Hinduism and other religions. He’s posted very many videos about blasphemy cases and lynching in Pakistan. The laws against blasphemy were first enacted by the British as a way of preventing inter-religious violence as they applied to all religions. However, General Zia imposed the death penalty for it and made them really apply only to Islam during his dictatorship in the 1970s. As a result there are 200 or so people on death row because of the law. It’s used against Christians, Hindus and other religious minorities, but also against other Muslims of different sects. Sometimes the accusation is levelled as a cynical means of getting rid of the opposition in a dispute over property. People have also been murdered and mass lynchings carried out of others, who’ve been accused of blasphemy. Hence Sultan’s desire to see the bitterly intolerant, fanatical preaching that fuels such hatred and violence curtailed.

I’ve also seen the other two proposals put forward nearly a quarter of a century ago in the ’90s by a liberal British imam in the pages of the Financial Times. He was felt it was also necessary to restrict the importation of foreign imams. At the time, and it may well still be the case now, there was a shortage of imams for British mosques. As a result foreign imams from countries like Pakistan were given greater preference when immigrating to Britain. And many of them shared the vicious intolerance present in their home countries. He wanted to see the education and promotion of imams from the already settled Muslim community, who shared the British values of pluralism, multiculturalism and tolerance.

I have mixed feelings about the idea of a board of censorship. It looks like another infringement of the right to free speech, one of the very cornerstones of western liberal democracy. But unfortunately I can also see that it may well be necessary, not just in France but also over here. Way back in 2007 Channel 4 caused a storm of controversy with an edition of its Despatches documentary, ‘Undercover Mosque’. The producers had secretly sent in their journalists to film the preaching in a hundred or so British mosques. In doing so they recorded the imams preaching violent hatred against Christians, Jews and gays. However, instead of outrage at the intolerance of the preachers, there was a storm of protest against the programme itself. It was accused of being islamophobic and one police force considered and finally decided against prosecuting the producers. I am very, very much aware that not all Muslims by any means hold these views, and it may be the case that rather than be influenced by them, their congregations listen politely before going back to work and forgetting all about it. But I do believe that such violently intolerant preaching is far more common than is realised. And while there’s a tendency to think that such a measure is only needed in France, I can also see it being demanded over here.

However the creation of a board to censor sermons may not work. In Egypt, Islamism has emerged in opposition to official, state-regulated Islam. Official Egyptian Islam has been more or less liberal since the early 19th century., when the Muslim clergy realised how far behind the west their country was in science and learning. They thus went on trips to Europe to research European advances in order to introduce them and their benefits back home. I have a feeling that the Egyptian state also closely monitors what is taught in the mosques. But the radical groups demanding the return of sharia law and the creation of a Muslim state, and which have carried out terrorist attacks on foreigners, has emerged outside and in opposition to mainstream Egyptian Islam. There’s a danger that this could also occur in France, and that the fanatics and terrorists will set up their own, underground, parallel set of mosques.

There’s also the problem that many of the terrorists are self-radicalised. They often don’t go to the local mosque, and the congregation there haven’t seen them in years. Instead of getting their weird, vile ideas from the local imam, they’ve got them instead from the net. Macron’s proposals aren’t going to help tackle this type of fanaticism, though the creation and expansion of a domestic French Muslim clergy may change the culture to such an extent that such lone wolf terrorists really are seen by everyone as total outsiders, whose views and actions violate a native French Islam.

The article from which Harris gets the report also states that Macron may well be putting these proposals forward in order to take votes away from the extreme right and boost his centrist party. He approves of this, stating that the centre and the left should be tackling this problem rather than the far right. And he’s correct. The far right uses such issues to create further hatred and division in order to legitimise the further persecution of ethnic minorities. You can see that with Tommy Robinson and his exploitation of the outrage over the Muslim grooming gangs. But unfortunately the left tends to be silent when it comes to anti-White racism. Some of this comes from a desire not to be accused of racism, some of it to avoid making a common cause with the right and people who really are racist, but also partly because they find anti-White racism literally unthinkable. This is shown in the attempts by Critical Race Theorists to redefine racism as abuse plus institutional power. This clearly criminalises White racism, but exempts it from marginalised Black and ethnic minority groups.

