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When discussing Islam, which Islam and whose rationality? 

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on 33 Comments

If one were to examine all the arguments about the Charlie Hebdo attacks, one can broadly classify them into two types: those that hold up ‘free speech’ as a cardinal virtue of the West and something that the Western liberal democracies will not compromise. Indeed, Charlie Hebdo released its cover with the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday January 14th. The liberal position was summed up in a comment by Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Muslim Mayor of Rotterdam, who, in no uncertain terms asked those who do not agree with the West’s definition of freedom of speech to “Fuck off”.

Those, on the other hand, point out, with quite a lot of sincerity that freedom of speech does come with responsibility. And in times such as these, we need more caution, lest the world go into an unending spiral of problems. So, are these two positions ‘conceptually incommensurable’ to use a phrase by Alisdair MacIntyre. In this short piece, I want to argue that what we are witnessing in the discourse of ‘Islam’, is more about the ‘reification’ of Islam, and our attempting at putting a fixed meaning to this way of life/ civilization. I suggest that we need to look at Islam contextually and in historic terms, placing our understanding of it, in the milieu in which we find it, instead of looking for an ‘essential spirit’ of the religion.

While the first position of liberalism argues for following a tradition of modern notion of secularism, that is not fully shared by many Muslims, the second position posits a greater call for empathy and understanding. While the modern notions negate all tradition, they do forget that this modernity is also part of a long ‘tradition’. Let’s remember that John Locke, John Stuart Mill and Voltaire’s writings are also part of a ‘tradition’ that is being imitated and followed by millions. So, to argue that somehow the West represents a break away from tradition while the ‘Muslim world’ is steeped in it is also not right. Those arguing against the cartoons also point out that there is a certain element of hypocrisy involved, as a cartoonist was sacked by Charlie Hebdo in 2009 for drawing anti-semitic cartoons. This argument suddenly appears to be less about ‘freedom’, and more about ‘what types of freedoms’ and against whom they are used. So, are we in the dangerous area of moral relativism? Perhaps.

There is another way to look at the problem – to confine the problem of ‘Islam in France’ to France and argue that it is an issue with immigration and the ensuing resentment among some Muslims, who get radicalized. Indeed, with the claim by Al Qaeda of Yemen that they carried out the attacks, it is clear who did it. But it is still not clear why these particular youth carried it out and what their logic was. So, the onus shifts now on the ‘global Ummah’ to address this problem. The question to really ask is: Is it logically and ethically right to lay this problem at the doorstep of ‘Islam’? A related concern that arises is how this ‘Islam’ impacts the ‘Muslims’. Scholars have shown that there is a vast gap between belief and practice among all faith denominations. Despite the vast divergence in beliefs, ways of living between the Yemeni and French Muslims, they are clubbed together as ‘Muslims’, united by faith. While the belief system may in some cursory ways be the same, there are vast divergences in how Muslims carry on with their lives.

As MacIntyre reminds us in After Virtue (2007) the nature of what early thinkers meant by a concept has changed over time. Which means that what was ‘freedom’ to Voltaire need not necessarily work today. For instance, his anti-semitism was ok by his day and age, but not today. Similarly, as Talal Asad has written about Secularism and its hegemonic nature, one must be cautious when one speaks of sweeping notions and broad brush-strokes, that are often clear only in our own heads, but not in the real world out there. In his seminal work Formations of the Secular (2003), Asad carries out a close examination of secularism and argues that it cannot be simply understood as a totally ‘rational’ successor of religion. As there are multiple ‘modernities’ such as in Britain, France or Germany, each with its own relation of power between the Church and state, so is the case among Muslims, around the world and their understanding of their relation with the state. Moreover, the concept of the secular evolved in the West under certain relations of power, a history of bloody wars in European history and the Westphalian framework. To project this understanding onto the ‘Muslim world’ is a fallacy that has been argued by many scholars. It is for this reason too that we may not expect a ‘reform’ of Islam. There has not been and perhaps will never be an Islamic ‘Church’, and hence the relations of power between the subject and religious community will be varied, depending on how the community is organized.

A key point that MacIntyre makes is important to our discussion of contemporary Muslim societies. The almost a-historical treatment of moral ideals and ethics. MacIntyre argues that we treat the moral philosophies of Kant, Hume and Plato as if they were our contemporaries, without realizing that they lived in a different era. Similarly, we cannot treat the treatises of Al-Ghazali, Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn Arabi as if they lived in 21st century. Most Muslim scholars are aware of this and the various schools of jurisprudence allow for this factor to be incorporated, when they pass legal injunctions or fatwas. But Western scholarship of Islam usually ignores this basic fact of a historical interpretation of ideas and moral values. He argues at length that ‘emotivism’, the idea that moral statements only express value statements is an empirical thesis. By this, he means that it should be coupled with historical, biographical and other sociological observations before passing any judgment. It could prove to be useful in a ‘certain stage of moral development or decline, a stage which our own culture entered early in the present century.’ (p.18). While this argument can be used with the study or evaluation of how Muslim societies make use of judgment of free speech or related issues, we must also make allowance for how Islam, a global religion, with its own unique history and sociology, in each country where the faith has found root has evolved. French Islam evolved in relation to its colonies, its neighbors and understandings of what role the immigrants were to play in the country.

Speaking of ‘Islam’ as an all-consuming category, that subsumes all geographies, history and culture is not only naïve, but also dangerous. American Islam is different from French Islam, which is different from that in Saudi Arabia. As such, the rationality that each of these ‘Islams’ carries with it is also different. Among Indian Muslims, where Sufism has had a strong history, visiting graves of holy men and saints, to seek their intercession is perfectly acceptable. In Saudi Arabia, this would classify you as a ‘heretic’ or mushrik. While such beliefs vary, so do tolerances for what is permissible and what is not. So, before any substantial discussion of ‘Islam’ occurs, it behooves us, as ordinary consumers of information to ask: Which Islam, whose rationality?

Sabith Khan

Sabith Khan is a Ph.D graduate from Virginia Tech and is an expert on Philanthropy, CSR and Civil Society. He has worked in the nonprofit industry for several years, with experience in leadership and strategic communications.

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33 Responses

  1. just on January 23, 2015, 2:53 pm

    Very thought- provoking essay, Sabith Khan. Thank you.

  2. Walid on January 23, 2015, 7:43 pm

    “I suggest that we need to look at Islam contextually and in historic terms, placing our understanding of it, in the milieu in which we find it, instead of looking for an ‘essential spirit’ of the religion. ” (Sabith Khan)

    A blending of the historic with the geographic to come out with what makes it tick? Sounds like creating little justifications here and there for things that are hard to take about the religion. Perhaps not as scholarly described as in this essay, Nasrallah explained that what the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly did brought more harm to Islam than any caricatural drawing of the Prophet. To look at Islam and especially fatwas from a historic context as Sabih Khan is suggesting is to defoliate it of much of its mystery.

