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« Profiles in cowardice: 228 sorry sacks of shivering scum vote ‘no’ on bailout | Main | Outlaw U.S. oil? Nancy Pelosi is doing what? »

September 30, 2008


jj mollo

It's theoretically possible that some dynamic of Islam renders it unsuited to freedom. I'm not sure one way or the other. Christopher Hitchens and Michael Totten have praised the Kurdish Sunnis as being freedom loving and tolerant people. The Sufis are said to be tolerant. I have heard the pre-war French Muslims described in similar terms. But we're talking about minorities here.

Iraqis are showing movement toward democracy, but Turkey and Lebanon are showing movement away. Islamist ideology is hardening many dictatorships and threatening a number of potentially free countries. Can Islamism be dissected from Islam?

Although only a small minority of Muslims are violent and Islamist, a large minority of Muslims worldwide tacitly support the violent ones. Even American Muslims in New York City, interviewed after 9/11, were generally supportive of what had been done because they see America as sinful and anti-Islamic. Most moderate Muslims, at least in America, are unwilling to dispute with the ideologues in any forceful way because they are themselves afraid. Saudi Oil money is being used to buy a way into American mosques, making room for the hardliners in previously reasonable places.

I would love to see clear evidence of counterbalance. I would love to see a strong movement of moderate Muslims. I see instead the increasing encroachment of conservative restrictive practice, of fanatical devotion to Arab customs. I see instead the inability of Muslims to accept the tenets of freedom and equality. For instance, the number of Muslims who accept -- out loud -- that Danish newspapers have the right to publish anything they want is vanishingly small.

So I do wonder whether Islam is separable from Islamism and whether Islam and freedom are ultimately compatible. Freedom is fragile and Islam is not.

Frank Warner

Afghanistan will give the Muslims an example of Sunnis living in democracy. The opening up probably will take 50 years.

Iraq, simultaneously, will show Muslims that majority Shiites can balance freedom and religion, too. Again, the adapting will probably take half a century.

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