This week saw the end of the Secular Islam Summit held in St. Petersburg, Florida. The aim of the summit was put into words by Banafsheh Zand, one of the organizers:
An age of reformation is upon us that needs desperately to be responded to by people who embrace not only the faith as a personal and private matter, but who also wish to see their countries and nations move forward in a progressive and prosperous way to catch up with the 21st century.Speakers ate the summit included the eminent Walid Phares, Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan and Irshan Manji. And Afshin Ellian of course. Gateway Pundit was there and live-blogged the event.
The summit culminated in the release of the St. Petersburg Declaration. It's not a long declaration, but it is to the point:
We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.This is a voice within islam the world has been waiting for ever since 9/11 and maybe even before. It'll be interesting to see what the half-life of this declaration will prove to be. Given the silent treatment this declaration was given in Europe I am not all that hopeful. But at the very least it provides a watershed: Which mulsim organisations and groups in Europe will accept the St. Petersburg declaration. And which will not. And those that do not? Well, I guess we will know for certain then where it is they stand. And it's not with us, kufr inhabitants of Netherlands and Europe.
We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.
We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.
We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.
We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.
We call on the governments of the world to reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostacy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights; eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women; protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence; reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims; and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.
We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid strictures of orthodoxy.
We enjoin academics and thinkers everywhere to embark on a fearless examination of the origins and sources of Islam, and to promulgate the ideals of free scientific and spiritual inquiry through cross-cultural translation, publishing, and the mass media.
We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine; to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens; and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.
Before any of us is a member of the Umma, the Body of Christ, or the Chosen People, we are all members of the community of conscience, the people who must chose for themselves.
Dr Sanity also has some pertinent thoughts on the subject.
[W]ith this brilliantly clear and morally precise declaration, the religion of Islam has been given an opportunity to rejoin the rest of civilization. For far too long, they have allowed themselves to abjure civilization and embrace barbarity--all in the name of Allah.And that, as they say, about sums it up.
The St. Petersberg Declaration will either provide a life-giving infusion of liberty, rationality, and tolerance into a religion that has been redefined by dysfunctional leaders and, as a result, is in terminal decline; or else the virulent pathology with which it is infected will continue to spread, undeterred; bringing even more death, destruction, and tyranny into the world.
Phyllis Chesler, who has first-hand experience with being a muslim wife in Afghanistan, calls out the Wests intellectual elites in the Times:
Now is the time for Western intellectuals who claim to be antiracists and committed to human rights to stand with these dissidents. To do so requires that we adopt a universal standard of human rights and abandon our loyalty to multicultural relativism, which justifies, even romanticises, indigenous Islamist barbarism, totalitarian terrorism and the persecution of women, religious minorities, homosexuals and intellectuals. Our abject refusal to judge between civilisation and barbarism, and between enlightened rationalism and theocratic fundamentalism, endangers and condemns the victims of Islamic tyranny.Read the whole thing, if you have the time. It is quite revealing in more ways then one.
My only remaining question: Why the media silence in Europe? There is not even so much as a blatantly biased bit of hackery to get stuck into. What's going on?