Macron’s proposals show that French politicians are taking an increasingly firm line over Islamic preaching, and it’s better that democrats like Macron do it than the country suffers a military coup. Which is what a group of ex- and serving army officers and men threatened a year or so ago.

Far Right Hindus Swear Nazi Oaths against Muslims in India

January 13, 2022

This is a very chilling video from ‘Sultan and Khan’s Sunday Scoop’ channel over on YouTube. The two hosts, Harris Sultan and Nuriyeh Khan, are ex-Muslim atheists, who critique and attack their former religion. I’m not an atheist, and while I’m not a Muslim, this is not the kind of material I’d usually put up on my channel. I feel it’s far more important to attack the government and various political movements that I believe are wrong and dangerous, than attack other people’s religions. But Sultan and Khan are also worried about the rise of religious fanaticism and intolerance, not just in the Muslim world and Pakistan, but also in India. They have posted several videos reporting and commenting on the lynching and malicious prosecution of people for blasphemy by Muslims in Pakistan, as well as murderous rants and attacks on Muslims and Christians by Hindu mobs and rabble-rousing demagogues in India. They have also covered two incidents in which Sikhs also have lynched people for blasphemy. In this video they talk about further instances of anti-Muslim bigotry and hate spread by the Hindu far right.

The first case they comment on is the arrest of a fourth man by India’s finest for ‘Bulli Bhai’. Bulli is an insulting term for Muslims used by the Hindu fascists. Last week the Indian cops arrested a young woman for putting up the images of 100 Muslim women on the internet, announcing that they were for auction. It was deliberately done to humiliate these ladies. Now a fourth person, a man, has been arrested for it.

But what will chill western viewers is the footage of a mass gathering in a village somewhere in India, in which the villagers swear a Nazi style oath not to do business with, sell land to or work with Muslims. Sultan and Khan describe it themselves as Nazi, and they are absolutely correct. It is almost exactly like the Nazi oath to boycott Jewish businesses, which culminated in the smashing of Jewish storefronts in Krystallnacht. And the parallel is even closer when you see that the wretched people swearing the oath do so with right arm outstretched in what really does look like the Fascist and Nazi salute. The oath ends with them shouting ‘Hail Mother India! Hail Lord Ram’. Sultan and Khan are naturally disgusted at this. They state that while there is a problem with Muslim fanaticism, only 5 to 10 per cent of Muslims are like that. And it is up to the vast majority of ordinary Muslims, who aren’t like that, to take care of them. Most Muslims, says Sultan, are Muslim in name only. They are just ordinary people trying to put food on the table.

The Hindu far right, like the BJP and the paramilitary RSSS, are considered Fascist movements by political scientists and historians of Fascism. One modern text book on Fascism includes a BJP prayer as an example of Fascist mysticism, a phenomenon that isn’t confined to Hinduism but permeates all Fascism, Hindu, Christian or whatever. Hindu fanaticism has been a growing problem since mobs rioted, and attacked historic mosques and ordinary Muslims while the authorities turned a blind eye in the 1980s. Indeed, several leading members of the BJP have connections to far right organisations or else made very sure that the mobs responsible for the attacks were allowed to go unchecked.

Most of us have an image of Hinduism as a gentle religion, largely, I think, thanks to Mahatma Gandhi and his doctrine of ahimsa, non-violence. The Hindu far right exploit this peaceful image, denying that such bigotry and violence exists in their religion while at the same time copying it from the religions they hate and persecute. And as well as hating Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, they also hate ordinary, democratic, moderate Hindus and secular Indians as well as Gandhi himself for their ideal of India as a democratic, pluralist nation. As this video shows, these fanatics wish to turn India into a nation where Hinduism is the only permitted religion.

Sultan and Khan have greater faith in the power of modern India’s democratic, pluralist traditions. They state that this will not happen, and India will never become a world power by persecuting 200 million of its citizens. This is presumably the Muslim population in India. The persecution isn’t stopping with Muslims and other religious minorities. The fanatics are also attacking and trying to close down and arrest Indian activists and journalists opposed to this wave of intolerance.

