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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/02/2006 - 14:01

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

"But in Britain and other Western countries, these people are but a tiny proportion of Muslims. Many Muslims who are not by any means fanatics were angered by the cartoons. By merely posing the issue as one of free speech, the AWL is in danger of alienating those Muslims who accept the norms of a largely secular society, including the idea of free speech and religious freedom, but who also are unhappy at seeing their religion mocked and themselves portrayed as suicide bombers and general headcases."

What does Paul F want - the issue is posed as one of free speech. He may be right that many non-fanatical muslims are "angered by the cartoons", that's fine, that's them expressing their freedom of speech, it doesn't negate the right of the publisher's of the cartoons to publish them. It doesn't make any of those muslim individuals or groups correct and it doesn't mean socialists just go along with whatever any group or individual from the 'muslim community' does or says. And when some of the more militant groups or individuals call for actual physical harm or use the pretext of the cartoons to build their influence in the wider population of muslims then they go beyond the limits of free speech and socialists can't afford to hold back their opposition to those forces just because it might alienate less fanatical or moderate members and groups.

Paul F seems to be suggesting the left should not be in favour of free speech because there will be occasions when that will be tactically unfortunate and might alienate some of those the left should be after. I think that's called opportunism; it seems to be the property of the SWP at the moment.

Joe Baxter

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