TORONTO — Irshad Manji is still alive. The local press accounts make it sound like there’s a contract out on the young author’s life. That her new book The Trouble with Islam: A Wake Up Call For Honesty and Change is the next Satanic Verses.
The book is, literally, daring. “I have to be honest with you,” Manji writes on page one, “Islam is on very thin ice with me.” She ticks off her faith’s shortcomings, then continues: “Is that a heart attack you’re having? Make it fast. Because if we don’t speak out against the imperialists within Islam, these guys will walk away with the show. And their path leads to a dead end of more vitriol, more violence, more poverty, more exclusion.”
Fighting words, especially to many Muslims, for whom such self-criticism is foreign and forbidden. But, to date, Irshad Manji hasn’t been forced to pull a Rushdie.
True, she’s hired a bodyguard, and replaced her home’s old windowpanes with bulletproof glass. Her publisher broached the subject of her personal safety with the Solicitor General. And the book’s companion website Muslim-Refusenik.com has attracted a rash of angry feedback. To wit,
“Do you think that just because you have a mind, you should use it? Desist and apologize for your blaspheming ways while you still have a chance. People like you should not exist. It is no wonder there is a hell. Enjoy your short stay in this world, for God only knows what is coming for you.”
Manji is quite accustomed to being talked about. Ms Magazine called her “a Feminist for the 21st Century.” In fact, the 35-year-old is Canada’s most famous Muslim lesbian feminist.
Poised, hyper-articulate yet faintly geeky (like a spelling bee champ), the spiky-haired host of TVOntario’s “Big Ideas” was already a good-sized fish in the country’s puny media pond. The Trouble with Islam raised her profile even higher. She has been lionized in the national press and the book quickly climbed the bestseller lists.
Of course, not everyone is happy about this. The Toronto Star’s blousy TV critic and perpetual outrage machine, Antonia Zerbisias, dissed Manji (a “professional lesbian”) then mounted the paper’s favorite hobbyhorse, and insinuated that Manji and her publisher were “playing the media to max out publicity, issuing a fatwa on themselves as it were.” Zerbisias also alleged that the positive coverage of the book was actually a form of racism.
Speaking 10 days into the book’s Canadian release, Manji was already weary of her new public identity: Heroic Martyr-in-Waiting — or (that typically Canadian insult) Shameless Self-Promoter. Asked about Zerbisias’ accusations, Manji rolled her eyes. “She acknowledged that she had not bothered to read the book. And her answer as to why she hadn’t bothered to read the book was: ‘it’s not my job to be a book reviewer.’” Manji shrugged off the incident as, “typical of the hypocrisy that we see from people on the conventional left.”
As for the auto fatwa charges, Manji denied that she or her publisher tried to play up the personal security angle. Somehow the Globe and Mail got its hands on a copy of the letter that Random House sent to the government and things quickly snowballed.
And that looming backlash? Messages at Muslim-Refusnik.com actually run about half and half. She was delighted to learn that admiring posters at alt.religion.islam call her “courageous” and “cute.” “If everyone is expecting anger,” she asked, “why isn’t support from Muslims a story, too?”
Speaking of angry Islamists, the Canadian Islamic Congress issued a hyperventilating press release that denounced Manji as “a self-hating Muslim” but then refused all invitations to debate her on television.
“On the one hand, the CIC will carp and whine that mainstream media are not giving enough air time to their perspectives,” Manji said, “but when they’re given a golden opportunity to explain themselves and to challenge me they run away. But make no mistake: They will still carp and whine.”
The executive director of the Canadian chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations reviewed the book for the Montreal Gazette. He scolded Manji for creating “a caricature of Islam, projecting her own conclusions on the text [of the Koran], much like, ironically, the literalism of Osama bin Laden.” Then, like the CIC, CAIR Canada declined invitations to join Manji in a televised debate.
“If rumblings are all that it takes to put these guys on the defensive then they’re in for a very big surprise…,” she said.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online