terça-feira, fevereiro 20, 2007

189) Um debate sobre o Islam e o multiculturalismo

Um debate sobre o Islam

Dossiê composto por
Paulo Roberto de Almeida
Em 20 de fevereiro de 2007

Link: http://www.signandsight.com/features/1173.html
Acesso em 20 Fev 2007

“Let’s talk European”

Mr Buruma's stereotypes
Turkish German author Necla Kelek responds to Ian Buruma in the debate on multiculturalism and integration in Europe.

French philosopher Pascal Bruckner accused Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash of propagating a form of multiculturalism that amounts to legal apartheid. His fiery polemic unleashed an international debate. Below Necla Kelek stakes out her position.

Reading his response to Pascal Bruckner's essay "Enlightenment fundamentalism or racism of the anti-racists?" one is tempted to say to Ian Buruma, "If only you had kept quiet!" He clearly felt himself caught out, and despite his insistence to the contrary, his reply only leads him further into the swamp of cultural relativism. If Mr Buruma were alone in his views, one might have left things as they were and simply referred the reader to Bruckner's essay, a response to Timothy Garton Ash. But both Ash and Buruma are quite typical in their argumentation, and virtually exemplary in their politically dubious cultural relativism.

Both make ample use of stereotypes. The first is: "Islam is diverse." Buruma writes, "Islam, as practised in Java, is not the same as in a Moroccan village, or the Sudan, or Rotterdam." That may be true in the details, but not in the fundamentals. For Buruma, however, the details justify criticism that is as devastating as it is false. He maintains that one cannot make generalised statements about Islam, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does. That is a rather astonishing statement from a man who is an academic at Bard College in New York, and a professor of democracy and human rights. With that brief assertion, Mr Buruma attempts to reduce the West's confrontation with Islam to Ayaan Hirsi Ali's personal problem.

Islam is a social reality. Despite all differences of detail, in its writings and its philosophy it constitutes a cohesive view of mankind and the world. Let us look at the question of human rights and women's rights, for example. In those areas, Muslims are very united indeed. On August 5, 1990, 45 foreign ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the highest international secular body in the Muslim world, signed "The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam." In that document, Muslims from around the world expressed their common attitudes towards human rights. It was intended as an appendix to the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Cairo Declaration is not binding under international law, but it illuminates the global attitude of Islam with respect to fundamental rights. The fact that it constitutes a minimal consensus, rather than an extreme view, makes it all the more illuminating.

The most important statements of this document are to be found in its two final articles:
Article 24: "All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Sharia."
Article 25: "The Islamic Sharia is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification [of] any of the articles of this Declaration."

And in contrast to the UN Declaration, the Cairo Declaration's preamble states that the members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference reaffirm "the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah, which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilisation..."

Unlike in democratic constitutions, there is no talk here of the individual, but rather of the Ummah, the Community of the Faithful, the collective. As a logical consequence, the Cairo Declaration acknowledges only those rights specified in the Koran and, in keeping with Sharia, regards only those acts so judged by both the Koran and the Sunnah to be criminal. Article 19 of the Declaration states: "There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in the Sharia." Article 2 Paragraph D maintains: "Safety from bodily harm is a guaranteed right. It is the duty of the state to safeguard it, and it is prohibited to breach it without a Sharia-prescribed reason." That would be the case, for example, according to the Koran's Sura 17, Verse 33: "And kill no one, for God has forbidden killing, except when you are entitled to do so"! The Koran also says: "When a person is killed unjustly, the nearest relation has authority to take vengeance." What is that if not a blessing on blood vengeance by Muslim foreign ministers?

Equal rights are not proposed in this Declaration. Rather, in Article 6 it states: "Woman is equal to man in human dignity" – in "dignity" not in rights, since the Koran's Sura 4, Verse 34 stipulates: "Men are elevated above women, for God has placed them so by nature." Thus men are given authority to exercise social control over and to denigrate women, as is made clear by Article 22 of the Declaration: "Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Sharia" – that is, the Koran, issued in the seventh century of the Christian calendar and still binding for Muslims today.

