December 3, 2011

The risks of self-criticism, apostasy and "defamation" of religion

I am curious why Muslims, ex-Muslims or Arabs that self-criticize Islam or Arab cultures are almost always disparaged by anti-Israel advocates and extremists. Do the latter simply know better? Often, these voices, such as Ayan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and Ibn Warraq, and others who join them in criticism, like myself, are called "Islamphobes" or even worse by anti-Israel activists across the board, arguably to squander speech, such as that which is directed at their behavior. They act as if the critics are the opponents of universal human rights despite that we speak about widespread violations to the rights of women, children and others, no matter where they occur, while they remain virtually silent unless it involves Palestinians. This is one instance where the picture is as Orwell feared.

In France, a new voice has arisen. AFP reports a French minister of Arab origin, Jeannette Bougrab, recently said "I don’t know of any moderate Islam." Ms. Bougrab, Secretary for Youth and Community Life was also the the Chair of the High authority for the struggle against discrimination and for equality (HALDE), France’s official anti-discrimination body which "has the right to judge all discrimination, direct or indirect, that is prohibited by law or an international agreement to which France is a signatory." She was a member of the Socialist-led SOS Racism before she joined the ruling party.  In other words, she is a LEFTIST!

She was reacting to electoral successes of religious political parties, Ennahda in Tunisia, the Justice and Development Party in Morocco and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Here, in an interview in Le Parisien newspaper (in French, and partially translated here), she explains why:
The rule of law is measured…on the degree or respect for the rights of women and I don’t accept the idea that we can base a constitution on Sharia law, because such a religious system is fundamentally unequal. Democracy is not a supermarket where we can take only what we like….There are no half measures with sharia…I am a lawyer and you can make all the theological, literal or fundamental interpretations of it that you like but law based on sharia is inevitably a restriction on freedom, including freedom of conscience, because apostasy is prohibited. It is not possible to convert. Mixed marriages are not recognized. A Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim. In the eyes of some, it may not be of importance if the women must now be veiled or if tomorrow they no longer have the same rights. Not for me. I do not compromise on this issue of legal equality.

Ironically, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan also said that "There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that's it." (Source: Milliyet, Turkey, August 21, 2007.) Odds are, however, that Ms. Bougrab will join the ranks of those who, instead of being supported for speaking out against discrimination and inequality, end up being demonized by the "humanitarians" that act like the experiences of victims and those who leave Islam or "defame" the religion mean nothing. Then again, I suppose it's better to ignore, dismiss or disparage, rather than kill them for apostasy or blasphemy.

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