“Muslim Rage” and the Hypocrisy of the Western Liberal Elite
The western liberal élite has a problem with Muslims, in particular with Muslim Rage, as Newsweek’s cover called it. It reminds me of that priceless, old misogynist quotation from Sigmund Freud: women–what do they want?
What do Muslims want, columnists like Roger Cohen, Bill Keller, and Nicholas Kristof seem to be saying. They want to be part of the modern world yet they import these age-old hatreds that are so–well, primitive and unmodern. Muslims aren’t ready for civilization-primetime.
In his latest column, Cohen takes to calling Islam “fervid and turbulent” compared to its older brother religions, Christianity and Judaism, which are oh so much more mature and stable, apparently.
All of this serves as background related to a provocative Islam-hating film produced and promoted by the Coptic Christian diaspora. No doubt, you’ve heard all you need to about this piece of garbage, so I won’t repeat what you already know.
What non-Muslim westerners can’t fathom is how angry Muslims were in response to this calumny. To an insult, they said, you respond by killing? We don’t do that anymore in modern society. We’re above that sort of blood-letting. We solve our differences civilly through debate and the free exchange of ideas.
As if. The history of all western religions is replete with murderous rampages far more destructive than the riots that swept Libya and 20 other Muslim nations over the past weeks. If you’re a Christian you should know of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and various heresies like the Albigensian Crusade , a sectarian theologically-rooted genocide.
Jews historically, have enjoyed less power to take vengeance on their enemies or heretics within. But Biblical history tells of the extermination of various tribes like the Amalekites, Jebusites and Moabites who stood in the way of Israelite conquest of ancient Palestine. In latter-day Israel, a virulent variant of Judaism known as settlerism engages in acts of violence against Jews and non-Jews alike who question Jewish supremacism in the so-called Jewish state. This Jewish Rage takes the form of violent pogroms, killings, arson, and sexual assaults that are no less primitive than anything we saw in Libya.
By what right does the pot call the kettle black? Why do we allow amnesic liberal journalists like Cohen, Kristof and others to wag their fingers at the “turbulent” Muslims, all the while forgetting that Judaism and Christianity have been roiled by precisely the same schisms and hatreds leading to even deeper levels of violence.
Lest they say: well, that was then this is now. In ancient times, sure humanity pursued ancient hatreds. But today, we’re more civilized. Disagreements can be worked out through civil discourse rather than riots in the streets.
Tell that person to turn back the pages of history only a few decades to Sarajevo in the 1990s when an Orthodox Christian Serbian army besieged a Muslim city (Sarajevo), shelling it unmercifully. Remember an act of genocide called Srebenica in which thousands of Muslim men were slaughtered. Then tell me how much better we resolve our differences in today’s world.
Add to that America’s new-found zeal for finding and making enemies in the Muslim world through Obama’s “kill lists” and faceless drone strikes in many Muslim nations. No one, certainly not Cohen or Kristof noted that the potent combination of American attacks that have killed hundreds of Muslim civilians throughout the Miseast; and an Islamophobic video produced in America, have created a perfect storm of outrage. So no, it’s not just a puerile video, but an unending series of violent assaults by America in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq–with Iran possibly being added to the agenda–that have brought on this latest crisis. And no, it won’t be the last.
So my response to the journalists tut-tutting over Muslim rage is first to look in the mirror. When you understand the rage that burns in every human heart and can acknowledge that all of us are guilty of it, then you may offer a tutorial on tolerance or whatever lesson you wish to teach. Till then, you’re little more than a hypocrite who’s conveniently forgotten the lessons of history.
Let’s return to another bit of Cohen’s condescension. He calls Islam “hypocritical” for:
Deploring attacks on it while often casting scorn on Judaism and Christianity, claiming the mantle of peace while inspiring violence
It seems to me there’s at least as much Islamophobia in the world as there is Muslim intolerance of western religions. As for inspiring violence, well, America far outstrips any Muslim nation in it’s capability for inspiring violence in the Middle East. Whatever legitimate grievance we came to Afghanistan to avenge has been long-since exhausted.
There is another troubling element to this liberal western proffering of advice to the world’s Muslims. What gives them the right? If they offered a balanced critique of the deficiencies of all the major religions, then we might say they’re entitled to include Islam within the scope of their brief. But singling out one religion, one that isn’t even yours smacks of Orientalist cultural condescension.
I feel the same way when non-Jews try to lecture me about what Judaism is or isn’t–usually by way of saying why I’m not a proper Jew. What chutzpah. I, who lived and pondered this religion I’ve born into my whole life–being lectured by someone who doesn’t have the faintest idea about what this religion all about.
There are, it is true, even a few Muslims who’ve taken up the cry of the western liberal elites. We expect to hear such attacks from figures like Salman Rushdie, who provoked Muslims with his portrayal of the Prophet in Satanic Verses and who was demonized in return. There are others like Qanta Ahmed, who wrote a strange op-ed in Haaretz in which she suggested to her Muslim brothers that they would do well to emulate the spirit of humility, repentance and forgiveness represented by the Jewish holiday of Selichot. Somehow, the idea of a Muslim woman recounting High Holiday services spent with her Jewish medical mentor and his family isn’t going to be terribly persuasive to a Muslim audience.