I have said that Fascism knows no colour or religion. Violent contempt for democracy, extreme nationalism and religious or racial hatred can arise everywhere, in any race, religion or culture. And it has to be fought everywhere it appears.

I therefore wish Indian anti-fascists and liberals every success in combating this bigotry regardless of their personal religious views, just as we in the West need to combat the rising Fascism in Europe and America.

Daniel Hussein, Islam and Satanic Crime

June 11, 2021

One of the most shocking stories this week is the trial of Daniel Hussein, who is accused of having murdered two Black women as part of a demonic pact. When the rozzers searched Hussein’s home, they found a handwritten document in which Hussein pledged to sacrifice a woman a month to a demon in return for which the demon would make him win the national lottery, allow him to live in luxury and wealth and protect him from being discovered. Well, as the old proverb goes, ‘the Devil is a gentleman who doesn’t keep his word’. It’s an horrific crime of the type that’s committed by evil maniacs and which used to furnish plots for the X-Files.

Simon Webb of History Debunked put up a video yesterday commenting on it. He pointed out that while such pacts with Satan and the forces of hell were part of the medieval European, Christian worldview, as shown in the Faust legend about the 16th century German magician who sold his soul to the Devil, it’s been absent in the West for six hundred years. So what has caused it’s return? He points to Islam. He says that he has nothing against the religion, but it surprised at how little westerners actually know about it. In his experience, the belief in djinn – the genies of the Arabian Nights – witchcraft and sorcery is a major part of the worldview of the average Muslim, and mentions that the other Friday he was talking to three young Muslim men of 17-19 at a further education college about the djinn that was supposed to be tormenting one of them. It is this worldview, held by two million Muslims in this country, that has meant that parts of Britain have regressed to the Middle Ages without anyone noticing.

Okay, belief in the djinn is part of the Muslim worldview. They’re mentioned in the Qu’ran, which states that one of their number is Iblis, Shaitan or the Devil. The ex-Muslim atheist vlogger Harris Sultan put up a video a month or so ago laughing at a Pakistani mullah, who was claiming to have met the djinn and officiated at their marriages. Way back in the 1990s or early part of this century, a Yemeni newspaper apparently caused a sensation by printing photos of what it claimed were the djinn. Alas not. They were really carvings at an adventure park somewhere in Britain.

But the prevalence of a belief in djinn doesn’t explain a crime like this. There are, after all, large numbers of Christians worldwide who believe in a real, literal Devil, but that hasn’t meant that crimes like Hussein’s are any more common in Christianity. The black magician Aleister Crowley spent more time than almost anyone else casting spells and summoning demons while posing as ‘the Great Beast 666’ but he only joked about sacrificing children. I think he was simply enjoying himself far too much with a life of sex, drugs, necromancy and mountaineering to want to do anything really evil.

It’s also open to doubt how rationalistic the West really is. A survey of mystical experiences among the western public in the 2000s showed that actually they were quite common, but people were simply reluctant to talk about them in case people thought they were mad. The historian of modern witchcraft, Owen Davies, found that ordinary people retained a very strong belief in the existence of witchcraft long after the passage of the 1736 Witchcraft Act. This act effectively ended the witch-hunts in Britain by making it illegal to pretend to be a witch or have occult powers for monetary gain. It saw witchcraft as a form of fraud, rather than a real, demonic force. But the records of court cases in which mostly elderly women were attacked and cut on their foreheads shows that the mass of the British population still believed in it. In folklore, it was believed one way to get rid of a witch’s curse was to attack them and cut them ‘above the breath’. Davies’ book, published in the 90s, provides a wealth of supporting information that shows that belief in real, Satanic witchcraft continued into the 20th century. This is apart from the rise of Wicca and modern neo-paganism, which is a separate thing entirely, in my opinion, which owes more to 19th century occultism and ritual magic than traditional British folklore.

What the murders remind me of most is some of the horrific Satanic crimes carried out back in the 1990s. This was the age of the Satanism scare, when some fanatical evangelical Christians and militant feminists were running around accusing perfectly innocent people of membership of Satanic covens and the ritual abuse and murder of children. The Fontaine Report, an official government investigation into this, found that there was no evidence such covens existed.

