Are Islam and Democracy Mutually Exclusive?
“Have I made it clear enough that people, no matter where they come from, all like to be free? That freedom is not a Western idea? There was one more thing about that myth the myth of America that I wanted to mention. The way some people talk about so called Muslim societies as if they are sort of trapped by what they call culture and religion, and there is no way that they can change. But this is a double standard, because we should remember that in the West, in the mid-nineteenth century, women did not have the right to vote, that there were many people in the U.S. and Europe who were saying that a woman’s place was in her home, and that the Bible says so. America has a history of slavery until the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the buses and restaurants were segregated and a lot of blood was shed in order for African Americans to gain equality. And the arguments that were used against women and against abolition are the same kind of arguments that are now used against change in relation to women’s rights in Muslim majority countries. Because, if Sharia laws are Muslim culture, then slavery and burning witches in Salem are the culture of this country, not Emerson and Thoreau and Martin Luther King. And the Inquisition is the culture of Europe, not St. Thomas Aquinas or Dante or Cortes. People should understand that we have our Hafez and Rumi and great poets and great philosophers, and that we also have a set of traditions that are regressive and oppressive and need to be changed (Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran, pg 368).” Read More »