Skip to comments.Fanatics demand, we concede.
Posted on 02/23/2007 7:29:57 PM PST by CarrotAndStick
Flipping through a recent issue of Time, I came across an interview with Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Imre Kertesz, better known for his novels Fatelessness, Kaddish for a Child Not Born and Liquidation. During the course of the interview, Kertesz, with touching humility, makes two interesting points which are, in many ways, inter-linked. In response to a question, he says, "It is not always worthwhile to compromise."
Later, answering another question, he is more lucid: "There has been a struggle between the negative and the positive, and we are deep in this fight at the moment. The real fight will not be between nations, but a struggle between fanaticism and democracy. Terrorists do not have a common list of demands on which to base negotiations. Fanatical hatred has taken over the world and this phenomenon conflicts with rational politics that is accustomed to negotiation and compromise."
My immediate reaction to such profound observation was to try and figure out how to reconcile the two points - if it is "not always worthwhile to compromise", then why should we be besotted with "rational politics that is accustomed to negotiation and compromise"? That apart, it's difficult to quibble over his comment that "fanatical hatred has taken over the world". Kertesz carefully avoids attaching any label to this fanaticism, but since I am not known for being politically correct, I have no hesitation in elaborating on this point. Much of the fanaticism that we witness today originates from a fundamentalist reading and practice of Islam that makes individuals intolerant and repudiate democracy and secularism.
Strangely, while the practitioners of Islamic fundamentalism insist it is their right to be fanatical about their faith, they are unwilling to allow those who subscribe to other faiths similar fanaticism. I recall getting into an argument with the venerable editor of an Arabic magazine, published from Cairo, over lunch at India House while the Ambassador looked increasingly alarmed. The editor, an accomplished man who had spent the better part of his life in Paris and was no fire-breathing Islamist zealot, was remarkably passionate in his defence of Islamic fundamentalism and fundamentalists. "We don't just believe in Islam, we practice it. And only when we practice the fundamentals of Islam can we claim to be good Muslims. If those fundamentals make us fundamentalists, so be it. And if those fundamentals militate against what others believe in, it is the others who must compromise on their beliefs and accommodate our fundamentalism," he said, his voice, stridently shrill, rising with each sentence. My post-lunch notes also refer to some other points made by him, but they are not really germane to the issue.
If Islamic fundamentalism is justified, then so is Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism and Hindu fundamentalism, I suggested to him, half in jest, mindful that it was an official lunch. "No. No other religion demands of its followers to be fundamentalists. They can't just decide to be fanatical about their faith. Fundamentalism of any other variety is wrong and unacceptable," he asserted. In brief, in the cloistered world of fundamentalist Islam, everything else is wrong, including legitimate criticism of Islamic fanaticism that rejects rational, secular politics but expects accommodation and compromise, both on its terms.
Seen from the perspective of those who subscribe to - and defend - fundamentalist Islam and the fanaticism that it breeds, it is perfectly alright to use textbooks in schools that denigrate other faiths. Hence, King Fahad Academy in London uses books that teach Muslim children Jews are "repugnant" and Christians are "pigs". Hindus, being 'kafirs', do not merit mention in such texts, thank god for small mercies. Hence also the demand that hate speech laws should not apply to Muslims because it is their religious duty to denigrate others, but others do not have the right to either protest against such denigration or question the basis of this presumed right of the fanatics.
It is not only liberal democratic Governments in the West who are being alarmingly discomfited by the clamourous assertion of the fanatics' right to be obnoxiously hurtful in thought and deed, but also regimes that rule Arabic and Muslim-majority states which dot the map of Arabia and beyond. King Abdullah would be delighted to see fanatics chased out of Saudi Arabia, if not lined up and beheaded in public squares. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has stepped up his fight against the Muslim Brotherhood, the progenitor of Islamism and Islamic fanaticism. Jordan's King Abdullah II rules with an iron fist and disallows even a squeak that smells of Islamism. In the Maghreb, rulers refuse to acknowledge the very presence of fanatical Islam. In the lesser states of Arabia, calculated emphasis on generating wealth and using it for development has kept Islamists in check. But in countries like Pakistan, as also African states where Islam is the predominant religion, fanatics need not fear either Government or society. In Iran, fanaticism rules.
President Pervez Musharraf, talking to the BBC, admitted that "Islamic fanatics have the potential to destroy Pakistan" and described their rising political strength as a "nightmare". What he did not admit, however, was his utter failure to check the growth of Islamism or political Islam which flows from fanaticism. For all his bluff and bluster and his claimed emphasis on "enlightened moderation", Gen Musharraf has singularly failed in confronting fanatics. Instead, he has repeatedly sought negotiation and compromise, falling back on what Kertesz describes as "rational politics" to deal with irrational demands, often with comical results. The pistol-packing, fatigues-wearing General beat a hasty retreat when confronted with burqa-clad, AK-56-wielding women who ostensibly study theology at Hafsa Madarsa near Islamabad. They stood guard over an illegally constructed 'library' which the municipal authorities wanted to demolish. In the end, the authorities had to not only back off, but also promise to rebuild demolished mosques that had been illegally constructed on Government land.
As for our secular democracy, fanatics have always had their way with the Government of the day. Not only has the Government of India repeatedly caved in before fanatics, it has willingly offered to accommodate their absurd and illegitimate demands to buy peace. So we have a situation where Islamic banking is being talked of as a secular necessity and Islamisation of the economy as a precondition for India's development. Where's the conflict?
we could replace the words islam with global warming and fanatics or fundamentalists with democrats or leftists and the article would read the same wouldn't it?
The author is Kanchan Gupta.
A nice summary of the current state of affairs for those who may have been asleep for the last few decades.
Hence also the demand that hate speech laws should not apply to Muslims because it is their religious duty to denigrate others, but others do not have the right to either protest against such denigration or question the basis of this presumed right of the fanatics.
Ah, that explains it.
Tell the islamic fanatics to go Cheney themselves.
Good point, they all hate America and freedom.
Freedom is the most radical political idea in history.
A lot of people "can't handle freedom".
What he's not telling you is that muslims believe they have the right to aggressively push their religion while others don't, because they believe islam is a true religion while all others are false.
I think that was implied.
Thank You for posting this ~ it is from India - the US media and most Americans still have no idea of what is in store for them. They have no idea of the nightmare ahead.
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