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Finally, A Muslim Voice Of Reason
John M. Broder writes in The New York Times about a "largely unknown" Syrian-American psychiatrist who spoke out on Al Jazeera about what she sees as the distortion of Islam for violent ends:

"I believe our people are hostages to our own beliefs and teachings," she said in an interview this week in her home in a Los Angeles suburb.

Dr. Sultan, who is 47, wears a prim sweater and skirt, with fleece-lined slippers and heavy stockings. Her eyes and hair are jet black and her modest manner belies her intense words: "Knowledge has released me from this backward thinking. Somebody has to help free the Muslim people from these wrong beliefs."

Perhaps her most provocative words on Al Jazeera were those comparing how the Jews and Muslims have reacted to adversity. Speaking of the Holocaust, she said, "The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling."

She went on, "We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people."

She concluded, "Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them."

Posted by aalkon at March 12, 2006 8:07 AM

Comments

Brilliant! Let's hope she is able to stick around to deliver her message....

Posted by: eric at March 12, 2006 10:41 AM

It's great to hear from muslim moderates, but almost sad that they have to be held so close to the bosom (SFV!) before speaking out. To date, LA & the USA are not the place where these messages need to be heard.

Today Fark links a long, dense, unreadable piece at rollingstone.com about how sex-freaked Christians are preparing another assault on our freedom. It's just too hard to care, and not worth worrying about... Most Americans aren't capable of that kind of fanaticism. When you're as free as we are to spend energy on whimsical fascinations (NASCAR, television, sportwear, firearms etc.), there's just not much enthusiasm left to give to theological oppression.

Anyway, it's impossible to see pieces like this without thinking that Alkon might be encouraged to stop mocking the faithful:

http://tinyurl.com/kd3gk

"Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance." - Sam Brown

Posted by: Crid at March 12, 2006 1:27 PM

For another Muslim who knows how to think critically, and who's brave enough to share it, check out Irshad Manji’s website:

http://www.muslim-refusenik.com/

Here's an excerpt:

"By Muslim Refusenik, I don't mean I refuse to be a Muslim. If I did, why would I care enough to write a book that puts me on the front lines of anger, hate, even death threats? By Muslim Refusenik, I mean I refuse to join an army of automatons in the name of Allah. Many Muslims applaud Jewish Refuseniks -- those soldiers who protest the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. In the same spirit of conscientious dissent, we've got to protest the ideological occupation of Muslim minds. An occupation perpetrated by our own mullahs, imams and civic leaders.

"In that spirit, I'm asking Muslims in the West a very basic question: Will we remain spiritually infantile, caving to cultural pressures to clam up and conform, or will we mature into full-fledged citizens, defending the very pluralism that allows us to be in this part of the world in the first place?

"My question for non-Muslims is equally basic: Will you succumb to the intimidation of being called "racists," or will you finally challenge us Muslims to take responsibility for our role in what ails Islam?"

Posted by: Lena at March 12, 2006 3:44 PM

Great stuff, Lena and Crid.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 12, 2006 8:31 PM

>>"My question for non-Muslims is equally basic: Will you succumb to the intimidation of being called racists, or will you finally challenge us Muslims to take responsibility for our role in what ails Islam?"

This was the very question that faced the GW Bush administration after the cartoon riots started... and we all know what their answer was.

In contrast, read the first two paragraphs of the Toronto Star article:

"Islamism is the new totalitarianism, according to a controversial manifesto published this week in European papers... on the front page yesterday of Jyllands-Posten"

I'm sure we're all familiar with Jyllands-Posten. After being the center of the cartoon controversy -- and lord knows how many credible threats to their safety -- they were willing to run an editorial critical of Islam, at the same time most American media outlets are falling all over themselves not to "offend" the Muslim community.

Maybe America wasn't so busy kowtowing to threats from Muslim extremists, maybe we'd hear more from Muslim moderates.

Posted by: Gary at March 12, 2006 8:43 PM

> Maybe America wasn't so busy
> kowtowing to threats from Muslim
> extremists, maybe we'd hear more
> from Muslim moderates.

Dude, that's brutal. And accurate.

Posted by: Crid at March 12, 2006 10:35 PM

To a great extent, American journalism has become the province of the gutless and the bean counters.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 12, 2006 11:37 PM

>the gutless and the bean counters

Which go hand in hand, really. As far back as 1993, I was being told that the key to solid media ratings (and by extension, profit) was to be as bland and inoffensive as possible.

Hell, this one notion explains three separate blog items -- why newspapers are kowtowing to Muslim extremism, why newspapers are losing money, and why "Getting Personal" runs instead of "Advice Goddess" in the LA Times.

Posted by: Gary at March 13, 2006 9:29 PM

The best and funniest M.E. blog is "the Religious Policeman" www.muttawa.blogspot.com

Posted by: guy smiley at March 14, 2006 9:31 AM

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