Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Awaiting Islam’s Westphalia

 

In the century following Martin Luther’s 1517 publication of his Ninety-Five Theses, Europe descended into conflict. The Christian-on-Christian violence reached its apex in the Thirty Years’ War, one of the deadliest of all time. It was not until the Peace of Westphalia that Catholics and Protestants agreed to live and let live. Westphalian tolerance was not a legacy of religious principle; it was a legacy of stalemate, slaughter, and exhaustion.

For over a generation, Islam has been fighting its own internecine war. Shia and Sunni fought the Iran-Iraq war. They fought in post-Saddam Iraq. They fight today in Syria. Saudi Arabia and Iran threaten a nuclear arms race tomorrow.

That fight is complicated by Islam’s relations with the West. Western targets are used to bolster jihadist bona fides, both for terrorist networks and WMD-seeking Islamist states. Meanwhile, Western nations intervene to advance their own interests — commercial, political, and defensive. Of the Iran-Iraq War, Henry Kissinger remarked, “It’s a pity they can’t both lose.” The US nonetheless threw its weight behind the party it saw as the lesser of two evils. Sunni and Shia engage Western powers as allies and foils, prolonging Islam’s Thirty Years’ War.

Europe’s respect for freedom of conscience — including the freedom to blaspheme — was the result of painful experience, an experience the Muslim world never had. I wonder whether the Muslim world will ever learn to live and let live without undergoing similar pain. No one wishes for death and destruction and devastation, especially not for innocents caught in the crossfire. But history suggests that tolerance becomes a value only when intolerance becomes intolerable.

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  1. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It seems to me that with the concept of the shahid, with dying for Islam being a positive, massive death is less intolerable in this modern circumstance.

    • #1
    • January 16, 2015, at 11:28 AM PST
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  2. Katrina Gulliver Inactive

    Islam’s internecine conflicts go back a lot further than the last 30 years. As for the Iran-Iraq war, the drawing of state boundaries after the Versailles conference added to issues already there in the Middle East, (by creating “nationalism” in places where loyalties had been religious or tribal). The Sunni-Shia divide goes back to the early days of Islam.

    Those who ask for a Muslim reformation or enlightenment may miss that such an event happened in the eighteenth century – although perhaps a better parallel would be the First Great Awakening, which occurred around the same time. This period of change in Islam brought Wahhabism, the fundamentalist strain of Sunnī Islam, which has its adherents in Al Qaeda and other militant groups. 

    You use the formulation “the Muslim world” but in fact you are talking specifically about the Middle East. Much of what is touted as “Islamic” by hardliners (female circumcision, to take one example) is in fact pre-Islamic, Arab tribal culture.

    Meanwhile other places where Islam has been practiced for more than 500 years gave it a different shape – in Southeast Asia it arrived in a culture already shaped by Hinduism and Buddhism, and in some degree matriarchal, and tended to be more egalitarian and pluralist. That has changed since the 1970s with an Arab-focused Muslim identity being exported, and expectations (such as veiling for women) being more strongly pushed by religious agitators. But nonetheless, Malaysia is a much more tolerant society than Saudi Arabia, for instance.

    Whether Islam faces a Westphalian moment is currently unlikely: the dynamism in the faith seems to be driven by the extremists.

    • #2
    • January 16, 2015, at 11:37 AM PST
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  3. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Eeyore:It seems to me that with the concept of the shahid, with dying for Islam being a positive, massive death is less intolerable in this modern circumstance.

    Still, you can only die once for a cause. Eventually you run out and are left with those less enthusiastic for the cause.

    Regarding Westphalia though, religion was only one component of the 30 Years War – there was also the beginning of the breakup of Hapsburg hegemony and the fight against the undue political power exercised by Rome. The northern German states were seeking to gain autonomy from both Vienna and Rome in terms of governance of their affairs and their lands. Protestantism emergence and acceptance was timely to this struggle, and the exhausted peace at the end was only partly an acceptance of religious tolerance, it was also an acceptance of a new political balance.

