OUR COMMENT on Geert Wilders' arrival in UK 17 October 2009
tags: Geert Wilders, Islam and tolerance, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, choice of religion, atheism, religion and violence, Manuel II Paleologus, political correctness
Although Mr. Wilders expresses himself with extremist language, we favour his admission to the UK - hoping though, that during his visit he will show a decent respect for the opinions of others.
A large number of people are interested in trying to find out if any religion can explain why we are here, or whether atheism is a more realistic position. Many others wonder whether the religion they were born into really does best explain the phenomenon of life and spirituality.
Making up your mind about this all-important matter implies the ability to have calm discussions with people of all views, and for theologians and others to be able to write and publish, freely and without fear, why they believe as they do. In the first decade of the 21st century we are still very far from these fundamentals underlying religious freedom - the freedom to worship or not to worship.
Unfortunately so many people are filled with hatred or resentment of anyone who does not hold their "faith" making fruitful discussion impossible. One notes too, that those least sure of the certainty of their beliefs are often the most full of hatred for "infidels" - for their intolerance helps protect them from doubt.
People so easily forget that their "faith" is faith and not certainty.
Islam seems to be going through a bad phase of such intolerance similar to what Christianity went through with the Inquisition and the 17th century religious wars.
As regards Islam: no one appears to have come forward to answer the question of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus (which the present pope got so much blame for citing): "Show me just what it was that Mohammed brought that was new?" A fundamental question that surely deserves an answer? .
Or have we lost the freedom to talk about such things both in the Muslim world and in our own Islamophobic "politically correct" environment?