As an Irish Muslim, I wish to point out what wasn't said in Kevin Myers' article yesterday in his latest attempt to whip up mass hysteria against Islam.
Modern Muslim authoritarian states in the Middle East were by and large creations of Anglo-French policies after World War One. Their purpose is to deny the re-emergence of a strong Muslim political system which would threaten European commercial interests. They did not evolve from Islamic ideology.
Terrorism is not inspired by Islamic teachings but is a product of perceived injustice. This occurs in any country (including Mr Myers' beloved Christian/ secular societies). Suicide and terrorism are frowned upon in Islamic teachings.
Democracy is not the great Nirvana portrayed by Mr Myers. Consent is manufactured and the people are treated as consumers. Europe is economically prosperous as a result of its colonial past and also because after the violence of World War Two, Europe received vast funds from the US.
Muslims seeking their own identity within a state that is officially 'open-minded' does not signify defiance of social norms. Mr Myers operates in the school of thought that you are either 'for us or against us'. If Muslims cannot choose to disagree with the majority (in a lawful manner), then what is the difference between that society and communist Russia?
Mr Myers talks about the great Graeco-Roman civilisation of North Africa and the Middle East. This was the same society that oppressed Christians if they didn't conform to the doctrine of the Trinity. Islam liberated those peoples.
It is ironic that in a continent where the sex slavery of women is becoming accepted (ie prostitution and lap-dancing clubs), female circumcision and the denial of female education are used as a stick to beat Muslims with.
Finally, I would like to conclude by saying that the overall impression created by Mr Myers, namely that all Muslims are in sleeper cells, is erroneous. We may choose to disagree but the majority of Muslims I know are committed to enhancing their society and reject rebellious and animal-like behaviour.
The response by this Irish Muslim is generally weak. Firstly he complains about colonisation. This is a poor argument as there has been little colonisation of Arab land by Europeans over the centuries. What is now Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan were occupied by the British and French for about 30 years after World War One but this in itself is not a valid excuse for the dismal state of the Arab world. Saudi Arabia has never been colonised by Europeans yet it is the most corrupt and dictatorial nation in the Middle East. It has managed to achieve this status despite the absence of western troops.
According to this man terrorism is a result of perceived injustice. We are back here to my old favourite question of, do Islamic terrorists have hatred toward the west because of what the west does or because of what the west is. Percieved injustice may be a plausible argument if the perpertrator were an Iraqi, Afghan or Palestinian who had seen their home town destroyed with modern US, British or Israeli weaponry, but the truth is that international terrorist are never from these countries. They are Saudi, Somali or even Nigerian, they are second generation British Pakistanior French Algerian. They have never been harmed by the west. They do however have religion in common. Disassociating the religious connection is denial at best. Does he honestly think that it is coincidental that these mass murderers scream Allah Akbar prior to detonating themselves in civilian areas.
15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens. They were mostly privileged young men from a country that has never been colonised by the west yet their hatred of America was extreme. Hatred of the west and not a "perceived injustice" is what motivated their decision to murder 3000 people in New York and Washington.
But it his critique of democracy that I find most interesting. “Democracy is not the great Nirvana” he claims. “Consent is manufactured and the people are treated as consumers“ and “the sex slavery of women is becoming accepted “. This is a typical argument made by conservative Muslims and Jihadists alike. Come to think of it, it is a similar argument made by the former Communist East and the fascist world before that. In fairness to the majority of conservative Muslims who do not endorse violent Jihad, we do not always make as good a case for democratic government and a free society as we could. At face value the western democratic model is far from perfect. Society, community and the family, all things which Muslims hold dear appear at times to be falling apart in the west. The reality is, when we in the west think democracy, many Muslims think, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and crime. I think George Bush nailed it at a 2004 NATO speech in Istanbul when he said,
"Some people in Muslim cultures identify democracy with the worst of Western popular culture and want no part of it, And I assure them, when I speak about the blessings of liberty, coarse videos and crass commercialism are not what I have in mind”.
I really think we need to better sell democracy to the Muslim world. Democracy is not just about free elections, accountability, free press and separation of powers. It is about living in a free society. And that means that you may not like what some people do with their freedoms. And that’s where Muslims have trouble. The Christian religion is about individual salvation where as Islam is about the communal good. And my understanding (I am open to correction here) is that in Islam the piety of society reflects the community as a whole and action must be taken against those who are contaminating society with their wicked ways. It is very difficult for some conservative Muslims living in the west to reconcile this aspect of their faith with the liberalism that they see all around them.
These Muslim women reject the liberal values of the west.
These Musims protesting in London seem to think that Shariah Law would solve Britains problems more efficiently.
On the odd occasion when I meet a person who holds such views I try to argue the following case. In a free society you can live your life however you choose. If you wish to live a pious life you can. You can worship freely. You can raise your children in a similar environment if you so wish. You can associate your self with whatever type of persons you want. There may be decadent temptations for your children but this is part of the challenge of living in a free society. You are in control of your own life. You make your own decisions. You make your own mistakes. Hopefully you will have good friends and family that set you on the right path but ultimately it is your life. As I have said, some people may choose foolishly and take the wrong road in life. But I believe, people who do so, and who eventually turn their lives around (as many do), such people find themselves in a much healthier place that those who have been living piously at the point of a bayonet.
Our disgruntled friend states that if “Muslims cannot choose to disagree with the majority (in a lawful manner), then what is the difference between that society and communist Russia?”. This is a true statement. Except I have never heard anyone in this country, or any other western democracy state that Muslims must agree or that they should not be permitted to make their case. He seems to be confused between being denied your point of view and being confronted on them.