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  1. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    As we know, the Enlightenment replaced blind belief with evidence and reason.

    MBTI has had no double blind test in seventy years, so MBTI is based on blind belief.

    It is worth your life to criticise Mohammed and the Koran, so Islam is based on blind belief.

    Protestantism is based on Faith not Works and so is also based on blind belief.

    The myriad business cults of the USA are based on blind belief.

    Catholicism is based on Articles of Faith and miracles, and is also based on blind belief.

    Even astrology is based on blind belief.

    Yet the blind are advising us what to do - it is the blind leading the blind.

    The Enlightenment lite a candle in the dark, and here we are blowing it out.

    For the Enlightenment calls up a visceral hatred in believers.
    Poor Victor. He just can't accept the fact his bubble has been burst.

  2. #92
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    I once thought the Enlightenment was the perfect era for humanity too. Then I took a closer look.

    The Enlightenment era oversaw the expansion of slavery and imperialism.

    There are perfect panaceas in the past for the modern age to latch onto. We have to keep searching and we also have to learn from what has already come to pass. We can't keep latching onto extreme viewpoints, i.e. total rationality verses total emotionalism. We're a world of human beings, heart and head must be balanced.

  3. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by bananatrombones View Post
    The main Abrahamic religions are spawned from written traditions. Fallability of translation and linguistic ambiguity can leave them prone to exploitation by an extreme agenda.

    It becomes easy to render a faith in overly simplistic terms:
    - Koran+Hadiths=Islam; Old Testament+New Testament=Christianity, etc.

    Not recognising the nuances of authentic religious experience and stripped of cultural and political context it can be tempting to take the actions of a vocal few (while ingoring invisible evidence of the well-behaved many) as representative. This is called confirmation bias.

    Traditions that bend with the wind can seem peculiarly relativistic and unappealing to those who seek an unequivocal version of the truth. After all, what kind of religion would survive if it's motto was: Join Us! We're probably wrong? It's attactive for more zealous adherants to see any questioning as weak without accepting evidence that questions their dogmatism. This is also called confirmation bias.
    Indeed! This is because Articles of Faith have been rehashed time and time again. The Guttenburg Bible was met with lethal opposition by the old Catholic Church because the priests enjoyed flexing their power over the congregation; and it seems that Fox's Book of Martyrs has been subtly suppressed in this light. Even the chants of the Latin Mass alienate the congregation like the echoing beeps of a starship. Today, we have 8 primary versions of the Bible; all of which were written with different accentuations.

    Some time after Peter's gruesome trip to Rome, Christianity became a political contender and victor; now with the Pope as its crown. The papacy of the Pope was indited on political grounds, but it seems that the Pope has been imbued with Christ-like authority. Under him lies a strict and non-Biblical hierarchy, part of which seems to take part in Catholic mysticism, which is heretical according to the Bible. Mysticism is defined by a direct relationship with God, which conflicts with the necessity for Jesus altogether.

    Of course, the rivalries between the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches are of the churches and by the churches; while the rivalries between the protestants are of and by the protesters. So Victor claims that the Enlightenment tamed Christianity with a form of democratic spiritualism, which is easily reconciled with the teachings of Jesus. The authenticity of the Articles of Faith mark the grounds for debate among the members of protestant churches. Even so, the distinctions between faith and culture are a daunting task for even the historian to decipher, compounded by the interpretation of linguistics and symbolism. So if you are a Christian and crave a truly authentic spiritual experience, I would recommend learning Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. Until then, I guess I'm just going to settle for NKJV because those who wrote KJV didn't know squat about Hebrew, while many other translations contain other errors.

    Sorry, I don't mean to derail away from Islam. As far as I can tell, human nature is fallible. This is why humans tend to exacerbate their dilemmas when they assemble under a roof, in a town, or an internet forum. Religious institutions have a roofs, but the enforcers of spiritual consistency must adhere to the Documents of Faith, lest they succumb to their imperfections again. This is why we have forum rules and domestic laws on paper. It seems that there's always going to be a semantic loophole, which allows men to temporarily defy the premises of their regulations. So the Constitution needs new amendments every blue moon. I fear that with the rise of Postmodernism and technological advancement, we're eventually going to stand upon the precipice of humanity, staring straight into the robotic jaws of a Brave New World. Will we have to reconstruct our rules altogether? Who knows, but it seems that Articles of Faith may be our only tethers to human decency. It's a shame that some will use them as justification for indecency. In order to avoid indecency, we must hold ourselves accountable, which Victor seems to have an aversion to.

