Saturday, May 21, 2005

Stay the Course

Don't let Newsweek finger-pointing obscure the central question. Writing in Friday's Opinion Journal, Ali al-Ahmed -- director of the Saudi Institute in Washington -- explains:
As a Muslim, I am able to purchase copies of the Quran in any bookstore in any American city, and study its contents in countless American universities. American museums spend millions to exhibit and celebrate Muslim arts and heritage. On the other hand, my Christian and other non-Muslim brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia--where I come from--are not even allowed to own a copy of their holy books. Indeed, the Saudi government desecrates and burns Bibles that its security forces confiscate at immigration points into the kingdom or during raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately. . .

As Muslims, we have not been as generous as our Christian and Jewish counterparts in respecting others' holy books and religious symbols. Saudi Arabia bans the importation or the display of crosses, Stars of David or any other religious symbols not approved by the Wahhabi establishment. TV programs that show Christian clergymen, crosses or Stars of David are censored. . .

The lesson here is simple: If Muslims wish other religions to respect their beliefs and their Holy book, they should lead by example.
(via GOP Bloggers)


Jeff Jacoby in the May 19th Boston Globe:
Christians, Jews, and Buddhists don't lash out in homicidal rage when their religion is insulted. They don't call for holy war and riot in the streets. It would be unthinkable for a mainstream priest, rabbi, or lama to demand that a blasphemer be slain. But when Reuters reported what Mohammad Hanif, the imam of a Muslim seminary in Pakistan, said about the alleged Koran-flushers -- ''They should be hung. They should be killed in public so that no one can dare to insult Islam and its sacred symbols" -- was any reader surprised?

The Muslim riots should have been met by outrage and condemnation. From every part of the civilized world should have come denunciations of those who would react to the supposed destruction of a book with brutal threats and the slaughter of 17 innocent people. But the chorus of condemnation was directed not at the killers and the fanatics who incited them, but at Newsweek. . .

[W]hat disgraces Islam above all is the vast majority of the planet's Muslims saying nothing and doing nothing about the jihadist cancer eating away at their religion. It is Free Muslims Against Terrorism, a pro-democracy organization, calling on Muslims and Middle Easterners to ''converge on our nation's capital for a rally against terrorism" -- and having only 50 people show up.

Yes, Islam is disrespected. That will only change when throngs of passionate Muslims show up for rallies against terrorism, and when rabble-rousers trying to gin up a riot over a defiled Koran can't get the time of day.
(via Pedro)

Still More:

Foreign Policy magazine Editor in Chief Moisés Naím confirms it's government, not ancestry:
People of Arab descent living in the United States are doing far better than the average American. That is the surprising conclusion drawn from data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2000 and released last March. The census found that U.S. residents who report having Arab ancestors are better educated and wealthier than average Americans. . .

That immigrants do better than their compatriots back home is of course no surprise. What is far less common is for immigrants to perform that much better than the average population of their adopted home. This fact should prompt important debates that transcend how Arab immigrants are faring in the United States. . .

[H]ow does one explain why Arab immigrants in Europe are worse off than those in the United States? Why are leaders of Arab communities in France warning that social and racial tensions are in danger of creating a “social and political atom bomb”? Sure, France may be an extreme case, but the situation of Arabs in the rest of Europe is hardly better. In general, Muslims living in Europe—of which Arabs constitute a significant proportion—are poorer, less educated, and in worse health than the rest of the population. In the Netherlands, the unemployment rate for ethnic Moroccans is 22 percent, roughly four times the rate for the country as a whole. In Britain, the Muslim population has the highest unemployment rate of all religious groups. The failure of Arabs in Europe is particularly worrisome given that 10 of the states or entities along Europe’s eastern and southern borders are home to nearly 250 million Muslims—most of them Arabs—with a birthrate more than double that of Europeans.

This census data should prompt soul-searching in many quarters. Cultural determinists may want to revise their theories of Arab backwardness. Arab leaders should be ashamed when they see their emigrants prospering in the United States while their own people are miserable. And Europe should wake up to the possibility that it may have less of an “Arab problem” than a “European problem.” Then again, maybe the cultural determinists have an explanation for why Europeans are so predisposed against Arab success.
(via Instapundit)


MaxedOutMama said...

He has an excellent point, and I am glad he took the trouble to make it. Yet the point for these societies that don't have our freedoms is that they will never hear it.

It's not that Islam is incompatible with democracy; it's that no religion is compatible with totalitarianism.

Zulfiqar Ali Butt said...

You are right about Quran about its open availablity in the USA..
I want to tell you, that an old woman of the family I am staying with
in USA presented me a copy of the Holy Quran, when I came to USA
in 2003.
Many of the people here, I have witnessed, have the utmost
respect about us Muslims. Some don't but it is because they have
limited knowledge about Islam. We should do a lot in this respect.
Christian friends here are surprised when they come to
know that we Muslims believe in Bible, Jesus as prophed of God, that
he was born to virgin Mary with God's command, that he is alive and
is still to come to deliver us from the evil. We are a step ahead of
our Christian friends only.
So, many of us will be doing great service to Islam if we contribute by
enlightening non-Muslims about what Islam really is.
Please keep your effort up. I have your blog address and I keep on
reading your contributions. yours,
. Zulfiqar Ali Butt.

@nooil4pacifists said...


I think your comment very wise. No one I know in America hates Islam--though plenty hate radical Islamic terror. Relatively few know Islam. I hadn't read the Koran until after 9/11 (when I thought I should try and better understand the issues). So I'm aware of the role of the Bible (and Jesus) in Muslim thought.

It is true that the Koran gives Christians and Jews ("people of the Book") special consideration:

3:84: Say: "We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam)."

9:29: "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

5:51: O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.

But compulsory and discriminatory taxation, aloofness, plus enforcing feeling "subdued" fall well short of liberty and of, for example, the freedom enjoyed by Muslims in America. Where the West started dis-entangling worship from statecraft as far back as 1648, the Koran recognizes no distinction between Islam the religion and Muslim nation state governance. The West no longer struggles against the Islamic world, yet many Muslims still "divide[] the world into two spheres, known as the Dar al-Islam--the "house of Islam" or "house of submission" to God--and the Dar al-Harb, or "house of war"--those who are at war with God.

The foregoing led me to conclude that peace between the West and followers of radical Islam can come only after Islam undergoes something like the Protestant reformation, a "Martin al-Luther" who can distinguish between state and mosque. Islam is not our enemy. But the West must fight Muslims who can't tolerate the existence of governments outside of Islam and not adhering to Shari`ah law.

In your view, can a more moderate Islam emerge? Can Muslims distinguish between civil and religious order despite the Koran's (apparent) insistence? Will change come from within the Islamic world or from the West? And finally, will change come before the current conflict intensifies?