An open letter to Ben Affleck


Your heart was in the right place, but…

Dear Ben,

I am writing to you today as a woman who was born and raised in Islam. I saw your discussion with Bill Maher and Sam Harris, and I must say you did me a great disservice that day. Your heart was in the right place, of course, and it was lovely of you to step up and defend ‘my people’.

What you really did though, perhaps inadvertently, was silence a conversation that never gets started. Two people attempted to begin a dialogue and you wouldn’t even listen. Why should any set of ideas be above criticism, Ben?

Why are Muslims being ‘preserved’ in some time capsule of centuries gone by? Why is it okay that we continue to live in a world where our women are compared to candy waiting to be consumed? Why is it okay for women of the rest of the world to fight for freedom and equality while we are told to cover our shameful bodies? Can’t you see that we are being held back from joining this elite club known as the 21st century?

Noble liberals like yourself always stand up for the misrepresented Muslims and stand against the Islamophobes, which is great but who stands in my corner and for the others who feel oppressed by the religion? Every time we raise our voices, one of us is killed or threatened. I am a blogger and illustrator, no threat to anyone, Ben, except for those afraid of words and drawings. I want the freedom to express myself without the very real fear that I might be killed for it. Is that too much to ask?

When I wrote a children’s book that carried a message of diversity and inclusivity for everyone, my life changed. My book, ‘My Chacha (uncle) is Gay’ has the innocent anti-homophobia message, ‘Love belongs to everyone’. This was not palatable to many of my Muslim brothers and sisters.

Since that project I have been declared an ‘enemy of God’ and deemed worthy of death. All because I want to help create a world where South Asian children too can have their stories told, so they too can know that love comes in all forms, and that that’s okay. My Muslim brothers and sisters were hit hard by this work because it addresses the issue of homophobia within our own community. It is not something they can pass off as ‘Western’ immorality. Just like they deny that any issues exist within the doctrine of Islam, many deny that homosexuality exists amongst good, ‘moral’ Muslims. Just like that, millions of people’s existence is denied. Please do not defend people who think this way, and let me tell you Ben, many ‘good’ Muslims do think this way.

What you did by screaming ‘racist!’ was shut down a conversation that many of us have been waiting to have. You helped those who wish to deny there are issues, deny them. You became an instant hero, a defender of Islam. It’s kind, it really is. I understand because I too am plagued and affected by the issues brought about by actual Islamophobia. I have a Muslim name and brown skin, my peaceful relatives have been pushed in the subway and called ‘terrorist’ for no reason.

I get that.

We must distinguish critiquing an ideology from being hateful towards a group of people. And for this reason I think that tackling the issues within Islam should be two-pronged. They must be brought up, but simultaneously we should stress that blame for these issues cannot be placed on individuals.

In the interest of being politically correct and ‘liberal’, we silence the voices of millions. I am turning to you because you were instrumental in starting this conversation. Those of us who want reform are muted by extremists, as well as the liberals who betray us in the name of multiculturalism.

ISIS paints a horrific picture, so I understand the knee-jerk reaction to deny any link. Most Muslims choose to interpret scripture in a peaceful way, but that doesn’t mean the raw material isn’t there for those who choose the path of violence. That material must be addressed.

Can we talk about the blatant double standards and violation of human rights, for a second? Mosques are built throughout western countries, usually without much issue. But in the hub of Islam, the heart of Islam, Saudi Arabia, no one but Muslims are allowed to officially practice their faith. There are no churches, temples or synagogues because Saudi Arabia will not permit any non-Muslim place of worship to exist. Who will hold them accountable for such injustice if we hush everyone who speaks out against Islam?

What is so wrong with wanting to step into the current century? There should be no shame. There is no denying that violence, misogyny and homophobia exist in all religious texts, but Islam is the only religion that is adhered to so literally, to this day.

In your culture you have the luxury of calling such literalists “crazies”, like the Westboro Baptist Church, for example. In my culture, such values are upheld by more people than we realise. Many will try to deny it, but please hear me when I say that these are not fringe values. It is apparent in the lacking numbers of Muslims willing to speak out against the archaic Shariah law. The punishment for blasphemy and apostasy, etc, are tools of oppression. Why are they not addressed even by the peaceful folk who “aren’t fanatical, who just want to have some sandwiches and pray five times a day? Where are the Muslim protestors against blasphemy laws/apostasy? Where are the Muslims who take a stand against harsh interpretation of Shariah? These sandwich-eating peaceful folk do not defend those suffering in the name of Islam, Ben, and therein lies our problem.

Maybe the points Maher and Harris were trying to make are more easily digested when coming from within the community, I can appreciate that. That is why I am writing to you, as someone who has personally been hurt by the lack of acknowledgement of these issues.

If Muslims do not critique their own atrocities, then people on the outside will and their message will not be listened to simply because of who they are. It’s a vicious cycle, one that can only break if indeed, like Harris said, true reformers are empowered.

I ask you and anyone reading this to make an effort to seek out reformers from within our community, and support them in any way you can.

If I were allowed to meet a man that is not my father, brother or husband unchaperoned, I would have loved to discuss this over drinks (which I am also not allowed to have) with you. So, you see, things must change.




  1. I hope Ben reads this, as well as his supporters. It is incredibly hard to navigate the twists and turns within the debate about ideology and people, without being accused of Islamophobia and racism, as has been seen too much. This is obviously more true if a white man like Sam Harris (or any other) attempts this analysis. So what a nice, liberal man like Ben needs is a bit of truth from yourself.

    • it's unrealistic to even think the entire world is going to transform our thinking of Muslims and Islam. The extremists is and will ruin your civilization. It's the Muslims extremists also known as "Arabs" are the ones being "intolerant" of Jews and other non religious people. not all share your extremism. Bill Maher is right

      • Is that in reply to me? If so, what is my "extremism"? I'm confused by this reply – if it's to me.

        • Bigotry wrapped in prayer is still bigotry. your hyped up drama over your religious beliefs is what turns rational sensible people off. You can't negotiate peace if your heart is full of bigotry and fear.

      • Marie, a Tea Party troll knows that moslum terrorists are not only “Arabs” [sic], but also Persian, African, Indian, Asian, German, etc. Sudden jihadi syndrome has been observed across all of humanity, because islum is a filthy death cult.

        The author of this piece asks, “but who stands in my corner and for the others who feel oppressed by the religion?” Stand in your own corner lady. If you are too cowardly to be an apostate, and if you are too cowardly to reform your own barbaric ideology, why should anybody else do it for you? islum and moslums are incompatible with modern civilization and should be barred from living among normal people.

        • This right here is the swing opinion to what this lady is offering. It's pure bigotry. It's lumping all "moslums" and "islum" together. I believe this article is an eye-opener in terms of helping me to see another side of the equation that wasn't as clear for me. This however does not mean that ever "moslum" is a terrorist or has those ideals. It is important that this religion can find a way to coalesce the situation and help bring it into the 21st century. This will not happen with segregation and racism. Grow up.

          • You are correct. However, anyone who espouses tolerance, compassion and liberal thinking has a duty to openly reject Islamic ideology, and to do so without attacking muslims in general–since muslims are not always by choice conscious purveyors of Islam. I know Islam very well, andI know the Qur’an very well–there is very little about it that I can defend. I am not particularly enamored with other religions, either, but Islamic scripture is much more violent, much more hateful, and much more difficult to interpret in a benign manner than even the Old Testament.
            It is not bigotry to oppose an ultra-misogynistic supremacist ideology which encourages murder, rape, slavery and pedophilia. Unless you have read the entire Qur’an and examined tha major Hadiths, and unless you have read Reliance of the Traveller and examined the biographies of Muhammad you can not be aware of the dangers of Islam. I submit to you, as a truly unbiased observer who has studied Islam, that what you hear from people, even scholars, about the religion and its nature is generally misleading. Even most muslims are generally unaware of the way the religion influences their lives and thoughts, and the way it works to keep its misogynistic power structure intact. It will be a difficult task to bring it into the 21st century.
            I am optimistic, but cautiously so.

        • Although religions are generally founded on trying to bring out the good in people, I have not yet heard of any religions that encourage true connectedness among ALL people.

          Much strife and many wars throughout all of history have at least in part happened because of religious differences, mistrust, fear of anyone with a different belief system. If humans are to survive, we must ALL find some way of caring about all others. Faith and the blind following of religious leaders hinders such a possibility. Fear, greed, blind faith, mistrust, ignorance… all prevent human beings from learning how to live together peacefully. I don’t think we humans are evolved enough yet to know how to libe together in peace.. and time is running out!

        • ‘Islum’? ‘Moslum’? Is this commentary of yours satire? Or do you really not know how to spell? In either case, if you want to be taken seriously, use spell checker! Please! Or just reread the article! Your post is an embarrassment.

        • Obviousness appears to be missing in most (mine included) comments regarding "extremists" provided candor. "It shall be so", "It should be so", or "It will be so" group trends rely (absolutely?) on outside stimulus in order to persist/dominate. My only current recollection of demonstrable groups (situation) which yearned for inclusion and were included are those groups which obtained outside MAJOR support: civil rights, suffrage, marriage, .., tea party?. Such support occurs with the waking of the situation's concept be it from caveman, medieval, to information and beyond. Hopefully you, others and I will become a persistent/dominant place in order to move on to other awakenings.

    • oh gosh, I hope famous Ben Affleck the world renown celebrity with strong opinions reads this too. I do not consider myself or others in general to be islamphobic. your extremist Muslim types are the ones making life's hell for those that have differing religious beliefs.

        • you really can't make sense of it? wow, you must be a Tea party troll. I make perfect sense. sorry I am just over your head.

        • Marie, you have gone off the deep end in this discussion. Your initial comment that the author’s point of view is “unrealistic” and “isolated” was pointlessly cynical and negative.

          Yes, the blogger may be outnumbered now, but people like her, Maher and Harris are trying to turn that around. Your pessimism isn’t helping.