When will someone show me a Jew attending services in a mosque who draws a profound lesson from Muslim faith that is lacking in Judaism? Then, Ahmed’s moralizing would be more welcome inside the Muslim community. It should go without saying that Ahmed is a Templeton Fellow, so designated by the conservative Christian foundation of the same name. She appears to be an ally of Zuhdi Jasser, another conservative Muslim at odds with most of the rest of American Islam. She joined him in testifying to the profoundly Islamophobic King committee that sought to portray American Islam as riddled by jihadism. They both also defended the NYPD for its spying against Muslims. Both have participated in the Muslim-baiting efforts of the Clarion Fund and its triad of anti-Muslim films.
To be clear, I’m no more justifying or excusing the bloodbath that took place in Libya than I am the one in Srebenica or Anatot. They’re all horrifying. They all prove that our respective religions can be hijacked by extremists who represent the worst our religions have to offer the world. But those who offer lessons to others without taking stock of their own failings aren’t suited to be moral avatars.
59 thoughts on ““Muslim Rage” and the Hypocrisy of the Western Liberal Elite – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
Comments are published at the sole discretion of the owner.
The combination of social pressure, religious fervor and politically-based anger can create some very volatile situations. Islam is being insulted in the west every day; people all over the Muslim world know about the Westboro Baptist Church, Gert Wilders, the “Ground Zero Mosque,” and all the other instances of hate aimed at Islam and Muslims. Mix that with a history of US and western imperialism, wars against Muslims and the deaths of civilians, the hypocritical talk of developing democratic governments in the middle east while supporting brutal dictators, and the outrage over the 64 years of oppression of a majority-Muslim people, the Palestinians, and it shapes an anger that is combined with the humiliation of poverty and the inability to control one’s own life, and you get an explosive situation.
Internal stuff gets thrown in as well – rival political groups jostle for an audience, and street thugs also show up to use a protest as a cover to commit crimes such as assault and arson, and in Libya’s case, an extremist group apparently took advantage of the chaos to murder the US Ambassador.
What I found so distasteful about Cohen’s piece was its strong tone of self-righteous orientalist indignation. The ignorant, savage Muslims need to shape up, modernize themselves and start acting and thinking like secular westerners, damn it, or they’ll never enjoy the open-mindedness Americans so obviously have embraced.
Kristof perpetuated the “Salafis are the boogeyman’ myth in utter ignorance of just who was demonstrating in Benghazi that fateful day, and why. Salafis are not a crazed group of religious extremists per se, but Kristof seems to think they are. The eagerness to put the “other” in their place cost him the opportunity to write about Muslims as human beings with legitimate grievances, not merely hordes of raging primitives who should look to the west for “enlightenment.”
This just frustrates me to no end. There is no accurate reporting on Islam and Muslims, on the middle eastern Arab peoples and their world. It is only written about from the perspective of western Jews or Christians who are looking at people in this part of the world as exotic and dangerous animals.
The conflation of the Muslim world into a caricature “sheikh” looking Wahabist is the work of precisely those who have been perpetuating Islamophobia since 1948, whether it be through media influence (Hollywood even) or through political pressure.
Of course, Indonesia, a Muslim country by identification, already has a female leader while we Americans still chauvinistically say “no” to the idea and can only think of, maybe, one or two women to fill the slot confidently anyhow.
No honest Muslim would claim that all of those who subscribe to the religion follow it virtuously. Indeed, the hallmark of a religious corruption is the mixing of politics with any religion doctrine. As soon as politics enters the fray, it’s no longer religion, but politics disguised as religion. Thus, Ahmadinejad, for instance, recently denounced the extremist violence in Libya and Egypt saying it was contrary to Muslim ideals on Piers Morgan.
Islam, by the way, is nothing but a return to an orthodox form of Judaism. Historically, Islam’s prophet had many Hebrew mentors. Indeed, from a perspective that eliminates religion from context entirely, it could be said that the stories of “the patriarchs” appear in the Qu’uran only because they were taught to Muhammed by influential Rabbis. The Qu’uran strictly accepts the “people of the book”; and in Iran, because Zoroastrianism was a religion that wasn’t separate from the national identity, it began to include Zoroastrianism. Judaism has always been revered in Islam.
Zionism is a different story. The conflation of the two is just as bad as the conflation of the Saudi Arabian brute with all other Muslims. By the way, I do have a huge problem with certain forms of Islamic ideology, and to make my complaint I wouldn’t insult anyone with generalizations, I would cite the Qu’uran to shame the opponent.
Great post as always, Mary.
Don’t try to explain Islam if you’re not a Muslim. You run into trouble.
Islam is not a turn backward into Judaism and no one should ever perpetuate that myth. The three monotheistic religions are a continuous advance towards the conclusion – Islam. In the Quran, Allah tells us that he has completed our religion for us by giving us the messengers (and Mohammad was the last) and the Books – the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran.
You may speculate on just what is in the Quran and why it’s there, but we Muslims believe it came to Mohammed by divine revelation. An illiterate trader, Mohammed was not a scholar of religious thought and knew nothing of Christianity. Mohammed was not a Jew and was not taught by rabbis.
