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Inciteful and powerful indictment of Islam

 
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2006 11:32 am    Post subject: Inciteful and powerful indictment of Islam Reply with quote

http://switch3.castup.net/cunet/gm.asp?ai=214&ar=1050wmv&ak=null

Link worked for me in IE. Firefox wouldn't load it up.

This woman is Wafa Sultan, an Arab-American psychologist from Los Angeles challenging the Muslim status quo. I've never seen an arab person talk like this about their own in such a way. She's all fired up, but what she says is one hundred percent true.

The link may not stay active for long...it's from Al Jazeera (with English subtitiles) and there will be pressure to remove it. Worth a look!
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, it's a cut out from a larger interview I think about a year old (so if it wasn't removed by now, it won't anytime soon...)

I love Al Jazeera. It's a very interesting station giving voice to all kinds of people. The guy interviewing her (not the one with the funky hat, but the balding one with the enormous arm gestures) is the host of an extremely interesting talk show. He's a good interviewer.

I don't however, agree with ms Sultan's points of views. Some of the things she says are very interesting, true and thought-provoking (and therefore, in my opinion, it's very good Al Jazeera gives her a chance to say what she says), but some of it is revisionist or even utter rubbish (and therefore it's a pity she had such a complete idiot as opponent - the guy with the funky hat - instead of an intelligent Muslim thinker like Mohammed Arkoun or even Tariq Ramadan - for those interested, I've provided links to both gentlemen's pages. Although I agree with everything Arkoun wrote, don't always agree with Ramadan).

I will limit my respond to one remark: she puts it as if the problem is inherent in Muslim religion. Throw away the religion, and you've thrown away the problem. This kind of reasoning will only draw a deeper devision between secular people and religious people. Of course, religion is not the problem (although I'm not a religious Muslim anymore, I can assure you that in Islam - as in any other religion that has a holy scripture at its centre - there is just as much urging believers for peace, as there is inciting them to war), and it might be part of the solution. We have an old Indonesian proverb that says: "How is it with these Holy Texts (ie the Torah, Bible, Quran, Buddhist and Hindu Scripture)? Are they poison or medicin? It depends on how you use them. It all depends on you".

And sure, there have been Jewish terrorist attacks. I don't think there is a single religion that can claim that it has no terrorists among its believers. Claiming, like Sultan does, that that is not true, is weakening your argument.

Please bear in mind that I'm no apologist for Muslim terrorism. I recognise Islam is at the moment used as a powerful tool to radicalise and motivate terrorists and I would be the last to deny that Muslims, both secular and religious, have the moral obligation to do something about that -I'm one hundred percent behind Sultan as far as this is concerned. I do believe, however, that her analysis of and proposed methods to solve the problem are seriously flawed.

However, if you like this kind of discourse, you might want to check out http://ayaanhirsiali.web-log.nl. I think there's even some stuff by Sultan there.

It's a pity most of my writing on this subject (I'm a secular Muslim and have tried - as you call it - "challenging the Muslim status quo" on several occasions) is in Dutch. Otherwise I would have posted some of it here.

Some remarks on your post:

Smileypen wrote:
I've never seen an arab person talk like this about their own in such a way.


First of all: this is not "an arab person" talking about her "own". It is an American woman of Arab descent talking about religious Muslims, which she herself is not (anymore). Not all Muslims are Arab (in fact, the majority isn't and the country with the most Muslim citizens in the world happens to be Indonesia (India comes in second on that list), and there are a lot of Jewish, Christian and even shamanic Arabs. So she's hardly talking about "her own". Of course, she has every right to do so (as do you, I and anybody), but let's not make mistakes of categories or oversimplifications here.

Quote:
She's all fired up, but what she says is one hundred percent true.


It seems everyone talking about this is fired up nowadays. May I ask, however, why you think it is "one hundred percent true"? She's referring to religious Muslim scripture and interpreting it. Have you read it all? Are you in a position to judge her interpretation of it?
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have not read all of the Christian Bible. I have attended churches, both Catholic and Protestant. I am familiar with portions of both the Old and New Testaments. I grew up in and currently live in a city that has often been referred to as The Buckle on the Bible Belt. The city whose downtown area has the most churches per square mile in the world.

So I do have some familiarity with Christianity, its original teachings, the distortions in the current versions of its teachings, and the lies frequently told in support of it.

You will always be able to find people who can read whatever they want into any holy scripture.

