Western hostility to Islam is stoked by double standards and distortion

“The political and media bias is clear. But we Arabs and Muslims too must combat false, retrograde ideas around our religion”

Analysis of readers comments on the above Guardian Cif post by Alaa Al Aswany 20 July 2009 – See full post here

93% of Guardian Cif readers had a very poor opinion of Mr Al Aswany’s post. Readers not only disagreed with him but also felt the post was poorly reasoned.

Sample chart

This is based on the first 75 comments made on the post. In total it attracted 268 comments, the first 75 setting the pattern.

Readers Comments Votes for Comments
Number % Number %
Excellent 3 4.0 22 0.4
Good 5 7.0 160 3.2
Neutral 6 8.0 187 3.7
Rubbish 15 20.0 732 14.5
Complete Rubbish 46 61.3 3957 78.2
Totals 75 100.0 5058 100.0


The following small selection of extracts from readers comments gives a good summary of what they had to say.

Stormforce 999
…. “in the eyes of Islam if someone kills an innocent it is as if he has killed everyone.” We know that but it’s the islamic interpretation of the word “innocent” that’s a bit creepy.

…. Modern day Muslim apologists are just like the Communist supporters who continued defending their ideology in spite of the evidence of brutality and repression in all Communist states. “But can’t you see, those regimes are false distortions of true Communism…one day a real Communist country will show how it’s done. Of course it’s all the West’s fault – their hostility to Communism is what forces those regimes to torture and murder” You’re not fooling anybody.

…. “The westerner will not find out that Islam gave men and women completely equal rights and obligations.”

Well, that isn’t the case. As we found out on the sharia thread, men have a right under sharia to divorce women more easily, the Quran says they should inherit more and grants men greater custody rights.

…. “that democracy is essential to Islam, in that a Muslim ruler cannot take office without the consent and choice of Muslims.”

This is demonstrably false. Most Muslim majority countries (let alone those living under Islamic law) are undemocratic. Those muslim majority countries that are democratic (i.e. Indonesia, Iraq) by and large, became that way only recently.

“It is true that the west’s policy treats us as colonial peoples who do not deserve to enjoy the rights of their citizens.”

Utter rubbish. Look at the massive support the Iranian demonstrators received. Do you really think this sort of language helps Muslims?

…. I see such weak equivalencies all over Arab/Muslim journalism. It makes your persecution complex go from sad to pathetic. It makes me think Arab Muslims, alone among all the worlds peoples, have little ability to see things from a remotely objective perspective. You guys seem to be completely unable to put yourself in anothers shoes. I suppose thats because you’ve got the one-n-only religion of truth behind you. No reason to ever consider you might be wrong.

…. “The westerner will never find out that the real message of Islam is freedom, justice and equality, and that it guarantees freedom of belief, in that those who wish may believe and those who do not, need not, and that democracy is essential to Islam, in that a Muslim ruler cannot take office without the consent and choice of Muslims. After all that, can we blame the westerner if he considers Islam the religion of backwardness and terrorism?”

Where to start with this nonsense?

…. if democracy is “essential” to Islam then why, historically, have no Islamic states ever adopted it? Why weren’t the first Caliphs elected rather than starting a series of civil wars ending up with the Ummayad dynasty?

…. Its difficult to know where to start and perhaps only in the guardian could such drivel be publlished.

If the author cannot differentiate between a goverment hired killer who will not be convicted and a lone nutcase who will, then he has serious problems.

…. But on balance the damage is done: Islam is largely detested and distrusted in the West. There have been too many beheadings, stonings, forced marriages, “honour” killings; too many examples of blatant discrimination against women; too many examples of depriving children – especially girls – of an education; too many madrassars – and imams – preaching hate; too many fatwas against people like Salman Rushdie.

…. The author purports to be telling Muslims/Arabs to take responsibility for themselves, or at least for the way others see them, but at the same time his whole vocab and style shows the usual mentality of basically blaming someone else all the time. If not just the “West”, then the “West” plus an unspecified but presumed very small number of “bad” Muslims, maybe Wahabis…Saudis then, anyway, yet again not “us”.

…. Let’s face it, Western misunderstanding hasn’t done for Islam. There’s not much you can misunderstand if you visit jaw-droppingly shocking nations such as Saudi Arabia and witness Islamic law, democracy and gender-policy in lurid close-up detail.

…. Thing is, of all the articles on CIF by Islamists, none has ever actually presented a decent argument for why Islam should NOT be despised by decent, liberal people:

There’s not ONE society influenced by Islam in which human rights are well respected. And in my view there never will be unless this ideology is weakened by decent Muslims themselves.

The scary thing is that this guy is supposedly an intellectual, and ‘moderate’, but seems to be incapable of intelligent comment on an important issue.

…. It doesnt really matter if you believe that Islam has been hijacked or not, the state of Islamic countries in the world today is dismal. To begin with, cultures with a dominantly Islamic influence are mostly poor, uneducated and non democratic. Most are economically backwards. You cannot blame this all on environmental factors or colonialism. We might start with something more fundamental – like the practice of Islam itself (hijacked or not).

…. So, let’s speculate a little. It may be the case that Mr. Aswany actually believes what he is saying – that the media distorts Islam and Islam is actually a religion of peace, justice as fairness etc.

However, the CiF editors have a responsibility to their readership. Why did they let such an article slip through?

It is intensely patronising to tell people that they “don’t understand” something. This is only justified when people are indeed wrong. However, in this case, the claims made by Aswany are demonstrably untrue and his logic is weak to non-existent.

CiF editors have to understand that the CiF readership is not as ill-informed as they seem to think. Collectively we have a wide knowledge of politics, history and religion and can see through bullshit.

…. Mr. Aswany is an educated man and a writer who shapes the opinion of his community. If he writes such nonsense, how on earth is it ever going to get better, how will his community ever move on from this monstrous victim complex and build a modern, equal and democratic society? It is people like Mr. Aswany who fail their Arab and Muslim communities by not showing ways out of their misery. Instead they chose to endlessly repeat this “hostility of the West” rubbish.

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