Yossi Melman at PostGlobal

Yossi Melman

Tel Aviv, Israel

Yossi Melman is a senior commentator for the Israeli daily Haaretz. He specializes in intelligence, security, terrorism and strategic issues. An author of seven books on these topics, his most recent book, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran was published recently by Carroll & Graf. Close.

Yossi Melman

Tel Aviv, Israel

Yossi Melman is a senior commentator for the Israeli daily Haaretz. He specializes in intelligence, security, terrorism and strategic issues. An author of seven books on these topics, his most recent book, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran was published recently by Carroll & Graf. more »

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Typical Muslim Intolerance

The Question: The producers of the movie "The Kite Runner" had to evacuate three boy actors from Afghanistan because they were involved in a scene portraying homosexual rape. Who's at fault here: the movie producers who exposed the boys to danger, or the Afghan culture that threatens them?

Tel Aviv - This is a sensitive topic, especially in the era of political correctness. Nevertheless it is important to address. I would rephrase the question and add another one. Why were some Muslims in Afghanistan so angered by scenes from a film depicting homosexuals in their country? Because there are no homosexuals there? Give me a break. It reminds me of the funny and absurd remark made at Columbia University a few months ago by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran: something to the same effect of "we don't have homosexuals". I tend to believe that the question, however, needs to be broadened beyond Afghanistan borders .Why are we witnessing (almost) always Muslims who show a lack of tolerance to forms of western culture?

It’s true that one can find racism, hatred, zealotry, intolerance and vengeance in the Old Testament and the New Testament as well as in the Koran (and, I assume, in the scriptures of Hinduism, Buddhism or Shinto). The writings of monotheistic and non-monotheistic religions are a wonderful mixed bag which can be used to justify any hypothesis, cause, or ideology: love and hate, social justice and exploitation, peace and war, tolerance and intolerance – and all in the name of God.

And yet in recent decades we have witnessed, time and again, violence manifested by Muslim communities and leaders whenever they think that their feelings are hurt. Whether it was the religious decree (fatwa) issued in the 1980s by the Iranian Supreme Leader Khomeini against British writer Salman Rushdie for his Satanic Verses, waves of riots in northern Nigeria, global riots and protests over a Danish newspaper caricature of Prophet Mohammad, or setting fire to internet coffee houses and movie theaters in Gaza. And more recently, a British teacher in Sudan was sentenced to hundreds of lashes only for calling a teddy bear by the name of the Muslim Prophet. All these incidents have one denominator in common. Muslims and many of their religious or political leaders have difficulties understanding the meaning of tolerance, freedom of speech, and multiculturalism. Rather than engaging in dialogue, the first, almost Pavlovian reaction for many is to resort to the sword.

Do I think that this epidemic is in the genes of Islam? No. See above. This sort of thing is expressed in all religions. The problem is not with Islam. It is not even with its interpretation. It is with the few, a small minority of very vociferous clerics who hijacked the monopoly for the interpretation. Blame must be placed equally on the silent majority, state leaders included, who are ready to accept the intolerance and the violent actions of these false preachers to enforce their monopoly.

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