I choose feminism over racism.

It is time for those who love liberal democracy to join hands with Islam’s reformists. Here is a clue to who’s who: Moderate Muslims denounce violence committed in the name of Islam but insist that religion has nothing to do with it; reformist Muslims, by contrast, not only deplore Islamist violence but admit that our religion is used to incite it.

Please read the whole article by extraordinary lesbian feminist and Canadian Muslim Irshad Manji before reacting to the quote above. I cannot wait for her new book, Allah, Liberty & Love.

If you feel too lazy to read a whole article, on the link there are also 3 short videos you should make sure to watch.

Irshad Manji on Peter King’s Hearings on Radicalization among American Muslims

Taken from a thread on her Facebook page, here are her comments. Behold, the feminist I respect the most:

First comment:

So… after watching the King hearings, reflecting on them while getting other work done, and reading this thread, I have a few thoughts to share:

As some of you know, I’ve been accused of “singling out” Muslims by writing a book entitled, “The Trouble with Islam Today.” Many people (including non-Muslims) have argued that it should have been called, “The Trouble with Religion.” 

In a genuine back-and-forth, there will be many responses to a suggestion like that. But one of my replies is that there are plenty of dissidents within Christianity and Judaism today. These religions are not lacking for internal critics who speak their truths openly and visibly. Not quite so in Islam today. We, Muslims, have a lot of catching up to do in the dissent department. Hence my exclusive focus, back then, on Islam.

Since then, I’ve taken my own journey from a singular focus on Muslim reform to the more universal message of moral courage. I’ve come to realize that moral courage is necessary, and in many cases urgent, in various communities. 

Teaching about moral courage through the lens of Muslim reform diminishes the need for neither. It humanizes the struggle of Muslim reformers AND shows that the abuses of power that liberal Muslims are challenging can be found, in different manifestations, elsewhere. Thus, a dual message of Muslim reform and moral courage actually builds empathy and solidarity among individuals who normally wouldn’t find common ground.

What does this mean for the King hearings? See my next post…

Second comment:

If you’ve read my post above, you’ll see the context in which I’ve come to believe that Rep. Peter King blew it politically. It would have been no skin off his nose to make these hearings about ideological extremism in general, starting with Islamism (an ideology), not Islam (a religion). 

He therefore could have been a trailblazer in addressing the culture of ideological polarization that’s developing in America — a polarization that needlessly demonizes reasonable conservatives, reasonable liberals, and reasonable people everywhere. 

By tackling the problem of Islamism as part of a wave of ideological militancy, King could built trust among people from various parts of the political spectrum. So far, he hasn’t.

BUT since this is a *series* of hearings and not just a one-off thing, King still has time to listen, learn, grow and announce that future hearings will deal with the kind of ideological radicalism that leads non-Muslims to threaten the security of Americans, too. 

Our fellow Facebooker, Nathan Soloman, posted an article in this thread that points out the following: Since Sept 2011, Muslims have been involved in 45 domestic terrorist plots. Meanwhile, non-Muslims have been involved in 80 terrorist plots.

Yes, there are statistics and then there are lies. It’s tough to know where the spin starts and stops. But this we do know: America, being a land of free thought, will incubate organizations that strives to intimidate others to shut up and conform. So, it stands to reason that that there are extremists working as more than just freelance crazies outside of Islam too. 

Start with Islamism so as not to cave to political correctness. Then move forward to analyze and expose other dangerous ideologies, so as not to cave to political cowardice.

Third comment:

One *final* thought for now:

My friend, Rep. Keith Ellison, got it right today. He explained that he disagreed with the premise of the hearings, but he wanted to participate anyway. Why? Because he could use the hearings as an opportunity — a blessing in disguise, to quote Ismail Bey’s words in this thread.

Congressman Ellison’s passionate, deeply personal tribute to the Muslim who lost his life as a 9/11 responder will have done more, I dare say, to touch the hearts of mainstream Americans than any vitriolic protests against the hearings. Without the national platform afforded by these hearings, Rep. Ellison wouldn’t have reached nearly as many people with that story as he was able to do today.