The reason the Southern Baptist Convention exists is to facilitate slavery. The First Baptist Church of the United States of America refused to agree that the Bible condoned the enslaving of the "inferior" Africans. So those Baptists who had a vested interest in slavery formed their own branch of the Baptist Church, the Southern Baptist Convention. I find it extremely unironic that about 10 years ago the SBC voted to boycott Disney World because the Disney corporation dared to treat homosexuals as fully vested citizens of our country.

One of the main arguments for second-class citizenship for homosexuals comes frome Leviticus. True, it does say in Leviticus 18:22 that homosexuality is an "abomination." But Leviticus 11:10-12 says that eating shellfish is an "abomination." If biblical injunction were truly the reason for oppression of homesexuals, the SBC would also have voted to boycott Red Lobster.

One of the main lies of Christianity is that the US was founded as a "Christian Nation." Of the men considered to be the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, and Thomas Paine, only John Adams, as far as I am aware, considered himself a "Christian." I know for a fact that Franklin, Washington, and Jefferson did not consider themselves "Christians."

From the Treaty of Tripoli, unamimously ratified by the US Senate in 1797:
Quote:
As the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself not character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musslemen [Muslims] . . . it is declared . . . that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

In 1797, the US Constitution was but 10 years old. The members of the Senate at that time probably knew what they were talking about when they ratified a treaty that said this country was not founded as a Christian nation.

I could go on and on and on. Munan actually said it far better than I could. Don't draw conclusions about anything based on religion. People will always make of it what they want it to be.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find truth in her statements about the Muslim world having a stunted, middle ages mentality. I'm not saying all Islamic people are like that, but considering that those of past centuries were hundreds of years ahead of many other parts of the world in terms of science and mathematics at that time, I really have to wonder where and when and how they just . . . stopped. Where did the progress end? What made them forget that they were smart and advanced? Why do they treat women like pig shit while men rule all? That's ass backward to me. And that's where I felt she hit the nail on the head.

I don't agree with her theory on why the war is on. This isn't a war of culture differences. On that she's clearly biased. I only agree with her assessment of Muslim ideology as it pertains to how they act toward the rest of the world. The fact that so many middle eastern Muslims do whatever they can to kill kill kill kill those who they feel are nonbelievers in their faith only backs up her argument. I see guys rolling around my neighborhood in wheelchairs everyday who are missing appendages. Some ignorant fuck with a bunch of dynamite strapped to his torso praised Allah just before he blew that guy's legs off. That sicken me, that someone can take the love they feel for their creator and twist it to serve some radical ideology that only hurts others. I don't even believe in a higher power and I'm bothered by it.

As for your statement that there have been jewish terrorist attacks, that's hard to swallow. I can't think of a single instance (and neither can this lady in the tape) where jews killed people in the name of terror, or to extort through fear. They don't even kill for religion really. Christians had their crusades, Muslims have their jihads, but for some reason the Jews just never got into all that. Israeli soldiers might do messed up shit from time to time, but confusing Israelis with Jews is like confusing Americans with Christians. That just doesn't jive.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

complexnumbers wrote:
One of the main lies of Christianity is that the US was founded as a "Christian Nation." Of the men considered to be the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, and Thomas Paine, only John Adams, as far as I am aware, considered himself a "Christian." I know for a fact that Franklin, Washington, and Jefferson did not consider themselves "Christians."


Yes, many of them considered themselves Deists, in that they believed in a creator or a supreme being, however they did not endorse, support or otherwise recognize the authority of an organized church.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smileypen wrote:
I find truth in her statements about the Muslim world having a stunted, middle ages mentality.


Actually, Muslim fundamentalism is a modernist movement. If you take a fundamentalist Muslim current like wahhabism (Bin Laden's religion), what it resembles most in christianity is the post-middle ages reformism of Maritn Luther in the 1500-s, including its anti-semitism, misogynism and iconoclasm. This goes even more for the Deobandi, Salafism and especially a current like Takfir wa al Hijra, all the different sects fundamentalists subscribe to. Ayatollah Khomeini's movement is extremely modernist.

A middle age mentality is, for me, a thoroughly mysticist mentality. It's actually quite liberal. Fundamentalism is not mysticist, it's literalist. And literalism is a truly modernist approach.

I mean, what do you see as middle ages? In Holland, fifty years ago, it was still completely normal that a woman was fired if she worked in the public service when she got married. A similar kind of terrorism you see from Muslims nowadays was performed in the West during the 60's and 70's by extreme left wing terror groups, mostly made up from bored middle class youth and rioting underclass youngsters, like Rote Armee Fraktion in Germany.

