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My friend has just returned from a brief holiday in France. While abroad he likes to know how other countries think of the world.

His discovery this year, he says, was
Abdennour Bidar
, a French Muslim intellectual who challenges Islamic fundamentalist thinkers as well as the views of Western liberals. Nothing very new in all of this. But what is significant is the fact that he is the Inspector General for Education in France.

In an open letter to the Muslim world, Bidar says that Islam has given birth to Monsters. How true that is in the light of what happened again last night in Nice.

In an essay published October 3, 2014 in the French newspaper Marianne, Bidar, philosopher and author of Self Islam, a personal history of Islam, Islam Without Submission, a Muslim existentialism, and History of Humanism in the West, wrote that believing Muslims cannot avoid a discussion of the causes of jihadi excesses by merely denouncing terrorist barbarism. He says that in the face of the dogmas and political manipulation to which it is being subjected, the Muslim world must be self-critical, and must act to reform itself.

“I see that you are losing yourself, losing your time and your honor, in your refusal to recognize that this Monster [ISIS] is born of you."

“Dear Muslim world: I am one of your estranged sons, who views you from without and from afar – from France, where so many of your children live today. I look at you with the harsh eyes of a philosopher, nourished from infancy on tasawwuf (Sufism) and Western thought. I look at you therefore, from my position of barzakh, from an isthmus between the two seas of the East and the West”.

He said: Muslims cannot make do with denouncing and repudiating terrorist barbarism, but must acknowledge that its roots lie within Muslim society, and especially within the Islam that is prevalent in the Arab world today. He points out that Islam, like all religions, has throughout its history been a source of much good, wisdom and enlightenment, but that today's mainstream Islam rejects the freedom and flexibility that are advocated by the Koran and instead promotes rigidity and regression that ultimately gives rise to terrorism. The Muslim world, he concludes, must therefore reform itself, and especially its education systems, based on principles of freedom of religion and thought, equality, and respect for the other.

Just like the atrocious activities in Northern Ireland - Catholics  against Protestants. The 'Catholic' IRA did not represent all the Catholics of Ireland but because the general Catholic population did not speak out the atrocities continued for years leading to so many deaths.


Thank you - I had not heard of him before.
The only thing I really dislike about Bidar's comments is how they promote what I feel is the false narrative about ISIS.

ISIS is merely the Saudi Arabia nation North. They may belong to the Sunni broad label sect, but they are Wahabbhist extremists which we can thank Saudi Arabia for exporting to the world.

And ISIS is merely responding to the power vacuum for the Sunni residents of Syria and Iraq, because they have been abandoned by the Shi'ite Iraqi government and are persecuted by the Alawite Syrian government. They are painted as "terrorists" but their activities are mirrored by those of their governments. I have seen the videos of the Iraqi Special Forces commander shooting suspected ISIS sympathizers in the back of the head point blank. The bunkerbuster bombs Assad hurls at his people are atrocities. The American and Russian air attacks along with the Syrian airstrikes have destroyed hospitals, killed and maimed so many children.

The incident in Nice was opportunistic by a very ugly criminal seeking self aggrandizement. It was not in support of a movement thousands of miles away. The guy was a petty criminal who wanted to kill and hurt as many people as possible because he is the lowest of the low. Not because of his religious beliefs.

Religion is a convenient excuse for those willing to perform acts of horrific violence. If it wasn't religion, they'd find some other excuse. And it is almost always, as it was in Northern Ireland, a socioeconomic dispute between the haves and the havenots.

In summary, I think it is not so much the religion that needs reform as the socioeconomic troubles. Religions have always had liturgy twisted for effect. But so long as the foundations of the animosity prevail, there can be no reform.
Thank you for your own understanding of the situation. It is such honest discussion that is needed in a wider context. Bullets, as you rightly say, will not solve the problem, they never do.