Lastly, it is not appropriate, IMHO, for anyone to cite from a book they don’t believe in or understand. I’m sure you can make arguments against Zionism without using a religious text you believe is nothing more than rehashed Judaism.
Well, I didn’t try to explain Islam; Islam explains itself. BTW, Muslims believe that all people are born Muslims at birth. So, welcome to the club… I’ve been here a while myself.
I specifically stated, Mary, if we were to take ALL religion out of the entire context of Islam, it might go like that in a purely non-divine sense. That is, there would be no Angel to speak to Mohammed. I never wrote Mohammed was a Jew or anything like what you are stating. My theory is not really a danger to the thought of the Divine – Eppur Si Muove – if God exists, God exists without me as well. I am unimportant before God.
I can cite the Qu’uran, Torah, or New Testament to tell you why what Zionism is doing is unadulterated sin. All of these texts are meant to steer within reason, the interpretation of them often meddled with by inferior human minds.
You made the claim that Islam is regurgitated Judaism, which is totally incorrect. There is no record of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) being taught, tutored or even in the extended company of Jews and Christians.
I was not discussing zionism at all.
Mary, do you know what it means to eliminate variables to see what an equation will look like sans certain features? If one is to suppose the Atheists are right, then how else would the stories transfer? The religion of the Hebrews has many stories that resemble Babylonian tales and Zoroastrian concepts (free will, monotheism, religion/race conflation within the state (Aryans:Zoroastrianism::Israelis:Judaism)).
This is a hypothetical, not a challenge to the veracity of Islam, which is a constant that cannot be changed by mere human argument. You believe I am challenging the veracity of Islam: I am being clear that I am not. I simply said that the Qu’uran accepts Judaism and the prophets of Judaism. Therefore, by clear logic it is obvious that Islam, having indisputably come later in time, has taken a precedence out of Judaism, either by way of Angelic messenger giving this decree or by historical fact with exclusion to “divine principle”.
It does not represent my views, but the difference between my argument and your reply is that my argument is to advance simply educated discussion without encroaching on anyone’s viewpoints while you are misrepresenting what I am saying in your reply, insinuating somehow that I think Islam is a cheap copy of Judaism. I never wrote that — what I wrote was much more nuanced 😉
The Anti-Defamation League is a cheap copy of Judaism. Israel’s politics are a cheap copy of Judaism. Zionism today: cheap copy of Judaism.
On the other side of this equation are overzealous prosecutors 😉
@ The MightyCynic”
Are you former “Persian Advocate” ?
[comment deleted for comment rule violation–please keep your comments on topic, directly related to the post]
Richard, the full quote from Roger Cohen was, while referring to Gérard Biard’s position on respect of French law and printing cartoons was:
“He is right. There are too many hypocrisies in Islam — deploring attacks on it while often casting scorn on Judaism and Christianity, claiming the mantle of peace while inspiring violence — for it to expect to be spared the cartoonist’s arrows.”
Those who do spiritual work know that when something deeply hurts you, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, it is something that has to be worked on, surrendered to, let go of, so that one can stop the suffering and the all too often negative actions that result from holding on to the suffering. Unfortunately you are right in that all religions provide these opportunities for hypocrisy and this kind of suffering and thus the opportunities to do the spiritual work and the peace work that comes of an end to suffering.
However, the Muslim world has linked human rights and religion in a way that is antithetical to that of the non-Muslim world and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that enshrines this particular reaction to what we know as freedom of expression. See the Cairo Declaration and analysis found at:
That’s completely false. The “Muslim world” has no more monolithic view of human rights than any other religion.
Richard, while I would agree with you that Muslims in the world are not monolithic; we need only look at the splits between Sunni and Shia; I am a bit perturbed that you don’t respond to the symbolic value of referring to the Muslim World. In fact, there is an organization which represents many if not all Islamic states known as the organization of Islamic Cooperation:
“The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) (formerly Organization of the Islamic Conference) is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has membership of 57 states spread over four continents. The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world and ensuring to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.” (From the OIC website: http://www.oic-oci.org/page_detail.asp?p_id=52) Note their reference to “Muslim world”.
The OIC, which claims to be “the collective voice of the Muslim world” has its own charter of rights known as the Cairo declaration. While the Muslim world is not monolithic, the representative states did come together to pass the Cairo declaration and place Sharia law as the ultimate law:
“Reaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilization in which harmony is established between this life and the hereafter and knowledge is combined with faith; and the role that this Ummah should play to guide a humanity confused by competing trends and ideologies and to provide solutions to the chronic problems of this materialistic civilization.
Wishing to contribute to the efforts of mankind to assert human rights, to protect man from exploitation and persecution, and to affirm his freedom and right to a dignified life in accordance with the Islamic Shari’ah
Convinced that mankind which has reached an advanced stage in materialistic science is still, and shall remain, in dire need of faith to support its civilization and of a self motivating force to guard its rights;
Believing that fundamental rights and universal freedoms in Islam are an integral part of the Islamic religion and that no one as a matter of principle has the right to suspend them in whole or in part or violate or ignore them in as much as they are binding divine commandments, which are contained in the Revealed Books of God and were sent through the last of His Prophets to complete the preceding divine messages thereby making their observance an act of worship and their neglect or violation an abominable sin, and accordingly every person is individually responsible – and the Ummah collectively responsible – for their safeguard.”
