Religious liberty

Is There Religious Freedom in the Muslim World?

Let's look at real Muslim countries.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Is Islam hospitable to religious freedom? This is the central question of my newly published book, Religious Freedom In Islam: The Fate of a Universal Human Right in the Muslim World Today. To answer the question, the book looks closely at the Muslim world today.

I focus on how governments treat the question of religious freedom in countries where Muslims are a majority. There are about 47 of these countries, and they are concentrated in the Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. Muslim-majority states serve as a strong test for religious freedom: How are dissenters and religious minorities treated in states where Muslims are the majority of the population and have the means of coercion at their disposal? If regimes in these states allow religious freedom, then the case for the Muslim world's openness to religious freedom is strengthened.

For measurements of religious freedom, I look to the Government Restrictions Index of the widely respected religious freedom rankings of the Pew Research Center. It was in part through Pew numbers that I derived the first part of my argument about the Muslim world—that, in the aggregate, Muslim-majority countries are much less religiously free than the rest of the world.

The second part of my argument is that when one zooms in from a satellite view of the Muslim world to a close-up view, one sees more diversity—a diversity that offers hope for religious freedom in the Muslim world. Pew's numbers are also important for this second argument but do not alone deliver it. To see the diversity in the Muslim world, one must look not only at the magnitude but also at the manner in which governments restrict religious freedom. By manner, I have in mind what we may call a regime's political theology, that is, a doctrine of political authority, justice, and the proper relationship between religion and state that is derived from more foundational theological and philosophical commitments.

I propose three categories of regimes as they are defined by their political theology. The first is "religiously free" states, which make up 11 out of 47 Muslim-majority states. These fit Pew's category of "low" restrictions on religious freedom on the GRI and are categorized by a political theology of religious freedom, meaning that they espouse, promote, and protect the freedom of people and communities to practice their religion.

Seven of these countries are concentrated in West Africa. Most of them have strong Muslim majorities—in some cases, more than 90% of the population—yet they are striking for their strong levels of respect for Christian and other minorities and for Muslims who dissent from prevailing orthodoxy. Notably, levels of religiosity are high in these countries; sub-Saharan Africa is the most religious region of the entire world, according to the Pew Research Center.

Thus refuted is a widely shared wisdom in the West that says that only secularization—meaning the decline of religious belief—can bring religious tolerance. In West Africa, it is not the absence of Islam but rather the kind of Islam, that explains tolerance—namely, an Islam informed by Sufi spirituality, which stresses inner sincerity and the free character of belief. West Africa's tolerance can also be explained by the historical pattern of Islam's arrival in the region. Unlike in the Middle East, where Islam spread through conquest, here it came through bands of traders and missionaries who had to make accommodations with the surrounding authorities. The pattern continues through this day.

The 36 Muslim-majority states that are not religiously free fit Pew's categories of "moderate," "high," or "very high" levels of restriction on the GRI. These states manifest different political theologies, though, and so can be divided into two categories.

One of these—the second of my three categories—can be called "secular repressive" states. Numbering 15 in 2009, these states proffer a political theology of secularism, rooted in the West, holding that the public influence of Islam ought to be stifled so as to make way for nationalism, economic modernization, and modernity in general. The standard bearer of this model is the Republic of Turkey, founded in 1923 by Kemal Atatürk on secular principles. Egypt followed suit under Nasser in the early 1950's, as did other Arab countries. The Central Asia republics—the "stans"—emerged as secular repressive following the end of the Cold War. What these countries show is that where religious freedom is lacking in the Muslim world, Islam is not always the cause of it. The French Revolution, not just the Iranian Revolution, is the problem.

The other kind of Muslim-majority state that curtails religious freedom—my third category—I call a "religiously repressive" state. These states numbered 21 in 2009 and manifested a political theology of "Islamism" that envisions law and government policy as a vehicle for promoting a strongly conservative form of Islam in all spheres of life—family life, economy, culture, religious practice, education, dress, and many others. These are the countries that most Westerners have in mind when they think of Islam as being repressive. Here, the Iranian revolution has prevailed. Iran and Saudi Arabia are indeed the prototypes.

