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Sirocco, I appreciate your story but I think that your choice to quote from the Koran is wrong in this context. We are talking about an ancient text written for a different time.  That some Muslims have shaped their religion into one of hate and oppression is an obvious fact, but the text itself is not to blame.  We are not talking about Marx, whose writings are only separated from the horrors of the Cheka by a few decades (though they are even closer to democratic instincts of the SPD and SFIO - Marx can be fairly blamed or praised for some of the worst and best of modern history) Adherents of Islam are always 'a la carte' Muslims. They pick and choose which passages to emphasize, which to ignore, which take priority, and how to interpret everything for the present. The same goes for every other religion - those that cry death to fags and those who make gays bishops are equally Christian. Nor is it really honest to see one as a literalist and the other as not - why do the strictures of Levicitus take precedence over the Sermon on the Mount, and for that matter why are the rules on sexuality relevant but those on diet not (do the James Dobsons and Pat Robertsons of this world keep kosher?).  Religion can be a source of good or evil. In most cases it is just an unthinking habit inherited from ones parents and a social institution.

At the risk of becoming perceived as the PC nut on this blog I'd also like to mention that such selective theological exegis has a long an ugly history, being the chief ideological weapon in the service of fanatical hostility to other religions. The anti-Muslim version largely died out in the early modern period, the anti-Jewish one survived though it was overshadowed by the new mode of authoritative discourse of scientific rationalism. I realize that few are aware of this but that makes it all the more insidious of a weapon. I also realize that what you are trying to do is simply point out the hypocrisy of those currently throwing a fit over the cartoons.  But to do that properly what you need to show is actual words and actions by those protest a bit too much - e.g. sift through remarks by Qardawi, point out the irony of official Saudi clerics condemning religious intolerance while supporting the ban on all non Muslim religious practice, etc.

PS - I don't care about what religions say will happen to my soul in the hereafter since I believe in neither. What I do care about is when my freedom of speech or action is limited in the name of religion.

by MarekNYC on Mon Jan 30th, 2006 at 09:14:02 PM EST

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