Have you been in the Muslim world? I mean, in the west, we only see some side of it on television (and this goes vice versa - if you were to believe representations of the west in the Muslim world, you'd believe it's all about abortion, prostitution and hate of islam).

Well, it depends on what you define as "the Muslim world", really. I've travelled extensively through the Middle East, I've got friends there and trust me: cities like Sarajevo, Istanbul, Beyrut, Cairo, Amman and Cassablanca have some of the hottest nightclubs, most vibrant underground life, the hottest intellectual debates going on. Really, it's not a middle age mentality at all. Very progressive, quite left wing and exciting!

I know there is something terribly wrong in modern day Muslim thinking and something needs to be done about it. But oversimplifying, using terms like middle ages, or axis of evil is not helping. It's making it worse for people like me to actually start a debate in the Muslim world.


Quote:

As for your statement that there have been jewish terrorist attacks, that's hard to swallow. I can't think of a single instance (and neither can this lady in the tape) where jews killed people in the name of terror, or to extort through fear. They don't even kill for religion really. Christians had their crusades, Muslims have their jihads, but for some reason the Jews just never got into all that.


Please bear in mind that the following are not comments made out of anti-semitism. Because I'm no anti-semite of any sort. I count Jews like Alexander Auerbach, Sigmund Freud and Kafka as my intellectual heroes and am fully aware that only because of their Jewish background these people could do what they can do. The West and all who live in it are greatly indebted to Jewish intellectualism.

Jewish terrorism I know of:
- During the British mandate of Palestine (1919-1948), Palestinian Jews determined to rid the country of British rule using a programme of terrorism. Zionist organisations like the Haganah, the Irgun and Lohamei Herut Israel all engaged in violent acts, including bomb attacks and kidnappings. In one infamous incident the Irgun, led by later Israeli prime minister Begin, hanged two British Army sergeants in retaliation for Jews being executed by the authorities for terrorist activities.(just for the record, I actually tend to side with the "terrorists" here)

- In 1982, a former Israeli soldier shot and killed two Muslim worshippers at the central mosque of Jerusalem, the third holy place of Islam, the Dome of the Rock.

- In 1995 Israeli prime minister Rabin was murdered by orthodox jew Yigal Amir.

All of this happened on religious grounds. Of course, Jewish terrorism is not as widespread as Muslim terrorism. Neither is Christian terrorism in this age (and yes, one should definitely not confuse Jews with Israelis or Christians with Americans, I'm glad you made that point, just like one shouldn't confuse Arabs with Muslims). Again, a deep and honest introspection is needed to answer the question of why this is so. Contributions like Sultan's might help in this, but by putting the blame on the religion itself (instead of on certain interpretations of that religion), I'm afraid this will only make matters worse.

Oh, and about the USA not being a Christian country - did you know that there is a depiction of the prophet Muhammed on the building of the supreme court? He is there as one of the great lawgivers in history, alongside the prophet Musa (Moses). This could be made into a great thing for Muslim-American relations, if some stupid Muslim fundamentalists weren't so obsessively itchy about depicting the prophet.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You make a lot of great points Munan. I acquiesce to your much more extensive knowledge.

I had forgotten about that schmuck who assassinated Rabin. Shit, I remember watching the news on that from the break room at the job I had at the time.

I hadn't heard about the slayings at the Dome of the Rock. I've been there. It' a beautiful structure. I was four and a half years old, but I remember it. We had to take off our shoes to enter, my father and I. Maroon carpet ringed the center, and soft light bathed the huge rock in the pit under the dome. Maybe it's not huge, but it looked that way to my young eyes.

What I specifically see as a Middle Ages mentality is the way they treat their women. They're almost like property. I'm certain it differs from country to country. Saudis may have different rules than Iranis. All I know is that women are marginalized throughout the world and I'm disappointed by it. I read an article a few months back about how many of the women in Saudi Arabia are now living with fewer restrictions. Some wear makeup, some actually hold their husbands' hands in public. That's nice to hear.

I was a little perplexed by Sultan's argument where she raised up Judaism as a beacon of modern and free thought. If you've ever been in Jerusalem on a Friday evening, you may have seen the blacks stoning cars. Some of them are as radical as fundamentalist Christians or Muslims. But more than that, I thought it was not an effective point to make toward the Muslim world by holding up one of the faiths that they disagree with on so many levels, and saying "These guys know how to do things." If anything, that weakens her ability to change minds.

Of course, I have a limited knowledge of these matters. In case you couldn't tell. Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smileypen wrote:
I had forgotten about that schmuck who assassinated Rabin. Shit, I remember watching the news on that from the break room at the job I had at the time.


