No one at Brown was able to counter this nonsense, but in reality it is easy to find Muslim sources proclaiming that Islam is a total way of life and that Islam “must be a complete and total way of living.” But Nancy Khalek doesn’t like the implications of that, and so she pretends it’s a media invention. “Islam in America panel highlights acceptance,” by Morgan Johnson for the Brown Daily Herald, October 20 (thanks to herr Oyal):
A panel of four Brown and Providence experts on the Muslim community addressed the causes of negativity toward Islam in America, offering different opinions on how to combat increasing intolerance, in a mostly full MacMillan 115 Tuesday night.
The panelists cited media coverage, especially from cable news outlets, as a frequent perpetrator of stereotypes about the Muslim community.
The notion that “Islam is a totalizing way of life that accompanies everything a Muslim does” is an example of the media’s biased interpretation of Islam, said Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Nancy Khalek.
She said the media capitalize on a common public assumption that Muslims are intolerant of religious and cultural differences. The media imply that if Muslims are permitted to follow Shariah law, she said, the public should be afraid that such laws would be imposed on the rest of the community.
And as for Sharia applying to unbelievers, Sharia proponents haven’t hesitated to oblige non-Muslim women to wear the headscarf that Sharia mandates for Muslim women. Perhaps Khalek would say these were Misunderstanders of Islam.
“We must be aggressively undoing what the media is doing,” said Sherine Hamdy, assistant professor of anthropology. “You have to work against it. You can’t just be passive.”
Be aggressive in spreading lies and misinformation!
In a 2005 cartoon contest held by a Danish newspaper, artists depicted the prophet Muhammad in various derogatory illustrations, which incited a slew of angry and at times violent protests from the Muslim community.
“Westerners interpreted this as Muslim intolerance to freedom of speech,” Khalek said.
She added that the reality of the situation was quite different. From the Muslim perspective, the protesters were not necessarily critical of the illustrators’ rights to free speech, but they wanted to demonstrate that the drawings were highly offensive and injurious.
And they demonstrated it by murdering innocent people. How very intolerant and “Islamophobic” of the West not to see that as an understandable reaction, and curtail the freedom of speech accordingly.
Khalek also critiqued the reaction of the media and the American public toward the recently proposed Islamic community center in the vicinity of Ground Zero.
“It seems to me that what we’re really talking about is not whether religion belongs in the public sphere,” she said. “What we’re talking about is whose sensitivities ought to be respected.”
Right. And the sensitivities of non-Muslims regarding Ground Zero are not being respected, and that’s just fine with Nancy Khalek, apparently.
Khalek disputed the common argument used against the community center — that a majority of Americans are not in favor of its construction, according to some polls. Referring to past instances of popular public opinion, such as the strong support of slavery by the American public before the Civil War, Khalek argued that such an argument has no historical or moral validity….
Local Imam Farid Ansari suggested another way to dispel misconceptions is by encouraging people to read the Quran.
“Learn for yourself,” Ansari said to those who believe in myths about the Muslim community but take no steps to educate themselves about the religion. “If people are not informed, don’t vote, don’t take responsibility — that’s going to affect the future in a very negative way.”
Read the Qur’an and learn for yourself. Indeed. I couldn’t agree more.