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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Muslim side of the story

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/world/middleeast/muslims-rage-over-film-fueled-by-culture-divide.html?_r=1&nl=afternoonupdate&emc=edit_au_20120917

The NY Times today has an artlcle explaining the cultured wars from the Muslim side.

It’s worth reading to appreciate where the other side is coming from. Not that I agree with it, but at least it seems less irrational.

My favorite excerpt:

It was also a demand that many of them described with the word “freedom,” although in a context very different from the term’s use in the individualistic West: the right of a community, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish, to be free from grave insult to its identity and values.

We wouldn’t call that “freedom”. We would call that “respect” – and “respect” is not guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

In a way, it’s similar to what I learned about freedom in parochial school: “Freedom” is the freedom to reason out for yourself that the Church is correct.

There’s also misunderstandings of fact:

In his statement after protesters breached the walls of the United States Embassy last Tuesday, the spiritual leader of the Egypt’s mainstream Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, declared that “the West” had imposed laws against “those who deny or express dissident views on the Holocaust or question the number of Jews killed by Hitler, a topic which is purely historical, not a sacred doctrine.”

In fact, denying the Holocaust is also protected as free speech in the United States, although it is prohibited in Germany and a few other European countries. But the belief that it is illegal in the United States is widespread in Egypt, and the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Mohamed Badie, called for the “criminalizing of assaults on the sanctities of all heavenly religions.”

Westerners tend to note that an overly central place for religion generally leads to intolerance and religious wars – or at least wars nominally fought in the name of religion as a way of rallying support.