I will post the full letter here and the list of signatories. You can read their bios on the newspaper's site. As you read this, insert the name of almost any of the major religions - most particularly Christianity in its extreme forms - and see if the same criticisms cannot righteously be applied the them as well:
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.
The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.
Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.
We reject « cultural relativism », which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.
We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.
We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
I have absolutely no problem with securalism or with a call for seperation of church and state. A call for equality and basic human rights is what concerns me each and every day. I believe religious interference and influence in political affairs has caused tremendous damage and has destroyed many lives. However, to target only one religion, when many others promote exactly the same type of religious practices and at a time when radical Islamists have so polluted the religion of Islam by their actions and deeds, is reckless and dangerous.
I label it dangerous, not because of what the reaction of radicals might be, but because this proclamation serves to distort what is already unclear to many in the west: the true aims of Islam as a religion. And, as much as anyone may abhor the fact that some of those tenets promote societal inequality, the fact is that Islamic states have a right to exist.
We are all quite free in the west to disagree with the tenets of any religion, but to equate Isalm with "Fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism" does nothing but set back what little progress has been made in recent years to urge the uneducated to practice tolerance and compassion of others beliefs. It inflames hatred and incites its own form of totalitarianism: the outright rejection of a religion with billions of followers who have the right to choose what they believe and how they conduct their lives.
Is one form of totalitarianism better than the other? Does anyone in the United States believe they don't actually live in a dictatorial state with a president who chooses which laws he will follow and which he dismisses with the stroke of a pen? The US is a secular country yet its president endorses torture, imprisons foreigners without any form of legal recognition indefinitely, sends innocents to be tortured in other countries in the middle of the night, imposes imperial spying powers with no checks and balances on its citizens, suspends constitutional rights on a whim, engages in a war whose basis is founded on lies, opts out of international treaties in order to protect its capitalistic and hegemonic interests, decides which countries in the world can possess weapons of defense and which are left defenseless, bribes other governments into accepting so-called American values and "democracy" and sets itself up as this century's imperial conqueror. That is secularism in the United States at this moment.
Is secularism such a high and mighty standard to defend that it must issue manifestos against religions which it labels as beneath its glorious philosophy?
When any group of people stand behind a belief and proclaim it to be an example of the best form of human behaviour, refusing to admit its tremendous failures and inequalities itself, it can only be labeled as one thing: hypocritical.
And, that's exactly what this manifesto is. Pure hypocrisy. Secularism, as a theory, has lofty and worthy goals. As it is currently practiced in the modern day, however, you'd be hard-pressed to find any country where those ideals are fully realized. And that is not the fault of any religion. It is the fault of societies to practice tolerance and compassion. This letter only serves to set that cause on a backwards course once again - leaving the beloved idea of true secularism just a dream. This manifesto will not strengthen the call for secularism. It will only further divide a fearful and distrustful world that is sorely in need of healing and understanding.
The fight for equal and civil rights must move forward. This is not the way to do it.