Exposing the Frauds...Again

November 12, 2015

Photo by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
Photo by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc

Foreign Policy Magazine asked Manal Omar of the United Institute of Peace (USIP) and Ayaan Hirsi Ali to a debate on whether Islam was a violent or peaceful religion. Omar points out that it's easy to want to make extremism a simple problem with a simple solution, but that in fact this oversimplification is intellectually dishonest. It ignores the many factors that go into extremism, and thus fails to tackle it effectively.

Ali’s claims are the same ones she has been spouting for years. The same tired argument is as follows:

  • Islam teaches violence in its scriptures.
  • “Good Muslims” (like Osama Bin Laden) are merely following the scripture.
  • However, a majority of Muslims are peaceful, but that is because they ignore the true teachings of Islam (yet they refuse to repudiate the violent teachings, and may even agree with them)
  • Reform means that Quranic verses and Prophetic practices must be discarded

It is interesting to note that Ali’s interpretation of the Quran is similar to Osama Bin Laden’s, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s, and other extremists’. What is even more interesting is that she claims to understand what Islam teaches, single-handedly wiping out 1400 years of various forms of Islamic jurisprudence while also claiming that 1.5 billion Muslims are simply not following their religion correctly. Ali is a self-appointed expert committee of one who suddenly knows better than everyone else on Islam.

This goes to a fundamental question of who decides what Islam is. When verses of the Quran are read, whose interpretation is correct? For sure, it cannot be the right-wing zealots or New Atheists who preach to the masses what Islam is. Would it not make more sense for a practitioner of a faith to be the final arbiter on what a religion means?

Ali and her kind are darlings of the right-wing, engaging in a symbiotic relationship. The right-wing gets a “credible” source to justify neoconservative foreign policy, anti-Shariah bills, and harsh counterterrorism tactics. And Ali gets to promote her book deals and establish her brand on FOX News.

Ali, like many Islamophobes, have cashed in on a lucrative career of anti-Muslim sentiment under the guise of promoting freedoms. Unfortunately, there is a large market for fear-mongers whose careers rely on hate and falsehoods.

Ali, of course, has no time for logic or reason. She suffered a lot at the hands of misogynists. That suffering has motivated her to stand against Islam. But while she claims to stand up for women, for example, she disregards the millions of women who choose to be Muslim and find empowerment and purpose through the faith. By claiming that over a billion people believe in a violent philosophy, she does nothing to actually advance that cause, instead insulting the very people she seeks to change. And while she argues for reform, she dismisses those who offer Islam as a peaceful, equitable lifestyle, instead insisting only on breaking down the doctrine.

Unfortunately, these accusations and flimsy arguments are still being hurled at Muslims over a decade after 9/11. However, with polls showing that negative perceptions of Muslims in America have actually increased from immediately after 9/11, Islamophobes must still be exposed for what they are: anti-Muslim bigots posing as experts.




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