The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.
Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.
We reject 'cultural relativism', which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.
We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.
We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century
should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, of Somalian origin, is member of Dutch Parliament, member of the liberal party VVD and writter of the film Submission which caused the assassination of Theo Van Gogh in november 2004. She lives under police protection.
Chahla Chafiq, is a novelist and an essayist of Iranian origin, exiled in France.
Essayist, winner of National prize of laicité in 2005, editor in chief of Prochoix, a pro-Choice journal based in France, .
French philosopher, born in Algeria, engaged against all the XXth century 'ism's, and most recently, the author of American Vertigo.
Irshad Manji is a Fellow at Yale University and the internationally best-selling author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith.
Mehdi Mozaffari, professor of Iranian origin, exiled in Denmark, author of several articles and books on Islam and Islamism such as : Authority in Islam: From Muhammad to Khomeini, Fatwa: Violence and Discourtesy and Glaobalization and Civilizations.
Writer, TV International English producer; Director of the Worker-communist Party of Iran's International Relations; and 2005 winner of the National Secular Society's Secularist of the Year award.
Journalist, novelist and poet, Taslima Nasreen attained global attention when fundamentalist Muslim clerics lead a violent campaign for killing her and a prize was set for her head in response to her books and articles.
Salman Rushdie is the author of nine novels, including Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses and, most recently, Shalimar the Clown. An Honorary Professor in the Humanities at M.I.T., and the president of PEN American Center.
Director of publication of Charlie Hebdo (Leftwing French newspaper who republished the controversial cartoons on prophet Muhammad).
Ibn Warraq , author notably of Why I am Not a Muslim; Leaving Islam : Apostates Speak Out ; and The Origins of the Koran, is at present Research Fellow at a New York Institute conducting philological and historical research into the Origins of Islam and its Holy Book.
Antoine Sfeir :
Born in Lebanon, chose French nationality to live in 'laïc' (real secular) country. Director of Les cahiers de l'Orient who has published several reference books on Islamism such as Les réseaux d'Allah (2001) et Liberté, égalité, Islam : la République face au communautarisme (2005).
Originally carried in Jyllands-Posten on February 28, 2006