    • Agreed, really hope this finds its way to ben, his performance in this argument was cringe worthy, maybe he’ll listen to Eiynah ‘s experience and point of view, instead of just shrugging it off like he did with Sam Harris and bill maher

    • I am from NY originally and I now reside in Stillwater OK both with high Muslim populations, and even though I am not Muslim I do have several dozen Muslim friends. None of them are against women's rights, or suspected of or in any way engaged in anti American activities.

      I do not think Ben denies Muslim extremism exists, he was discussing on the show the over generalization that was made.

      • Christopher Hitchens has previously made the point that the Muslim diaspora in the US is quite different from eg the UK, where in the US many ran from Islamic theocracy in Iran (so are less likely to go for that sort of thing), and most in the UK originated from Pakistan and a lot from the more rural areas. Both can have very different outlooks. It would also be said that in the UK, you will find many people like yourself who can bring things down to the "individual/no problem" level. This is something that shouldn't need to be pushed, but generally it is because people feel they must bring it down to that level. I'm sure Maher and Harris are not stupid enough to disagree, and Sam Harris did try to make that point, but it fell on deaf ears. Harris and Maher were talking about something much wider in context and also made the point that the Muslims you refer to are among the first victims of Islamification. Again, Ben didn't seem to hear that. It was two different conversations, which is frustrating, but exemplifies why some, like Ben, don't understand the wider problem.

    • really, without debate, Afflect continued to interrupt Sam Harris, perhaps one of the most knowledgeable people on the show that evening, and Mr. Harris maintained his "cool" and attempted numerous times to move the dialog forward, to no avail.

    • The real issue that there are so many opinions of the "Muslim World," and not enough facts. The problem comes when people sit in their cushy NY or LA studios, never actually visit the places they discuss/meet the people they are talk about, and still go on yammering about a topic they have no real knowledge on. I'm so sick of well-to-do white men commenting on parts of the world they know nothing of. I find it so bizarre that this argument even took place on the show. Neither Ben nor Bill have any real experience in the Muslim world. And while, I do believe that each one was earnestly trying to make a positive point, why not actually have people of this area on the show? Wouldn't it be more informative to have someone who's experienced the affects of radical Islam speak? Someone who knows the difference between Fundamentalists and moderate Muslims? Someone that knows the difference between an Arab Muslim or an Indian Muslim? There are problems the world over, and there are most definitely problems in several countries in the Middle East and South Asia, that are being swept under the rug or hushed into fearful silence. And this is wrong. But the approach cannot be to compare which religion is doing/has done the most harm (i.e which is the worst one), but rather why WE, AS PEOPLE are allowing this to continue. Because, at the end of the day, I find that most people are horrified of the human rights and social justice issues that plague our world. But before we can intelligently understand this, we must actually know about the places we want to change. There must be proper dialogue and cross-cultural understanding.

      PS. bootljangler1 — this wasn't directed at you, I just couldn't find a place to enter a new comment. I hope you are doing well.

    • Islam isnt a race, so you might want to try again. A religion is not a race, and muslims are represented in every race, so it would be impossible for anyone to be racist against a religion. Whether or not there is islamophobia in the west, or bigotry against islam in the west is another argument entirely and I am not commenting one way or the other, but this argument has nothing to do with race.

      • it's this kind of foolishness that distracts from resolving actual issues.
        Encouraging people to "try again" to find a more accurate phrase doesn't help solve the underlying issue.

    • Liberals learn their behavior from conservatives, try as they might though they never will be as perfect in their racism, hate and spitefulness then the conservatives that have mastered those.

    • You cannot be a racist with ideas.

      We're not ignorant. I have lived and worked in Muslim countries for years.

      But bad ideas are bad ideas.

      • I think it comes from bigotry. Your men have a good thing going, why would they give it up? You have a tough nut to crack, obviously. but US having a conversation would just get in the way. You need a champion from within. Maybe you.

    • No Srimanthan…two liberals were discussing this issue…their ideas, beliefs were opposite … both their hearts were in the same place.. this whole thing "Islam" is confusing to many wrapping your head around craziness and remaining sensitive and thoughtful is difficult when dissecting these beliefs and remaining politically correct. Most want to understand and dissect it all…very difficult and even those on the same page have differing approaches i.e. Ben and Bill. I agree with Eniyah, women must have a voice…I can't imagine anyone trying to shut my big mouth…women probably need to arm themselves against men who want to kill women with minds and thoughts…I think this is where I would venture…as u can see I have a big mouth…I would get rid of those who would want to harm me for having a thought…. Ladies strap one on and get rid of these fools! ho needs them? Many will help you…start a revolution…Just sayin…that's what I would do. I'd be damned if some crazy man would stone me to death for having an affair with a man and they don't stone the man…fuck that shit get the girls together and stone those assholes…stand up or die!

  2. We hear you, Eiynah.

    I'm sure many people who read this will be worried about your safety and well being.

    It's not always easy for those of us under no immediate Islamic threat of any kind to know how to help those who are. Too often we see that we can't even agree on whether there's a problem with Islam at all, making the problem seem so overwhelming and insurmountable that we end up feeling powerless to help.

    So to hear your voice is sobering and heartbreaking.

    Please stay strong and stay safe. You are braver than I am.


    • This was a beautiful, articulate and very thoughtfully written piece. She has nothing but my admiration for her bravery to speak out about the pluses and minuses of the Islam religion. Affleck was off and now he stand corrected.

  3. Affleck is smart enough to wake up to the fact that he acted like an ignorant brute. When he does, I hope he fires the retainer that coached him to do so and comes forward on behalf of true liberalism.

    • I really don't think he is smart enough. What a disgustingly conceited display he put on on the Maher show

      • It was pretty disgusting how he had to remind people that hundreds of thousands were killed by the US in Iraq. I almost threw up at that point.

        • Both the US and Islam should be criticized (to put it lightly).

          Not only do some faux liberals conflate attacking Islam with attacking Muslims, they also seem to think that attacking Islam is mutually exclusive with attacking US foreign policy. I can be against Islam while not being for the US invasion of the middle east, which is not designed to and will not eradicate Islam (but kills many innocent muslims).

      • He isn't. He hijacks the discussion everytime he gets a second to do so. He's a hothead, a self-righteous one, at that. While women are being treated worse than inanimate objects, he has done nothing to attempt to understand the truth.

    • Affleck acted like a jerk, and it's doubtful that he's ever going to change. Maher and Harris totally outclassed him and did it politely, not by sulking and being unpleasant.

    • affleck is an ignorant fool

      he should learn to heed the old saying "tis better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt"

    • I doubt that he will, as he doesn't live in the real world, but in a world of influence. luxury and extreme wealth.
      He likely know nothing of the people outside of his Hollywood peers.

    • I don't think he acted like chat. Our conversations are just a side show. Nobody, outside of your own country can help you. That would be wrong. At the present time.llow for us to step aside. It's your job. Stop wasting time over here and start talking to the right people over there… The oppressed needs to start fighting back before we even think about taking a stand on that issue.. sorry, just not to urgent to us. We've got too many fish to fry already. The movement must start from within.

  4. So very well said Eiynah. For someone like myself, a privileged western male atheist it is nearly impossible to comprehend what life must be like for a woman, or an apostate, or LGBT person living in such a culture. Fear is an efficient, and deadly, tool for controlling populations. When that fear is inculcated, whether it be by religion or oppressive government, in the whole population, when you grow up not knowing anything else, it is easier to turn a blind eye against what you feel to be wrong and go on your way eating that sandwich, than it is to take a stand and speak out. Be safe.

  5. Oh…to look like Affleck, have his career and money and yet be so blatantly ignorant. At least Clooney has the intelligence to go along with the rest of the package.

    • Let’s not turn this into a personal attack on Affleck. He may have missed the forest for the trees, but the larger issue here is supporting and expanding on the voices of people like this blogger. Demeaning Affleck, who just may be a little behind the curve on this, does little to advance a positive agenda.

      • A "little behind the curve?" You must be kidding. Or not paying attention.

        Screaming "racist" is nearly 100% reflexive with today's leftists. There is no thought or contemplation involved whatsoever. The only difference in this situation is that Affleck leveled his attack against a fellow leftist rather than someone on the right. Other than that Affleck's reaction was completely in character.

        Until leftists learns a debate strategy other than demonizing their opponents nothing will change.

        • He said what they were saying was racist- he didn't call them racists. In other words, the same argument that Harris uses "criticize beliefs don't equate to criticizing people."

    • Put Clooney in the same situation and it's even money or better that he would have reacted identically. He is an actor. He acts as if he is intelligent, no more or less.

    • I am aSeventh Day Adventist Christian and I found your letter to be a beautiful masterpiece . Your observations and thoughts are beauttyifully expressed.. What a better world we would have if more Muslims would have the courage to speak up the way that you have.

  6. Very bold statement. It's sad that a woman who speaks out like this must now live in fear of her life.

    • Never thought that my country, Canada, would be (or become) so unkind as to threaten a woman's life for a blog…

  7. "They must be brought up, but simultaneously we should stress that blame for these issues cannot be placed on individuals."

    Shouldn't it be the other way around? This implies that the problem IS islam but the other way around implies that the individuals are acting for their own benefit.

    • Yes, she is saying the problem lies within Islam. Their scripture is written in such a way that it can inspire individuals to take up violence. But, apparently so can the Bible, go figure.

      • I think the major difference between christians and muslins is that christiasn found reasons in the bible itself to nullify the "bad" parts of it (and this also can be found in Khoran) . This happened because people started critize christianism (this was the enlightment period, centuries ago). Today the liberals are commiting the terrible mistake of bowing to "muslim sensivity" and protecting them from criticism, enabling the extremists to to spread their hatred without challenge. No wonder they want to ban free speech, their backward justifications won't survive a minute, just like backward christian justifications did.

        • Excellent point. Throughout history, people had have hidden behind the veil of both Christianity and Islam, interpreting it for their personal or political benefit, to further their own selfish interests.