  4. #94
    Allergic to Mornings ergophobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgan Le Fay View Post
    Unlike some, I have a habit of being terse and hoping others will pick up on nuance. I give people credit for being capable of non-literal interpretations. Much as you do...
    If the above is true, how could you imagine my ever suggesting the below -, take it back now! :steam:

    You hold it up as an example of enlightened theocracy - that's damning enough!
    Jokes apart, every post I've written on this thread has highlighted the differences between regime types and asked for us to concentrate on those versus a narrow interpretation of religion as responsible for the poor status of women across countries, particularly those with Muslim majorities. I'm not sure how a point I was making about the diversity of women's experiences in Islamic countries could be construed as Iran being an 'enlightened' theocracy. Did you miss the part where I was saying that we should support protesters against the repressive dictatorial government?

    I'll say this one last time and then I'll just stop because even I'm getting tired of repeating this one:
    Islam itself is like any other religion at the mercy of those who interpret it. These people tend to be politicians, invested in maintaining authoritarian regimes and religious leaders, invested in maintaining patriarchy. When we blame Islam for poor human rights (women's and everyone else's), we're obfuscating the issue and aiding these very politicians and religious leaders who want to present themselves as protectors of their religion (not the authoritarian government or patriarchy which is closer to the truth) against the West that is presented as waging war against the Islamic world.

    Evidence of this was given in the disparity in human rights we see, particularly for women across the Islamic world. A theocracy, by definition, is a state which sees NO separation between religion and state. If we took the view of Islam you and LR seem to have here of Islam then this is where rights should be worst protected because here is religion guiding the state completely. Instead, we have a parliament with elected positions (very restricted in who can run but there are elections), women have more rights and access to education and career opportunities (poor compared to the rest to the world but please, make no mistake, far better than much of the Middle East) than other regime types including monarchies and single party regimes in the region all of which use religion. Clearly, it's not the religion, it's the type of regime and socio-economic conditions (Iran has a lot of poverty whereas the Persian Gulf uses oil to buy off dissent - no taxation, no representation in reverse).

    Here is a great article that reminds us of the historical context in which we should view Iran and its politician-religious leader nexus. See the promises made by Khomeini before the revolution and his words after. The before quotes speak of a secular state with him playing a small role, quote open and democratic - sounds a lot like democracy. See what the Iranians thought they were getting and what they actually got. The after quotes link democracy with the West and him as the protector of Islam. It's not Islam but a desire for continued power in the name of Islam that leads to rights being eroded under the authoritarian rule for theocracy.
    THE IRANIAN: Khomeini before & after revolution

    Similarly, a former revolutionary speaks of how he left the Khomeini theocracy after 1982 and describes how Khomeini misused Islam to establish control.
    National Iranian American Council (NIAC) - Dr. Mansour Farhang Addresses Human Rights and Democracy in Iran


    I'm not saying the Iranian model is enlightened anything. It's a dictatorship and it's repressive. For the last time, please do call these countries on their poor records of human rights but put the blame squarely on their authoritarian leaders and bigotry. Pointing to Islam is missing the issue.

    Cultures evolve. Islam does not. Or if it does the pace is agonizingly slow. That is Ayaan's contention. Of course there are all sorts of socio-political reasons for that in the Middle East - it doesn't negate the truth of the statement.
    Could you explain to me how other religions have evolved faster in comparison to Islam, particularly Christianity or Judaism or even Hinduism particularly when these are practiced in non-democratic countries? Remember Spain right up to the 1970s? How different did it look under the Franco regime where the rights of women were subject to what their fathers and husbands thought they should have. Should we call this slow evolving Christianity or should we call it the result of having an authoritarian bigot as a leader? Has Christianity (Catholicism) changed that much since Franco - no. The Roman Catholic church leaves a lot to be desired in terms of respecting the rights of minorities in every way possible. What has changed is the political regime to a vibrant democracy. That's the historical context in which Islam should be viewed. Today, the same Spanish state passed gay-marriage laws.

    Yes, we all agree on the separation of Church and state but we do not agree on what that means in modern day democracies. Take Australia, Victor would you consider it having adopted the principles of enlightenment you speak of so endearingly? How come an enlightened democracy with separation of church and state decided to pass a special amendment to its constitution that bans gay marriage? This must have nothing to do with the religious leaning of its leaders, right? A similar amendment was considered by the Federal government in the United States and passed in several states. Is this not religion influencing the state to keep rights from minorities? Where is this enlightened separation? Is it Christianity we should blame. How could we when a similar diversity exists across majority Christian, even catholic countries in Europe, many of whom have legalized gay marriage?

