Friday, November 09, 2007

Mustafa Akyol and the New Islam (part 2)

On November 2nd, Mustafa Akyol wrote on Ein Volk, Ein Ummah, Ein Muhammad? A recent visit to Prague served as the catalyst for this story. A young lady approached him on the street and asked Mustafa to join her cause. When he inquired as to what that cause was, particularly, she replied "we are standing up against Islam." The irony here is pretty thick. The young Czech nationalist was not able to recognize in her listener to be one of the very people she was protesting against. As he noted, drolly, "I was definitely not the most promising candidate to be inspired by that message."

As it turns out, the lady was a member, unfortunately, of a right-wing Czech nationalist group--the Narodniks. Akyol contends that such groups "fuel fear about and hatred towards Muslims" and are "fueling the global threat called clash of civilizations. [This is a pet peeve of mine--the pejorative misuse of Samuel Huntington's quite legitimate thesis].

Anyway, Akyol's comments are what one would expect. What one does not expect, however, is his main point, as follows:

Much of the responsibility lies in the hands of Muslim leaders and intellectuals. We should see that there is Islamophobia in the world, because there are men who blow up innocents, respond to any criticism with fury, treat their wives as slaves, and do all of these in the name of Islam. The racist and xenophobic tendencies in European societies add a lot to the problem, to be sure, but they are secondary. The primary issue is what some misled Muslims do.
What is really needed is an initiative by Muslims to reject and denounce all the horrible things done in the name of their religion and do this frankly and persuasively. The objections to the West and its policies, on the other hand, should be made calmly and constructively.

My, that is refreshing. Such realism is healthy and sorely needed from the Muslim side of the aisle. But Akyol still does not quite grasp the thrust of the argument. I doubt that European concerns, which he labels as "Islamophobia," are fueled by racism. If they were, restrictive immigration and native opposition would have stopped Muslim migration to Europe long before they reached their current numbers.

While a veneer of cultural Christianity pervades western Europe, the practical observance of the faith is weak, and getting weaker, if most surveys can be believed. But even the thoroughly secular European understands about reciprocity. The religion of the Hare Krishnas who proselytize at the airport are no concern. Nor are the well-scrubbed young Mormon missionaries, or Pentecostal street preachers. Europeans are not afraid to mix it up in the marketplace of ideas. But they know that whenever Islam becomes predominant in a society, the equal playing field vanishes, and everybody else is constricted to the will of the Muslim majority. That is the fear and that is where the opposition comes--not racism.

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