“Moderate Muslims denounce terror that's committed in the name of Islam but they deny that religion has anything to do with it," she says. "Reform-minded Muslims denounce terror that's committed in the name of Islam and acknowledge that our religion is used to inspire it."This distinction is important, I think, particularly in light of the conference on secular Islam that was recently held. "Moderate Muslims" have not been able to stop the rising storm of totalitarian jihad that is being generated by Islamic fanatics; but, "reform-minded Muslims"--like those who met in St. Petersburg, Florida just might have the key to bringing it to a halt by inviting Islam back into the civilized world.
Here is the a statement released by the participants at that conference (and you should read the entire Declaration):
Released by the delegates to the Secular Islam Summit, St. Petersburg, Florida on March 5, 2007
We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.
We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.
We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.
We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.
We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights. We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.
We call on the governments of the world toreject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostacy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights;
eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women; protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence;
reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims;
and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.
We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid strictures of orthodoxy.
We enjoin academics and thinkers everywhere to embark on a fearless examination of the origins and sources of Islam, and to promulgate the ideals of free scientific and spiritual inquiry through cross-cultural translation, publishing, and the mass media.
We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine;
to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens;
and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.
Before any of us is a member of the Umma, the Body of Christ, or the Chosen People, we are all members of the community of conscience, the people who must chose for themselves. (emphasis mine)
And with this brilliantly clear and morally precise declaration, the religion of Islam has been given an opportunity to rejoin the rest of civilization. For far too long, they have allowed themselves to abjure civilization and embrace barbarity--all in the name of Allah.
Siggy points out in his usual direct and no-nonsense manner:
Writing in the Arab News, Linda Heard says that Israel Should Embrace The Arab Peace Plan:Israel is concerned about maintaining a demographic balance so that Jews outnumber non-Jews. Fears are that should there be more Arab Israelis than Jewish Israelis Israel would no longer be able to label itself a Jewish state and would have to fend off calls for a one-state solution.
No Ms Heard, Israel and the civilized world are not so much concerned with a ‘one state solution’ as they are worried about wholesale slaughter, as promised by the religious leaders of her patrons, the Saudis, the rest of the Arab world and the Palestinians themselves. Israel is concerned that ‘Itbach Al Yahud!’- Slaughter the Jews! is an acceptable expression of religious and political expression in the Arab world. Israel is concerned Holocaust denial is most loudly heard from by the same people who ‘promise to finish what Hitler started. Israel is concerned about what is taught in Arab world schools, broadcast on Arab world media and preached from Arab world pulpits.
Ms Heard can pretend as mightily as she can that the Arab world, Israel and the west are all moral equivalents, but in the end, you can’t make reality go away no matter how many times you click your heels....
Under tyrannical regimes with no hope for a future for themselves or for their children, it isn’t hard to understand how so many otherwise rational people would be intoxicated with the idea of a meaningful life by fighting for a ’cause,’ bought and paid for by regimes with a vested interest in keeping rage and attention focused outward. These regimes go with the tried and true- make Israel and the Jews the enemy, not only of the Palestinians but the enemy of Islam as well. Throw in a few wild conspiracy theories, a harsh repressive police force and the road to maintaining power in the region is assured. Make sure the media, school curriculum’s and carefully chosen clergy that can be bought and paid for easily, will spew hate, bigotry and revisionism on demand and populations that number millions, will come out and march for you. Why? Because they believe that an ideology or religion that bestows upon them even a contrived notion superiority and meaning is more than they can ever hope for in their real lives. Add a few cameras, wave the flag and millions upon millions will thank their leaders for their oppression.
As I explained in this post about the strategic question of our time--is Islam compatible with freedom and democracy:
President Bush has bet everything on the hope that Islam can be changed if it is infused with some democratic opportunities and freed from some of the political and religious tyranny that has dominated the Middle East. If such a democratizing process had been started--and carried through-- a decade or two earlier, well who knows how much the situation might have changed by now? But it only began after a devastating attack within our borders finally spurred us to mobilize our resources and fight back both militarily and strategically.
....contrary to the infantile imaginings of the antiwar and so-called "peace" movements, Bush's [middle east] strategy actually represents the best possible hope for peace; even if it is slight.
It is a strategy that faces the grim reality of Islamic contradictions and historical brutality; yet has enough optimism and goodwill in it to be genuinely worth the price we are paying in Afghanistan and Iraq. If it works--and I haven't entirely given up hope yet-- millions of deaths might still be prevented. And if the peace crowd really cares about peace, then they would do well to reconsider their own perverse antics; and the Democrats their knee-jerk opposition.
Because, if they succeed in their determination to undermine American policy as it is now formulated; or if the extremists succeed in eliminating any voices for moderation and tolerance; then there will be only one strategic option open.
Whether it is appreciated or not, these last few years have indeed been our "Golden Hour" --the short time we have to deal with the threat that is represented by the radical elements of Islam. So much of the last three years has been wasted and frittered away by the left and their carping and undermining of Bush's strategic ploy. The continual appeasement, encouragement and cover given to those who would destroy us without mercy, has markedly diluted what we might have accomplished up to now with our aggressive pursuit of the YES Strategy.
The Golden Hour is winding down. As the clock moves closer to answering NO to that fundamental strategic question; and as we creep closer and closer to the ultimate confrontation with a medieval, uncompromising and fanatically ruthless religion; there will be no deus ex machina --and no pointless protest march with clever placards--that will be able to save the millions of lives lost in that conflagration.
This is not only the West's "Golden Hour" --it is also Islam's. The writers of the St. Petersburg Declaration understand this reality. They have taken a clear and unambiguous stand against all the regressive and medieval aspects of their religion and represent a lighthouse, blazing a path toward safe harbor in the tempestuous night, as Islam is tossed and turned by its own stormy contradictions, coming ever closer to permanent self-destruction.
The St. Petersberg Declaration will either provide a life-giving infusion of liberty, rationality, and tolerance into a religion that has been redefined by dysfunctional leaders and, as a result, is in terminal decline; or else the virulent pathology with which it is infected will continue to spread, undeterred; bringing even more death, destruction, and tyranny into the world.
UPDATE: Phyllis Chesler, who was at the conference in Florida has this to say (read her entire article, please):
Now is the time for Western intellectuals who claim to be antiracists and committed to human rights to stand with these dissidents. To do so requires that we adopt a universal standard of human rights and abandon our loyalty to multicultural relativism, which justifies, even romanticises, indigenous Islamist barbarism, totalitarian terrorism and the persecution of women, religious minorities, homosexuals and intellectuals. Our abject refusal to judge between civilisation and barbarism, and between enlightened rationalism and theocratic fundamentalism, endangers and condemns the victims of Islamic tyranny.
Yes, let us see which side the gormless intellectual "elites" of the left are really on, once and for all.
UPATE II: Neo has a related post up:
This is exactly what Islam needs. Whether this tiny graft of Enlightenment thought has any chance of taking I do not know; the forces arrayed against it are powerful, determined, and vast, both inside and outside the Muslim world....
Postmodernist moral relativism and its handmaiden, cultural relativism, have acquired a domination over modern academia, and although both exist and flourish only because of freedom of thought and expression, both refuse to acknowledge their own debt to the superior—yes, superior—values of the Enlightenment. Therefore we are faced with the puzzling fact that those who ought to be the greatest champions of exactly what the St. Petersburg Declaration is asking them to speak out for—liberty in the Muslim world, and elsewhere—make excuses for and even ally themselves with those who would deny it to that Muslim world.