An outspoken and renowned American feminist and an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at City University of New York, Phyllis Chesler, chaired the opening panel at the first Secular Islam Summit in March 2007. In an article for The Times, How my eyes were opened to the barbarity of Islam, she writes,
“…my views have found favour with the bravest and most enlightened people alive. Leading secular Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents — from Egypt, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria and exiles from Europe and North America — assembled for the landmark Islamic Summit Conference in Florida and invited me to chair the opening panel…”
The meetings were chaired by the Indian Muslim scholar and intellectual Ibn Warraq. The previous year he and ten other Muslim and ex-Muslim intellectuals, journalists and authors (including Salman Rushdie) had co-signed a ‘Manifesto: Together Facing the New Totalitarianism’, which strongly opposed blasphemy laws and customs.
In an exclusive interview published a fortnight ago Phyllis describes her friend,
Ibn Warraq is known for having dared to summarize the history of Islam as one of imperialism, colonialism, gender and religious apartheid, anti-black racism, and slavery – and for having dared to point out that, far from being odious, imperial, “Orientalists”, European scholars, not Muslim invaders, saved, recorded, painted, preserved, and restored the narratives, scholarship, sculpture, artifacts, languages, customs, and architecture of the Islamic, pre-Islamic, and Christian Middle East, and of Asia, and India.
Therefore, at the Secular Islam Summit he declared,
“What we need now is an age of enlightenment in the Islamic world. Without critical examination of Islam, it will remain dogmatic, fanatical and intolerant and will continue to stifle thought, human rights, individuality, originality and truth.”
The conference issued a declaration calling for such an “Enlightenment” which views “Islamophobia” as a false allegation, sees a “noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine” and “demands the release of Islam from its captivity to the ambitions of power-hungry men”. (All emphases added)
In the interview Phyllis notes the summit published,
“a declaration urging world governments to reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, state-sanctioned religion, to oppose the penalties for apostasy and blasphemy as a violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
and that her friend has urged Western intellectuals to cherish and defend their Western values and freedom.
With statements such as those above we can grasp the importance and significance of his sound recommendations to international concerns over the Israel-Palestine situation and any possibility of a peace settlement.
Phyllis Chesler’s recent interview of her friend continues,
“Although Ibn Warraq believes that “moderate Muslims” do exist, he does not believe that “Islam is moderate” and he is not optimistic about how quickly moderate Muslim theologians will be able to bring about a religious reformation that will be acceptable. Nevertheless, for years now, my scholarly friend would disappear to Europe, mainly to Germany to “do Koranic research.” I had no idea why he kept returning to work with these German scholars. Now, I begin to understand the importance of this research with the publication of his new book, Christmas in the Koran: Luxenberg, Syriac, and the Near Eastern and Judeo-Christian Background of Islam (2014).”
Amazon describes this textbook as, ‘an anthology of scholarly yet accessible studies of the Koran (and which) makes a convincing case that Islam’s holy book borrowed heavily from Christian texts in Syriac and other Near Eastern sources’.
Today in Parliament
The Guardian’s political correspondent Rowena Mason noted on Friday that the House of Commons is likely to recognise Palestine as a state. MPs are debating a motion on its right to independence even though the government’s position is supportive of Israeli-Palestinian talks for two independent states.
But The Commentator’s editorial has a grasp of the deep issues and problems:
“(Today’s) vote…aiming at recognising a Palestinian state is certainly historic, and in several senses. It’s a historic mistake; a historic instance of ignorance and bigotry at the heart of the British political system; and a historic gift to Islamist terrorism…
“The more you think about it, the worse it gets. Britain is sending people into battle to stop one Islamist terror state emerging in Syria/Iraq, and now wants to give its imprimatur to the creation of another one in Israel/ Palestine.
After reminding readers of the evil that is Hamas and that Britain’s Parliament would reward them still further with a vote that can only help them, the editor concludes:
“The vote itself is motivated by ignorance and bigotry. A vote in favour is a vote to turn the Mother of Parliaments into the Mother of all Stupidity; and a friend of terrorism to boot. This might be a time for British MPs to drop the prejudice, and start thinking about what they are doing.”
Adrian Hilton, aka blogger ‘His Grace Archbishop Cranmer’, is scathing on The hypocrisy of Labour’s three-line whip tactics:
As the British Parliament votes on a motion of support for the establishment of the State of Palestine, it is noteworthy that Conservative backbenchers have been granted a free vote, while Labour MPs are subject to a three-line whip. If you happen to be a pro-Israel Labour MP, you have been asked to stay away from the Chamber.
In all honesty, I suppose it’s too much to expect our Parliamentary Clowns to begin to appreciate Ibn Warraq’s warnings??
By the way, let’s not overlook Islamist infiltration in British schools, as revealed by former police counter-terror chief Peter Clarke in Trojan Horse ‘just tip of the iceberg’!
UPDATE >> Christian group warns ‘British values’ rules imposed after ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal leading to schools with a religious ethos being marked down by inspectors for failing to promote ‘tolerance’ (See Christian school downgraded for failing to invite an imam to school assembly – John Bingham, Telegraph 19 October)
PS. read about the vote’s possible prophetical relevance in the next post >>
[Houses of Parliament photo courtesy Freeedigitalphotos.net]