And so it continues. Islam is declared the One True Faith, and "no one in principle has the right to suspend ... or violate or ignore its commandments, in as much as they are binding divine commandments, which are contained in the Revealed Books of God and were sent through the last of His Prophets... Every person is individually responsible – and the Ummah collectively responsible – for their safeguard." So states the Cairo Declaration. That statement not only runs contrary to human rights in general, it is an indirect justification of vigilante justice. Mr Buruma is aware of this problem; he writes about a case of such vigilante justice in his book, "Murder in Amsterdam".

The Islamic states formulated this Declaration to assure themselves of their own unity. Beyond that, it is also a political programme designed to defend the identity of Islamic culture against capitalist globalisation. The Sharia is declared to be the basis of that cultural identity. And criticising that is supposed to be Ayaan Hirsi Ali's personal problem?

But Mr Buruma has still more stereotypes up his sleeve. The next one: Islam is a religion like any other, or all religions are equal (or equally awful?). This time it is aimed against his critic, Pascal Bruckner. Mr Buruma writes: "In another typical fit of exaggeration, designed to tar by association, Bruckner mentions the opening of an Islamic hospital in Rotterdam and reserved beaches for Muslim women in Italy. I fail to see why this is so much more terrible than opening kosher restaurants, Catholic hospitals, or reserved beaches for nudists."

I can tell you, Mr Buruma, why Italian beaches reserved for Muslim women are "so much more terrible." Unlike kosher dining or a case of the flu requiring hospitalisation, the beach is a Muslim attempt to bring about change. Whether it is headscarves or gender-specific separation of public space, political Islam is trying to establish apartheid of the sexes in free European societies. A Muslim hospital is fundamentally different from a Catholic hospital. In a Muslim hospital, patients are separated according to gender. Men may be treated only by men, women only by women. Muslim female nurses, for example, may not wash male patients, they may not even touch them.

In Germany a growing number of doctors complain of Muslim men trying to prevent their womenfolk from being treated, or even examined, by male physicians in hospitals. I know of Muslim women who are permitted to visit a doctor only when accompanied by their son. In Islamic hospitals the husbands decide whether a caesarian will be carried out, or whether their wives may have themselves sterilised after bearing four children. A recent article (excerpt in English here) in Le Monde gives the startling details. And not long ago the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet carried a news story about a woman radiologist in Istanbul who refused on religious grounds to examine a young man who had been injured in his lower body. That is terrible, Mr Buruma.

Love of one's neighbour is as alien to the Muslim religion as pastoral care. But that is another matter. I regard it as tasteless to denigrate the work of Catholic nuns by this "all religions are alike" relativism. It seems Mr Buruma does not know whereof he speaks when he speaks of Islam. The Islamic propagators of beaches and hospitals and mosques are not concerned with humane issues nor with religious categories. Their objective is to establish the vertical separation of men and women within democratic societies.

Buruma's third stereotype goes: Critics of Islam are denunciators. He writes that Hirsi Ali's "denunciations" are not very "helpful". Would he also consider citing historically proven cases, such as Mohammed's marriage to the six-year-old Aisha, whom he then bedded at age nine, among the "not very helpful denunciations"? In her book "The Caged Virgin", Hirsi Ali speaks of this in order to criticise the Islamic sexual morality which developed post-Mohammed. In Mr Buruma's view, she should not have done so because as an "avowed atheist" - next stereotype - she could not contribute to the reform of Islam. Another astonishing position for an academic specialising in human rights and democracy.

