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Moderate? by what standard?

Leon’s excellent piece about the Latte Sipper’s™ favourite son  put me in the right mood to consider the sins committed in the name of Islam and then I read the latest piece from Janet Albrechtsen which makes the point that “moderate” Islam is only moderate by comparison to its own extremes. By our standards of moderation it does not really  deserve  the epithet at all.

Moderate Islam is not so moderate if you are a Christian either. In August, 300 hardline Islamic protesters confronted Christians worshipping in an open field owned by the Christians. The Christians want to build a church. A leader of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front told reporters that the culture of the people will not allow a church. Earlier this year, thousands of Muslim extremists set fire to a Christian community centre in West Java when they suspected the local Christians planned to build a small chapel. According to the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, there have been more than 28 attacks on churches since January, a substantial increase since last year.

And how is moderate Islam doing when it comes to freedom of speech? While President Yudhoyono boasts about his country’s “increasingly incisive” free press, one the markers of moderate Islam’s commitment to democracy, it’s too bad if you’re the editor of Playboy Indonesia, a magazine consciously remodelled for the local market with no nudity. After being tried and acquitted for public indecency in 2007, Erwin Arnada was found guilty of public indecency last month by a new Supreme Court ruling. Arnada was arrested last week and has commenced a two-year prison sentence. The Indonesian constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press, is no match for hardline Islamic groups baying for Arnada’s blood. Is that moderation?

Move to New York and the fraught debate over the proposed Ground Zero mosque. Muslims demand the mosque be built. And their left-liberal supporters decry opponents of the mosque as bigots. They demonise and scold mainstream Americans who think otherwise. Even New Yorkers believe Muslims should show some sensitivity to the atrocities committed in the name of Islam on 9/11. A poll in The New York Times found that while 67 per cent agree the right to freedom of religion allows the building of the mosque, they believe the developers should find a different site. An editorial by the moralising New York Times would have none of that. Building the mosque would be “a gesture to Muslim-Americans”, it lectured. What about a gesture from moderate Muslims?

In recent years the West has fallen over itself to accommodate Muslim sensitivities. In Britain, the BBC boss says Islam should be treated differently from other religions. American publishers pull books that might offend Muslim sensibilities. Television stations censor images of Mohammed. Why does the accommodation always run one way?

Moderate Muslims would surely understand tolerance is a two-way street. They might agree the building of a mosque at Ground Zero is a political, rather than a religious, point. Instead, there is just silence. Always silence.


Janet Albrechtsen

Janet is correct here and as tolerant as I am to be about any belief in the the supernatural, about any religious practice is there really any obligation to tolerate the the intolerant? Because if we concede the point when someone wants to insist that their belief system should be unquestioned then we are giving up a most important part of our secular democracy, the right to speak freely and to call a spade a spade.

Cheers Comrades


  1. Toaf says:

    Blogger who knows nothing about Indonesia agrees with wingnut journalist who knows nothing about Indonesia. I’m convinced.

    (Also, it isn’t a mosque and it isn’t at Ground Zero. Is this the “plastic turkey” of teh right?)

  2. Ray Dixon says:

    if we concede the point when someone wants to insist that their belief system should be unquestioned then we are giving up a most important part of our secular democracy, the right to speak freely and to call a spade a spade

    Plenty of people “insist that their belief systems” are right. How does this effect your right to free speech? Isn’t that what you (and Janet) are doing here? I don’t think much of the Islamic religion either and it certainly contains its fair share of extremists among its followers. But I am yet to notice how followers of Islam have made my life the slightest bit worse. I am more offended by Collingwood supporters than muslims. Can I ask you this question?: You’ve been banging on about Islam and its “sins” for years. It’s like you hate the religion and all it stands for. Why don’t you just ignore it?

  3. Sax says:

    It’s not the religion people hate Ray, rather, what it does to people ? Hicks, a classic numnutts puppet example, of what religion/cultism can do to people ?

    When and how do we draw the line between freedom of religious expression, and defining what is a dangerous cult ? Building a mosque, within cooee of the trade centre site has nothing to do with religion. Its about power as Leon suggest !
    It is to remind the New Yorkers, that all powerful Islam is here to stay, and will bring the west to its knees if it gets out of control, so get used to it.
    Hmm, my opinion ? Don’t think I have to say it, I think you all know ?

  4. Ray Dixon says:

    “all powerful Islam is here to stay,bring the west to its knees”

    Even if they believe that, Sax, you are just running scared if you think our way of life is threatened by such things as: mosques, burqas, the koran, David Hicks, etc. This is ‘Reds under the bed’ stuff.

    Give. Me. A. Break.

