Jacob Thomas

It all began on 31 May, 2013, when a group of environmentalists had gathered in Istanbul to voice their opposition to building of a military barracks and a shopping mall on Gezi Park near Taksim Square in Istanbul city square. The police acted violently “against protestors who had been sitting reading books and singing songs,” as reported by the Guardian. From that day on until Monday, 17 June, demonstrations have continued and spread to Ankara, Izmir, and other major cities. Now Prime Minister Erdogan is threatening to use the army for quelling the spreading riots.

Thanks to the French online daily Le Monde, a detailed account about the “mosaic of the opposition groups in Turkey” was posted on 4 June, 2013. The following is a digest of the report, followed by my analysis and comments.

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mireille-valetteAn Interview with Swiss writer and Human Rights activist, Mireille Valette (Translated by Jacob Thomas)

Introduction: On 25 January, 2012, the Algerian essayist and author, Hamid Zanaz interviewed Mireille Valette, the author of “Boulevard de l’islamisme: L’essor du radicalisme musulmans en Europe, illustré par l’exemple.” An Arabic version of the interview appeared in “Al-Awan”, an online reformist Arabic journal, on Sunday, 20 January, 2013.[i] Here is my translation of the Interview.

Hamid Zanaz (HZ): Does Islam constitute a serious menace to the West?

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...Ramadan and other serious Islamic scholars, enjoying the benefits of that heritage, are offering Islam as an alternative to the West's loss of faith and excess worldliness. Western leaders, in the name of political correctness, denigrate their own honorable traditions -- both religious and secular. Sensitivity to its past mistakes lingers even after they have been remedied. The many past and present benefits the West has brought to mankind are ignored. Tolerance has lost its true meaning of allowing for all ideas to get an airing. It has been replaced with a definition of tolerance that allows only for ideas that are currently politically correct. How convenient for Tariq Ramadan’s purposes is such a society so guilt-ridden and infected with political correctness that it often stands wide-eyed and accepting of the alternative, absolutist faith that is Islam.

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It is puzzling that some liberal Muslim writers, who are active in defending women’s rights, claim that the discriminatory traditions regarding women’s inferiority to men are not derived from the Qur’an! A famous Muslim women’s rights defender, Shirin Ebadi, has done just that.

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As long as Muslims move within the closed circle of “neurotic fantasies and conspiracy theories”, they won’t be able to live in harmony with the rest of mankind.

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