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Who Says Islam Is Totalitarian?

Who Says Islam Is Totalitarian?

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Date Published: 
Tuesday, 19 October, 2010
Summary: 

Islam is Islam. That is Erdogan’s position, it seems to have been the position of Bernard Lewis a half century ago, and it is Geert Wilders’s position today. Not that Muslims are bad, but that Islam is a dangerous ideology. Wilders summed up his views in a 2009 interview with Jeff Jacoby (also quoted in Andrew Bostom’s piece):

I have nothing against the people. I don’t hate Muslims. But Islam is a totalitarian ideology. It rules every aspect of life — economics, family law, whatever. It has religious symbols, it has a God, it has a book — but it’s not a religion. It can be compared with totalitarian ideologies like Communism or fascism. There is no country where Islam is dominant where you have a real democracy, a real separation between church and state.

These claims are materially indistinguishable from points Professor Lewis made in 1954 — other than, perhaps, Wilders’s assertion that Islam “is not a religion,” although by that, I take him to mean Islam is not merely a religion or a set of spiritual principles but a comprehensive system controlling all of life.

From those premises, Wilders concluded that “Islam is totally contrary to our values.” That is a bracing conclusion. I think the problem people have with Wilders is that he is bracing. He says out loud what they fear is the case, or what they refuse to examine for fear of discovering that it is the case. That makes him inconvenient. It doesn’t make him wrong.