These three categories, each based on a political theology, are at the heart of my argument about Islam and religious freedom. They show, first, that religiously free states do exist in the majority-Muslim world. They make up almost one-fourth (23%) of that world and so are more than outliers. Then, the religiously unfree portion of the majority-Muslim world must be understood in its complexity, too. About 32% of Muslim-majority states are secular repressive ones, fueled by an antireligious ideology borrowed from the West. The other 45% are religiously repressive, imposing traditional Islam.

This close-up view ought to yield both honesty and hope. It is honest in that it allows that religious repression is still widespread in the Muslim world. It is hopeful in that it shows that Islam is not always the source of the repression and is indeed sometimes the source of freedom.

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  1. Now compare and contrast with countries that have other majority religions and their level of religious repression.

    1. That is left as an exercise for the reader – – – –

      1. Telling that in a discussion about religious freedom, so many still want to use it to play the game of which faith is better.

        1. One can be in favor of religious freedom and still think one’s own faith is superior.

          Its obviously Judaism, not either of the two big heresies, but Jews are big believers in religious freedom.

          1. We’re big believers of religious freedom for other faiths because we spent all our efforts corralling our co-religionists in competition movements 😛

            1. Arg, autocorrect — competing movements.

          2. Thinking your faith is superior is baked into just about all faiths, including Judaism.

            Arguing your faith is superior by telling other faiths what they truly believe is it’s own separate thing.

            1. Not just religion, all belief systems. It’s inherent: Believing something means believing something else is wrong.

            2. I don’t think so.

              We are talking about revelation, after all. It is not impossible to believe there was more than one.

              Als, there’s the issue of what “superior” means in this context. Is it that one’s religion’s historical accounts re more accurate, or that it’s teachings somehow produce better outcomes (for who?)

              1. I imagine that for most folks, they believe their religions are “superior” because they believe their beliefs are correct.

                It’s not until you get to the areligious that other metrics might be used for “superior”.

        2. I’m an agnostic, so I don’t believe any faith is better, but it seems the author is lying with statistics if he doesn’t compare religious freedom under Islam with religious freedom under other faiths.

      2. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.

  2. Let me reiterate, more strongly, a comment I made on the earlier thread.

    This analysis would be a lot more meaningful if it took into account the populations in these countries. There are huge population disparities among these countries: Gambia – 2.1 million, Egypt – 95 million, Indonesia 260 million.

    Weighting these countries equally is not a great idea. It might be OK for a general overview, but when you start talking about “23% of [the Islamic] world, you should really measure that in population, not number of countries. If Qatar changed categories, would it alter your conclusions?

    1. “It might be OK for a general overview, but when you start talking about “23% of [the Islamic] world, you should really measure that in population, not number of countries.”

      Not necessarily. There’s certainly nothing wrong with reporting that X% of the states in the United States share a particular characteristic, regardless of the population of those states. And there’s no inherent reason why it would be more meaningful to report that as Y% of the population of the United States instead. In many cases reporting it as the percentage of population would be less informative because it would be dominated by just three or four states. For similar reasons, here weighing countries equally probably is the better idea.

      1. No, there is nothing wrong with reporting that, and I can agree that the information presented isn’t worthless.

        But saying 23% of states in the USA share some characteristic is not the same as saying that nearly a quarter of the country does. The post is discussing a feature, or its absence, in the Muslim world. Egypt is a lot bigger chunk of that world than Oman.

        Population matters. If 75% of the population of Muslim countries lives in places with, or without, freedom, that,s important to an understanding of that world, no matter how those people are divided up into countries.

        1. “But saying 23% of states in the USA share some characteristic is not the same as saying that nearly a quarter of the country does.”

          Again, it depends on what you are looking at. There’s absolutely nothing confusing or in any way incorrect about saying that a quarter of the country has a particular type of law because that’s the percentage of states that have that type of law, regardless of the population of those states.

          “Population matters. If 75% of the population of Muslim countries lives in places with, or without, freedom, that,s important to an understanding of that world, no matter how those people are divided up into countries.”

          If the question does how does religious freedom affect Muslims in Muslim-majority nations, I would agree with your formulation (and I don’t deny that that is also important information). But for the question under discussion, I think Daniel Philpott’s formulation is better. Just like an examination of state laws that focused on California, Florida, New York, and Texas in many cases is less informative than one that includes the smaller states as a meaningful part of the analysis. That’s true even if you expand it out to the top nine, so you have the majority of the population included.

