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Target the critical parts, not the book at large

Reader comment on item: Ban Islam?

Submitted by Henrik R Clausen (Denmark), Aug 29, 2007 at 16:31

The issue of the racist passages in the Quran is a tricky one. There is no doubt that if the book was published anew today, it would violate anti-racism laws in many countries, including Denmark. Incidentally, it has just been reported to the police for just that. But the effort seems ill prepared, and I don't expect much to come of it.

Now, the Quran is a traditional holy book, and you can't just ban it, no matter what it says. One important point is that it needs to be read in context with the other Islamic scriptures, primarily the Sirat (Ibn Ishaq and al-Tabari), which provides context for many of the Quran suras. If looking at banning certain parts of the Quran, the Sirat (and the other Hadith collections such as Bukhari and Muslim) deserve similar scrutiny. The infamous Bukhari hadith prescribing stoning for 'adultery' would be one of those. Interestingly, there's no penalty for paedophilia...

An approach I'm looking at is not to ban the passages outright, but to demand that recognized faiths declare the passages to be invalid, unholy or similar, in order to maintain their legally approved status. Technically, this should be possible in Denmark, as we have an appropriate clause in our constitution. Racism (antisemitism in particular), incitement to and glorification of plunder, rape and genocide, punishments for leaving the religion should all be possible to outlaw from recognized faith societies.

Banning the Quran as a whole isn't feasible, it looks too much like an attack on freedom of religion as such, which we don't want. But possibly, making clear that racism, supremacism, plunder, violence and war cannot be considered holy, could be done, preferably along with abolishing any penalty for leaving Islam. Hopefully everyone with a genuine moderate attitude can agree that these passages are unholy and should be discarded, in a manner that will hold for future generations, too. A 'moratorium', like Tariq Ramadan suggests for stoning, just won't cut it - we need a solid, lasting solution.


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