    • It IS a problem OF Islam. And it is so because most 'peaceful' Muslims still cannot hear an opposing point of view without screaming BLASPHEMY. Most Christians would be deeply offended by criticism to their scriptures as well; but, you see, they know that it is going to happen, and they believe in the freedom of speech stronger then they believe in the protection of religion, and they stand up and give a counter-argument without declaring a death sentence. When Islam comes to the same level, we can truly say it has moved out of its dark ages.

  8. Eiynah, I posted this on Twitter, saying it was a "beautiful and gentle consciousness-raising" piece. If we are to have change, I do believe it must come from with-in communities. This approach relates to one and all social issues. Yours is a shining example of how to truly facilitate change. Thank you for being brave enough to speak out; to challenge the status quo.

  9. Please everyone since the Christians and Moors were at it at the middle of the last millennium wasn’t it all about territorial domination? The religious ‘conflict’ was merely to polarize the countries that were unwittingly drawn into wars. So like today in the dilapidated global theater (and in blogs such as this) were ‘ticket sales’ go to war economies with the spoils. P.T. Barnum has the last laugh!

  10. I think the problem with this narrative is it gives tacit cover for the racists and neoconservatives to indiscriminately bomb Muslim countries in the name of "Saving these people from themselves." Harris and Maher might not realize it but their rhetoric is leading to the death and suffering of millions of Muslims all across the world. How many millions of innocents were killed in Iraq by the US? How many thousands of innocents have been killed in Pakistan with American drones? America and Israel have done more to harm the Muslim world than groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda could ever dream of, and it's precisely because of letters like this that give them the ammunition they need to kill more brown people in the third world.

    • So Einyah, keep in mind that even many westerners like Johnathan would cheerfully hand you over to the religious authorities for torture and death. Their Progressivism has completely supplanted any humanity they once had. The only ones they'll act against are Conservatives, otherwise they'll make excuses for, or even cooperate with, the worst perpetrators of evil in the world. Affleck strikes me as just like that.

      • You make a good point, Consanescerion, but so does Jonathan. What is the best way for the West to engage Islam? Malala Yousafzai recently recounted that she told President Obama, “Instead of sending guns, send books. Instead of sending weapons, send teachers.”

        At the same time, it’s hard to send unarmed civilians into a place where groups like ISIS run rampant. I think both you, Jonathan, and Malala make excellent points, but the answers aren’t straightforward or easy.

        • Tom, you are correct that the problems are not straightforward or easy, but in order to find any solution the issues have to be discussed.
          As Eiynah stated, calling someone a "racist and bigot" for simply raising an issue shuts down debate and allows the perpetrators of such injustices to go unchallenged.
          It would be ideal if these issues could be raised by someone within the islamic world, but since most of them are under threat of death by doing so, it is left to others to raise and give hope and encouragement to the reformers within Islam.

        • Malala is a wonderful, brave girl but as naive as any young person of her age. Books and teachers will not protect her from the Taliban. Books will be burned and teachers murdered.

      • I disagree with Affleck and other liberals that believe that criticisms of Islamic doctrines which support misogyny, religious intolerance, and suppression oppositional prerogatives, are racist and discriminatory. To say though that American Conservatism is solution to such an issue would be like saying that American Conservatism is the solution to climate change. Conservatives in the USA politicize religious issues. If many conservatives in the USA had their way, Christianity would be an official government sanctioned religion in much the same way as Islam in middle eastern countries. How friendly would they be to the LGBT community. How morally superior can they be considering such quotes as “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” (1 Peter 2:18) ? I believe that that Eiynah is not supporting the idea that Christian world launch the next crusade against the heathens. From what I was reading she is suggesting that opening the dialogue criticizing unseemly ideas of the puritanical idea of Islamic ideology. Ironically some of these ideas are shared by American Conservatism.

    • Why would opposing an idea or set of ideas and wanting to hold open discussions about the future of those ideas necessarily imply consent for military action? I can't agree that Islam has many problems that should be addressed by a global polylogue, while also disagreeing that we should kill them all?

      This isn't a binary universe. There are shades of meaning and positions are not required to be absolute.

    • It's not letters like this. There could be a million letters like this, and in the Wild West of end-stage, deregulated capitalism, wars would still be waged to provide access to resources from which our multinationals may profit. War is good for business. Fomenting and perpetuating sociocultural infighting among petro-states ensures the public's tacit approval of global economic expansion, particularly when religionists infiltrate democratic governments and spread fear of the other. The left can be smart enough to understand and navigate the nuance of ideology vs. race without succumbing to tea-party style dogma. Extreme polarization is the goal of such fear-mongering, let's rise above because we have plenty work to do.

    • The US is not indiscriminately bombing Muslim countries. Had we done so, Muslim cities would be flattened. There is a speck of truth in waging war to save Muslims from themselves, as nobody kills more Muslims than Muslims. However, the US wages war to defend itself, its interests, and its allies.

      Claiming that the US killed millions of innocents in Iraq is buffoonish hyperbole. The true number of Iraqis killed in the war is probably about 50,000, which is bad enough. Most of those were killed by insurgents driving truck bombs into markets and such in an attempt to defeat America by making Iraq ungovernable. At the worst part of the war, the insurgents were killing 600 Iraqi civilians on purpose to every one Iraqi civilian killed by US forces inadvertently.

      The drone war in the ungoverned parts of Pakistan is waged with extraordinary restraint. Taliban and Al Qaeda targets are watched for hours, sometimes days, to confirm their identity and wait until they are isolated. Had we been careless, we could just plaster suspected foes with strings of bombs from B-52s a hundred at a time. And really, do you expect you can come to America and murder thousands of Americans without that war following you home? When you attack America, you can expect American bombs to rain down on your country. So, don't attack America. It's that easy to avoid all this.

      This may come as a surprise to you, but we Americans don't waste our day thinking up new ways to kill brown people. We don't hate like you do. We'd rather buy and sell with you than make war with you. If you had any sense, you'd want the same thing.

    • I think you're missing the point here. Millions of innocent Muslims are being killed by guilty Muslims. The conversation needs to held very carefully, because it is easy to cross the line from concerned, constructive criticism to covering for other with less pure motives. But when the people we are trying to protect from the killers and haters are themselves killers and haters, perhaps we have more of a need to speak out, to reach out, and yes, to protect the innocents from the radicals.

    • Jonathan what of the Kurds who have been killed, the village people marched out and killed? More than have been killed by drones and bombs I daresay. Let us all have the decency to discuss the issue with civility for more evil is done by the religious than can be imagined whether they be Christian or Muslim.

    • Positions such as Jonathan's are the most dangerous of all. Implying that ISIS and al-Qaeda are anything less than the greatest enemies of humanity is sociopathic.

      This type of deflection of focus is what keeps everyone from staying on track.
      To say how the US and Israel have killed "more than ISIS could ever dream of…." is deeply disturbed thinking.
      Why are there Islamic groups who "dream of" killing other Muslims?

    • sorry, the "millions killed" in Iraq were deaths by Muslims killing Muslims. FACT. The US doesn't target innocent civilians, however the Muslim extremists do. see ISIS for a good example. You are a part of the problem, trying to justify and then excuse bad behavior. Try being open and honest and less ignorant about the truth.

    • Quick point of order, those neoconservatives weren't listening to Maher or Harris as both were decidedly against the war in Iraq. I also recommend reading Harris's nuanced views on drone strikes regardless of where the strikes are occurring (Pakistan, Somalia, Malaysia or even Yemen). Of course Jonathan and Ben won't bother to get informed because then they might have to rationally grapple with the problems facing the Muslim world. Considerably more courage is required to suggest a responsible plan to confront ISIL and Al-Queda than skimming the works of American critics to shout a few out of context quotes. If your personal views lead toward an apologist or isolationist bent, it is your right to present them. Recognize the consequences of your views would condemn "Millions of Muslims" to then suffer in bloody silence with no voice or ally to champion or advocate their cause.

  11. The most important thing is she said is this: “…was silence a conversation that never gets started. Two people attempted to begin a dialogue and you wouldn’t even listen.”

    I could see this from his affect on the show. That is the shame, that he wouldn’t LISTEN.

    • Maybe if Harris and Maher didn't start a very difficult conversation with the most imflammatory hyperbolic statements he wouldn't of reacted like he did. He isnt an idiot, i'm sure he knows the major problems within the muslim community. He just didn't like the sound of blanket statements designed to enflame. The reformation that will allow Einyah to have a drink with Ben Affleck can only happen within the muslim community and if there is a silent section of that community struggling for freedom, are non muslim american liberals going to help them by shouting how "bad" the muslim faith is? All this hullabaloo does is harden positions, not soften them.

      I don't know what the answer is, but i suspect it'll take more calm to get there.

  12. this is a naive narrative offered by this author. sam harris/bill maher are not benign antagonists to islam. they follow a narrative that is in essence : demonise islam; dehumanise muslims; facilitate genocide. to ignore this neo conservative – zionist narrative is dangerous and has been destructive not only to pakistan but to muslims across the world.

    sam harris talks about islam as being the mother lode of evil, the baddest of bad. he advocates a reformation not of muslims but the koran, in effect the re-writing pick and choose islam to suit his sensibilities. that is he is asking for the destruction of islam.

    we should not forget that sam harris has jewish heritage , a man who justifies israels brutality against palestinians. a supporter of israels occupation.

    sam believes muslims should be tortured, that first nuclear strike is preferred, that profiling is justified all in his sleight of hand style that proclaim 'some of my best friends are … muslims … but ' favored by bigots and racists. to him the koran can only have one outcome : isis . it offers nothing else to humanity.

    why should all decent , responsible people subscribe to that thesis ? why should ben affleck engage , normalise and provide celebrity endorsemment.

    yes muslims need to reform, yes they do need to modernise and be tolerant to criticism and enter into dialogue. but muslims are no more no less representative of the rest of humanity. to believe they are less representative is plainly silly.

    so whilst there are legitimate debates, critiques and dialogue to be had one should be cautious and clear eyed to recognise with whom that engagement is taking place.

