As we have pointed out before, Islam is often perceived as a religion of extremists and Muslims are almost as a matter of course portrayed as rigid and fixed in their ways. There are Muslims, certainly, who have a more extreme understanding of the faith and believe that it must be practiced in a particular way; however, the vast majority of Muslims follow the principle of moderation in everything, including their faith. Continue reading
On October 12th, Tarek Fatah posted a conversation with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on The Huffington Post. In this conversation, Fatah and Ali, a former Muslim and well-known critic of Islam, discussed many issues, ranging from extremist activity among Muslims to Muslim citizenship in the West. Of these topics, I would like to focus on the place of Muslims in the West, specifically in the United States.
Ali is surprised that Muslims who spend the majority or all of their lives in the United States still adhere to Islam. She expects these Muslims to discard their beliefs in order to be truly American because in her perception there is a clear contradiction between the practice of Islam and being an American. In another context, she argued that Muslims in the United States should all accept Christianity in order to have a place in America. In her conversation with Fatah, she suggested that organizations like the Islamic Society of North America and the Council on American-Islamic Relations had secret agendas because they attempt to portray a positive picture of Islam and fight for Muslims’ civil rights. Continue reading
About three weeks ago, Pastor Terry Jones burned a copy of the Qur’an. Jones had planned to burn Qur’ans on September 11th of last year but was persuaded against it. However, last month, Jones put the Qur’an “on trial,” found it guilty, and executed it. The consequence of Jones’ action was violence in Afghanistan that left at least 20 people dead and more than 80 injured.
Despite its wealth of intellectuals, higher education institutions, and rich arts tradition, Pakistan has become increasingly choked by violent extremist elements. Initially foreign in origin, these elements are now seen as “indigenous” violent fundamentalism.
Inadequate land reform, an ambiguous national ideology, and politically motivated Islamic nationalization efforts by both internal and external forces have separated Pakistan on many measures from its rival and socio-historical “cousin” India. The pockets of social and religious conservatism within Pakistan’s borders are foreign to a majority of regional historical narratives, but extremist influences are rapidly growing.
Billed as one of the most important speeches of his first nine months in office, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s address to world leaders at the Munich Security Conference in Germany highlighted his disapproval of multiculturalism and the alleged rise in extremism in the U.K. linked to its failure. Cameron criticized Britain’s “tolerance for segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to British values” and called on European governments to practice “a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism.”