Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Another type of Muslim anger

The Committee for Ex-Muslims is launched today in the Netherlands. The choice of day is deliberate.

Its founder, Ehsan Jami, says it's a question of the right to choose.

In Islam you are born Muslim. You do not even choose to be Muslim. We want that to change, so that people are free to choose who they want to be and what they want to believe in.

His stance has made life difficult for him in his own Labour Party, which has a lot of support among Muslims, but has not cleared a place for him on the right either. The Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders wants the Koran to be banned, a position that seems a little at variance with the name of the party.

Many accuse people like Ehsan Jami, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Mina Ahadi (the founder of a similar organisation in Germany) of making things worse, of hardening the battle lines, of polarising opinion. But, as much as the reformers from within Islam, they are necessary. They merely want the choice that the rest of us have, and are clearing the path for others.

Surely, the desirable end point is that a person's identity is not decided only by the religion they were born into. If I say that I was born and brought up a Catholic, what does that enable you to deduce about me? Very litle. It should be the same for Muslims.

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Hazar Nesimi said...

Feels like I need to post on this. It is the question of fairness, If one protects the rights of those who are denied their rights (poor headscarves again), similar rights should be given to the ones who want to renounce their identity. I wounder thought, what they are actually renouncing. Islam is three things, a belief in God, a set of rules s (and diverse rules), and also a cultural identity. So in the sense you are born Muslim because you are born into a distinct culture differnt from others. Deny that you might, but this would be foolish.

NoolaBeulah said...

That's the point, isn't it? He wants to choose which bits he wants. All, some or even none. Can you do that? I don't know.

Remember that people born in a place like the Netherlands have more than one point of reference. More than likely, his parents won't have been particularly devout, at least in a way that the fundamentalists would recognise. Jami will be able to look in several quite different 'places' for points of reference. I suspect that, for him, being born Muslim is something that is not an absolute, or so fixed that it governs all his choices from that moment onwards.

There are many people who believe that you can 'start again from scratch', from nothing. I don't. If Jami believes that, he'll be very confused for a long time. However, what you can do is think for yourself and mould what you've been given by posterity in such a way that you can live with it. So that his birthright as a Muslim does not need to over-ride his birthright as a Dutchman.

This is all very vague, but it's difficult to be definite about these things.

Hazar Nesimi said...

Yes Identity is vague topic!. If one is clearly removed from his cultural background it is not very hard for him/her to make a final break and announce the separation(and I agree it should not be if one wants to). It is interesting to see here in UK, immigrants feeling themselves really British, sometimes without even knowing the language and customs. They fit in.. I who know the culture of this land, in great depth could never be part of it, really make my soul to accept it. Its like a zeitgest, either you are "It" or you are not.

NoolaBeulah said...

You're right. We had this experience in Italy, which for me was IT, but for my wife anything but. There was no way round it. It's not something you can just decide.