The following report on the incident, is by regular Tundra Tabloids contributor, fellow blogger and good friend, Vasarahammer.
Dogs, Islam and political correctness
Koiramme magazine (Our Dogs) published an article last October titled ”Dog is an outcast in Islamic world”. There should not be anything remarkable, when a magazine published by Finnish Kennel Club (Suomen Kennelliitto) produces an article telling its readers about the people’s attitude towards dogs in various parts of the world. However, in today’s politically correct West telling the truth about the doctrinal basis behind Islamic aversion of dogs can be regarded as a courageous act.
In terms of circulation Koiramme magazine is hardly a marginal publication. It has a circulation of around 310 000 (2010). In comparison, the largest daily newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, had a circulation of 383 000 in the same year. The high circulation can be explained by the fact that Koiramme magazine is distributed to every member of Finnish Kennel Club.
The article explains clearly why the question of Islam and dogs is relevant today. More and more immigrants are arriving to the West and the Muslim hostility towards dogs has already caused problems in Europe, particularly in the UK, in which dogs have traditionally played a large part in human life and which has also received a lot of Muslim immigration. Currently, Islam is the second largest religion in the country with 2,8 million adherents.
The Quran does not mention dogs but only gives guidelines for treatment of animals in general. Instead, the Islamic rules related to dogs can be found in hadith collections. The article in Koiramme magazine carefully explains both the taboos and the doctrinal basis of these one by one. Dogs are ritually unclean, a passing dog nullifies a Muslim prayer and dogs cannot live inside a Muslim household but must remain outside or in a separate living space or otherwise angels won’t visit the house.
The Muslims can use dogs for hunting, herding and guarding a farm house. But it is forbidden to have dog as a pet and to sell and receive payment for a dog. The fact that receiving payment for a dog is considered as sinful in Islam as paying for prostitution is, however, not mentioned. In addition, the special aversion of black dogs is not mentioned. The messenger of Allah said according to Sahih Muslim that the black dog is a devil.
After covering the Islamic doctrines the article proceeds to describe the practical problems the Islamic aversion of dogs causes in the Western world. The dogs are still widely used by authorities to detect drugs and explosives in airports, harbours and prisons. Koiramme magazine reminds the readers of the seriousness of the problem:
”The dog problem has received less coverage in the media than the French law that prohibits the wearing of the burqa or niqab – the full facial veil – in public places. However, that is only a superficial issue, while the aversion of dogs causes real problems to the indigenous population.”
The article goes on to provide examples. A Muslim suspect or inmate may refuse a dog sniffing him in search of drugs. The linen has to be changed if a sniffer dog has been used for searching drugs in a prison cell inhabited by a Muslim inmate.
People travelling with their pet dogs in the public transportation system have also experienced problems. For example, A London woman named Judith Woods was denied entry to a London bus when she was travelling with her Manchester Terrier. In the first case, there was a Muslim woman travelling in the bus and having a dog inside would offend her sensibilities. When Ms. Woods tried to board the second bus, the Muslim driver refused her entry.
Then there are the blind who actually need their guide dog to survive the daily life. There have been several documented cases, in which blind people have been refused entry to a bus or a taxi because of the driver’s Islamic beliefs.
All in all, the article was well researched by journalistic standards and provided useful practical information to the dog owners about Islamic attitude towards dogs. It could have been harsher than it was and told about the fact that all the rules related to dogs can be traced back to the sayings and doings of Islamic prophet Muhammad. And it is because of Muhammad’s stature as a ”perfect man” and excellent example of conduct these irrational, superstitious and downright cruel beliefs continue to live on and cannot easily be challenged by Muslims without straying from the ”right path” and being guilty of apostasy. Had the magazine done that, it would probably face charges of incitement of ethnic hatred in court.
Even though the article was by no means extreme, it provoked a response from the multicultural establishment. In a rebuttal signed by several different organizations including Ihmisoikeusliitto (Human Rights Union), Finnish Islamic Council and the Finnish Red Cross campaign Say No to Racism, the usual suspects repeated the usual politically correct platitudes and, at the same time, failed to present any factual error in the original article.
