Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bernard Lewis interview

I have a lot of time for Bernard Lewis because he has a lot of respect for the culture he so often criticises. This long and very interesting interview with the Jerusalem Post is typical.

He's hard on the Iranian regime, but soft on the Iranian bomb. He wants regime change, but not an invasion of Iran. He draws good distinctions. On the bomb.

Look at it from the Iranian point of view: The Russians in the north have it, the Chinese in the east have it, the Pakistanis in the south have it, and the Israelis in the west have it. "Who is to tell us that we must not have it?"
Previously it had some support, but it is now increasingly being realized that this is a method of strengthening the regime, which means that it is bad.
Is a closed system of government inherent in Islam?
No, it is not inherent in Islam. It is inherent in the kind of government under which they have lived for the last 200 years or so. In the earliest stages of Islam, the government was more open. Traditional Islamic governments devoted great importance to consultation, to content, to limited authority, to government under law; all these things are part of the traditional Islamic background.
This is a good question.
A Syrian philosopher published an article not long ago in which he said the only question about the future of Europe is: "Will it be an Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam?"

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