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The conviction and pending execution of an Afghani student, Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh, for blasphemy is an appalling circumstance, but it offers an opportunity that we should all seize. The time has come for Muslims to step up to the plate and demonstrate that Islam is a great faith that has no need for violence or intimidation to maintain the loyalty of its congregation. And we outside Islam must make it crystal clear that we cannot respect or honor a religion that would consider blasphemy a capital crime, no matter how ancient the tradition from which this decision flowed. Muslims who support–or refrain from condemning–the conviction and sentence of Kambakhsh must be made to realize that they share responsibility for bringing dishonor to their cherished heritage, and if we non-Muslims do not speak out, we too must share in the blame. Friends don't let friends commit, or condone, evil. The best way of showing our good will towards Islam is by helping it shed an indefensible aspect of its legacy. Every religion has much to atone for, but that is no reason to button our lips and tolerate fresh grounds for atonement.

There is no need, yet, for anger. Let us all just remind Muslims everywhere of what they must surely know: blasphemy is not a capital crime in any society worthy of respect. It is now up to Muslims to prevent some of their number from defiling their own precious culture.

--Daniel Dennett, in a letter to The Boston Globe, who has not indicated whether or not they will publish it.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Feb. 6th, 2008 04:53 am (UTC)
Well said.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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