The Dutch authorities must work to establish good relations with the political aspects of Islam. That is the conclusion of a report by the Dutch Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR). The report, which was presented this week to Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot, has been released at a time when the EU is also dealing with the problem of a Palestinian government led by Hamas.IslamOnline adds:
In recent years, a climate of fear and suspicion between the Muslim world and the west has led to distorted mutual perceptions. In this atmosphere, Islamic politics are often equated with the views and behaviour of anti-democratic and violent fundamentalists like Osama bin Laden. The WRR report argues that this image is unfair. Within Islam there are many more and varied political views.
Of course there are fundamentalists such as the Taliban and the followers of al-Qaeda, who advocate a literal interpretation of the Qu'ran and reject democracy and human rights. But Islamic politics also includes progressive movements and thinkers who emphasise the spirit rather than the letter of the Qu'ran and who often seek to justify democracy and human rights on the basis of Islam.
The report also draws attention to the fact that, over the years, many Islamic activist movements have gone through a process of moderation. Movements like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt who - in the 1970s - were still calling for a radical overthrow of the secular state. Today they act as normal political parties willing to cooperate with others within the limits of a democratic system.
This is not really new. But Dr Wendy Asbeek, one of the authors of the report, thinks that these facts need to be explained in the Netherlands today:
"In the Dutch media, we regularly hear opinion makers and experts claim that fundamentalist Islam is the only 'pure Islam'. This calls for a counter-discourse that shows the diversity and especially the dynamics of political Islam."What are the consequences of this analysis for Dutch government policies? The report calls for nothing less than a "paradigm shift". The Dutch authorities and also the EU must learn to view political aspects of Islam as a potential ally in their efforts to advance democracy and human rights in the Muslim world.
The release of the report is timely because at the moment the Dutch government and the EU are wrestling with the question of how to deal with the Islamic movement Hamas, which won the Palestinian elections in January. Wendy Asbeek:
"The report will surely contribute to making cooperation with Hamas debatable. It is important to approach such movements pragmatically and to judge them on their deeds. We should have the courage to enter into dialogue."
The WRR study urged an end for campaigns sullying the image of Islam and Muslims in the Netherlands.Yes, walking around with 24-hour protection from Islamic would-be murderers and imams who threaten your life and who murdered your friend is definitely just for fame.
It blamed right-wing politicians like MP Ayaan Hirsi for fanning the conflict with Islam.
The study maintained that those politicians, in attacking Islam, are after fame and voters.
The findings of the study drew immediate fire from right-wing and liberal parties, which asked the parliament to hold a special session to debate the conclusions.
Hirsi, who wrote the scripts of two documentaries on alleged oppression of women in Islam, said the study lacks professionalism and undermines free speech.
And Hamas is just a democratic movement that doesn't take the Koran literally.
And the Muslim Brotherhood is not interested in terror, no, not in the least. They are fully within the democratic tradition.
And "political Islam" is just another political movement; no interest in establishing shari'a law for the world. No-sir-ee.
Such stupidity from Holland, the country that hosted the murder of Theo Van Gogh, is breathtaking.
UPDATE: I didn't realize Little Green Footballs had covered this, and an interview with one author is even worse, identifying Hezbollah as a moderate movement and saying that Shari'a is just like the Ten Commandments.