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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  October 1, 2011 12:00pm-1:30pm EDT

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anti police groups being subject, student groups, veterans groups. when we do have information we know the government is doing what it has repeatedly done which is to target this event and minority citizen voices using these powers that are designed to go after international terrorism. >> another question right here? in the middle?
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>> well, first i'd say -- i don't want to be misunderstood to say if we still choose the war proven to terrorism, which we have followed for ten years, that excludes civilian law enforcement. so you have seen that when people have been captured in the united states, they almost all, except i think with one or two exceptions, have been tried by a criminal justice system anyway, and so i think only one or two cases did the executive branch detain anyone as a military detainee, and those were ultimately transferred to criminal prosecution anyway. so i think even though i do think they're -- i think of the 'addition of war powers as adding on to the tools already available to the civilian criminal justice system, but it shouldn't be limited just to the
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civilian criminal justice system in terms of other things like use of force, i guess is what you're really asking about. back on to september 11th september 11th itself, and the days after, we had fighter jets circling washington, dc with i assume they had ordered if there were civilian airliner that was going to be directed at another target, they had orders to shoot them down. i was reading stories in the post that the first set of fighter jets that went up didn't have bullets or missiles and were planning to crash the fighters into the airliners to stop them from hitting the capital. that is the use of force by the military. that's not the rules of use of force used by civilian criminal law enforcement. so, i think we have accepted that if the enemy tries to make a battlefield of the united states, we shouldn't have our -- one hand tied behind our back and limiting ourselves to using
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the fbi and we might need to use the military. but at it an restrained as a matter of practice. if you look around at people carrying out the domestic fight on terrorism are still the fbi and the police, that's a policy choice not dictated by the law. >> i would agree with what john has said, and i don't dispute the example he gave of fighter jets in the immediate aftermath of the tacks. the devil is in the details and we have been looking at it on a point-by-point, issue-by-issue basis. i should refrain from generalizing about the patriot act because it has 160 different provisions of which the aclu has criticized a dozen some we endorse. let me give you an example. come back to my familiar theme, it's counterproductive as violative of civil liberties and that's the use of the military
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commissions or in fact actually non-use of the military commissions despite all of the hubbub by members of congress and others about the proposal to try the self-claimed masterminds of the 9/11 attacks in federal criminal court. in fact, the federal criminal courts have succeeded in convicting hundreds of accused terrorists, whereas the military commission system has brought about only a couple of convictions, of only a couple very low level protagonists so one of the sad things in terms of bringing to justice ten years later is what everybody agrees was a -- well, maybe not everybody agrees but the consensus that torture is, was, and will continue to be illegal, unconstitutional, immoral, and violative of domestic and international law.
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not a single torture victim has had his or her day in court in the united states, and not a single self-proclaimed perpetrator or accused perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks has been brought to justice. i think each of those is equally a betrayal of safety and freedom and justice. >> well, with that, i see our hour has come to a close. but i think it ill -- illustrates how complex these issues are and unique because of the nature of these attacks we never faced up to these kinds of issues before, particularly when, as the panelists have pointed out, the attackers are trying to make a battlefield out of our home ground here in the united states. so, we thank both of our panelists for bringing this
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issues to our attention. [applause] >> now on book tv, irshad manji talks with john avlon about the impact of lahm in -- islam in the united states in the next ten years. it's about an hour and a half. >> it is a great pleasure to be here with you tonight. a dear friend, brave soul, and a terrific new book. a great, important, and timely conversation and it's so great for having it here. part of the civic conversation, a civil dialogue, ten years after 9/11. as you and i discussed many times, there's still ten years after the attacks at 9/11, this
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trouble at home and broad between freedom and fundamental limp and you're squarely on the side of freedom, and i thank you for that and everything you do. [applause] >> it's amazing that ten years after 9/11, there is still few topics that we tip toe around more than islam in america. and as you experienced in your daily conversations online with people, at home and abroad, the way this has become so polarized -- i want you to talk about that. we have seen the rise of o'pitizeation of islam, and in retrospect, the response of rudy giuliani and george bush tamped that down. we have seen a rise of islamist as a political football. some people feel by hate, issues that distract. and on the other side,
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paralyzing political correctness that doesn't deal with the facts. talk about your place in that intersection. >> guest: so, that's a softball, right? we'll start with the easy ones, first. i don't yet know, john, what my place is in that intersection, except to say that when you thank me for being squarely on the side of freedom, i think you and god for allowing me to wind up in a society in which i can do that relatively safely. without any exaggeration, every morning i wake up thanking allah that as a political refugees my family and i were accepted on the precious soil of canada, my country, and i say in liberty and love that we were literally handed our freedom along with our winter coats, okay? we didn't fight for these
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freedoms. we didn't take up arms for them. we didn't shed blood for them. they were gifted to us. and i tell you, that is in part why i feel not just my rights but my responsibility to use these freedom comes in as constructive a way is a know how, lest they atrophy. so what is you're role, you ask, in this intersection? when i say use my freedoms cop instructively, i do believe that means reconciling my beloved faith of islam with this gift of freedom, rather than believing that there has to be a showdown. i don't believe there has to. some on the left and some on the right believe that. the position i have is very difficult because it's not black and white, and yet how do you
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convey the same message, no way that your audiences will be comprised of people who have very different values from one another. how do you convey that singular message to be heard? i have not yet mastered. >> host: you've done more than anybody else as a bridge-builder between faiths, a place that is -- the e-mails you publish are striking, especially from young muslims in america and around the world, who are finding your words surreptitiously sometimes through free translations on your web site because they can't get the books at home, and the way they long to hold on to their faith which they love so much but reconcile with the modern world. i love the one e-mail to start out with from a young man in the
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college of sharia in egypt. >> guest: this is like the harvard of sunni islam. so we're talking a very, very elite university, and it's the college of sharia law. >> host: i'm studying at one of the greatest islamic universities but i can't say what i think, feel, or want about the jews, et cetera. if i say what i think i will be accused of being a nonbeliever and my family will get hurt or my family will hurt me. let's talk about that. >> guest: i deliberately did not print his name in the book, because, of course, the environment in which he exists at the college of sharia, he would very easily be found out and -- again, god nose what would happen to him as a result.