          1. Fair enough, but he is discussing the Muslim world, not Muslim-majority countries.

            If the nine most populous states were the only ones with a certain law that would be interesting, but it would not be really accurate to say that most of the country did not have such a law. Even allowing for ambiguity as to what”most of the country” means it would hardly be complete.

            Remember, we are talking about countries where the population disparities are 100 to 1 in some instances. Conditions in the largest tell us a lot more than in the smallest.

            1. “If the nine most populous states were the only ones with a certain law that would be interesting, but it would not be really accurate to say that most of the country did not have such a law.”

              I disagree. If the law is one way in 41 states, and another in 9 states, the default is the law in the 41 states regardless of the relative breakdown in populations.

              “Conditions in the largest tell us a lot more than in the smallest.”

              Again, I disagree. This is especially true when many of the largest Muslim-majority countries aren’t exactly know for how well their governments reflect their populations.

              1. If what you want to know is what environment the average Muslim or average American lives in, weighting by population makes sense. If you want to know what are the possibilities for Muslim or American societies, it may make sense to take each country, or each state, as a separate experiment.

  3. Religions that value faith pray for your return. Those that value obedience, or have a belief system that cannot hold up to free individual choice write blasphemy laws to kill the non-believers.
    This map of countries that offer execution for apostasy coincides with muslim majority countries.

    1. “Coincides” is too strong. It implies correlation in both directions — that Muslim majority countries execute apostates, and that non-Muslim majority countries do not.

      I notice in particular that only one West African country executes apostates, whereas the other six Muslim majority “religiously free” West African nations do not. (Assuming that one country is one of the 7 mentioned; may not be so.)

      1. The largest Muslim country, Indonesia, is quite authoritarian but not Islamic. It’s not even mentioned in the Wikipedia article on apostasy (where the map in this article is derived). However, the Indonesian form of “religious freedom” is to have 6 state-approved religions, and prison sentences for blasphemy are possible for any deviation from these.

    2. Religions that value faith pray for your return

      Passive aggressive religiosity on the Conspiracy: has it’s time come at last?

  4. To paraphrase Justice Scalia, I must respond to the outrageous arguments in today’s article, which it is beyond human nature to leave unanswered. Hopeful? The source of freedom? How’s hope and change working out for the Copts in Egypt? Anything happen in the Philippines of note this year? Are Christians in the Middle East thriving today? What about Europe? Exactly how many churches have been attacked/vandalized in France? Any priests injured in sword attacks? Just an aside for the author, the former constitution of the USSR contained wonderful protections of freedom on paper, not so much in reality.

    1. The OP is looking at info from across the Muslim world and seeing glimmers of hope both statistically and anecdotally.

      You respond by pointing out points of darkness and scoffing.

      If there is no hope, what would you counsel – a crusade?

      1. No. He sees one area of the world where there are majority Muslim nations that do not oppress other religions. That is great but it says that their tolerance is the result of the indiginous culture in those nations not Islam. If it were the result of something about Islam, more than just West African Muslims would be tolerant.

        Moreover, he never bothers to examin the dynamics in those nations. You can be majority Muslim without being overwhelmingly Muslim. It is possible that the only reason those nations are tolerant is because the numbers and ability to resist of religious minorities force them to be.

        1. Did you read the survey bit before the West Africa bit?

          Moreover, he never bothers to examin the dynamics in those nations. You can be majority Muslim without being overwhelmingly Muslim. It is possible that

          You’re doing a lot of speculative work to justify Islam just being pure evil. Ever thought that all of that can be attributed to Arab-Muslim culture as well? You can speculate your way into lots of places, why is your preferred conclusion the one that demonizes billions?

          1. So, bad because of their RACE,not their religion?

            Quite Progressive.

          2. Yes, it is called offering an alternative interpretation of the data. You choose to dismiss it because you have a compulsion to virtue signal your tolerance for Islam. But your desire to virtue signal is not a logical reason to dismiss an alternative explanation for the known facts. Sorry but reality doesn’t care about your narrative.

            1. When you accuse someone of virtue signaling you are reading minds, and don’t deserve to be taken seriously.

              1. Truth hurts. It is obvious that is what he is doing. Meanwhile, if you have anything intelligent to say, say it. Otherwise stop wasting everyone’s time.

                1. Arguing against you isn’t virtue signaling, chief, no matter how obvious you think it is. Who is there around here for me to signal to?

