Our true allies in the war — but how many are there?

Carlos Alberto Montaner on the Liberal Muslims who are the West’s true allies in seeking reformation within Islam, which is the only sustainable way of creating peace:

Slowly, in the course of almost one thousand years of intellectual confrontation and violent wars fought on battlefields, Christian fundamentalism lost its power and attributes until the notion of the lay state and freedom of conscience broke through. Left along the road were millions of corpses and an awful history of barbarity and injustice that reached the peak of abjection and fury with the Inquisition, the burning of witches and the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. The intention is very good, and Liberal International’s strategy is correct. But the possibilities of success in the short or middle run are very limited. A truly liberal Muslim would have to:

• Fight for the equality of women and for an end to the use of the Koran as the fountain of the law, especially by eliminating its function as a penal code.

• Face the brutal fatwahs of imams who condemn dissenting writers to death.

• Denounce the warmongering nature of a religious creed that consecrates the virtue of the jihad (at least to the fundamentalists) and separates the world into two halves: the half that already has submitted to Islam and the half that must be conquered. (But not even those heroic battles constitute the hardest part of the immense task facing liberal Muslims. The bitterest swallow, but an inevitable test, is to:)

• Lead the defense of Israel’s right to exist as an independent and peaceful nation alongside an equally free and peaceful Palestinian state.

Hey, it only took Christianity a thousand years to achieve the overthrow of fundamentalism, according to Mr. Montaner. So lok on the bright side. Surely with the speed of the Internet age, the Islamic Reformation can be accomplished in less than half that time.

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