Timothy Garton Ash, in the Guardian, says that there are “six different views often heard in the west, but also, it’s important to add, in Muslim countries such as Iran” about the Troubles in Islam. These views, according to Ash, say much about those of us who hold them [whether they say anything about Islam is up for grabs]. His essential point is that the reader/thinker’s own bias towards secularism, liberalism, multi-culturalism, colonialism etc. determines which of the six they choose.
Let me summarize:
- Islam is not the problem, all religions are – abandon them.
- Religion is not the problem, Islam is the problem – it needs to be reformed.
- Islam is not the problem, Islamism is the problem – it needs to be fought.
- Political history of Arabs is the real problem – it lacks democracy.
- The West – colonialism et al – is the problem.
- The problem is where prurient, lost, young Islam meets the hedonist, imperialist West.
Ash seems taken by #6 himself. I have snarked on most of these readings here at CM for their essentialism, their lack of historical and cultural specificity, their mis-reading of Islam and Islamicate societies etc. Yet, I wonder if we can refine these possibilities a bit more:
- Islam is not the problem – horny, unemployed, recently migrated Muslim men are [Olivier Roy]
- Islam is not the problem – Islamic history trapped in the “Golden Age” is [Bernard Lewis].
- Islam is the problem – Qur’an needs vigorous editing [Manji, Rushdie].
- Islam is the problem – Wahabbism has overtaken it [Hitchens, Friedman and all tele-pundits].
- Islam is not the problem – Muslims are: they breed too much and are on welfare and don’t assimilate [Talking points in Europe].
- Islam is not the problem – Zionists who mastermind all attacks are [popular local press in Muslimistan]
Well, gentle readers, which one do you choose? Please let me know. My views on this are here.