    We don't disagree on the problem - poor status of rights for women and other political minorities. We do however disagree on where the blame should be placed.

    I think I've seen both the programmes you reference. Also other documentaries and films from Iran like Persepolis...
    Yes, Persepolis is great and got mainstream coverage here in the U.S. as compared to other Iranian films so I hope most would have seen it here at least. Do pass along other suggestions if you have any, please.

  5. #95
    Allergic to Mornings ergophobe's Avatar
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    I don't really know what we are arguing about here. Semantics. An unfortunate reference to an unqualified "Enlightenment" with an implied euro-centricity which misses the point. Separation of religion and State is a desirable thing - on this I think we can all agree. If not, someone can make a case for it. /thread.
    [REOPEN THREAD] since we clearly do have large areas of disagreement.

    I think this is a very relevant question - What are we arguing about? I've been thinking about this since my first post on the thread and here's my take on why I continue to post here in spite of poor returns

    What we all agree on:
    1. The need for better rights for everyone, particularly political minorities (including women) in the Islamic world.
    2. The need for separation of religion and state for the above.

    What we disagree on:
    1. The collapsing of state and religion is unique to the Islamic world.
    2. The complete separation of religion and state is achievable (not just desirable as we agree above) as seen in examples of modern day Western democracies (clearly this is not the case).
    3. The blame for the poor record of human rights should be placed on Islam or religion instead of authoritarian governments and their authoritarian leaders. This view is connected to seeing it as an unchanging religion practiced by the majority of its followers using the most conservative interpretation possible.

    Our areas of disagreement are pretty important because they influence our view of what should be done by the West to encourage these Islamic countries to better their rights records. Also, how these countries themselves achieve better rights for political minorities.

    The Eurocentric view that is presented in the OP suggests that an enlightened Europe has achieved this wondrous separation of religion and state and that this magically led to better rights for women. This view painfully ignores the strengthening of democratic institutions which was necessary before rights for women appeared more than a century later with suffrage for women in Britain and the United States in 1920 and pay equality in 1963 in the United States (still not prevalent in practice).

    If we concentrate on the idea of religion being responsible instead of poor levels of education, authoritarian regimes that repress their citizens, oil that buys support in place of taxation and without an understanding that it took the West centuries after the enlightenment to reach the stage of partial equality women enjoy here today, we make the same mistakes as before:

    1. Forcible secularization aka The Fake Shahs
    The first was a former general installed as monarch instead of inherited monarchy in Iran and the second his son. The first came to power using British support and the second with the United States. Both put many surface reforms for women in place including educational reforms and marriage and divorce laws. Both failed to influence real societal changes because of their forcing secularization of Iranian society including banning the wearing of headscarves. Both also banned independent women's organizations. In practice, as a result of the headscarf being a strong social tradition that allowed women access safely into many domains restricted to men, fewer women went to school, fewer went to work, got less pay for work and had less access to the world outside their homes under the Shahs. These reforms have continued in spite of the repressive regime under the theocracy with women getting ownership of half the property in a marriage in the 1980s and housework being recognized as equal work under Iranian law in the 1990s so that women were allowed real alimony. The forced secularization and the Shahs placement by Britain and the U.S. led to the eventual toppling of the regime by the revolution in 1979. Separating religion and the state forcibly without recognizing cultural differences and womens right to choose for themselves worked so effectively then right?
    Source: The Veil in Their Minds and on Our Heads: Veiling Practices and Muslim Women. Homa Hoodfar. Resources for Feminist Research. Vol 22. No. 3/4 Pdf here: http://www.umass.edu/wost/syllabi/spring06/hoodfar.pdf

    My favorite passage which I was paraphrasing in an earlier post:
    "The assumption that the veil equals ignorance and oppression has meant that young Muslim women have to invest a considerable amount of energy in establishing themselves as thinking, rational, literate, students/persons, both in their classrooms and outside. "


    Alternatively:
    2. Demonize the religion instead of the politicians and religious leaders who use the religion as a veil to hide their power hungry, authoritarian ways and patriarchal leanings. Enter the theocracy and the defeat of moderate reformers like Khatami in favor of radicals like Ahmedinejad who manipulate the people with the rhetoric of Islam against the West using the worst cultural stereotypes of us because we do the same of them. Instead of ditching the idiot with a weak head for numbers (poor development and high unemployment are twin achievements of his reign), we blame Islam for political violence and this once again rallies people around him, helping him to get reelected. Nice.

