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Formal/Informal Education

Reader comment on item: Will Geert Wilders Show His Film on the Koran[, Fitna]?
in response to reader comment: An educated Muslim...

Submitted by Edward Halper (United States), Jan 3, 2008 at 21:11

There are ideas of justice and human rights that are intrinsic to the western state. We learn them in school, but they do not need to be learned that way. Millions of Muslims are now confronting western values either because they live in western states or because they hear the political debates of the west. These values are often antithetical to what Muslims value. But it is important for us that they come to understand western values and that they learn to accommodate or, at least, tolerate western values.

I imagine that donvan is right about Muslim attitudes toward western education and its potential to transform. That means that many will not seek out formal education. But what I'm talking about are the values that everyone who lives in a society needs to accept in order to live in it. These are usually acquired informally. We need to do more to insure that new citizens accept the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in a western society. These rights include freedom of speech and action.

By restricting free speech to accommodate Muslims, governments are missing an opportunity to educate them informally in human rights. Muslims do not need to appreciate such an education as transformative--they need to see it as necessary to living in the west and to living in a technological society. Even so, acquired as a necesstiy, such an education will ultimately transform.


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