    • You have a lot of nerve calling this a naive narrative. This woman lives the repression and intolerance of Islam. How dare you. Sam Harris opposes Islam because he's really a Jew? This simple-minded ethnic slur and criticism identifies you as an anti-Semite and bigot. As though any rational intellectual could not readily come to Sam's precise conclusions about Islam without having any Jewish heritage whatsoever. I have news for you there are plenty of us with non-Jewish roots who recognize the analytical truth in what he argues about the "religion of peace". Sam did not argue your libelous lie that Muslims are less representative of humanity than any other group, he never would argue this. He points out the truth about Islam. The fact that most Muslims are decent people is a testament to their inherent decency not their religion because if they followed the teachings of Muhammad in the Qur'an and the Haddith they would in fact be homicidal religiously brainwashed monsters.

      • you missed the point ; his jewish heritage may have an input with respect to his support for israel and his mealy mouthed justification of israels brutality and war crimes.

        his personal politics not his jewish heritage must feed into his islamophobic rhetoric, that also finds him vilifying palestinians who are often perceived to be muslim. he voices the neo conservative – zionist narrative that has destroyed much of our civil rights and have brought us authoritarian controls.

        there is no scientific analysis, no peer reviewed research papers that support his basic contentions with respect to islam as far as im aware. the evidence he provides are polls. would polls be valid evidence in a court of law ?

        sam lends voice to islamophobes – whether he intends to is a question that needs to be asked, it appears at least superficially that his core support are those who dislike islam/muslims. they are not interested in any other aspect of his commentary.

        and you pretty much endorse that perception .

        • Ann you don't do yourself any credit.

          Even Harris' harshest critics recognise him to be a well-meaning, respectable and rational commentator. Those are the values upon which his reputation hangs. Even if he is 100% wrong about Islam (he isn't), he deserves better than your snide insinuations.

          • i obviously have a different view of his politics .

            is he well meaning ? if he disallows context, promotes the idea that the only reading of the koran that is valid is the isis/alqaeda ideology then one has to ask why. ask what his motivation is to have a self limiting absurdist understanding of islam and muslims.

            there is nothing rational in ignoring history for political advantage. he surely knows his reading of the koran is inaccurate and plainly wrong for the vast majority of muslims.

            it is estimated that 2,000 alqaeda at its height (usa military) that approx 10,000 isis . yet this is the basis to tar 1.6 billion muslims.

            he chooses to ignore that the muslim world in the mid east are ruled by despots/dictators (often supported by we in the west) are we really meant to believe this is the default choice of the muslim populations?

            why does he ignore the centuries of colonialism and imperialistic rule of muslim majority nations by the 'enlightened' west, the way we have meddled in their affairs and continue to do so. has this not helped to create the environment we find ourselves at present?

            the issue isnt black v white, good v evil . it isnt the naive simplistic bush era doctrine that can be applied to the problems that is faced by the west and the majority of muslims.

            the fact is that muslims in the majority are on the same page as far as extremism/despots are concerned as we are in the west/non muslims. the issue is about how we face upto the challenges, not that the problems should not be addressed.

          • Your "view" has no basis in fact. It is entirely supposition, invented as you typed, to support YOUR narrative. YOU are the Ben Affleck in this discussion, the self deluded do-gooder that thinks she has something of worth to add that those who are actually educated, aware and informed on the topic can live by. All so you can pat yourself on the back and think to yourself "See, self, my opinion was right". Well, you are wrong. An opinion formed on the back of bias with no evidence to support it is not worth holding on to. Some introspection might help you see this. But if not, try watching this:… and maybe read something that challenges your bias once in a while instead of gorging only on what confirms it.

          • Ann:

            Perhaps you should walk in the author's shoes. Hop a plane to ANY majority muslim nation and then attempt to do anything even vaguely approaching normal female behavior. After you wipe the battery acid off of your permanently scarred face you can then lecture us about bigotry and intolerance. Until then you can sit down and shut up.

          • i suspect sam has not lived in any muslim majority nation. he speaks as a white man with jewish heritage and neocon pro zionist politics. these attributes feed into his misperceptions.

            women in the west are abused , women in the east are abused. the problem isnt religion but men.

          • Are you willfully ignorant, Ann, or just plain ignorant? Islam, as practiced by its most frothy-mouthed fundamentalists, is a cancer on the world.

          • What is "normal female behavior"?

            Of the seven countries I've lived and/or worked in, two were majority muslim, and female behavior varied considerably between all the nations as well as between different cultural groups within the nations.

          • And how many "rational" "liberal", "western" Muslims support ISIS?
            Just today we hear of a chemistry teacher in GB being arrested for planning to go and fight for ISIS…

          • Thank-you Joe, well said. I've been called a kool-aide drinking liberal, so name calling and bullying are familiar to me. There are a lot of misinformed people here that would serve everyone better if they did their research first rather than vilify anyone. Any name calling creates more polarization and less critically needed honest dialog.

        • In your view, does "Islamofascism" exist, and do you condemn it? If so, do you consider "Islamofascismphobia" a reasonable and appropriate term? Do you approve of "sharia"? Do you condemn the view of not a few Islamists that the penalty for apostasy is death? In your view, to the extent that such rights exist, should Muslim anywhere have the same rights/liberties that Muslim men have?

          • islam and fascism are not compatible in any way whatsoever.

            sharia is not one single law. it is not only a set of laws based on the values of islam but also cultural and traditional along with populism. sharia varies from country to country.

            in the west muslims live by sharia and have little issues in doing so.

            apostasy is not koranic. having said that do you know of any western person being killed for his/her apostasy ? what is the global stat for death for apostasy ?

            muslim women have the same rights as muslim men. if for example you are referring to woman receiving less in a will or in reference to income from work. it is because a woman is not meant to contribute to the household income if she does not want to, what is hers is hers and the man / husband have no rights to it. however men are obligated to look after / support a woman (mother/wife/daughter/sister). there is no such obligation for women towards men.

          • "islam and fascism are not compatible in any way whatsoever."

            And with that sentence, you just disqualified yourself from any discussion at the adult's table. But by all means, keep posting your comments. Exposing one's own ignorance via social media has become a time-honored rite of passage.

          • Oh good. As long as WESTERN people aren't being killed for apostasy, it clearly isn't a problem. Let's just ignore the plight of women in places where Islamic laws actually govern the country.

          • 'do you know of any western person being killed for his/her apostasy' so does the killing of a non-western him/her make it right? vide the couple burnt in a kiln in Pakistan for alleged apostasy by a group of animals.

        • Ann,

          All four schools of Islam support jihad in the name of Allah to conquer the world. If you want peer-researched papers to support the belligerent nature of Islam, simply read any of the vast writings of accepted Muslim theologians. Go to the local madrassa and they will be happy to cite the relevant passages.

          Islamophobia is a propaganda term invented by the Islamic Institute of Thought, a Muslim Brotherhood front group in Virginia, to beat down criticism of Islam, just as you are using here, by claiming any such criticism is based on an irrational fear of Islam. Islam has earned a bad reputation because it murders people, as is has by the thousands in America. Had Muslims occupied themselves with building hospitals and universities instead of bombs, Islam would have a good reputation. It's that simple.

          • Even if/while they are doing these wonderful things,
            They are/would be still doing them for the wrong reasons.
            And if they are/would be doing wonderful things for the wrong reasons,
            Then what is to stop them from doing horrible things for the same reasons?

        • Yours is an ad hominem attack. Why should we not let public policy be guided by polls? If 70% of any group thought it was appropriate, indeed religiously commanded, that others should be murdered for exercising their freedom of speech, would it not be prudent to discuss ways to change their beliefs BEFORE such deaths occur? I fail to see the logic behind your rant. What is the alternative, live and let die?

          • If there was 70 PEOPLE in a group who think it's OK to kill an apostate for the high crime of apostacy, I think it is 70 PEOPLE too many.

      • Yes thank you for your intelligent response to Ann Fields. Reading her comments left me perplexed, shocked and exasperated!

    • Ann, seriously, your are one messed up and terrifyingly misguided individual. I hope everyone sees the intentionally skewed narrative you are trying to claim is real, for the rubbish it clearly is.
      Your smears against Sam Harris are outrageous! You need to leave this issue to those involved. It's too important to fool around with. Please find another hobby…

      • many here have substituted christ for sam harris and read his writings as if it is gospel. he is not and they are not.

          • Ann, I can truly say you're the smartest dumb person I've ever read from ! Your writing, your knowledge, your use of facts, incomparable, the points of view you bring are eye-openers, it's simply amazing we can have such an intellectual person not comprehend the simplest forms of humanity in determining right and wrong. I'll let you in on the secret in determining what is the most basic version of right and wrong, "Don't do to others what you wouldn't want done to you if you were in their position."

    • you miss the point Ann. All Eyinah is asking for are the simple freedoms we all take for granted. Lets call it the freedom of choice so it is simple for everyone to understand. Whether is is discussed by Bill Maher of anyone else, it still needs to be discussed. Ben Aflack does a disservice to everyone by closing his eyes and ears. This is common in many peoples beliefs, not just islam of course. How long do we have to wait until people are actually treated equally. We should also look to ourselves. Let us hope that our eyes and ears can be open from time to time.

    • You reveal your bias by mentioning Harris's "Jewish heritage" in such an Orwellian way and earlier in your comment using the phrase "neoconservative-Zionist narrative." You are not fooling anyone. You have no use for debate. The principle of authentic dialogue is evidently not something you believe in.

    • I was raised as a Christian…. I have no problem saying that Westboro Baptists are not Christian. Claiming Chirstianity does not make one Christian. Isn't the same true in Islam? Where are the Muslim's who are willing to say publicly, to the world, that ISIS is not Islam?

      • What is your point, Ken? Are you informing us of your courage when speaking out publicly against false Christianity? Are you calling upon Muslims who face significantly greater danger than you do to show similar courage? Would YOU show such courage in the face of violence/death? Or are you obliquely critiquing Muslim societies for being repressive? Are you comparing apples to very small oranges?

        I note you post anonymously. Does your public courage extend to actually identifying yourself on line?