  3. RoHa on January 23, 2015, 9:04 pm

    “Speaking of ‘Islam’ as an all-consuming category, that subsumes all geographies, history and culture is not only naïve, but also dangerous.”

    Yes. Is the point of your essay to urge us not speak in that way?

    “As such, the rationality that each of these ‘Islams’ carries with it is also different. ”

    Do you mean some are more rational than others?

    • MHughes976 on January 24, 2015, 3:18 pm

      To think that all who are commonly called Muslims think the same is a factual error, indeed a screamingly manifest one. Those who are so angry with those Muslims who are here and now committed to terrorism must, if they are not to overlook the obvious, notice a contrast with those who are very much not so committed. The same is true of ever so many idea-based human groups.
      That said, I do not share the philosophical views expressed by Sadith here. There is nothing ignorant or naive, still less dangerous, in saying, if you participate in a discussion, what you mean by an important term. If I say ‘by “Muslim” I mean anyone who finds the Quran inspiring’ then you know, even from those few words, something of what I mean when I say that there is absolutely no reason to expect that a Muslim will be a terrorist. You can still disagree, of course.
      In traditional logical wording – nothing, I agree, wrong with traditions!! – normal descriptive terms have and need both an extension, a set of things to which they apply, and an intension, a criterion for applying the term.
      And what would a ‘tradition’ be if not something handed on in recognisable shape over longish periods of time?

      • RoHa on January 24, 2015, 9:44 pm

        I’m not entirely convinced of MacIntyre’s thesis, either, but I have to confess that I haven’t given him the attention he deserves.

  4. Kay24 on January 23, 2015, 9:43 pm

    Unfortunately, the Islam we see in the Western world, does not represent the true picture, the one followed by the majority, peace loving Muslims, but it has been hijacked by rabid extremists, who go against their own religion, and the anti Muslim bigots, who have taken advantage of these criminals, to further their campaign of hate, and fear of Islam, for which millions of dollars have been invested. We can only speculate exactly who is behind this, but it seems there are others in the media, even comedians like Bill Maher, who mostly ignorant about facts, keep propagating the message. Unless the majority of Muslims stand up strongly and loudly, and differentiate themselves from the ones who are pretending they are the true Muslims, and are able to drown the voices of the bigotry like Pamela Geller, the situation will only worsen.

    Time all good Muslims organized themselves, had learned scholars to speak out, because there is no equivalent to the Pope to represent them, and beat this ugly, despicable wave of Islamaphobia. Right now the Gellers of the world seem to be louder and it is deafening.

    • just on January 23, 2015, 11:22 pm

      There’s plenty of representation of good Islam in the Western world~ it’s just not shown nor recognized. Muslims all over the Western world are doing good deeds and living good lives. The everyday, humdrum, law- abiding, peaceful people go unnoticed and those prone to violence or criminal acts are seized upon as representative of the faith, sensationalized, and run in an endless loop in/on MSM. Perpetrators of mass shootings who are not Muslim are never called ‘terrorists’ by the MSM either.

      Take as an extraordinary example, this story:

      “The French Muslim ignored by Israel

      The African man who saved the lives of at least six Jews in Paris has gone largely unacknowledged by the Jewish state, which judges people not by their acts but by their color and religion.”

      – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/living-solution-antisemitism#sthash.veKebZ9n.dpuf

      France honored him, Israel ignored him, but ran with the rest of the story and exploited it for their next chapter of victimization by the “other” and “proof positive” of burgeoning antisemitism…

      There is no equivalent to the Pope in Islam because that is exactly the way it was meant to be…

      • Kay24 on January 24, 2015, 11:48 am

        I agree. Most Muslims are law abiding, peaceful, and do not like any kind of violence. They work hard, want their kids educated, and live good lives wherever they are. It is such a shame that that they are ignored, and the extremists have been able to make the world look at their religion and judge it by their violence and criminal behavior.

  5. JLewisDickerson on January 23, 2015, 10:39 pm

    RE: “Those arguing against the cartoons also point out that there is a certain element of hypocrisy involved, as a cartoonist was sacked by Charlie Hebdo in 2009 for drawing anti-semitic cartoons. This argument suddenly appears to be less about ‘freedom’, and more about ‘what types of freedoms’ and against whom they are used. So, are we in the dangerous area of moral relativism? Perhaps.” ~ Sabith Khan

    SEE: “Striking Fear in Paris”, by Uri Avnery, CounterPunch.org, January 16-18, 2015

    [EXCERPT] . . . Apparently, there is a lot of anti-Semitism in France and other European countries, though probably far less than Islamophobia. But the fight between Jews and Arabs on French soil has little to do with anti-Semitism. It is a struggle imported from North Africa.

    When the Algerian war of liberation broke out in 1954, the Jews there had to choose sides. Almost all decided to support the colonial power, France, against the Algerian people.

    That had a historical background. In 1870, the French minister of justice, Adolphe Cremieux, who happened to be a Jew, conferred French citizenship on all Algerian Jews, separating them from their Muslim neighbors.

    The Algerian Liberation Front (FLN) tried very hard to draw the local Jews to their side. I know because I was somewhat involved. Their underground organization in France asked me to set up an Israeli support group, in order to convince our Algerian co-religionists. I founded the “Israeli Committee For A Free Algeria” and published material which was used by the FLN in their effort to win over the Jews.

    In vain. The local Jews, proud of their French citizenship, staunchly supported the colonists. In the end, the Jews were prominent in the OAS, the extreme French underground which conducted a bloody struggle against the freedom fighters. The result was that practically all the Jews fled Algeria together with the French when the day of reckoning arrived. They did not go to Israel. Almost all of them went to France. (Unlike the Moroccan and Tunisian Jews, many of whom came to Israel. Generally, the poorer and less educated chose Israel, while the French-educated elite went to France and Canada.)

    What we see now is the continuation of this war between Algerian Muslims and Jews on French soil. All the four “French” Jews killed in the attack had North African names and were buried in Israel. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/16/striking-fear-in-paris/

    • JLewisDickerson on January 23, 2015, 11:01 pm

      P.S. RE: “In 1870, the French minister of justice, Adolphe Cremieux, who happened to be a Jew, conferred French citizenship on all Algerian Jews, separating them from their Muslim neighbors” ~ Avnery

      MY COMMENT: According to the following excerpt from Wikipedia, “[t]he colonial law of 1865 [ in French Algeria ] allowed Arab and Berber Algerians to apply for French citizenship only if they abandoned their Muslim identity !”* How’s that for “anti-Semitism”?!?!