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maybe nothing, but maybe quite the opposite. but i loved the fact that he e-mailed anyway, and he put his name -- might be made up but he put a name in the e-mail and he said at the end of the e-mail i'm going to be an imam prayer leader and i will be proudly a reformist imam and i will support you and i will support women and i will support islam. pretty good start. now, he is obviously young, a student, but i have to tell you, i don't think he is unrepresentative of the generation and the secular democrats really of the generation that began the uprisings that have taken up so many of our headlines, quite rightly so, over the last number
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of months. in may 2005 i was in cairo, found myself observing and then pulled into what was then the biggest demonstration against government authoritarianism, and afterwards i hung out with them at a cafe, and one of them in particular stewed out for me for this reason. she says, i know you from the international interviews you have done. thank you for what you're doing. i need to ask you something privately. she said, well, the thing is, i've fallen in love with a jewish man, and i don't believe he needs to convert to islam, and he doesn't believe he needs to convert to lahm, islam, and here i am sticking my neck out, putting my life on the line, really, to support a political change in my country but what's more scary to me is talking to my parents about my love for this jewish man. and she asked me for advice.
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and this was part of a wave, i found, of e-mails coming to me by young muslims or nonmuslims who had fallen in love with one another. >> host: what did you say? >> guest: oh, my god. i said, look, give me your e-mail address. i'm going to stay in touch with you but i also said to her, i can tell you you're not the first person to ask me for advice on the question of enter faith marriage, and we talked about the fact we're now living in an age of mass migration, where muslims are winding up in places like europe, either because they've been born there, their parents are immigrants or they're going there for jobs and such. until very recently going there for jobs. and they're encountering nonmuslims and falling in love, of course. so this is a red-hot 21st 21st century issue, and because her question was just
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part of the wave of questions i was getting about this very phenomenon, i said to her, i'd get back to her, and i did. here's how i did that. i realized after a good 14-15th time i got this question that my e-mailing these kids back to say, this is my interpretation of the koran, wasn't going to cut it because it's not them i need to convince. its they're elders. so i went to an imam, progressive imam here in america, and i asked him to exercise islam's old tradition of critical thinking, and independence reasoning, and i asked him to exercise this tradition in islam to reinterpret the very verses in the koran that have traditionally been idea to prohibit, especially women, from marrying outside the faith, and he came up with a precise two-page defense of enter faith marriage. i posted it on my web site in
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english. that's the kicker. and in only six months it became such a popular downtown load i had to get it translated into 20 more languages, including most of the european languages. i said there's a kirk but there's a further kicker in 2007, i was lecturing in berlin. not about this issue particularly. but after everybody had gone, a group of young muslim women living in berlin, approached me to say thank you for posting this enter faith marriage blessing. they said, thank you as well for translating it into turkish, german, and arabic, because we're at marrying age now. our parents are putting the pressure on to marry only muslim men, individuals who we mostly don't even know, let alone love or like, and by putting this
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intrafaith marriage blessing in front of them in all three languages, they can't tell us that they've got -- they can't understand it. there's no length with stick excuse for them to dismiss it, and the tact you have gotten an imam to write this, said at least my friends and i know there is one the lodge january in this world and likely more who is willing to marry us. he said that made all the difference for them. so, the upshot of this, goes back to the e-mail i got from this young man, is that this is such a fascinating time to be a reformist within the faith of islam, but ten years ago, before these technologies were readily available, posting translations on your web site and so forth, i could not have imagined having the kind of breath and impact of this work. i can barely keep up with what
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going on now, but now is the time to be doing and undergoing this kind of change. >> host: that story you just told gets to the heart of allah, liberty and love, and the trends, the changes we're grappling with in our own societies and tribes, which we need to transcend. that's the big idea. >> guest: the idea of moral courage, the willingness to speak the power inure own community, in your own tribe, for the greater good and that's not my language. that's robert f kennedy's language, and the reason he emphasized speaking truth to power is that is where the backlash will be most painful. one thing to stand up to the so-called other. whatever crap you get from the other, you can with stand, you can go back to your own
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so-called and say, look, look at what i'm doing to stand up for us against them. i know where i belong. the moment you call out your own community stuff, their injustices, their abuses of power, the security blanket of instant belonging disappears. >> host: that, i think, is the heart of what is going on in politics and joelow politic -- geopolitics. it's the enforcement technology and globalism people who are committed to it are defensive and latching out because they know deep in hair heart they're on the wrong side of history on this one. >> guest: i don't know they do know that they're on the wrong side of history, but i think they -- they do know how insecure it all is for them, and this is why i have no problem saying that i'm a faithful muslim, which is not the same thing as being a dogmatic muslim
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or anything. faith is secure enough to handle questions. faith never needs to be threatened by questions. dogma, on the other hand, of any kind, is always threatened by questions because dogma, by definition, is brittle and ridge edand snaps under the spotlight of scrutiny, and, therefore in my view, at least, -- >> host: i agree. let me ask you this. because we're in a moment where you look at the work you're doing, the broader hope of the arab spring and there's a question of calling on in traditions to justify these new directions, and one of the most fascinating thing in your book was theirs forgotten tolerance in islam, and all these thick thinkers that co-existed with other cultures for so long, talk about that tradition and where it went and how it can be rediscovered. >> guest: yet another easy one,
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right? >> host: sorry. >> guest: a thousand years ago, islamic civilization held the world in curiosity and creative and ingenuity, and there's no mystery why. islam's own tradition of creative reasoning was in fact the order of the day. we know that so much of what we, in this part of the world, take for grant as products of secular european culture, in fact was started through muslims and believing muslims at that. when i say believing, they were driven not so much by -- as by wonder. one of my heros in islamic history is a philosophyer and so much more than a philosopher but a philosopher named -- he was --
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well into the 1600s italian universities were absolutely enthralled with him, and i make the point and back it up in the book that through him, all sorts of scientific experiments were then undertaken, leading ultimately to the craze that we have in this part of the world with frankly science fiction. even john milted ton, the great english poet, took a great deal of inspiration from innovations that can be traced back. transcending religious borders as well. how do we rediscover that? to put a fine point on it, that interfaith blessing i talked about, my approach exorcized this tradition to update the enter operations.