    How we think of the problem clearly affects what we do about it and what we think the people in majority Islamic countries, men and women can do to improve their own rights. If we don't put the people we want to help in the difficult position of having to choose between their religion and their rights, they won't find it necessary to support these despotic leaders who present themselves as guardians (albeit false) of their religion.

    If we step back and let these citizens, perfectly capable of doing so, bring about change from within and accept the responsibility of helping only in ways they request, perhaps we may come across as providing the help we mean to. If we step back and not offer support and friendship to despotic regimes that support our economies and our wars then perhaps their people may find it easier to ask for the changes they deserve.

    Yes, we have large areas of agreement. I, too, am not a fan of organized religion. I choose my own brand of unorganized spirituality because I can. Organized religion is often used by leaders as above for their own agendas. However, I am even less of a fan of taking away the individual's right to choose for themselves and viewing those who choose faith as conservative, choosing oppression and without agency. I don't do this for any religion. Why do it for Islam?

    I argue it is also more of a problem when we do this with Islam because we do it from the outside instead of inside our own society as with Christianity. When we single out Islam and present it as being slower to reform, stuck in narrow, conservative interpretations, we help make this true. We are living in countries that have immense control and influence on people's lives in Islamic countries through history and now. In the past, we've told them who should lead them, helped put these leaders in place and now when we insist their religion sucks because we view it as a black box without diverse interpretations and practises, let's not be surprised when they beg to differ, being even slower to adopt reforms associated with us, the West...

  6. #96
    Allergic to Mornings ergophobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    All five major schools of Islamic law, which the ulamas of the vast majority of mosques are indoctrinated into, advocate laws against apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism, and advocate laws in support of the dhimmi system within states with a large Muslim majority-it has never been my contention that orthodox Islam is the same as Wahabbism or the Taliban, merely that the fundamental beliefs of orthodox Muslims are in opposition to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and equality under secular law as universal values. This is the reason that the OIC countries (democratic and authoritarian alike) explicitly and, in recent years, energetically reject the aspects of the UDHR that conflict with such beliefs.
    I'm really not convinced that the OIC rejects the UNDHR because of is strict adherence to the Dhimmi school of thought. Really? It has nothing to do with the fact that the majority states who are members rely on repression to maintain their states and this would be quite an inconvenience. Also, I'm sure it has little to do with these states being concerned about the UNDHR being used as an excuse to compromise their sovereignty which hasn't been done throughout history, right? So, let's see which provides a better explanation and one that can also be applied to countries like China and Burma and North Korea.

    Again, as I have expressed before, see actual performance which varies quite a bit by type of government across Muslim majority countries instead of cheap talk done by their leaders. Reliance on a narrow, orthodox interpretation as representing all in practice refuses to go past the surface in understanding the motivations for these actions. They're rational actors making cost-benefit analyses just like the rest of states including Western ones. Mali and Senegal are Muslim majority countries and fare better than many European ones.

    I don't want to take away from the problem of religious freedom in Islamic countries. It is a serious problem in many, particularly Muslim majority countries with authoritarian rule. I contend that the veil of Islam is used to cover up repressive rule versus representing religious principles. Think of how Asian values are used as a veil in covering up similar intolerance in China, North Korea and Burma (also among the worst performers) but majority Buddhist or Confucian. The UDHR is however not a treaty and is not binding on any of these countries so its utility in understanding what these countries do in practice is limited. I'd suggest looking at actual measures of religious freedom. Below we see that Islamic countries have real problems with support for religious freedom. Yet they are not all the same. Some are in the middle regarding religious freedom while others lie at the low end and two (Mali and Senegal) lie at the high end, higher than some countries in Europe. The Middle East, as always, has the worst record as compared to Islamic states in Asia and as with civil liberties the regime type and oil which helps maintain it explains more than an orthodox interpretation of religion.

