Sunday, 26 April 2009

Islam watch continued: Camden and more!

I've been covering the Camden Islamic school debate over the last few days, because the arguments seem to me at the root of some vital questions for our society. In particular, what is the correct balance between prompting religious liberty, at risk from the assault of secularism, and defending the Christian heritage of our nation?

Islamic intolerance

The primary assault on religious liberty in Australia comes from secular society rather than other religions. But we shouldn't forget that Islam shares an objective of Christianity, namely the establishment of a confessional state. It is just what our conceptions of what that looks like differs sharply. Take a few interesting examples from just the last week:
  • two women imprisoned in Iran for the crime of converting to Christianity - more here;
  • the Islamic chaplain to Harvard University (!) sees 'great wisdom' in the death penalty for Muslim apostates -see the Washington Times ;
  • Malaysia continues to fight the right of a Catholic newspaper to use the Arabic word for God (Allah) in a christian context (so much for 'people of the Book'!) - read more here;
  • Somalia and the Northern Pakistan (Makaland) introduce sharia law in response to terrorist demands - see here on Pakistan and here on Somalia.
Preserving Christian culture

And on the tolerance issue on our own shores, Saturday's installment in the Sydney Morning Herald lays out the issues very nicely. Nadia Jamal, a Herald journalist, offers a commentary from the Islamic perspective basically arguing for tolerance. The 'school for terrorism' is just a stereotype she argues, that is insulting and needs to be fought. Of course Muslims don't separate religion from public affairs - and neither do catholics.

But her basic message is, why should the Christian perspective be privileged in Australia:

"Personally, I'm not offended by the mention of God. As a person of faith, I can't help asking myself if some religion, regardless of whether it is coming from the Christian doctrine, is better than none at all. But I am torn about issues such as the Lord's Prayer: what happens if a Muslim is elected to Parliament? What about those who don't believe in a God?"

Christendom Awake!

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