      * FROM WIKIPEDIA [French Algeria]:

      [EXCERPTS] French Algeria (French: Alger to 1839, then Algérie afterward;[1] unofficially Algérie française,[2][3] Arabic: الجزائر الفرنسية‎ Al-Jaza’ir Al-Fransiyah) lasted from 1830 to 1962, under a variety of governmental systems. From 1848 until independence, the whole Mediterranean region of Algeria was administered as an integral part of France . . .
      . . . One of France’s longest-held overseas territories, Algeria became a destination for hundreds of thousands of European immigrants, known as colons and later, as pieds-noirs. However, indigenous Muslims remained a majority of the territory’s population throughout its history. . .

      Hegemony of the Colon

      A commission of inquiry set up by the French Senate in 1892 and headed by former Premier Jules Ferry, an advocate of colonial expansion, recommended that the government abandon a policy that assumed French law, without major modifications, could fit the needs of an area inhabited by close to two million Europeans and four million Muslims. Muslims had no representation in Algeria’s National Assembly and were grossly underrepresented on local councils. Because of the many restrictions imposed by the authorities, by 1915 only 50,000 Muslims were eligible to vote in elections in the civil communes. Attempts to implement even the most modest reforms were blocked or delayed by the local administration in Algeria, dominated by colons, and by the 27 colon representatives in the National Assembly (six deputies and three senators from each department).[citation needed]
      Once elected to the National Assembly, colons became permanent fixtures. Because of their seniority, they exercised disproportionate influence, and their support was important to any government’s survival.[citation needed] The leader of the colon delegation, Auguste Warnier (1810–1875), succeeded during the 1870s in modifying or introducing legislation to facilitate the private transfer of land to settlers and continue the Algerian state’s appropriation of land from the local population and distribution to settlers. Consistent proponents of reform, like Georges Clemenceau and socialist Jean Jaurès, were rare in the National Assembly.
      The bulk of Algeria’s wealth in manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and trade was controlled by the grands colons. The modern European-owned and -managed sector of the economy centered around small industry and a highly developed export trade, designed to provide food and raw materials to France in return for capital and consumer goods. Europeans held about 30% of the total arable land, including the bulk of the most fertile land and most of the areas under irrigation.[19] By 1900, Europeans produced more than two-thirds of the value of output in agriculture and practically all agricultural exports. The modern, or European, sector was run on a commercial basis and meshed with the French market system that it supplied with wine, citrus, olives, and vegetables. Nearly half of the value of European-owned real property was in vineyards by 1914. By contrast, subsistence cereal production—supplemented by olive, fig, and date growing and stock raising—formed the basis of the traditional sector, but the land available for cropping was submarginal even for cereals under prevailing traditional cultivation practices.
      The colonial regime imposed more and higher taxes on Muslims than on Europeans.[20] The Muslims, in addition to paying traditional taxes dating from before the French conquest, also paid new taxes, from which the colons were normally exempted. In 1909, for instance, Muslims, who made up almost 90% of the population but produced 20% of Algeria’s income, paid 70% of direct taxes and 45% of the total taxes collected. And colons controlled how these revenues would be spent. As a result, colon towns had handsome municipal buildings, paved streets lined with trees, fountains and statues, while Algerian villages and rural areas benefited little if at all from tax revenues.
      The colonial regime proved severely detrimental to overall education for Algerian Muslims, who had previously relied on religious schools to learn reading, writing, and engage in religious studies. Not only did the state appropriate the habus lands (the religious foundations that constituted the main source of income for religious institutions, including schools) in 1843, but colon officials refused to allocate enough money to maintain schools and mosques properly and to provide for enough teachers and religious leaders for the growing population. In 1892, more than five times as much was spent for the education of Europeans as for Muslims, who had five times as many children of school age. Because few Muslim teachers were trained, Muslim schools were largely staffed by French teachers.
      Even a state-operated madrasah (school) often had French faculty members. Attempts to institute bilingual, bicultural schools, intended to bring Muslim and European children together in the classroom, were a conspicuous failure, rejected by both communities and phased out after 1870. According to one estimate, fewer than 5% of Algerian children attended any kind of school in 1870. As late as 1954 only one Muslim boy in five and one girl in sixteen was receiving formal schooling.[21]
      Efforts were begun by 1890 to educate a small number of Muslims along with European students in the French school system as part of France’s “civilizing mission” in Algeria.
      The curriculum was entirely French and allowed no place for Arabic studies, which were deliberately downgraded even in Muslim schools. Within a generation, a class of well-educated, gallicized Muslims—the évolués (literally, the evolved ones)—had been created. Almost all of the handful of Muslims who accepted French citizenship were évolués; ironically, this privileged group of Muslims, strongly influenced by French culture and political attitudes, developed a new Algerian self-consciousness.
      Reporting to the French Senate in 1894, Governor General Jules Cambon wrote that Algeria had “only a dust of people left her.” He referred to the destruction of the traditional ruling class that had left Muslims without leaders and had deprived France of interlocuteurs valables (literally, valid go-betweens), through whom to reach the masses of the people. He lamented that no genuine communication was possible between the two communities.[22]
      The colons who ran Algeria maintained a dialog only with the beni-oui-ouis [a derogatory term for Muslims considered as collaborators with the French colonial institutions in North Africa]. Later they thwarted contact between the évolués [a French term used during the colonial era to refer to a native African and Asian who had “evolved” by becoming Europeanised] and Muslim traditionalists on the one hand and between évolués and official circles in France on the other. They feared and mistrusted the Francophone évolués, who were classified either as assimilationist, insisting on being accepted as Frenchmen but on their own terms, or as integrationists, eager to work as members of a distinct Muslim elite on equal terms with the French.

      Discrimination

      Following its conquest of Ottoman controlled Algeria in 1830, for well over a century France maintained colonial rule in the territory which has been described as “quasi-apartheid”.[23] The colonial law of 1865 allowed Arab and Berber Algerians to apply for French citizenship only if they abandoned their Muslim identity; Azzedine Haddour argues that this established “the formal structures of a political apartheid”.[24] Camille Bonora-Waisman writes that, “[i]n contrast with the Moroccan and Tunisian protectorates”, this “colonial apartheid society” was unique to Algeria.[25]
      Under the French Fourth Republic, although Muslim Algerians were accorded the rights of citizenship, this system of discrimination was maintained in more informal ways. Frederick Cooper writes that Muslim Algerians “were still marginalized in their own territory, notably the separate voter roles of ‘French’ civil status and of ‘Muslim’ civil status, to keep their hands on power.”[26]
      This “internal system of apartheid” met with considerable resistance from the Muslims affected by it, and is cited as one of the causes of the 1954 insurrection.[27] . . .

      SOURCE – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Algeria

    • JLewisDickerson on January 23, 2015, 11:08 pm

      P.P.S. FROM WIKIPEDIA [Algeria]:

      [EXCERPTS] Algeria, officially People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a country in North Africa on the Mediterranean coast. . .

