Sunday, February 12, 2006

Where ignorant armies clash by night

I have long argued that the criticism of western concepts of identity and freedom of expression held as secular "sacred values" in the west by Muslims should not be taken as evidence that Muslims are incapable of understandng or living within western secularised polities. I repeated this argument last week speaking on the role of imams and Salafist activists who speak to and foster an embittered "identity politics" amongst marginalised and embittered young western Muslims:

"The conception of identity promoted by the Salafiyya fosters an Islamic individualism that is partly congruent with - but also distinct from and partly at odds with - contemporary Western individualism. It also fosters a Muslim collective sentiment distinct from and potentially at odds with contemporary Western notions of community at both the national and European levels. It thus tends to inhibit or even disrupt the cultural and political integration of Muslim populations into the European societies in which they have settled.

A positive aspect that has come out of the whole cartoon furore is that not withstanding the understandable bitterness felt by many who rightly saw the cartoons as a deliberate attempt to denigrate the core of their being. That overwhelmingly the voices from within the Muslim community spoke of peaceful protest, those voices carried the day. There were some, a few, who tried to use devotion to the Prophet to rouse the community to violent protest.

They failed.

Their failure demonstates louder than words that an act cynically committed by a right wing newspaper with a long record of tryng to fan ethnic flames failed to overcome the sense of a shared humanity and common sense that has guided the Danish Muslim response."

Le Monde's religion correpsondent Henri Tinq has written about the Jyllands Posten affair. His article "Mahomet: le choc des ignorances" analyses the affair setting it in a wider context. The indispensable Nur Al Cubicle has translated Tinq's article under the rubric i-muftis and teleimams. I strongly suggest that you read it.

i-Muftis and Tele-Imams

End Note: A project in which I am engaged is taking most of my time and is likely to continue to do so for the next few weeks. I will respond to comments and post new articles when I can.

mfi Sunday 2006 Feb 12

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