Cultural relativists prefer not to hear about arranged marriages, honour killings (25 deaths in Istanbul last year alone) and other violations of human rights. These things are burdensome. What else can it mean when Mr Buruma writes: "Condemning Islam without taking the many variations into account, is too indiscriminate." If Mr Buruma wants to take a serious look at the disregard of "variations" in the Muslim world, he's set himlsef a large task. To cite just one out of many possible examples: What to do with all the women living in the over 60 countries where Sharia law oibtains, who are not allowed to marry without a Wali, that is, without the permission of a parent or guardian? Where are the variations there, Mr Buruma?

Mr Buruma boasts that he knows the world of South Korean rebels. But the Muslim world appears alien to him, and the values of Western society relative. Thanks to Pascal Bruckner, he rightly fears for his intellectual reputation. The fact that in his reply to Bruckner he tried to rescue that reputation at the expense of Ayaan Hirsi Ali does not make matters better. It didn't work, Mr Buruma.


The article originally appeared in German on Perlentaucher on February 5, 2007.

Necla Kelek was born in Istanbul in 1957 and moved to Germany at the age of 10. Her books include "Die Fremde Braut" (The Foreign Bride) about arranged and forced marriages of Turkish migrants, and "Die verlorenen Söhne" (Lost Sons) about the socialization, violence, and faith of Turkish-Muslim men.

Translation: Myron Gubitz

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Complemento em 20 Fev 2007

Point de vue
En finir avec le multiculturalisme
Pascal Bruckner
LE MONDE, 19.02.07

Les ennemis de la liberté se recrutent d'abord dans les sociétés libres, chez une partie des élites éclairées qui dénient le bénéfice des droits démocratiques au reste de l'humanité, voire à leurs compatriotes, si ceux-ci ont le malheur d'appartenir à une autre religion, à une autre ethnie. Il suffit pour s'en convaincre de lire deux écrits récents, le livre d'Ian Buruma On a tué Theo Van Gogh (Flammarion, 2006) et la critique de ce même livre par le journaliste et universitaire anglais Timothy Garton Ash parue dans le New York Review of Books.

Ian Buruma cache mal son agacement pour l'engagement de la députée néerlandaise d'origine somalienne Ayaan Hirsi Ali, amie de Theo Van Gogh, elle-même condamnée à mort et dont la critique du Coran l'embarrasse. Timothy Garton Ash est plus brutal encore : pour lui, apôtre du multiculturalisme, l'attitude d'Ayaan Hirsi Ali est à la fois irresponsable et contre-productive. Son verdict est implacable : " Ayaan Hirsi Ali est aujourd'hui une courageuse et légèrement simpliste fondamentaliste des Lumières."

Dans le cas précis d'Ayaan Hirsi Ali, elle-même excisée, vouée à un mariage forcé et qui s'est échappée d'Afrique pour trouver asile aux Pays-Bas, l'accusation est d'abord fausse : la différence entre elle et Mohammed Bouyeri, le meurtrier de Theo Van Gogh, c'est qu'elle n'a jamais préconisé le meurtre pour faire triompher ses idées. Les seules armes dont elle use sont la persuasion, la réfutation, le discours. On reste là dans le cercle de la raison raisonnable et non dans la pathologie du prosélytisme. L'espérance de faire reculer la tyrannie et la superstition ne semble pas relever d'une exaltation malsaine. Mais Ayaan Hirsi Ali a commis, aux yeux de nos gentils professeurs, un crime impardonnable : elle prend au sérieux les principes démocratiques.

Ian Buruma, non sans perfidie, dénie à Ayaan Hirsi Ali le droit de se référer à Voltaire : celui-ci aurait affronté l'une des institutions les plus puissantes de son temps, l'Eglise catholique, quand elle se contente d'offenser " une minorité vulnérable au coeur de l'Europe". C'est oublier que l'islam n'a pas de frontières : les communautés musulmanes du Vieux Monde qui s'adossent sur plus d'un milliard de croyants, traversés de courants divers, peuvent devenir l'aile avancée d'une offensive intégriste ou donner au contraire l'exemple d'une religiosité plus conforme à la mesure. Ce n'est pas une mince affaire, c'est même l'un des enjeux majeurs du XXIe siècle !

