As it happens, it was the Rushdie affair that inspired the book in the first place. The essay writing contest was the idea of the Ammar Abdulhamid, a US-educated Syrian who became disillusioned with radical Islam after the fatwa issued against Rushdie by Iran. He pointed out to the American Islamic Congress that while the Muslim world had vast, well-organised networks of people pushing extremist visions, nobody was doing the same thing for liberal ideas. “What we need is an essay contest on liberty with significant cash prizes,” he said.
“To Assad, the rallies spurred by the Islam-bashing film were heaven-sent: they have given credence to his claims that the Arab Spring is at heart an Islamist spring and that al Qaeda and its affiliates will be empowered as a result,” says Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian activist based in America. “Meanwhile, the rallies have also distracted international attention from the current mayhem unfolding in Syria, and they might give pause to any calls for intervention.”
It is nice to see science lending some justification to heresy, especially that variety of it that claims to be more objective and rational. I have always observed in the process of my occasional debates with Muslim believers that the Golden Age of Islam in the Middle East coincided by most accounts with the First Abbasid period – a time that witnessed the flourishing of both heresy and traditional faith. Continue reading →
For one, once people have committed themselves publicly to an erroneous assumption and passed judgment on the basis of this assumption, it becomes very difficult for them to back down and recant later, not to mention to actually correct their mistake, even when their basic assumption is shown to be demonstrably wrong. For this reason, and despite the noble efforts of some commenters who actually bothered to do a little background check before jumping to conclusions, to some I now remain a possible crypto-Islamist sent to infiltrate the Democratic crowd in Congress. Continue reading →
Ramadan. The most hedonistic time of the Muslim year. So, hedonistic, in fact, it might as well be called the Muslim Christmas or Hanukah. Indeed, human nature, when given the chance, tends to bastardize all rituals and observances meant to celebrate our loftier desires and yearnings. So be it. I really don’t have much problem with this particular human contradiction. I much rather the heterogeneity of individualized bastardization than the homogeneity of collective ritualistic observance.
While Graham Fuller, former top Middle East analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency, isquoted in this article as saying that “Resistance rises above sectarianism” in the region at the moment, al-Arabiya.net isreportingon rising sectarian tensions among Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon at this stage, in particular on rising Sunni resentment and suspicions with regard to the increasing role of the Shiites in Lebanon, and the role of Hezbollah in instigating the current round of conflict. So, what’s really going on here? Continue reading →