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i am not talking about rewriting the koran. but interpretation is about drawing meaning from those words, and we can draw -- in fact i think we should draw new meanings for a brand new century, brand new pluralistic context in which a vast majority of us live. and why should -- we can but why should we? it does go back to my abiding belief in allah in one god, not god self-appointed ambassadors. it seems to me -- i realize that not everybody in this audience believes in god and i don't think god minds. but it seems to me that any deity, any creator worthy of worship, doesn't manufacture
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manufacture -- a creator worthy of worship produces individuals who give themselves the permission to grow, because that creator is not insecure. quite the opposite. welcomes that growth, i believe, because when we use our creativity, we pay tribute to the creativity of that which created us. >> host: so, given all those dynamics, given that opportunity, that obligation to grow, your central core struggle is reform, is to reform islam, reformation, and it's been long over due to make it thrive in the 21st century in the modern world. that's the least softball question in the whole world because there's nothing bigger than that, that struggle, that fight, is at the core of almost every issue we deal with, at
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least in much of geopolitics. how do you feel that effort to reform islam is going today? >> guest: i read some of the comments underneath the article that you wrote for the daily beast about all la, liberty and love, and a number of. the said, well, bully for her courage but i don't see anybody following. i don't see anybody taking up the struggle. she's a lone voice in the wilderness. if they read all law, liberty and love, they'd know that's simply not true, and this is what gets underreported. for many ropes. not the least of which is -- and i don't begrudge this. is it is what it is. it's good muslims, so-called, saying wonderful things, is simply not as sexy as the bomb examination beheadings. but i must make the point that just because you're not reading about the insend rent reform
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movement does not mean it does not exist. i recently came from from europe where i was speaking with a growing network of reformist muslims. this didn't exist three years ago. now these individuals who were earlier working in their own silos, in isolation, are actually coming together to recognize, number one, they're not alone, and number two, to see how they can support one another, and if ever we needed any sort of tangible evidence that voices like mine are not alone, look only again to the secular democrats who, over the years, not overnight, over years, which means persistence and commitment, instigated the so-called arab spring. whatever may come of it in the
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next several years, they're the ones that brought other sector office egyptians and north african and middle east society to these uprisings. so i know that voices like mine are not alone. what i also know is that in an open and pluralistic society like america, like canada, like much of western europe and australia, people like me have -- that so many others don't yet and that's one of the reason is wanted to make sure to reflect the voices we typically don't hear in allah, liberty and love, that there is real hope, not merely theoretical hope. >> host: and technology is allowing those folkses to shrink the distance and start communicating. what countries have you seen these networks start binding together. not the arar spring itself -- arab spring itself and reform in
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islam. >> guest: that's not the muslim world. well, au contraire. we again right the fact there's so much muslim migration to various countries in europe, from sweden to norway, to denmark, germany, france, belgium, holland, i mean, italy, the fact that there are young -- i'm going to say -- because it's true -- european people who happen to be muslim, who love their faith, but who define themselves first and foremost as europeans because being muslim should not be a contradiction with being muslim, and what i find so fascinating is that what we in this country would call liberals, which in europe means something very different but
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let's say just again for the sake of argument, progressives, people that believe in their humanitarianism they're moving society forward, i have found in these reformist muslims have found, that in fact a lot of the pushback of calling themselves europeans come from people who define themselves as progressives because many of these self-defined progressives believe that it is their multicultural duty to attach these young muslim europeans to the cultures of the parents, and of the so-called old world, because when we do that, we're paying tribute to the roots of these young people. when in fact many of these young people are saying, that's my parents' cultural. that's not my culture. i'm european no less than you are. so, it's not just the right wing that challenges the ability and
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the capacity of young muslim europeans to integrate. we certainly get that, too. but make no mistake. you also get this feel-good, gooey, multiculturalism in the way it's practiced -- it's not the idea that is the problem. it's the way it's practiced, that winds up becoming a very strange and tawdry bed fellow with the right wring, and people on the opposite end of the right need to look at themselves as well. and see whether they're advancing the cause of integration as opposed to assimilation. ...
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and ignore the moral conflict of our time. context. on the one hand you had this experience of a bigger criminal dan osama bin laden in your mother's mosque. >> when my mother was there been given a the >> it doesn't get more awkward. this larger problem of self describe modern muslims, some have moved into the west who are unwilling to clearly condemn violent committees in their faith's name.
