Turkey and the evolution of Islam


Neat article about how Islamic reform will probably come through Turkey.

Not a bad article, but not a new premise, either. Ever since the days of Kemal, westerners have pointed to Turkey as the state most likely to modernize.

One point I’m surprised he didn’t make is the relative difference in the ages of Islam and Christianity. Islam is about 700 years younger. Think about what Christianity was like 700 years ago. Crusades. Witch trials. The massacre of the Albigensian heretics. Papal supremacy. Etc.

Give Islam time, folks.

Dave, why not look at it less as “the age of the religion” but rather “the time in which the religion is being practiced”? In other words, are we supposed to expect that even in a modern society, a religion will go through 700 years (or whatever) of horrific bloodshed before it matures? Should I expect this from the Scientologists for the next seven centuries?

I don’t think that’s a fair excuse for violent Islamic fundamentalists. I could see the argument for violence in Islam 700 years ago–“That’s the way the world was back then.” But now? Isn’t it fair to expect Islam to be in step with the rest of the world’s major religions, despite the fact that it hasn’t been around as long? I’m not saying I expect them to be the same as other religions. I understand that they have their own customs and rites and so on, and that’s fine with me as long as everyone is practicing them consensually. But they don’t get a free pass on blowing up civilians just because that’s what Christians were doing 700 years ago.

The thing with religions is the inertia factor. Since they’re all based (supposedly) on revealed, immutable truths, there’s huge resistence to evolution. It’s not impossible, but it’s slow. That why time matters greatly. Note that I didn’t say “give Islam 700 years.” I hope that it won’t take that long, given cultural cross-fertilization. But it will be a slow, frustrating process from an outsider’s viewpoint.

Have to step in here.

As practiced in the ME, Islam is BACKWARD, and there is no excuse for it!

Jeezus, that is like saying that it’s OK to cut the clits off women, because that’s the way our ancesters did it (which, BTW, is just what does happen now, today, in the Islamic world).

I think there is currently a shift towards more religion-focused analyses on the situation in the Middle East and for that matter in the rest of the world. Which I think is too bad, since I’m more inclined to see other socio-economic factors as more relevant. Which, yes, includes the belief that the colonial powers of old really fucked up, which together with the concentration of wealth to the western world make an insufferable situation that inevitably leads to, or to support for, violent deeds.


Full of crap again, CindySue. Clitoral amputation occurs in only a tiny subset of nations and has nothing to do with Islamic belief. It’s a product of cultural traditions much older than that. Your ignorance is impressively thorough.

Full of crap again, CindySue. Clitoral amputation occurs in only a tiny subset of nations and has nothing to do with Islamic belief. It’s a product of cultural traditions much older than that. Your ignorance is impressively thorough.[/quote]

Well, thank you>I don’t get that many compliments on this board.

Agreed. But the big problem is that we don’t have the time to adopt this approach. Technology has advanced a lot since the Crusades, Dave. Back then, the Pope got pissed, he had to send bulls throughout Western Europe and drum up thousands of people to attack the infidels with sword and trebuchet. Which was a big deal at the time, but wasn’t exactly threatening the future of the entire planet.

Now, some Muslim nutcase can get revenge for the conquest of Jerusalem or the Spanish Reconquista by rounding up three or four similar fanatics and making dirty bombs, sabotaging nuclear power plants, and so forth. We sit back and wait for Islam to evolve, to go through a reformation process like Christianity, and we risk the destruction of everything that we’ve built in the West over the last 400-500 years. Or perhaps the destruction of the planet itself, if an Islamist government gets hold of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.

If that were the case, then why don’t we see sub-Saharan African countries, who were exploited by colonialism far worse than the more distant Arab world (look at slavery on the west coast of Africa, for instance–on the other side of the continent, the Arabs were the slavers), exporting terrorism across the globe? The focus is on Islam because the vast majority of the terrorist problem is Islamic. I’m not saying that socio-economic factors aren’t huge, but the fact remains that the current state of Islam is the biggest problem facing the Middle East today.

You can’t export terrorism if you’re poor, that’s why. It’s not cheap; bin Laden has like 300 million, remember? And the various oil-bloated dictators are supporting Hamas. You can run a domestic insurrection on a shoestring, but foreign projection takes credit lines.

Another reason might be that we nearly annihilated the indigenous culture of the African colonies. Africa was a good deal before feudalism, but the Middle East was further along.

BTW, can I point out that until…oh…1992 or so, when the USSR fell, the “Christian nations” engaged in an awful lot of butchery? Even if you don’t include the USSR (arguable both ways), Europe didn’t really become “civilized” until the 1950s, following the crazy nationalism on all sides in WWI and the totally barbaric WWII.

So the source of terrorism in the middle east is how economically down trodden they are, but luckily for them they’re rich enough to take it out on us!

I think it’s because they’re all run by dictators, actually.

The age of the religion thing is crap. Religions(more accurately their followers) don’t gradually become less and less violent starting from the origin of the religion.

Islam is a bad religion. If I had pick a religion to become the official world religion, Islam would not be it. It wouldn’t be in my top 5.

How many Christian terrorist groups have used suicide bombers? Any religion that preaches salvation for death in battle against heathens is trouble.