Isolée, promise à l'égorgement par les radicaux, contrainte de vivre entourée de gardes du corps, Ayaan Hirsi Ali doit en plus subir, comme Robert Redeker, ce professeur de philosophie français menacé de mort par des sites islamistes, les sarcasmes des grands esprits et des donneurs de leçon. Les défenseurs de la liberté seraient donc des fascistes, tandis que les fanatiques sont dépeints comme des victimes !

On oublie qu'il existe un despotisme des minorités rétives à l'assimilation si elle ne s'accompagne pas d'un statut d'extraterritorialité, de dérogations spéciales. On leur refuse ce qui a été notre privilège : le passage d'un monde à un autre, de la tradition à la modernité, de l'obéissance aveugle à la décision raisonnée. La protection des minorités implique aussi le droit pour les individus qui en font partie de s'en retirer sans dommage, par l'indifférence, l'athéisme, le mariage mixte, l'oubli des solidarités claniques ou familiales, de se forger un destin qui leur soit propre sans reproduire ce que leurs parents leur avaient légué.

La minorité ethnique, sexuelle, religieuse, régionale n'est souvent rien d'autre, en raison des offenses subies, qu'une petite nation rendue à son angélisme, chez qui le chauvinisme le plus outrancier n'est que l'expression d'un légitime amour-propre. Le chantage à la solidarité ethnique, religieuse, raciale, la dénonciation des apostats, des félons, des "bougnoules de service", des "Oncle Tom" et autres "Bounty" servent de rappel à l'ordre pour les récalcitrants éventuels et brisent leur aspiration à l'autonomie.

Il n'est donc pas surprenant que la réprimande de nos intellectuels s'exerce à l'endroit d'une Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Rien ne manque au tableau que Timothy Garton Ash dresse de la jeune femme, pas même un machisme suranné : seule la beauté de la parlementaire hollandaise, son côté glamour expliqueraient, selon lui, son succès médiatique et non la justesse de ses attaques. Timothy Garton Ash ne se demande pas si l'islamologue Tarik Ramadan auquel il adresse des dithyrambes enflammés ne doit pas lui aussi sa renommée à son physique de play-boy. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, il est vrai, déjoue les stéréotypes du politiquement correct en cours : Somalienne, elle proclame la supériorité de l'Europe sur cette région de l'Afrique ; femme, elle échappe au destin d'épouse et de mère ; musulmane, elle dénonce ouvertement l'arriération du Coran. Autant de clichés bafoués qui font d'elle une insoumise et non une de ces insurgées en toc comme nos sociétés en produisent à la pelle.

Les Lumières appartiennent au genre humain tout entier et non à quelques privilégiés nés en Europe ou en Amérique du Nord, qui se permettent en plus de les piétiner comme des enfants gâtés, d'en refuser la jouissance aux autres. S'il est un multiculturalisme légitime tant qu'il reste modéré, sa version anglo-saxonne n'est peut-être rien d'autre qu'un apartheid légal où l'on retrouve les accents attendris des riches expliquant aux pauvres que l'argent ne fait pas le bonheur : à nous les fardeaux de la liberté, de l'invention de soi, de l'égalité entre les sexes, à vous les joies de l'archaïsme, des abus reconvertis sous le beau nom de coutumes ancestrales, le mariage forcé, le voile, la polygamie.

Et si la dissidence des musulmans britanniques venait non seulement du rigorisme de leurs leaders, mais aussi de la perception confuse que les égards dont ils bénéficient de la part des autorités manifestent une forme subtile de dédain, comme si on les jugeait trop arriérés pour accéder aux bienfaits de la civilisation ?

