October 06, 2004

A Liberal Muslim Manifesto

“We are of Muslim culture. We oppose misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and the political use of Islam. We reassert a living secularism."

That’s from A Muslim Manifesto From France published in this summer’s issue of Dissent Magazine.

It was written by Tewfik Allal, a French Muslim who showed up at a demonstration in Paris to protest the banning of headscarves. He was shocked by what he saw at that rally. So he went home and wrote his manifesto with help from his feminist wife. Good on 'em. More where this came from, please.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 6, 2004 05:00 PM

He was shocked by what he saw at that rally.

He was shocked by all those moderate (so-called) muslims? He must be another rightwing bigot. He better go into witness protection (like Salman Rushdie) or he's a goner.

Posted by: David at October 6, 2004 06:16 PM

David is correct. His life isn't worth spit now in certain countries, and certain parts of Europe even...

Posted by: FH at October 6, 2004 06:36 PM


I probably don't need to say this to you, but he was offended at right-wing Muslim bigotry. Homophobia, religious rule, and the shackling of women in Burkhas isn't exactly left. I wish more American "liberals" could see it this way and join this man in denouncing the reactionaries in no uncertain terms.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 6, 2004 06:37 PM

Slowly but inexorably, the horrible (and stupid) excess of the jihad movement is hastening its own demise.

As Ledeen says, faster, please.

Posted by: Patricia at October 6, 2004 06:56 PM

I know it's tacky but I can't resist...

If a Muslim opposes "misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and the political use of Islam"...well, what's left?

Posted by: EssEmm at October 6, 2004 07:22 PM


Yes, that's tacky. There are Christians who oppose homophobia, mysogyny, etc. I have a Muslim friend from Syria who is probably more liberal than the guy who wrote that manifesto. And he's still a Muslim. Sadly, he calls himself "a bad Muslim." But that's because he's either not serious when he says it or because he allows the fundamentalists to define him. I'm not sure which it is. But, anyway, I've spent enough time with him that I can't think people like him are strange. He's just a guy who happens to be from Syria and was born a Muslim. And he fits in here very well.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 6, 2004 07:37 PM


That's exactly the problem with Islam. When the Koran says that the hottest parts of hell are reserved for bad muslims, they are talking about muslims who are liberal and are not joining up to Jihad.
Part of the problem with the moderates is that they are defined as bad muslims, as muslims who are not following along. It's hard to voice your opinion as a muslim when your own religious fanatics tell you that you are doing wrong, and you know that they are right.

In which case, if they know that being a 'good' muslim is committing acts that are wrong, why be a muslim? Surely the moderates are only following their own version of a religion?

Also Michael, to suggest that there are some Christians that oppose homophobia makes it sound like that are the minority. I think there are plenty of christians that do not oppose or at least are indifferent to homosexuals. Either way, when Christians oppose homosexuality, they are not talking about murdering them, at least not in this day and age. While there are attacks against homosexuals, most of the time it is not committed in a religious context.

Posted by: DelphiGuy at October 6, 2004 08:01 PM

Holy crap...

Something worthwhile in Dissent magazine!

Posted by: Grant McEntire at October 6, 2004 08:37 PM


Dissent has a lot of worthwhile stuff in it. Seriously. Read The End of History and Its Discontents by Paul Berman. Also, read Europe: Remorse and Exhaustion by Pascal Bruckner. He's a French leftist. And he's brilliant. I am absolutely serious.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 6, 2004 09:01 PM

I'll not defend myself against Michael's little ferverino, but instead thank him for the Bruckner link. He puts his finger on what made me cease calling myself or wanting to be a liberal: the bottomless self-regarding guilty conscience. It chokes life. So thanks, Michael, for another reason to be a conservative!

Posted by: EssEmm at October 6, 2004 10:52 PM

Either way, when Christians oppose homosexuality, they are not talking about murdering them, at least not in this day and age. While there are attacks against homosexuals, most of the time it is not committed in a religious context.

I grew up in an evangelical family and my parents would have never advocated killing gays, but if they were in the majority they would have definitely advocated sending them to jail for their sex lives. Hate the sinner not the sinner was their mantra, but it always had a hidden corollary: that if people don’t object too much, let’s punish them with jail sentences for each sex act. So while Christians no longer murder and kill, they still need to be chastised for wanting to punish people based who they have in bed.


Posted by: Derek at October 7, 2004 01:24 AM

I guess you can't post anything positive about Islam or Muslims without attracting the LGF trolls.

Regardless, I also found this quite heartening.

Posted by: Bill Herbert at October 7, 2004 02:22 AM

Baby steps folks, baby steps. Christianity had to undergo reforms to it's backwardness too. Grant it, Christianity has a 600 year head start on Islam but otherwise things can get better.

Posted by: Epitome at October 7, 2004 10:44 AM

If a Muslim opposes "misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and the political use of Islam"...well, what's left?

Well for starters, bearing witness to God, daily prayer, providing for the poor, fasting on Ramadan, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca.

In which case, if they know that being a 'good' muslim is committing acts that are wrong, why be a muslim?

Because no matter how many other things, good or evil, are done in the name of religion, ultimately it's about your relationship with God. For a true Muslim, this matters more than any political differences.


Posted by: mdl at October 7, 2004 07:45 PM

Just crawled out from under the bridge that we "LGF trolls" sleep under --I'm not sure what an LGF troll is, but I can guess.

I actually went and looked at the "Muslim Manifesto". First paragraph: "We are women and men of Muslim culture. Some of us are believers, others are agnostics or atheists." Well, don't you think that kind of shows what its likely impact is? There's a huge difference between being a cultural Muslim and a believing Muslim.
Islam without a clear confession of the ultimate and absolute reality of One God is...nothing. I cant't imagine how anyone who knows much about religious people, or about Islam, could think that such an announcement would have an impact beyond the already converted. And these already-converted would be immediately liable to marginalization (at best) by the Muslim mainstream, which is not, like the moridbund Church in Europe, willing to make nice with apostates.

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