May 5, 2008

More From the Less-Scary Muslims File

By Lee Smith

After the Hamas-loving Bensonhurst imam, Tariq Ramadan, and feel-good sharia, yet more from the New York Times on Moderate Islam.

A story about Pakistani schools opened by Fetullah Gulen, a controversial Turkish theologian and political activist with close ties to Ankara's ruling AK Party. "He has lived in exile in the United States since 2000," writes the Times, "after getting in trouble with secular Turkish officials." That's certainly a fine way to put it. According to Michael Rubin's recent article on Gulen, the Turkish judiciary charged him in 1998 with trying to "undermine the secular system" while "camouflag[ing] his methods with a democratic and moderate image."

While it is possible the paper merely failed to report Gulen's conviction, it would be in keeping with the thrust of the Times' campaign on behalf of Moderate Islam to airbrush this rather inconvenient fact. A Turkish Sufi, even if he tried to undermine the secular nature of a US ally, is less scary than the adolescent Pakistani mobs he is trying to educate; Tariq Ramadan, even if he is of two minds about stoning women to death for adultery, is less scary than bin Laden; Brooklyn's Reda Shata may have mourned the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, but he is less scary than Omar Abdul Rahman, the Brooklyn sheikh jailed for his role in the 1993 WTC attack. Unfortunately, it seems to be beyond the scope of the Times to recognize that this is how politics is typically waged in the Muslim Middle East, with the "moderates" serving as both arsonists and firemen, using the violence of the "extremists" against the established order and promising to rein them in.

Finally, one can only sympathize with American Muslims, those who may or may not be religious, but surely have no attachment to the obscurantist fanatics that drove them from the region, and must now be wondering what is wrong with the New York Times that the only Muslims that register with the paper of record are very scary ones, and less scary ones.

Posted by Tony Badran at May 5, 2008 10:39 AM
Comments

This is hardly a "Muslim" Middle East type of thing. It would be hard to put your finger on a politician in the Middle East who has stuck consistantly to one line, or one side.

The demi-god Hariri in Lebanon was at one point a key member of the Syrian aparatus in Lebanon. When he was murdered all memory of that seems to have disappear. Jumblatt has played on every side in this conflict and still switches sides when he views it as being convenient. Recently he jumped on the 9/11 conspiracy theory, but of course that wont be brought up when he comes to visit DC in the future.

Many in the March 14th movement are directly connected to extremists and militias, including most of the Christian politicians. Some of these same Christian leaders being fetted in the US as leaders of democracy in Lebanon have the blood of women and children on their hands. Of course, once they are on "our" side, the blood of infants snatched from their mothers and murdered is forgotten.

Look at Samir Jaja. The man was convicted of war crimes and was under a death sentence at one point which was later reduced to life in prison. Due to the dubious and corrupt nature of Lebanese politics, even though he is responsible for the deaths of hundred or thousands of people, he was released and now is considered a very important part of the "March 14" crowd that some have labeled "pro-democracy". Yes, the side we are supporting over there is led by mass murderers. In his case it was only Muslim women and children he was killing, he was also busy blowing up churches and killing other Christians.

The entire Middle East, Muslim AND Christian is completely engulfed in this madness. The same thing goes in Israel, you have people who many would consider war criminals playing active parts in politics.

Jews, Christians, Muslims..........the entire area is guilt of it. It is almost a collective madness. It impossible to get involved in Middle Eastern politics and not become dirty and sectarian affiliation has nothing to do with it.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at May 5, 2008 11:38 AM

Lee Smith: That's certainly a fine way to put it. According to Michael Rubin's recent article on Gulen, the Turkish judiciary charged him in 1998 with trying to “undermine the secular system”

You call that a serious charge? Under their laws, you can also be charged for "insulting Turkishness."

I don't understand why the media are constantly being criticized for omitting background info about people they write about.

If Mr. Gulen had been, say, one of the plotters in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, that would be worth mentioning. But failing to mention a charge for "undermining the secular system"?

