Middle Ground

Tom Friedman, in his New York Times column this morning, produces examples of hate speech uttered by various Islamic clerics, scholars and journalists to show that “their” extremists are as bad as “ours”. He makes a legitimate point, but perhaps in a subsequent column he might want to address how all of us caught between the self-reinforcing viciousness of the extremes might go about finding and expanding the middle ground. A starting point for such a column might be the homily South Africa’s ambassador to the US, Ebrahim Rasool, an imam, gave at Ramadan iftar hosted by the Pentagon in July. Here is a flavour:

“We need a community that is militant for justice and but not violent, an ummah that is capable of being revolutionary and changing societies from autocracy, but never extremist. That is the fundamental challenge of the moment in Ramadan 2012: how can we drive the changes that the global community requires without falling into the traps of either extremism or fundamentalism or violence?

“And so may this Ramadan be a month in which we make..the transition from a community that has ceased to occupy the middle ground to one that does occupy that middle ground. We have to ensure that it is us who occupy the middle ground because it is only people in the middle ground who can reach out comfortably to people who are also in the middle ground from other faiths, other ideologies and other thought patterns. Continue reading “Middle Ground”