A Novelist’s Extreme Anti-Extremism
A Novelist’s Extreme Anti-Extremism
Tuesday, June 24,2008 09:45
By Tobin Harshaw

"The novelist Ian McEwan has launched an astonishingly strong attack on Islamism, saying that he "despises" it and accusing it of "wanting to create a society that I detest," " reports The Independent of London. "His words, in an interview with an Italian newspaper, could, in today"s febrile legalistic climate, lay him open to being investigated for a "hate crime." " McEwan was speaking out in defense of his friend and fellow novelist Martin Amis, who has come under attack for expressing anti-Islamist views.

David Thompson, writing at Harry"s Place, doesn"t think McEwan has anything to apologize for.

At this point, perhaps it"s worth bearing in mind just what kind of world Islamist groups wish to share with us, whether we like it or not. Consider, for instance, the Muslim Brotherhood, perhaps the foremost Islamist group, which declares its aim as the "widespread implementation of Islam as a way of life; no longer to be sidelined as merely a religion." In 2004, the Brotherhood"s president, Muhammad Mehdi Akef, told the Egyptian newspaper al-Arabi: "Islam will invade Europe and America because Islam has a mission." Later the same year, Mehdi described the Holocaust as "a myth" and insisted that, when in power, the Brotherhood would not recognise Israel, whose demise he "expected soon". Mehdi views "martyrdom operations" in Palestine and Iraq as a religious duty and has described all Israelis — including children — as "enemies of Islam." The Brotherhood"s literature and website still bears the charming prophesy: "Islam will dominate the world."…

In light of such statements, and many others like them, what is astonishing is the notion that a dislike of Islamism, or of Islam generally, should invite fears of "hate crime" investigation. As I"ve said before, religious freedom does not entail sparing believers any hint that others do not share their beliefs or indeed find them ludicrous. There is, after all, no corresponding obligation for believers to embrace ideas that are not clearly risible, monstrous or disgusting. But, again, perhaps I"m stating the obvious.