A debate by Intelligence Squared, the London Forum for live debate.
Speakers for the motion:
- Amir Taheri, born in Iran and educated in Tehran, London and Paris; author of "Holy
- Raphael Israeli, a Professor of Islamic, Middle Eastern and Chinese history at Hebrew
University in Jerusalem.
- David Pryce-Jones , the Senior Editor of the National Review and author of The
Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs [as well as the author of the Foreword to Robert Spencer’s Islam Unveiled]
- Andrew Wheatcroft , Director of the Centre for Publishing Studies at the University of
Stirling, Scotland and the author of Infidels: a history of the conflict between
Christendom and Islam
- Professor John Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic
Studies at Georgetown University author of numerous books about Islam
- Sarah Joseph, the Editor of EMEL magazine, a lifestyle magazine with a Muslim focus.
Some of Taheri’s remarks:
This debate is not easy.
For Islam has become an issue of political controversy in the West.
On the one hand we have Islamophobia, a particular affliction of those who blame Islam for all the ills of our world.
The more thin skinned Muslims have ended up on regarding every criticism of Islam as Islamophobia.
On the other hand we have Islamoflattery that claims that everything good under the sun came from Islam. ( According to a recent PBS serial on Islam, even cinema was invented by a lens-maker in Baghdad, named Abu-Hufus!)
This is often practised by a new generation of the Turques de profession, Westerners who are prepared to apply the rules of critical analysis to everything under the sun except Islam.
They think they are doing Islam a favour.
The opposite is true.
Depriving Islam of critical scrutiny is bad for Islam and Muslims, and ultimately dangerous for the whole world.
The whole thing is well worth reading. He concludes:
Muslims can build democratic society provided they treat Islam as a matter of personal, private belief and not as a political ideology that seeks to monopolise the pubic space and regulate every aspect of individual and community life.
Ladies and gentlemen: Islam is incompatible with democracy.
The motion was carried by 403 votes for, 267 against. 28 were undecided.