    Here is an alternative to Freedom House which I referred to earlier. It's an indicator of Religious Freedom in the World. From the report by Paul Marshall:
    Hudson Institute > Center for Religious Freedom >Survey Files

    "Religious freedom is also not confined to any one area or
    continent (see Figure 1). There are relatively free countries in every
    continent. Japan, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Botswana, Mali,
    Namibia, Senegal, and South Africa score better in this survey than do
    Belgium, France, Germany, and Greece. Estonia and Hungary are
    among the freest countries in the world. Most Latin American
    countries also score well. There are absolutely no grounds for thinking
    that religious freedom is an exclusively Western concern or
    achievement.
    "

    By area:
    "Israel (excluding the occupied territories) scores a three, and Jordan,
    Lebanon, Morocco, and Oman, a four. Algeria, Kuwait, Libya, Syria,
    Tunisia, Turkey, and Yemen score a five, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt,
    Pakistan, and the Palestinian area six, and others seven (Iran, Iraq,
    Saudi Arabia). These findings, as well as those for other areas, are
    broadly consistent with other reports’ findings regarding human rights
    and freedom generally in these countries."

    By religion:
    The Muslim majority countries comprise the religious areas with
    the largest current restrictions on religious freedom. This pattern
    parallels problems with democracy, civil liberties, and economic
    freedom, but the negative trend with respect to religious freedom is
    even stronger. Of the twenty “unfree” countries and territories
    surveyed, twelve are Muslim majority. Of the seven countries
    receiving the lowest possible score, four are Muslim majority. This is
    a phenomenon that goes beyond the Arab world or the Middle East. In
    measures of, for example, electoral democracy, the Muslim world
    outside of the greater Middle East scores better than the Middle
    Eastern countries, and over half of the world’s Muslims live in
    electoral democracies: the problems with democracy are concentrated
    in the Middle East. However, in terms of religious freedom, the large
    Muslim democracies of Indonesia and Bangladesh score a five and a
    six respectively. In these cases, the problems of religious freedom are
    due not to government repression but to widespread societal religious
    violence, including religiously based terrorism, aimed at minorities
    and at undercutting the government. It should also be added that there
    are religiously free Muslim majority countries, including some of the poorest, Mali and Senegal, which are religiously freer than many European countries."


    I'm also very familiar with the polls you cited, but my interpretation of their implications is much different from yours; 49% support for "strict application of Shariah law" is far from reassuring in a country that is considered (rightly) to have one of the most liberal and pluralistic mainstream forms of Islamic belief in any Muslim country with a large religiously observant population.
    So, you'd still prefer to look at the answer by Indonesians to the vague question regarding Shari'a law instead of their answers to specific questions that actually mentioned real practices such as traditional punishment and reduced rights for women where small minorities said they supported it with the largest minority being 30% for social welfare portions of Shar'ia. I'm not sure why you would choose to concentrate on a question that is least revealing in understanding what these people are actually supporting besides that it's the one that comes closest to supporting your general argument. Still, I hope others will continue to look at all the questions, the variety of answers, how these differed across government type and region.

  7. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mystic Tater
    he reason people don't listen to you.
    And yet they do. And get angry about it. Funny that.

    Quote Originally Posted by ergophobe View Post
    I'm not saying the Iranian model is enlightened anything. It's a dictatorship and it's repressive. For the last time, please do call these countries on their poor records of human rights but put the blame squarely on their authoritarian leaders and bigotry. Pointing to Islam is missing the issue.
    Many would disagree. Including Iranian muslim women involved in opposing the oppression. Why do they target Islamic fundamentalism, instead of simply attacking the corrupt regime of a dictator?
    ]Islamic fundamentalism establishes its thesis on the differences between the sexes and the conclusion that the male is superior, and hence, the female is a slave at his service. A parliamentarian in Iran is on record as saying, "Women must accept the reality of men dominating them, and the world must recognize the fact that men are superior."
    This religiously-derived ideology is firmly ingrained in the political and cultural landscape. I fail to see how it is possible to make any progress towards equality without questioning it. Do you? Especially when progressive Western ideals are unthinkingly demonized as the toxic output of the infidel.
    Could you explain to me how other religions have evolved faster in comparison to Islam, particularly Christianity or Judaism or even Hinduism particularly when these are practiced in non-democratic countries?
    I'm not promoting one religion over another - they all have much to answer for. But as long as they don't have a stranglehold on political power, I'm indifferent. Once declawed and defanged by secularism, they are more manageable.