      • If claiming a belief does not make you an adherent of that belief, because others claim you do not represent that belief properly. Then no one can claim to be a Christian…or Muslim or any other religion or philosophical position. Someone else will always claim you are doing it wrong. This is comonly called the "No True Scotsman" logical fallacy.

    • what about how the Catholic church has changed to fit their needs.. but yet other religions should always be rooted in the past only?? Per Catholic faith, you arent supposed to work on Sunday, but yet many believers in the faith do.. should they be stoned to death.. no.. cause people dont think like that anymore..

    • After reading the comments on this article it seems the individuals that do not agree with the author of this piece quickly get off topic. There are many problems in the world, however she is addressing a specific situation, (the Afleck interview on Mahr) and giving her own personal observation of what her life is like.

      Christians are not proud of the Crusades, and hopefully someday Muslims will not be proud of Sheri-ah Law and the persecution of the people within there own religion. After that happens, maybe, just maybe we will see some change.

    • What an idiotic and naive interpretation of Sam Harris's viewpoints. Maybe if you actually read his work instead of memes that misrepresent his quotations, you'd have a better idea of what his positions are.

      And Muslim theocracies are currently in existence. As bad as a Christian theocracy would be, there isn't one. So there's nothing worth fighting against there.

    • "sam has a Jewish heritage… he justifies brutality…" I am accusing you of antisemitism= racism dear ann!

  13. Ben did not want to alienate his main movie investors who are saudis .plain and simple just a case of another hollywood ass who chooses the money the saudis invest in his behalf over rational discourse

  14. Well said. I hope you and others like you can bring about "reform." I'm a bit concerned from observing Christianity though. There are very liberal churches but they have few members. The "fundamentalists" have far more. It seems that liberals drift into agnosticism or outright atheism.

  15. to add ; the debate about islam in the west is a deflection and diversion from the real issues of war , oil, assets/resources, israel, and china. it is not the same debate taking place amongst muslims elsewhere.

    the writer is mistaken if she believes that her concerns are the same as the concerns of neo conservative zionists in the west.

    • "Neo conservative zionists in the west" don't proselytize, murder blasphemers, infidels, apostates, gays, and others they don't like, or praise their deities while doing it. If a free supply of oil is unimportant to you, try doing completely without it for a few weeks.

    • Please tell us how the real issues of war, oil, assets/ resources, Isreal and China results in Muslims oppressing other Muslims. It's odd that you think the writer is naive for knowing the source of her oppression. So strange!

      • she is writing in response to her experiences and perceptions. she however is writing from a position of not recognising the politics of sam harris.

        she is writing at cross purposes. there is in pakistan a class of society called the burger class. this is where she is writing from. they have a perception of the west that cannot withstand close scrutiny.

        i suspect that you are not familiar with pakistan society and its complexity. i suspect sam harris has even less insight.

    • You use terms you don't understand, I am accusing you of ignorance!Just to be trendy is not enough! Go make some serious objective research in the complicated issues you are dealing with!

  16. the debate is nuanced, for example for sam harris its black v white / good v evil , in essence the bush – neocon perception that exists without real context. he uses polls (!) to evidence his beliefs .

    there are of course those who engage in the nuanced debate and recognise the complexities of the issues at hand in the west however they rarely are given voice in our media.

    • “The debate is nuanced,” yet you, Ann, want to simplify and characterize the opinions of Sam Harris as that of a “neo-conservative Zionist.” That doesn’t sound like someone interested in a nuanced discussion.

      As much as you might prefer to discount them, polls are a legitimate method of taking a society’s temperature. They may not ALWAYS accurately reflect popular opinion, but dismissing them out of hand sounds like a form of willful ignorance.

      • sam harris is selective in his use of polls. it is dishonest. i can understand why he relies on polling :

        How Many Terrorists Are There: Not As Many As You Might Think

        Al-Qaida Kills Eight Times More Muslims Than Non-Muslims

        How Many Muslims in the World? How Many Muslim Terrorists?

        maybe he should evidence his perceptions with peer reviewed inependent academic research , why doesnt he?

        • So if I'm to understand this correctly, you have the task of gauging public perceptions and opinions and you reason that polls are not the correct tool of choice? As a statistician, that's almost offensive, and woefully ignorant on how the math works, but your solution is a peer reviewed academic journal written by a single professor. Not being facetious, but please provide links to these as well, I'd love to read them.

          Now. Terrorism is but one component of the claim. There are 1.6 billion muslims in the world, surely you would have the integrity not to mischaracterize Sam Harris's position that "all, or even most of the 1.6 billion muslims are terrorists or condones killing by terrorists". I think you're smart enough to know that he's aware he can walk around Istanbul largely unmolested because most muslims are normal folks. The three articles you cited above are essentially fighting a straw man argument.

          But that doesn't change the fact that there are widespread support for illiberal values. Apparently polls isn't the proper tool to gauge public opinion for you, so let me ask then.. in which muslim country today are there legally recognized LGBTQ rights? In how many islamic countries can you be legally prosecuted for apostasy and if so what are the penalties? What about blasphemy like drawing cartoons and what are the penalties? How many of them enact said laws on people?

          I'm a liberal. I'm horrified by the idiocy of recent israeli military action, but this is a tu quo quo. It doesn't take away from the central message that islam needs reform, brilliantly voiced by the author above.

    • Ann, it is your naïve critique of Harris that is black v white. And with your innuendo — "Jewish" "neocon" etc—you are shaming yourself and his critics more broadly. Please stop yourself.

      • he has jewish heritage. he is politically pro zionist and subscribes to neo conservative view of the world. he advocates torture/pre-emptive murder and profiling of muslims. he justifies israels war crimes.

        what is it that you dont understand about sam harris.

    • Anne, it's difficult to understand how liberals like you refuse to believe that beliefs have consequences. If you are a strong believer in Islam, and you take the Koran as the word of God, it wouldn't be surprising in the least if you believed that apostates should be executed. Having a nuanced discussion doesn't change this very simple fact.

      • whats intereting sam harris's beliefs have consequences too. his demonistaion of islam, dehumanising of muslims can only facilitate genocide.

        he subscribes to the alqaeda/isis version of the koran which is rejected by mainstream majority muslims. he propagates what bin laden was vilified and killed for emoting.

        sam does not correct the alqaeda narrative and ideology but endorses it and encourages people like yourself to propagate it further.

        now why would he choose the terrorist ideology (estimated at maximum 180,000 adherents) and not that of 1400 years of mainstream understanding of the koran?

  17. Ben Affleck made a complete ass of himself on Real Time; he was totally outclassed by both Maher and Harris, and could only sulk and act beligerent in the face of facts and reason.

    • Yep. I can't understand why people have held him up as some kind of "hero". Even if you agree with him, all he did was yell and sputter, effectively putting his fingers in his ears and yelling, "I won't listen! I won't listen!" It isn't as though he put up some cogent argument about why Islam is completely above critique.

    • Rather than relying on Mondoweiss, why don't you read his words in context and make up your own mind.

    • If you want to familiarize yourself with Harris and his politics, read his blog articles and books. It's obvious you haven't done either.

      • i have read and listened to sam harris. he's an otherwise jobbing run of the mill academic. his one outstanding feature is his islamophobia.his thesis incredibly based on polls and not peer reviewed research. (research actually argues against his claims)

        once you remove the padding the underlying appeal of sam harris is understood. all of his supporters are solely interested in his justification to hate islam and muslims.

        • "ALL of his supporters" ??? Hmmm, I have no interest in justifying hatred for any. And I am finding myself more and more drawn in by his logic and reasonableness. Does that make me a supporter? OK, I can live with that label.

          I find when folks use words like "all, everyone, ever, never, none" they are usually WRONG.

          Thanks for providing me with more proof for my hypothesis.

  18. Sadly, Ben Affleck is hardly like to care a single jot about this erudite and profound letter from a woman who writes from the inside of islam. No, his moment in the spotlight served its purpose, to promote Ben Affleck!
    The real people of this planet, those who know and understand what suffering means, who live under constant fear of death, whose very words are pored over and criticised simply because they might not 'conform' to a particular belief, are not members of Ben Affleck's exclusive millionaire world.
    No, people such as he exist in a bubble, safe from reality, cut off from real contact with the very people on whose behalf he claims to speak. I never had much respect for him, and the little I had has now disappeared. I now look upon this actor as nothing more than a bag of wind anxious to promote himself at whatever cost this might inflict on others.
    Ben Affleck, a new name for shame!

    • and what of the other 0.8 billion women?

      i suspect , in fact i know the issue is not religion but men across the planet.

    • "profound letter from a woman who writes from the inside of islam."
      Err no, she's a pakistani-Canadian and probably hasn't visited Pakistan more than 3 times in her lifetime!
      As someone who grew up and still living in a Muslim country, I can assure you this article is nothing but hogwash. YES, there are problems with Muslims, just like there are problems in other countries with christians, jews, hindus, etc.
      Does that mean Islam = evil? NO
      If you all are so desperate to portray Islam as the evil here then by all means declare Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism evil too!

      • Sid – Can you please give me the name of a country that burned a couple of a different faith, after first breaking their legs to ensure they could no run away, wrapping the wife in cloth to ensure she burned more quickly? This happened in Pakistan just this week, another in a long line of atrocities committed against Christians.
        However, perhaps such incidents are beneath your contempt to acknowledge, your ignorance of islamic terrorist acts against non-muslims (and often against their fellow muslims, simply because they follow a different creed).
        Perhaps you might also tell me which religion in the world, outside islam, encourages slavery, female genital mutilation, rape and murder as a matter of course against 'infidels'?
        I'm sorry, sir, you do not have a leg to stand on, and the so-called religion you defend is nothing less that a satanic cult of the worst kind.

        • "Perhaps you might also tell me which religion in the world, outside islam, encourages slavery, female genital mutilation, rape and murder as a matter of course against 'infidels'? "

          It would be great to base such assumptions on facts. Thanks.

  19. Before anyone tries to generalize about Muslims, go read this website from many people who have left Islam:

    Readers of this site will gain an understanding of how oppressive Islam actually is. Ms Fields would do well to read these postings before she condemns critics of Islam.

