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There are strengths in Islamic tradition. Islam actually, as a monotheistic religion, which defined man as a responsible agent by itself, created the idea of the individual in the Middle East and saved it from the communitarianism, the collectivism of the tribe.
The Qur'an not only lacks any earthly punishment for someone who abandons Islam, it even includes verses that imply that such a change of heart should be a matter of free choice.
For the jihadists, Muslim women who embrace Western mores, and wear tight jeans or mini skirts, are hated symbols of corruption that need to be eradicated. For the ideological mentors of Breivik, a similar disturbance comes from the burqa, which is banned in France and Belgium, partly thanks to their efforts.
In the 19th century, when Muslims were looking at Europe as an example, they were independent; they were more self-confident. In the early 20th century, with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the whole Middle East was colonized. And when you have colonization, what do you have? You have anti-colonization.
The main bone of contention is whether Islamic injunctions are legal or moral categories. When Muslims say Islam commands daily prayers or bans alcohol, are they talking about public obligations that will be enforced by the state or personal ones that will be judged by God?
What made al Qaeda retrieve the doctrine of militant jihad, and Breivik the ideas of crusade and reconquest, is a sense of siege. So, we should help both Westerners and Muslims get rid of that sense by easing their political tensions and by fostering dialogue between them.
While no Muslim worthy of his name would lose his respect for God, the Prophet Muhammad, and other symbols of Islam, he might well refrain from using legal prosecution or violent reaction to those who do not show the same respect. My basis for this claim is nothing other than the holiest source of Islam, the Quran.
It is no secret that many Islamic movements in the Middle East tend to be authoritarian, and some of the so-called 'Islamic regimes' such as Saudi Arabia, Iran - and the worst case was the Taliban in Afghanistan - they are pretty authoritarian. No doubt about that.
Turkey has never been colonized, so it remained as an independent nation after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
The Arab Spring has heightened the ideological tension between Ankara and Tehran, and Turkey's model seems to be winning.
Those who hope to nurture genuine religiosity should first establish liberty.
What if democracy does not serve liberty? This question is seldom asked in the West, where democracy is often seen as synonymous with liberalism.
Foreign journalists writing about Turkey like to focus on the most fundamental divide in Turkish society: the rift between religious conservatives and secularists.
It is beneficial for Turkish democracy that not all religious conservatives are united under one banner.
Disapproving and boycotting is the Quranic thing to do, whereas violence and threats are not.
There is a heated debate in Turkey these days over whether the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is furthering democracy or rolling it back.
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Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert A. Heinlein
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