Being respectful of others’ religions is a tenet of Western Philosophy, although “more honoured in the breach than in the observance.” Here is an example of behavior that at first glance does seem disrespectful and unnecessarily inflammatory, especially in light of the Abraham Accords and it the ongoing easing of relations between Israel and the Arab and Muslim world.
Gil Tamary, a journalist for Israel’s TV Channel 13, sneaked into Mecca and reported from there in a ten-minute segment. It’s hard to overstate the stupidity, arrogance and irresponsibility of both Tamary and Channel 13 in doing this.
Mecca is the holiest city in the Islamic world. It is home to the Kaaba, the most sacred site of all for Muslims and towards which they face in prayer.
Mecca is barred to non-Muslims. In his clip, Tamary visited Mount Arafat where Muslim pilgrims gather to pray during the climax of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca each year.
But…am I the only one who is sick and tired of the constant kowtowing and bowing and scraping on the part of the West when it comes to Islam? It really is a sham…Western leaders rigidly enforce the idea that we must be perfectly respectful of everything that this bloodthirsty religion does, including when it — in the guise of their fanatical imams — insists upon particular modes of behavior in our own countries! Yet those same politicians can’t resist denigrating and demeaning our own Western religions.
Maybe it is time to demand the same amount of respect from Islam that Islam demands of us!
The policy of exclusion isn’t merely unjust; it’s also not mandated by Islam. The Koran, at 9:28, bans only polytheists from the Great Mosque—it doesn’t prohibit every non-Muslim from visiting Mecca. As part of his sweeping reforms, Crown Prince Mohammed should open the city of Mecca, its surrounding and Medina to all comers. The mosques may remain exclusive to Muslims, but everything else should be accessible. International and nongovernmental organizations should pressure him to terminate his country’s discriminatory laws.
Mr. Tamary took a chance, initiated a discussion and potentially made a historic difference. He deserves respect, not condemnation.
That’s a bit hyperbolic. Mr. Tamary was probably more interested in the notoriety and the prospect of a big fat scoop.
But the idea that Islam is in some way special, that it does not need to behave in a civilized manner simply because they demand to be treated differently is anathema to pluralistic societies, and something that we should push against. Does the Saudi ruling family have the right to keep others out of their holy cities? Sure! But so do we. Maybe we should start restricting Muslims from entering the great cathedrals of Europe, or for that matter the church on the corner.
It’s an interesting issue, and one that has no easy solutions, other than for Islam to enter the 21st century, and that isn’t going to happen for a long, long time.