Author Paul Monk wonders why a free speech award is given to someone who neither champions free speech nor denounces the greatest threat to it:
On July 23, Waleed Aly will be presented with the Voltaire Award for free speech from Liberty Victoria. It would be rather charming were he to give a speech on that occasion reflecting on Voltaire’s play Mahomet, which depicted Islam as based on false miracles, personal ambition and ruthless fanaticism.
For some time Aly has been the go-to person for commentary on Islam and avoiding what is widely dubbed “Islamophobia”. It is safe to say he does not share Voltaire’s assessment of Islam.
Yet Voltaire remains a figure for our time, and free speech on the subject of Islam has become extraordinarily problematic. Imagine Mahomet being produced in Paris today!….
What are we afraid of, then? A world in which, from Bangladesh to West Africa, a savage version of Islam is being championed by armed groups; in which the Indonesian Ulama Council has issued fatwas denouncing secularism, pluralism and liberalism as “sipilis” (syphilis); in which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year publicly lionised historic Muslim conquests and called for the reconquest of Europe by Muslim immigration.
All these things cause unease and fear. Should they not?…
In accepting his Voltaire Award, Aly needs to step up and champion freedom of speech in the Muslim world and freedom to criticise Islam itself, including the Prophet — as Voltaire himself did.
In fact, Aly not only refuses to use his free speech to critique Islam-inspired terrorism, but actually attacks Western freedom for Islamist attacks. Here he is blaming freedom for the slaughter of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando by an Islamic State supporter:
Our world is now one that is an increasingly polarised and polarising contest between new frontiers of cosmopolitism on the one hand and quite responsive and symbiotically related frontiers of atavism on the other.
And within that lie all of the political narratives that have sustained us through the 20th century that simply don’t work anymore — narratives like freedom, right, which, you know, expresses its own contradictions in America every time there is a mass shooting…. This freedom just kind of ends up consuming itself in a very strange, dark sort of a way.
For Aly to get a Voltaire award shows how debased and submissive our Left has become.