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  #1  
Old 02-18-2007, 09:40 PM
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Cross culture

Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2007, 00:22 GMT
By Roger Hardy
BBC Islamic affairs analyst

A new BBC poll shines light on one of the most pressing and contentious issues of our time.

Millions of Muslims now live in Western countries

What drives tension and conflict between Islam and the West?

Is there an inherent incompatibility between the two, making a "clash of civilisations" inevitable?

There are certainly Muslims and non-Muslims who hold that view.

Osama Bin Laden and his global jihadists see the "crusader" West as inherently aggressive, waging a remorseless campaign to subjugate and humiliate Muslims.

Samuel Huntington, the Harvard professor who fathered the "clash of civilisations" thesis more than a decade ago, argues that cultural clashes - in particular between Islam and the West - have taken the place of the old ideological divide between communist East and capitalist West.

High-profile figures - such as the former Dutch MP, the Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali - claim Islam is incompatible with democracy, women's rights and modernity.

Many Muslims, as well as specialists on Islam, reject the sweeping generalisations on which such opinions rest.

Last year, Ayaan Hirsi Ali's views were directly challenged by a prestigious think-tank in The Hague.

In a report submitted to the Dutch government, the Scientific Council for Government Policy said it was wrong to say Islam was at odds with democracy and human rights.

Analysing trends in a dozen Muslim countries, the report highlighted the diversity of Muslim thought.

While there were radical, jihadi trends, there were also mainstream movements moving, albeit gradually, towards democratisation.

Testing opinion

So what do ordinary people, Muslim and non-Muslim, think?

A new BBC poll taken by Globescan suggests there is a significant middle ground which rejects the view that Islam and the West are doomed to clash.

The pollsters questioned some 28,000 people in 27 countries.

An overall majority believes there is no inherent incompatibility between Islam and the West, and so no inevitable collision.

Problems arise from intolerant minorities - on both sides - rather than from cultures as a whole.

Muslims will welcome the finding that tensions are the result of conflicts over political power and interests, rather than differences of religion or culture.

They often argue that Muslim radicalism is the product of global inequalities of wealth and power - and Western foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine and elsewhere.

The large Muslim minorities now living in the West also argue they are the victims of social disadvantage and "Islamophobic" prejudice.

Bucking the trend

Polls, however, need careful reading.

The BBC poll suggests significant numbers of people do not share the broadly optimistic view of the majority.

Nigerians are pessimistic about cultural and religious difference.

Kenyans and Poles are ambivalent.

A slight majority of Indonesians think violent conflict between Islam and the West is inevitable.

While 49% of Americans believe there are political reasons for tensions between Islam and the West, 38% believe they result from differences of religion and culture.

So the picture is mixed, and perhaps this is not surprising.

Polarisation

The current global climate is one of polarisation.

Many Muslims are angry about Iraq and Palestine and what they perceive as a Western drive for hegemony.

Since 9/11, the West has been nervous about the al-Qaeda threat.

The Madrid and London bombings kept that threat alive.

The sense of polarisation has been sharpened by recent controversies - over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, over the Pope's remarks about Islam, over whether face-veils hinder integration.

All these things have set relations between Islam and the West on edge.

Many Muslims, and some non-Muslims, blame the media for fanning the flames.

In a wired-up world, local disputes can quickly become global ones.

Most people, when asked, are likely to favour co-existence and tolerance.

But at moments of crisis, they do not always practise them.

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Old 02-18-2007, 09:58 PM
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Tolerance is a virtue that can fail from excess as well as lack.
Colorado has a law forbidding female circumcision. I find this law appropriately intolerant.
The American public has become intolerant of Bush's lies and imperialism. I find this intolerance wise.
Ibn Warraq has a fatwa of death against him for leaving Islam. I can't tolerate this intolerance.
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Old 02-18-2007, 10:03 PM
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I just watched the movie Ghandi last night.

I saw it when it first came out. I was a high school student at the time. I had forgotten what a brilliant movie it was. It was so moving....moved me to tears a few times.

At the end of the movie, after the British had handed back India to its people, Ghandi was distraught that Nehru and Jina (sp.) had decided to split the country into a Muslim state (Pakistan) and a Hindu state (India) because Jina (a muslim) didn't want to live in a country where Muslims would be ruled by Hindus.

Ghandi felt that all countries had religious minorities, and they were all worshipping the same God anyway and were the same "people".

