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If you navigate to Anderson Cooper's 360 blog, he poses a question asking if Islam is compatible with free speech.  I was born Islamic.  I do not follow the religion closely, but I understand the basics of it.  I was offended by Cooper's question.  

Is Islam compatible with free speech? Well, there are an estimated 5 to 8 million people who claim Islam as their religion and are US citizens.  As far as I know, this segment of the population isn't making noise about being against free speech.  I would argue that its quite clear that the 5 to 8 million people who are muslims and can practice free speech as well establish an answer to Anderson's question.  So then, why do Muslims in other countries react this way?  Well, it's a complicated question but one that deserves much more attention than it has received. There's a remarkable article by Salmaan Rushdie which was run a few months after 9/11 that deals with this question. I recommend paying a few dollars to give it a read.  Also, I think its significant that the majority of these riots are happening in theocratic countries.  And fundamentalists wonder why liberals are so adament about the separation of church and state. Finally, I would like to say that this can't happen in Muslim countries.  It's not acceptible. We live in the 20th century and we need to expect more of ourselves.  If something offends us, we speak up. We don't riot. We don't vandalize.  This has to change.

Originally posted to apeshi on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 09:31 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I wouldn't be offended; (none)
    at least he posed it as a question, not a statement of truth.  And that's not sarcasm: yes, he might have been posing a leading question, but questions demand answers, and now we have the ability to answer him with a definitive No.

    Also: could you post the link to the Rushdie article that you mention in your diary?  Or at least where it appeared in print?  

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 09:34:35 PM PST

    •  reply (none)
      well, did we ask these same questions of the germans after WW2? What about the Japanese?  Also, Im searching for the Rushdie aricle.
      •  As a teacher (none)
        I subscribe to that old mantra: the only dumb question is the one not asked.  

        Look, it's an unfortunate fact that most Americans haven't bothered to learn anything about Islam or about the political situations in predominantly Muslim nations.  Most are watching Fox and coming to the conclusion that Muslims hate freedom, no question about it.  

        I'd rather someone ignorant ask a question than make a claim.  That shows progress, even if only at the infant stage.

        (Incidentally, WWII propoganda was among the most racist this nation has ever seen - you should check it out.  We have improved a lot since then, believe it or not.  But we still have a long way to go.)

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 10:23:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  actually "we" did (none)
        one universal pattern of behavior is to dehumanize one's national enemies. every country that the warmongers declare an enemy is demonized, its culture made violent, irrational and slavish, its leaders insane and comically strange, and its women oppressed or promiscuous. every single war, this happens. the same wingnuts screaming for violence towards arabs and muslims were using the samne eliminationist language in the summer of 2001 about chinese americans during the spy plane incident, and they said the same stuff about my german immigrant great grandparents during WW1.

        it is a sad thing, and deeply upsetting to me to see liberals buy into it, but it is a very old pattern.

        crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

        by wu ming on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 10:24:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yes...... (4.00)'s just a question, and you answered it, sort of. Islam as it is practiced by millions is incompatible with Free Speech. On the other hand, I have known Muslim lawyers, here, in the United States, who value and uphold the First Amendment.

    The real question is, what to do about the millions of Muslims who live in a theocracy (and like it that way) or who live in Western Europe and do not accept Western European values.

    I think the think to do is to educate them about why Free Speech is important. It is also important that we not turn on our Muslim friends and neighbors who share our values.

    "What luck for rulers that men do not think." - Adolf Hitler

    by Bensdad on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 09:40:43 PM PST

  •  What about blasphemy? (none)
    After 911, and before the Iraq war, I used to engage in discussions on a Pakistani forum. From those discussions, I learned that blasphemy is considered a crime in many Muslim countries.  

    More generally, some Muslims went so far as to claim that democracy was incompatible with Islam, by pointing out that sovereignty lied with God, and not the people.

    There were some Muslims on the boards who did not agree with this viewpoint, but it seems obvious to me that many are happy with a theocratic-style government, with limited minority (a.k.a. non-Muslim) rights.

    As far as the American-Muslim population is concerned, I'd first like to see how they behave as a majority before I will assume that they are just as committed to American-style democracy as the average liberal-minded American.

    •  My answer (none)
      The answer to speech you don't like is more speech.

      Muslim extremists I suspect are incompatible with secular society in the same way that I suspect that Christian extremists or Atheist extremists are.

      The rest of the congregation may have a tendancy to sympathise with the extremists sometimes, but when push comes to shove, and the extremists step over the line, they'll condemn their extremists as condemnation of Bush and Pat Robertson by Christians or the condemnations of the recent riots and Osama bin Laden by Muslims show.

      So I don't think you should think that Islam is incompatible with free speech and secularist society any more than Atheism or Christianity are.

      If some people think their views are incompatible with secularism then dialogue needs to be exchanged to explain to them why secularism is good, and how it protects them just as much as it protects people they don't like.

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