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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fareed Zakaria, "Let’s be honest, Islam has a problem right now": Wait a Few Centuries and Islam Will Come to Its Senses?

Commenting on Bill Maher’s recent HBO television show during which Maher, Sam Harris and Ben Affleck debated the "merits" of Islam, Fareed Zakaria, in his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Let’s be honest, Islam has a problem right now," acknowledges that "There is a cancer of extremism within Islam today." However, Zakaria would also have us know that in the past, Islam demonstrated tolerance. Zakaria writes:

"Harris should read Zachary Karabell’s book 'Peace Be Upon You: Fourteen Centuries of Muslim, Christian and Jewish Conflict and Cooperation.' What he would discover is that there have been wars but also many centuries of peace. Islam has at times been at the cutting edge of modernity, but like today, it has also been the great laggard. As Karabell explained to me, 'If you exclude the last 70 years or so, in general the Islamic world was more tolerant of minorities than the Christian world. That’s why there were more than a million Jews living in the Arab world until the early 1950s — nearly 200,000 in Iraq alone.'"

Islamic tolerance of minorities? Zakaria fails to explain why those "million Jews living in the Arab world until the early 1950s" fled to Israel with only the clothes on their backs, leaving behind their homes and businesses. Upon the establishment of Israel in 1948, American Jews, living in a tolerant society, did not do the same.

Zakaria also alludes to the tolerance of Muslim Indonesia:

"I know the arguments against speaking of Islam as violent and reactionary. It has a following of 1.6 billion people. Places such as Indonesia and India have hundreds of millions of Muslims who don’t fit these caricatures.

. . . .

A small minority of Muslims celebrates violence and intolerance and harbors deeply reactionary attitudes toward women and minorities."

Indonesia is Islam's poster child? By all means, let's have a quick look at the tolerance of Muslim Indonesians. According to the Pew Research Center:

  • 72 percent of Indonesian Muslims favor making sharia the law of the land.
  • 48 percent of Indonesians who say sharia should be the law of the land, favor stoning as a punishment for adultery.
  • 95 percent of Indonesian Muslims believe that homosexuality is immoral.
  • 93 percent of Indonesian Muslims believe that a woman should always obey her husband.
  • 32 percent of Indonesian Muslims believe that a woman should be able to divorce her husband.
  • 65 percent of Indonesian Muslims believe that converting others is a religious duty.

This is Muslim tolerance? If so, it kind of makes you want to shudder.

Zakaria would also have us believe that Muslim extremism is a passing phenomenon:

"If there were periods when the Islamic world was open, modern, tolerant and peaceful, this suggests that the problem is not in the religion’s essence and that things can change once more.

. . . .

That is not how Christianity moved from its centuries-long embrace of violence, crusades, inquisitions, witch-burning and intolerance to its modern state. On the contrary, intellectuals and theologians celebrated the elements of the religion that were tolerant, liberal and modern, and emphasized them, while giving devout Christians reasons to take pride in their faith. A similar approach — reform coupled with respect — will work with Islam over time."

Or in other words, be patient with Islam and choose gentle words. In a few more centuries, Islam could again come to its senses.

Yeah, right.

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