      French colonisation of Algeria

      On the pretext of a slight to their consul, the French invaded and captured Algiers in 1830.[43][44] The conquest of Algeria by the French took some time and resulted in considerable bloodshed. A combination of violence and disease epidemics caused the indigenous Algerian population to decline by nearly one-third from 1830 to 1872.[45][unreliable source?] The population of Algeria, which stood at about 1.5 million in 1830, reached nearly 11 million in 1960.[46] French policy was predicated on “civilizing” the country.[47] Algeria’s social fabric suffered during the occupation: literacy plummeted.[48] During this period, a small but influential French-speaking indigenous elite was formed, made up of Berbers mostly from Kabyles. As a consequence, French government favored the Kabyles.[49] About 80% of Indigenous Schools were constructed for Kabyles.

      From 1848 until independence, France administered the whole Mediterranean region of Algeria as an integral part and département of the nation. One of France’s longest-held overseas territories, Algeria became a destination for hundreds of thousands of European immigrants, who became known as colons and later, as Pied-Noirs. Between 1825 and 1847, 50,000 French people emigrated to Algeria.[50][page needed] These settlers benefited from the French government’s confiscation of communal land from tribal peoples, and the application of modern agricultural techniques that increased the amount of arable land.[51]
      Gradually, dissatisfaction among the Muslim population, which lacked political and economic status in the colonial system, gave rise to demands for greater political autonomy, and eventually independence, from France. Tensions between the two population groups came to a head in 1954, when the first violent events of what was later called the Algerian War began. Historians have estimated that between 30,000 and 150,000 Harkis and their dependents were killed by the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) or by lynch mobs in Algeria.[52] The FLN used terrorist attacks in Algeria and France as part of its war, and the French conducted severe reprisals. The war led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Algerians and hundreds of thousands of injuries. The war concluded in 1962, when Algeria gained complete independence following the March 1962 Evian agreements and the July 1962 self-determination referendum. . .

      SOURCE – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algeria

      ● P.P.P.S. Take a look at this French post card (circa 1922) proudly showing beheaded Moroccans!

  6. piotr on January 24, 2015, 7:14 am

    There is nothing wrong about “freedom of the press”, but the establishment practices it like other freedoms. Case in point: academic freedom. Apparently, it is the freedom of administration of academic institutions to sanction and defund voluntary associations of academicians and to fire/deny employment to the same. And as I have read in lengthy essays, unlike any other freedom, on this one we should never compromise (of course, it was written by a former university administrator). In a similar vein, there is nothing wrong about “civility”, but again, one has to patiently read through lengthy small print to figure out what is meant by that.

    Freedom of expression, as (mal)practiced by the State, is similarly burdened with copious small print, “none of that shall apply in cases of … and of … and of …”. For example, do we care, or we do not, if this freedom is violated abroad, and how we make distinctions between violations by the state and by individual “terrorists”. As far as states are concerned, one can compile a list of states who can determine, in the majesty of the sovereignity, what they wish to do (say, strife a press building with bombs and missiles, close the premises, send military to confiscate the equipment, tolerate death squads that kill journalists) and the list of the countries where such acts are deeply offensive to our values. With that list we can try to apply artificial intelligence techniques of “unsupervised agnostic learning” to figure out what those values are. I would not be surprised if the answer will be “sharing economic interests with the elite of major Western countries”, but I admit that there are many possibilities.

    But here we had a case of “terrorists”. And how do we tell the difference between “terrorists”, “freedom fighters” or mere “militants”? If someone amasses an impressive collection of weapons and military gadgets and proceeds with the murder of 30 Batman fans, we do not apply any of those terms, the guy was simply nuts. So there are also those. But some “terrorists” had mental problems too, so we do not need a certificate of mental health to apply “terrorist” label. Honestly, terrorists should have some ideology, and there is no evidence of anti-Batman ideology, but that leaves the cases of “militants” who do have “ideology”, including the plan to openly spend 500 million dollars from US Treasury to recruit and train “moderate militants” to moderately practice bombings of schools, supermarkets and cafes, plus slaughter in civilian neighborhoods.

    One tentative conclusion is that our establishment cannot practice introspection, because it is not clear if it would survive the experience. Yet, while the labels are being hopelessly muddled, support and apologies for terrorism are criminalized and some graybeards claim that laws should be clear. Luckily, there is a simple solution. A law is not “unconstitutionally vague” until a court declares it, so if the judges are as biased as the rest of the establishment, there is no problem.

  7. Ifti on January 24, 2015, 9:22 am

    Pope Francis on free speech: ‘You cannot insult the faith of others’
    Josephine McKenna | January 15, 2015

    Pope Francis on Thursday (Jan. 15) condemned last week’s terrorist attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo but warned there were limits on freedom of expression.

    Speaking to journalists as he flew from Sri Lanka to the Philippines on a weeklong visit to Asia, the pope said freedom of expression was a “fundamental human right” and stressed that killing in the name of God was an unacceptable “aberration.”

    “You don’t kill in God’s name,” Francis said.

    However the pope, who has made a point of reaching out to Muslims, Jews and other faiths, said there were limits to self-expression when it involved insulting or ridiculing people’s faith.

    “You cannot provoke, you cannot insult the faith of others,” he said. “You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

    By way of example, the pope referred to Alberto Gasparri, who organizes the papal trips and was beside him on the plane.

    He said if Gasparri cursed his mother, he could “expect a punch,” and at that point he gestured with a fake punch towards him, saying: “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

    Freedom of expression has remained a hotly contested issue since Islamist terrorists stormed the office of the weekly known for mocking Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

    Several cartoonists were killed in the first of three days of terror attacks that rocked France and claimed the lives of 17 victims and three terrorists.

    On January 8, 2015 four French imams on a visit to the Vatican issued a statement denouncing the violence and appealing to people whatever their faith to do more to promote a “culture of peace and hope.”

    We Muslims highly appreciate this Great Statement by Pope Francis on free speech on January 15, 2015, ‘You cannot insult the faith of others’, ‘You cannot provoke, you cannot insult the faith of others’, and ‘You cannot make fun of the faith of others’. Freedom of Speech does not mean hurting the feelings of others and NO one should be allowed on bullying or insulting others including others faiths. There must be an International Laws to punish those who insult others faiths which ignites Global Terrorism.

    Muslims are First Victims of Global Terrorism, Fanaticism, Fundamentalism, Intolerance, Discrimination and Racism. When others are victims, you hear on the main stream media round the clock 7 days a week, but when Muslims are victims they are hardly presented on the main stream media. When around 40 million Muslims were victims on false accusation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, main stream media hardly covered them except for only few times instead of 400 years, which is totally unjust with Muslim Community and it has become breeding grounds for Criminal Minds. No one is there to wipe off tears of 40 million Muslims and help them re-build. For few centuries Muslims are being Holocaust, Genocide, Massacre & Ethnic Cleanse till the beginning of 21st century and no one know how long will it continue against them.