                  Also you didn’t answer my question about what your upshot is about what to do with all these bad Muslims you’ve found.

        2. “it says that their tolerance is the result of the indiginous culture in those nations not Islam.”

          The implication of his results is not that Islam requires religious toleration but that it permits it, since some Islamic majority societies are religiously tolerant and some are not. That’s all he is claiming.

          The same, on the historical evidence, is true of Christianity. At the moment, Christian countries have high levels of religious toleration. At various points in the past, many of them did not. That says that the modern tolerance is the result of something other than Christianity, possibly modern secular culture.

      2. Interesting fallback on the crusades. (Did I say interesting, I meant ridiculous.) But as to what I would counsel, how about an honest assessment of how Islam is actually taught and practiced today? Seems like Islam itself may be badly in need of its own Reformation.

        1. You seem to have an ‘honest assessment’ already in mind wherein us non-Muslims reach the conclusion that modern Islam as practiced today is all bad. Which is not how reform works, and certainly not how reform works in the absence of a centralized church.

          Yeah, crusade was me being cute but I just don’t see what policy upshot you see after reaching the conclusion you seem to have already reached.
          History has lots of examples of how you can’t reform a religion from the outside, nor can you do a great job deciding a faith needs reform from the outside of that faith.

          So again, I ask – taking your rather stark conclusion that Islam has no hope as currently practiced, what would you do about it?

          1. “Yeah, crusade was me being cute”

            The sad part is, I think you really believe this.

            1. He doesn’t seem to know much but he makes up for it by being smug. So there is that.

              1. Smugness is something y’all bring into my comments from the outside.

          2. I think you misunderstand. I have no desire to reform or rehabilitate Islam myself. That’s a problem its adherents have to address but a problem that unfortunately won’t be addressed since it isn’t even recognized by the vast majority of followers.

        2. “Seems like Islam itself may be badly in need of its own Reformation.”

          It already had it. Wahhabism and Khomeinism.

          We think of the “Reformation” as positive but Luther and the others wanted to purge the church of the bad things that had creeped in under Catholicism. Just like Khomeini and Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab wanted to purify their religion.

          1. Islam has had multiple reformations in that sense over the past millenium or so. Both the Almoravid and the Almohad movements were purifying reactions against what they saw as the corruption of existing Islam.

            And, as it happens, both came out of NW Africa.

      3. Where did he say there is no hope? The hope is for oppressive, totalitarian and violent ideologies to be abandoned.

        1. Hope for the conversion of every last Muslim, eh, ML?

  5. Can you provide a list of the countries in each category?

  6. The fact all of the Muslim countries that tolerate relgious freedom is very instructive. Is it possible for a Muslim country to embrace religious freedom? Sure. The countries in West Africa show that. The fact that they are all conenctrated in one area of the world, despite majority Muslim nations being scattered throughout the globe and consisting of dozens of different ethnicities says that the tolerance has more to do with the cultural dynamics of West Africa than it does with Islam. If Islam as a rule were tolerant of other religions, Muslim nations other than those in West Africa would be tolerant.

    Your own data disproves your claim.

    1. What claim do the data disprove?

      1. That there is something about Islam that makes it tolerant. That is not true. If it were, the Muslim nations that were tolerant would be more widely dispersed and not concentrated in West Africa. The fact that they are concentrated in West Africa is stronger evidence for there being something about West Africa that embraces religious tolerance than it is evidence for their being something about Islam that fosters religious tolerance.

        1. I think he claimed there was something about Islam informed by Sufi spirituality and spread without conquest that makes it tolerant. Because Sufi spirituality and dissemination without conquest occur only in West Africa, the data are consistent with his conclusion. The data are also consistent with your theory that it isn’t Islam, but something else about West African culture that resulted in tolerance.

          At least, we should be able to agree that the data support his conclusion that Islam is not inhospitable to religious freedom.

          1. No. The most you can conclude is that Islam is not necessarily in hospitable to religious freedom. Clearly the Islam in West Africa is not. That could be for a number of reasons. Maybe it is the strain of Islam practiced there. Maybe it is the result of the native culture. It could also be the result of the Muslim community being a majority but not a strong enough majority to supress other religions. Or it could be any combination of those things. Whatever the answer, it likely says little about Islam in general.

