Friday, October 1, 2010

Political Scientist Hamed Abdel-Samad of The Downfall of the Islamic World

In a SPIEGEL interview, Egyptian-German political scientist Hamed Abdel-Samad talks about his childhood as the son of an imam in Egypt, why he thinks Islam is a danger to society and his theories about the inevitable decline of the Muslim world.

''SPIEGEL: You predict the "downfall of the Islamic world," to quote the title of your new book. But Islam is the fastest growing of all religions, and Europe, in particular, is worried about being overwhelmed by Muslims.

Abdel-Samad: The numbers don't tell us very much. There are 1.4 billion Muslims. So what? The important thing is that in almost all countries with a Muslim majority, we see the decline of civilization and a stagnation of all forms of life. Islam has no convincing answers to the challenges of the 21st century. It is in intellectual, moral and cultural decline -- a doomed religion, without self-awareness and without any options to act.

SPIEGEL: Aren't you making the mistake of many radical critics of Islam, by lumping together the entire religion, in all of its many forms?
Abdel-Samad: Of course our religion has many directions. The differences may be of interest to theologians and anthropologists, but they are quite irrelevant from a political standpoint. The decisive element is the general lack of direction and backwardness, which often lead to an aggressive fundamentalism. That sets the general tone.

SPIEGEL: But Dubai is worlds away from Somalia, and the relatively liberal Indonesia is very different from Iran's rigorous theocracy. Turkey is a democracy and currently has higher economic growth than any other European country. Are these all exceptions to the rule?
Abdel-Samad: There are differences, of course. But whenever Muslims seek to introduce Islamic studies into European schools or try to obtain nonprofit status for an Islamic organization, there is always talk of one Islam. The minute someone attacks the faith, they resort to a trick to stifle the criticism and disingenuously ask: Which Islam are you talking about?

SPIEGEL: Perhaps you could help us understand.
Abdel-Samad: In a sense, Islam is like a drug, like alcohol. A small amount can have a healing and inspiring effect, but when the believer reaches for the bottle of dogmatic faith in every situation, it gets dangerous. This high-proof form of Islam is what I'm talking about. It harms the individual and damages society. It inhibits integration, because this Islam divides the world into friends and enemies, into the faithful and the infidels.

SPIEGEL: It sounds as if you're not all that far away from Sarrazin in your views.
Abdel-Samad: The only thing Mr. Sarrazin and I have in common is that we both come from an immigrant background. He is afraid of the Islamic world, and I'm afraid for it. Germany offers both of us a forum, and for that reason alone the country cannot be done away with.

SPIEGEL: You advocate a milder form of Islam. What remains of the core of the religion?
Abdel-Samad: My dream, in fact, is an enlightened Islam, without Sharia law and without jihad, without gender apartheid, proselytizing and the mentality of entitlement. A religion that is open to criticism and questions. As far as I'm concerned, I converted from faith to knowledge some time ago.

This is part of the interview. More herrreeee

Gulf Money, Media Bias and Conspiracy Theories

By Claire Berlinski.

A few weeks ago, I noted with disgust the cover of Time magazine, headlined Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace. I suggested that their editorial line had of late become so frankly hostile to Israel that it would be worthwhile to ask who their advertisers were. An old friend of mine, with whom I've been arguing about politics literally since I was fifteen years old, wrote to me to object. I'll call him "Red Sean." Red Sean felt my suggestion was analogous to precisely the kind of ugly conspiracy theory I would usually deplore:

--My dear friend, I don't think it's wise to question the motives of every news organization that disagrees with you. Take it at face value and dispute it on its merit. Otherwise it gets ugly. It is usually my Jewish friends who get uncomfortable at the mention of the close connection of various individuals in government and media with Israel. Those who point out the close ties are deemed anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists. We can't have it both ways.

A fair point. I generally agree that we'd all be well-advised to begin by arguing with an article's facts, not with the ethnicity or nationality of the newspaper's advertisers. In the case of the article in question, there are more than enough facts with which to argue.
That said, media consumers have every reason to ask who's funding the newspaper they're reading or the television show they're watching. News magazines run on advertising, and of course publishers gear content toward the advertisers' preferences, both consciously and unconsciously. This is why you'll never see a fashion magazine running an article titled, "Actually, all that makeup just makes you look shallow, garish and phony."

Is it anti-Semitic to intimate that Jews control the American media? Yes, because they don't. Jews are statistically over-represented in journalism, as they are in all the professions. They're still very much the minority. Most of the major media (what's left of it) is now owned by publicly traded international corporations, who answer to institutional investors and advertisers. They follow the money, not the dictates of the International Zionist Conspiracy, because they have no choice.
More herrrreeeee

Day Opening - October 1

Autumn, Wiltshire, England