    No Muslim is a Muslim if he/she doesn’t feel pain/hurt due to Blasphemy of any of the Prophets/Messengers of Allah including Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Isa (Jesus), Dawood (David) and Muhammad (Peace-Be-Upon-Them). The Quran suspends the punishment till the Day-of-Judgment by allowing time to repent before his/her deathbed, (Ref: Al_Quran_004:018, 020.130, 021.005, 050:039, 068.002, 073.010).

    France is the worst in Europe and tries to mask it by proclaiming its secular values (sound familiar?), but these values don’t apply to Islam. In fact, French secularism means anything but Islam. And when satirical magazines taunt them, they react. It’s as simple as that.
    The idea of secularism in France is mocking religious beliefs of others a key element of it. But it’s concentrated on Islam, a tiny bit on Catholicism, while Judaism is usually left well alone. Why not show Moses regularly gang-­raping Palestinian men and women? Just as an idea. The press in most of Europe today has very clear lines. The diversity has gone and the bulk of the media are an essential pillar of what I have called the ‘extreme centre’—the ruling bloc in Europe. The uniform way in which the Euro-American liberal media attacked the Bolivarian governments was one indication. The defence of neo-liberalism and wars is another. The virtual exclusion of dissenting voices is common to most of the media. Even Germany has seen a decline and The Guardian in Britain has witnessed a coup on its op-ed pages. The (Julian) Assange and (Edward) Snowden stories were handed to them on a gold plate, but there is now a backlash, and self-congratulations on Snow­den will not suffice.

    But the attitude that we talk about in France and other European countries is not against Muslims alone, it is against immigrants in general. Islamophobia is rife all over the continent and has to be distinguished from hos­tility to immigrants or the Roma who have been in Europe for over a thousand years! In Britain, the campaign mounted by the racist UK Independent Party is concentrated against European migration (Poles, Romanians, Alba­nians etc) and is part of their anti-EU stance. The extreme-centre parties are pandering to UKIP in the most shameless fashion.

    Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental period. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. The large numbers of children in mainly Muslim areas of France who refused to observe a minute’s silence for the victims of the Paris terror attacks shows that the country has “serious work to do to avoid a catastrophe”, warns Laurent Cantet, director of an award-winning film set in a multi-ethnic Paris school.The education ministry said it had recorded “roughly 200 incidents” in schools during the minute’s silence held in public buildings on 8 January, the day after Chérif and Saïd Kouachi killed 12 people – including two policemen – at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The magazine had previously courted controversy by caricaturing the prophet Muhammad.

    In Lille, a 13-year-old boy threatened to “take out with a Kalashnikov” a teacher who asked his class to be quiet for the remembrance. Unsurprisingly, some schools ducked the issue. An English teacher in a northern Paris secondary school told France 24 TV his headteacher warned against holding a minute’s silence so as to “avoid confrontations”. The decision “completely shocked me,” he said. “The rest of France is in mourning and at our school it was as if nothing had happened.” A teacher in the capital’s 13th arrondissement was asked: “Miss, may I not observe the minute’s silence. I don’t want to remember people like that.” While another was overheard to say: “They were asking for it. They reaped what they’d sown with all that provocation.” In the wake of France’s worst terrorist attacks in half a century and the reaction of some young Muslims, Cantet said the country needed “real dialogue; real, in-depth social work; real education. We have to say that religions can exist, but that there are certain fundamental principles, principles that guarantee the world’s equilibrium.”

    The film-maker said: “We have to bring these young people to confront their thoughts, still so partially formed, still subjected to so much interference from so many different places …”France’s challenge, he said, would be to “establish that dialogue – really do that work” while still maintaining its core republican model of integration, whose deeply held secular principles some have blamed for the isolation and discrimination felt by many Muslims in France. “We absolutely cannot abandon that model; it’s part of our DNA,” he said. “But what we have to do is live it more intelligently, more sensitively. We have badly abandoned these estates in the banlieues.

    “We have to find a way for them to make sense of their lives, without turning to … this – even if these attacks were fascist, almost nothing to do with Islam. We have created a fertile breeding ground for extremisms, for radicalisation. And we have to change ourselves. We have to stop stigmatising. Otherwise we’re headed for disaster.

    In the west, all are not equal to enjoy the same liberty. They have given full liberty to magazines like Charlie Hebdo to cross all limits to spread pornographic slander against Islam’s great prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Western leaders also announce their full solidarity with those slanderers by chanting “je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie). But they don’t allow others to chant “je suis Palestinian” (I am Palestinian). Hence the British MP Mr David Ward from East Bradford got wide condemnation for expressing his strong anger at the arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Paris march on 11/01/15 and sending a twitter message “je suis Palestinian” (I am Palestinian). He was condemned not only by the Israeli Ambassador at London and but also by the Islamophobic British media and the British politicians. He is the only exceptional member of the British Parliament who could announce, “If I was in Gaza, I would have fired rocket to Israel.” For such moral stance at the time of Israel’s Gaza bombing, he was rebuked by the British Prime Minister and other political leaders of both Tory and Labour parties. He was forced by his party’s parliamentary whip to withdraw the original statement. Such hypocrisy in the British politics is not hidden, rather broadly practised to support its own illegal creation of Israel!
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

    • just on January 24, 2015, 10:42 am

      Criminy!

      What an amazing, rich and informative post~ thank you, and welcome to MW.

      One question: “Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental period. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.”

      I quite disagree and wonder what is meant by that. Wouldn’t it be better if teachers went back to school to learn about Muslims and hopefully become deprogrammed?

      • annie on January 24, 2015, 1:16 pm

        i don’t really understand that logic either. if i lived in an area with an exemplary muslim school nearby, as opposed to having to bus my child to a far off western school (especially if i lived in some region of malaysia or something) i may very well want my child to attend. and what would be the problem of a muslim child studying a musical instrument or biology from a secular person? i wouldn’t understand why every teacher in a muslim school would be required to be muslim. what if there was a computer expert in the neighborhood? when my son was in school, junior high, i volunteered to teach art because the school was lacking in funds. i was assigned to kids who had recently immigrated many lacking in english – some no english, many from africa and the middle east. but in the topic (we created ceramic mosaic murals, the students designed them and they were beautiful) what difference would it make? i think it’s important for kids to be exposed to people who are different than themselves. if a school had 500 children and some were of a different background, so what?

    • eljay on January 24, 2015, 11:01 am

      >> The Pope: “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

      I accept that individuals should not be insulted because they hold certain beliefs. But I do not accept that certain beliefs – Islam (or any other religion), circumcision, FGM, flat Earthism, Creationism, etc. – should be protected from insult. (Well, except for Pastafarianism, but only because it’s the One True Faith. ;-) )

      >> There must be an International Laws to punish those who insult others faiths which ignites Global Terrorism.

