So you're a German professor of Theology. And after years of study, you come up with a theory that Jesus never existed. What happens? Do you get shunned by your employer? Do the police give you warnings about your safety?
Actually they do, if you're a German convert to Islam who has questioned the existence of Mohammad. EUroweenie irony alert:
When Prof. Kalisch took up his theology chair four years ago, he was seen as proof that modern Western scholarship and Islamic ways can mingle -- and counter the influence of radical preachers in Germany. He was put in charge of a new program at Münster, one of Germany's oldest and most respected universities, to train teachers in state schools to teach Muslim pupils about their faith.
Muslim leaders cheered and joined an advisory board at his Center for Religious Studies. Politicians hailed the appointment as a sign of Germany's readiness to absorb some three million Muslims into mainstream society. But, says Andreas Pinkwart, a minister responsible for higher education in this north German region, "the results are disappointing."
The results are disappointing? That a German professor engaged in academic pursuits? And earlier in the piece:
"We had no idea he would have ideas like this," says Thomas Bauer, a fellow academic at Münster University who sat on a committee that appointed Prof. Kalisch. "I'm a more orthodox Muslim than he is, and I'm not a Muslim."
I guess they would have been OK if he had ideas like stoning 13 year old rape victims to death while they plead for mercy. If only he had postulated that George Bush was responsible for 9-11, that Jesus was a Vegan or that Queen Victoria was a lesbian.
The stalwart Europeans rally to the man's defense. Well, one of them actually did. However apparently the professor enjoys the same protections as the Danish cartoonists. The craven sandal licking is in full-swing.
German academics split. Michael Marx, a Quran scholar at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, warned that Prof. Kalisch's views would discredit German scholarship and make it difficult for German scholars to work in Muslim lands. But Ursula Spuler-Stegemann, an Islamic studies scholar at the University of Marburg, set up a Web site called solidaritymuhammadkalisch.com and started an online petition of support.
Alarmed that a pioneering effort at Muslim outreach was only stoking antagonism, Münster University decided to douse the flames. Prof. Kalisch was told he could keep his professorship but must stop teaching Islam to future school teachers.
It's not important if the Quran really says he's an apostate. What is important is that a significant minority of Muslims believe this position makes him an apostate - a crime for which there can only be one punishment. This man can live the rest of his life as a Salman Rushdie-like exhile, or he can live freely, like Theo Van Gogh did. Until he was murdered by a Mohammad who really did exist.
This man is a year younger than me. I'll bet he's in far better shape than I am. But I'll bet there isn't an actuary on the planet who thinks he'll live longer than me.
Sign the petition... not that it matters to the jihadis... But maybe they will read it at his funeral and his university and government can be reminded how badly they handled this.
I hope I'm wrong, but experience indicates otherwise.