    We can’t draw too many parallels between the Wars of Reformation and any of Islam’s internecine battles. As one author pointed out (I forgot who it was now), there is no Islamic version of Rome to fight for reform, nor is there a single major nation dominating the others. Islam is decentralized already in terms of control of theology, and a Reformation along Christianity’s lines is just not possible.

    • #3
    • January 16, 2015, at 11:42 AM PST
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  4. Richard Fulmer Member

    skipsul,
    Perhaps the reason Obama favors Iran is that he hopes it will become the “single major nation dominating the others.” But do we really want a united Arabia? Against whom will it be united? If Obama’s hopes come true, we may end up longing for the days in which Arabs killed mostly other Arabs.

    • #4
    • January 16, 2015, at 12:20 PM PST
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  5. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard Fulmer:skipsul, Perhaps the reason Obama favors Iran is that he hopes it will become the “single major nation dominating the others.” But do we really want a united Arabia? Against whom will it be united? If Obama’s hopes come true, we may end up longing for the days in which Arabs killed mostly other Arabs.

    Oh I don’t want a united Islam, but there won’t be. Iran is Persian, and they do NOT like the Arabs, especially the Saudis (who are considered country bumpkins who just won the lottery). Persia has a long history of ruling over the Arabs and hasn’t forgotten it.

    • #5
    • January 16, 2015, at 12:56 PM PST
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  6. raycon and lindacon Inactive

    A Westphalian peace among the adherents of Islam is most to be feared. Skipsul argues why it isn’t likely, but from a purely utilitarian point of view, such a strategic agreement will only come about as a means of defeating Western Judeo-Christian culture.

    As long as the Sunni and the Shia remain politically divided, the result of the most fundamental of theological disagreements, they will remain a divided enemy. Given the current process of collapse of Western governance, a united Islam will almost certainly prevail.

    It appears that this may be God’s judgement for choosing death over life; Deuteronomy 30:19 – “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”

    • #6
    • January 16, 2015, at 1:00 PM PST
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  7. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler

    I have to go prepare for Shabbat, but I look forward to responding to comments tomorrow evening!

    • #7
    • January 16, 2015, at 1:07 PM PST
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  8. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    In thinking more about this, you could sorta (and this is stretching it a LOT) consider WWI to be Islam’s “reformation”. Prior to WWI, most of Middle-Eastern Islam was coercively united under the Ottoman caliphate, something the Arabs deeply resented. In the wake of the dissolution, re-partitioning and protectorates, new orders emerged with the Saudis becoming major contenders with their Wahhabism (would have been roughly analogous to severely fundamentalist Baptists taking over Sweden from the Vasa family and dominating north Germany post-Westphalia, replete with a backsliding into pre-Reformation-style holy wars against heretics).

    As I said, this is really really stretching things, and my earlier point remains that Reformation Europe remains a poor model for the current situation.

    • #8
    • January 16, 2015, at 1:07 PM PST
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  9. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    raycon and lindacon: As long as the Sunni and the Shia remain politically divided, the result of the most fundamental of theological disagreements, they will remain a divided enemy.

    Yes, this divide runs far deeper than the Protestant / Catholic divide, and is deeper and bloodier than the East / West Orthodox divide. It would be almost as if Christianity divided, after a bloody civil war, between adherents of Paul and the Gnostics – each backed by a major state power, or if Judaism had split into two disparate faction following the death of Solomon, who still duked it out today (if say the Samaritans / Northern Israel state had remained a permanent and warring faction against Judah).

    • #9
    • January 16, 2015, at 1:12 PM PST
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  10. Ray Kujawa Coolidge

    I am reading a book on the Thirty Years War. It is attributed with inspiring a tremendous amount of religious fervor and music in later 1600’s Germany. That was when J.S.Bach and G.F.Handel made it into the world (1685). The context of the hundred years before helps to understand the evolvement of many of our representative and governmental institutions, while the Church was nominally still the head of their empire.

