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Maher’s statements indicate wider ignorance of Islam

Comic Bill Maher displayed a shocking level of ignorance on his show “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Oct. 3 when he and a panel of guests discussed the absence of liberal principles in the so-called Muslim world. Even by the normally glib Maher’s standards, this segment was particularly cringeworthy.

Maher and author Sam Harris discussed how the Muslim world lacks “liberal principles” such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, equality for women and LGBTQ-plus equality. In doing so, Maher and Harris displayed a laughably misguided perception of what constitutes the Muslim world.

The problems the group referred to are mainly prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa, which, according to the Pew Research Center, comprise roughly 20 percent of the global Muslim population. It is of the utmost importance not to conflate a geopolitical problem with a religious one, which is exactly what Maher and Harris did.

Muslim-majority countries across the world have managed to avoid the sociopolitical problems seen in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan—Indonesia, Turkey and Malaysia are prime examples.

It is also worth noting that the countries with extremist governments have a history of collaboration with the United States. Saudi Arabia––who we have supported and relied on for oil for decades––is one of our closest allies in the Middle East. In Afghanistan, the Taliban—responsible for so many of the egregious institutions Maher and Harris cite—was trained and armed by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1980s to combat the Soviet Union invasion.

Maher and Harris continued to call on moderate Muslims to condemn extremism and for the U.S. to help equip moderates to take power. This is offensive in its own right. Asking Muslim moderates to apologize for the actions of extremists aligns the two groups in a completely nonsensical manner. Christians do not feel the need to apologize for the words of the Westboro Baptist Church; that organization’s doctrine is so far divorced from that of mainstream Christianity. Furthermore, how can moderate Muslims be expected to work with Americans when our rhetoric is so disgustingly ignorant?

The talking points Maher and Harris brought up were sadly not controversial. In fact, audience members responded with applause. Americans have let post-Sept. 11 anxieties of terrorism blind them to the reality that Islam is a fundamentally peaceful belief system inasmuch as Christianity, Judaism or any other mainstream religion.

When we allow our basic understanding of Islam to be misconstrued, innocent people suffer. According to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, hate crimes against Muslims grew by an unnerving 1,600 percent following Sept. 11. In order to make the U.S. and the world a safer place to live, we must start with a more tolerant and informed view of Islam.υ

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Charity says:

Females are treated like cattle in Islamic theocracies. Gays and adulteresses are sometimes stoned to death. Women who are raped require three male witnesses to even think about receiving any justice. Women cannot own property. Women cannot drive. Women must cover up everything but their eyes to avoid sexually arousing men. I cannot fathom how you can defend this religion. Maher had it right. And you all want to complain about bakeries who don’t want to bake you a cake. It is morally repulsive. Even many of the learned readers of the New York Times can see through this hogwash.

Wake up, college students. Do you honestly believe it is ok that “only” 16% of Indonesian Muslims think that the death penalty is appropriate for apostates? Neither do most of the NYT commentators. Please wake up. You are being brainwashed by leftists who believe criticizing a religion equates to criticizing individuals in the religion. Your naivety is horrifying. The only “moderate” Muslims are those who are Muslim in name only.

Editrix says:

“It is also worth noting that the countries with extremist governments have a history of collaboration with the United States…” Why is this worth noting? I get that the point has important potential socio-political ramifications regarding our relations with the region but what does it have to do with this article? This paragraph seems like an out of place side-shot at a non-party to the story. It has nothing to do with Maher’s point our with the point the author is trying to make in response.

Anita says:

The basic understanding of Islam was not being misconstrued. “…a belief in martyrdom, a hatred of infidels, and a commitment to violent jihad are not fringe phenomena in the Muslim world. These preoccupations are supported by the Koran and numerous hadith. That is why the popular Saudi cleric Mohammad Al-Areefi sounds like the ISIS army chaplain. The man has 9.5 million followers on Twitter (twice as many as Pope Francis has).”
So if you support liberal values, how or why is there a taboo on a critical view of Islam? “In drawing a connection between the doctrine of Islam and jihadist violence, I am talking about ideas and their consequences, not about 1.5 billion nominal Muslims, many of whom do not take their religion very seriously.” If the world would be a safer place by fostering Islamic moderates then why should we shy away from a reasonable examination, “can we honestly talk about the link between belief and behavior?” Quotes here are taken from Harris’ piece, “Sleepwalking Toward Armageddon.” I think he’s trying to start a conversation at least—here in the land of free speech. Otherwise, we’ll be continually blind-sided that groups like ISIS “managed to attract thousands of recruits from free societies throughout the world to help build a paradise of repression and sectarian slaughter in Syria and Iraq.”

Charity says:

I want to make it clear that we all should have respect for the feelings and beliefs of our Muslim students. I think that if I were one, I would be so much more offended at the popularity and ubiquity of binge drinking, casual sex and immodest dress on our campus than i would be at honest, intellectual efforts to discuss matters of political Islam. Muslims should not be afraid to speak up, either, about our Geneseo cultural habits that may offend them as well as others.

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