Friday, August 26, 2005

Ioannis Gatsiounis reviews The Myth of Islamic Tolerance

...education efforts have worked so effectively that many educated non-Muslims have come to believe that unflattering manifestations of Islam are aberrant. Of course these perceptions are rarely based on direct contact with the religion, for, as any outsider who has taken a closer look at Islam can attest, further inquiry produces as many unsettling questions as it does tidy answers.

Why, for instance, are many of the world's most pious and knowledgeable Muslims also the most hostile toward non-believers? Why do non-Muslims face significant discrimination, even in the Islamic world's most moderate nations? (In Malaysia last month for instance, 35 masked assailants dressed in robes attacked and partially scorched a commune led by a Muslim apostate.) This is to say nothing of the rights of women in most Muslim countries. Is it all simply a matter of interpretation (ie abuse for personal or political gain), or does the sustained prevalence of such patterns reveal something inherent about the faith?
I don't pretend to know a great deal about Islam.

I am learning more, and the more I've been learning about this faith, the more disconcerted I've become. It troubles me to learn that people who I've considered friends of mine read, and adhere to, a "holy book" which disclaims friendship with non-believers, and which teaches the importance of deception and violence.


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