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BURAK BEKDİL

burak.bekdil@hurriyet.com.tr

BURAK BEKDİL > How best to fight Islamophobia (III)

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I shall call him E. He is a devout Muslim with a refined mind and we have been discussing religion via e-mail over the past few years. He often disagrees with me and ended his most recent letter with the line “not with the best of regards,” to which I replied and ended mine “with best regards.”

E. was angry with my column “How best to fight Islamophobia (II)” published last Wednesday, mentioning the misfortunes that Turkish piano virtuoso Fazıl Say had to face. 

“The pianist, possibly one of the 10 most widely known Turks in the world,” I wrote in that column, “used Twitter to question whether Islamic heaven is a brothel or a pub, citing Koranic verses that describe rivers of drinks and beautiful women for those admitted to paradise. Say was joking, but the ruling elite were not laughing. Tweeting against Say’s Tweets, a lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party, Şamil Tayyar, asked Say: ‘Were you born in a brothel?’”

Coincidentally, after my article appeared prosecutors summoned Say — who served as European Union culture ambassador in 2008 — to question him about his Tweets. Say is accused of inciting public enmity and insulting religious values.

And E. wrote that: “Of course, I can pray for Mr [G]uidance but as a Taliban-like fanatic as you would no doubt like to describe me (which, dear readers, is not what I think of him — BB). There is another artist, Bedri Baykam, who also takes pleasure in his criticism of Islam (and) Muslim values. Perhaps they both should be exported to the so-called civilized world as a stopover to the punishment awaiting them in the next world.” And this time E. ended his letter with a kind “best regards” for which I am grateful. 

In a parallel letter, E. wrote to me: “It also appears that the liberal Islam of (columnist) Mustafa Akyol and his attempts to counter your narrow minded interpretation of events ha[ve] not impressed you and the illiberal replies to his posts show that you are not alone.” Which brings me to Akyol, with whom I often disagree, but E. is wrong, there have been several times when Akyol’s column has impressed me. Such as his piece “The freedom to sin,” published last weekend. I expect Akyol’s thinking should impress E. like it did me.

“As time went by... the scope of ‘commanding the right’ and ‘forbidding the evil’ (in Islam) expanded more and more. This was the interpretation of medieval Islamic scholars, who thought in a political culture where individual freedom was less valued than communal harmony,” Akyol wrote. And he went on to say: “But times are changing, and new interpretations are coming. One example is a 2008 statement by Dr. Ali Bardakoğlu, a theologian and former head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs. ‘We only communicate the known rules of Islam,’ he said. ‘It is free to observe or not to observe them, no one has the right to interfere.’”

And Akyol wisely concluded: “In my view Bardakoğlu was totally right. And his approach to religiosity is what Muslims need in the 21st century — especially if they want to nurture genuine piety rather than hypocrisy.”

Trusting his honesty after several exchanges in the last years, I hope that E. will carefully note Akyol’s words as I know mine sound too hostile to him. I am not sure where in Akyol’s Islam could we fit E.’s wish that Say “should have his fingers lose their virtuoso dexterity as it allows him to have a platform to vilify Islam.” 

For a good start begin with Akyol’s “nurturing genuine piety rather than hypocrisy” proposal. Devout Muslims should perhaps rethink why even little jokes on religion should be persecuted for “vilifying Islam.” They might also rethink why less-kind jokes do not mean vilifying other faiths, especially atheism. I do not recall if a single person has ever been prosecuted or persecuted in this country for vilifying the lack of faith.


Best regards, E.

May/25/2012

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Murun Buchstansangur

5/29/2012 12:53:54 PM

In some ways I respect Zohre more for her being frank and open about her views. Far more say than the taqiyya jihadists in charge. Unfortunately Zohre your views leave little room for manoeuvre for people who don't share your world view. Everyone surely has the right to "safeguard their dignity" and your religious beliefs are an affront to my dignity and those of many other people. You can shout 'Islamophobia' if you like and I'll happily step up to collect my award if you are the one presenting

Murun Buchstansangur

5/29/2012 12:43:16 PM

@Zohre. It is my contention that religiosity correlates strongly with intellectual pygmyism, You seem intent on supporting my thesis.

Birol A

5/29/2012 10:57:27 AM

Actually Akyol's recent pieces have moved away from religion to smiling Turks and unhappy Kurds, whilst Mr Bekdil has stayed true to talking down the pious, talking up the Israeli governments record (whilst ignoring their breaches of UN laws) and posing aggressively in his photo (see above). Nonetheless, we enjoy his writing for it brings the occasional smile and makes my dull brain tick over!

jd pomerantz

5/29/2012 2:50:37 AM

Zohre, tell it to the Christians of the Sudan & Malaysia.

zöhre

5/28/2012 6:41:31 PM

Islam preserves the rights of people to safeguard their dignity,n creates peace n fraternity among the society.Allah said,“Oyou who believe!Let not a group scoffs at another group;it may be that the latter r better than the former.Nor let (some)women scoff at other women,it may be that the latter r better than the former.Nor defame 1another, nor insult 1another by nicknames. How bad it is to insult one’s brother after having Faith.And whosoever doesn't repent,then such r (wrong-doers,etc)(49:11)

american american

5/26/2012 2:17:11 PM

zohre, you may have rights to protect yourself. the question is how do you do it: with words or swords?

american american

5/26/2012 11:31:47 AM

*my last comment of should be 'or'.

zöhre

5/25/2012 11:55:39 PM

2- 6. The right to the protection of human dignity. You see since Islam protects human dignity and teaches that vilification of religion is reprehensible then it must be condemned in the strongest terms. Those who want to scrub our public places clean with some sort of secular soap don’t seem to understand this or they don’t want to accept it. You should read this article written by lawyer so please search the net for the heading "A Danish Trojan Horse: Law and the Muhammad Cartoons"

zöhre

5/25/2012 11:47:10 PM

1-You know Burak u have such a big mouth when it comes to vilifying religion in particular islam and muslims but guess what, it looks so ugly when you don't posses even simple but crucial knowledge about islam. So I'll start teaching you..There are six principles of sharia 1.The right to the protection of life 2.The right to the protection of family 3.The right to the protection of education 4.The right to the protection of religion5.The right to the protection of property (access to resources)

jd pomerantz

5/25/2012 10:28:14 PM

Begum, I recall no right to not be offended; I also posit that any belief or worldview that can't abide a free marketplace of ideas is bogus - that goes for certain branches of my faith as well. What kind of God needs mere dust of creatures or a State to defend Him form other such creatures or states? One, I suppose, who sees victims of suicide bombings, pogroms, & inquisitions as meet sacrifices. No thanks.
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