You hear the same complaints when Muslim leaders who are linked (however weakly) to extremist groups aren't indicted for it at every opportunity.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at May 5, 2008 11:52 AM

It would be nice to read about Muslims who are not scary at all. I got half-drunk on red wine and pear brandy with one of them last night here in Kosovo.

I should have time soon enough to sit down and write about this bottomlessly fascinating part of the world. Thanks for helping out in the meantime, Tony and Lee.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 5, 2008 3:01 PM

Dang. I read that article and was getting all set to be cheered up by that guy. Thanks for raining on my parade Lee.

Mmmm. Pear brandy.

Posted by: Yehudit Author Profile Page at May 5, 2008 10:30 PM

I agree with Edgar's comment above. Turkey has a number of restrictions on freedom of speech that I doubt the author of this post would approve of. This is like critisizing Alexander Solzenitzen for writing things that violated Soviet Laws. It would have been more constructive to critisize Gulen's ideas rather than just point out that he crossed a legal system which also prosecutes secular fiction writers.

Also what proportion of American muslims even come from "the region" originally?

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 4:50 AM

Michael,

Does a Muslim have to be non practicing for you to find them "not scary"?

It is just interesting that you throw in a comment about getting drunk with a Muslim. There are many out there for whom the only "not scary" Muslim is a non practicing Muslim.

Is it possible to be a religious Muslim and be "not scary"? Most often when people write about "not scary" Muslims they must throw items into the mix which show how unattached to their religion they are. It is almost as if denigrating their link to their Muslim background is a prerequisite to being a "not scary" Muslim.

Personally, most Muslims I have met over the last 20 years throughout the Middle East and the West have been practicing Muslims and they have NOT been scary. I don't feel the need to remove them from their faith to somehow show they are not scary! A religious Muslim does NOT equal scary so there is NO need to remove their religion from them to enter them into this category.

On the other hand, some of the most scary people I have met have not been Muslim, or been Muslims not really attached to their faith. Their observance, or not, of Islam has little to do with it.

You do not have to remove a Muslim from their faith to find them okay.

Your statement leads me to believe that you think a Muslim is much easier to trust if he is removed from their faith. It also seems like you added the drunk bit to add to this guy's bonafides. It's just not true.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 6:29 AM

Unfortunately, it seems to be beyond the scope of the Times to recognize that this is how politics is typically waged in the Muslim Middle East, with the “moderates” serving as both arsonists and firemen, using the violence of the “extremists” against the established order and promising to rein them in.

That is true, and it's good to focus on that fact. Fatah may be a bunch of terrorists, but they're less scary than Hamas. Sistani may be an Islamist who thinks westerners are Najis, but he's less scary than al Sadr.

The New York times is just doing what everyone else does - downplaying the scariness of certain people who they believe are on their 'side'. The Times and other media outlets like Newsweek downplay the atrocities, bias and crimes that groups like al Sadr's army, "moderate" Islamists, Fatah, etc. commit while exaggerating their popularity among 'the people'.

The people who don't like Fatah or al Sadr also downplay crimes or bias committed by their side. That's how ideological wars are waged.

The Turks have been fighting an ideological and military war against political Islamism for years. They were fighting Islamists when we were praising the piousness of the Salafi mujahideen. They were fighting it when the Brits were encouraging hundreds of Islamist 'dissidents' to move to Britain. We're only beginning to get a clue about what we're fighting.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 8:02 AM

Marc: Your statement leads me to believe that you think a Muslim is much easier to trust if he is removed from their faith.

This statement?

It would be nice to read about Muslims who are not scary at all. I got half-drunk on red wine and pear brandy with one of them last night here in Kosovo.

I'm surprised you say that because I was led to believe the opposite. Clearly, Michael only got "half-drunk" with them because he didn't fully trust them. They might have stolen his wallet when he was passed out, he figured. If they didn't adhere to the Quranic prohibition against stealing, there would be nothing to hold them back.

The question should be: why does Michael feel that only religious Muslims have a sense of morality?

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 8:13 AM

The Turks have been fighting an ideological and military war against political Islamism for years.

You mean that some of the Turkish establishment has. As I understand it most Turks are conservative muslims. The inability of islamists to take over is more due to the influence of sufi broterhoods who don't want an even more centralised state interfering in religious affairs. In other words it's not the sharia aspect of an islamic state that they object to.