    Such reader should also read in the history of Islamic societies, such as the Mughals, the Ottomans, or Pakistan and Bangladesh. Islamic societies have a long record of intolerance, violence, war, suppression of ideas and so forth. There are many good books on this like:

    Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism, Yale University Press, 2007 or so.

    The West of course had similar traditions of violence and intolerance, as evident in the Inquisitions and pogroms. The West also had a counter-tradition of rationalism, tolerance, and enlightenment that Islamic societies never quite equaled. A good source on this is

    Toby Huff, The Rise of Early Modern Science. Cambridge University Press, 2003

    Readers of this book will understand why Islamic societies and Islamic belief systems prevented anything more than a slight contribution to world science, and never got to square one in the basic areas of biology, physics, astronomy, medicine until some of them encountered Western sciences in the 19th century.

    It is really not meaningful to make assertions about Islam and its relationship to the West without doing some reading.

    • is there a reason why most of the world destest the usa ideology of manifest destiny that gives it an occupation of 75% of the planet with its military forces?

  20. Well said, Eiynah, I praise your courage and well articulated stance.

    I also see that the apologists have come out and defended Affleck. I'd love to see Affleck and ilk defend their stance in the context of tolerance for LGBT rights, minority religions, and free speech. But it seems like these people only care about this for themselves in the comfort of the West. Ben Affleck and co. don't want it for you people in Pakistan. And that's a shame.

  21. Please stay safe Eiynah. Any woman speaking against Islam, even for its own benefit as you, is in grave peril. You are braver than any western feminist even of bygone era.

  22. A truly inspiring and powerful letter to all Muslims wishing liberal values and to all Western liberals who actually care about finding the path to a better and more united world with beautiful and flourishing cultures living together in peace, all under the same liberal and progressive values: equality of human beings, unanimous tolerance, freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of living, enlightenment and education – and THIS BRAVE LETTER is the first step on this path to a better and more peaceful world.

    Eiynah feel proud! True courage in the quest for peace and prosperity in one's culture is one of the noblest of human qualities, and you are taking an important step in a fine line of historical people fighting for same humanistic values in their various cultures. All cultures have have had their reformations and fights for a better life with better options for their own generation and the next. You are an inspiration to many Muslim brothers and sisters who wants a reformation with modern and liberal values, who are tired of feeling ashamed and being silenced by the violent voices, tired of the oppressors and their bootlicking apologetics and silent majority. You are a fine woman!

    • She lives in Canada, and in doing so, she is no different from either Maher or Harris when it comes to criticising Islam…

  23. After spending one third of my life in countries that are govered ny Islam, I must agree 100% with this women's statement above.

    Robert McKnight
    Disabled Veteran

  24. I'd abandon my religion if I were her. Or, just simply abandon anyone who does not want to accept her. There will always be people from all around the globe who will be more than willing to accept her unconditionally compared to those people she clings to just because she thinks she is being told to so.

  25. Her problem isn't Islam, she lives in a poorly run and educated country. Go to Kurdistan and ask those women how hard it is to be a Muslim women.

    • My oh my, where have the Conservatives taken Canada to, to be called a "poorly run and educated country"…

  26. Actually, you are wrong in everything that you have said. Especially the last sentence. If you will first spend your time reading on shariah law, the actual number of witnesses that needs to be present in every single conviction, the cases that have been come out with a positive result and while we're on that, how many of the cases with the requirements fulfilled. It's not the religion that is flawed, it's the people. It's not oppression in the way that the religion is, it's the extremists that refuse to accept any other views. I would consider myself a liberal muslim. However, although she does raise SOME good points. But it is indeed the speech of a naive speaker, who does not understand the nitty gritty of the situation. It is unfortunate indeed that some people would prefer to do harm to her, as that is not what Islam teaches it's followers. Islam is the first religion that gave women the rights of education and discrimination against women is man made. It's not only in Islam, it's in this "western culture" that you all speak off. Why are there feminism then? Whatever is in the religion, is been put there for a reason, turning to science, why does Islam prohibit alcohol? It's because excessive alcohol damages hepatocytes, the damage of the liver, causing impairment in calcium secretion. There is a reason to why it's there. I've been an atheist, I've been a Christian, I've been a Jew, I've been a Buddhist, and I still the teachings of Buddhism, and I've read multiple scriptures, yet, I've chosen Islam. Instead of being all negative about what Islam is all about, stop looking to the media to find out what it is. Those bearded men in mosques who devote their time in prostration to God, they're not terrorists, they grow a beard, so what? Bikers grow beards too. You need to understand the religion not from one point of view but through various points of views. Till this day Christians hate Catholics, Protestants, Lutherans, why? The differences in opinion. Let's look past the present and view the church as it was before, during the witch hunts and the practice of killing people without proper conviction. Look, no religion teaches it's people to do. It's only the people who turn the scripture to suit themselves and it's only the people who decide which path they lead. Just give everything I've said some thought. Cheers.

  27. Also, if Muslims like to eat sandwiches, they force their wives to make it. Cooking is beneath a Muslim man!

  28. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Pakistani's are never happy…irrespective of whether someone is trying to help them or hurt them…its always a problem.
    Why is this even addressed to Ben Affleck? How about you take some of your own advice and address it to the root of the problem? Instead of blaming someone else and cowering on yet another internet blog how about you do something?
    I do not know the author and I hope she does more than just post her rants online via blog / twitter. Coming from someone who has pounded the pavement to get something done & changed…your internet rants are useless…especially when there is a contradictory voice willing to say something for a minority.
    Your points about us holding ourselves accountable are valid. But not in a forum that is using every remote / fringe incident and not looking at a group of people as a whole. Look at all the facts and figures, and not just what is happening in your backyard as the norm.

  29. Glad to have read this open letter to Ben Affleck. If he were listening to, or hearing Bill Maher at all, he would have heard what this letter should finally make him understand. And what remains a constant is, everything can be made better, whether it is religion, or individuals (especially individuals).

  30. Wow! Madam the courage it takes for you to say this is no ordinary attribute – my hope is that such clarity within the community will spread snd lead to more conversations. You are a present day hero. Ben – let this be a lesson in what taking a superficial PC stand will do- let's not defend something we don't understand. Enough said

  31. "Islam is the only religion that is adhered to so literally, to this day."

    Cuz Christian men in this country don't beat and torture women, and Christian men in Latin American don't throw acid in women's faces. And Christian men in Africa don't brun women for being witches and rape young girls in hopes of getting rid of AIDS, and Hindus don't rape women for being out in the street, and so on and so on.

    Blaming Islam is whitewashing everyone else.

    Also, a lot of atheists are also misogynists who threaten women with rape and death. Misogyny and violence against women knows all faiths and lack thereof.

    I would note that the people who have preserved Islam in a time capsule are the imperialists, not the Western left. It was imperialism that destroyed secular movements and progressive Islam in the Muslim world. The only way to help that happen again is to fight imperialism.

  32. Funny how some people find courageous to criticize Islam in the West, when there's probably nothing more mainstream fashionable nowadays than doing this, even amongst Western Muslims.

  33. Excellent intelligent article. I heard your letter read on Umano while I rode on the "L" in Chicago. My family and I lived in Islamabad and Pindi from 1985 to 1994.

  34. "…in a world where our women are compared to candy waiting to be consumed." Sounds just like Western culture!

  35. Eiynah, like Maher, asserts a concept and category, "Islam", over the cultural particularities of a hundred different societies. She doesn't seem to be aware of the nature of the racist discourse in America about Muslims and the inherent evil of their religion. She may have swallowed too many Western values = universal values claims.

  36. You spoke from the bottom of my heart, Eiynah.
    Only you're much kinder with Mr. Affleck than I could ever be. But you're right with addressing him, his side, instead those who already agree.
    This page and your letter has been linked to on quite a few pages, and it's been sent to friends and acquaintances, so people will read what you have to say. And thank you for saying it.

  37. Who is Affleck and why his views matter? Can we please have a serious discussion about Islam instead of focusing on uninformed statements made by celebrities?

  38. I am astounded by how many people come to the defense of Islam as a "religion of peace". Maher and Harris were totally spot-on and correct in their statements, including the "Islam=Mafia" analogy. Reza Aslan tried to make the case that culture=religion, and to forget about the nasty bits in the Koran. All this is beside the point. What is important is what Muslims believe today, and the rigidity within their religion/culture that makes it impossible for them to change. The Pew studies clearly outline what horrible, evil beliefs that Muslims possess today (e.g. killing of apostates is OK, stoning of adulterers, etc). This is factual data, not conjecture or BS. The reason we have this global problem with Islamic terrorism today is because it is quite easy to transition from belief to action.

  39. Great article! So great to see the intelligent opinion of a modern Muslim woman! I couldn't agree more with literally everything you wrote, I think you have made a very good point…..I want to see Muslims (in Canada, where I live) stepping up and calling other Muslim's out on archaic laws, traditions and most of all, atrocities. Bring Islam into the 21st century! Give Muslim women the right to live as their Canadian and US sisters live, to voice their opinions, to dress as they like, to have all the rights that any Muslim man has. You go girl!

    • Who the hell are you to say Islam isn't compatible with 21st century? And what makes you think Muslim women don't have as much rights as any western woman?
      You hear a few cases of injustice and automatically assume all 1.3 billion of Muslims live like that? Stereotypical much? Keep your white savior complex under wraps and let us be in peace.
      Have u been living under a rock or do you not the see what horrors you people have committed in Iraq in the name of "liberating" us?
      Nobody's asking you to interfere with our lives and religion… so stay the f*ck out !!!!
      And this woman, who wrote this article, doesn't know a thing about living in a Muslim country. She's a canadian !!!
      If any Muslim has any problems with Islam, they can leave it. There is no compulsion in our religion and anyone who says otherwise has obviously never read the Quran.

  40. @Tracey Muslim women in the West already have the right to dress as they want. There is no law that restricts them from doing what they want it the West.

  41. Go read the Quran- Followers of Islam are totally justified in their violent actions and intolerance according to their book.