So which part is completely false?
The OIC is not the “collective voice of the Muslim world.” Wow, that’s pompous. I am a Muslim and I know of what I speak.
Mary, just to be sure that we are speaking about the same thing, you do realize that that is a quote taken directly from the OIC’s website. I accept that you are willing to say to the OIC that they do not represent you as a Muslim and that by taking that position you feel that when the OIC claims to be “the collective voice of the Muslim world” they are being pompous. I would hazard a guess that there are a few Muslims who would agree with the OIC and say:
“I am a Muslim and know of what I speak”
Marvin, I’ve never heard of the OIC and I’d venture a guess that most Muslims haven’t either. It appears to be a secular organization which makes their claim even greater in its arrogance and pomposity.
Which illustrates my point even more clearly, that there are too many non-Muslims presuming to speak about the so-called Muslim world.
There is no single “Muslim world,” actually. Muslims are not all alike in culture or beliefs, and that is the point these columnists all seem to be missing.
It appears OIC is some kind of organization of Muslim majority countries in affiliation with the UN, which makes it a political organization. The Muslim on the street would no more know what it is or does than the man on the moon. It really does bother me that it has appointed itself the “umbrella organization” of Muslims, because this smacks of a political agenda based on the OIC’s own self-assessed legitimacy. Which Muslims are presuming to speak for all of us, and what are they saying? It’s puzzling to me, but it appears to be a largely symbolic body without any concrete role.
Oh please. Sharia is no different than halacha. (Some) Jews use halacha to govern their lives in the same way Muslims use Sharia. Jews haven’t yet taken over the world or sought to impose halacha or even the Noahide laws on everyone. Neither will Muslims do the same regarding Sharia.
Please do everyone a favor & stop ferreting through Muslim documents & statements looking for smoking guns that confirm your own preconceived prejudices about what Islam is. Your ignorance & half baked notions don’t do Islam justice, but discredit you as an arbiter of anything related to Islam.
This too is an off topic comment. Read the comment rules & stay on topic, directly related to the subject of my post. Do not stray from that into territory like the one you’ve chosen.
Sometimes I wonder why fanatic Christians, Moslems, and Jews hate each other since they agree on many things — such as a hatred of gays, and women’s rights.
There is a firm difference between a premeditated and intentional incitement of violence and “free speech” engendering violence. On any level, words should never give rise to violence. However, the reality of this is as simple as going to a “Million Man March” rally and yelling out a racial epithet on the microphone to the sea of people standing up against, specifically, racism. What would happen? Would the insult hurler be safe? Of course not.
In the case of American free speech, incitement of violence is not protected. Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s finding in New York Times v. Sullivan, the pre-meditated act of inciting violence is not a fundamental part of free speech, but rather, an exploitation of it to nefarious ends. Thus, in this case, the act of making a film with specific intent, translated to Arabic, to provoke this kind of hostility is not a form of protected speech in America.
This skewing of legal doctrine, unfortunately, has some familiar fingerprints on it. The media is quick to run the aberrations of the law: “pre-emption is self-defense”; “stand your ground has to do with probable cause to arrest”; “Freedom of speech protects unpopular speech, even if it is intended specifically to cause violence and hostility”; “Iran has a worrisome nuclear program”; “Israel may attack Iran” [violation of international law every time it is threatened without sufficient basis in fact”; etc. Mind you, the fingerprints also come from a faction that sent out a 1,000 man navy, with fully armored and geared elites rappelling down from war helicopters, warships zig zagging, 100 miles out in international waters, only to complain that they were “ambushed” by “terrorists” (delivering food and aid to the people in Gaza being systematically starved and encamped in an open air prison without relent by a fascist faction).
Intelligence reports indicate that the attack on the Libyan embassy was not borne by Libyan factions. In fact, Madame Secretary Clinton made clear it was the Libyans who were PROTECTING and helping to DEFEND the embassy during the attacks. Only a day before, Netanyahu made the ultimate faux pas by saying that the US had no moral right to stop him from illegally attacking Iran. It’s no coincidence that “things happen” when Netanyahu gets bad press. Just check the timing around the Tolouse attacks, the Bulgarian incident, and more, where Netanyahu was one of the first to run to the press and blame Iran. Incidentally, the same day 9/11 happened, Ehud Barak was all over American airwaves saying for sure that it was Bin Laden. In 2002, Netanyahu appeared before Congress to give testimony that Saddam was “hell-bent” on nuclear weapons (as was Iran) and it was the US’ duty to stop them for the safety of the “free world”. This CSPAN footage is available all over the internet.
The clearer picture is this: we have some international criminals at hand who want to start World War III to delay their inevitable accounting with the hands of justice. The end of the line is here for them, the intelligence and military officials with the power to stop them have figured them out, and they are desperate to find new corridors to escape this end. The Libyan plot was a punch in the face of American interests, a reminder, and a maneuver by the Likud factions. We all can agree to disagree to this end, but given the 10,000 foot view, it all becomes very, very clear. Who’s the liar? Who has always been lying?
