January 04, 2006


Bahraini blogger Mahmood is angry over the parliament's impending ruling that Shops, restaurants, coffee houses, garages and other workshops could be forced by law to close for two hours for Friday prayers. He asks:
"Can anyone suggest a country I might consider emigrating to that will allow me just to live my life without anyone imposing their interpretation of whatever religion on me and my family? A country that is tolerant that might appreciate its citizens and protect their freedoms, rather than one whose parliament has made it its mandate to rule by and from pulpits?"
Bangladesh, a democratic country with Muslim majority do not have these compulsions as of now. But the way things are heading, if the Islamic parties like Jamaate Islami comes into power someday probably we will also be facing these.

An interesting discussion followed in the comments section of Mahmood's post. Some tried to justify the decision, while Mahmood defended that "there is no compulsion in religion".

One commenter opined that separation of religion and state is a must for a democracy to work. There is no other way. In his view:
"There can be no such thing as an 'Islamic democracy'. This term is an oxymoron because it immediately implies that a person of a certain faith or background will be treated better than others. This is why Israel, as so-called 'Jewish democracy' doesn't make sense either. The term 'democracy', as it has come to be defined, is not merely an electoral system; it's about protecting freedoms, including those of the smallest minorities. That means, you cannot have laws based on one religion because it will violate the rights of people who don't believe in it, whether they belong to a different faith or no faith at all."
Another Bahraini Muslim thinks:
I am SICK and TIRED of this "religion is perfect...especially my religion" attitude. THIS is what is wrong with our countries, PRECISELY this attitude.
And he appeals:
"Let us please all agree, than nothing is above critical thought, and that we are to use our brains and reason to analyse any philosophy, edict, book, religion, faith, law, and belief, with unforgiving scrutiny, with the intention of improving life on Earth."
Yes these are the very Muslims who will conquer and heal the current virus, fundamentalism and extremism, which have infested all Muslim societies. And those who generalize all Muslim as a threat to non-Muslims to fan the religious racism should clear their misconceptions.

* A recent poll on general Arab attitudes.
* The Saudi government is also addressing the dangers that can come from the intolerance that many Wahhabi preachers peddle.


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