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>> john, it's not so much that so-called moderate muslims do not clearly condemn. public opinion has pushed them to do it. that's not the issue. the issue i find his twofold. one is that moderate muslims usually don't acknowledge the role that religious inspiration place in the very violent that is committed in religion's name. for example, when major development because side and fort hood, tax is opened fire on his fellow soldiers, not the fact he was muslim, put that aside, that he was shouting god is great as he was doing this. this is what is important. clearly there is some religious inspiration that has stripping him to this kind. but the first thing we heard out of the mouth of organizations,
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you know, that claim to represent moderate muslims with no, don't misunderstand. islam has nothing to do with this. now, i put myself in the shoes of a non-muslim american and for that matter, some muslim american. and they can well imagine why many of them with say, wait a minute, here is the sky with the words tripping off his lips as he shooting his fellow soldiers in your telling islam has nothing to do with this. i am confused. when you ask us questions, moderate muslims in my experience and the experience of many muslims for whom i've been in conversation again put up a wall and say, you are not allowed. you are not allowed to ask us questions. respect me, which is a euphemism for don't challenge me in don't take me uncomfortable.
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i believe this is the finishing forest on the arguments here. i believe if moderate muslims were willing to hear the questions and to address the questions honestly, that actually suspicion among the many non-muslim americans would lower because then many non-muslim americans who say okay, great, i get to have a discussion with you about this. i don't get to have a discussion with you about this and asking myself, what do you have a high? you know, what are you afraid of? and i'm not racist the fence is all over. the other reference amy to make about modern muslim because they said there's two problems. one is they didn't usually acknowledge the role religious inspiration has committed. the other problem is that i find my great muslims are so consumed
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with their muslim identity and the purity of the muslim identity that they wind up playing the game of identity politics, meaning that you don't define yourself for all that you are, but you define yourself against the other. so the moment something that has to you that that makes you uncomfortable, and makes cianci as a muslim, you immediately take offense to it and you decide that your humanity is being challenged. whereas the reality is that disagreeing with one another's ideas does not mean denying one another's humanity. those two barriers need to be addressed very squarely. and the irony here is it's not going to happen without a lot of defense is going not. but we have to be willing to confront that a callout for
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political gains. >> you write a lot in the book about the interplay. i said earlier, these well-intentioned politically correct progressives and that the empowering bad behavior make it more difficult to have an honest dialogue, when the rate in to do with take that leap of faith to have an honest conversation. >> i'm glad to see leap of faith because that's the right phrase. have faith in what? when you challenge me as a non-muslim, if you challenge me about my spiritual or religious police, my take is that you actually have faith in my capacity to take credit way. you are treating me as an equal. you are treating me as a. you are not treating me as a child. at this respect. whereas on so many university campuses today, it's the very year of being challenged that has corrupted this notion of respect. so the wall goes up, the hand
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goes out. you're not even allowed to ask me a question and i will define that as respecting me. that's reducing me to something much less than in actually capable of. >> said in that spirit, let's bring that back to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, those conversations we don't have enough. we have a growing, thriving immigrant population, but we have some thing very different that it happened because the same time the population is growing then there's the religious component, normally in traditional waves of immigration and would be a question of generation that would be acculturation, integration. of course, this wave of immigration coincided with an attack on our country committed by people saying they were at team in the name. >> in the wiki. it's not just that they were muslim. it's that they did this in the name of islam so i'm glad you phrased it that way because that's absolutely important.
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>> so the question so many people have is that has reduced our ability to have another's conversation about real questions about integration. i think that is the largest. we will falter the more perfect union, but what, but what are the stumbling blocks? one of the concerns people say a lot and sometimes they in ugly ways is, is the islamic faith compatible with democracy? they should we allow compatible with the constitution? how cannot work out in united states of america going forward? >> i welcome pushback on this point, but i believe the islamic faith and sharia law are not the same thing. for me it certainly is. and also let me make a point that again in this country, there is a sort of my god sharia kind of reaction. >> especially in the current political. >> i get to make you that. surely it can be defined in many, many ways and can be
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defined quite benignly and believe me i'm not making the case for sharia. please, i'm not making the case for that. any secularist myself coming meaning that they very much believe in the separation of organized religion and organize politics. but my point simply is that it's more nuanced than the my god sharia types would have us believe. now, how then -- how can islam be reconciled with the democracy in the constitution with god in this part of the world? one of the things i point out in "allah, liberty and love" in every chapter is there are plenty of passages in the quran that actually support freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and freedom of expression. and what i find so interesting is that conservatives, both muslim and non-muslim off in a too neat, well, as a liberal, you're just dead.
