I agree with
Christian Kerr. Give me Western culture any day. I’ll criticise leaders of nominally Muslim
states, local Muslim leaders, terrorist goons, imbecilic Muslim protesters, quiescent Muslims slow
to condemn
terrorism from among their
ranks, Muslim societies that oppress women and local thick-Sheiks. I’ve no
problems respecting and even participating in non-Muslim
religious events.

But it’s sickening to watch allegedly conservative politicians
and writers suggest that preserving my values and furthering my security means
generating hatred toward and derision of anything remotely related to my
ethno-religious heritage.

Mark Steyn said on Monday night that the best way to
stop people converting to Islam is to convince them that it’s better and cooler
to be Australian or Canadian or French than to be Muslim. As if you cannot be
Muslim and Aussie or English at the same
time. My Western culture doesn’t conflict with my religious heritage. If
Steyn and his fellow travellers cannot accept pluralism in Western culture, they
should find another culture.

I respect and support what the CIS does, and
I don’t expect them always to host Muslim apologists. And to be fair, one of the
CIS’s own senior scholars (Owen Harries) deftly demolished Steyn’s entire
argument.

I suggest the CIS make an unedited transcript and recording
of the forum available to the public. Unedited. Leave all the ugly bits
in: the altercation between Steyn and myself, the bits where Steyn advises on
how to stop people converting to Islam, where Steyn describes Islam as an
“apocalyptic” faith engulfing Europe that
cannot exist in a pluralistic society. (And also leave unedited Owen
Harries’s brilliant rebuttal as well.)

Steyn asked me to look into my
heart and ask who is committing the terrorist acts and why. I know who they are.
Steyn does too. And he’s helping them. Steyn’s attempts to marginalise
and demonise Muslims only serves the interests of al-Qaeda in the long run. Terrorist recruiters want
ordinary Muslim citizens of Western countries to feel alienated, saying: “They
hate you. They’ll never accept you. Come and join us as we drown the world in
blood!”

Many young Muslims will agree with al-Qaeda if they believe
everything Mark Steyn says and writes is reflective of official government
policy. Steyn is doing al-Qaeda’s work, whether he accepts it or
not.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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