Tuesday, August 02, 2005

# Posted 3:07 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ISLAM TO ARABIA VS. COALS TO NEWSCASTLE: I'm glad to see that Oxford hasn't changed much since I returned to the United States two years ago. Writing in Time, Islamic reformist Irshad Manji describes being interviewed by a student journalist in the City of Dreaming Spires:
After giving a speech about Islam, I met this young magazine editor to talk about Islam's lost tradition of critical thinking and reasoned debate. But we never got to that topic. Instead, we got stuck on the July 7 bombings in London and what might have compelled four young, British-raised, observant Muslim men to blow themselves up while taking innocent others with them.

She emphasized their "relative economic deprivation." I answered that the lads had immigrant parents who had worked hard to make something of themselves. I reminded her that several of the 9/11 hijackers came from wealthy families, and it's not as if they left the boys out of the will...

By this time, the Oxford student had grown somber. It was clear I had let her down. I had failed to appreciate that the London bombers were victims of British society...

The student shifted uncomfortably. She just couldn't bring herself to examine my suggestion seriously. And I suppose I couldn't expect her to. Not when Muslim leaders themselves won't go there. Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general for the Muslim Council of Britain, is an example. In the midst of a debate with me, he listed potential incentives to bomb, including "alienation" and "segregation." But Islam? God forbid that the possibility even be entertained.
In the United States, however, Muslim leaders seem to be waking up to the importance of destroying the perverted ideas on which terrorists thrive. Just this week, leading Muslims scholars issued a fatwa that condemns terrorism unequivocally. I wonder what sort of repsonse this will provoke among Muslims ins Europe and the Middle East.

Wouldn't it be curious if American Muslims became the driving force behind the anti-terrorist movement in the Islamic world? These days, Americans talk more and more about exporting democracy to the Middle East. But who ever thought that Americans would also be exporting a new and more enlightened brand of Islam to the Muslim world?

As my colleagues in Oxford might say, it's coals to Newcastle.
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