Douglas Murray has a new fan in manicstreetpreacher.
I concluded my review of the Hitchens/ Fry debate on whether the Catholic Church was a force for good in the world by ever-so-slightly lamenting that they went after too a soft target and suggested that next time they should debate the same motion in respect of Islam.
I am pleased to report that I have had my wish granted in a manner of speaking and now post the edited highlights of a debate hosted by Intelligence Squared in association with BBC World News and the British Council: “Europe is failing its Muslims?” that took place at Cadogen Hall, London on 23 February 2010.
Speaking for the motion
Petra Stienen, former Dutch diplomat who worked for more than ten years in the Arab world in the field of development cooperation, human rights, refugees and migration; currently works as a Senior Advisor in Social Development for BMC management consultancy.
Speaking against the motion
Flemming Rose, editor of Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published the notorious cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Mohammed.
Zeinab Badawi, television and radio presenter.
The iTunes podcast can be downloaded here. The YouTube videos begin below.
While the spectacle does not compare to Fry or Hitch in the oratory stakes, this is still a very entertaining and heated debate. I hope Intelligence Squared release the full tape sooner rather than later. For now, we’ll to make do with the full 1 hour 45 minute transcript which contains some very amusing exchanges.
The subtitle to this post may have given it away, but the standout in the debate was most definitely Douglas Murray. The man generates as much vitriol as praise and on this showing it’s not difficult to see why. His red-raw, no-holds-barred criticism of the core of Islam was as daring as anything by Sam Harris or Christopher Hitchens. While he attracted boos and whistles from the Muslim audience members, the fact that the vote went his way after being slightly down in the initial vote shows that outspoken commentators like Murray say what many people think privately but are too afraid of offending religious sensibilities to make it known.
Murray’s write-up of the debate on his Telegraph blog says it all:
The fact that Flemming was my number two wasn’t publicised in the run-up to the debate because of the security threat around him. Just last October two men were arrested in Chicago for another alleged plot to murder him. And on the first day of this year an axe-wielding Somali Muslim broke into one of the cartoonist’s houses and attempted to decapitate him. So there were more police than usual and Flemming and I had more burly security men than we usually would for a discussion.
In a way this proved a lot of the argument that Flemming and I were making…
[O]ne of the most striking aspects of the evening was that the Muslims who turned out en masse, rallied by certain organisations, let themselves down appallingly. Continually cat-calling, jeering and hissing. They made a very bad impression.
What was most striking of all however was the level of complete denial. I pointed out that the reason Europeans often associate Islam with violence (as Ramadan complained) is that Islam is often associated with violence. I pointed out that it wasn’t Sikhs or Buddhists who flew the planes into the twin towers. This was welcomed by an extraordinary level of anger. I don’t know, maybe some of them thought it was Jews who did it.
A number of headscarf-covered women stood up to criticise what I had said about Islam’s despicable record on women’s rights and tried to claim that the Koran and Islam are just great for them. Levels of denial like this bode very ill.
The reason so many Muslims like to blame Western societies for all the ills of the world is that it means they never have to engage in self-criticism or even self-analysis. The result is that what problems do exist will not be dealt with. No good can ever come from lies, and as last night’s debate showed, a lot of young British Muslims are living lives based on the most deadly concoction of self-pity, wilful blindness and outright delusion.
Feel free to spare us of our delusions with more like this, Douglas.
UPDATE 10 MARCH 2010
Click here for further comment and reaction to the debate.
Tags: atheism, BBC World News, British Council, caricature, Centre for Social Cohesion, christopher hitchens, Danish cartoons, debate, Douglas Murray, Europe Is Failing Its Muslims, Flemming Rose, Intelligence Squared, islam, Jyllands-Posten, mohammed, neo conservatism, Petra Stienen, Prophet, Religion, sam harris, Tariq Ramadan, think tank