Toleration is the key
Novelist McEvan has said that he hates militant Islam. He has also defended his friend Martin Amis who has also expressed his dislike for Islam. McEvan says anyone who says something against militant Islam is branded a racist. This is true. Governments the world over have become extra-sensitive in dealing with their Muslim populace. They want to avoid anything that hurts their sentiments. This is because Osama bin Laden’s brand of Islam has many takers.
Let us discuss what McEvan and Amis say about Islam. We deal with Amis first. He says the militants have won the war of dominance and the moderates amongst Muslims have lost. Though there are many takers for the militant brand of Islam, it would be too early to say that the moderates have lost. Though ‘Ladenism’ has appealed to many, most Muslims the world over subscribe to moderate Islam. It is only that the hardliners grab more headlines.
Amis said Muslims would suffer till they bring their house into order. This is true. Muslims the world over are looked upon with suspicion. The relations of Muslims with their neighbours of other religions have been gradually spoiled. But when Amis says things like, ’strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan’, it is going too far. This will only swell the ranks of Laden’s followers.
McEvan says he detests Islam because of the way women are not given freedom and its non-acceptance of homosexuality. McEvan should look at Turkey and Jordan. Both have Muslim populations but the status of women there is good. Iraqi women too enjoyed a free life till Saddam Hussain was deposed. As far as homosexuality is concerned, it is only recently gay marriages were legalized in ultra liberal California. Homosexuality remains taboo even today in most countries of the world.
Though McEvan has full rights to say he hates militant Islam, he offers no solutions. His friend Amis provides extreme measures that will prove counter-productive. It must be kept in mind that Ladenism is a freak strand of Islam, subscribed to by a minuscule minority of Muslims. Muslims are citizens of the world too and followers of other religions should show understanding. Just criticizing the weaknesses of Islam as followed by some will only alienate the entire community. Gandhi’s teachings are very relevant today. His principles of tolerance hold the key to today’s incipient clash between religions.