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that's true. i have been select the aired but how are you not be selective when you are the freedom from the passages of the koran? you see, it's all in the interpretation. and i will tell you very briefly that the case they make and it's not a theoretical case. that's a very practical one for why allah, god, not boulez and imams, rabbis, priests or ministers but god, my god is compatible with liberty. if i'm to believe in one god, then i also believe that god has the full and final truth. not me, not you nobody in this audience has the full final truth, which means that we need to accept that we've got limited knowledge, which in turn makes it a spiritual obligation to contribute to society in which we can disagree with one another
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in peace and with stability because anything less means that we are playing god. and that in a monotheistic faith is the real sin if you can put it that way. see the beauty here for the upshot is that believing in one god obliges me, quite happily so, to defend human liberty. >> that becomes the bigger question. in the larger evolution come at the of america added many find that we do transcend all of our tribal differences and come together. and i think that is the promise of america being fulfilled every day. the question i think because when you look at the waves, at the different generations of muslim americans here in the united states can you see teenage girls in the book whose freedom is being some cases viciously restrained by brothers and fathers who feel they are in
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the child's honor. do you have some broader degree of faith that the culture will work? not deny faith and culture because you point out individuals make decisions, cultures don't, but america will work in effect. if we can reason together and tie together that process at of acculturation of assimilation and integration will occur as it has with every other. >> yeah, i do have faith. i don't think i could continue this work if i didn't. but make no mistake, it's not a matter of waiting it out. every cultural change requires catalysts, requires people with moral courage to speak up when everyone else want to shut them out. and they bring it back in one of the defining paradigms of "allah, liberty and love," one of the lenses that a few of the challenge that muslims like me have in front of us and non-muslims have the link arms with us, one of the length site uses modern era civil rights movement. martin luther king junior, if
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you haven't read lately is letter from a birmingham jail, please do. refresh your memory about this awesome document because one of the sections of the document, it's not just a point he makes, it's an actual section is devoted to moderate christians. and he points out to those moderate christians that in times of moral crisis and he of course was referring to christianity in the 1960s, in times of moral crisis, moderation is among. so he was exhorting moderate christians being so tepid and tenet about the need to end segregation. he was calling them out on their own hypocrisy. and if you apply that analysis to what is happening within a culture of honor that has frankly colonized the faith of islam, the culture of islam in which a young woman -- i tell
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this story in "allah, liberty and love," eight young women 18 years old muslim, living right here in new york e-mails me out of desperation. she's on the verge of suicide, but she can't commit suicide because she knows she's going to if she does. so she's literally and this one limbo in which he is saying, i am going to go anyway. and if i kill myself, i'm going to go for sure and asked her. and she says, i don't know what to do. but she and softer e-mail to me by saying, you would think that because i live in new york i would have freedom. she and suffered e-mail saying no. in the back story today says that that she has grown up with her parents culture, which comes from southeast asia. i walked again in the country because i don't want her being
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found out, but her parents are trying to marry her off to a muslim man from that country. their country, not her country, their country. she doesn't know who that person is and doesn't want to go there. she doesn't know how to tell her parents that she really is something different than what they are used to. and so, she is asking me to talk to her parents. i say in the book i ain't enough to show up at their door. calmly what you will, but i do ask reformats, what will you do to help her? by the way, speaking of moral courage, and i will tell you a country her parents come from, she insisted that i use her real name, real first name, a shroud. and she says people need to hear the story because it's not just in pakistan and it's not just in
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bangladesh and it's not just in libya were the culture of honor have a group boehner, collective honor of protecting the family's honor comes into play. it's also right here in the united states within her own muslim communities. not those by the way when i talk about culture, it is true. culture is not religion. there is such a thing as tribal culture of honor, which by the way propped up the u.s. propped up slavery in the united states many years ago. i too was a culture of honor comes to you apply that analysis to what is going on. it's true it's not the same as his own, but that is to say in theory. the reality is that, you know, there are times when a muslim father and again the story is told in my book, the muslim father of the canadian girl who happens to be muslim and refuses to wear the headscarf puts his
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hand on the quran, a religious document and swears that he will kill his daughter but next time she refuses to wear the heat job and he chose harry. now, you can tell me all you want, but that is culture. great, tell that to the dead girl. if we are going to say as muslims culture is culture, faith is faith, we bloody well should act. >> let me ask you a final question before we take questions. it's the role of women's emancipation in creating a culture. davis love and culture to life than can be corrected by hate. what role does increasing women's rights, women's education have been changing the culture within?
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>> women, i believe, are the key. but i am not the kind of person who says i've never been the kind of feminist who says give them all the power and the world will change for good. no, women are people too. we too can be corrupted by power because at the end of the day, we are still individuals and we are still human beings. so obviously, a fairer distribution of power is needed. but make no mistake it is needed. i think it has now become more acceptable in liberal and progressive circles to make that point. there was a time a few years ago when again you would be called a self hating muslim or an islamist vote or an enabler of the right would you make the point that women themselves up in the of islam are rising a to reclaim the very rights that the koran interpreted in a certain way does give to them.
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it's more acceptable to do that now. and for this i'm very grateful. make no mistake again it's all good in theory. let's see whether the role, for example, that women have so arduously played in the uprising in egypt and libya now pan out in the way that men are willing to share power or not with women as new political regimes and systems are put together. >> that's a big idea. before we take questions, i want to read my favorite quote from the book because it's all about an individual taking a stand of moral courage as a way of creating new possibilities and ultimately healing the divisions in the self-definition subdivisions i think are destroying our country. not just destroying our country, causing so much comp worked at home and abroad. you say people who act on their
