Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Moderate Muslims

by Lisa Schiffren from National Review Online (US: New York)

Like many who went to college in the 70s and 80s, I knew plenty of moderate Muslims back then. The Arab, Pakistani, and Turkish women I went to school with at Bryn Mawr were about as moderate as you could imagine. Some were secular and some were religious, and all were nationalists. But they all believed in science, democracy, economic reforms to help the poor, and more freedom and legal rights for women. Of all classes ... The notion that the Bush Administration had about Iraq, that it was such a well-educated, urbane society, with a real sense of commerce and an ability to adapt Western ways easily, came about because the dissidents and the progressives of the Arab world of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, had all been imbued with those values. The fundamentalist Wahabi infection that has spread, like the flu, changed all that. Even if we believe that only a relatively small percentage of Muslims are really fundies — they seem to hold the balance of power in their societies. Since it seems clear enough that we cannot change things for them, we are going to have to wait and watch as they sort it out themselves. It is hard to imagine that happening peacefully.

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