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 8:57 AM

Marc: Does a Muslim have to be non practicing for you to find them “not scary”?

No.

It is just interesting that you throw in a comment about getting drunk with a Muslim.

He is a practicing Muslim.

It also seems like you added the drunk bit to add to this guy's bonafides.

I threw it in there because so many Westerners think Muslims are hard-wired to be fanatical about their religion, that they follow the Koran as though it were law. They aren't, and they don't.

In any case, I do not like or trust religious fundamentalists, whether they are Muslim, Christian, or whatever else. In the regions where I work, religious fundamentalists are those most likely to harm me. That is true in Christian Belgrade as well as Baghdad. I know it, and you know it too.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 9:36 AM

MJT: In the regions where I work, religious fundamentalists are those most likely to harm me. That is true in Christian Belgrade as well as Baghdad.

I don't buy it.

From what I've seen, you're more likely to be harmed by regular criminals in Baghdad than by jihadists. You'd be killed for your money before anyone decided to kill you for being American.

And in Belgrade, the contrast would be even more glaring. You're far, far more likely to be hurt during a violent crime in Belgrade than become a victim of Christian fundamentalism.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 11:02 AM

Edgar: You're far, far more likely to be hurt during a violent crime in Belgrade than become a victim of Christian fundamentalism.

That's true.

From what I've seen, you're more likely to be harmed by regular criminals in Baghdad than by jihadists.

That isn't.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 12:05 PM

MJT: That isn't [true]

I guess you mean if you're with the U.S. Army. Obviously, Americans working with the military will be targeted by insurgents, not criminals. Same goes for journalists--they're covering the insurgency, after all.

But if you were to live like an ordinary Iraqi in Baghdad you'd face the same threats they do--the biggest of which is armed criminal gangs.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 12:19 PM

MJT.. Care to elaborate, and hopefully beyond your status quo "personal experience" answer?

While I agree that getting blown to pieces or decapitated by a jihadi is quite scary (much like the stigma associated with nuclear power/weapons), I'd have to agree with Edgar that general violence that's not necessairly related to religious ideology would be more prevalent in Baghdad.

Posted by: JohnDakota Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 12:21 PM

JohnDakota: I'd have to agree with Edgar that general violence that's not necessairly related to religious ideology would be more prevalent in Baghdad.

For Iraqis maybe, but not for an American civilian.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 12:25 PM

JD: general violence that's not necessairly related to religious ideology would be more prevalent in Baghdad.

Yeah. I'll put it this way: the number of armed men in Iraq who would kill an American and NOT take his wallet is pretty small.

I'm sure some Iraqi criminals are fundamentalists and hate Americans. But they're after money, not martyrdom.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 12:27 PM

Anyway, "religious fundamentalist" is not a meaningful category in Belgrade. The Serbian Orthodox Church is one of the three pillars of Serbian nationalism (along with the military and the "Academy of Science"), and Serbian nationalists are who threaten me in Serbia, along with common criminals. I don't need to worry about anyone else.

I visited Orthodox churches, though. It is not a big deal. And I've been to mosques in Iraq.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 12:29 PM

How does violence against American citizens immediately mean the attack had religious motivations? Could it not simply be Anti-americanism (which isn't in any muslim text)?

Posted by: JohnDakota Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 12:36 PM

MJT,

You seem to have contradicted yourself.

First post: In the regions where I work, religious fundamentalists are those most likely to harm me. That is true in Christian Belgrade...

Second post: “religious fundamentalist” is not a meaningful category in Belgrade...Serbian nationalists are who threaten me in Serbia, along with common criminals. I don't need to worry about anyone else.

Which one is correct?

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 12:45 PM

Michael,

Did any Serbian nationalists threaten you in Belgrade? I've known lots of Serbian nationalists, and Croatian nationalists. For the most part they don't have any argument with Americans, they hate each other and the muslims. The Serbs mostly still think eventually we will wake up and realize supporting the muslims in the Balkans is the wrong thing to do. As long as you don't go out of your way to antagonize people in Belgrade by talking about Serbian war crimes and what a great thing it is that Kosovo has been handed over to Albanian immigrants, you shouldn't get in trouble. It's hardly comparable to Iraq. And the dangerous Serb nationalists are not truly Christian fundamentalists - religion is just a pretext for nationalism for those guys.

