17 August 2015
A recent Washington Post article typifies the way discussion about religion is misleading and distorting in much media and academic commentary. Religious literacy is proposed as a solution.
The Washington Post published an article on 10 July 2015 by Daniel Philpott entitled “Are Muslim countries really unreceptive to religious freedom?” His argument was that despite Muslim-majority countries showing high patterns of repression, Islam was not the problem. While I agree with his conclusion there are problems with the way the discussion was framed.
Three statements stood out from the article: “a dearth of religious freedom in Islam”; “Islam clearly has considerably lower levels of religious freedom”; and “the presence of religiously free countries in Islam”. While one could surmise what he meant to say, it actually makes no sense: what is this generic “Islam”? Elsewhere, the writer uses the much better term “Muslim-majority countries”, which makes sense. Islam, like any religion, is diverse (not just Sunni and Shi’a, but also Sufism and others); it has changed over time. There is much diversity within Islam.
… Paul Hedges is an Associate Professor with the Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
GPO / SRP / Online
Last updated on 16/11/2015