The issue doesn’t seem to be a legal one but is a question of the nature of prejudice and how it comes about. These western pundits are all guilty of it in various degrees and aspects; they present the Muslims as a great unwashed horde, followers of a ‘fervid, turbulent’ religion (good heavens, whatever did Cohen mean by that???), which means that he thinks the nature of Islam itself is to blame for the reactions of Muslims to these ugly cartoons.
The bottom line is that a people who are experiencing the demonization of their religion after decades of being slaughtered, exploited, occupied, imprisoned, mocked and disenfranchised are very pissed off. A few thousand took to the streets but the rest of the 1.5 billion of us just shook our heads and said, “not again.” We are the “new Jews,” it seems.
Of course, it’s our fault. We cannot life our life as Muslims without being interfered with. Muslim women cannot dress as Muslim women; we cannot build mosques or Islamic centers without being picketed and threatened. And we are the target of massive ignorance. No, most of us don’t want Shariah law in America. No, we don’t widely practice stoning of adulterers (and the vast majority of us see stoning as an historical thing and inapprorpriate for modern times); no, we don’t want to take over the world and there are no secret plots among us to do that. No, we don’t want to kill all non-Muslims; most of us have friends of all kinds, including atheists. No, Muslims don’t beat their wives; the reference to it in the Quran is also historical (women back then used to be killed for disobedience, so imagine the improvement when Islam said, touch them only lightly and as a last resort); no, we don’t want to kill apostates, and no, we don’t call non-Muslims “infidels.”
We love Mohammad as our prophet and as an example of a man who had the highest principles, and he taught us how to worship Allah and how to live our lives. We are commanded in the Quran to “Obey Me and Obey the Messenger.” By extension, many Muslims believe it is their duty to defend Mohammad from blasphemers and from insults.
This is why these columnists basically wrote bad columns. Because they didn’t know what they were writing about, and they didn’t bother to find out.
Of course, the issue is a legal one. The idea that the filmmaker even had the legal right to invoke this violence in premeditated fashion goes against the grain of Supreme Court sanctioned law as outlined by our friend, The Mighty Cynic.
I think you are trying to present Muslims as unable to discourse about their religion and theology. But, since you are not the spokesman for Muslims, others should know that Muslims are not unapproachable and systematically unable to accept the idea that education-intended discussion is somehow not blasphemous.
The act in Libya “did not belong to the Muslims”. Rather, it was an act of terrorism and made victims of us all. In fact, Leon Panetta stated this today.
A few comments (from Alain Gresh, Egyptian-born French journalist, director of Le Monde Diplomatique, yesterday):
1. It’s known by now that the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi had no relation with the film about the Prophet, and had been planned for a long time.
2. In Egypt, the demonstrations were a mix of Salafists and local ‘ultra’ football supporters who also played an important role during the Revolution.
3. The two only places with huge demonstrations were Khartoum (10.000 people, Sep 14th ) and Beirut (tens of thousands, Sep 17th). Both Omar al-Bashir, accused of genocide in Darfour, and Hassan Nasrallah, fragilized because of his support to the Syrian regime, both needed to mobilize their supporters.
According to Avaaz, between 0,001% and 0,007% of the Muslim population world wide participated in overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations against “The Innocence of the Muslims”.
And some great alternatives to the biased Newsweek-cover on “Muslim Rage”. Please, look at the slide-show, there’a also a link to the photos on an English site with more informations about the pictures but without the slideshow.
Some of us had a ball with that Newsweek request on Twitter asking Muslims to tweet what made them angry. Muslims swamped Twitter with silly tweets. I don’t know what Newsweek was thinking, really. I tweeted that I’m angry that I can’t get Fritos in Egypt.
I’m angry that in France, wearing a headscarf (though I don’t) has become a object of ostracism (headscarf-wearing mothers are no longer allowed to participate as voluntary aids during school excursions among other things) all while the new ‘socialist’ Minister of Interior Manuel-I’m-eternally-linked-to-Israel-Valls said in a Parisian synagogue on Sunday that ‘French Jews can wear the kippa with pride’.
I’m angry that a peaceful demonstration at the Trocadero (symbol of Human Rights), just opposite the Eiffel Tower on Saturday was banned, and that an elderly headscarf-wearing tourist was prevented from visiting the site with her family (cf. Ali Abunimah wrote an article about that at EI).
I’m angry that in France where excessive secularism – just as intolerant as religious fondametalism – claiming a total separation of State and Religion, the Mayor of Paris has cancelled a City Council meeting tomorrow because of Yom Kippour while such a thing would never, ever, ever, happen for ‘Aid. Even suggesting it would be like letting Al-Qaida take over the country.
And then I’m angry that my rent keeps rising while my wage doesn’t. Do you think Muslims are angrier about the rents rising than ‘normal’ human beings ?
France is one of the most religiously tolerant countries on the planet. Perhaps you need ask yourself what are the reasons for the banning of the burka – the French perceive it as an instrument of control over women.