    Respect for freedom of conscience is the result of a common understanding that we were created in the image of God. Islam has no such understanding. There can never be any comparison between individuals and the omnipotent one. Rational inquiry is either forbidden or seen as dangerous. Unlike in the West, we recognize that rational inquiry brings us closer to the Creator by helping us appreciate the wonders of creation. It is not seen as a threat to the religious. One conclusion may be that in Islam they can therefore never have any peace among themselves. Peace will only be of limited duration, and for purely practical considerations. But they will never be able to justify it for religious reasons.

    • #10
    • January 16, 2015, at 1:28 PM PST
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  11. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler

    Son of Spengler:I have to go prepare for Shabbat, but I look forward to responding to comments tomorrow evening!

    Actually, one thought before I go–

    Any analogy, if taken too literally, will be inapt. I’m not suggesting that Islam needs a reformation, or any particular doctrinal changes (in this post, at least). The Treaty of Westphalia, for that matter, was not about doctrine — just the opposite. It established that states could be Catholic or Protestant according to their rulers, and that minority religions could be practiced without coming to harm.

    There’s a lot going on among Muslim states that has nothing to do with Islam, just as there was a lot going on among Christian states in 1618 that had nothing to do with Christianity. But the aftermath of the Thirty Years’ War disabused Christians of the idea of a single Christian polity, and taught Europeans it was better to tolerate blasphemy than to engage in a war to the death. I suspect Muslims will need to endure more Muslim-on-Muslim violence before they reach a similar conclusion. (And if they do, they may be able to tolerate Western blasphemy and cease to become an enemy of the West.)

    • #11
    • January 16, 2015, at 1:29 PM PST
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  12. Casey Inactive

    Anyone interested should read Charles Hill.

    I suspect, however, that we’re about to enter a period that looks more like WWI. An awful bloody war of attrition that solves nothing and leads to a bigger, more awful war. Followed by decades of fear about what might happen.

    Peter’s book will be an important book.

    • #12
    • January 16, 2015, at 2:54 PM PST
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  13. Profile Photo Member

    There is a major problem with hoping for a reformation of Islam.

    The Christian reformation was (is) a battle over authority. The Catholic church places authority in the church as inherited from the apostles. The reformers saw a conflict between the existing government of the church and God’s word recorded in scripture. Christian reformers saw the scripture as a higher authority than the existing government of the church.

    Where is the source of authority for a reformation in Islam? Can a group of Islamic reformers point to the Koran and say the terrorists are clearly wrong?

    • #13
    • January 16, 2015, at 6:29 PM PST
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  14. Zafar Member

    skipsul:

    We can’t draw too many parallels between the Wars of Reformation and any of Islam’s internecine battles. As one author pointed out (I forgot who it was now), there is no Islamic version of Rome to fight for reform, nor is there a single major nation dominating the others. Islam is decentralized already in terms of control of theology, and a Reformation along Christianity’s lines is just not possible.

    Wrt decentralised control of theology, yes, but there actually is one such nation, it just isn’t Muslim. Are most jihadis fighting Governments that are perceived to be supported by the West (or rather, by the US)?

    Wrt the Reformation, wasn’t a lot of that conflict driven at least as much by the wish to control earthly goods as who was right about eternity? ISIS seems to be a lot about controlling territory and people and taking stuff.

    • #14
    • January 16, 2015, at 10:46 PM PST
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  15. Brad B. Inactive

    The analogy is not apt because of how the two religions had wildly different beginnings. Christianity thrived for over 300 years before it first attained political power. The New Testament is largely silent on how governments should operate other than that they should be just. So when the Church finally attained political clout, theories on governance had to be inferred or invented.

    But Islam has a totalitarian prescription for organizing the state and society. It was born as both a religious and political affair. Koranically speaking, one cannot separate the state from the religion. A fully Westphalian and fully Islamic state is an oxymoron.

