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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Steyn should have more confidence in the infectious values of the Enlightenment

Ali Eteraz December 6, 2007 3:30 PM
This difference in opinion among Muslims is direct evidence that all Muslims do not act the same, nor interpret their religion uniformly, nor conform to Steyn's stereotypes about imposing sharia law.
Steyn should have more confidence in the infectious values of the Enlightenment, which can make even the Muslim Council of Britain become more tolerant.
Unfortunately, what should have been an opportunity for Canadians to debate the merits of Steyn's argument, of which there are very few, as Johann Hari demonstrated, has become another instance of the wilful ignorance of the principle of free speech by a mainstream Muslim organisation in the west.
There is no such thing as a fundamental right to rebut. Macleans owes no duty to the CIC. The CIC does not speak for all Muslims and, even if it did, its stance would be incorrect. Furthermore, why should it be the CIC, or an organisation at all, or even, for that matter, a Muslim that gets to make this rebuttal? The only fundamental right here belongs to Macleans: to choose what it prints.
The CIC should drop its case, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission should completely and utterly reject the complaint. The CIC's tactics are going to lead it down a dangerous track where adversarial tactics will be the only way it can ever assure being heard. In fact, the CIC has now threatened the MCC with "corrective action".
Where will the CIC's tactics go next? Is its intention to halt debate among Muslims as well as in the press? Is it going to bring another Muslim group before the Human Rights Commission?
The CIC should understand that there is no likelihood of Steyn-inspired mass deportations, especially since Steyn's excerpted passage in Macleans is not even talking about Canada. It should focus on grooming a culture of openness and debate within its members. It should train its individuals to be individuals and not beholden to the herd mentality of an organisation.
If it wants to challenge Steyn - and by all means, I think Steyn should be challenged - the way to do it is through participation in public discourse, not by short-circuiting the public sphere, and fellow Muslims, by using adversarial tactics. del.icio.us Digg it Tailrank Reddit Newsvine Now Public Technorati keywords: Their own worst enemies When Muslim groups try to silence the press, they live up to the most negative prejudices about Islam Ali Eteraz Nothing sets back the eradication of Islamophobia more than Muslim groups' crying wolf against inaccurate punditry.

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