    Islam/Muslim is not a "race". There are many a follower from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

    Go to a majority Muslim country and lets see just how peaceful and tolerant they are. 48 or so of these countries exist, and not one has produced anything worthwhile for humanity in god knows how long. Their book also contains a hundred + verses about treating non-believers with violent actions.

    It goes two ways- If they want us to respect their freedom of expression, then they should do likewise instead of getting all upset when we mock their pedophile, crazy founder via a cartoon.

    People who believe such absurd things in the first place are more likely to commit really stupid actions than people who don't. – Islam takes the cake within modern times.

    No , not all Muslims are terrorists, but within the modern context, all terrorists have been Muslims- But, lets consider something: Even if <10% of Muslims belong to the organizations who are committing these acts of terror, that's still 100 plus million. That doesn't bother you?

    No, I'm not justifying the Wests war – killing innocents and bombing the country isn't the way to go, but then again, what is the "right " way to deal with some of these Muslims who have no problem murdering children, women and fellow Muslims ? Just sit by idly and be like Ben 'politically correct and arrogant" Affleck?

  42. I think Eiynah missed the point of Ben's defense of Islam. I agree that Islam isn't perfect (no "Belief System" is), but his argument wasn't about whether or not Islam is bad or good. The conversation was about whether or not Islam, in and of itself, is a danger to the world as a whole. I also agree that conversations within Islam practitioners must be had, but you can't have those conversations if you blow everyone having the conversation to oblivion. How can A (Radical Islam) have a conversation with B (Progressive Islam) if C (Islam Haters) want to destroy both sides because BOTH follow Islam? Ben was arguing against the views of "Group C" and I for one agree with him. There can't be a conversation if we kill all of the people that should be having the conversation…

  43. @nobleone666 the modern context of terrorism is flawed. Oxford dictionary definition of terrorism :The unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. So according to that in the modern context, the Iraq war was unauthorised by the UN. There were no WMD found. Believe me when I say this, I am in no way a supporter of Saddam Hussain! He was a Thug, bully and tyrant. So from what I see and many Muslims is that the greatest act of terrorism in recent history is NOT the ones by Muslim extremists but by the so called civilised West. But for most non Muslims and some Muslims this reality is a bitter pill to swallow as we are ruled by the biggest terrorist since Hitler.

    I condemn the acts of groups like AQ and ISIS as this has no Islamic root. Someone said the quran is full of these violent verses. But if you read the quran nd it’s context then you will understand why these verses were revealed, but people in general don’t have the time to look into this. Don’t believe me, study the verses and see why they were revealed.


    • Quran (8:12) – "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them" No reasonable person would interpret this to mean a spiritual struggle.

  44. Dear Eiynah
    I hope you get to read this I agree with most of what you said however i don't think that this great white hope idea would work out, Muslims would simply dismiss anyone who is not a Muslims and has support from the Qur'an for shariah law reform and even then the resistances to new ideas is real and manifested dangerously, I would like you to check out the work of a man named Mahmoud Muhammad Taha, Al-Ustaz as he is know to his follower emerged with a comprehensive new conception of Islam. He summed up that understanding in a book that was published in 1952 under the name “This is my Path”, Qul Hadhihi Sabieli. Al-Ustaz confined himself to guiding the activities of the organization by then known as the “Republican Brothers” most of the member are in Sudan you can fined more information on this at

      • She lives in Canada….. there are hundreds of people who have left Islam and well settled now in the West. What's her excuse? Oh maybe that once she is an athiest, her West-appeasing, apologetic Muslim sounding articles wouldn't get this much popularity!?!

  45. The conversation about the violent aspects of islam that was started on Real Time continues here. We will work it out. It will cost lives, and misery, but we will work it out.

  46. I agree with you for the most part except I don't believe the lack of visibility of outspoken criticism against Sharia and so on from the "inside" is necessarily evidence that a majority of muslims consciously support those things. I belive there are plenty of dissenters, they are just not particularily visible in the West. As Salman Rushdie said in one of his talks, why did we listen to the dissenting voices from the eastern block but when it comes to the Islamic world we listen to the official story and believe it?
    I do fully agree that criticism of Islam often can be valid and it is a very problematic thing to govern any nation based on religious texts and the secularization of Islam is a very worthwhile goal. I must say though that I feel that someone like Maher has crossed the line between reasoned, secularist critcism and hatred as has many supposed liberals.

    • While I don't agree with your views on Islam, I fully agree with everything else you said.
      There is only ONE country in the whole islamic world following Shariah Law and yet, in the west, it is made out to be the ultimate evil which ALL muslims are following.
      If you wanna talk about violent verses, then bring those from the Bible, Torah, Geeta as well. And why not compare the violent verses in Quran with the good verses in it?
      There's good and bad in every race, religion, country…. we can't just isolate Islam as the root cause of all evil.
      As for this author being an "insider"… LOL she's from Canada and probably as no clue as to how things work in a Muslim country. The things she mentioned in her article are so far fetched and frankly seem made up.
      I live in a 3rd world Muslim country and I have only heard of such restrictions in remote villages or pakhtun tribes.

      • Sid:Not all religions are the same. I am very knowledgable whem it comes to Islam, and I can tell you that you are mistaken. The Torah, bible and other religious texts are scary and violent, but they do not compare to the Qur’an content-wise. The Qur’an is the only text which requires all its faithful to fight at all times until all the world is dominated by Islam and all women and non- Muslims are killed or enslaved. And it is the only text which is written in a way that intentionally deceives the reader into thinking it is nonviolent in nature, in order to more easily convert new subjects and fool the uninitiated into thinking it advocates peace (I know that sounds hard to believe–try researching the words taqiyya, kufar and kitman, and you may begin to understand)
        The only duty of all muslims, according to the Qur’an, is to fight for the dominance of Islam and the destruction or enslavement of all other faiths and the enslavement of all women. There is no other interpretation, and no other purpose in life for any muslim. This is clearly stated over 100 times in the Qur’an, which I have read more than once in its entirety

        I am sure there are many muslim haters who hate Islam because they are actually bigots. This doesn’t take away from the fact that Islamic scripture is the only one which endorses and recommends that its faithful commit acts including murder, terrorism, rape, pedophilia, slavetrading and lying.
        Some of these may be mentioned in other books, but the Qur’an and major Hadiths REQUIRE muslims to engage in these WHENEVER IT IS BENEFICIAL TO ISLAM.

        I am not a right winger and do not hate muslims. Of course there is no universal Sharia law. However, muslim apostates who go public are always in danger–even in Canada. When people criticize Islam, we should not assume they are bigots. It is by far the most intolerant ideology on earth–much more intolerant than Naziism, which is probably second worst.

        If you would like to discuss this further, I welcome the conversation. But do not assume that what you hear in semi-educated media circles or what is said by Muslim scholars about the religion of Islam is accurate. Would you believe a Vatican representative who gave you evidence that the Catholic church doesn’t have a molestation problem?
        I submit to you with confidence, Islam is the cause of much suffering for hindreds of millions of women in the world. Even the US war machine doesn’t come close to producing the physical and spiritual casualties of this most violent and barbaric of political ideologies. Not even Christianity has enslaved a half a billion people and killed the 275 million that Islam has killed. And Christians have had much more powerful armies in recent centuries.than Islamists.

  47. Thank you for the open letter. I don't know what to think but will remain open to views. One point to clarify is Islam (a belief system) is not an ethnicity. Muslims (human beings) include many different ethnicities. Technically, there is no such thing as a race.

  48. It sounds like she didn't understand what Ben meant. The fact that someone like her exists, speaking out against these horrible aspects of the Islamic religion, proves Ben right. She is an example of a Muslim who is against these horrors, which is exactly what he was trying to say.

  49. I feel for everything you are gong through Eiynah, but I am sorry, on this, you are way off!!!! Its sad how you are siding with the racist bigots that just slammed our whole religion for what a few nasty extremists are doing. Your stand on this issue is very disappointing!! You took a great action of Ben and you are twisting it to benefit your cause. I am with your cause 100% and I will support you with every way I can, but don't slam what Ben did. He is standing for disgusting bigots, which I salute and respect.

  50. islam is about free will and not compulsion, therefore it is the interpretations and cultural spins that cause women to feel oppressed by the religion…christian women in jordan are (in my opinion) oppressed as well…i know fundamental islam exists and oppresses women in many different countries, that doesn't mean that's what islam says…if it did, then that would contradict many other things that islam says about the aforementioned free will and compulsion etc…it sucks that things are the way they are in most muslim-majority countries but that's the flaw of those muslims, not islam…

  51. — We must repeat this fact again: One who criticizes a religion (for example Islam) can NOT be a racist. Islam is not a race. It is an idea. —

  52. And the fact this woman has to worry for her life by writing this commentary pretty much sums up the whole situation. Good luck to you my friend!!!

  53. The writer has not watched the entire show in which Affleck appeared on Maher, and ceaselessly assumes Affleck stifled debate.

  54. Ann fields. Is there a reason you cannot detest US foreign policy And the Male populations treatment of women?

    As in John Lennon’s quote ” Woman , Nigger of the World” ? If oil ceased to be “The Crux of the Problem” the Imperialists would still pursue their current practice , with China looking to join the “Club”. Ike’s phrase ” The Military Industrial Complex ” resonates today! Every outrage perpetrated by Male dominated Cults/religions aids the decision makers in providing a justification to invade , bomb and divide and rule . I wonder if this would work?

  55. While many Muslims are still in the Middle Ages, or worse, many are more modern. I know Muslims who drink, who are not belligerently religious, and behave pretty much as western people do. They are called Secular Muslims. They are similar to Secular Jews who don't practice all the detailed laws that many conservative Jews do. I think Affleck's point was not ALL Muslims are in the Dark Ages. Many of them are as "modern" as the rest of us.

  56. i would really like Ben to make a follow up appearance on Bill Mahr to complete the discussion on this topic.

  57. Dear Eiyanah,

    Thank you for being so bold and vocal I know it takes a lot of courage, we need young blood to speak out. In our culture we are trained to keep everything inside, please keep talking.