    • #15
    • January 17, 2015, at 12:34 AM PST
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  16. AIG Inactive
    AIG

    If the issue here is “tolerance” of other ideas/beliefs, or freedom to “blaspheme” etc., then the real conflict of interest here isn’t Shia vs. Sunni.

    That certainly isn’t a pressing conflict in Islam today, other than in Lebanon and Iraq.

    The real conflict is between the…whatever you want to call them…Slafists/Islamists/Wahabists/Extremists etc…and the rest. And that conflict has been going on since the 1930s in most of the Arab world, and turned into an open battle since the 1950s.

    Of course, we’re not really talking about, or probably interested in “blasphemy”. Blasphemy was illegal, at least on paper, in most Western countries into the 20th century. And some places, like Russia, just passed laws to make it so last year.

    What we’re interested in is “tolerance”, defined somewhat more broadly. Tolerance is lacking in most of the world, not just in Islam, however.

    • #16
    • January 17, 2015, at 1:35 AM PST
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  17. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler

    Katrina Gulliver: You use the formulation “the Muslim world” but in fact you are talking specifically about the Middle East. Much of what is touted as “Islamic” by hardliners (female circumcision, to take one example) is in fact pre-Islamic, Arab tribal culture. Meanwhile other places where Islam has been practiced for more than 500 years gave it a different shape – in Southeast Asia it arrived in a culture already shaped by Hinduism and Buddhism, and in some degree matriarchal, and tended to be more egalitarian and pluralist. That has changed since the 1970s with an Arab-focused Muslim identity being exported, and expectations (such as veiling for women) being more strongly pushed by religious agitators. But nonetheless, Malaysia is a much more tolerant society than Saudi Arabia, for instance.

    I’m not sure Malaysia is a great example in this context. Wikipedia has an entire article devoted to “Blasphemy law in Malaysia“. Some excerpts:

    In May 2007, the Federal Court ruled that Muslims are not entitled to freedom of worship, even though such freedom is guaranteed by Malaysia’s Constitution….

    The Government maintains an official list of fifty-six sects of Islam which the government considers “deviant” and a threat to national security. Muslims who deviate from accepted Sunni principles may be detained and subjected to mandatory “rehabilitation” in centers that teach and enforce government-approved Islamic practices. Muslims generally may not convert to another religion, although members of other religions may convert to Islam….

    The government strictly controls what is broadcast and published…. In 2008, the government banned sixty-two books that touched upon religion. In 2008, customs authorities seized six titles of Christian children’s books because the books contain words that—according to Islamic authorities—belong to Islam. The Publications and Al-Quran Texts Control Department contended that “Allah” (God), “Baitullah” (House of God), and “Solat” (prayer) are lawfully used by Muslims only.

    The article lists a number of reported crimes and punishments, including prison sentences and canings. An example:

    In 2000, the Sharia High Court in the state of Kelantan sentenced four persons to three years in prison for disregarding a lower court’s order to recant their deviant beliefs and “return to the true teachings of Islam.” The High Court rejected the argument that Sharia has no jurisdiction over people who have ceased to be Muslims. In dismissing the appeal, the Court of Appeal ruled (in August 2002) that only the Sharia court has jurisdiction to determine whether a person has ceased to be a Muslim.

    • #17
    • January 17, 2015, at 3:36 PM PST
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  18. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler

    Ray Kujawa: Respect for freedom of conscience is the result of a common understanding that we were created in the image of God. Islam has no such understanding. There can never be any comparison between individuals and the omnipotent one. Rational inquiry is either forbidden or seen as dangerous. Unlike in the West, we recognize that rational inquiry brings us closer to the Creator by helping us appreciate the wonders of creation. It is not seen as a threat to the religious. One conclusion may be that in Islam they can therefore never have any peace among themselves. Peace will only be of limited duration, and for purely practical considerations. But they will never be able to justify it for religious reasons.

