Letter: Islam's extremists show their true face

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The Independent Online
Sir: Kalim Siddiqui takes exception to Salman Rushdie's assertion (letter, 6 July) that he is 'frozen in time' and that he and his fellow fundamentalists do a great disservice to Islam's image in the world. How right you are, Mr Rushdie] Dr Siddiqui and 'his ilk' are not only frozen in time, they are also fossilised in the deepest layers of the Middle East.

The sum total of the 'great Islamic intellectual activity' (Dr Siddiqui refers to the works of such 'modernists' as Afghani, Abduh, Al-Banna and, of course, his beloved Khomeini) amounts to no more than the mere reiteration of the same doctrine of early Islam.

'Every Muslim is sick,' wrote Jamal Al Din Al Afghani, 'and his remedy is in the Koran]' So much for innovative thinking, Dr Siddiqui. Open-minded intellectual endeavour is impossible in Islam as long as any attempt to analyse the core subjects of the faith, the Koran, the sharia, the Umma and Islamic law is regarded as heresy or blasphemy.

In recent times, there has been one formidable reformist who successfully 'reinterpreted Islamic history' and 'political method'. He, more than any other person this century, understood and embraced Western civilisation without trepidation or inferiority. That person was Kemal Ataturk.

Yours sincerely,

KAMAL TAWFIK NIMRI

Arab Secular Society

Paris

9 July

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