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Friday, August 22, 2008

"Mosques are political"

A major reason that criticizing Islam is considered to be such a taboo in the West is because most people consider Islam to be a religion, and criticizing religions and some other belief systems is thought to be tantamount to outright bigotry. There is a good reason for this: religions are deeply personal and emotional and as a result it is insulting and rude for adherents of religion to be subject to such attacks.

The problem is that Islam is not a religion in the sense that other religions today are. On a personal level, certainly Islam is a religion, but on a global level it is a political movement (or, more precisely, a group of political movements.) Islam does not distinguish between the political and the personal; it has global ambitions and a global worldview, and more than any other religion nowadays its members are willing to take action based on its politics.

And those actions affect us all.

One may be squeamish to criticize Islam as a purely personal belief system ("micro-Islam") but to criticize it as a political movement ("macro-Islam") is not only acceptable but mandatory, as it was for Communism or fascism.

The best evidence for the use of Islam for political purposes comes from none other than Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who gave one of his usual anti-Israel speeches yesterday that included a section that should be required reading for those who think that criticizing macro-Islam is criticizing a religion only:
President Mahmud Ahmadinejad here on Wednesday advised the leaders of European countries and the U.S. not to yield to the Zionists' demands and never count on their support because ""We will witness dismantling of the corrupt regime in a very near future.""

President Ahmadinejad made the remarks in the sixth conference held on the occasion of "World Mosque Week" in Tehran.

Mosques and Friday prayers sermons are all aimed at organizing political and social developments in Islam, he said.

Mosques play pivotal role in connecting man with his Creator and no organization in the world can play such a significant role, he said.

The 9th government pays due attention to the significant role of mosques in the society, said President Ahmadinejad.

Referring to the Zionist regime, President Ahmadinejad described it as the main cause of all corruption and wickedness in the contemporary era...
This is not news to anyone who ever watched or listened to the many Friday sermons given weekly in the Muslim world and translated by MEMRI, that speak about political topics. The difference here is that a purely political figure is encouraging this, which implies that at least in Iran the institutionalized Islamic system is tightly tied to the Iranian government itself.

And for those who think that mad 'Nejad is only concerned with the destruction of Israel, think again:
I've long been fond of the Blue Mosque because it is where, many years ago, I attended my first Friday prayers. Last Friday, though, I felt uncomfortable in the prayer hall, where I found myself in front of God but next to Ahmadinejad, who turned the ritual into a political show.

Departing from established practice of having visiting Muslim heads of state pray in a smaller mosque in Istanbul, the government allowed Ahmadinejad to pray in the Blue Mosque, Turkey's symbol of tolerant Ottoman Islam. With permission from Turkish authorities, he also allowed Iranian television to videotape him during the entire prayer, in violation of Islamic tradition, which requires quiet and intimate communion between God and the faithful. There was so much commotion around Ahmadinejad that the imam had to chide the congregants. Then, as he left the mosque, Ahmadinejad got out of his car to encourage a crowd of about 300 to chant, "Death to Israel! Death to America!"