Monday, July 18, 2005


Osama's Book Club - not as big as Oprah's, but a lot more dangerous:
New South Wales law enforcement agencies could not take action against people selling books endorsed by Osama Bin Laden because they did not appear to have broken any law, the State Government says.

A Sydney shop, The Islamic Bookstore at Lakemba, is selling books endorsed by the al-Qaeda terrorist leader which discuss the effectiveness of suicide bombings and attack Western civilisation as "the culture of oppression, the culture of injustice, the culture of racism", News Ltd papers report.

British police have shut down an extremist bookshop in Leeds after the July 7 terrorist attacks on the London Underground and a bus.

A spokesman for NSW Attorney-General Bob Debus today said the state had laws against racial vilification and incitement to violence.

But on the face of it, the content of the books did not appear to constitute racial vilification or incitement to violence, he said.

"For incitement to occur, violence has to actually take place (as a result of publishing the material)," the spokesman said.

"If the literature is found to contain racial vilification then the laws are there to prosecute.

"If any information or literature results in a violent act that can be proven, then we have laws to prosecute under incitement to violence."
All this brings up some interesting discussion points about freedom of speech, tolerance, multiculturalism, and limits thereof.

1) long, long time ago, these sorts of issues would have been covered under the concept of sedition, that is incitement against the legitimate authority. Since then, sedition went out of vogue, having been associated in the popular mind with reactionary regimes (despite the fact that sedition laws were among the earliest legislation of the American republic). However, the controversy never quite went away, as throughout the twentieth century Western democracies still had to find appropriate ways to deal with fascist and communist enemies within who advocated the violent overthrown of the democratic system of government.

2) not all supporters of a world-wide Caliphate think this should be achieved through violent means (Al Qaeda does, Britain's Hizb ut-Tahrir ostensibly doesn't), although it's difficult to see how, short of Allah's divine intervention, countries like the United States or Australia would ever self-Talibanize peacefully.

3) books attacking Western civilisation as "the culture of oppression, the culture of injustice, the culture of racism" make the Islamic Bookstore sound just like any other normal bookshop which stocks up on works of Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and myriad other left-wingers. In the past, the far-left and the far-right would almost touch on the political spectrum horseshoe; now the far-left almost touches Islamofascism.

4) have there ever been cases of Islamic radical being successfully prosecuted under the anti-vilification laws?


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