In addition to this, there were unfortunately, real, unpleasant people who did torture and murder people for Satanic kicks. These were mostly mixed-up teenagers and young people, like the Haemogoblins, a teenage gang in America who thought they were vampires. There was also a whole vampire subculture based on the novels of Anne Rice, some of whose members may have taken the whole thing waaaay too seriously. But most of these really shocking crimes were committed by youngsters, who’d read too much bad horror literature. Quite often what they knew about Satanism came from one of the rubbish evangelical books supposedly revealingly it, or from Heavy Metal records. Which has caused problems for some rock stars, who were only interested in producing awesome music. As Ozzy Osbourne told the British investigative reporter Robin Cook, ‘I have enough trouble conjuring myself out of bed in the morning, let alone evil spirits.’

The ritual murder of which Hussein is accused looks far more like the crimes committed by these mixed-up, White nutters than something uniquely Muslim. And I think that if he did commit it, then the same factors will probably be found to have motivated him.

I don’t think we have to worry about large numbers of Muslims making pacts with the Devil and dragging us back to the Middle Ages just yet.

Blasphemy Laws and the Muslim Protests Against France

November 3, 2020

Over the past week or so we’ve seen mass protests across the Islamic world, including the Islamic community in Britain, over the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. These have followed the assassination of school teacher Samuel Paty for simply showing his class the cartoon as part of a lesson about free speech. It’s been pointed out in articles in the I that Paty was far from a racist or Islamophobe. He had taken lessons in Islam in order to understand his Muslim students better, and had warned the Muslims in his class what he was about to do so they could leave to avoid being offended. One girl remained, told her father, her father told the local mosque, the mosque told the community. And a Chechen Islamist heard them, and took matters into his own hands. Other Islamists have carried out further attacks on innocents, who had absolutely no part in the affair. Three people, including a priest, were stabbed to death in a church, simply for being Christians, and there have been shootings in other nations.

The murders of these innocents has not been denounced by the Muslim protesters, however. Instead we have seen former cricketer Imran Khan, now leader of an Islamic party and the president of Pakistan, denounce Macron for the publication of the cartoon. He has been joined by Turkish president Erdogan, another leader of a Muslim party Who wouldn’t know free speech if it came up and bit him on the elbow. Tunisia has also denounced France, and when I looked online last night, Islamists in Bangladesh were giving their government a few hours to sever links with France.

It’s been reported that Khan has been complaining about the hurt felt by Muslims around the world about the publication of the cartoons. Supposedly the right to free speech does not mean the right to offend. But others have pointed out over and over again that that is precisely what it means. The type of free speech that only permits what is inoffensive is no free speech at all.

At the heart of this are the Muslim blasphemy laws. This is an attempt to impose them on France and, by implication, other western nations. However, Muslim are a minority in Europe and so the only arguments Khan and the others can use against Europeans is that their feelings are hurt, and that there will be political repercussions.

I looked up the article on blasphemy in The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, ed. by John Bowker (Oxford: OUP 1997). This provides information on the concept of blasphemy in Christian, Judaism and Islam, its punishments, and the problems of enforcing such laws in Britain. It runs

Blasphemy (Gk: ‘speaking evil’ ). Impious or profane talk, especially against God; and in many western legal systems , the offence of reviling God or Jesus Christ or an established church. To be blasphemous a publication must be intended to shock and endanger the moral fabric of society; one that is merely anti-religious (e.g. denying the existence of God) is not. In England in 1977 the editor of Gay News was convicted of blasphemous libel for publishing a poem which portrayed Christ as a practicing homosexual. This was the first successful prosecution for blasphemy since 1922, and showed the difficulty of objectively applying the common law definition. The appearance of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, raised the issue whether blasphemy should be extended to become a more general offence (in the UK), or whether it is an offence in the domain of inciting unrest.