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moral courage will always encounter disapproval. to have moral courage is to travel conformity within her on tribe, religious, cultural, ideological and professional and do so for more good. it doesn't get better than that. thank you. >> thank you. >> let's take some questions. [applause] let's take some push into the audience and then also from the twitter verse because we have some good ones. >> just so you know who this is coming up to the podium, and a nick williams is the associate director of the program i ran here called the moral courage project and so and he will be our tweaked gal and she will interject so often with a question from the twitter first and facebook as well. okay great. >> standup and please take a microphone. >> you mentioned, irshad, but a
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thousand years ago there was this openness and exchange and desperation. a book about new york city tax about how the dutch influence, commitments diversity existed at that time in the netherlands defeated here in new york here there's a difference between debate colonies in which trails and so on. how was it last, this thing a thousand years ago? are there lessons for us in america to treasure our openness and diversity and so forth? the >> such a great question. thank you for that. very briefly, the tradition of the preeminence, not the tradition of such but the preeminence of critical thinking and creative thinking in islam was last for peer political reasons. not spiritual enough the radical reasons. again, bottom line, there was
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much going on within the vast islamic empire roughly a thousand years ago. and because they were different denominations popping up in different interpretations popping up, collect, the statement at the time based in bag at decided that in order to keep the empire together, we need to crack down on these various interpretations. again, keep the empire together as a political motive, not a spiritual one. consider these crack downs began and amazing philosophers coming just as an old, were threatened with death and sometimes put to death. he himself suffered his demise under very, very sufficient circumstances. and because these great thinkers no longer have the option really if they wanted to save their own lives, no longer had the option to us question of what happened
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was that unity seem to be come used with uniformity. and for reasons x lane in my previous boat, the trouble with islam today, that problem has persisted for hundreds of years, very much with some exceptions of course. again, history is not linear. but enough exceptions that the dominant team has been in nearly a decade of jihad and that problem has solid business sense to this very day. and yeah, i do think there's a huge blessing here and probably several to be learned by america. one of them and again i don't want to sound like a liberal flake when i say this. i may be a flake and i may be a liberal, but i hope i'm not the two together, that the maker of judgments i'm sure in this. but hg high. but americans have to realize
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that -- in fact, a huge part of what the world still loves about this country. in fact, when i go to europe this very day, i tell you there is no exception to the wrong going to give you right now. at least one young muslim person enough in many more in my audience is quietly say to me, go back to the united states. could you bring it back with you? and by the way, when they were saying mr. bush administration, i would challenge them. i'd say what? despite the patriot act in guantánamo? they would often say to me yeah, those are just, but that's america. that really america. in america, i can be so much more than i'm told i can be here in europe. so understand that with so much of the world still loves about this country is precisely this document are your chances, the other perfect union in that
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union, unity should not be completed with uniformity. >> will take another. >> one of the most -- one of the most acrimonious debates we've seen about islam here recently is that course the debate about the so-called ground zero mosque and of course while i would say the highest is about voices in that debate, it was maybe not the most productive dialogue. could you comment on what would it then that all citizens voices be heard? >> rate, thank you. i think the conversation since the so-called ground zero mosque is not going away anytime soon, the conversation can become a conversation rather than a series of dogmatic monologue.
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and i think that the only way we are going to get to the point of it being confronted is when individuals stop merely react to to those who take an opposing view. stop emotionally investing themselves in hating the other person's view and take a step back and take a deep breath and look within and ask themselves, and my opposing or supporting this mosque project i'm on the merit? how do i know what i'm supporting or opposing? with questions and i asking about it? one of the suggestions and "allah, liberty and love" is asked the imams or developers or people behind the mosque, what side of the mosque women come through? because if they answer it will be decided that i'd, you know that segregation is going on. and if you think it's a liberal
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that by supporting something like that you are actually opposing liberalism, that's pretty kooky. but there are other questions to ask as well. the imam who used to front this project and left under mysterious circumstances. in fact, john has done investigative reporting about all of that, he has pointed out or did at the time that this project will be based on the jewish community center model. really? because salman rushdie has spoken at many jewish community centers. where do i sign up for advanced tickets about his lecture at ground zero? he's not going to be invited. i know because i talk to the people who are behind it. okay, if you got a comment, you have to make it into the microphone. so rather than simply taking positions because i want to kick
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off the crusader on the other side comment that is just a battle of dogmas. that gets us nowhere except deeper into the mosque. ask questions. and here's the key, ask them out loud where they can actually become useful to society and not just to your own enter dialogue. >> i've got a question from the twitter verse. >> i have a question here from phoenix who says if there's anything non-muslims can do to encourage non-muslims to take a greater profile in the world. >> it seems to be non-muslims are doing plenty to encourage moderate muslims, but moderate muslims are not the ones you need to be encouraged. we stumble apart to make a distinction between extremists and moderates. that may make the distinction between reformists and moderate.
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and i would a good guess, there's plenty non-muslims can do, what i would want to emphasize first and foremost if please do it if you're coming to a human rights perspective and not from the perspective of bashing islam. because i tell you, non-muslims who think that reforming the funds means checking islam, funds means checking islam, wiping out the faith of the earth or no allies of mine. so when you come from the perspective of human right, that is to say everybody on god's green earth that regardless of the religion or culture or is not a deed they've been born into, every individual deserves just a basic set of right such as freedom from violence and freedom of conscience, then you can actually link arms with reformist muslims than you need to identify who the real reformers arbors as the
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moderates. so, ask a muslim can ask your muslim neighbor if this is a conversation that i hope you can develop the moral courage to get into. you know, when you say that islam means peace, do you mean islam in theory or islam in the way that it's practiced? because if you mean islam in theory, that's cool. but let's talk about islam in practice. why is that, for example, that the vast majority of muslims who have been tortured, murdered, were you during present in the last 50 years and certainly the studies and arabic languages back at the point about the last 10 years in particular. why is it the vast majority who have been subject it to this treatment are subjected to it by fellow muslims? what is up with that? ..
