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Egyptian says Islam has been hijacked.

An Egyptian playwright complains that Islam has been "hijacked" by radicals but Americans don't want to hear about it.

In an article in the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal, Aly Salem, a writer based in New York City, complained first that Islam has been hijacked by militant Islamists. But he also complained that the efforts of reformers like himself are "smothered" by well-intentioned Americans on the left who apologize for the direction Islam is taking and condemn any criticism of Islam's current path as Islamophobia.

Salem, 76, an Egyptian national has long written plays from his home in New York and is noted for advocating peace with Israel.

His latest article is not a complaint about rightwing bigots in America, but about leftwing figures who defend Islam by ignoring reformers and their efforts to modernize the world of Islam--even labeling calls for reform bigotry.

In his Journal article, Salem said, "Many of my fellow Muslims are trying to reform Islam from within. Yet our voices are smothered in the West by Islamist apologists and their well-meaning but unwitting allies on the left. For instance, if you liy to draw attention to the stark correlation between the rise of Islamic religiosity and regressive attitudes toward women, you're labeled an Islamophobe."

Salem said, "In America, other contemporary ideologies are routinely and openly debated in classrooms, newspapers, on talk shows and in living rooms. But Americans make an exception for Islamism. Criticism of the religion--even in abstraction--is conflated with bigotry toward Muslims. There is no public discourse, much less an ideological response, to Islamism, in academia or on Capitol Hill. This trend is creating an intellectual vacuum, where poisonous ideas are allowed to propagate unchecked."

Describing his own experience as a Muslim living in New York, Salem said, "Socially progressive, self-proclaimed liberals, who would denounce even the slightest injustice committed against women or minorities in America, are appalled when I express a similar criticism about my own community.

"Compare the collective response after each harrowing high-school shooting in America. Intellectuals and public figures look for the root cause of the violence and ask: Why? Yet when I ask why after every terrorist attack, the disapproval I get from my non-Muslim peers is visceral: The majority of Muslims are not violent, they insist, the jihadists are a minority who don't represent Islam, and I am fear-mongering by even wondering aloud."

Salem responded bitterly: "This is delusional thinking. Even as the world witnesses the barbarity of beheadings, habitual stoning and severe subjugation of women and minorities in the Muslim world, politicians and academics lecture that Islam is a 'religion of peace.' Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia routinely beheads women for sorcery and witchcraft.

"In the US, we Muslims are handled like exotic flowers that will crumble if our faith is criticized--even if we do it ourselves. Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats alike would apparently prefer to drop bombs in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond, because killing Muslims is somehow less offensive than criticizing their religion?

"Unfortunately, you can't kill an idea with a bomb, and so Islamism will continue to propagate. Muslims must tolerate civilized public debate of the texts and scripture that inform Islamism. To demand any less of us is to engage in the soft bigotry of low expectations," Salem concluded.
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Title Annotation:Faith: Religion and the world
Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Nov 14, 2014
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