“Irshad Manji calls on her fellow Muslims to reform” at PBS America at a Crossroads.
Robert MacNeil tells us Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji are two young women speaking out. Ali is now in DC where she came after leaving the Netherlands, where there were death threats against her. Ali became an atheist in 2002 in the Netherlands, and before that was a Muslim.
Irshad Manji has bullet proof glass on the windows and a lock on the mailbox to prevent letter bombs she tells us at the start. Manji gets threats by email.
Salmon Rushdie was subject to a fatwa from Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. Rushdie says if you live in a free society, then use it. The point of living in a free society he says is to use it. So if you live in one of the few ones on earth, then use the freedom.
This is a good point for those afraid to speak out against immigration, legal immigration.
Manji goes to Saudi Arabia and interviews a former body guard of Osama bin Laden. Jihadists claim the Prophet Muhammad as their role model. Manji says he opposed slavery.
For the jihadi she interviews, the modern age is in the state of the 7th century before Muhammad. (OA Note: This was paganism in Arabia and Judaism and Christianity in Palestine and in the Western Superpower, the Eastern Roman Empire.)
In 7th century she tells us, the pagan establishment humiliated Muslims. The jihadi thinks that today this is the West and America in particular.
“Would you be proud to have Habib die as a martyr?” Manji asks him. He says he would be proud for him to be a martyr so that he can intercede with God for his family, if his father is not a martyr.
A class of women all in black with only their eyes showing. This is in Yemen. Manji does not wear a veil in the class, although the other women do.
Manji interviews a woman from California who converted to Islam in college and married a Yemeni. The California woman shows us her face and hands. But she has the black garment all around her head and body otherwise.
Manji puts on the black garment that covers all but her eyes. Manji says she is breathing in her own stale air at this point. Manji says the burkha erases her individuality.
Manji shows women mistreated in art in 15th century Persia and the same in photos in modern Iran including stoning for adultery in modern Iran.
A woman in Yemen doesn’t wear the burqa, but instead just a scarf on her head. Manji walks along wearing Western clothes next to her.
Manji says to many Muslims causing division is a sin. Manji grew up as a dutiful Islamic daughter who attended Islamic school. As a teenager, Manji was expelled from her school by asking why the human rights abuses by Muslims against humans. your last chance. Manji says those sending the death threats are cowards, for being anonymous.
One email to her says thay you lie so much about Islam that even your hair rises up in protest. Irshad Manji talks about the emails and death threats with her mom. Her mother is worried about them, naturally.
A Muslim woman meets with her on the street and says negative things to Irshad Manji. “Devil in disguise.” Yes, ok so what. The woman had a Western accent as well, sort of Scandinavian.
Manji talks about the Danish Cartoons and shows the protests. Manji says the demonstrators are a minority but capture the majority’s feelings, deep offense. Manji says the US media self censorship of the Cartoons is treating all Muslims as children.
Accommodation, she says, is giving in to the bullies of Islam and is giving up the freedoms of the West. Manji says that is offensive.
Mani goes to Amsterdam. Many Muslims feel lost. Schizophrenia is 10 times the national average among Moroccan men in the Netherlands. Muslims came 40 years ago to the Netherlands as cheap labor. They are 13 percent of the population in Amsterdam. Some are pushing non-Muslims to conform to Islamic norms. Muslims won’t deliver a paper with the Quran on the cover.
Manji talks to Ali while she was still in the Netherlands. Ali is from Somalia. She leaves Islam while sipping a glass of wine.
Theo van Gogh and Ali team up to make a film about how Islam leads to women being beaten. The violence against women is shown with their beaten bodies and verses of the Quran on their beaten bodies. This shows that the Quran is ordering this beating.
Van Gogh is killed by a Muslim. Muhammad is the name of his killer. A death threat for Ali is also delivered on the body of van Gogh.
A Muslim in Netherlands says you don’t have the freedom to say what you want. The young man says van Gogh was discriminating against the Muslims and had to be punished. Manji points out that the young man is saying that feeling offended is the same as being discriminated against. (PC Leftism is taught in the Netherlands.)
A female Muslim student at Yale says the Quran must be supreme.
An imam says Quran is Islam, Prophet Muhammad is Islam, but that Manji has no right to say what Islam is. The man says don’t challenge or question the teachings of Islam. He says she is taught to respect Islam.
Manji goes to Al-Andalus, southern Spain. The golden age of Islam was when ijtihad was open. Averroes argued against taking the Quran literally. She says Muslims had running water at the time. She says this was a golden age when Islam could be interpreted freely and also when Muslims were creative in science, math, etc.
It was Muslims who destroyed the Golden Age of Islam by sacking Muslim cities, i.e. fundamentalists sacked liberal cities. To unify Muslims, the clergy unified the faith, and closed the gates of ijtihad in some places, and narrowed in others.
Manji says it isn’t debate that weakens the Ummah (or Umma) but the lack of it.
Manji goes to Madrid and talks about the bombings.
Manji says ijtihad may be the hope for Islam. One imam used ijtihad to issue a fatwa against bin Laden.
The imam says wants to recover the spirit of Al-Andalus where Christians, Jews and Muslims can live together. (The Buddhist at the Va Tech memorial for the victims of Ismail Ax might be left out? Atheists definitely are out?)
Manji’s mother made the hajj to Mecca in 1998. She takes her daughter to the mosque, but the men at the mosque don’t want the cameras to be near the mosque. Manji says they don’t allow debate, only obedience.
Her mom says, “What an insult, what an insult”. “My blood is boiling right now.”
Manji says the rules you are given (from Islam?) are from abuse of power by other human beings.
Manji says we can no longer live by 7th century tribal culture. It distors Islam today. Offense is to be expected in a diverse world, and so is debate. We have a tradition of debate, ijtihad. With it more Muslims can speak out and bust out of tribal conformity. My fellow Muslims, I have faith, in our potential to change.
==End of her segment.
Robert MacNeil then gives a last word. Manji wants an Islamic reformation. (Actually not? Reformation was a return to fundamentalism and early texts. Manji doesn’t want that.)
MacNeil says we think that Muslims must move in our direction. But many of the billion Muslims don’t want to move in our direction and don’t want our emancipation of women.