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so again you don't need to freeze in that moment. recognize what the stakes are. the stakes are universal human-rights and reflect on the tips i give you in the book so you will be prepared for what one would think should be and
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are very legitimate conversations in a pluralistic society. it takes moral courage. >> earlier we got a tweet that gets a lot of these questions. why are pictures drawing the profit mohammed forbidden? why is it such a travesty to burn them? getting to the danish cartoon controversy which is a great example of those questions we should be able to ask. >> let me say at the risk of offending. i don't worry much about that. when the hole danish cartoon crisis happened and i needed to get new glasses anyway. that was -- a signal of my solidarity for danish muslims. not just non muslims who in denmark are working for freedom of expression. about the notion that images of
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the prophet mohammad are not allowed, that is not true in a sect of islam known as she at islam. you can look this up on the internet. there are plenty on the internet, plenty of damages of what she and muslims imagine the prophet muhammed to look like. is not off the table is within she and islam but that is a minority sect. the majority sect is sunni islam. because sunnis, centuries ago decided that we do not want to risk the prophet mohammed
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becoming an idle. the irony is in trying to stop the images of the prophet mohammad actually sunni muslims have put the profit on a pedestal and turned him into an idle. all kinds of paradoxes going on in the name of a particular religion. fascinating. what i want to end up on is this. when muslims -- about imperialism, it is taken as a given that the imperialism we are angry about is american imperialism and is really imperialism and in india -- in pakistan, indian kashmir imperialism. away the profit much of -- where the prophet mohammad cartoons are framed no images are
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allowed, the imperialism of sunni muslim speaking on behalf of all muslims. to me that is a form of imperialism too. it is not just this issue. i talk a lot in the book about how if we are going to have integrity of anti imperialists we have to look at what muslims are doing to one another and recognize that as a form of colonization and oppression within our own -- >> another question from the audience. wait for the microphone. >> what is your background? culturally where you come from? >> canada. >> i mean originally were your parents were born. >> if i was born in canada i
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would still insist to you that is my background. i wasn't born in canada. you are lucky. i was born -- making the bigger point. i was born in east africa in uganda. my parents were born in east africa but their parents, my grandparents on one side come is from the northern india state and on my mother's side from southern -- their family with hundreds of thousands of others were brought to east africa by the british to make colonial railroads and that is where my sisters and i were born and we were booted out by at cell of islam in 1972, came to canada as political refugees and that is where i am from.
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>> this country and i'm in american dollars whatever the question is financially in the world, hugh that supported the change in egypt and libya, what perspective should week american voters take in terms of supporting any action if the libyans and elect somebody who get themselves together? it doesn't seem to happen that way. the people outside the st. that are not acted emissions or purists or whatever. the problem is we want to know where to put our dollars.
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>> it is an interesting question. as part of the trip i made to cairo in may of 2005 i spoke with a number of young democracy activists. this is not very much discussed in our newspapers. the money that is going from the united states to egypt is often being misused to pay off retired generals. these young democracy activists were pretty upset about the fact not just that retired generals were being bought off. that goes without saying. but the u.s. government was not tracking where the money was
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going and not holding the regime accountable for the money coming out of your pocket. these young democracy activists would not be as angry as the u.s. taxpayer about how that money is being used. this is complex. none of this is easy. also point out that an older democracy activist who held a private meeting with a number of human rights activists myself included a couple years ago early on in the obama administration complained about the fact that the obama administration secretly closed down a democracy fund that the bush administration paid into to very quietly helped democracy activists to further their cause and according to this elder statesman who was speaking with
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us as a human rights activist obama had done this knowing what he was doing. as a way of saying you were wanting to move all the bush era mistakes off the table. this is not a matter of democrat versus republican. both made their mistakes. both have been very self-serving. i would suggest foreign aid dollars should be going to egypt and libya but a very close eye on where that money is going in the spirit of anti-corruption which is precisely the spirit in which the arab spring has happened anyway. it could go hand in hand. >> not a question of right
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forces left. >> exactly. >> let's take another question. stand up and wait for the microphone. i have been ignoring -- >> there is so much dialogue about what islam isn't. what is islam and the essence of it? what about the non negotiable? >> are you muslim? can you tell me what you would say islam is? >> still trying to figure that out. >> that is very honest. is there one non-negotiable? >> having faith in god. >> for me as well. it sounds very simple and quite frankly it is. muslims love to point out from a supremacy conflict that we as
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mono theorists restored the idea of one god to the children of abraham. jews and christians corrupted the idea and we are the ones who brought this idea back. in a way that we frankly glorify and put on a pedestal the profit mohammad we treat him as a deity when we all know he was not just a very human messenger but a very fallible one in his humanity. one of the stories i tell in "allah, liberty and love" is not very well known among ordinary muslim and islamic philosophers is a story of the satanic versus. not the title of salman rushdie's book. he took that title from the story i am going to tell you. the prophet mohammad accepted
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certain revelations that he thought were authentic but realized later that they deified human idles. he took those reverses back. he had his scribe's withdraw them from the koran and blame this on a trick played by state in. if the profit himself was motivated by the love of god and god's love for him how could satan have won for just one moment? how could that have happened? when we investigate the story further we find that something becomes very enlightening and illuminating and that is at the beginning of his prophecy he was so scared about the fact that he was being accused of shaming his tribal arab society by pointing out all of the power abuses that
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he made certain compromises. you can read what those compromises were in the book. the point i am making is part of that compromise was including these heathen purses and the koran that paid tribute to pagan arabs society and all the idols their society had. god according to the story intervened and said this is not the message has given you. the message is we are all equal under one god and the special favors cannot be granted through worship in all these titles. people have to treat one another with justice. not rely on these titles who fulfill their destinies. it is up to us. when the profit got that
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message, keys versuss, that is when the real backlash happened in arab society towards him. the point being moral courage was necessary for the profit to recognize that certain of these reverses paid homage to the people he wanted to convince. he couldn't get all of them. he was going to tell the truth. that is the way it is. when you have the moral courage to point out to your own community that certain things are unjust no matter what cultural rationalization you use you are going to feel the pain of the backlash. when you do so keep going.
