Or an Open letter to an educated liberal.
Here’s a compelling editoriail sent to us via email, by Alexander Maistrovoy, a journalist with the Russian-language Israeli newspaper Novosty nedely:
“And for the first time, with a sudden shiver, came the clear knowledge of what the meat I had seen in the Underworld might be. These careless Eloi were mere fatted cattle, which the ant-like Morlocks preserved and preyed upon”
“The Time Machine” of Herbert George Wells
My dear brainy friend!
The communist slogan in the former Soviet Union was: “We say Lenin, we mean the Party, we say the Party, we mean Lenin”. For you it could sound like this: “We say multiculturalism, we mean Islam, we say Islam, we mean multiculturalism”. The Muslim world is the last and sole barrier on the way to your dream about cultural pluralistic society! “Even Spanish can be French”*. An Arab cannot be. In despair you are ready to fasten on a kaffiyeh on yourself and a yashmak on your wife in order to drag a Muslim into your Cloud Castle.
It is your fixed idea, your choice. I will only remind you, my starry-eyed friend, what a role of a “true believer” is in the multicultural society, when he comes there invited or uninvited. For hundreds of years the Middle East was the embodiment of real multicultural ideal, the thesaurus of spiritual and philosophical knowledge. Antique mystery religions and Zoroastrism; the Ebonites and the first Christian sects; Gnosticism and Kabbalistic teachings; the Neoplatonics and the Manichees, the Arians and the Nestorians: all of them had co-existed in harmony. They conveyed their ideas and viewing of the world from one to another in this gigantic melting-pot of human spirit. Whether you know about it or not, it was from this fathomless source, that European philosophy, theology and learning got strength which paved the way to freedom and liberal values.
One of the first acts of triumphant Islam was the burning of the famous Alexandrine library. But it was only the beginning, because at that time Islam was relatively tolerant and noble. And what is more, it joined this melting-pot (so, my dear friend, don’t blame me of jaundice). Islam showed the world the mysticism of Sufis with their poetry of Life and extenuation of material benefits, expressed in Druze religion. Much later, the most humanistic religion of the present times (the Bahai Faith) arose from Islam. It also gave birth to Ahmadiyya movement, which believed in the improvement of the world through love. Unfortunately, obsession and obscurantism intensified. Sunni in Saudi Arabia found themselves under the dogmatic and obscure Wahhabite (Salafies) rule. Formerly latent Utopias in Shi’a Islam turned into paranoia before our eyes.
Even in the time of medieval inquisition in Europe fresh ideas existed. There were different philosophic schools: from Albert the Great to Thomas Aquinas to Meister Eckhart to Roger Bacon. There was Italian Proto-Renaissance with Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Pisano and Giotto. There was craving for freedom, personified in the Katars, Waldenses, Czech Hussites, and Lollards. And now tell me, my clever friend, what kinds of philosophic, spiritual schools do you know in the modern Islamic world? Enlighten me, I will be happy! There are few courageous people, who denounce dogmatic Wahhabites, like Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi and Dr. Taufik Hamid from Egypt. But they are social outcasts of the Muslim world and they live beyond the bounds of it.
Let me ask you: what has remained from the multicultural world of the Middle East? Do the Zoroastrians and Bahais stay in Iran, their homeland? It will be easer to find them in a cemetery in that country, than living. Those who could escape flew to India and the West. Have the Sufis remained in Saudi Arabia? No, they were annihilated by the regime as the enemies of “true Islam”. Can you find a branch of Ahmadiyya movement at least in one of the countries of the Middle East?
You can do it only in one place: so hated by you Israel (although I make no question of you being a Jew), the “state-of-racism-apartheid-and-coercion”. Their centre is in Haifa . So is the famous Bahai sanctuary. The Sufis are free in Israel, and the Druzes are enjoying full civic rights in Israel.
Not long ago the Arabian East was a palette of ancient and unique Christian sects. Waves of Islamic fanaticism swept away all of them. The Christians of Iraq and the West Bank escaped to the USA and Canada. Copts left Egypt. It may happen to the Maronites in Lebanon: the country is on the verge of the Green revolt. Iraqi Gnostics-Mandaeans are exposed to genocide and on the on the verge of annihilation. Not mentioning about Darfur. And you dont see it! Because the Mandaeans are not the beloved Palestinians, who claim for your special attention! In 20-30 years the Middle East will turn into a multicultural cemetery with an oasis in the form of Israel. If only you, my brainy friend, will not do your best to help the desert to swallow up this oasis. But you will, I have no doubts.
One more step, and instead of the cradle of humanity only a scorched desert of hatred will be left here. And this desert will spread to the North and South, to the East and West. It will enter the open doors of your house; devour you and your family, yours clubs, cafes, libraries, theaters, and galleries. You have got used to freedom; you dont know what the world without freedom is. I know it because I have grown up in communist Moscow . But I also know the Middle East. And believe me, in comparison to the new Caliphate the Soviet empire of the 60ies and 70ies would seem a paradise. The new rulers of the world will not only shut your mouth, but turn your soul inside out.
I pity you. Though, sorry. Not any longer.
*”To be French today means to be not only ethnic French, but Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Jew, Arab and even Spanish” (Francois Mitterrand)