Monday, July 18, 2005

The lipstick lesbian daring to confront radical imams - - Times Online

The lipstick lesbian daring to confront radical imams - Sunday Times - Times Online:

"The lipstick lesbian daring to confront radical imams
Irshad Manji has already been dubbed ‘Osama’s worst nightmare’ for her criticisms of Islam. Now she wants Britain’s Muslims to stand more firmly on the side of freedom
No wonder Irshad Manji has received death threats since appearing on British television: she is a lipstick lesbian, a Muslim and scourge of Islamic leaders, whom she accuses of making excuses about the terror attacks on London. Oh, and she tells ordinary Muslims to “crawl out of their narcissistic shell”. Ouch.

Manji is a glamorous Canadian television presenter whose book, The Trouble with Islam, has made her so famous in America that she won something called the Oprah Winfrey Chutzpah award. Even at a conference in Oxford last week she felt unsafe — despite extra security — with police sifting through “disgusting e-mails” and threats after her appearance on Newsnight.

Doesn’t the violent Muslim minority show Islam is flawed? “I ask myself the same question,” she grimaces. Far from regarding Muslims as oppressed they have a “supremacy complex — and that’s dangerous”. This, she contends, is true even among moderates. “Literalists” who consider the Koran the “perfect manifesto of God” have taken over the mainstream; and far from misreading Islam, as Tony Blair and the Muslim Council of Britain insist, terrorists can find encouragement for murder in the Koran.

The underlying problem with Islam, observes Manji, is that far from spiritualising Arabia, it has been infected with the reactionary prejudices of the Middle East: “Colonialism is not the preserve of people with pink skin. What about Islamic imperialism? Eighty per cent of Muslims live outside the Arab world yet all Muslims must bow to Mecca.” Fresh thinking, she contends, is suppressed by ignorant imams; you can see why she has been dubbed “Osama’s worst nightmare ”.

“The good news,” she insists, “is it doesn’t have to be like this.” She wants a reformation in Islam, returning it to its clever, fun-loving roots. “The world’s first ‘feminist’ was an 11th-century Muslim man. Baghdad had one of the first universities in the 9th century; the Spanish ‘Ole!’ comes from ‘Allah’; Islam even gave us the guitar.”"

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