    Christianity also has historically not sanctioned freedom of conscience. Before the Thirty Years’ War, killing over beliefs was completely accepted. Afterwards, it was not. Was that because people suddenly noticed a part of theology that they had missed? Or that the theology adapted in light of the circumstances? If the cause is the latter, then it could happen in Islam too.

    • #18
    • January 17, 2015, at 3:43 PM PST
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  19. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler

    AIG: What we’re interested in is “tolerance”, defined somewhat more broadly. Tolerance is lacking in most of the world, not just in Islam, however.

    In most of the world, they don’t threaten to kill you for rejecting and/or mocking their prophets.

    I’ve been a imprecise regarding tolerance vs. blasphemy, but I do believe they are closely related. True freedom of speech includes the freedom to say “unapproved” things, and as such is tantamount to freedom of conscience. It’s not an accident that the First Amendment covers rights of speech, religion, and assembly.

    WRT blasphemy in other nations and cultures, consider the following distinction offered by Wikipedia: “As of 2011, all Islamic majority nations, worldwide, had criminal laws on blasphemy. Over 125 non-Muslim nations worldwide did not have any laws relating to blasphemy.” The article cites an example of a fugitive from Indian blasphemy prosecution, and notes that he has fled to… Europe.

    • #19
    • January 17, 2015, at 3:52 PM PST
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  20. AIG Inactive
    AIG

    Son of Spengler: The article cites an example of a fugitive from Indian blasphemy prosecution, and notes that he has fled to… Europe.

    India, not being a “majority muslim nation”.

    Son of Spengler: WRT blasphemy in other nations and cultures, consider the following distinction offered by Wikipedia: “As of 2011, all Islamic majority nations, worldwide, had criminal laws on blasphemy. Over 125 non-Muslim nations worldwide did not have any laws relating to blasphemy.”

    That entry is wrong. Albania and Bosnia don’t have such laws, for example. Other Muslim nations may have them, but in many of them the laws are not enforced. Just as they have them in Italy, Poland, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Ethiopia and Peru…but are not enforced. Russia being the exception, since they introduced the law just last year.

    But that’s also an issue here. Having the “law” on the book, and actually enforcing it, are separate issues. In many European countries these laws do exist, and in some have been practiced up until very recently (into the 90s and 2000s in a few cases).

    Some Muslim nations, even having such laws, rarely are successful in convicting anyone on them (e.g. Algeria, Morocco etc.)

    But blasphemy is a separate issue, and if you want to tie to Westphalia, the argument becomes even weaker since blasphemy laws existed in the West long after Westphalia.

    And the concept of blasphemy as a “freedom of expression” is a relatively new one, even in the West. Less than 100 years old in fact.

    Son of Spengler: In most of the world, they don’t threaten to kill you for rejecting and/or mocking their prophets.

    Certainly, but they may threaten to kill you for any number of other things.

    • #20
    • January 17, 2015, at 5:04 PM PST
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  21. Scott Wilmot Member

    Son of Spengler: I wonder whether the Muslim world will ever learn to live and let live

    I’m a broken record when it comes to posts on Islam – my go to comment is to re-visit what Pope Benedict XVI said in his Regensburg address.

    Until Islam can come to grips with reason, the internecine war you speak of, and, more importantly, the war with the West will continue.

    There is a wonderful interview at NRO with one of the great Catholic minds today: Samuel Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute. He re-visits the Regensburg address. Two questions and answers from that interview:

    LOPEZ: Why is Pope Benedict’s Regensburg lecture as relevant as ever after the Paris attacks?