‘In Judaism, ‘blasphemy’ is speaking scornfully of God (Heb. gidduf, heruf) and is described euphemistically as birkat ha-shem (‘blessing the name’, i.e. God). According to Leviticus 24. 10-23, the penalty for cursing God is death, but in discussing this passage, the rabbis defined blasphemy in such a way that it became an improbable crime-and thus the death penalty did not need to be invoked. Excommunication (herem) became the punishment in any case once legal autonomy had been lost…

‘The nearest equivalent in Islam is sabb, offering an insult to God. Qur’an 9.74 condemns those who sear by God that they said nothing but in fact spoke a word of rejection (kalimat al-kufr) after they had become Muslims. This relates blasphemy closely to apostasy (ridda). The expression of contempt for God, the Prophet Mohammed, the angels, or the traditional explications of revelation constitute the offence. Accidental blasphemy is not usually excusable (though Malikites allow it if it is expressed by a recent convert to Islam).. The punishment varies between different Schools of Islamic Law -e.g. the Hanafites remove the offenders legal rights, declare his marriage invalid, and declare any claims to inheritance or property void; the Malikites demand immediate execution of the death penalty.,’

The British prosecution for blasphemy mentioned in the article was brought by Mary Whitehouse, who made it her professional duty to be offended about everything. The gays on the opposite side took this as an attack on them, and launched their own protests against Whitehouse. There’s a comic aspect to this, as Whitehouse recalled that she woke up one morning to find militant gays marching about her garden waving placards.

I think the enforcement of the blasphemy laws is more or less impossible. They’re a dead letter, if they haven’t been repealed. As an example, just consider how many TV comedians since then have expressed their own contempt for Christ and his followers. The comedians Lee and Herring regularly did so on their BBC 2 programme, Fist of Fun. It came as a surprise to me a few years ago when Muslims around the world were again up in arms demanding the execution of blasphemers because of something Pope Benedict said about Mohammed in a speech when one of the two appeared on television attacking Islam. When they were interviewed by the short-lived mag Comedy Revue in the 1990s, they were asked about their attacks on Christianity and whether they would do the same to Islam. They laughingly made it clear that they definitely wouldn’t because they were afraid of violence and attempts on their lives. And thought themselves very clever for doing so. Which shows the British media establishments general attitude to Christianity.

The Muslim blasphemy laws are extremely dangerous. At the moment there are 200 people on death row in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy. Most of these are probably entirely spurious. They’re brought for entirely cynical reasons, such as getting rid of an opponent in a dispute over a completely unrelated issue. Muslims have also claimed that their attacks on Christians were also motivated by the outrage they felt at blasphemies committed by their victims. But some of it seems to me to be an attempt to enforce the Pakistani caste system. Indian and Pakistan Islam has a caste system like Hinduism, only not as severe. Most of the Christian community in Pakistan are of the lowest caste, and many are bonded labourers in brickyards, effectively slaves. One of the Christian women accused of blasphemy was accused after she brought water from a well to a group of Muslim women. Along the way she took a sip of the water. It looks to me that the real crime here was that she broke their laws of caste purity, and that the accusation of blasphemy was added on after this offence.

The ex-Muslim vloggers the Apostate Prophet and Harris Sultan have also pointed out the hypocrisy in Khan’s denunciations. When western countries have criticised Pakistan for human rights abuses, Pakistan has simply told them to mind their own business. But when France defends the publication of cartoons Pakistan and its Islamic leadership find offensive, suddenly he’s justified in interfering in their affairs. He has also denounced the closure of radical mosques and the expulsion of extremist imams as an attack on Islam. It isn’t. It is simply France protecting itself against Islamist violence, in the same way right-wing terrorist groups are banned. And Khan is again being hypocritical in his denunciations. When the Taliban made a series of bloody attacks in Pakistan a few years ago, the armed forces and security services cracked down hard. According to the two above vloggers, they went from house to house in the province of Waziristan arresting anyone with a beard. I haven’t linked to the two because I don’t want to offend any Muslims reading this blog. But you can Google the articles on YouTube if you want to find out more.

Macron should stand firm against all this. Blasphemy laws are a severe attack on free speech, and the penalties inflicted for it and the flagrant abuse of such accusations are particularly dangerous. Freedom of speech and conscience, including that of Muslims, is far too important to be sacrificed because of hurt feelings and outrage.