Monday, October 18, 2004

Liberals and Zaoui

The Sock Thief looks at the FIS article in the Herald and declares that Zaoui should go. He also comments:

There has been this very odd tendency for Western liberals to go soft on Islamic extremists. In New Zealand the human rights industry is up in arms trying to ensure Zaoui stays in NZ. Bizarre. I think it unlikely that there would be the same reaction if some American Christian fundamentalist was trying to enter the country illegally.

Hardly. We who oppose the government's treatment of Zaoui don't do it because of who he is or what he believes; we do it because of who we are and what we believe - namely, that imprisonment without trial on secret evidence cannot be countenanced and should be opposed, no matter who it is done to. Algerian or American, Christian or Muslim, no-one should be treated like that.

As for going "soft" on Islamic extremists, one of the basic tenets of liberalism is tolerance. Thus, we can not oppose people living amongst us simply because we do not like the way they think - that would make us no different from the extremists. As I've argued in the case of David Irving, the proper way to fight extremist memes is in the marketplace of ideas. If Zaoui wins his freedom and then attempts to establish a fundamentalist Islamic party in New Zealand, I will be raising my voice against him, just as I will be raising my voice against the National Front in Wellington next Saturday.