I was actually travelling through Israel and Palestine at that moment. What I remember most vividly is the pervasive sadness all around, the hope dying in people's eyes and their body language, an almost physical resistence to the dying of that hope.

Quote:
I hadn't heard about the slayings at the Dome of the Rock. I've been there. It' a beautiful structure. I was four and a half years old, but I remember it. We had to take off our shoes to enter, my father and I. Maroon carpet ringed the center, and soft light bathed the huge rock in the pit under the dome. Maybe it's not huge, but it looked that way to my young eyes.


There's been more rioting around the Haram al Sherif (the dome of the rock). Being the site of Solomon's second temple as well, Christians, Muslims and Jews have behaved ugly around there. It's quite sad.

But yes, it's beauiful. I remember praying there and feeling totally in touch with the very beautiful, diamond-like core of Islam. I'm a happy non-believer nowadays, but I was a happy believer right at that moment.

Quote:
what I specifically see as a Middle Ages mentality is the way they treat their women. They're almost like property. I'm certain it differs from country to country.


Well, yes, that's true. I'm getting a little tired, however, of westerners always pointing out this fact. By saying this, they seem to suggest everything is fine and dandy in the West, whereas women's position in the West still needs to be improved strongly as well. Why not concentrate on something we can actually do something about as westerners?

Some examples:

- Women as possession? It's actually in the west that female slavery (especially in the sex and porno industries) is florishing, and girls from eg Eastern Europan countries are traded as if they were animals as we are speaking.

- Indonesia and Pakistan (Muslim countries) have had female presidents. What about America?

- Yes, women are treated badly in many Muslim countries. It has little to do with Islam, since women in Southern Africa among Christian and animist people are treated just as badly. True, islam is used to oppress women - so is every other religion, even in some places in America.

- Did you know that there is a fundamentalist Christian political party in Holland that forbids female membership and wants to abolish voting rights for women? They have two seats in our 150 seat parliament, almost became part of our government 4 years ago and are at this moment one of the reasons our minority government can continue to govern the country! Groups like this (maybe a bit less extreme) can be found in any western countries, of course forming no threat to our way of life, but making the lifes of its female members, our fellow citizens, miserable.

Quote:
Of course, I have a limited knowledge of these matters. In case you couldn't tell.


Not really. As I see it, we're having an intelligent conversation as equals. Your knowledge about the Muslim world is certainly no less than the knowledge of many Muslims about America. I believe strongly that if there were to be more meetings between average people, talking about these kind of things, the job of terrorists and politicians promising simple solutions (nuke'em!) for complicated international problems would become awfully difficult.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Munan wrote:
- Women as possession? It's actually in the west that female slavery (especially in the sex and porno industries) is flourishing, and girls from eg Eastern European countries are traded as if they were animals as we are speaking.

We have laws against that type of commerce in the States. The government and the private industry cannot discriminate against a person because of their gender here, and trafficking in human life is expressly forbidden. There are many laws on the books that are there for the protection of women's right.

Munan wrote:
- Indonesia and Pakistan (Muslim countries) have had female presidents. What about America?

I can't deny that the general public in America are still rife with holdouts from a bygone generation of male chauvinists. I don't think a woman will be elected here for quite some time.

Munan wrote:
- Yes, women are treated badly in many Muslim countries. It has little to do with Islam, since women in Southern Africa among Christian and animist people are treated just as badly. True, islam is used to oppress women - so is every other religion, even in some places in America.

You are correct.

As far as the States have come in granting equality to all, we're still very far behind.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smileypen wrote:

We have laws against that type of commerce in the States. The government and the private industry cannot discriminate against a person because of their gender here, and trafficking in human life is expressly forbidden. There are many laws on the books that are there for the protection of women's right.

Such laws exist in every euroean country, the trade Munan's speaking about is 100% illegal, but it is there. Belive me, I know. I live in one of the "sorce" countrys.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smileypen wrote:
We have laws against that type of commerce in the States. The government and the private industry cannot discriminate against a person because of their gender here, and trafficking in human life is expressly forbidden. There are many laws on the books that are there for the protection of women's right.

Yes, those laws are on the books, but that doesn't mean they are enforced. There are many communities, mostly in and around Utah, where wealthy men have multiple wives, some of them 14 years old or younger.

Also, here in Oklahoma, there are many many rural communities where even now, in the 21st century, it is considered bizarre for a girl to go to college. Barefoot and pregnant is still the order of the day in many small Oklahoma towns.

