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Perhaps not "historically Christian" vs Moslem, but rather, Freedom vs Intolerance

Reader comment on item: Swiss Minarets and European Islam

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Dec 9, 2009 at 12:12

While I agree the Swiss ban on minarets is consequential and could become (we may hope) far more important, to be seen in the future as a "pivotal" turning point, we also face a choice whether to see the rising contest as between Islam and Christianity or between Islam and an increasingly secular Europe.

The distinction is important, because this contest of values will become far more ominous if it is regarded as between competing views of religion, or even more misleadingly, as an issue of 'freedom of religion'. Indeed, seeing this struggle as both BETWEEN religions and about FREEDOM OF religion is a perfect recipe for a complete intellectual and moral muddle on Europe's side (although it would be no such muddle for the apostles of militant Islam)

But if it is seen, as I think it is, as between an aggressively intolerant religion, which uses the Western value of "freeedom of religion" as a cover for its war on all other religions, and a continent of increasingly free and prosperous States and societies based on mutual tolerance of peaceful values, we are in a far better position to wage this struggle, by first of all understanding its true nature.

The best parallel I can think of is to Abraham Lincoln's 1858 speech on a "House Divided", in which he famously said that he did not think the United States "House" would fall, but that one side (Northern free labor) or the other (Southern slave labor) would eventually prevail.

Now this parallel is obviously premature since the North/South population divide was about 16 million to 9 million in 1858 whereas the European population divide today is about 450 million native Europeans vs maybe 20 million Muslims.

It's for that reason that I think it's a tad premature for Daniel Pipes to conclude that dominance by Muslims or rejection of Muslims is "equally" probable. But I agree that "everyone getting along" is "highly improbable", at least until the issue has been decided that Islam cannot practice an aggressive intolerance under the banner of Freedom or Religion, or the companion banner that to resist such aggressive intolerance of secular values and religious pluralism is "discrimination" against Islam.

The people of Europe, with the Swiss at the moment in the forefront, seem to be distinctly ahead of their muddle-headed leaders. Let us hope other members of the European family of tolerant societies are allowed, and even encouraged to step up and vote for at least minor measures to rein in an intolerant religion. A religion that ought to be ashamed to claim 'discrimination' when no religious minority in any Muslim-Majority society from Algeria to Pakistan lives in the peaceful acceptance Islam had in Europe until it began to agitate, and even threaten and practice violence, against its host societies.

Again, there is a parallel with Lincoln. He was long willing to condone the existence of slavery as long as its spread was prevented, in the belief that it would eventually die out peacefully. So would Europe, I am sure, live with the basic intolerance of Muslim belief, even with its pitiless attitude toward the rights and even humanity of Muslim women and girls, in the strong hope that eventually that intolerance would fade.

But if it can't at the very least keep its intolerance to itself, a harsher contest and a harsher result may, and should, follow. Ron Thompson

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