The courtship articulated in his speech was peppered with false praise (“… it was innovation in Muslim communities that developed … our mastery of pens and printing.”), feigned common principles and made ridiculous promises to fight negative stereotyping of Islam wherever he encounters it.
This is all part of political rhetoric, but it really doesn’t lead to concrete change. This, in my view, is the wrong strategy. Instead of pretending that Muslims invented printing, the President should be confronting them with the key products of the Western printing press. And it’s here that Kindles could be of use.
Nowhere in the world is bigotry so rampant as in Muslim countries. No difference is greater between American and Islamic principles than the founding ideals of both. It is on the basis of the founding ideals of Islam that al-Qa’ida and other Muslim puritans insist on the implementation of sharia law, jihad and the eternal subjection of women. It is on the basis of the founding ideals of America that blacks and women fought for — and gained — equal rights and gays and new immigrants continue to do so.
I would include Thomas Jefferson’s improvements on the New Testament. The king, the sheik and the ayatollah have the authority to rule that parts of the Koran no longer apply in the modern world. For instance, the edicts of sharia law that reject scientific inquiry and order all Muslims to spread Islam.
And of course, no reading selection would be complete without a copy of the US Constitution, highlighting (because you can do that in a Kindle) the Eighth Amendment banning cruel and unusual punishment.
And for good measure, I would also add John F.Kennedy’s inaugural address: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. … To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required. … To those nations who would make themselves our adversary … we dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed. … Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” Not to mention woman.
Obama promised to launch a fund to support technological development in Muslim majority countries to transfer ideas to the marketplace and create jobs. Does he realise the transfer of ideas creates opportunities for the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Saudi Arabia to punish the practice of un-Islamic ideas?
That poor girl in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, who, after seven men raped her, was sentenced to flogging, had succumbed to the novel idea of flirting by mobile phone. In Saudi Arabia, every Friday, cruel and unusual punishment is perpetrated, far worse than anything John Adams saw in his time. The hands of those suspected of stealing — mostly poor, immigrant workers — are amputated.
The more one is dark-skinned in Saudi Arabia, the bleaker his circumstances, not to mention hers. For in Saudi Arabia, black is still considered to be inferior. Men and women convicted of adultery, apostasy, treason and other “offences” are beheaded. Thousands of women are rotting in Saudi jails, waiting to be flogged, or are flogged daily for acts such as mingling with men, improper attire, fornication and virtual relationships on the internet and mobile phones.
Promotion of literacy for girls, which the President wants to help pursue, is a noble cause. But, unless sharia laws are repealed, more girls will find themselves in flogging pens rather than rising up the career ladder.
Obama promised to host a summit of entrepreneurship in Muslim majority countries “to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the US and Muslim countries around the world.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a former Dutch parliamentarian and author of the memoir Infidel.
I wish he would host a reading summit where we truly “say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts that too often are said only behind closed doors”. For too many of us born into Islam, saying those things openly can land us in jail or in the graveyard.