Friday, February 6, 2009

Casting off the Burkha

As many of you know, if you read my blog, I am not a big fan of fundamentalist religion. While fundamentalist religions do have the right to exist, I believe that they have a responsibility to show tolerance and consideration for the world at large and live harmoniously in the world with other human beings. I first started to think this way in 2002 after the September 11th attacks. I got to thinking about how we here in the west ignored fundamental Islam for many centuries passing this group off as being too far away or too small to make a difference here in our lives in the west. That has proven to be untrue and fundamental Islam and the encouragement their religious freedom proved to be very costly to our country.
Now we have books like Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, which is one of many out there that tells the "inside story" of fundamental Islam. I am choosing to focus on this book because Ayaan Hirsi Ali has chosen to cast off the burkha to a very public detriment. People often look at women in burkhas and think, "if they don't like living that way, why don't they just leave." That is exactly what Ayaan Hirsi Ali did. Now she has a death threat over her head. This probably has more to do with her public denouncement of Islam than for actually choosing to peacefully leave it. Because she has gone public with her story "free" countries both in Europe and America have started paying closer attention and statistically documenting such things as honor killings and female genital mutilation. Before Ms. Ali was a public figure, these things went on freely in our world and we who are "politically correct" turned a blind eye in the name of religious freedom.
In 2004, Ms. Ali teamed with a Dutch film director, Theo vanGough in order to film part I of a ten minute short film entitled "Submission." This short film can be viewed at . After the first part of this short film was produced both Ms. Ali and Mr. vanGough received numerous death threats from the more fanatical side of the Islamic community. Ms. Ali chose protection, Mr. vanGough did not. He was murdered in November of 2004 by Mohammed Bouyen, a member of the Dutch Hofstad Network. Mr. vanGough was shot eight times, had his throat slit nearly to decapitation, and a five page missive threatening the west was affixed to his chest with a knife. Ms. Ali is a member of Dutch Parliament, approximately 3.2 million Euros have been spent on her protection.
Does this tell me that all people of Islamic faith are bad and ought to be eliminated? No, but it does tell me that even a single radical group, carrying religious principals (in this case jihad) to an extreme can be dangerous to the world at large. If one person isn't allowed to publicly renounce their faith without threat of death, that is extreme in my opinion. Those of us in the west are so bound by political correctness that we don't even seem to recognize extremism until it smacks us in the face or plows into tall buildings with hijacked aircraft (shouldn't the fact that at least one of those pilots, during his training, refused instruction on how to land a plane have been a red flag?).

We are the land of the free and the brave, we are a land where ideals can be taught and theoretically lived to the fullest. I don't want to lose this dream more than any other American. However, how free are those who are abused, threatened, or held hostage in the name of their religion?

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