            1. By that logic, I could conclude that Christianity isn’t necessarily all about snake handling.

              Any counterexamples are localized effects and likely say little about Christianity in general.

              1. Yes, Christianity isn’t snake handling. The fact that snake handling is done by a small group of Christians in one area says nothign about Christianity at large. So, yes by that logic, you can say that Christianity isn’t necessarily about snake handling. Moreover, the fact that every other Chritiian in the world repudiates snake handling shows that Christianity does repudiate snake handling.

                In this case, every Muslim country ourside of West Africa rejects relgious freedom. So while Islam does not necessarily reject religous freedom, in most cases it does and in the few places it does not it is likely due to other facts besides Islam.

                My God you are dense. You are just dumb as a post.

                1. So when characterizing a religion you should just lump every sect together and majority rules?

                  You’re being facile in your generalization.

                  1. I am not characterizing every Muslim as the same. Clearly West African Muslims are not intolerant of other religions. Muslims in every other part of the world are. As I said above, that is stronger evidence for therer being something about West Africa that embraces tolerance despite Islam than it is for Islam being tolerant. West Africans are not the only Sufiests in the worold. They are, however, the only Muslim nations that tolerate other religions.

                    1. What are the four non-West African Muslim-majority countries that are religiously tolerant?

            2. How about Islam is not categorically inhospitable to religious freedom. In which case it may or may not be possible for Muslim-majority countries to exhibit the same amount of religious freedom as other countries. That’s how I read Philpot’s conclusions.

              Philpot stated that “Most of [the West African countries] have strong Muslim majorities?in some cases, more than 90% of the population.”

              1. How about Islam is not categorically inhospitable to religious freedom. In which case it may or may not be possible for Muslim-majority countries to exhibit the same amount of religious freedom as other countries. That’s how I read Philpot’s conclusions.

                That is one possible interpretation but his data doesn’t prove that. It only shows that Muslims in West Africa are not inhospitable. There is nothing to say that that is in spite of being Muslims not because of it. You just choose the more positive interpretation because that is what you want to believe. Good for you. maybe it is true. But your wanting to believe it doesn’t make it true.

                1. I didn’t choose either interpretation. I think you did.

                  1. I didn’t choose either. But to admit to both being possible means the author has failed to make his case. Thanks for playing.

                    1. I don’t think Philpot chose either.

    2. ” Is it possible for a Muslim country to embrace religious freedom? Sure. The countries in West Africa show that.”

      John, this is total nonsense. I guess you can make come to any conclusion you desire if you just make up the data.

      Morocco and Mauritania are two populous Western African countries – as far West as one can get in Africa – and they both have the death penalty for apostasy. In Nigeria, prison, loss of child custody, and marriage. In Algeria, converting a muslim is a crime.

      So much for your theory.

      1. Then the countries in west Africa don’t show it either. So, I guess no Islamic country is tolerant. If that is the data, then so be it. I don’t think that helps the author here however.

      2. I think the seven tolerant Muslim-majority West African countries are Guinea, Gambia, Mail, Niger, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Senegal. I think three of the tolerant Muslim-majority non-West African countries are Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo. I’m stumped as to what the fourth country is.

    3. And if Christianity as a rule were tolerant of other religions, Jews and Muslims would not have been forced to convert or leave Spain after the success of the reconquista.

      Insofar as the observed pattern tells us anything, it is that modern secular society tends to be religiously tolerant. But even that is true only if you don’t count communist societies as modern and secular. And it’s a pretty recent pattern–consider how late the U.K. had restrictions on Catholics.

      It also isn’t clear it is going to last. Modern societies seem to be becoming less tolerant of ideological disagreement, which can be viewed in terms of non-theist religions.

  7. William Ewart Gladstone allegedly held up a copy of the Quran and said “As long as a copy of this accursed book survives there can be no justice in the world.”

    I would prefer that he be wrong.

  8. “No”

    shortest article in history – 2 letters

  9. This series on Islam simply highlights the problem when religion and politics come together.

    Insert Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism WHATEVER instead of Islam and we get the same problem.

    It’s not that religions by themselves are a problem (they’re stupid but that’s the individual believer’s problem), it’s when a political system is beholden to a religion.

    It’s why we must always fight any and all religious intrusion in the political process.

    One involves the earthly, societal issues people face and one is the fairy tale that people use to comfort themselves.