Your own anger over France’s tolerance towards Jews and Judaism would suggest that you suffer from intolerance yourself, perhaps also from a more sinister affliction.
You’re joking, of course. Telling women what they cannot wear is no less oppressive than telling them what they are permitted to wear. France is intolerant and ignorant.
“Telling women what they cannot wear is no less oppressive than telling them what they are permitted to wear.”
In a society that relies on communication, a concealed face is a major hindrance.
“France is intolerant and ignorant”
Then let all nations be as “intolerant and ignorant” as France.
@ Jay Green
“France is one of the most religious tolrerant countries on the planet”.
Just by curiosity: how much time have you spent in France recently, let’s says the last 5-10 years ? How much have you followed recent legislations on religious matters ?
I wasn’t talking about the banning of the burka at all. I was talking about head scarfs ! Just tells us that you don’t know the difference betweeen a burka and a head scarf ! In fact, you don’t know what you’re talking about at all !
Deir, relax, no one is attacking you. No need to get super aggressive.
You’re right, only the face concealment was banned, not the wearing of the burka. I was a bit sloppy. In any event, the story about the tourist does a bit odd, as headscarves are disallowed only in primary schools, as well as other religious wear.
“how much time have you spent in France recently?”
Not much. A few weeks several years back.
@ jay Green
I’m sorry if I came out agressive but, yes, you pissed me off 🙂
Since spring 2011, a mother wearing no matter what kind of ‘Islamic gear’, even if it’s not a hijab, is not allowed to take part in school excursions (if the school makes that decision, and most do) nor is she allowed to enter her childrens’ school. Why ? Because of what France calls “religious neutrality” which in fact is “religious and political neutrality”. A small kid was sent home from school because he wore the Algerian national football shirt that his oncle bought for him. Can you imagine that ? A a kid coming to school with his new shirt being scolded by his teacher ? Or a kid who was told to change his first name while participating in a children’s tv programme because his name was ‘too Islamic’. It wasn’t Jihad…..
And there are double standards compared with the Jewish community. When the first – and only – Muslim mixed high school was opened some years back, the media talked about that for weeks: non-integration, communautarianism etc. How come they’ve never mentioned the Loubavitch educational girls-only complex (2000 girls, age 5-18) in my neighbourhood ?
France is not religiously tolerant. In fact, it is a Republic with a separation between religion & state. No Muslim or anyone here needs to ask anything regarding French hypocrisy in banning the burka. It is part of an anti-relgious element prevalent in the French Republic. I note that they’re not terribly prejudiced against their own prevailing Catholic religion. Just the religions of the underclass.
I vehemently object to your odious comments about Deir Yassin’s supposed intolerance. She’s demanding that all religions be treated equally in France. This is not “intolerance.” In fact, your hostility toward her and her views disturbs me a great deal.
‘In fact, it is a Republic with a separation between religion & state.’
That’s the way it should be, no? How does separation of religion and state intimate religious intolerance?
‘France is not religiously tolerant.’
I wish all countries in the world would be as ‘intolerant’ as France. Just out of curiousity, do you think Iran is less or more religiously tolerant?
Because it places rather draconian (at times) limits on the encroachment of purported religious elements into secular life the allowance of Jewish head covering & the banning of Muslims ones is the height of hypocrisy.
You don’t live in France & hence know next to nothing about how tolerant or intolerant it is. I’m basing my own judgments on French natives who’ve told me what conditions are there.
‘You don’t live in France & hence know next to nothing about how tolerant or intolerant it is’
And you don’t live in Israel, but that doesn’t stop you from judging it. Double standard?
We, the people living in the US, are actually living under Israeli Occupation as well. Thanks to AIPAC and many others! The U.S. is an Israeli Occupied Territory and the American Congress is known to be made of prostitutes for Israel.
I know FAR MORE about Israel than you know about France & know quite a bit about how tolerant or intolerant Israel is. When you know as much about France as I know about Israel then you can tell us about France’s level of tolerance.
Why would you be angry that French Jews can wear the kippa with pride?
The comment was made, incidentally, in response to a statement by Marine Le Pen saying that they ought to be banned.
One would think you would agree with Socialist and not the National Front on this score.
She’s justifiably angry because Muslim religious garb is deemed treif while Jewish religious garb is accepted. That’s racist & unfair.
@ Bob Mann
When will you start ‘reading in context’ ?
I’m angry – I was responding to the Newsweek-cover ‘Muslim Rage’ – because the French Minister of Interior wouldn’t go to the Grande Mosque of Paris – built after WWI as a sign of recognition for the 70.000 Muslim soldiers who died for France – on the day of Aid and say that Muslim women can wear their headscarves with pride. In fact he would’t go there at all on Aid ! He reacted to Marine Le Pen’s comments on the kippa ? Do you think he or any other French politician reacts when she’s spewing Islamophobic nonsense ? And she’s not the only one. By the way, Marine Le Pen wants to ban first of all the Muslim veil in all public spaces, and added the kippa in order to be logical in her proposals. Did you miss that part ?
And let us not forget that in Amsterdam no less than 50 Muslims demonstrated against “The Innocence of Muslims”.