I’d like to see other Muslims take Keith Ellison’s lead and participate in these hearings — precisely to lower the suspicions that many Americans have about why moderates are so silent. Moderates are still too silent, except when expressing grievances as self-appointed victims. 

Moderate Muslims: Break the silence. Since you insist that you have nothing to hide, make the hearings a bullhorn for education!

If you haven’t read her book already, do yourself a favour and do it. I love her so much, she gives me so much hope about the future of Muslims and Non-Muslims together.

[…] Note to non-Muslims: Dare to ruin the romance of the moment. Open societies remain open because people take the risk of asking questions — out loud. Questions like, “Why is it so easy to draw thousands of Muslims into the streets to denounce France’s limited ban on the hijab, but impossible to draw even a fraction of those demonstrators into the streets to protest Saudi Arabia’s wholesale imposition of the hijab?” And when Muslims insist, “We’re democracies in our own way,” they need to hear this question posed: “What rights do women and religious minorities exercise in such democracies — not in theory, but in actuality?” No doubt, among the responses you’ll get is that the West should take a hard hard look at how it’s mutilating women through breast implant and tummy tucks for the sake of social acceptance. Agreed, the West should look hard. Still, in all my years as a feminist in the West, I’ve never met a girl whose parents have disowned her because she wouldn’t inject silicon into her boobs — and yet more than a few Muslim parents have rejected their daughters for resisting clitoral circumcision. Non-Muslims do the world no favors by pushing the moral mute button as soon as Muslims start speaking. Dare to ruin the moment.
Irshad Manji, The Trouble With Islam Today. An excellent lesbian Muslim author and journalist.
I think this hypersensitivity is due to the Qu’ran’s powerful attraction making its followers’ individual and collective ego “over-identified” with it. I’ve also noticed this when talking to other Islamic Feminists; they will reject any idea of self-criticism as Islamists. The only Muslim feminist that I know of that admits that Islam needs to go through a reform is Irshad Manji. (It is also on her website that I found the Reformist Qu’ran translation.) There is also Ayaan Hirsi Ali of course, but she is not Muslim anymore, she renounced Islam and became Atheist.
Honestly, I’m not qualified to judge whether or not Islam really needs to go through its Enlightenment as both these Islamic Feminists say. I’m inclined to agree with them since their arguments make a lot of sense. Either way, we westerners can’t force Muslims to go through their own Enlightenment, but what we can do is defend universal human rights and individual freedom so that Muslim women can profit from them, and emancipate themselves if they wish to. For that, we need to make sure they have access to good education (instead of cutting in schools all over the place, idiots) and kick the nonsense out of Islamophobes spurring out that all Muslims are terrorists  AND out of fellow progressives who refuse to make any judgment on anything that is not the white cis heterosexual christian majority.

I think this hypersensitivity is due to the Qu’ran’s powerful attraction making its followers’ individual and collective ego “over-identified” with it. I’ve also noticed this when talking to other Islamic Feminists; they will reject any idea of self-criticism as Islamists. The only Muslim feminist that I know of that admits that Islam needs to go through a reform is Irshad Manji. (It is also on her website that I found the Reformist Qu’ran translation.) There is also Ayaan Hirsi Ali of course, but she is not Muslim anymore, she renounced Islam and became Atheist.

Honestly, I’m not qualified to judge whether or not Islam really needs to go through its Enlightenment as both these Islamic Feminists say. I’m inclined to agree with them since their arguments make a lot of sense. Either way, we westerners can’t force Muslims to go through their own Enlightenment, but what we can do is defend universal human rights and individual freedom so that Muslim women can profit from them, and emancipate themselves if they wish to. For that, we need to make sure they have access to good education (instead of cutting in schools all over the place, idiots) and kick the nonsense out of Islamophobes spurring out that all Muslims are terrorists  AND out of fellow progressives who refuse to make any judgment on anything that is not the white cis heterosexual christian majority.