|Islam and Human Rights|
|05 Feb 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com|
|India’s groupthink on Islam: reflections from Jaipur|
The Indian debate about Islam has remained frozen in a time warp. The mainstream intellectuals who dominate the country’s editorial pages and television channels tend to trace the Muslim world’s problems almost exclusively to the alleged misdeeds of Israel and the US. The Hindu right doesn’t make this mistake, but its tendency to group all Muslims together, its inability to distinguish between Islam as a religion and Islamism as an ideology, and its championing of causes important to the most orthodox Hindu believers shades into bigotry and religious chauvinism.
In Jaipur, Hirsi Ali challenged the assumptions of both groups. She was flatly unapologetic about her views on Islamic theology, but at the same time she urged the audience to think of Muslims as “individuals who are capable of changing their mind”. … Speaking to a packed hall, with her burly bodyguard unobtrusively off-stage, Hirsi Ali spoke about Islam—and its problems with individualism, women’s rights and sexuality—with a frankness unfamiliar to most Indians. She described the faith she was born into as “a dangerous, totalitarian ideology masquerading as a religion”. She argued against the moral relativism that has prevented Western intellectuals from scrutinizing Islam as they do Christianity and Judaism. She asked why it seemed impossible to have a sober discussion about the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad without riling Muslim sentiment, and made the case for bringing the Enlightenment to the blighted lands of West Asia and Muslim South Asia. -- Sadanand Dhume