The Monday Morning Teaser

Liberal reform in Islam — an authentically Muslim movement for freedom, tolerance, and democracy — is something that many Americans simultaneously wish for and claim is impossible. The innermost nature of Islam, we are told, is violently intolerant of all alternatives. The assassins, the suicide bombers, the religious police who forbid kite-flying and behead apostates — those are the real Muslims, and the best we can hope is that they magically transform into nominal Muslims, the Islamic equivalent of Christmas-and-Easter Christians.

Otherwise, we’ll just have to kill them all for our own safety.

This week’s feature article challenges that set of assumptions by reviewing the recent book Islam Without Extremes: a Muslim case for Liberty by Turkish author Mustafa Akyol. Akyol makes an argument for secular democracy, individual rights, and separation of church and state that is rooted in the Qur’an, and has flowered at various times throughout Muslim history — never quite triumphing, but not dying either.

Today, he sees that point of view gaining strength in his own country. Turkey today is far from a Jeffersonian utopia, but Akyol argues that it is headed in the right direction, and that the battles liberal Islam lost in medieval Baghdad and in the 19th-century Ottoman Empire are gradually being won this time. He holds out the vision of a free, prosperous Turkey — one that achieves its liberty step-by-step, without foreign invasion or colonialism — providing a model that other Muslim nations will want to follow.

The weekly summary will discuss the first State of the Union of the aw-fukkit phase of the Obama presidency, how the new Congress failed to pass a draconian abortion bill, and the Religious Right’s attempt to break the word theocracy by popularizing the oxymoron secular theocracy. (It’s the new liberal fascism.) Then we’ll close with some Bad Lip Reading of the NFL.

The Islam article is close to done, so I project it appearing around 8 EST, with the weekly summary following around 10 or 11.

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