Having overcome fascism, Nazism and Stalinism, the world is faced by a new totalitarian global menace: Islamism.

We: writers, journalists and intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equality of opportunity and secularism for all.

Recent events following the publication of the cartoons of Mohammed in European newspapers have clearly shown the need to fight for these universal values. This fight will not be won by force of arms, but in the market place of ideas. It is not about a clash of civilizations nor about hostility between East and West, but a global struggle between democracy and theocracy.

Like every totalitarianism, Islamism is fed by fear and frustration. The preachers of hate play on these feelings, building their battalions to create a world opposed to freedom and equality. But we say loud and clear: nothing, not even despair, can justify the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is an ideology that destroys equality, freedom and secularism wherever it appears. Its success can only lead to a world of injustice and domination: of men over women, and of the extremists over all others. To counter this we must fight for universal rights for all: for the oppressed and for those suffering discrimination.

We reject cultural relativism which insists that men and women of Muslim background be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secularism in the name of culture or tradition.

We refuse to renounce our spirit of criticism for fear of being accused of «Islamophobia», an unfortunate term which confuses criticism of Islam with stigmatization of believers.

We appeal for the universality of freedom of expression, so that the critical spirit can flourish on every continent, against every abuse and every dogma.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits in every land to make our century one of enlightenment, not obscurantism.

12 signatures

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Chahla Chafiq

Caroline Fourest

Bernard-Henri Lévy

Irshad Manji

Mehdi Mozaffari

Maryam Namazie

Taslima Nasreen

Salman Rushdie

Antoine Sfeir

Philippe Val

Ibn Warraq