Want to buy a Koran at UNL?

Good luck.

Daily Nebraskan – Muslim students buy out Qurans in protest
Religious sensitivity made its way into the classroom early this semester for University of Nebraska-Lincoln students in an Introduction to Islam class.
When Michael Huston went to the bookstore to buy a copy of the Quran for the class last month, he learned it was sold out. However, it wasn’t bought out by students from the class.
Huston. a senior art major, learned that a few students from the Pakistan Students Association had bought all the books because they didn’t want non-muslim students to accidently deface the Quran.
“It seems more like a protest in general to get people aware of their stance,” Huston said about PSA students’ sensitivity to the Quran’s usage. “It’s kind of bizarre that they would go to that extent.”
Summayia Khan, president of the Pakistan Students Association, declined to comment.
Misuse or defacement of the Quran, which is highly respected within the Muslim faith, can be considered blasphemy.
“The concern from the Pakistan Students Association over whether it was appropriate for non-muslims to use the Quran was resolved in a pleasant, collegial conversation between the instructor of the class, the president of the Pakistan Student Association and myself,” said Sidnie Crawford, chairwoman of the classics and religious studies department at UNL.

Of course, the Pakistan Students Association has a right to protest against non-Muslims handling the Quaran, and they did so peacefully and in a way that brought some coin to the university bookstore. Still, this hardly demonstrates a respect (or even tolerance) for liberty, as their actions were specifically aimed at limiting the ability of those not in their religion from reading their religious texts.

Of all the trials that students in the Pakistan Students Association have gone through, joining the Scientologists in hiding their beliefs from others is perhaps the dumbest.

Props to Obama on Security

Barack Obama is doing a fine job securing our country, and our world.

He successfully ignored calls from right-wing hawks for a “defense stimulus.” Some thinkers associated wanted us to spend billions building weapons systems that are only of much use in attacking the People’s Liberation Army. Why we would want to start (or even accelerate) an arms race with our partner in economic recovery is strange, especially considering how the sole point of contention between the United States and the People’s Republic, the issue of Taiwan, is going away.

In America, striking signs of this are talk of a formal ‘truce’ between the KMT and the Communist Party, as well as the resumption of direct flights between Taiwan and the mainland, and even cooperation between the National Palace Museum (台北) and the Palace Museum (北京).

For me, the most striking example was this last summer, when the Chairman of the KMT visitied the Chairman of the Communist Party in Beijing. My grandfather-in-law, a former officer in KMT who followed his general in defecting to the Communist Party during the Civil War, express his surprise at the shocking meeting

“Impossible! How can the heads of the KMT and the Communists meet together?”

(The last such meeting between the KMT and the Communists was not as friendly.)

The best the rightwing netroots can come up with is spinning Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to China as a ‘diss’.

Obama also deserves props to recognizing the Middle East is changing, as well. Again standing up to the right netroots, Obama is waiving some sanctions against Syria in an attempt to build relations between our countries.

Obama has made serious misteps, form the new Buy American law to inexplicably stabbing General Zinni in the back. But so far, from appointing Clinton as SecState, Gates as SecDef, ignoring calls for a defense stimulus, and trying to warm relations with Syria, he’s getting the major decisiosn right.

Islamists, Europeans, and Free Speech

Last year, Network Solutions (a hosting company that caused Chet trouble on an unrelated problem) yanked the website of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, who produced a movie entitled “Fitnah” to protest the murder of the director of the movie “Submission” Both “Fitna” and “Submission” focus on perceived mistreatment of women in Islam.

Britain yesterday decided that avoiding another terrorist strike was more important that free speech or even Continental Unity (as Mr. Wilders is a Parliamentarian in a fellow EU member state). Wilders’ response is typical of his bravery and showmanship:

“I’ll see what happens at the border,” Geert Wilders told Radio Netherlands on Wednesday. “Let them put me in handcuffs.”

The right-wing lawmaker was invited by a member of Parliament to show his anti-Islam movie “Fitna,” which calls the Koran a “fascist” book and accuses Islam of being a violent religion. He was told by the British Embassy in a letter Tuesday that he could not set foot in the country.

Previous attempts to show the film, in the real world and online, have been met with death threats and self-censorship. In the U.K., making the film is cause for expulsion from the country.

My hat off to Mr. Wilders, and other defenders of intellectual freedom everywhere.

Update: Geert Wilders has been denied entry at Heathrow Airport, and was then detained.

Update 2: More on the retreat of free-speech in Europe, from The Economist.