You should learn a little more about the Orthodox faith. It's not a warrior faith - Catholicism, Protestant Christianity and Islam all have strong warrior traditions - at various times all these religions have believed in spreading religion by the sword and violently converting the heathens. Orthodox Christianity has typically not been like that, it's more introspective and other worldly. Retreating to a monastery to devote oneself to God is still seen as the highest expression of faith in most Orthodox churches. This has in many ways been an intrinsic weakness for Orthodoxy - Orthodox religious leaders have tended to let Caesar do as Caesar wished and not realized until too late that the State was manipulating the church to its own ends. This was certainly the case in Russia historically, and arguably true in Serbia.

Posted by: Dyadya Vanya Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 1:42 PM

Edgar: I'm sure some Iraqi criminals are fundamentalists and hate Americans. But they're after money, not martyrdom.

Violent muggings may be a bigger problem in Baghdad than terrorism and insurgent violence (though I doubt it), but it certainly wasn't my biggest concern when I was there. I doubt it would be yours either if you showed up in person.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 2:44 PM

Edgar: You seem to have contradicted yourself.

Yeah, kind of. I've been busy writing something else while posting here. If I can't contradict myself in the comments, where can I?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 6, 2008 2:48 PM

Vanya: Did any Serbian nationalists threaten you in Belgrade?

No. I got some crap, but no serious threats.

As long as you don't go out of your way to antagonize people in Belgrade

I know how to behave in other countries, so of course I did no such thing.

Albanian immigrants

????

Albanians are the descendents of the ancient Illyrians. They are indigenous to the region. The Slavs are the "immigrants." But let's not go there. Everyone in this region has been here long enough by now. You might say the Turks were "immigrants" of a sort, but they were expelled.

And the dangerous Serb nationalists are not truly Christian fundamentalists - religion is just a pretext for nationalism for those guys.

Yes, I know. Bible-thumping, so to speak, doesn't really exist in this region. Religion is primarily political, as it is in much of the Middle East.

Orthodox Christianity has typically not been like that, it's more introspective and other worldly. Retreating to a monastery to devote oneself to God is still seen as the highest expression of faith in most Orthodox churches.

This is generally true, but the Serbian Orthodox Church is different from the others. It is much more nationalist and political, and a lot less spiritual. The relationship between church and state was different here because the state for so long was Ottoman, not Serbian. See "Heavenly Serbia" by Branimir Anzulovic. He's a Croatian scholar living in the U.S., and his book is more fair and well-researched than most Serbian critics want to admit.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 7, 2008 1:11 AM

I should add that almost everyone in Serbia was very nice to me personally, which is what I expected. That's how it is almost everywhere in the world. Serbia isn't Mordor. I met some interesting and very likeable and decent people. Will write about them shortly.

An American friend I was with in Belgrade said he met some Serbs two years ago in Cyprus who said "When we're good, we're really good. And when we're bad, we're really bad." That about covers it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 7, 2008 1:18 AM

I understand Lee's point in a general sense, and I have nothing against nonpracticing Muslims, but this passage is, as others have pointed out, weak and sad.

While it is possible the paper merely failed to report Gulen's conviction, it would be in keeping with the thrust of the Times' campaign on behalf of Moderate Islam to airbrush this rather inconvenient fact.

The nice thing about being convicted in foreign countries, rather than the US, is that US citizens can avoid going into brain lock, and think critically about what the charges - and the story behind them - actually mean.

In this case, very little except that the guy said something that the semi-authoritarians in Turkey didn't like.

This conviction is more like a badge of honor.

Here's a better question, Lee: Are you ever so gently writing from the perspective of, oh, Daniel Pipes? Who thinks that terrorists aren't, paraphrasing quote, as much of a threat as Western Universities plotting to give Muslims their own gym areas?

