Because gee, Islam is really swell. And of course, I’m all for European governments learning more about Islam. In fact, I think they should devote an enormous amount of attention to learning about Islam. They just shouldn’t trust Jack Straw’s favorite authorities to tell them anything useful about it.
I hereby volunteer my services to any European government that wants to learn more about Islam. I will travel to your country at my own expense for meetings with government officials. I will take you step-by-step through the Qur’an and Sunnah, and introduce you to Sharia and fiqh. I will work strictly from Islamic sources, so that you can see for yourself whether or not what I am saying is accurate. Give me a week or two, and you will be quite familiar with the essentials of Islamic teaching and practice. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Straw, by the way, also comes out here against freedom of expression.
From the Khaleej Times, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
LONDON “” British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has asked European governments to learn more about Islam and “protect the rights of every citizen irrespective of their faith and creed.”
Addressing an award ceremony organised by the Muslim News in the capital, Straw said European governments have to provide a space in which the rights and diversity of people of all faiths are protected….
“My point is this: the story of Europe is not a simple, linear one of secular values steadily pushing out and eroding religious ones. Rather the European experience is one of an accommodation between faith and modernity. And it is the future of Europe too.”
Straw said the reason for singling out of Islam as a target of attack might be due to its reputation as a new European religion.
“There have been Muslim communities in Europe for centuries,” said Straw. “But it is true that in recent decades those communities have grown in size and that Islam is now the fastest growing religion here. Another reason might be the feeling that many people seem to have that Muslims are in some way more religious than followers of other faiths. Again, I think it is probably undeniable that for most of the Muslims whom I know their faith is more obviously apparent in their daily actions and rituals than it is in the daily lives of the majority of people in Britain.”
Straw also condemned the decision of some European newspapers to reprint the controversial Danish cartoons by claiming the right to freedom of expression.
“I said at the time that the cartoons were reprinted in Europe “” though not here in the United Kingdom “” that doing so was needlessly insensitive and disrespectful,” said Straw. “The right to freedom of expression is a broad one and something which this country has long held dear. It was the focus of our human rights work during our recent Presidency of the European Union. But the existence of such a right does not mean that it is right “” morally right, politically right, socially right “” to exercise that freedom without regard to the feelings of others.”
“A large number of Muslims in this country were upset by those cartoons being reprinted across Europe and at their deeply held beliefs being insulted. They expressed their hurt and outrage but did so in a way which epitomised the learned, peaceful religion of Islam. In doing so they were not being ‘unreasonable’ or ‘un-European’. They were not threatening anyone’s values.”