But there are also clearly other factors at play. The Palestinians are terrorists because the rest of the world decided to fuck them over, not because their religion. It’s really only the heart of the Muslim world that has terrorism, Turkey or Algeria don’t seem to export very much.

Nobody ever talks about this, but it seems Muslims are actually pretty bad at terrorism. When the French(for example) tried their hand at terrorism in the 40s, they managed to strike mainly military targets while still keeping a chance to escape(bombing railyards and such). The IRA, various communist groups in the Cold War, whoever… they generally didn’t have to stoop to suicide bombing purely civilian targets. That’s really easy.

That’s far, far too simple. I’m sure there are a few people in Africa with the cash to bankroll a murderous terror campaign. The Arab Muslim world is extremely poor, too. Only a tiny minority has access to big cash, usually because of oil. And a lot of these major Islamist attacks are being staged with very little money. It sure didn’t cost much cash to blow up those trains in Spain. And wasn’t even 9-11 pulled off with under $200K?

Every civilization on Earth engages in an awful lot of butchery. Christian nations have slaughtered people with great ferocity over the past century. But they haven’t done it in the name of Christianity, have they? The crazy nationalism on all sides in WWI and WWII was just that–crazy nationalism. Most of the violence was due to ethnic, not religious conflicts.

Hitler didn’t murder six million Jews because the Pope told him to; he murdered six million Jews because he was a lunatic who believed they were a contagion afflicting the Aryan “race.” Christianity had little to do with the Holocaust. Hitler even spoke many times about cleansing Germany of Christians after the war ended. He certainly had anti-semitic Christian supporters, but the main reasons behind the Holocaust were ethnic, not religious. I’ve never read a single thing linking one of the architects of the Holocaust to Christianity, to a single citation where they say that they did it because the Bible told them to.

You see the same pattern more recently. Serbs killed Muslims in the former Yugoslavia mainly because they were ethnic Turks, not because they were Muslims. I’m not saying this wasn’t a factor, as it certainly was, but I didn’t see anyone hoisting crosses over those rape camps, or telling the world that a village was just wiped out for the greater glory of Baby Jesus. If anything, over the past century the West has opened itself up to the Muslim world, accepted more and more Muslim immigrants from the Arab world, and so forth. We embrace these multicultural identities, throw celebrations of human diversity in our cities.

That’s not the case in the Islamic world. There is no such tolerance there. Coptic churches fall to ruins in Egypt because the state refuses to allow them to be repaired. Hundreds of Christians are murdered in Nigeria because a newspaper columnist writes that Muhammad would likely have taken the winner of the Miss World pageant for a bride. Christian aid workers are murdered in Iraq while working on improving the water supply. Seventy Germans are gunned down in Luxor, Egypt by Muslims trying to rid the country of Christian tourists.

And so on. Where are the equivalent stories of Christians killing Muslims? When’s the last time four Muslim charity workers were killed for working in the United States? When’s the last time hundreds of Muslims were killed by Christians in the UK for something printed in a newspaper? When’s the last time a tour bus from Cairo was attacked by gunmen in New York City?

And wasn’t even 9-11 pulled off with under $200K?

I’m sure the actual operation was cheap, but someone was paying for all those training camps over the years.

Where are the equivalent stories of Christians killing Muslims?

Yugoslavia? I’m not buying your Turk thing for a second; their rhetoric includes too much religion.

Hitler not being a very good christian/not being one at all doesn’t help. Even ignoring the whole angle there with Pope Pius, my point was that culture of “the West” was capable of amazing evil until very recently, and the end of that had nothing to do with religion - it was entirely determined by economics and nationalism. World War I, for example, was an entirely pointless war, fought for no good reason whatsoever.

IMHO, the problem of the Arab world is all economics, nationalism, and government structure; whenever they get around to home-grown democracies and get over the early stage of nationalism, the problem will stop.

Anyway, you’re begging the question with apocalyptic rhetoric: if we can’t wait for the Arab world to modernize, what should we do, Brett?

Encourage this modernization. Stop giving Islam a pass by continually saying that “It’s just the extremists,” and ignoring the fact that mosques in cities across the Western world are breeding hate on a daily basis. Crack down on this stuff. Deport or jail those who spread hateful and discriminatory beliefs. Stop doing flatly stupid things like supporting Sharia-based alternatives to the Western legal process, in the name of multiculturalism.

Through naivete and the openness of our societies, we’ve allowed Islamism to become a poison in our culture. Most of the 9-11 hijackers, for instance, were radicalized in Western Europe. This has to be addressed, now, not just through police investigations of radical groups, but through social reforms (yes, including the French headscarf ban) and government action to curb the excesses of Islam. We have to mirror in the West, what Ataturk did in Turkey.

I think the biggest single goal should be to secure the equality of Muslim women in the West. Do that, and you free half of Muslim society, and I believe many of the backward beliefs of Islam will open up after that.

So to defend freedom, we become a police state? “Jailing and deporting those who spread hateful and discriminatory beliefs” could include you, Brett. Think about it.

The “West” that you pretend to care about so much makes a critical legal distinction between speech and action. This distinction is lost on you, its supposed defender.