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Jewish World Review Nov. 27, 2002 / 22 Kislev, 5763

Robert W. Tracinski

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The craven appeasement of Islam by the West | Beauty pageants are not usually events fraught with geopolitical significance. But then again, they are not usually held in the middle of a battleground in the war between Islam and the West.

The collapse of the Miss World pageant in Nigeria is an important case study in the menace posed by Islamic fundamentalism -- and the craven appeasement of Islam by the West.

Earlier this month, beauty queens from around the world arrived in Nigeria for pre-event photo shoots. Some contestants threatened a boycott because majority-Muslim states in northern Nigeria had sentenced a woman to death by stoning for the crime of adultery. But most relented after Nigeria's central government offered a dubious assurance that the sentence would not be carried out.

Following the practice of most governments in the face of Islamic bullying, Nigeria's leaders also made a concession to the other side, delaying the pageant until after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This was not enough to mollify Muslim leaders, who preach that the beauty of the female body is sinful and thus denounced the event as "a parade of nudity."

On Nov. 16, the Nigerian newspaper ThisDay published an article that dared to opine that Mohammed himself would have approved of the pageant.

There followed a week of rioting by Nigerian Muslims. Two hundred people have been killed, and the newspaper's offices were burned. But rather than cracking down on the rioters -- and the clerics who incite them -- the government cracked down on the newspaper. The editor of the offending edition was arrested, and the article's author, Isioma Daniel, has gone into hiding. The deputy governor of one of Nigeria's northern states declared: "Just like the blasphemous Indian writer Salman Rushdie, the blood of Isioma Daniel can be shed."

Yet even as they fled Nigeria, Miss World organizers refused to denounce their attackers. The event's director, Guy Murray-Bruce, declared that "the international press has highlighted a little incident of some rioting way out of all proportion," while Julia Morley, head of the Miss World Organization, went so far as to blame the press for causing the riots -- as if murderous fanaticism wouldn't exist if the press didn't report it.

Northern Nigeria is the front line of an advancing wave of Islamic influence. It is a culture in which any "offense against Islam" -- any contradiction of the dogmas taught by the clerics -- is punished by rioting, vandalism and murder. If Islam is "a religion of peace," as we are constantly told by politicians and professors, then why is Islam accompanied by force and terror everywhere it predominates?

But the most revealing element of this Islamic attack was a slogan chanted by rioters: "Down with Beauty." This is the key to the whole outlook of Islam: an attack on any enjoyment of life in this world, even the aesthetic enjoyment of contemplating beauty. If you want young men to die for Allah -- the explicit goal of the fanatics -- then you can't let them catch even a glimpse of the values they are leaving behind.

Western religions also have fanatical sects with similar beliefs. But organized religion in the West has been forced to relinquish the power of the sword. Here, those who murder in the name of religion -- like the anti-abortionist James Kopp -- are captured and punished, not elected to high office.

But the dyke of Western secularism is beginning to crack. After the riots, ThisDay published a stream of whining apologies, declaring that "our ethos was not to be offensive to any religion or to denigrate the cultural and religious values of our people" and describing how they "reached out to religious and community leaders" to apologize. This is easily recognized as language learned from the "multiculturalist" and "diversity" movements in the West.

The left is still viewed as a defender of free speech, but what they are really teaching, in their condemnation of any offense to "other cultures," is cowardice in the face of threats from primitive brutes. It is the same suicidal policy urged by the left's "anti-war" movement, which demands that we search our souls to ruminate on what we have done to offend the Islamic world, instead of defending ourselves against its threats.

It may be too late for Nigeria, which is set to return to chaos, military rule and civil war. But it is not too late for the West to recognize the nature of the enemy and to discover the courage to pass judgment against it.

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