Thursday, January 12, 2006

Islamists and Intellectuals

MEMRI provides a chilling example of the Islamist hatred of intellectual freedom:

A three-volume treatise by Sa'id ibn Nasser Al-Ghamdi, titled Deviation from the Faith as Reflected in [Arab] Thought and Literature on Modernity, has recently gained publicity in the Arab world. The book, published in December 2003 in Saudi Arabia, is based on Al-Ghamdi's 2000 doctoral dissertation, submitted to the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, for which he received his degree summa cum laude. In his treatise, Al-Ghamdi names more than 200 modern Arab intellectuals and authors whom he accuses of heresy - thus making it permissible to kill them.

(emphasis added-DD)

Yes, this call for the murder of hundreds of intellectuals actually merited a dissertation with honors from a Saudi university. Not an encouraging sign for those of us who support the spread of freedom in the Muslim Middle East. The following passage in particular sums up the reasoning behind Al-Ghamdi's call for censorship:

In his dissertation, Al-Ghamdi explains that "since the arrows of doubt shot by the enemies of Islam have multiplied... and they have spread their intellectual and behavioral poisons among the Muslim youth in an attempt to drown them in deviancy, to bring them out from light into darkness, to replace their inner conviction and faith, and to cast them into the wasteland of doubts, skepticism, and vanities - [for these reasons] it is incumbent upon those who understand this to make clear to their [Islamic] nation and their community the danger inherent in this behavior...

"The most dangerous and vile thing that the enemies of Islam have done in order to achieve their deviant aims has been to use cultural means, which are outwardly manifest as literature, poetry, culture, and criticism, but which internally embody heresy, skepticism, and hypocrisy.

"The enemies of Islam have succeeded in sowing the seeds of their hatred in the land of the Muslims, and in growing the evil tree - the tree of accursed materialism. Muslims see and hear the people who openly call to heresy and to departure from the right path, and who openly spread intellectual and moral depravity, sometimes in the guise of 'modern literature' and sometimes under the slogan of 'human culture'..."

Yes, Islamists do hate freedom, especially intellectual freedom. As the example of Al-Ghamdi shows, they correctly diagnose the threat it poses to their totalitarian vision of Islam. By contrast, the current lack of intellectual freedom in most of the Middle East has been a major factor in the rise of radical Islamism, as it has allowed the Salafists to threaten and silence many of their critics. If Islamists like Al-Ghamdi are allowed to have their way, intellectual freedom will not only disappear altogether in the Islamic world, it will come under threat in non-Muslim lands as well. In the case of Europe, it already has.


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