The courageous Irshad Manji, a Muslim herself, speaks out against the threats and intimidation that come to those who challenge any aspect of Islam. From UPI via FrontPage:
Tuesday’s slaying of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who criticized Islamic practices, reminds all of a nagging truth: More than 15 years after the government of Iran issued a death warrant against novelist Salman Rushdie, challenging Muslims remains a risky business.
As a Muslim dissident, I speak from experience. My book, “The Trouble with Islam,” has put me on the receiving end of anger, hatred and vitriol. That’s because I’m asking questions that we Muslims can no longer hide from. Why, for example, are we squandering the talents of half of God’s creation, women? What’s with the stubborn streak of anti-Semitism in Islam today? Above all, how can even moderate Muslims view the Koran literally when it, like every holy text, abounds in contradictions and ambiguity? The trouble with Islam today is that literalism is going mainstream.
Muslims who take offense at these points often wind up reinforcing them in their responses to me. I regularly get death threats through my Web site. Some of my would-be assassins emphasize the virtues of martyrdom, wanting to hurl me into the “flames of hell” in exchange for 72 virgins. Others simply want to know what plane I’m next boarding, so they can hijack it. Somehow, I don’t feel the urge to share my schedule.
A few threats have been up-close and personal. At an airport in North America, a Muslim man approached my traveling companion to say, “You’re luckier than your friend.” When she asked him to explain, he turned his hand into the shape of a gun and pulled the trigger. “She will find out later what that means,” he intoned.
But, for all of the threats, there’s good news: I’m hearing more support, affection and even love from fellow Muslims than I thought possible. Two groups in particular — young Muslims and Muslim women — have flooded my Web site with letters of relief and thanks. They are relieved that somebody is saying out loud words they have only whispered, and grateful that they’re being given the permission to think for themselves….
I’m not denying that some Muslims have been targeted for harassment, profiling and discrimination by Western governments. I faced the same during the 1991 Gulf War when I was marched out of a federal building in Ottawa, Canada for no apparent reason. However, none of this negates a basic fact: If Muslims in the West dare to ask questions about our holy book, and if we care to denounce human rights violations being committed under the banner of that book, we need not worry about being raped, flogged, stoned or executed by the state for doing so. What in God’s name are Muslims in the West doing with our freedoms?…
…Even before 9/11, I spoke at universities about the virtues of diversity, including diversity of opinion. After many of these speeches, young Muslims emerged from the audiences, gathered at the side of stage, chatted excitedly among themselves, and then walked over to me.
“Irshad,” I would hear, “we need voices such as yours to help us open up this religion of our because if it doesn’t open up, we’re leaving it.”