    Quote Originally Posted by ergophobe View Post
    What we disagree on:
    1. The collapsing of state and religion is unique to the Islamic world.
    2. The complete separation of religion and state is achievable (not just desirable as we agree above) as seen in examples of modern day Western democracies (clearly this is not the case).
    3. The blame for the poor record of human rights should be placed on Islam or religion instead of authoritarian governments and their authoritarian leaders. This view is connected to seeing it as an unchanging religion practiced by the majority of its followers using the most conservative interpretation possible.
    I don't disagree with any of this. And I don't sanction any action by the West which is inspired by crusading religious zeal. But neither do I respect practices which breach basic human rights just because I think it's in some way enlightened to tolerate oppressive cultural and religious ideals, simply because they stem from an unfamiliar tradition.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

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    Allergic to Mornings ergophobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgan Le Fay View Post
    Many would disagree. Including Iranian muslim women involved in opposing the oppression. Why do they target Islamic fundamentalism, instead of simply attacking the corrupt regime of a dictator?
    The article above repeatedly points to politicians and conservative religious leaders interpreting Islam to support patriarchy and authoritarianism. How is this different from what I said above? I'm not suggesting we support or ignore Islamic or any other fundamentalism. I'm suggesting we not let it define the religion as the only interpretation. When you make that distinction clearly, we won't be in disagreement.

    The problem with the above is that it really ignores the reform movement from within the religion, as flawed as it may be. An indigenous movement has much greater chance of being accepted and us seeing the changes we support.

    "Among men it is not only reformist clerics who are involved in advocating equal rights, but also many laymen. The arguments of reformist clerics are, however, especially important in the continuing situation of predominantly Islamic discourse, in which the formulations mastered by trained clerics have a special prestige.
    Iran Chamber Society: Iranian Society: Women in Iran Since 1979

    The points made about Khatami are valid - there was incredible disappointment after his election. They're also better understood in the context of him doing something similar to what we saw Suffragists do in the early 1900s, prioritize one kind of oppression and neglect another. First suffrage for Caucasian women and then we'll tackle questions of race. He said first democratic reforms and a less repressive society, then the question of rights for women. The article above makes the same point. He's also known for famously defending women as not being the second sex and encouraging independent womens groups to form again.

    I'll continue to argue that there have been gains made for women, in spite of the above and would have a much better chance of continuing under a reformist leader. Women now form 60% of university students, have access to birth control, for 27% of the labor force...
    "..it appears that the existence of an Islamic legal
    regime does not fully account for women’s progress or lack of it. ...The activity of women undertaken in an Islamic context has in effect created an Islamic feminism. While their agitation for change has remained largely within acceptable religious bounds, their collective action has expanded those gendered boundaries.

    These forms of sex discrimination are often justifed as stemming from Shari’a; yet Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights lawyer who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, maintains that “[t]here is no contradiction between an Islamic Republic, Islam and human rights.” From Ebadi’s point of view, a progressive interpretation of Islamic law is compatible with democracy and women’s advancement, and a popular movement can achieve it.
    http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/...l28/halper.pdf

    Supporting these women who work within their religious framework has a better chance of achieving equality rather than an externally approved and imposed idea of secularism.

    This religiously-derived ideology is firmly ingrained in the political and cultural landscape. I fail to see how it is possible to make any progress towards equality without questioning it. Do you? Especially when progressive Western ideals are unthinkingly demonized as the toxic output of the infidel. I'm not promoting one religion over another - they all have much to answer for. But as long as they don't have a stranglehold on political power, I'm indifferent. Once declawed and defanged by secularism, they are more manageable.
    How do you suggest this secularism be brought about in Islamic societies, particularly in Iran? What's the plan, Stan?

    I don't disagree with any of this. And I don't sanction any action by the West which is inspired by crusading religious zeal. But neither do I respect practices which breach basic human rights just because I think it's in some way enlightened to tolerate oppressive cultural and religious ideals, simply because they stem from an unfamiliar tradition.
    Strawman. Just when I was beginning to feel the love again, too I'm taking it back.

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    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ergophobe View Post
    I'm not suggesting we support or ignore Islamic or any other fundamentalism. I'm suggesting we not let it define the religion as the only interpretation. When you make that distinction clearly, we won't be in disagreement.
    Well, that's progress, since you've thus far refused to countenance that religious ideology is even part of the problem.
    I'm not interested in defining someone else's religion - I leave that to them. But if the way they define it includes breaching the rights of others, then I don't think they should be let off the hook to protect religious sensitivities. I guess we are in agreement then.