      1. No amount of “insult” of a faith should ever “ignite Global Terrorism”.

      2. I agree that there must be international laws to punish those (individuals, groups, governments) who commit Global Terrorism.

      3. The only time punishment should be meted out against those who “insult others [sic] faiths” is if the “insult” can be proven to be hate speech (i.e., it intends to incite violence against people of that faith).

      • MHughes976 on January 24, 2015, 3:43 pm

        I went to a very ‘traditional’ – traditions being well-regarded on this thread! – Church of England school and I am a committed member of the CofE to this day in my oldish age. My mother, on being widowed, even went so far as to marry the school Chaplain. It was extremely valuable that we had a non-CofE presence among us both as students and teachers. I learned a lot from a Catholic in my class – though I’m still very Protestant and in this context am very disturbed by the Pope’s self-serving and indefensible pronouncements. We had to the best of my memory a Quaker teacher who made an amiable impression – more importantly we had a few atheists who were distinctly outspoken.
        It is vital if there is to be rational discussion that we recognise that our religions are the least rationally defensible element commonly in our public thoughts, though it seems (to me, if not to Professor Dawkins) that human nature cannot resist religion altogether. Since religion must always be in danger of falling into irrationality it must be subject to at least as much critique as anything else we think and therefore it cannot be totally protected from mockery, ie from exposure of its absurdities if it becomes absurd.
        Note that everyone thinks that everyone else’s views on religious matters (to include atheism), even if nominally the same as their own, include absurd elements. This connects with the extreme difficulty of explaining which forms of religion are authentic and the frustration that people feel on being told that their religion demands something that they find completely alien or spurns something that they love (Judaism/Zionism/Islam/Islamism/Anglicanism/Evangelicalism etc. etc.).

      • German Lefty on January 25, 2015, 5:31 am

        @ eljay: I completely agree!

    • oldgeezer on January 24, 2015, 1:18 pm

      While I agree with much of what you’ve said segregated schools for any religion would be a step in the wrong direction as far as I’m concerned. What we need is understanding, acceptance and tolerance and keeping children in their unique environment will not accomplish that.

    • RoHa on January 25, 2015, 8:13 am

      I think you have made important points about the double standards that are applied to Muslims and Islam. Nonetheless I find myself in disagreement with you on several matters.

      “No one should insult religions.”

      Well, why not? Certainly it is bad manners, and certainly it makes people unhappy. But those are good reasons not to toss out any insults at all. And yet we feel it is sometimes justified to use insults about persons or institutions, in order to make our point strongly. Why should religions be exempt?

      And what counts as an insult? Any of these?

      “The claims of Mormonism are false.”
      “Mormonism is a load of nonsense.”
      “Mormonism is a load of pernicious nonsense that ruins people’s lives.”
      “Joseph Smith was a fraud and a con-man.”

      If we cannot make any critical remarks about a religion, those of us who believe we should free people from religious beliefs will find it very difficult to act on our beliefs.

      For the sake of equity, I acknowledge that you have the same right to insult me and my religion that I have to insult you and yours. (The fact that you do not want to insult me – either from the generosity of your heart or my unimpeachable perfection – does not diminish your right or mine.)

      Also, as a practical matter, trying to dictate what may or not be said about a particular group can easily have the effect of increasing resentment of that group. “What makes them so special that they can tell us what we can and can’t say?”

      It is important for Muslims who live in a secular society to understand that their religion does not entitle them to special treatment, any more than it justifies special vilification. (And, again, I sympathise with your point that in Western societies the latter is too often the norm.).

      Muslim schools are the worst possible thing for Muslims in Western societies. They will only deepen the social isolation of Muslims.

      I am strongly opposed to the idea of any type of religious school, be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Voodoo, Druid, or Zoroastrian. The best way to prepare children for life in a secular society is to school them together in the same mix as they will encounter as adults.

      Segregation into religious groups in school will encourage self-segregated groups in society, such as the Orthodox Jews that bornajoo told us of. Obviously, that way social dissolution and, ultimately, madness lies. (Though many have taken that path nonetheless.)

      So religious schools are likely to fail in the task of preparing children for life in society. But they also subvert the general purposes of education in another way, in that they undermine respect for truth, rationality, and morality.

      In schools we teach the established conventions by which society runs, such as the calendar, the writing system, and grammar.

      (Though Annie’s use of “different than” instead of “different from” shows that the conventions are not always learned.)

      We teach mathematical truths. We teach the well established empirical truths. When we teach literature, we make it clear that fiction is fiction. Children, especially in the early years, are inclined to think that when teachers present something as true, it is known to be true.

      We teach – or pretend we teach – critical thinking, scepticism, and rational inquiry, so that children will learn to think for themselves. (And here you can insert plenty of sarcastic comments about what happens to those who do.)

      But the claims of religion are not known to be true. And yet teachers of religion – and a religious school is likely to have plenty of them – present those claims as if they were well established truth. And that mode of presentation is a lie.

      The teacher may be certain the claims are true. The claims may be true. But they cannot be demonstrated, to impartial parties, to be true, and so it is dishonest to present them as anything other than unsubstantiated claims.

      Add to this dishonesty the frequent refusal to allow sceptical inquiry of the claims, and suppression of dissent. (This is particularly strong in some forms of Christian teaching.)

      These features strike at the heart of respect for truth and rationality. But without such respect, intellectual pursuits are worthless. Education is nullified. Morality is subverted, for who can make sound moral decisions without thinking rationally? (In, at least, the ‘thin’ sense of rationality which I think even MacIntyre regards as universal?)

      So religious teaching should be kept separate from schooling, so that it will not be confused with education.

      • Philemon on January 25, 2015, 8:24 pm

        Roha, I think you’re going too far on the anti-religious school thing.

        Here in the U.S. we’ve got the right to say whatever scurrilous thing we like about other people’s religion(s), or lack thereof, and we’ve also got this free association right where, as long as we aren’t doing them bodily harm, we’ve got a right to bring up the young’uns according to what we think is right, religion-wise.

        “Segregation into religious groups in school will encourage self-segregated groups in society, such as the Orthodox Jews that bornajoo told us of. Obviously, that way social dissolution and, ultimately, madness lies. (Though many have taken that path nonetheless.) ”

        Not necessarily.

        There is historical precedent for it working out for the best. Look at Descartes. Or Kant even

        The idea that kids forced to mix with other kids they are prejudiced against will cause them to bridge any social impasses that might exist is utopian and empirically falsified in any number of schoolyard experiences. In many cases, it just hardens their view that the other guys are complete assholes, on both sides of the divide.