    They simply cannot be allowed to mix.

    1. …but enough about global climate change…

      1. Anything you disagree with hard enough is a religion or a conspiracy!

    2. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams

      The Nazis and Soviets did not let have “religious intrusion in the political process” yet murdered tens of millions. Maybe religion is not the problem.

      1. Weird isn’t it…JA (up in Mass.) was all puritanical and TJ (down in VA) was all, eh on religion.

        Now the “sides” have swapped and Mass. is rather liberal and VA is on the conservative side (although lately staunchly purple and trending strongly blue).

        1. The Puritans haven’t changed. They just traded their worship for God for worshiping government.

      2. Bob makes a good point – ideology + government can mean megadeaths, whether secular or religious.

        I’m skeptical one can keep ideology out of government, or draw an accurate line between ideology and values.

        But theologies are pretty clearly on one side of that line, and should be avoided in whatever form they take.

        1. It is cute you think you don’t have a theology. You just call it something else. But you have a theology. If you didn’t, you would be a full on nihilist and I have yet to meet anyone who is that.

          1. theology = ideology

            Everyone has a belief system.

            1. And everyone thinks there are higher truths. Otherwise, there would be nothing to belive in.

              1. I’m leaning heavily towards “nah, no higher truths, nothing to believe in, but I’m okay with that”, but it’s possibly you’re just defining those so broadly that they’re meaningless, but all inclusive.

                So mind giving some operating definitions here?

                1. It’s John, so what do you expect?

                  1. How does it go… “Hope for the best, expect the worst”?

                    He could always surprise me.

          2. Sounds to me like you’re having trouble drawing an accurate line between ideology and values!

            1. What makes yoru values special or anything other than a preference? Nothing if you don’t have a theology. You have no understanding of what you actually believe.

              1. What makes yoru values special or anything other than a preference? Nothing if you don’t have a theology.

                That, but without the implication there’s a problem.

              2. Superstition is essential to understanding?

      3. “The Nazis and Soviets did not let have “religious intrusion in the political process” yet murdered tens of millions”

        You’re speaking as if Americans didn’t murder anyone. We are, after all, the only country ever to use a nuclear weapon on another country.

        1. Phew!

          Perhaps the scale of the murder is irrelevant? The Nazis and Soviets murdered their own citizens in large number, and murdered foreigners in equally large numbers. The US is hardly perfect, but we have never had systemic murder.

          As to the nuclear weapon, that was not murder, unless you consider defensive war to be murder.

    3. It’s very interesting how there seems to be this pathological insistence by you and others that Christianity and Islam are just the same, equivalent for whatever purposes are relevant.

      Fight any and all religious intrusion in the political process? How do you define religious? I’d say we need to welcome religious political influence with open arms if the “religious” ideas in question favor liberty and freedom, and reject it when it’s the opposite.

      1. Nope! Just saying the same outcome occurs when (any) religion and politics are intertwined.

        History (and this series on Islam) proves my point.

    4. “They’re stupid” is a great way to signal that you have no respect for the vast majority of humans. There are plenty of very smart people who also happen to be religious. Were the founders of the US “stupid” – almost all were religious, and most were Christian?

  10. All my comments were deleted.

    Pointing out that Islam was vomited up by a desert pirate to justify his every lust for child-rape, theft, and murder isn’t allowed here I see.

    I suppose I should have criticized Christianity. No doubt that would have been allowed.

    1. There is no deletion here. You just screwed up.

      1. Nope, had a comment, and replies.

        All gone.

        Nothing worse than what I’ve said here.

        There clearly is a censor.

    2. The Liberal Conspiracy strikes again!

  11. Islam in its concrete particulars is too alien and threatening to liberal Westerners for them to acknowledge its existence as it really is. So they keep putting Islam into this or that Western-centric conceptual box in order to make Islam seem familiar and assimilable. But because these non-Islam theories of Islamic extremism are all false or inadequate, new theories, or new variations on old theories, must keep being invented. The never-ending compulsion of Western intellectuals to explain uniquely Islamic beliefs and institutions in non-Islamic terms expresses the very essence of liberalism, which is to deny the existence of human differences that really matter.


    1. Umm, why are you posting this argument for genocide form a website my workplace blocked for hate and racism?

      1. Argument for genocide? Liberals are growing more insane by the day. And the censorship of ideas, why?

        1. ‘Censorship if ideas?’ What in the world does that mean?