It is quite curious to realize how frozen in time many of the desert cultures are. I can see some of the causes when I thnk of how brutal the envrionment is there, and how difficult life there is.

But we use Arabic numerals. Algebra was invented in Arabia. There were lighted streets in Arabia thousands of years ago.

Ah well, now I am rattling. :p
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

complexnumbers wrote:
I can see some of the causes when I thnk of how brutal the envrionment is there, and how difficult life there is.


I don't agree with your analysis. You can see, in countries like Pakistan, for instance, how the treatment of women reflects the way the whole society is built: men are oppressed in public, they oppress their wifes, the women oppress children, the children oppress their little brothers and sisters and they are cruel to animals. Maybe a bit oversimplistic, but you get my drift...

No, what you see, is that such a society always needs an 'outside threat' - the West (in some parts of the Muslim world), the decadent, godless government (in the bible belt) or just 'the devil', to keep everybody in line. As long as this threat is believed to exist, the oppressive system can be presented as the very thing that keeps the threat out. So everybody becomes enthusiastic about the system, even the oppressed - especially the oppressed, because they've got the most to loose if the system were to disappear or if they're thrown out of the system and become the enemy ("if you're not with us, you must be against us"): hence the fact that women (Christian, Muslim and animistic) are the most fervent supporters of female circumcision in countries like Sudan, Somalia. In the end, you cannot speak about oppressors or oppressed: everybody keeps the system going together.

Similar processes can be seen closer to home. Think of the girl in your town's discotheque who dresses like a slut because 'I like to feel sexy'. She's just internalised the misogynic discourse in which women are there for men to watch and does not want to kept out of it - because if she were, she'd never get a boyfriend, or whatever.

So to say that men oppress women, is not getting anywhere closer to the solution. Take away the oppressors, you don't take away the internalised system. You can see that in Iraq. Someone close to me has worked for the Iraqi government and the old system of oppression and corruption has become so much part of the people themselves, that you can still see the Ba'ath mentality prevailing, even though Saddam has gone.

The reasons for the oppression have to be taken away: we need to look for new interpretations of our religions and ideologies in which the stress is not on an outside enemy and punishment for tresspassing, but on spiritual inspiration, inidividual responsibilities and equality.

I think blaming such processes on the environment takes away the individual responsibility of people. It is THEY who partake in the oppressive system and therefore only THEY can change it.

Well, that's just my analysis, you don't have to buy it, of course.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Munan wrote:

Similar processes can be seen closer to home. Think of the girl in your town's discotheque who dresses like a slut because 'I like to feel sexy'. She's just internalised the misogynic discourse in which women are there for men to watch and does not want to kept out of it - because if she were, she'd never get a boyfriend, or whatever.


of course, but misogynism is one thing, and killing (moreover, being legally authorized to kill) your daughter/sister for her disobedience or ill-understood misconduct is another thing. i don't want to generalize, but i've heard of such things happening on a daily basis in Turkey. i don't of course know how much this relates to the religion (let alone the particular subdivisions on the religion), i'm just saying it from the point of view of an ignorant westerner who is appalled that something as repulsive can take place anywhere in the world.
i'm by no means challenging you, Munan, i want to hear what you think, and possibly learn something.

i don't know if Smileypen meant this originally, but that's what came to my mind when he mentioned the treatment of women.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I mentioned that as an example of how a misgynistic system is kept going, even by those on the oppressed side. I by no means wanted to suggest a similarity between dressing sexy in a discotheque and honour-related violence towards women (which has nothing to do with islam - see my examples of female circumcision - but everything with a backward culture).

I think it is like this: there are no free societies in the sense that there are societies in which more things are allowed than in others. Each system has its taboes, its does and don'ts.

Instinctively, however, we know that e.g. Germany or Holland are more free than, say, Saudi Arabia. The differences between free and not free societies, however, lies not in the fact that in one society you can do and say more without being declared a tresspasser, out of your mind or a liar - I think if you were to make a list of acts and words that would get you in trouble, it would probably about as long in the one society as in the other.

The big difference lies in the punishment of the tresspasser. A laughing-stock if you refuse to dress sexy (but admired by some) or being beaten if you refuse to cover your body completely (but being admired by some). So we get to the heart of the matter: the problem lies not in the ideas you embrace, the problem lies in how you deal with those who don't embrace those problems. The Muslim world, being held hostage by fundamentalists and having established an honour-based culture, is dealing very badly with its dissidents. I cannot but agree with that, being a dissident myself.
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