Thanks Richard for the article. I am a Muslim by deep conviction and by the very nature of Islam that makes me a follower of the authentic teachings of ALL the prophets from Adam to Mohammed (peace be upon ALL of them). Two things I would like to say:
1- We Muslims are going through what we are going through now because WE allowed ourselves to become weak and that allowed OTHERS to do what they did to us. Our solution is in our hands and we have to take the responsibility of shaping our destiny and earn the respect of the rest of the world as we had for very long time.
2- As to what OTHERS have done and are doing to us, I will just repeat what Ghandi said when he was asked what he thought of the Western Civilization? “That would be a great idea”…..was his reply!
There is a catch here though. Getting strong in this world necessarily means becoming modern – in a multitude of ways – and once that happens the Moslem-focus is much diminished.
I do not really see what you are trying to add here. Are you saying that once “Moslems” become “modern”- in a multitude of ways – they will become strong and hence the world will stop “focusing” on them?! In fact the world focuses more on the “strong” in case you did not notice. The focus on “Moslems” now is because they happen to have much of the world’s oil beneath them (just close your eyes and imagine how much attention the world will be paying to “Moslems” if there was no oil under their land). Another reason “Islam” is under attack is because some people have a vested interest in having the world go to war against it. Have you seen what people like Pam Geller, David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, etc. etc. are doing?. Have you also noticed that they have something in common?! It is so dangerous when one has the idea of being “DIVINELY EXCEPTIONAL” planted in their heads!!
What I alluded to was not meant to be denigrating – just an observation, which is rather practical and human-nature based. Your earlier message has a “settling accounts” undertone to it, namely that when Moslems will get strong they will be able to resist what presumable harm is being done to them by “The West”. However, when Moslem countries will become “strong” (and I agree with Richard that we are dealing with a vague concept here but it still does projects some intuitively understood meaning), which in practice means have world-class universities, a broad middle-class that is generally educated and well-informed, advanced industrial base, globally connected professionals (engineers, lawyers, doctors, professors, etc. etc.) and alike, then priorities will necessarily shift. Rather than loathing The West (which is after all yet another vague notion) people will want to ally themselves with it in the common pursuance of shared objectives – a sense of freedom, real economic opportunities, intensive global connectivity, etc. As I say, it`s human nature, as well as historical lessons with many precedents.
I’m so sick & tired of condescending non-Muslims tut-tutting about all the purported deficiencies in Arab society & telling us who Arabs hate. I’d much rather read an intelligent, nuanced Arab or Muslim writing such an analysis. So please stop trying to tell us what’s missing in Arab society & start telling us what’s missing from your own. I’m much more interested in that & you know more about it.
Another stereotype is that “Muslims need to become modern.”
There are places in the world where the culture is not “modern” – this is the culture, not the religion. Let’s be clear on that. Poverty has a way of thwarting such “modernization” as education.
Once again, the religion, and Muslims are blamed. If Muslims become “modern,” (perhaps you mean secular?), the Pam Gellars, Geert Wilders, and drone strikes in Pakistan will go away. Got it.
I have no idea what any of those entirely subjective and basically meaningless terms (“strong” “modern” etc.) mean. Many Jews and Christians are entirely modern yet their “Jew-” or “Christian”-focus is not diminished at all.
It’s just another indication of bias, although mostly subtle. Compare it to the old American talk of how the black man had to be brought out of the ghetto.
It is not the religion that needs to become “modern.” Once again, Islam is blamed for the problems of Muslims. Instead, the responsibility lies within culture, and within economics.
A good example is Afghanistan/Pakistan; both countries are very isolated not only geographically, but economically, hence have lived in a cultural and educated vacuum. A culturally supported, very distinct form of Islam is found there that you won’t find in, say, Egypt or Turkey. Also one of their biggest needs is education. It is not compulsory to send one’s children to school, illiteracy is very high especially among girls and women, and there is a degree of “brain drain” happening among Pakistani professionals who emigrate to other countries for better opportunities. Thus, you tend to find that isolation and lack of education cause a different reaction to anti-Islam videos than you would find in a place such as Egypt or Turkey (sorry but the demonstrations in Cairo over that videotype were small, comparatively speaking).
It’s education, Stupid. Not our religion. Too much ethnic and tribal stuff, not enough school and university stuff. Not enough books.
There is no question that it is not the religion factor, after all Islam was at the forefront of things in time past. It is indeed, education, economics, politics and perhaps also society-related matters. It is possible though that religion related dictums and conduct patterns have been causes for the obvious lagging behind of the Islamic world in the recent millennium – but this is clearly a scholarly topic which is far beyond the scope of a thread like here.
It would also be grossly unfair to associate inherently uncivilized patterns of behavior to Moslems. Just remember where the enlightened Europeans descended to in the two world-wars not that long ago (the parents and grandparents of presently living people) and the Dark-Ages and the Inquisition ushered in by The Church in European countries a millennium ago.
