Nice declaration, but…

The Secular Islam Summit earlier this month appears to have produced “The St Petersburg Declaration,” which expresses some very agreeable sentiments.

Normally I’d endorse it, and encourage others to endorse it as well. But I find it hard to support an event organized by some thoroughly vile neocon figures such as Michael Leeden, is dripping with hard-right US and Israeli nationalist connections, and so far seems to be celebrated by the right-wing press who are not generally allies of secularism but miss no opportunity to bash Muslims. This isn’t good. I don’t know if this is a case of Muslim reformists trying to use the neocons, the neocons trying to use the critics of Islam, or something nastier. But as far as I’m concerned, the whole event and its results are tainted, regardless of the superficially attractive rhetoric produced in the declaration.

It’s also disturbing that the Center For Inquiry, normally a relatively sane outfit and a reliable supporter of secularism and religious skepticism, is in bed with all these neocons where Islam is concerned. Just because someone presents themselves as “bravely” criticizing Islam, that doesn’t mean that they do a good job of it! CFI risks being suckered in by some unscholarly people with some ugly political agendas that have little to do with urging reform and freedom of inquiry in Muslim lands.

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About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University


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