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November 12, 2005

Douglas Murray introduces Afshin Ellian

Posted by Douglas Murray

Douglas Murray - author of Neoconservatism: Why We Need It - introduces a selection of the journalism of Afshin Ellian about the murder of Theo van Gogh and its aftermath in the Netherlands (translated from Dutch by Benjamin Bilski).

On 2nd November 2004 the Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh was slaughtered on the streets of Amsterdam. His murder the second killing in Holland of an outspoken critic of Islam horrified Dutch society.

Many of those who have criticised Islam now live in hiding or under armed guard. Others have stopped writing or speaking on the subject of Islam and extremism - understandably terrified into silence. No one wants to be the next Pim Fortuyn or van Gogh.

But if people do not speak out, and if writers do not write then the terrorists have won. If the freedoms foremost among them the freedom of speech - which our societies hold so dear are just given up, or simply not exercised, then the terrorists win a victory far beyond the imagination of their disgusting jihad.

Fortunately, the West still has people like Afshin Ellian - one of our most erudite, brilliant and wise minds. Along with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, he remains, at considerable personal risk, one of the few brave individuals still willing to tell truths to our society and to those within our society who stay here, yet despise us so much.

Ellian's work - rightly famed in Holland - has not so far reached a wider audience, largely because there have been no published translations in English of his vital and forthright columns. What follows is a selection of those columns, translated by Benjamin Bilski - a colleague of Ellian's at the University of Leiden principally relating to the murder of van Gogh.

And Ellian's writing shares something with van Gogh's work. Foremost is the belief that freedom of speech includes asserting the right to criticise, rage and laugh at the absurdities and evil of a group whose intent it is to close debate down, and whose wishes for precisely that reason, we must not only not gratify but go out of our way not to gratify.

After van Gogh's murder many people who should have spoken out stayed silent. It is a pleasure to honour van Gogh's memory by bringing to the notice of an English-speaking audience, one of the few who saw that that barbaric act was a reason not to become quiet, but to speak up louder than ever, and with an abundance of the humour, intelligence and humanity which our opponents so conspicuously lack.

If the battle against Islamic extremism is to be won it will be won to a great extent by the pen and there are few pens wiser or mightier than Ellian's.

Douglas Murray is the author of Neoconservatism: Why We Need It. To read Douglas Murray's own essay on the van Gogh murder, see The Murder of Theo van Gogh, Reaction to the Killing and the Threat of Radical Islam.

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"Foremost is the belief that freedom of speech includes asserting the right to criticise, rage and laugh at the absurdities and evil of a group whose intent it is to close debate down"

And, I suppose, to (metaphorically) pee and poo on the beliefs of a large number of ordinary decent people, then when these protest, to screech like a colony of monkeys in calling them "reactionary", "benighted", or whatever. The clip that most people have seen of the film "Submission" looks decidely soft-porn, and is no way to convince anyone that women are being suppressed by Islam. It is, rather, an invitation to today's pseudo-intellectuals to indulge in (if you'll pardon the oxymoron) the mental group masturbation of which they're so fond.

Moreover, Ayaan Hirsi Ali can hardly be said to be unbiassed in the matter. The outrages she suffered in Somalia are indeed most vile and vicious, but her own religion (based on her public pronouncements) is effectively Lennonism ("Imagine there's no heaven".) In that respect, she is like the Communists who contaminated so many genuine struggles for freedom with their own ideology.

Posted by: Robert H. Olley at November 12, 2005 07:14 PM

"Foremost is the belief that freedom of speech includes asserting the right to criticise, rage and laugh at the absurdities and evil of a group whose intent it is to close debate down"

Whether someone is (metaphorically) peeing or pooing on anyone's beliefs, or behaving like a colony of monkeys would appear to be in the eye of the beholder. (Funnily enough, I vaguely remember that Mohammed characterised Jews and Christians as apes and pigs at some point). The same appears to hold for what is ordinary and decent - I assume when things have sunk to death theats and murder we have left ordinariness and decency behind. The fact that one group has an extra-ordinarily thin skin when it comes to dicussions of its fath, as demonstrated by the previous post, should not be allowed to dictate what can or cannot be said in a free society.

Posted by: wallyUK at October 15, 2006 01:23 AM
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