          But yeah, a little Google shows you linked to a white Supremacist website, dude!

          A private guy on a website condemning you for bumping elbows with Nazi-types isn’t censorship.

          1. Your link doesn’t appear to go anywhere–it just takes me to a Google search page.

            The page M.L. linked to is hostile to Islam but doesn’t seem to say anything at all about race. Going up to the site and poking around it, I think “white Supremacist” is a considerable exaggeration of the position it is advocating. The author (no longer alive–the site is an archive of his writings) was arguing for a society where whites and non-whites were politically equal but it was recognized that America had a European-majority culture.

            1. The author is also Jewish. Gotta love those Jewish white supremacists.

              1. It’s called the Likud party.

              1. ML, you got problems if that’s your sources.

                1. From wiki:
                  Auster wrote, “I have always called myself a racialist, which to me means two things. First, as a general proposition, I think that race matters in all kinds of ways. Second, I care about the white race. It is the source of and is inseparable from everything we are, everything we have, and everything our civilization has achieved.”

                  He did not self-identify as a white nationalist. But he sure as hell sounds like one!

  12. Choose reason. Every time.

    Especially over sacred ignorance and dogmatic intolerance.

    Most especially if you are older than 12 or so. By then, childhood indoctrination fades as an excuse for gullibility, ignorance, backwardness, superstition, and bigotry. By ostensible adulthood it is no excuse.

    Choose reason. And education, progress, tolerance, science, modernity, and inclusivity. This means avoiding dogma, intolerance, ignorance, insularity, and pining for good old days that never existed.

    Choose reason. Be an adult.

    Or, at least, try.

    1. Judging by casual observation, religious people don’t seem to be less rational than non-religious people. Plenty of dogma, ignorance, and bigotry on both sides.

  13. How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.
    A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
    Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.

    Winston Churchill

    1. Degraded sensualism? Pfft…as if we have to go to some Muslim country for *that*!

      1. Haven’t done the research, but Churchill was probably referring to child marriage.

    2. When you’re appealing to Churchill for modern beliefs about diversity…why not include a Robert E. Lee quote as well?

      1. Study, at a minimum: Great Books of The Western World (many authors), The History of English Speaking People (Churchill), and The Decline of The West (Spengler).

        Then prove that a victim of progressive educators can put together a relevant post.

      2. Liberal iconoclasm now extending to a major force in defeating the Nazis.

        Everyone is bad who does not 100% share 2019 woke American values.

        1. Liberal iconoclasm notes that someone can be flawed and still do a good job.

          Thus FDR can be a badass in most places but also intern the Japanese as well. Or Bill Clinton do some good Presidenting and also be most likely ein sexmonster.

  14. ” in the aggregate, Muslim-majority countries are much less religiously free than the rest of the world.”

    I suggest that the general freedom (or not) in a country is a better indicator… In other words, that an unfree country is more likely to have a single dominant religion, rather than any specific religion creating a lack of religious freedom.

    1. So the USSR had a single dominant religion? Cuba? Communist China, under Mao or Today? Nazi Germany? Pol Pot’s Cambodia?

      All of them were unfree and none, not had a dominant religion (note: the Nazi’s were anti-religion in about the same way as modern militant atheists, and a lot of priests died in concentration camps).

      1. That’s some AMAZING revisionism you have on display.

  15. Sorry, but this is the same old white racism. Islam is one or two percent of the US population. Blacks are 13% of the US population and have been in oppressed in the land of freedom for 400 years. Today, a black child born in Mississippi or Alabama clearly does not have “choice” that belongs to privileged white children born in those same states. You constantly ignore the white bigotry in your own house and talk about how you need to insert white values in to Indonesia and Qatar? A white racist man sits in this nation’s highest office, who is a Muslim hater by the way, and you sit there whitely pontificating about universal values? Universal is code for whites shoving their ways on the world. One of those universals is mistreatment of black people, solely based on skin color. Racist beam first, in your own eye, maybe?

  16. Unless you are determined to remain completely oblivious, Google: Sept. 11, 2001, and then Child Brides in Islam for recent examples demonstrating the accuracy of Churchill’s remarks.

    1. ‘look a these things. If they get you mad and disgusted then you should reach these conclusions!’ is propaganda, not argumentation.

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