Il existe enfin un argument qui milite contre le multiculturalisme pur et dur à la britannique : de l'aveu même des gouvernants, il ne marche pas. Non content d'avoir été pendant des années la terre d'asile du djihad, avec les conséquences dramatiques que l'on sait, le Royaume-Uni doit admettre, aujourd'hui, que son modèle social, fondé sur le communautarisme et le séparatisme, ne fonctionne plus. On a beaucoup raillé l'autoritarisme français lors du vote sur le voile islamique qui interdisait aux femmes et aux jeunes filles de le porter à l'école et dans les locaux administratifs.

Comment expliquer alors que, en Grande-Bretagne, en Hollande, en Allemagne, des responsables politiques, choqués par la généralisation de la burka ou du hidjab soient tentés à leur tour de légiférer sur ce sujet ? Les faits sont cruels pour les temporisateurs qui enjoignent l'Europe de se plier à l'islam plutôt que l'islam à la civilisation européenne : plus on cède au radicalisme des barbus, plus ils durcissent le ton.

A dire vrai, les positions d'Ian Buruma et de Timothy Garton Ash sont dans la droite ligne de leurs gouvernements américain et britannique (même s'ils les désapprouvent politiquement) : la faillite de George W. Bush et de Tony Blair dans leurs guerres contre la terreur vient aussi de ce qu'ils ont privilégié le terrain militaire au détriment du débat d'idées.

Or la mobilisation en faveur d'un islam européen éclairé est capitale : l'Europe peut devenir un modèle, un foyer de rayonnement pour la réforme de ce monothéisme dont on espère qu'il sera gagné un jour, à l'exemple de Vatican II pour les catholiques, par l'autocritique et l'examen de conscience. Encore faut-il ne pas se tromper d'interlocuteurs, ériger en amis de la tolérance des fondamentalistes qui usent de la dissimulation, investissent la gauche et l'intelligentsia pour avancer leurs pions et s'épargner l'épreuve de la laïcité.
Pascal Bruckner est écrivain, essayiste. La version intégrale de ce texte est consultable sur le site : signandsight.com

Pascal Bruckner
Article paru dans Le Monde, édition du 20.02.07


Complemento em 21 Fev 2007

A critic of Islam
Dark secrets
The Economist, Feb 8th 2007
Ayaan Hirsi Ali blames Islam for the miseries of the Muslim world. Her new
autobiography shows that life is too complex for that

SAY what you will about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, she fascinates. The Dutch-Somali politician, who has lived under armed guard ever since a fatwa was issued against her in 2004, is a chameleon of a woman. Just 11 years after she arrived in the Netherlands from Africa, she rode into parliament on a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, only to leave again last year, this time for America, after an uproar over lies she had told to obtain asylum.

Even the title of her new autobiography reflects her talent for reinvention. In the Netherlands, where Ms Hirsi Ali got her start campaigning against the oppression of Muslim women, the book has been published under the title “My Freedom”. But in Britain and in America, where she now has a fellowship at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, it is called “Infidel”. In it, she recounts how she and her family made the cultural odyssey from nomadic to urban life in Africa and how she eventually made the jump to Europe and international celebrity as the world's most famous critic of Islam.

Read as a modern coming-of-age story set in Africa, the book has a certain charm. Read as a key to the thinking of a woman who aspires to be the Muslim Voltaire, it is more problematic. The facts as Ms Hirsi Ali tells them here do not fit well either with some of the stories she has told in the past or with her tendency in her political writing to ascribe most of the troubles of the Muslim world to Islam.

Ms Hirsi Ali's father, Hirsi Magan Isse, was one of the first Somalis to study overseas in Italy and America. He met his future wife, Asha, when she signed up for a literacy class he taught during Somalia's springtime of independence in the 1960s. The family's troubles began in 1969, the year Ms Hirsi Ali was born. That was also the year that Mohammed Siad Barre, a Somali army commander, seized power in a military coup. Hirsi Magan was descended from the traditional rulers of the Darod, Somalia's second biggest clan. Siad Barre, who hailed from a lesser Darod family, feared and resented Ms Hirsi Ali's father's family, she says. In 1972, Siad Barre had Hirsi Magan put in prison from which he escaped three years later and fled the country. Not until 1978 was the family reunited with him.

