Saturday, February 11, 2006

Henri Tincq in Le Monde: Muhammad: The Clash of Ignorance

Nur al-Cubicle posts another timely and splendid translation, this time from Le Monde. When voices such as this are apeaking all I know to do is say "Go read this." Anything I might add would come across as glib.

Nur says:

The Religion columnist for Le Monde is the incredibly well-prepared Henri Tincq. His normal beat it the Vatican, but today he writes on the Jyllands-Posten Cartoon Scandal. Tincq believes that Arab governments have domesticated the Islamic academy by undermining its authority and finally silencing it, leaving fertile ground for lunatics and mavericks: the Arab version of the televangelists. The Umma has been cast adrift, and left to the lone wolves of fanaticism. And there's more...

From the article:
...we are back to the repetition of the same conflict that occurred twenty years ago between two imaginary entities, two mutually exclusive systems founded on ignorance. On the one hand, there is the ignorance of the mainsprings of Islam. On the other, creative freedom inside the Arab-Islamic world, where rights and democracy are denied, is unknown. Compounding the conflict are the aggravating circumstances of terrorism, Islamophobia and the decline of traditional regulating institutions of the Muslim faith.

The freedom of the artist or the writer is sacrosanct in the West, but Muslims object to the proposition of the superiority of Western thought, which is incapable of evolving, they say, outside of historical models which it alone has put in place and which took centuries before taking root. “Mental time” is not the same in the West as in Islam. The memory of colonization continues to weigh on these countries, which, for example, feel distanced in relation to their own history since the Christian West, followed by the capitalist and secular West, began to propel into distant orbit and to marginalize the peoples and cultures of the Mediterranean and later, the entire world. The clash between two types of memory and representation is kept alive by an entire arsenal of images and arguments which explain and legitimize the confrontations of the present....

The disproportionate reaction in the affair of the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad is due to the extreme febrility of Muslim societies, where, following the nationalist and socialist phase, religion with all its explosive force has become a substitute identity. Islam has become the prime crystallizing element of solidarity in the defense against political oppression, war, misery, and stigmatization. In this context, only the ulema, the scholars and jurisprudents can treat with questions posed by the right to caricaturize, by the status of the figurative image in Islam, by blasphemy and its punishment and with all the questions associated with the integration of the Muslim religion into Western, secularized societies.

But who is there today who can say “enough” to the wretched state of theological reflection in Islam? The “Doctors of the Law” keep their heads down and remain silent...

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