I had found myself cast in the role of a hero of free speech. Though personally, as regards freedom, I was rather against.
That’s a quote from Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel “The possibility of an island”. While his books may be subject to all sorts of discord among the literary circles, I’m always impressed by how clairvoyant Houellebecq must be. While in this very passage the issue revolves around freedom of speech in the light of a scandal that brought the wrath of Islamic fundamentalists among European media, in Houellebecq’s earlier book “Platform”, a tourist resort is blown up by Islamic extremists. The interesting thing is that “Platform” came out long before incidents such as the Bali bombings, just as “The possibility of an island” came out way before the whole cartoon controversy.
Speaking of Houellebecq, he’s got quite a history with freedom of expression and the Islamic faith. In 2002 he was sued by four Islamic organisations over remarks about his book “Platform”. Here are a few of Houellebecq quotes about the issue:
In literary terms, the Bible has several authors, some good and some as bad as crap. The Koran has only one author and its overall style is mediocre.
or this one
When you read the Koran, you’re shattered. The Bible at least is beautifully written because the Jews have a heck of a literary talent.
Houellebecq was of course acquitted. Why? Because we’re living in a Western society where enlightened views about myths and fairy tales should not be punished. I think it’s time to make that clear to everyone who’s calling for laws governing what can be said about any religion.