I have argued before that calling a belief system a religion and affording it special status is at the core of these issues concerning Islam and western secular values. There are 2 obvious methods of solving this problem and likely many more. I post the article below as an example of how Turkey, the nation with the most draconian pro secularist laws probably anywhere on earth is failing in the face of Islam increment by increment.
One could draw a set of values within which a religion could be legally acceptable. This will result in bloodshed nearly right away. The second and preferable one in my view would be to simply ignore religion altogether. That a speech or an action taken by any individual or group would be weighed at its face value by the laws of the state in which it occurred.
In other words, anyone can make up any religion they want to but it has no legal status whatsoever and actions committed in its name which are antisocial are judged by law with no consideration for the ‘beliefs’ of its perpetrators but by the actions committed alone. This also leads to the importance of treating acts of terrorism as acts of war. As political acts and not as crime and certainly not mitigated because a religious ideology commanded them. If anything, a religious motive for anti social or political acts of violence should make the act an order of magnitude more serious.
This would mean of course that religions which violate most nations hate speech laws (themselves repugnant and should be discarded) would not get a ‘get out of jail’ card merely because they call their version of Mein Kampf a ‘holy’ book.
In essence, I see the only path for western secular democracies to treat religion the way adults treat a child’s clubhouse rules. To be tolerated, to be a source of amusement and to keep a close eye on and the moment those rules violate meaningful aspects of a secular and free democracy to be dissolved and shunned.
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ISTANBUL – AFP
A court Wednesday sentenced an Islamic extremist known as “The Caliph of Cologne” to life in prison in a retrial for undermining Turkey’s secular system, Anatolia news agency reported.
Metin Kaplan, 56, was first sentenced to life imprisonment in June 2005, but the appeals court overturned the ruling five months later on the grounds of procedural deficiencies and inadequate investigation.
At the end of a retrial that took into consideration the appeals ruling, a court in Istanbul handed a fresh life sentence to Kaplan on charges of “plotting to overthrow Turkey’s constitutional system through the use of arms,” the report said.
Kaplan — leader of the Union of Islamic Communities, also known as “Hilafet Devleti” (Caliphate State, in Turkish) — was put on trial here after being expelled from Germany on charges linked to his role as the leader of a group which aspires to set up a state in Turkey based on Islamic law.
Among the charges leveled against him was an alleged 1998 bid to use an explosives-laden plane to blow up the mausoleum in Ankara of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern secularist Turkey.
Kaplan moved to Germany in 1983, where he was granted political asylum in 1992.
He took over the leadership of Hilafet Devleti after the death in 1995 of his father, Cemaleddin Kaplan, a preacher known in Turkey as “The Voice of Darkness” for his ultra-radical Islamist views.
In Germany, Metin Kaplan and his family lived on welfare payments despite official estimates that his organization had earned millions of dollars from donations and property deals.
He was jailed in Germany for four years from 1999 to 2003 for having ordered the killing of a rival during the struggle for his father’s succession as leader of the organization. His organization, which launched hate campaigns against Israel and Turkey, was banned in Germany in 2001 under legislation passed in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States to crack down on Islamist extremists.