As a young woman, Ms Hirsi Ali's mother, Asha, does not seem to have inhabited “the virgin's cage” that the author claims imprisons Muslim women around the world. At the age of 15, she travelled by herself to Aden where she got a job cleaning house for a British woman. Despite her adventurous spirit, in Yemen and later in the Gulf she found herself drawn to the stern Wahhabi version of Islam that would later clash with the more relaxed interpretation of Islam favoured by Ms Hirsi Ali's father and many other Somalis. She and Hirsi Magan fell out not long after the family moved to Kenya in 1980. Hirsi Magan left to join a group of Somali opposition politicians in exile in Ethiopia and did not return to his family for ten years.

Ms Hirsi Ali says her mother had no idea how to raise her children in a foreign city. She frequently beat Ayaan and her sister, Haweya. Although they and their brother, Mahad, attended some of Nairobi's best schools, Haweya and Mahad dropped out early on. Ms Hirsi Ali herself meanwhile fell under the sway of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Some of the best passages in the book concern this part of her life. As a teenager, Ms Hirsi Ali chose to wear the all-encompassing black Arab veil, which was unusual in cosmopolitan Nairobi. “Weirdly, it made me feel like an individual. It sent out a message of superiority,” she writes. Even as she wore it, Ms Hirsi Ali was drawn in other directions. She read English novels and flirted with a boy. Young immigrants of any religion growing up with traditional parents in a modern society will recognise her confusion: “I was living on several levels in my brain. There was kissing Kennedy; there was clan honour; and there was Sister Aziza and God.”

Ms Hirsi Ali sounds less frank when she tells the convoluted story of how and why she came to seek asylum at the age of 22 in the Netherlands. She has admitted in the past to changing her name and her age, and to concocting a story for the Dutch authorities about running away from Somalia's civil war. (In fact she left from Kenya, where she had had refugee status for ten years.) She has since justified those lies by saying that she feared another kind of persecution: the vengeance of her clan after she ran away from an arranged marriage.

However, last May a Dutch television documentary suggested that while Ms Hirsi Ali did run away from a marriage, her life was in no danger. The subsequent uproar nearly cost Ms Hirsi Ali her Dutch citizenship, which may be the reason why she is careful here to re-state how much she feared her family when she first arrived in the Netherlands. But the facts as she tells them about the many chances she passed up to get out of the marriage—how her father and his clan disapproved of violence against women; how relatives already in the Netherlands helped her to gain asylum; and how her ex-husband peaceably agreed to a divorce—hardly seem to bear her out.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not the first person to use false pretences to try to find a better life in the West, nor will she be the last. But the muddy account given in this book of her so-called forced marriage becomes more troubling when one considers that Ms Hirsi Ali has built a career out of portraying herself as the lifelong victim of fanatical Muslims.

Another, even more disturbing story concerns her sister Haweya's sojourn in the Netherlands. In her earlier book, “The Caged Virgin”, which came out last year, Ms Hirsi Ali wrote that her sister came to the Netherlands to avoid being “married off”. In “Infidel”, however, she says Haweya came to recover from an illicit affair with a married man that ended in abortion. Ms Hirsi Ali helped Haweya make up another fabricated story that gained her refugee status, but the Netherlands offered her little respite. After another affair and a further abortion, Haweya was put into a psychiatric hospital. Back in Nairobi, she died from a miscarriage brought on by an episode of religious frenzy. “It was the worst news of my life,” Ms Hirsi Ali writes.

Mental illness, abortion, failed marriages, illicit affairs and differing interpretations of religion: much as she tries, the kind of problems that Ms Hirsi Ali describes in “Infidel” are all too human to be blamed entirely on Islam. Her book shows that her life, like those of other Muslims, is more complex than many people in the West may have realised. But the West's tendency to seek simplistic explanations is a weakness that Ms Hirsi Ali also shows she has been happy to exploit.

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