Friday, June 03, 2005

"Intolerance is undeserving of tolerance"

Aijaz Zaka Syed wasn't the only one writing on the Muslim reaction to the alleged "Koran Flushing" incident (which now appears more alleged than incident). Also published in the June 1 International Herald Tribune was Frida Ghitas's "Intimidated by extremists."

I don't know anything about Ghitas, who is identified as the author of The End of Revolution: A Changing World in the Age of Live Television, but she makes the following interesting observation:

"[E]xperts on Islam tried to soothe the less erudite, not quite justifying, but more than thoroughly explaining why desecration of the Holy Book leads to mob rampage and murder in a Muslim society."

This is exactly right. The explanations often seem to just about add up to justifications. This was certainly the strong impression that Syed's explanations made on me. After noting the "perplexed" reactions of Westerners to the "the stunning Muslim response to reports of the desecration of the Koran," Syed comments:

"The trouble is, the secular West can never truly understand or empathize with the Muslim approach to faith."

I see. In Syed's view, non-Muslims are supposed to understand Muslim rage over "desecration" so well that they will empathize with the rage. Well, I'm all for understanding if it means rational analysis leading to insight but not when it means empathy leading to accepting such violent intolerance as justified.

On this point, I heartily agree with Ghitas: "intolerance is undeserving of tolerance."


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