  5. Sax says:

    Maybe, but putting a mosque within sight of extremist Islam’s attempt, to knobble the west into submission ? Reds under the bed stuff indeed. My rebuttal to you is, “Yep, keep your head in the sand mate. It will all turn out ok in the end !”

  6. Iain Hall says:

    Just because you are a disaster porn fan does not make you an expert on the third world.

    The issue is not that Muslims insist that they are right but the fact that so often their devotees either kill or threaten to kill anyone who questions any part of their faith. I can no more ignore the issue than you can ignore Collingwood. Its for a similar reason actually. Quite simply just as Collingwood are part of the AFL universe so to is Islam part of our world and just as Collingwood has some fans whom you would think vile human beings so to Islam has more than its share of nasty followers.
    So I think that its an Issue that should not be ignored because it won’t go away if we do.

  7. Sax says:

    That is why fundamentalism, or fundamentalist Islam, has gotten such a hold in the first place.

    We are not apathetic by any means, but, even more basic than that, it is written in the Bill of Rights, that Freedom of Religion is one of the rights that is embedded in that Bill.

    Certainly, we westerners don’t understand the commitment involved, and also, it is our fault, that these fundamentalists, have gotten a hold due in no part, to our apathy, and yes, perhaps even our embedded fears ?

    That is what they count on, our inability, or ignorance to want to be seen as ‘interfering’ or even our implied bigotry ? As is customary in human nature, those unsavory types involved in the supervision of these ratbags, take advantage of our apathy, then fear, and use it to extend their own control and agendas. Again, simple politics ? They know the west wants to be seen as being balanced, politically correct et al, and they play on that.

    Building a mosque within eyeshot of the site tells me at least, that Islam wants its place at the top of world religions, and also, that they are watching the wicked west from all corners of the earth, and watch out ! It is the height of arrogance, and lacks feeling, and totally contradicts everything I have ever read regarding true Islam. The fringe elements are laughing at the west, and our wicked ways, by wanting to quite literally rub our noses in ‘it’ by building this structure.

  8. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain & Sax, by & large I ignore Collingwood fans, as loathsome as some of them are. Sometimes I humour them. They’re not that clever. And neither are terrorists, quite frankly. I think we have the matter sufficiently in hand and there’s no need for muslim bashing, or for fear-mongering.

  9. Iain Hall says:

    I am not “Muslim Bashing” nor am I “fear-mongering” I am making a point about what is considered moderate when it comes to religious observance .

  10. Ray Dixon says:

    Well, it just seems to me that the sheer volume of your anti-Islam posts suggests you are “muslim bashing”, Iain. But my “fear mongering” description was aimed more at Sax.

  11. Iain Hall says:

    Ray as I have said many times I am fascinated by religion and the nature of belief , especially belief that is contrary to our secular values

  12. Sax says:

    Aw shucks Ray, you wound me. Fear mongering huh ? Talk to the families of those that died on 9/11 Ray.
    Have a word to the families of those countless people that have suffered lost family members, due to wankers blowing themselves up, in cafes, restaurants, et al all under the guise of obeying their chosen deity ? Obviously our another victim of the “flower power” movement in the sixties. A time when the old “she’ll be right mate”, and other b/s cliches ruled this country, and blurred the lines to such an extent, oblivious to the fact, that sometimes, “turning the other cheek” doesn’t work ?

    Religion is fine Iain, except, when it tells you to strap c4 to your chest, and go blow up a crowded plaza of women and children to honour said deity ? It’s not religion then, rather a cult, and a bloody dangerous one at that ?

    Ray calls that scare mongering ? Wow, that’s cold, bloody cold.

    I’m not Muslim bashing either. BUT, I am Fundamentalist Muslim bashing. Yep, bloody guilty as charged. There IS a difference.

  13. Sax says:

    Just a couple of quotes for those with a low thresh hold for this sort of thing ?

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety

    If Men are so wicked as we now see them with Religion what would they be if without it?

  14. Ray Dixon says:

    Sax, the extremists are shit and I’ve already said that. But you are talking like you are living in fear of them. And it sounds like you hate ALL muslims full stop.

  15. Sax says:

    I don’t think “fear” is the right word, extremely wary are another couple. Prudent in the times we live in, don’t you think ?

    I think the word contempt better fits ?

    I hate any religion, Islam included, where cowardly old men go and tell their young kids, to strap explosives to their chests, and go blow up a couple of hundred people ?
    And, ffs, Fundamentalism is not a religion. Fundamentalism/Extremism (whatever you want to call it), is a bloody cult, not a religion ! I wish supposed learned people could/would make that subtle, but real distinction.

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