Sunday, August 12, 2007

Reform and rejection

It's becoming a trend. Another 'apostate' from "Islamist extremism" (he doesn't hesitate to use the correct modifier): Shiraz Maher.

When I first left, I emphasised that the challenges of Islamist extremism could never be overcome until the Muslim community formulated its own response. Since meeting Ed [Husain] and becoming aware of the emerging network of other former members, many of them also holding a senior rank at one time, I was reassured. An influential figure still within the movement, but who is close to leaving, told me and Ed recently, “Don’t worry, your message is being heard.”

The landscape in the Muslim community is changing. Just as the divisive message of political Islam has been spread by young men across Britain, there is now a growing number of former activists leading the charge against the ideas that we once helped to promote. I only hope that our testimonies will encourage those still within Islamist movements to find the moral courage to leave.

I think he is right; the response must come from Muslims. Many use this obvious assertion as a prelude to bashing people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I think both are necessary. People like Ali will be there, like Voltaire in another century, to lead the way over the wall and to remind those within that there is always that alternative. Just as both reactions, reform and rejection, have been available to us Christians, so too should they be to Muslims.

Shiraz Maher wants to stay within and fashion a Muslim response to Muslim totalitarianism. Good, and I hope he gets all the support he needs. Ali rejects the totalitarianism along with the creed from which it springs. Good, and may her example help many others, as well as challenge those within to hasten their reforms or lose more to the secular world. And all this will be able to happen only if Western countries protect their public space from the blackmail and violence of the extremists.

(via Ninme)

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