    GREGG: Benedict’s lecture is ever relevant because one of its central arguments is that a religion’s understanding of God’s nature has immense implications for its capacity to live peacefully with those who do not share the same faith or, for that matter, have no religious faith. A religion that regards God as sheer Will, operating above and beyond reason, cannot ultimately object to the notion that such a God may command its adherents to do unreasonable things. For if God is ultimately unreasonable and the Creator of the universe, then so too are the people created in His image. Hence, if such an unreasonable God commands equally unreasonable humans to do something utterly irrational — such as slaughter cartoonists, fly planes into buildings, axe to death Jews praying peacefully in a synagogue, behead Christian children in the Middle East, kill Nigerian as Boko Haram has done, the list is endless — not only can we not object on grounds that such actions are unreasonable and intrinsically evil, but we must simply submit to the irrational Deity’s desire for blood. In other words, whether we like it or not, there is a theological and religious dimension to what happened in Paris — and what is happening in Syria and Iraq, what occurred on 9/11, and what Islamic jihadists keep doing all around the world — and we ignore this at our own peril. That’s another reason why it is so embarrassing and self-defeating for people like President Obama, President Hollande, and Prime Minister David Cameron to go on repeating, mantra-like, that Islamic jihadism has nothing to do with Islam. Of course it has something to do with Islam. That’s why it’s called Islamic jihadism.

    LOPEZ: Why was Regensburg so controversial at the time?

    GREGG: It was controversial because in one relatively short address (one that I think will be remembered as one of the 21st century’s most important talks), Pope Benedict managed to upset a number of groups. First, by highlighting the central theological issue — Is the Islamic understanding of God that He is primarily or purely Voluntas? — that must be addressed if Islamic jihadism is to be countered, he annoyed not just some Muslims but also those liberal Westerners who want to treat Islamic jihadism as if theology and religion have nothing to do with it. Many professional interfaith dialoguers also didn’t like the Regensburg address because it highlighted just how much of their discussion was utterly peripheral to the main game and consisted in many instances of happy talk that avoided any serious conversation about the real differences that exist between many religions. It also annoyed those who believe that all religions are ultimately the same and of equal worth. That’s obviously not true, but saying such things in a relativistic world that is increasingly “uncomfortable” with reasoned argument (let alone logic) and more at ease with feelings talk is bound to make you plenty of enemies today.

    • #21
    • January 17, 2015, at 5:18 PM PST
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  22. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler

    AIG:

    Son of Spengler: The article cites an example of a fugitive from Indian blasphemy prosecution, and notes that he has fled to… Europe.

    India, not being a “majority muslim nation”.

    Yes, I cited it because it was not majority Muslim but also did not derive its cultural tradition from Westphalia.

    Albania and Bosnia don’t have such laws, for example. Other Muslim nations may have them, but in many of them the laws are not enforced. Just as they have them in Italy, Poland, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Ethiopia and Peru…but are not enforced. Russia being the exception, since they introduced the law just last year.

    Russia’s law was condemned by the West, and is illustrative. It was designed to target Pussy Riot, which was combining its anti-Putin statements with anti-Orthodox ones. (Also, note that Orthodox Christianity was also not a party to the Peace of Westphalia.) Putin is known for his intolerance of freedom of expression, going so far as to assassinate journalists. He’s also not known for respecting territorial boundaries. In short, he operates outside the Western liberal tradition and is flouting the Westphalian order.

    In many European countries these laws do exist, and in some have been practiced up until very recently (into the 90s and 2000s in a few cases).

    Could you provide some examples for the portion I emphasized, please?

    • #22
    • January 17, 2015, at 5:42 PM PST
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  23. AIG Inactive
    AIG

    Son of Spengler: Could you provide some examples for the portion I emphasized, please?

    Sure.

    Greece:
    http://www.dw.de/jesus-comic-enrages-greeks/a-1480744

    Ireland:
    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/2009-blasphemy-law-was-a-result-of-failed-case-against-a-sunday-independent-cartoon-30916077.html

    Denmark:
    http://www.legal-project.org/blog/2010/08/denmark-prosecution-of-free-speech-advocate-may

    Germany:
    http://www.diggersrealm.com/mt/archives/001597.html

    Malta:
    http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20121130/local/Court-upholds-Stitching-ban.447533

    Etc. While only 8 European states have blasphemy laws on the books, a full 35 of them have laws against “defamation of religion” (which is in essence the same thing).

