Over at Goatmilk, there’s a review of the Doha debates about West and Islam
As the world witnesses Muslims frequently embracing “Islamic” political parties in the Middle East, many ominously foresee this trend as an inevitable threat to “the West.”
This contentious issue anchored last week’s prestigious Doha Debates moderated by veteran BBC journalist Tim Sebastian in Qatar, which hosts controversial topics in front of a diverse, engaged audience of 350 people. The motion “This House Believes that Political Islam is a Threat to the West” was defeated by 51% to 49% following a vote from the passionate audience, which included several members from the Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow conference who were invited to observe and participate.
In support of the motion, Maajid Nawaz, a former leader of the radical Hizb ut-Tahir who has since totally renounced his affiliations, stressed that Muslims and Islam are not inherently undemocratic or extremist, but rather the modern politicisation of Islam creates a dehumanising ideology soaked in separatism and violence. As he told me after the debate, “Political Islam is an ideology. They believe in exporting this divisive ideology to Muslims in the West… terrorists emerge from these parties. They don’t believe in our same democratic values.”
However, Shadi Hamid, a research fellow at Stanford University debating against the motion, disagreed: “With the exception of Hamas or Hizballah, every single mainstream Islamic party has renounced violence.”
Hamid’s debating partner, Sarah Joseph, Editor of the Muslim lifestyle magazine Emel, won over the audience by vocalizing her frustration at the nebulous and generalized definitions of “the West” and “political Islam.”
Meanwhile, Yahya Pallavicini, an Italian Imam and government adviser, argued for the motion lamenting the misuse of religion by Islamist political parties who selfishly hijack theology to “legitimise violence” and demonise women.