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Er, Yes, Madam, Muslims do want liberty

There is a common view that Muslims don’t share the values of liberty and democracy, as expounded by, say, to take a random example, Michele Bachmann from a few years ago.

Do recent events vindicate those who had already argued there was a universal hunger for liberty? One of them was Michael Novak, who says today in a Wall Street Journal oped  (gated, sorry) today:

{There was} the slumbering yet restless desire for liberty in the Muslim word…one-sixth of the human race would one day be awakened, even with an awful suddenness.

It may be that this is what we are seeing today, if only in a promissory note to be fully cashed in years to come. A rebellion against a cruel dictator is not same long step as a choice for a polity of law and rights; it is only a step.

Yet it took the Jewish and Christian worlds centuries to begin cashing in their own longings for liberty…The universal hunger for liberty is not satisfied in any one generation..

But let us now rejoice that in our time we have lived to see one of liberty’s most fertile and widespread explosions. Islam, a religion of rewards and punishments, is — like Christiantiy and Judaism — a religion of liberty. History will bear this out.

David Brooks in NYT agrees on the Arab world:

many people in Arab nations do share a universal hunger for liberty. They feel the presence of universal human rights and feel insulted when they are not accorded them.

Culture is important, but underneath cultural differences there are these universal aspirations for dignity, for political systems that listen to, respond to and respect the will of the people.

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12 Comments

  1. James Michael wrote:

    I believe the recent demonstrations and protests for democracy are very similar to events in the Western world in the past four centuries. Every strong democracy today was at one point a strictly religious-based nation, with laws based off their religion (ex. Puritans in America, or Christianity in England). To me, it appears the tradition of religion held stronger in the Middle East than Western states, but ultimately will (and is) go through the rebellious events that build the foundation of a democracy.

    Posted March 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink
  2. Homira Nassery wrote:

    Right on Bill! All humans inherently desire justice, the ability to make choices, and the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their children. But the far left multicultural masochists are also to blame for this wave of damaging cultural relativism.

    Posted March 4, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  3. Michael Seifu wrote:

    African also want liberty. No amount of economic deprivation should serve as a pretext to defer demands for social justice and democracy in Africa. As an African living in the West, it pains me to see a sceptical view on democracy in Africa among academic circles and policy makers. Many consider democracy as an antithesis to the survival of African states. These days a modicum of economic progress backed by massive amounts of foreign aid has created a distorted picture of Africa whereby a dosage of autocracy is considered acceptable by the international community. Increasingly, the major protagonists of international development are turning a blind eye to what could only be described as imploding regimes in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, etc.

    Posted March 5, 2011 at 5:06 am | Permalink
  4. You are 100% correct. There are many misconceptions that need to be clarified about Muslims.

    Posted March 5, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink
  5. Vivek Nemana wrote:

    Speaking of Muslims hating freedom, have you seen this and this yet?

    One video is of several protesters shouting “Praise God” and actually throwing crosses at a Muslim man praying in Washington D.C. The other shows protesters screaming “GO HOME TO BEAT YOUR WOMEN” at a Muslim-sponsored fundraiser in Orange County.

    I’m pretty sure these people in both instances would claim they were “fighting for liberty.”

    Uh-oh, I think I’m going to get sick.

    Posted March 5, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  6. Controlling human beings for a long time, is just not possible. Authority, monopoly and dominance will only result in many uprisings like these. If it wasn’t the case do you think our history would be filled with independence struggles. There it was for the concept of nation, here it is for the beliefs.

    Posted March 8, 2011 at 2:46 am | Permalink
  7. Roger McKinney wrote:

    I read yesterday about Muslims attacking Christians when the Christians demonstrated against the bombing of a church. Today I heard that women demonstrating for better treatment of women were attacked by large mobs of men and had to be rescued.

    Of course a tiny percent of Western oriented Muslims long for freedom. But the majority just want to control power and reap the monetary rewards that it brings.

    Posted March 9, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink
  8. G.Gaston wrote:

    A large portion of the western world is run by Christians, even though for example, the United States has no official religion. We are taught over the years (sometimes subliminally) that only our country and “our religion”, teaches liberty, democracy, tolerance, etc. And that other religions especially Islam, is backwards and oppressive. This evolution of western “mainstream” thought, in my opinion, results from many of the Middle Eastern and Islamic countries being theocracies. Theocracy in the U.S. seems to be one of George Carlin’s “7 dirty words”. I believe this is because people often associate theocracy with subjugation. Sure there are clear cultural differences between the Muslim world and the West, but human rights should be universal and it is unfair for one to assume that in 2011 people of the Islamic faith don’t want individual freedom.

    Posted March 9, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  9. Steven wrote:

    With the recent events happening in different parts of the Middle East, it’s hard to argue that Muslim people don’t want liberty. Like said before, every strong democratic nation, was founded under a religious pre-tense. Islamic nations can also get to this point. Many of these citizens are tired of being opressed and not being afforded some of the same oppurtunities as citizens of democratic nations. Recently, these people are standing up for this, and I believe changes are bound to happen all over the Middle East.

    Posted March 9, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink
  10. Roger McKinney wrote:

    Having lived in the Middle East and studied Arab culture, I see no longing for freedom except among the western educated young people. Arabs like strong leaders. What I see is more of a power grab by people who didn’t like the existing dictators and hope to get more power for themselves under a new dictator more to their liking.

    Posted March 10, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink
  11. Jsmes Moore wrote:

    I can not speak with the expertise of Mr. McKinney as I have never lived outside of the United States, but it seems to follow that if the young western educated people long for freedom, then perhaps the movement will grow as they influence and talk with their peers. It seems like they could share there ideas well within their age group. As they age they would be almost reinforced in a sense by younger generations of students, and with what I would assume to be a better education than the majority of the populations of these countries, they will know how to spread their idea’s more effectively, perhaps. So maybe just a small minority of students isn’t quite enough now, but it’s somewhere to start.

    Posted March 10, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  12. Yngvar wrote:

    No yearning for liberty and democracy are in evidence in the muslim ghettos and enclaves here in Europe. Islam means submission.

    Posted March 12, 2011 at 1:07 am | Permalink

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