    I'll continue to argue that there have been gains made for women, in spite of the above and would have a much better chance of continuing under a reformist leader. Women now form 60% of university students, have access to birth control, for 27% of the labor force...
    That may be, but they are banned from pursuing higher education in many fields of study.
    Sure a woman may work (in those occupations which are not prohibited), but only with her husband’s permission.
    But that's ok because the legal age at which girls can be married is 9 years (pre-1979 both 16 years - apparently hardline Islamists have no problem with pedophilia).
    Polygamy is legal, with men permitted to have four wives and unlimited number of temporary wives. However, homosexuality is illegal, those charged with love-making are given a choice of four deathstyles: being hanged, stoned, halved by a sword, or dropped from the highest perch.
    Women are not permitted to travel or acquire a passport without their husband’s written permission or
    to be in the company of a man who is not her husband or a male relative.
    Bummer!

    All these measures were introduced post-1979.

    How do you suggest this secularism be brought about in Islamic societies, particularly in Iran?
    Certainly not with ham-fisted Western intervention. I see you haven't answered my question though, so I guess that means I don't have to answer yours.
    Strawman. Just when I was beginning to feel the love again, too I'm taking it back.

    That's ok. I still think you're awesome and the best debater on the board.
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    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

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    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ergophobe View Post
    Here is an alternative to Freedom House which I referred to earlier. It's an indicator of Religious Freedom in the World. From the report by Paul Marshall:
    Hudson Institute > Center for Religious Freedom >Survey Files

    "Religious freedom is also not confined to any one area or
    continent (see Figure 1). There are relatively free countries in every
    continent. Japan, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Botswana, Mali,
    Namibia, Senegal, and South Africa score better in this survey than do
    Belgium, France, Germany, and Greece. Estonia and Hungary are
    among the freest countries in the world. Most Latin American
    countries also score well. There are absolutely no grounds for thinking
    that religious freedom is an exclusively Western concern or
    achievement.
    "
    My dear Ergophobe,


    First, I'd say it's very pleasing to read at least an enlightened and responsible discourse here, especially when it is backed up with so many references.
    Second, I'd say I agree with the majority of what you have said, especially about the fact that Islam is exploited politically, that it's a mean and not an end, and that this phenomenon is more recent than what we Westerner often imagine it is. We should not be tempted to essentialize Islam.

    However.

    I think that just for the sake of debating, you are taking your argument a bit too far. And even if you're right globally, locally, you should have remained cautious.

    For instance, take that source you quoted. It is ABSOLUTE bullshit (forgive me to be so straightforward). Because for instance:

    1/ The reason why countries like Belgium and France are not "that" high in their ranking is because they have banned Scientology after several repeated legal abuse. It's the ONLY reason, and it is very controversial. Is Scientology a religion or just a scam made to extort you lot, lot of money? That's not as simple as it seems.

    2/ On the other hand, I should recommend you to wander in the streets of Bamako (capitol of Mali) and tell me if in practice, religious freedom is that high. For instance, cursing Islam here in public is FORBIDDEN, and will lead you to a fine. And if you continue, you will be jailed.
    In Senegal it's the same: Blasphemy against Islam is strictly forbidden, and can get you into a lot of trouble. Blasphemy against other religions is of course allowed (how hypocritical!).

    3/ Similarly, Indonesia is one of the worst country when it comes to religious freedom, and it's imbedded in their constitution: It is ILLEGAL not to believe in a single monotheistic God, with the single exception of Hinduism (which is considered as a form of hidden Monotheism anyway). That means that (a) Indonesian citizens cannot be confucianist, shintoist, and the like; and worst, that (b) making the apology of Atheism and Paganism is considered a crime. And a serious crime indeed, since it could mean not only jail, but you could lose your papers and thus be considered as a stateless person (apatride) for the rest of your life.

    Once again, check the Indonesian constitution very carefully and read behind the lines when it claims that everybody should be allowed to worship God the way (s)he desires, and you will notice that it follows Shari'a's principles almost to the letter, even if they pretend to be "enlightened" -at least, compared to many other Muslim countries-.

    But the direst consequence of this, was that the indigenous people of Papua-Irian Jaya have been deprived of any legal existence during decades, as long as they did not convert either to Christianity or Islam. And according to this principle, they have been ruthlessly genocided, since they weren't considered as "human". Things change very slowly.
    And yes, it was a religious Genocide. A modern one, occuring during the late XXth century. So frankly, Chaafi Indonesia is NOT a role model.

