Saturday, February 17, 2007

" But Sharia law and western democracy are certainly
incompatible. There is no way to talk away this incompatibility by vague
reference to multiculturalism."

The debate between Multiculturalism and Enlightenment continues. Yes, it seems to have come to this, Multiculturlaism effectively representing Muslims' concerns in the Western world while Enlightenment is increasingly regarded as a fundamentalism no less dangerous that any other type.

Lars Gustaffson :

The idea is obviously that western rationality is a set of dogmas, in no way different from other dogmatic outlooks and demands on the world. Under the dubious pretext of multiculturalism, we are supposed to be obliged to treat all dogmas, all possible authoritarian political and moral demands with equal respect.

This is of course impossible. Not only because the concept of "culture" is an extremely fuzzy one. At the core is the confusion between dogma and rationality, between Buckley's infallible beliefs and infallible arguments.

Religious creeds and scientific rationality, which is the basis of Western democracy are simply not in competition. There is no Christian or Muslim approach to, say, biochemistry. Religions are obviously not based on empirical observation, measurement, logical inference and deduction.

But more important; the demands of all "cultures" are not compatible. Of course monotheists, atheists and polytheists should (in the ideal case) be able to live peacefully side by side. But Sharia law and western democracy, orthodox biblical family law which demands capital punishment for gay relations and modern family law – which in most progressive countries permits between persons of same gender – are certainly incompatible. There is no way to talk away this incompatibility by vague reference to multiculturalism.

And from Ophelia Benson:

Buruma notes that he says different things in different contexts, then talks to Scott Appleby, who tried to get Ramadan to Notre Dame.

He is accused of being Janus-faced. Well, of course he
presents different faces to different audiences. He is trying to bridge a divide
and bring together people of diverse backgrounds and worldviews. He considers
the opening he finds in his audience. Ramadan is in that sense a

Okay. Fair point. He is trying to bridge a divide; he is a politician. Okay; but then that does tell us that what he says and writes is not necessarily entirely reliable. It's as well to be aware of that.

Just as Marxists claim a universal validity for their
political ideology, Ramadan says he believes that religious principles, as
revealed in the Koran, are universal. It was as a universalist that Ramadan
promoted the right of Muslim women to wear the veil at French schools. “Rights
are rights,” he said, “and to demand them is a right.”

How about the right of Muslim women to be confined to the house, forbidden to drive, forbidden to travel without the permission of a male relative? Is it as a universalist that Ramadan promotes those rights? How about the right to be stoned to death for adultery? Or, to put it another way, how about the right of people to reject the 'universal' religious principles 'as revealed in the Koran'? Does he take that to be a right?


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