Thursday, August 11, 2005

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie has an excellent editorial in the (London) Times, which also appeared in the Washington Post on Monday.
When Sir Iqbal Sacranie, head of the Muslim Council of Britain, admitted that “our own children” had perpetrated the July 7 London bombings, it was the first time in my memory that a British Muslim had accepted his community’s responsibility for outrages committed by its members.
Instead of blaming US foreign policy or “Islamophobia”, Sacranie described the bombings as a “profound challenge” for the Muslim community. However, this is the same Sacranie who, in 1989, said that “Death is perhaps too easy” for the author of The Satanic Verses. Tony Blair’s decision to knight him and treat him as the acceptable face of “moderate”, “traditional” Islam is either a sign of his Government’s penchant for religious appeasement or a demonstration of how limited Mr Blair’s options really are.
Sacranie is a strong advocate of Mr Blair’s much-criticised new religious hatred Bill that will make it harder to criticise religion, and actually expects the new law to outlaw references to Islamic terrorism. He said as recently as January 13: “There is no such thing as an Islamic terrorist. This is deeply offensive. Saying Muslims are terrorists would be covered [ie, banned] by this provision.” Two weeks later his organisation boycotted a Holocaust remembrance ceremony in London, commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz 60 years ago. If Sir Iqbal Sacranie is the best Mr Blair can offer in the way of a good Muslim, we have a problem.
The deeper alienations that lead to terrorism may have their roots in these young men’s objections to events in Iraq or elsewhere, but the closed communities of some traditional Western Muslims are places in which young men’s alienations can easily deepen. What is needed is a move beyond tradition — nothing less than a reform movement to bring the core concepts of Islam into the modern age, a Muslim Reformation to combat not only the jihadi ideologues but also the dusty, stifling seminaries of the traditionalists, throwing open the windows of the closed communities to let in much-needed fresh air.
Do read the whole thing. By the way, I couldn't help noticing that for the second time in as many days the Times has published columns that previously appeared elsewhere, without informing its readers. Peculiar.
At any rate, here is a another interesting article that makes some interesting observations on religion and terrorism.

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