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THE NOTE

Fear of freedom

Claiming that modern, secular states are lacking in values is deeply perverse

We have a problem and, at the end of the day, it is but the fear of freedom itself. I once heard a radical imam in a Nordic country state that “the West’s lack of values” explains the infatuation of some European youngsters with Islamism. Lack of values? Claiming that modern, secular states are lacking in values is deeply perverse. Life might be easier when an almighty God determines the way you are supposed to behave, with laws set in stone that dictate your role in society and within the family, even if messianic Salafism presents you with a “heroic opportunity” to leave behind your daily drudgery. In particular, it is more convenient to live by an ironclad doctrine such as Salafism if you are a man; more so if seven virgins await in paradise.

The value of our society lies precisely in the fact that it faces the freedom of the dissenters in a democratic, civic, deliberately inclusive manner. This is a society where highly diverse communities —in terms of their moral, ideology and religion— are allowed to live without having their specificity choked. To claim that our society has no values is tantamount to justifying intransigence and, ultimately, violence. Democracy is our fundamental value, which also means standing up for diversity, human rights and equality. We must collectively defend the social rules we live by, as it is our lives that are at stake. Sometimes literally.

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