Thursday, January 14, 2010

Secular western tolerance for Muslim intolerance

Seculars in the west are often quick to condemn any expression of 'Jewish bigotry', while ignoring the antisemitism rampant in the Arab press and media. Where is their contextual counterbalance?

"The mainstream media in the United States is quick to denounce any perceived affronts to Arab or Islamic culture, and just as quick to condemn any alleged expressions of Jewish or Israeli chauvinism. But the media is reluctant to criticize antisemitic expressions from Arab or Muslim sources, draw any connection between Islamism and terrorism, acknowledge the history of Arab expansion and colonialism, or discuss the supremacist implications of jihad – even as it openly plays out in Europe. Rather, liberal pundits often wax dreamily poetic when discussing the so-called “golden age of Islam” or the myth of Islamic tolerance. Moreover, they tend to rationalize any antisemitic or anti-Western expressions in the Arab world as reactions to Israeli intransigence or American colonialism.

In reality, there was no real sense of tolerance for “infidels” in the Arab-Muslim world. Historically, Jews in Arab lands were relegated to the status of dhimmi who often lived in ghettos, were endowed with few if any substantive rights, and were subject to the whim and whimsy of their hostile neighbors. Although many in the West believe that Jewish life was more tolerable through the ages in the Islamic lands, the general treatment of Jews there was in fact not much different than in Christian Europe, and sometimes was even worse.

During the early Islamic period, for example, Jews were required to wear distinctive badges or metal seals around their necks, and starting in the 9th Century the Caliphate in Baghdad required Jews to wear the yellow badge – a practice that was later adopted in Christian Europe during the Middle Ages. Starting in the year 1005, the Jews of Egypt were required to wear bells on their garments, and in Medieval Baghdad they were often physically branded. In many Arab countries Jews were required to live in ghettos and were not permitted to use the same public bath houses as Muslims. At various times throughout Islamic history, Jews of the Mideast and North Africa were subjected to pogroms, massacres and forced conversions just as they were in Europe.

Despite the fantasy of the “Golden Age of Spain” when Jews were supposedly free, equal and prosperous, Iberian Jewry often fared little better in Muslim Spain than in Christian Europe. The reality was famously evidenced by the experience of Maimonides. Despicable though the anti-Jewish policies of the Catholic Church may have been, the Rambam and his family were exiled from their native Cordoba not because of Christian persecution, but because the conquering Almohads gave the Jewish community the choice of conversion to Islam or death.”

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And not only concerning Jews, also concerning Muslim women the secular western world is deafening silent. Some of the videos you are about to see in this youtube playlist of Women and Islam are graphic:

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