Friday, December 01, 2006

The Importance of Supporting Reformist Muslims

Michael Burleigh makes an important point in the Daily Telegraph:

As in the Cold War we need to foster and respect cultural dissidence. This was brought home to me when I read Last Summer of Reason, whose author, Tahir Djaout, was murdered in 1993 by Algerian Islamists. Those who like pop music could try the Indonesian rock star Ahmad Dhani, whose hit Warriors of Love is a brave, moderate, Sufi challenge to the terrorists of that country. Everywhere in the Islamic world — 80 per cent of which is non-Arab — there are reasonable, cosmopolitan people who do not want, if they are Lebanese Shia, to be represented by Hizbollah or ruled by Syria, nor to have their tastes dictated by clerical zealots. Let's reach out to them, or at least create some forum where we can be reminded of their existence. So far the West's public diplomacy has been pathetic.

Rather, we lazily allow Islamist fundamentalists to equate our culture with trashy television programmes about penile implants, rather than Bach, Rubens or Mozart, Newton, Pascal or Einstein. As the philosopher Roger Scruton has written, we should be more careful about what image (and reality) of ourselves we project into more traditional societies.

Far too often we concede too much to the terrorists' vision, not only of us, but of themselves. How exactly would the caliphate of bin Laden's imaginings be governed? Hardly at all, judging by the carnage that enveloped Afghanistan under the Taliban. What precisely do the self-appointed emirs and imams know about Islam? How do you subvert the cultural supremacy of Arabic within it? Surely we should be encouraging authoritative voices that regard radical jihadists as heretics rather than kow-towing to useless so-called "community" leaders?

(Emphasis added-DD)

Fostering intellectual freedom in the Islamic world will help Muslim moderates and reformers challenge the intolerance and fanaticism of the Islamists. It needs to be an integral part of our strategy for defeating radical Islamism.


Anonymous David said...

Dave, can I have your assistance in some research I am conducting for a term paper? The hypothesis I am examining is that the Internet sites promoting fear and/or hatred of Arabs and Islam in the majority of cases are Jewish-run.

What makes the question particularly interesting (at least to me) is that the results seem to bridge the liberal/conservative divide. The "Islamo-fascist" theme that I am investigating is being promoted by spokesmen across the political spectrum -- from Bernard Lewis and Thomas Friedman on the left to Daniel Pipes and Charles Krauthammer on the right. All that these individuals have in common is their allegiance to Zionism.

Of course the name Durant seems to contradict the thesis. But on the other hand I also find what seems to be confirming evidence: virtually every post on your site seems to concern either Islam or Israel.

So if you do not consider it too personal, I wonder if you would tell me whether you identify yourself as Jewish? This would enable me accurately tally this site in my study. I would be happy to share my statistical findings to date, if you are interested. Once I have gathered the data, in the next stage I hope to begin exploring the question of motivation.

(If you are a Rapturist, I apologize. I recognize that this is a possibility, but I have found that this group, while much discussed, has actually a very tiny presence on the Internet, particularly when compared to the Jewish Zionists.)

3:59 PM  

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