    ---

    So once again, don't idealized this world too much.
    You probably know, just like me, that Religion is a very powerful, if not the most powerful sociological phenomena. So strong you find it at the birth of modern sociology: just check Weber or Dürckheim... etc...
    So to pretend that there is no specific influence of Islam and Islamic values over human societies is absurd. Religious values aren't the same everywhere, and hence their consequences aren't even.

    Having said that, we have to acknowledge that Islam is not a whole "block": there are different IslamS. One billion people cannot be essentialized to the same source. And that may explain some of your confusions. For instance, Shia Islam has always been far more advanced (intellectually, but also legally) than the majority of the traditional Sunni schools. It's a very long story, and I'm sure you know it. For instance, Shia Islam never banned or authorized the burning of the works of Avicenne or Averroes. And there are lots of other complex theological reasons (Individualism, elitism, decentralized power, constant competition of Marjahs, esoterism rather than exoterism... and so on). That's why the theocracy you have in Iran will always look better -at least for some individual rights- than most of the countries with an Hanbali or a Maleki majority. That's a local paradox, isn't it?

    (By the way, if you want to see a magnificent Feminist movie, see "Ten" of Abbas Kiarostami, since you asked other references than Persepolis. There's also the daughter of Makhmalbaf... well, several other works of contemporary Iranian artists)

    The only Sunni school that can be considered as "tolerant" is the Hanafi school -the one you find in Turkey, Syria and in northern Central Asia-, because it's the only one that does not consider that the Shariah should be strictly implemented, at least in real life. For instance, Abu Hanaf did not forbid the consumption of alcohol, even if he did not recommend it either. His opinion was that "you could drink as long as you could still read the Quran": that's a fair margin, isn't it? Besides, should you try to ban Wodka in Kazakhstan, you would have a bloody revolution within the hour!
    Another reason why Hanafi school has been embraced by the Turks is the Ottoman Empire. It's the only Sunni Muslim state that edicted civil laws, rather than strict religious ones. And the Hanafi school is the only one that allows that. Shia states (such as Safavid Persia) never were concerned by Shari'a because the Shia clergy interpret it very differently. Thanks to Itjihad, it's not the same law at all, it is allowed to evolve. For instance, some important Ayatollahs think that Death penalty should be abolished, according to their own principles of Faith - by the way, the Ahmadiyyah community has almost reached the same conclusion-. So we're far from the violent stereotypes spread against Islam as a whole. Violence and Djihad is not imbedded within some so-called Islamic genes, even if SOME roads can certainly lead to this.

    So you see: I think you're both right and wrong. First and foremost, it depends which kind of Islam we are talking about. And yes, some expressions of Islam are very intolerant and totally incompatible with the UDHR (most religions are, but nonetheless not at the same level of responsability), and yes, it is in the Shariah, and we should not elude this obvious fact, even if corruption, thirst of power, and traditional despotism and male chauvinism of the local elites are also often to be blamed first (and you're right about that point: the current issue of West against Islamic countries is sometimes more political than really religious: it depends on which context, which society and which country you are talking about).

    I'd say that yes, there is a specific issue within some schools of Sunni Islam, and ESPECIALLY within the states of the Arabic peninsula. And the real issue is that recently these states have had lot of influence and money thanks to the oil exports. And they used that money to spread wahhabism and hanbalism (the most xenophobic form of Islam, obsessed with "purity"). This could explain why radical Islam suddenly expanded everywhere so quickly 30 years ago, but not so much before.
    And you have to link radical Islam with a kind of Identity crisis the Arab world suffers with the failures of national secular ideologies like Nasserism, Baathism and pan-Arabism. The Arab world feels hurt, incredibly humiliated by the West, sometimes for good, and sometimes for bad reasons. And unfortunately, simultaneously the "West" currently seeks an enemy, after the fall of Communism: it is our own tradition, simple people need simple political landmarks (even if it's plain demagogy).
    So yes, once again, the major reason behind this so-called clash of civilizations might be political after all, and religion would only serve as a way to express and convey the disenchantment of theses frustrated and alienated Arab masses (to speak like Arendt, since the issue of this thread is totalitarism).

    Should we try to understand these complex societal reasons, then we could have understood most of this current issue. Possibly. Probably. At least I hope so. So that's why we would agree once again, in the end.

    What do you think?
    Last edited by Blackmail!; 02-10-2010 at 06:24 PM.
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