        Whereas, many a religious school attendee instructed to regard all men as brothers has risen above differences in social-standing, skin-color, or bank-balance, to recognize the other man, or woman, as a beautiful person regardless of upbringing or parentage.

      • annie on January 25, 2015, 8:41 pm

        i agree with philemon. each situation should be judged independently. my neighbor who was running too wild in high school got sent off to a private quaker school in grass valley for the remaining years. she loved it and it changed her whole outlook on life. and her parents were not even quakers. sometime religious people put more emphasis on personal relations, cooperation, respect, manners, compassion and how to get along. it really depends on who’s in charge. i would think nothing of sending my kid to a decent religious school if it came highly recommended, was nearby, the local public school was crap and full of drugs and violence, and i am not religious. all religious schools are not strict and awful and imposing just like all religious people are not that way either. i would also go to a christian, muslim, or jewish college. if i spoke arabic and lived in gaza i would definitely sign up for classes at IUG. plus, they have awesome literature classes there. history too i imagine.

      • RoHa on January 25, 2015, 8:58 pm

        “Here in the U.S. we’ve got the right to say whatever scurrilous thing we like about other people’s religion(s), …we’ve got a right to bring up the young’uns according to what we think is right, religion-wise. ”

        Those are legal rights. Ifti and I are talking about moral rights.

        “The idea that kids forced to mix with other kids they are prejudiced against will …… it just hardens their view that the other guys are complete assholes, on both sides of the divide.”

        Of court, those prejudices have to be taught in the first place. But that is not the core of what I am talking about. I am talking about the recognition that that this or that group is just a part of the whole, and cannot expect all society to pander to the wishes of that group.

      • RoHa on January 25, 2015, 9:14 pm

        Annie. Yes, some religious schools do a good job.

        Some even teach that

        “all religious schools are not strict and awful and imposing just like all religious people are not that way either”

        should be either

        “Not all religious schools are strict and awful and imposing, just as not all religious people are that way either,”

        or

        “No religious schools are not strict and awful and imposing, just as no religious people are that way either,”

        depending on which you mean. (The former, I suspect, since the latter is obviously false.)

        But that does not mean that all religious schools avoid the tendencies I described. And since non-religious schools can do just as good a job, it seems wiser to avoid religious schools altogether.

        “i would also go to a christian, muslim, or jewish college.”

        I think they would expect you to use capital letters. But modern universities are usually different. (Yes, there are a few American universities that are run by religious crackpots, but most of the world does not follow their lead.) I have taught in a Catholic University in the US, and another in Australia, without any sense of a religious view being imposed on the students. And the students there are old enough to avoid being brainwashed by their instructors.

        (I, certainly, have never succeeded in brainwashing any of mine, despite my best efforts.)

        “i would definitely sign up for classes at IUG. plus, they have awesome literature classes there. ”

        Sounds like a good idea. Polish up your Arabic and bomb-avoiding tactics and go for it.

      • annie on January 26, 2015, 12:53 am

        But that does not mean that all religious schools avoid the tendencies I described. And since non-religious schools can do just as good a job, it seems wiser to avoid religious schools altogether.

        i lived in a region with good public schools because i could afford to. i moved from a town once my son approached adolescence because the options were all crappy. i never claimed “all religious schools avoid the tendencies” you described and i stated “each situation should be judged independently” as well as “if i lived in an area with an exemplary muslim school nearby, as opposed to having to bus my child to a far off western school (especially if i lived in some region of malaysia or something) i may very well want my child to attend. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/discussing-whose-rationality/comment-page-1#comment-741401

        just because non-religious schools could do just as good a job, doesn’t mean they all do. a lot has to do with the community. it only seems wiser to avoid religious schools altogether if good or better public schools in your area are available. i support public schools and always sent my son to one, but as i stated earlier, i also could afford moving to a better community because the one i lived in had a crappy junior school and high school. they could not manage the kids. it was a cultural nightmare as far as i was concerned. and a town where the vast majority of smart and creative kids left town as soon as they became emancipated. had there been a good school there, even if it was religious i would not have left town. but i left because we could afford to. sad. there are regions all across this country with crappy schools. my preference is to empower public schools, always. i am not into the voucher thing or private schools per se. but when your kid is growing up, in that window of time..it becomes immediate. you can’t always wait for the system to catch up with where you want it to be.

        this is a big world and negating all religious schools simply because they have religious components is not smart. you should know that having taught at one yourself.

      • RoHa on January 26, 2015, 10:55 pm

        Annie,

        The short-comings of secular schooling in some areas is an argument for improving the secular schools, not for introducing or encouraging religious schools.

        As far as I can tell, religious schools do not provide any benefits – social or educational – which cannot be provided by secular schools.

        Religious schools are, therefore, unnecessary.

        If I am correct about the dangers of religious schools, then they are not merely unnecessary, but harmful.

        Thus, I am opposed to religious schools.

        And no, I have never taught in a religious school. The only school teaching I have done was in state schools in Sweden and Denmark. The rest has been university teaching, adult education, and in-company teaching.

        (A long time ago I saw some statistics on arrest rates in the US which suggested that children who attended church schools were more prone to anti-social behaviour than children who attended secular schools. Can’t find the figures now, so I can’t check them.

        I did find this.

        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150123190301.htm

        which may be relevant.)

      • Philemon on January 27, 2015, 9:16 pm

        Roha, secular schools teach lots of prejudices. So, if you object to that sort of thing on moral grounds, you should be against them. Lots of snobbery and bullying, for example. I don’t regard freedom of association, or freedom of expression for that matter, as a merely legal right. It is also a moral right which I respect.

        “But that is not the core of what I am talking about. I am talking about the recognition that that this or that group is just a part of the whole, and cannot expect all society to pander to the wishes of that group.”

        Well, yeah, Quakers, Mennonites and others got out of the draft. But I think other denominations should have put their foot down about that, too.

        “Of course, those prejudices have to be taught in the first place.”

        Of course, but you seem to think secular schooling will solve the problem, when in many cases, it simply makes it worse, or adds additional prejudices to the mix.

        I’m with Annie. It depends on the school and should be taken on a case by case basis.

        “As far as I can tell, religious schools do not provide any benefits – social or educational – which cannot be provided by secular schools.”

        Well, maybe secular schools could provide all the benefits that many religious schools do, but, as a rule, they do not.

      • RoHa on January 27, 2015, 10:20 pm

        “Roha, secular schools teach lots of prejudices. ”

        Not, usually, as explicitly as religious schools teach religion. But even so, how does that affect my case against the educational subversion of religious schools?

        “Of course, those prejudices have to be taught in the first place.”

        Of course, but you seem to think secular schooling will solve the problem,’

        No, I don’t, and I never said I did. But I don’t think that religious schools will necessarily help, either.