Ghandi had decided that he was going to go move to Pakistan to show Hindus that Muslims and Hindus could live together and that they were all equal under God.

He was assassinated by a Hindu radical separatist who was offended that Ghandi felt Hindus and Muslims were equal.
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Old 02-19-2007, 01:44 AM
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It's ironic that while we, the US have a posture that can only be seen as sort of a broad footprint (badly mixed metaphor alert) in the world, what with military bases in many locations and armed forces in two Islamic countries at present with a third under possible threat, in many ways Islamic culture is moving more certainly to gaining influence over western interests that the other way around. Euro/American expats are not settling in Islamic nations and outbreeding the nominal natives.
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Old 02-19-2007, 05:06 AM
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Originally Posted by cmac2012 View Post
It's ironic that while we, the US have a posture that can only be seen as sort of a broad footprint (badly mixed metaphor alert) in the world, what with military bases in many locations and armed forces in two Islamic countries at present with a third under possible threat, in many ways Islamic culture is moving more certainly to gaining influence over western interests that the other way around. Euro/American expats are not settling in Islamic nations and outbreeding the nominal natives.
Are you suggesting, we should move there?
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Old 02-20-2007, 12:48 PM
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can't we just all get along?
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Old 02-20-2007, 01:01 PM
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Just read the piece in the NYT this morning about the gathering of Anglican Primates in Africa. It struck me that we have a very similar clash of civilizations going on there. The African Anglicans are pissed at the US Episcopalians for being too liberal on homosexual rights. No Anglicans are bombing Europe but the logic of the situation is very similar, so you can't really formulate the problem in terms of a clash of civilizations, but I don't know exactly how to express the conflict.
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Old 02-20-2007, 01:20 PM
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Anglican Primates? Is the another species of monkeys?
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Old 02-20-2007, 01:26 PM
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Are you suggesting, we should move there?
No. Unless the settlees are interested in enduring serious hardship and discrimination for untold years to come.

Point is, Arabs/Muslims are settling here and in Europe and raising large families, on average.
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Old 02-20-2007, 01:27 PM
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Curiously, the Episcopal Church at their most recent convention failed to pass a resolution declaring belief in Jesus Christ lord and savior of mankind, thus affirming by failure to act, that they are no longer Christians. I think this puts them somewhere around Unitarians, theologically, but with pretty costumes, intricate rituals and majestic music.
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Old 02-20-2007, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by kerry edwards View Post
Just read the piece in the NYT this morning about the gathering of Anglican Primates in Africa. It struck me that we have a very similar clash of civilizations going on there. The African Anglicans are pissed at the US Episcopalians for being too liberal on homosexual rights. No Anglicans are bombing Europe but the logic of the situation is very similar, so you can't really formulate the problem in terms of a clash of civilizations, but I don't know exactly how to express the conflict.
I think the clash is not between African and U.S. Episcopalians, but rather liberal vs. conservative.

There was an article in the Los Angeles Times recently about large groups of U.S. epsicopalians chafing under the more liberal leadership, and threatening to split.

Some already have, and are operating under the leadership of the African Anglican Primates.
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  #12  
Old 02-20-2007, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Dee8go View Post
Anglican Primates? Is the another species of monkeys?
Yes, a highly bedecked and ornamented one.
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Old 02-20-2007, 01:28 PM
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Oh great, now we've taught the monkeys religion?
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Old 02-20-2007, 01:29 PM
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"Hey-hey we're the
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Old 02-20-2007, 02:00 PM
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I think the clash is not between African and U.S. Episcopalians, but rather liberal vs. conservative.

There was an article in the Los Angeles Times recently about large groups of U.S. epsicopalians chafing under the more liberal leadership, and threatening to split.

Some already have, and are operating under the leadership of the African Anglican Primates.
I'm not sure the liberal/conservative split is any better than civilizational split. It's worth noting that the US 'conservatives' are joining up with Anglicans who inhabit the same parts of the world that the 'Muslim Threat' comes from (by and large).
I'm tempted to think that the fundamental difference is the role of men and women in society with 'conservatives' holding out for traditional roles for women and 'liberals' holding out for abandoning tradition and equalizing male and female roles. But I'm not sure this ultimately maps better than the other terms.
Am I correct that there are no female African Primates and the current object of African Primate hostility is an American Female Primate?

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