Muslims Top Catholics; Fitna Update

Fox has a couple of interesting news items about Islam. The first reports:

Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world’s largest religion, the Vatican newspaper said Sunday.

“For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us,” Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. Formenti compiles the Vatican’s yearbook.

He said that Catholics accounted for 17.4 percent of the world population — a stable percentage — while Muslims were at 19.2 percent.

Formenti offered a reason for the trends: “[W]hile Muslim families… continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer.”

However, “Christians make up 33 percent of the world population, Formenti said.”

So, combined, Muslims plus Christians make up just over half of the earth’s population. Regardless of which sect is on top, monotheism is clearly dominant.

In other news, “Nations around the world are protesting the release of a Dutch lawmaker’s anti-Islamic film.” The film in question is Fitna. It’s unclear to me whether YouTube videos referred to as “Fitna” that I was unable to watch are related to the Fitna in question, but it seems not. The link to the video that Fox uses works at this time.

The video contains three main elements: select versus from the Quran that endorse violence, recorded speeches by various Muslims that endorse violence, and scenes of Islamic violence. The movie does not demonstrate that Islam is inherently violent, but it does demonstrate that various Muslims have, in fact, endorsed and carried out terrorist violence. Indeed, the creator of the film, Geert Wilders, has received death threats. (I have read claims alleging that Wilders supports policies that I oppose, including censorship, but I don’t know whether those claims are true. Regardless, he deserves freedom of speech and the right to live without fear of being murdered.)

If Islam does not promote violence, then it is up to the followers of Islam to prove it by abstaining from, preventing, and denouncing Islamic violence.

The story from Fox continues, “Despite their condemnation, the European leaders defended the right to freedom of speech and called on Muslims to react peacefully.” At least freedom of speech remains a live issue. Unfortunately, “hundreds of Indonesian students took to the streets Sunday… demanding that authorities shut down websites carrying Geert Wilders’ film.”

And the group Muslims for Free Speech said… nothing, because, as far as I could find with a quick internet search, there is no such organization.

I did check the Minaret of Freedom; a search of “free speech” there pulled up ten hits, most of which are not relevant. At least the organization did criticize the use of legislation to censor speech:

Dutch extremist politician Geert Wilders finally releases his anti-Islam film online, but his project of incitement might be undermined by another Islamophobe as Muhammad (PBUH) cartoonist Kurt Westergaard says he’ll sue over the film’s unlawful use of his drawing…

* Online, a Violent View of Islam (Washington Post)
* Cartoonist to Sue Over Islam Film (BBC News)

…meanwhile the UN Human Rights Council passes an ill-conceived OIC-backed resolution using legislation rather than the free market of ideas to counter hate speech against other faiths:

* UN OKs Islamic Text Against Defamation (Associated Press/Washington Post)

The organization does not explain what constitutes “Islamophobia” — apparently anything critical of Islam qualifies. Nor the does the organization explain why it thinks Fitna constitutes “hate speech.”

There is, however, very obvious “hate speech” associated with Fitna: it is the speech coming from the recordings of Islamists, such as when one Islamic leader pulls out a sword while exhorting a crowd to behead Jews.

Update: I did find a release from “Young Muslims for Freedom of Speech:”

The Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO) condemns any form of blasphemy that was displayed in the printing of cartoons portraying the Prophet Muhammad. We are dismayed at the publications and voice our strong objection to this treatment of Prophet Mohammed and any other Prophet (peace and blessings be on them) as being insulting and unacceptable.

Khallad Swaid, President of FEMYSO said: “The freedom of speech is an important fundamental right, which is not to be compromised, but as everything else, has its limits.”

“Where religious beliefs, regardless of the religion, or feelings are hurt, its limit has been exceeded.” We welcome critical debate but this is an abuse of the freedom of speech which has deliberately provoked Muslims and fuelled hatred and this is unacceptable. Therefore we call on all sections of the media to be more sensitive and responsible and on the governments to take a more robust stance in condemning such offensive images. The FEMYSO [Forum of Eurpoean Muslim Youth and Studnt Organisations] condemns with the strongest terms any violence against people or objects and calls upon all Muslims to protest by peaceful means and respect our fellow Europeans who are not to blame generaly. This neither has been the way the Prophet Muhammad reacted at any time himself nor is it considered to be of civilised manner. He always searched for ways using dialogue to communicate, exchange and explain himself towards his counterpart. We also suggest to our member organisations to use this opportunity to introduce to their societies the life and character of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), who was always seeking justice and peace.

I find several things about this release interesting. At least the release “condemns… violence.” Unfortunately, the release does not actually advocate freedom of speech. It does not condemn censorship, but it does claim that free speech “has its limits.” It condemns the cartoons — and, by implication, any criticism of Islam or even any portrayal of the image of Muhammad — as “blasphemous.” Moreover, the release blames the Danish cartoons for Islamic violence, which is absurd.