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What We Can Do

Reader comment on item: A Democratic Islam?
in response to reader comment: "Hard work can one day make Islam democratic."

Submitted by Brian (United States), Apr 25, 2008 at 12:50


I think the citizens of the western-style democracies have to take the lead and show the people in Muslim majority countries that the West, and other non-Islamic nations, are not a threat to their existent.

We need to do all we can to counter the rhetoric of the Islamic militants about the "evil designs" of the United States and it's policies with regards to the Persian Gulf and Middle East.

As a U.S citizen I believe the Bush Administration's attempt to impose a U.S. style democracy in Iraq, via a unilateral military occupation, was a colossal mistake. I completely disagree with the argument that fighting the terrorists in Iraq now makes us safer at home. There was no Al Qaeda presence in Iraq until after the U.S. military arrived.

Our continued large-scale occupation of Iraq only adds credibility to the Islamic extremist's propaganda and aids their ability to recruit more adherents to their cause. We have also unintentionally created a political power vacuum that is being fully exploited by the Iranian regime to increase their influence in the region. I don't advocate a wholesale rapid withdrawal of U.S forces from Iraq either, but we need to put more pressure on the Iraqis to step up to the plate and assume more of the security burden and reconcile all of the squabbling political factions. I fear it is going to take a long time before it is resolved.

The Unites States should seriously consider withdrawing all military forces inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A big part of Osama bin Laden's jihad against the West is the presence of the U.S. military on Saudi soil. Remove the military and you deflate this as an excuse for his jihad. There's no reason they can't be based somewhere else close by.

We also need to stand up to extremist governments and quasi-military movements that actively and covertly support militant Islam. Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, et al., must be made to understand that if they choose to engage in terrorism and militarism, then they will suffer harsh consequences. At the same time, we must be also willing to engage them as well, and offer some incentives and rewards for cooperation and good behavior. The all stick and no carrot approach adopted by the current U.S. administration over the course of the last 8 years doesn't seem to have lessened tensions, nor improved the behavior, of any of the aforementioned parties.

Here at home, we need to stand up to any attempts to impose Islamic religious customs upon the rights of non-believers. The saga of the Muslim Minneapolis cab drivers, and their refusal to transport passengers with alcohol, or blind people, is one example of what can happen when people stand up and say enough! Unique religious customs, be they from Islam or any other religion, must not be allowed to circumvent local civil law.

At the same time, we cannot allow the threat of violence to quash people's rights to free expression. The furor over the Mohammed cartoons, Dutch filmmaker Geert Wilders' recent attempt to show his "anti-Islamic" film, author Salman Rushdie's "death sentence"; there are many more examples, but I fear my post is already getting too long. We must strand up and say enough! Citizens in a truly democratic society have the right to law-abiding free expression.

Muslims living in Europe, the U.S., Canada, etc., need to understand and recognize the concepts of free speech and expression. Acts of violence and intimidation by Muslims, who are offended by what they perceive as anti-Islamic acts, must not be tolerated.

Until a majority of Muslims are willing to recognize the plurality of humanity and accept non-Muslims as true equals, the chances for Islam and democracy to coexist are remote.


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