The rebuttal accuses the article of factual errors without providing any examples. Koiramme magazine is not an X rated publication but is also read by children. This fact is exploited in the rebuttal:
”[the article] contains a one-sided interpretation of Islam as a religion and Muslims as its adherents containing factual errors.”
”In our opinion, it is specifically problematic that the magazine is also read by the young and the children, who sometimes may have difficulties in viewing the content of the article in a critical light.”
In addition, the article did not adequately promote diversity and inter cultural understanding:
”The article describes the Western world and Islam in confrontation in a way that strengthens the negative stereotypes about Islam and presents the Western world as culturally more civilized. This type of confrontation is an example of culturally racist generalization and may, at worst, create an unnecessarily false image of Islam as an extreme and violent religion.”
The rebuttal also claims that the article concentrates on individual cases in England but fails to provide concrete examples from Finland. This is not accurate, since the article first provides the historical background and doctrinal basis for the Islamic attitude towards dogs and then lists the examples.
In the Finnish discussion about Islam the historical Muslim Tatar minority is almost always mentioned. They are mainly used for stifling any criticism of Islam by explaining how well they have adapted to the Finnish society. The things that are not mentioned are the fact that the minority is very small (less than 1000 people) and the fact that there was no politically correct multiculturalism and generous social benefits at the end of 19th century. The actions and behaviour of the more recent immigrants cannot be excused by the existence of largely secularized Muslim Tatar minority. The rebuttal states:
”One must remember that Muslims have permanently lived in Finland since the late 19th century and significant cultural clashes have been avoided during this long period of coexistence.”
In the end, the rebuttal complains that the right experts were not consulted:
”While writing the article, it would have been nice to hear the views of Finnish Muslims, Islamic organizations and scholars of Islam regarding the subject.”
It is easy to imagine what these opinions would have been. Islam is ”diverse” and there are divergent opinions on the issue. Also the Quran tells the Muslim to respect all living beings and not be unnecessarily cruel to them.
On the other hand, the website of the biggest Islamic organization in Finland Helsinki Islam Keskus provides a link to Islam Questions and Answers website. Through this link it is easy to see the islamic view of dogs. By reading those articles it is possible to conclude that the original article in Koiramme magazine did not distort Islamic teachings and did not have significant factual errors. The view provided in the article was factually accurate, but it only failed to gloss over the facts with platitudes about peaceful coexistence, benefits of diversity and the incredibly positive impact of the Islamic culture.
Needless to say, this type of article would never have been published anywhere in the mainstream media. This tells that there are fringes in the media that have not yet been polluted by political correctness and excessive sensitivity to minorities.
The publishers of Koiramme magazine were not prosecuted for inciting hatred or disturbing religious worship. However, there is one story related to freedom of speech in Finland that deserves a mention.
Marko ”Fobba” Forss is a Finnish police officer best know for his work in the internet and social media. He has been selected Policeman of the year in 2011.
A commentator wrote in an immigration critical Hommaforum website in a thread about the Koiramme magazine article:
”A dog is worth less than a human being. I own a dog. It’s an excellent companion, but it still has to be shown his place in the flock. A dog can be compared to muslims: ”If you don’t show them their place, they start causing disturbance and may, at worst, be dangerous to outsiders.”
The content of the statement are roughly the same as expressed in this hilariously funny video also published in Tundratabloids. However, the comment at Hommaforum website prompted the internet cop Forss to act. He contacted the author of the message and told him to remove the posting. Forss had contacted State prosecutor’s office for consultation and received the information that the comment was a borderline case that could lead to prosecution.
The case illustrates how strictly the hate speech laws are enforced in Finland. It also tells us about the possible future direction of hate speech law enforcement. The ”freedom of speech crimes” will no longer be prosecuted in court. Instead, the internet cop will issue a drive-by verdict scaring the hapless commentator or site administrator to remove the comment.
Last but not least, if the widely acclaimed internet cop cannot tell when a comment is criminal without resorting to legal consultation, how can an ordinary internet user be expected to know when he or she steps over the line? The laws concerning hate speech are vague and something tells me that this is intentional.