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England

Reader comment on item: Muslim Europe

Submitted by Stuart Lee (New Zealand), May 15, 2004 at 22:26

I was living in London, England in 1989 and experienced Muslim intolerance first-hand.

A group of Muslims had gathered outside a North London tube station to protest the publication of Salman Rushdie's 'The Satanic Verses'.

I tried to engage in reasoned debate with a couple of them. I pointed out that while they had the right of free speech and the right to demonstrate in an open society such as England, they must afford Rushdie the same rights. And that although they had a right to protest, this privilege did not include the right to call for the murder of an author for simply expressing an opinion.

I added that their call for Rushdie's excecution undermined the right of free speech that is taken for granted in western countries. And also, that by denying someone these rights, they were in effect undermining one of the very principles that make western countries more tolerant, stable and wealthy i.e. more appealing places to live than the countries from which they or their parents had emigrated.

Whether they knew it or not, they were in effect sabotaging one of the underlying ideas that caused them to want to live in England rather than in one of the fifty plus Muslim countries in the world.

I guess I was a bit optimistic (idealistic) but I ended up being pushed to the ground.
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