    Of course, we all know the cases from Europe or Canada where criticizing some religion is portrayed as “hate speech”, and prosecuted as such.

    So while it is obvious that freedom of expression, and tolerance of other ideas/religions is a lot wider in the West than in the ME, or Muslim world in general…the West isn’t entirely immune either, and where it is, it is a much more recent phenomenon than Westphalia.

    In some places, we’re actually reverting. Greece and Russia are two obvious culprits (although they are not strictly speaking, “West”), but we are seeing “hate speech” being brought as an accusation against people who “insult” religion.

    Russia’s law was condemned by the West, and is illustrative. It was designed to target Pussy Riot, which was combining its anti-Putin statements with anti-Orthodox ones. (Also, note that Orthodox Christianity was also not a party to the Peace of Westphalia.) Putin is known for his intolerance of freedom of expression, going so far as to assassinate journalists. He’s also not known for respecting territorial boundaries. In short, he operates outside the Western liberal tradition and is flouting the Westphalian order.

    Sure of course. But as I point out above, we’ve seen similar instances, until relatively recently, in many Western countries as well.

    The UK passed legislation as recently as 2006 against “hate speech on the basis of religion”. What we’ve seen in many Western countries (i.e. European countries) is turning “blasphemy” into “hate speech”. But the distinction is small.

    • #23
    • January 17, 2015, at 7:44 PM PST
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  24. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    “Malaysia is a much more tolerant society than Saudi Arabia, for instance.”

    Not a tough test to pass.

    • #24
    • January 18, 2015, at 2:20 AM PST
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  25. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    I had a History teacher whose preferred lens was the centralization and decentralization of power. Islam is undergoing a consolidation phase, and this bodes poorly for civilization. I await Islam’s third Punic war.

    • #25
    • January 18, 2015, at 4:02 AM PST
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  26. Carey J. Inactive

    AIG:If the issue here is “tolerance” of other ideas/beliefs, or freedom to “blaspheme” etc., then the real conflict of interest here isn’t Shia vs. Sunni.

    That certainly isn’t a pressing conflict in Islam today, other than in Lebanon and Iraq.

    The real conflict is between the…whatever you want to call them…Slafists/Islamists/Wahabists/Extremists etc…and the rest. And that conflict has been going on since the 1930s in most of the Arab world, and turned into an open battle since the 1950s.

    Of course, we’re not really talking about, or probably interested in “blasphemy”. Blasphemy was illegal, at least on paper, in most Western countries into the 20th century. And some places, like Russia, just passed laws to make it so last year.

    What we’re interested in is “tolerance”, defined somewhat more broadly. Tolerance is lacking in most of the world, not just in Islam, however.

    Some of us reserve our finite stocks of tolerance for those who practice it themselves. Islamists need not apply.

    • #26
    • January 18, 2015, at 2:52 PM PST
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  27. Profile Photo Member

    I have always thought that Westphalia had some relevance to the War on Terror. I think too many in the West look at the hard lessons of the Thirty Years’ War and do not want to engage in another war with a religion. I’m not sure if you want to call it instinct or a kind of conditioning or a kind of inertia.

    We tend to forget that the Peace of Westphalia is not a blank check of tolerance. For example, the British were able to end suttee in India and I don’t think any reasonable person would say that this was a violation of the spirit of Westphalia.

    (It is actually one of two impulses that hinder us; the other being our inability to find the balance of rhetoric and action that lets the 1.6 billion Muslims know that we are only against the terrorists and the theocrats and not people who want to practice their religion in peace.)

    I too fear that many Muslims, especially the radicals, will have to learn the value of religious tolerance the hard way and I am not particularly eager for the bloodshed involved, but the longer are unwilling to deliver that lesson to those who need it, the more innocent people will suffer in the meantime (and not all of the innocent are Westerners).

    • #27
    • January 19, 2015, at 2:16 PM PST
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