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A Time for CHOICE between Islam and Modernity?

Reader comment on item: Understanding Post-Mubarak Egypt

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Apr 26, 2011 at 13:33

The demonstrations that began three months ago, at first peaceful and surprisingly successful in Tunisia and Egypt, are now faced with signs of stalemate and increasing violence, especially and most importantly, in Syria. The impulse for serious reform and an opening up of these stuck and stagnant societies may be reaching a crossroads that we in the West ignore at our peril as well as that of the demonstrators.

I have little doubt that these demonstrations and impulses for the emergence of real freedom in political, cultural, and economic matters, cannot happen without the profound contradictions between Islam and the many forms of Modernity being confronted.

A trickier question is HOW to raise the issue of this seemingly obvious contradiction at the heart of these societies. For if the reformers don't deal, for instance, with thousands of mullahs screaming that women who wear make-up are whores, and the majority (in Egypt) who say in polls that the peace treaty with Israel should be annulled - meaning a return to the probability of increased violence instead of focusing on the huge internal changes needed - then it may end up that this wave of protests will be worse than useless. That the re-repression of vastly disillusioned populations will occur, or even a new hyper-repression in the name of of Islam, as in Iran..

So can we continue our already decades-old, head-in-the-sand policy of ignoring the contradictions between Islam and modernity - of ignoring that Islam has never experienced anything like the Reformation, which embedded the ideal of Liberty of Religious Conscience in much of the West almost 500 years ago, or the Enlightenement, which embedded, however shakily, the ideal of Liberty of Intellect over 250 years ago?

I believe that we ignore discussing and suggesting that this is the CHOICE - Islam or Modernity - the would-be reformers and seekers of real freedom must face in the Moslem societies of the Middle East, at both our and their grave peril.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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