We are certainly witnessing at this time a dark period in the history of Islam. But we must hope that just as Germany was liberated from Nazism and Christianity got rid itself from The Church excesses and European countries managed – miraculously if viewed just a century ago (and even later) to form a European Union – Islam will find a way out of that. In particular, as in all cases cited above, it is obvious that hate of the others and obsession with perceptions that it is all the other`s fault is not where that route lies.
As far as the middle east goes, unless you’ve lived here you’ve got no idea of what western-backed dictators such as Mubarak have done to the infrastructure and the society. No wonder people get angry – for example, here in Egypt I have been told many stories by my friends and relatives about how life used to be before Mubarak. People had jobs, the streets were clean, food was cheap, and people did not live in fear of the police. There is a lot of anger toward the US government who supported the Mubarak regime, and towards Mubarak for signing treaties which in effect said the Egyptian army would protect Israel and not our brothers and sisters in Palestine.
But this is not Islam. It is politics and economics, and in some cases it is culture, where some people do follow a more strict interpretation of Islam as well, but there is still nothing inherently violent or “backward” about the religion. Columnists like Cohen and his friends can wring their hands all they like, but to whom will they go with their suggestions on how we Muslims should be more “modern” (which I translate as meaning more western, more secular, and more compliant with the western idea of how people should live)?
Mary, you have left me confused. You say everyone tells you it was better before Mubarak. That means things were supposedly good under Nasser and Sadat. But it was Sadat who made the peace agreement with Israel that you feel betrayed Egypt and the Palestinians, not Mubarak. Mubarak simply maintained the already existing agreement with Israel, just as Mursi claims he is going to do. Also, from what I have read about Egyptian history, it was Nasser who made Egypt a stagnant socialist economy and police state under Soviet domination and Sadat and Mubarak kept it going. The Nasserite candidate for President (Sabahi) got around 20% of the vote in the recent elections so I don’t see any great demand by Egyptians for a return to the Nasserite “good old days” you say everyone has nostalgia for.
I forgot to add that in the “good old days” before Mubarak, Nasser embroiled Egypt in two wars with Israel and one in Yemen, plus Sadat got into a war with Israel, in each of whidh the Egyptians suffered tens of thousands of casualties and each of which bankrupted the country. Mubarak gave Egypt over 30 years of peace. What’s that worth? Are Egyptians tired of that?
Nasser didn’t “embroil” Egypt in a war with Israel since Israel started the war. Egypt wasn’t bankrupted by the 1973 War. In fact, it regained Sinai due to that war. A war btw which needn’t have been fought if Golda had taken Sadat’s offers of peace seriously. You also forget Israel lost the unthinkable number of 3,000 of its own soldiers in that war.
Mubarak gave Egypt 30 yrs of corruption, despotism, cronyism & servile embrace of Israel. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Now if only Israelis would do a similar job of cleaning house of your settler friends.
‘Nasser didn’t “embroil” Egypt in a war with Israel since Israel started the war’
Nasser started the war by crossing the cease-fire lines and then crossing the Suez canal. This a historic fact.
No, it’s a historic fact that Israeli historians have published transcripts of Israeli gov’t deliberations which showed it provoked & wanted war against Nasser. Not only that, it attacked Egypt not the other way around. We’ve been over this ground here before here. If you think you’re going to reopen this hasbara can of worms, think again. If you don’t know your history read up. This isn’t the place for you to spread your ignorance regarding the 67 war.
I didn’t know I was supposed to be an authority on Egypt’s modern history. I’m merely relating the Egyptian experience of living under 30 years of Mubarak’s rule, as it was told to me by many Egyptians. I don’t see your point in taking issue with what I said.
“Muslim Rage” is pretty obviously a response to a decade (and more) of mass killing of Muslims. Since Reagan, at least, the US government has been slaughtering Muslims the way it used to slaughter Vietnamese, Salvadorians, American Indians, etc. Why shouldn’t people be angry?
Just a point to Mary: each religion has some arguments why it is better than any other. As a believer, you are (a) most familiar with the arguments of your religion, and (b) you find those arguments most convincing. But the chances that you will convince someone in a given week are small, after all, we do not convert every week to a yet more convincing and advanced religion.
Big majority of Christians and Jews gave up on enforcing religious laws against blasphemy, heresy, apostasy etc. Such crimes can be detrimental to your soul and the fate of that soul, but saving the others from your bad examples is left to people who can provide spiritual guidance to others. Not a perfect solution, but avoids an incredible amount of mayhem. If you add up the victims of religious (or religion-related) wars in XVII century in Europe, and take into account the number of people, that century was even worse than XX. In the aftermath Europeans started to think about doing such things differently, and 100 years later we got Enlightenment.
But indeed, it is hard to see general “Muslim rage”. In some societies there is a lot of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or perhaps traumatic stress disorder as the stress continues. Like in Afghanistan or Yemen. This can be a big contributing factor to bloody riots in various places. On top of that, people under stress often succumb to rage in a way copied from others. In USA there is a term “going postal”. Happens quite regularly, but nobody generalizes about the religion of such people, except for the rare cases when they are Muslim.
I liked a piece of news from Poland about a women fired from an office. She purchased a katana, returned, scared everybody and hacked some desks. So much better than getting a gun and shooting! Perhaps in America it should be required than gun shops also offer swords.