APRIL 3, 2006. The following statement was published on March 1, 2006 in the French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo by a group of 12 writers and public intellectuals, including Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreem, and Irshad Manji:
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global totalitarian threat: Islamism.
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.
Recent events, prompted by the publication of drawings of Muhammad in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values.
This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field.
It is not a clash of civilizations or an antagonism between West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.
Like all totalitarian ideologies, Islamism is nurtured by fear and frustration.
Preachers of hatred play on these feelings to build the forces with which they can impose a world where liberty is crushed and inequality reigns.
But we say this, loud and clear: nothing, not even despair, justifies choosing obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred.
Islamism is a reactionary ideology that kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present.
Its victory can only lead to a world of injustice and domination: men over women, fundamentalists over others.
To counter this, we must ensure access to universal rights for the oppressed or those discriminated against.
We reject the "cultural relativism" which implies an acceptance that men and women of Muslim culture are deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secularism in the name of the respect for certain cultures and traditions.
We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia," a wretched concept that confuses criticism of Islam as a religion and stigmatization of those who believe in it.
We defend the universality of the freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit can be exercised in every continent, with regard to each and every abuse and dogma.
We appeal to democrats and independent spirits in every country that our century may be one of enlightenment and not obscurantism.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Somali-born Dutch Member of Parliament. Campaigner against women's genital mutilation. Writer of "Submission," a film about women's oppression under fundamentalist Islam. Lives under police protection since the assassination of cowriter and filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in 2004.
Iranian sociologist and writer exiled in France. Books include "The New Islamist Man: Political Prison in Iran" (2002).
French writer. Editor of the magazine Prochoix, which defends civil liberties and human rights against all dogmatic and fundamentalist ideologies. Latest book: "The Obscurantist Temptation" (2005).
French philosopher. Most recent book: "American Vertigo" (2005)
Born a Shia Muslim in Uganda, the Canadian lesbian writer is the author of "The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith." Under constant death threats, she has been forced to install bulletproof glass in her apartment windows.
Iranian scholar exiled in Denmark. His work on Islam and Islamism include "Authority in Islam: From Muhammad to Khomeini," "Fatwa: Violence and Discourtesy," and "Globalization and Civilizations." Target of numerous death threats.
Iranian writer exiled in Britain. Campaigner for rights of women in Muslim nations. She has received many death threats.
Exiled Bangladeshi writer and M.D. A fatwa has been issued ordering her execution as a result of her defense of women and minorities in her country.
Indian-born British writer. Author of nine novels, including the recent "Shalimar the Clown." His work has been translated into more than 40 languages. Recipient of many major literary prizes. President of the PEN American Center. A fatwa ordering his execution for his novel, "The Satanic Verses," was issued in 1989 and reaffirmed in 2005.
Lebanese-born French editor of scholarly magazine about Middle East. Author of several books on Islamism.
Editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, leftwing French satirical weekly that republished the Muhammad cartoons in solidarity with Danish cartoonists targeted by Islamists.
Born in India. Educated in Pakistani Koranic schools, and later in England. Currently lives in the United States. Author of "Why I am Not a Muslim." Editor of "The Origins of the Koran" and "The Quest for the Historical Muhammad." Ibn Warraq is a pseudonym.