There is no conspiracy between violent Muslim fanatics and conservative, politically activist Muslims pressing and Islamic agenda. The first ones are criminals. The seconds set are citizens engaging in democratic activity. We should be proud of their abstention from violence, not painting them as a fifth column. We don't have to give them segregated bathrooms if we don't feel like doing it, but nor do we need Malkinism.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at May 7, 2008 4:35 AM

We don't need to give them segregated bathrooms if we don't feel like doing it

You mean American public bathrooms aren't gender segregated already?

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at May 7, 2008 7:39 AM

Michael,

The guy getting drunk with you was a practicing Muslim? How do you know he practices his religion? Did he put down his drink to run to the corner of the bar to say his Isha prayers?

A drinking "practicing" Muslim is like me talking about a "practicing Jew" who brought along BLTs for everyone to share.

I guess we'd disagree about what a "practicing Muslim" is. Amoungst Muslims themselves it is pretty clear that someone who drinks would NOT be a practicing Muslim anymore than the Christian who gets drunks, sleeps around and heads to the T & A bar on a Friday night would be a "practicing Christian".

Someone who openly flouts the rules of their religion is not practicing. Certainly the guy is a Muslim, but certainly NOT a practicing one.

Kosovo is full of "cultural" Muslims and it is pretty clear that is what this guy is. There is a HUGE difference between a practicing Muslim and a cultural Muslim. It is like "cultural Catholics" here in the West.

Kosovo is a land of non practicing/cultural Muslims. That is exactly why so many people who do NOT like Muslims will see them as "non scary" Muslims and put them forward when they'd never do it for a Muslim who didnt drink, didnt sleep around, kept his prayers and ate halal.

I also find it a bit naive to think that Kosovo, because of it's brand of heavy drinking non practicing cultural Muslims, will not get more conservative.

Bosnia certainly did and it wasnt the foreign jihadi fighters that did it, it was mostly Gulf NGOs spreading around large amounts of cash that did it.

They are already at work in Kosovo.........

I would argue about religion not being at least part of the issue in the area. I guess you guys missed the video on YouTube of the Orthodox priests blessing the Serbian fighters who were on their way to murder more than 10,000 people at Srebencia? Their salute, and that of many of the Serbian paramilitary was the three fingered salute symbolising the Christian trinity.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at May 7, 2008 11:00 AM

"....A drinking “practicing” Muslim is like me talking about a “practicing Jew” who brought along BLTs for everyone to share......"

I know many of those and used to be one myself, and anyone who knows me can tell you that my kashrut is still pretty self-indulgent and shaky. But I go to shul and leyn Torah and host Shabbat dinners and am going to study in Jerusalem this summer.

IOW I am a modern liberal who plays pick and choose with my religion, and I am cheered that some Muslims do too. I would prefer us all to be more consistent, but given how totally aggressive and self-righteous religious observance has become for some people, laxness signals willingness to live in the modern world.

Posted by: Yehudit Author Profile Page at May 7, 2008 3:42 PM

Marc: The guy getting drunk with you was a practicing Muslim?

Yes.

How do you know he practices his religion?

Because he said so. He even said he wished he could talk me into converting. I will not.

A drinking “practicing” Muslim is like me talking about a “practicing Jew” who brought along BLTs for everyone to share.

So you're like the Wahhabis (oops) who are barging into Kosovo and telling people they do everything wrong. Leave them alone.

Someone who openly flouts the rules of their religion is not practicing.

Only if by "pracicing" you mean "strict fundamentalist."

Kosovo is a land of non practicing/cultural Muslims.

Yes, they are the majority. But this guy wasn't one of them. Muslims drink alcohol here. Big deal, it's 21st century Europe.

I guess you guys missed the video on YouTube of the Orthodox priests blessing the Serbian fighters who were on their way to murder more than 10,000 people at Srebencia? Their salute, and that of many of the Serbian paramilitary was the three fingered salute symbolising the Christian trinity.

The three-fingered salute does not symbolize the Christian Trinity. It symbolizes the three pillars of Serbian Nationalism: The Serbian Orthodox Church, the Academy of Science, and the Military. If that sounds fascist, that's because it is.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 7, 2008 4:09 PM

Michael,

Do you believe everything you are told even if your eyes show you something different?

