Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Freedom" for Arab Reformists and Intellectuals

Arab Intellectuals

It's not difficult to see parallels between the persecution of intellectuals under Communism with the plight of reformist, secular, and moderate intellectuals in the Arab world today. At MEMRI there's a round-up of some recent cases:

  • Egyptian judge and author Muhammad Sa'id Al-'Ashmawi has been subject to Islamist threats since 1979. The reason for this was his interpretation of Koranic verses according to their historical context, which was perceived by Islamists as undermining their religious validity for all places and times. In January 1980, the Egyptian authorities assigned him a police escort.

    In March, 2004, following a speech he delivered in the U.S. on moderation and reform in Islam and in Egypt, the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior cancelled his police protection.....

    In March 2005, Dr. Ahmad Al-Baghdadi, a reformist author who teaches political science at Kuwait University, published a public request for political asylum in a Western country, after a Kuwaiti court condemned him to a one-year prison sentence, commuted to three years on probation and bail of 2,000 dinars ($6,800). In response to the court's decision, he also announced that he would stop writing in the Kuwaiti press.

    Al-Baghdadi was sued by three Islamists who accused him of contempt for Islam after he wrote, in a June 2004 article in a Kuwaiti paper, that he would prefer his son to study music rather than the Koran.....

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