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>> the right answer. >> the gentleman was saying you are risking your life. my life as a person of faith i believe was given to me by my creator to be taken from me at any time. what is the purpose of living in the first place if i allow my spirit to die prematurely because my physicality might be taken away? the only thing i really fear and i will be honest about this, the only thing i fear is that i will die before my mother does. i don't want her burying me or any of her children before we bury her. that is the only thing i worry about. after that, even before that i won't give the enemy a reason to
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claim power more than they already have. that is why i support the voices in the arab world that typically do not get reported. >> wait for a microphone. >> conversations happening in the u.s. among muslims but many of us haven't heard them. i want to know where to listen in and also i would like to know if such conversations are happening in south asia in pakistan for pakistan in tolerance. >> as i am searching for this telling e-mail that i got from pakistan let me quickly tell you that where you can eavesdrop on
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reformist conversation among muslims in america, pick up my book and for the last number of years are have been on the receiving end and had the privilege of getting these sentiments from reform minded muslims and have posted them on my web site for the last decade. i responded to these messages and created a dialogue and even multiblog because i had a tracking mechanism of these folks that i was able to incorporate them into my book. it worked out well. the point is there is some grand forum in which these conversations are happening. there is a reason it is not happening in that way. there will be plenty of people who say you can't reduce it to
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that. you are just playing on other people's fears. when my mother and i went to the they troy area to screen my pbs documentary called faith without fear, when we went to the area and did a screening i was pilloried during the actual event but afterwards at the reception my mother noticed out the corner of her i a large and ever-growing cluster of young muslims in the corner of the room. after all the microphones and tv cameras left this group of young muslims to, american kids said thank you. my mother was so quick on her feet. she said thank you.
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i appreciate that sentiment but why do you say this? when there were cameras here and other muslims could see they are not alone in thinking this way. one of the girls -- they looked at each other and said which of us will say what needs to be said? one of them locked eyes with my mother and said i don't have think you understand. you and irshad leave this community two hours from now. we can't. we will be accused of dishonor in our families if we support her the way u.s. coast to do. i find fascinating the word dishonor. where did that come from? that is contemporary american. is part of the deep south and still is propping up slavery and segregation. their idea of dishonor came from
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tribal -- they are thoroughly american in just about every other way. born in america. but because of how they are being raised the culture of honor being practiced in a thoroughly american family and household they fear speaking their truth. will that change? i hope so. that is why i do what i do. it is there. may i just quickly read one e-mail from pakistan to shell you the stakes and the reality. okay. awais writes a few months back one of my friends e-mail me the
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translation of the trouble with islam today which is my previous book. with a surprise because i already read the book and never mentioned it to anybody. my friend's moral courage provoked me to find some part of it in my south. i forwarded your online translation to some other friends because i believe it will create a positive change in their lives. perhaps this is how grassroots movements work. and islamist at my work face -- workplace nail the office of speech from the taliban representative. was so outrageous it forced me to rethink my strategy of remaining silent. i have been blogging to promote free thought and rationalism. also me and my friends spend time having useful discussions with our friends which may push them to raise questions. there is hope that the same time
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there is fear yet understand he got access to the translation of the trouble with islam not because it was on the bookshelf in that country. it was published in that country but the week was published the religious scholars issued a fatwa against all the booksellers who were selling that book. the book was cleared from their shelves but because my web site was very well known i simply posted the translation on my side for free of charge download. that is how they got access to those ideas and how he managed to share those ideas with his friends. a fascinating time to be a reformist within my faith. the time is not now. >> one question more from
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twitter and one or two more from the audience. >> a tweet came in, how do we shift the conversation so in 2021 the current debate is seated? >> that is what this conversation has been about. it is about recognizing the moral and cultural relativism, the notion that everything everybody's culture is fine because that is the way they do is outdated. in this increasingly interconnected planet there is basic universal standard of human dignity and human decency in terms of how we treat one another. developing the moral courage to
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instigate, start those conversations on your campuses, at the family dinner table, with your neighbors. start those conversations and take the chips are offer of liberty and love not to freeze in the moment you yourself are challenged, recognize if democracy is doing anything healthy it has got to mean those of us who had the privilege of 200 plus years of developing it use it. not wait for politicians to do that. their job is to get reelected. not much moral courage happens there. we ordinary citizens of this country and of the world have to claim that privilege and that power to start these conversations. >> that is good.
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[applause] >> time for one or two more questions. the gentleman in the red raised his hand earlier. >> i want to thank you for this talk. you told a few stories of muslin teenagers in america who say they cannot leave their culture or their parents or whatever it is. i am wondering how you react to them. i hope you say to them they can do that and if you don't i wonder why and a model to look at is the gay and lesbian community. people growing up gay and lesbian in cultures where it is not ok have left. i worked in the gay marriage movement in massachusetts and
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people left their homes. terrifying but inspiring. >> what i find hopeful in conversations i have with muslim teenagers who wish to move forward in their own lives is they're not saying they can't leave their culture. it is not their culture. it is their parents's culture. they make that distinction. that is how i learned that is right. you define yourself as the european. i am getting it now. that is where it comes from. it is not that people like me need to create reformist muslims. are have the opportunity and the challenge to showed them how to begin having these conversations with their parents or their
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elders or their so-called community leaders. i am not in favor to be honest of children leaving their families unless they believe their own integrity, their basic human dignity is at stake. if a muslim teenager is realizing there's simply no way i can achieve by human wholeness if i stay in the dysfunction of this household then i say okay. find a constructive way to leave but leave you must. at some point you have to. that i get. i have to do it myself but not in a house style way. my mother was devastated when i moved away from home to take a job elsewhere but she grew up in the kind of culture where you don't do that unless you get
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married and irshad was not about to get married. i had to deal with that myself but if the point is that actually -- underestimating what our parents are capable of and willing to incrementally have dialogue with them even into the reality of what it is to have your humanity -- you are not them and they are not you. willing to go there. i say tried at first because frankly that is the way it will be a positive experience for them. to reconcile faith and freedom. other wise it is a showdown.


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