        “It depends on the school and should be taken on a case by case basis. ”

        Exactly. Some secular schools are worse than others. We need to improve the secular schools that fail, rather than encourage or establish religious schools.

        “Well, maybe secular schools could provide all the benefits that many religious schools do, but, as a rule, they do not. ”

        As a rule? In Australia many of the expensive private schools are religious schools, but some of the top-ranking private schools are not. And the state schools seem to do at least as good a job as the cheap (mostly Catholic) religious schools. Price rather than religiosity seems to be the key factor.

        So I repeat: Some secular schools are worse than others. We need to improve the secular schools that fail, rather than encourage or establish religious schools.

        “I don’t regard freedom of association, or freedom of expression for that matter, as a merely legal right. It is also a moral right which I respect.”

        Including the right to deny any education at all? The right to teach more than the normal number of total falsehoods?

        This question becomes even more acute when schools are state funded or subsidised. (You will note that Ifti was calling for state funded Muslim schools.)

        I suspect that quite a few Governments – and enthusiasts for freedom – would be dubious about a Thugee school, even though a rumal would be a nifty addition to conventional school uniforms.

      • Philemon on January 28, 2015, 9:08 pm

        Roha: “This question becomes even more acute when schools are state funded or subsidised. (You will note that Ifti was calling for state funded Muslim schools.)”

        Now, there I agree. However, that applies as much to secular schools as religious schools. In addition, with strings tied to the funding, as inevitably happens, the ability of religious schools to be true to their charter will be compromised – something Ifti should be cautious about.

        “As a rule? In Australia many of the expensive private schools are religious schools, but some of the top-ranking private schools are not. And the state schools seem to do at least as good a job as the cheap (mostly Catholic) religious schools. Price rather than religiosity seems to be the key factor.”

        In the U.S., the state schools, which are of course secular, as a rule do not do as good a job as most private schools whether religious or not (most private schools in the U.S. have some quasi-religious veneer, even if it’s just a “selfless public service” ethic).

        It might be a difference in the way schools in the U.S. and Australia have evolved. In the U.S., public schooling was unfortunately involved with real-estate deals. Property taxes fund schools here, whether your kids are enrolled in them or not, even if you have no kids. So, private schools here are trying to attract parents whose pocketbooks have already been raided by the tax-man, and they have to deliver or they don’t survive.

        “‘I don’t regard freedom of association, or freedom of expression for that matter, as a merely legal right. It is also a moral right which I respect.’

        “Including the right to deny any education at all? The right to teach more than the normal number of total falsehoods?”

        Roha, make up your mind! If they’re teaching falsehoods, they’re teaching something. And when I look back at all the things I learned in high school, as Mooser would say, jeepers, if lots of them weren’t falsehoods. And yes, I will defend the right to remain ignorant. There are any number of things I have no wish to learn about. Sheep-breeding, for instance. No idea, don’t want to know.

        In the U.S., not Australia, I will say that many private religious schools do a good job and provide a much needed service that is lacking in the public secular schools.

        And if you, Roha, say that, then, we should improve the U.S. public secular schools, c’mon over! We need all the help we can get. And bless your naive optimistic little soul. Given some of the public schools over here that I’ve heard about, your Thugee school might not be that much of a stretch.

      • RoHa on January 30, 2015, 11:23 pm

        It seems as though we have reached an impasse.

        I gave reasons why I thought a world without religious schools would be better than one which included them.

        You made the counter-argument that in the US the secular schools were often inadequate, and so the religious schools were helpful. (This is also the case in some parts of the real world, as well.)

        I responded that this was a reason for improving the secular schools, not making do with the religious schools.

        Your retort that I should go the US and improve the schools myself did nothing to meet my response. The fact that many people refuse to emulate the Finns does not weaken my arguments.

        (Though if you are offering me the job, I will be happy to accept. I do have a few minor requirements – e.g. fat salary and benefits packages for myself and my young, female, assistants, power to hire and fire, power to summarily hang school boards and unsatisfactory English Teachers – but nothing unreasonable.)

        Your other argument, on freedom of parents to impose the education – or lack thereof – of their choice on their children, is rather trickier.

        I am too heavily steeped in W. D. Ross and Confucian principles to agree with that idea. I consider education to be both a social and a personal duty, and I do not think the desires of parents have sufficient moral force as to deny children the opportunity to gain a worthwhile education.

        (Incidentally, “Including the right to deny any education at all? The right to teach more than the normal number of total falsehoods?” is supposed to be listing disjuncts, not conjuncts. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.)

        But detailed discussion of this would, I suspect, be far too lengthy for a website dedicated to ME issues, so at this stage I will fall back on the pathetic “agree to disagree” bromide.

      • Philemon on February 1, 2015, 8:38 pm

        Sorry for the delay in responding to you Roha. My internet has been a bit iffy for some reason.

        “I consider education to be both a social and a personal duty…”

        Yes, I think that is the crux of the difference between us. I’m not sure how your education went, but I never saw mine as a performing any social duty. And in my experience, the really good students were mostly autodidacts.

        U.S. public schools have been touting their beneficial social whatsit out the whazoo since they began, when their deleterious nature had been clear for decades. Therefore, I’m a bit skeptical of that sort of line.

        I think you are far too sanguine about public schools in the U.S., and their susceptibility to being “improved” given your happier experiences with Australian schools.

        So, yeah, I’ll agree to disagree about it. As engaging as this discussion has been, and I do appreciate your willingness to consider taking on the job of reforming U.S. public schools if the remuneration and powers of office were sufficient (although I think you should have budgeted for some rest-cure stays in the benefits package and a security detail or two), it would probably be better off stage; we can agree on that.

  8. gamal on January 26, 2015, 11:24 am

    one of the striking features of these discussions is the unalloyed ignorance on display to anyone familiar with Islamic Studies, even as they exist in the west not only by the fact that people happily opining on ‘what it says in the Quran or hadith’ have not studied the views of Islamic scholars at all, i link to volumes 1 and 2 of Ayoubs “the Quran and its Interpreters”, you can read some for free, should you wish to, he includes Qutb as a commentator which is odd but he makes a sound argument as to why he has chosen to do so. along with of course Tabari, Ibni Arabi, Qummi, Kathir and others and as such its a tolerably varied dip into the sources of Islamic barbarism, enjoy if you dare. I think these two volumes only cover the first 3 Sura’s, I have not read them but am a little familiar with some of this stuff from other sources, and Mahmoud Ayoub is I think a South Lebanese shi’a scholar, he did or does quite a bit Chrsitian Muslim interfaith stuff, he is quite eminent in the US, earning a PhD from Harvard, trust him he’s a doctor you never know you may find a little, less than arduous, study productive.

    http://books.google.ie/books?id=sIXpFtvp2JYC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

    and

    http://books.google.ie/books?id=XCZaP4JLeKkC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

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