I guess for all of the time you have been around Muslims you still have yet to allow yourself to really understand them.

Your posts have changed dramatically in the time I started reading you. Your views on Muslims, Arabs and the Middle East used to border on the ignorant and hateful.

You are much more open and experienced now, a work in progress. I only hope that you continue to stay as open as you have been over the last couple of years and allow your thoughts and ideas to continue to grow with experience.

Your ideas and thoughts are now light years away from what they were a couple of years ago, you must admit that.

I hope to continue watching as your experience allows you to change in how you view things, people and events.

Some out there think you are a sell out for changing your views on Muslims, Islam and the Middle East. I certainly dont. It takes a great person to realise they were wrong and allow education and experience guide their ideas.

It is the very fact that you have changed your views and allowed reality to play a role in that, that makes your insight so valueable. It will only continue in this fashion I hope.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at May 8, 2008 6:29 AM

Marc: Do you believe everything you are told even if your eyes show you something different?

No.

I guess for all of the time you have been around Muslims you still have yet to allow yourself to really understand them.

I don't claim to know or understand everything. I know what I see, hear, and read. When those three things are in alignment, I'm pretty sure that my understanding is correct, unless I see, hear, and read something that contradicts it. Then I will have to sort it out. Sometimes that happens.

I trust my own eyes more than anything, but eyes can only perceive the surface of things.

Some Muslims drink. I know this because I have seen it, been told about it, and read about it. You spend a lot of time in the Gulf, yes? That is the most conservative Islamic region on the Earth. It isn't normal, it is at the margin. The Balkans are at the opposite margin. I like it here better, as I figured I would. But I like the relatively liberal parts of the Arab world, too. I do not political Islam for personal reasons (I'm a non-dogmatic atheist) but also for political reasons because it is often threatening and oppressive. I have seen a lot of destruction -- whole sections of cities laid waste in multiple countries, including my own -- in the name of political Islam.

Your views on Muslims, Arabs and the Middle East used to border on the ignorant and hateful.

I have never hated Muslims. I hated terrorists and religious totalitarians, and I still do. I have no more tolerance for them than I have for fascists and communists. I am not a liberal in the parochial American sense of the word, but I'm a pretty serious one in the general sense of the word, and I have been for my entire life.

Your ideas and thoughts are now light years away from what they were a couple of years ago, you must admit that.

In some ways, yes. Otherwise my time in the region would have been wasted. My outlook on the world in general has hardly moved (see above), but my knowledge has grown.

Some out there think you are a sell out for changing your views on Muslims, Islam and the Middle East.

I don't know of anyone who personally believes that. No one has told me that. I argue with people like Robert Spencer sometimes, but he reads what I write at least occasionally and he has not called me a sell-out.

It takes a great person to realise they were wrong and allow education and experience guide their ideas.

I only knew what was in the media. But I knew the media was wrong. I just did not know in which ways it was wrong. I did not know the details until I could see with my eyes.

The media is almost always wrong about almost everything. I learned that a very long time ago. One of my favorite sayings is from Thomas Jefferson: “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.”

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 8, 2008 11:13 AM

Michael,

I have spent a lot of time in the Gulf. I am not denying that some Muslims drink, but I am saying that any Muslim that does drink would NOT be considered a "practicing Muslim" by another Muslim. So to call a Muslim who drinks a "practicing Muslim" just isnt true. It is misleading to those who do not know better.

I understand where you come from concerning political Islam, but I think you over generalise the situation and tend to stick to stereotypes far too often. I dont know if it is because you do not know any better or you just dont want to confuse your readers with too much information. Political Islam has caused a lot of issues, but then again so have atheists with political dogma as well, the old Soviet Union would be a great example of that, or Christian with imperial dogma issues, ie the UK and the British Empire.

Anyway, it is a process. I guess if I just started visiting the Middle East a few years ago my thoughts would be radically different as well. It takes decades to get to know the place at all, so everyone has to start somewhere.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at May 9, 2008 10:32 AM
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