Salem-Witch-Trials-500After the vicious atrocities committed by Anders Behring Breivik on 22 July 2011 it seemed that any and all critics of sharia were deemed to have somehow aided and abetted his heinous crime. Sharia critics were demonised and hunted down by zealots in the legacy media. Relationships were damaged, peopled were fired, ostracised, and forced into exile, they were harassed by agents of the state just because they were opposed to increased sharia compliance. Following such demonization can the establishment politicians and legacy media witch finders general be regarded as people who inspired the attack on Lars Hedegaard?

Is it time for the legacy media and establishment politicians to be judged according to their own standards? By their statements and their writings they often seem to inspire hatred towards those who have concerns about sharia.

Also after Breivik journalists often used the word ‘link’ to draw even more people into their imagined conspiracy. Perhaps they felt that the use of this word would somehow absolve them when they deliberately went out to wreck people’s lives. All it took during this witch hunt was for someone to have placed a link on their blogroll to another website that Breivik had either liked or visited and hey presto they were linked to Breivik. Guilt by association was the tool used by the legacy media and establishment politicians to shut down debate on issues that they wanted to be subject to rigid censorship.

Of course even before Breivik demonization of sharia critics took place, Breivik was just a convenient tool that the establishment decided to use to intensify the zeal with which the demonization was carried out. In the aftermath of 9/11 governments began their crack down on sharia critics. With each subsequent attack on freedom, such as their reaction to the Danish Cartoons Crisis the crackdown was intensified. Laws were devised to shut people up and kangaroo courts were convened to allow show trials of those regarded as heretics. The purpose of both the legislation and the show trials was to demonise sharia critics. Of course, such demonization does not give the safety of its victims much consideration. Mr Hedegaard himself was given the kangaroo court treatment. Did this contribute to creating an environment in which someone was inspired to try to assassinate him?

The discussions by members of the political establishment to justify their witch hunts probably went something like as follows:

  1. “We don’t like sharia critics”
  2. “Let’s create vague laws that can be used to criminalise them on the most spurious of grounds”
  3. “Let’s claim that the purpose of such draconian laws is to combat something like hate that is also difficult to define precisely”
  4. “If we have friends who commit acts of hatred against sharia critics, let’s make sure that the new law does not apply to them.”
  5. “If all else fails we fall back on selective enforcement of the law”
  6. “Even if we don’t secure a conviction, we put the sharia critic to much expense and inconvenience and it allows us to demonise them in the media via negative reports”

These laws are the secular equivalent of blasphemy laws and are similarly unjust and detrimental to both human rights and the maintenance of free societies.

Part of the mission of the International Civil Liberties Alliance is to campaign for the right to oppose sharia. This right is not respected when people who exercise it are demonised and made to fear for their lives. Sharia is a system of law which does not respect equality and human rights as the world has come to understand them. We call upon journalists and politicians from across the entire political spectrum to condemn in the strongest possible terms those who seek to demonise anti-sharia activists and distort their intentions. We also call for the repeal of laws that, despite claiming to oppose it, actually foster hatred.

It is time for an open and honest debate about sharia. Established interests should not prevent that essential public debate from taking place.

 The International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA) is a human rights organisation that aims to uphold democracy, freedom and individual liberties.

The Alliance does so through endorsing, coordinating and promoting education and campaigns conducted by its members, in the spirit of classical liberalism. ICLA and its members will educate the general public about the significance of the inalienable rights of individuals, and how these are subtly underlined or openly challenged by political and religious forces.