Thanks to Ray Duran for directing me to muslim-refusnik.com, home of Irshad Manji's activist work. She published the following manifesto on the website, and while I am not optimistic about its effectiveness—it will most likely be ignored—I feel obliged also to promote it. Salman Rushdie, Bernard-Henri Lévy and others have signed the manifesto. The Trouble With Islam, Manji's best-selling book, is a good read for anyone who wants to understand Islam today.
THE MANIFESTO OF 12:
Together facing the new totalitarianism
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global totalitarian threat: Islamism.
We — writers, journalists and public intellectuals — call for resistance to religious totalitarianism.
Instead, we call for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values worldwide.
The necessity of these universal values has been revealed by events since the publication of the Muhammad drawings in European newspapers. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the arena of ideas. What we are witnessing is not a clash of civilizations, nor an antagonism of West versus East, but a global struggle between democrats and theocrats.
Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The preachers of hate bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a world of inequality. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred.
Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of greater power imbalances: man’s domination of woman, the Islamists’ domination of all others.
To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed people. For that reason, we reject “cultural relativism,” which consists of accepting that Muslim men and women should be deprived of their right to equality and freedom in the name of their cultural traditions.
We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of “Islamophobia,” an unfortunate concept that confuses criticism of Islamic practices with the stigmatization of Muslims themselves.
We plead for the universality of free expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on every continent, against every abuse and dogma.
We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of enlightenment, not of obscurantism.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Chahla Chafiq , Caroline Fourest, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Irshad Manji , Mehdi Mozaffari, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasreen, Salman Rushdie, Antoine Sfeir, Philippe Val, Ibn Warraq
Let us hope that young Muslims are inspired by these words to renounce radical Islmism that grips the world in fear today.