  58. Dear writer,

    Everything you wrote is a cultural issue. I live in an European predominantly muslim country in which muslims were victims of genocide and prosecution in the recent history, and in spite of that the rate of religious fanaticism is very low. Because of that, I don't allow you to spit on my religion just because your people and the people in your region don't know how to behave themselves and decided to keep the outdated social structure. Treat it as a matter of tradition and culture, not of religion. ISLAM DOES NOT ALLOW HUMILIATION OF ANY PERSON, YOUR PEOPLE DO! Why do women in my country have all of the rights, and we are still muslims?! It is because your culture has always been like that- backwards. It does not have much to do with Islam, except that you push it as an excuse for that backwardness.

    • 10. A husband has sex with his wife, as a plow goes into a field.

      The Quran in Sura (Chapter) 2:223 says:

      Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like . . . . (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004)

      9. Husbands are a degree above their wives.

      The Quran in Sura 2:228 says:

      . . . Wives have the same rights as the husbands have on them in accordance with the generally known principles. Of course, men are a degree above them in status . . . (Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 1, p. 165)

      8. A male gets a double share of the inheritance over that of a female.

      The Quran in Sura 4:11 says:

      The share of the male shall be twice that of a female . . . . (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 311)

      7. A woman’s testimony counts half of a man’s testimony.

      The Quran in Sura 2:282 says:

      And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans without interest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her. (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 205).

      6. A wife may remarry her ex—husband if and only if she marries another man and then this second man divorces her.

      The Quran in Sura 2:230 says:

      And if the husband divorces his wife (for the third time), she shall not remain his lawful wife after this (absolute) divorce, unless she marries another husband and the second husband divorces her. [In that case] there is no harm if they [the first couple] remarry . . . . (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 165)

      5. Slave—girls are sexual property for their male owners.

      The Quran in Sura 4:24 says:

      And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands [as prisoners of war] . . . (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 319).

      4. A man may be polygamous with up to four wives.

      The Quran in Sura 4:3 says:

      And if you be apprehensive that you will not be able to do justice to the orphans, you may marry two or three or four women whom you choose. But if you apprehend that you might not be able to do justice to them, then marry only one wife, or marry those who have fallen in your possession. (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 305)

      3. A husband may simply get rid of one of his undesirable wives.

      The Quran in Sura 4:129 says:

      It is not within your power to be perfectly equitable in your treatment with all your wives, even if you wish to be so; therefore, [in order to satisfy the dictates of Divine Law] do not lean towards one wife so as to leave the other in a state of suspense. (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 381)

      2. Husbands may hit their wives even if the husbands merely fear highhandedness in their wives (quite apart from whether they actually are highhanded).

      The Quran in Sura 4:34 says:

      4:34 . . . If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great. (Haleem, emphasis added)

      1. Mature men are allowed to marry prepubescent girls.

      The Quran in Sura 65:1, 4 says:

      65:1 O Prophet, when you [and the believers] divorce women, divorce them for their prescribed waiting—period and count the waiting—period accurately . . . 4 And if you are in doubt about those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, (you should know that) their waiting period is three months, and the same applies to those who have not menstruated as yet. As for pregnant women, their period ends when they have delivered their burden. (Maududi, vol. 5, pp. 599 and 617, emphasis added)

  59. Ben was simply defending the religion itself, I don't believe he or anyone else for that matter would argue that the subjugation of certain groups within Islam should be condoned. He simply was resisting against the anti-religious sentiments of Maher and Harris, contending that not all people whom practice the religion are rightfully classified in the way the two suggest. Yes, Affleck may not be as well versed in the issue and approached it in a less then exemplary manner, but to claim he is committing a disservice to the individuals who practice Islam is a bit pretentious to say the least. Ben brings a more attention to the issue of Islamophobia, thereby bringing more attention to the individualization of the people who actively practice. Creating, I think subsequently bringing more publicity to the oppressed who have little voice in the religion. Put simply I don't recommend bashing a public figure who in some respects benefited the cause you argue for.

  60. What a load of crap, in Pakistan girls do as they want, date when they want, wear what they want, drink if they want and etc. It just depends on the family the girls comes from. More Pakistanis in Pakistan drink compared to Pakistanis in the US. What a load of rubbish this author wrote.

  61. Ben Affleck was coached by someone with Muslim interest in mind before Maher's live program. This is why he spoke without listening to what was being said. Maher and Harris did not generalize at any point. They were not talking about individual Muslims being this or that. They were denouncing Islam and Islam alone as a philosophy of terror and injustice on paper. Islam as an ideology with military and expansionist undertones. Ben Affleck interrupted and became agitated because he was ready to hear them say that Muslims were this or that. He was told they would. Then Ben Affleck made the additional mistake to say that Turkey was a beautiful Muslim country where women were free and where Christians and Jews were respected. Yes

    • Continued…. Yes, Turkey is an amazingly beautiful country with great architecture and nature, but the reason Turkey is a modern country with some freedoms for women and respect for Christians and Jews is because Turkey is a Secular Country! Still Turks are divided in two regarding religion. Those real Muslims living in Turkey are struggling to bring the country back to the dark Islamic ages. Secular Turks are fighting back. The hijab was forbidden in Turkish schools until recently when real Muslims struck down that law and made it possible for girls to wear the hijab. Their next step is to make it mandatory and then move on to the Burka. Islam is terrible on paper, but places like Malaysia and Turkey are not representative Muslim countries. The freedom of women in Malaysia come from a tradition of matriarchal societies dating from before Malaysia became Muslim. Ben Affleck may have meant well. He just did not research what he was told to do and he responded to comments never made by Harris or Maher.

  62. The time is right for a true leader to emerge and galvanize/empower the majority of Muslims to reject and ultimately isolate those who are perverting the faith.

  63. So was Bill Maher looking to have a conversation when on his television show he said openly "I"m afraid because Mohammed and Fatima are becoming popular names.?" I understand a serious conversation needs to be had, but wasn't Rula Jabreel right, Bill stand up comic along with his Zionist shill lacky arenn't the men to have it. There are no Muslim voices included. There are no intellectuals. It's Bill, his lackey, a couple of actors and Michael Steele. What conversation did you think was going to happen? "The're trying to take over our cullture." "Pam Geller who isn't allowed into great britain is actually a really smart person." Etc. He's a comic. Ben Affleck and Bill Maher should be talking about weed or something. They can't handle it.

  64. I started reading this, but the amount of times the Liberal word was used I just shut off. Why do people insist on this crazy polarization of political beliefs. its like some how they can't understand that humans can have a wide range of beliefs on subjects, that are not always on left or right or can be both.

  65. The Affleck/Maher/Harris discussion should have been enlarged. Whatever the failures of bloody Islam and bloody Crusading Christianity, this discussion really must focus soon on one reality. If the western world's anti-Islamists continue as they seem to be so intent, the possible end is a 100-year -long+, unwinnable war with about 1.5 billion Islamists unless it is possible to nuke them all without killing everyone else. If all Islam is made the enemy, all believers must be enemies and join in the jihad.

    I suggest this result of even very realistic criticisms of the very backward, male-centered, warlike society of many, but not all, Islamic nations, is to be avoided at all costs. Even if this means we somehow, someway, keep the hope alive that some believers will not join the Jihadists.

    Perhaps what we most need is more faith that the western, more free-thinking social ideas will actually win-out in a world-wide debate via world wide experience.

  66. Faith (i.e. just knowing–somehow) is not a means of acquiring knowledge of any kind especially the most important kind of knowledge–moral knowledge. Man no has automatic or innate method of survival. Thus, applying reason to reality is man’s only method of learning, surviving, and flourishing.

  67. Regardless of what was said – that the conversation was shut down is the problem and removes the possibility of open debate and honest disagreement…something that liberals are suppose to hold dear.

  68. It's fascinating that even after reading this voice of reason that speaks to the unreasoning liberal hive, we see people continuing to miss the point and speak to things that neither Maher nor Harris said. When people engage in willful blindness, there is no reasoning with them. I think our education system should incorporate a remedial logical conclusions program to help people discern what is actually being said so they don't make such fools of themselves.

  69. Beautifully expressed. It is a shame that women have to endure all these atrocities. You are very brave to address these issues, under the oppressive living style that is dictated.

  70. I found that Affleck was cut off many times as well. In my opinion Maher suggesting that all billion muslims hold these "pernicious" beliefs is just plain stupid. Then Harris comes out with figures that are made up. "90% of them believe that death is the appropriate response for leaving them"? What a load of bull. Affleck was defending humans and Harris was painting an picture that Islam is a bad religion. "Islam is the motherload of bad ideas"??? Wow. I see where Ben got upset. I think if rubbish stats like that get thrown at you on live tv it would be frustrating. The real issue that we have is that religion is being used to cover up bad behavior by a small group. "if god lets it happen it is ok". In the western world we have the same issues going on for as long as I can see in history. In Indonesia alone over 80% of the population are Muslims. That is over 200 million people. When such a high percentage of ppl follow a faith, there is likely to be some trouble. Undfortunately that is how numbers work. As for islam forcing religion onto ppl, in the heart of Indo is Bali where 90% is Hindu.
    When the black man said, "where was the media coverage of the Muslims that stand up"? He got another stupid answer. But the truth is media is in the hands of the Jews, (93% ownership in USA) they chose what we watch and believe.

  71. I found that Affleck was cut off many times as well. In my opinion Maher suggesting that all billion muslims hold these "pernicious" beliefs is just plain stupid. Then Harris comes out with figures that are made up. "90% of them believe that death is the appropriate response for leaving them"? What a load of bull. Affleck was defending humans and Harris was painting an picture that Islam is a bad religion. "Islam is the motherload of bad ideas"??? Wow. I see where Ben got upset. I think if rubbish stats like that get thrown at you on live tv it would be frustrating. The real issue that we have is that religion is being used to cover up bad behavior by a small group. "if god lets it happen it is ok". In the western world we have the same issues going on for as long as I can see in history. In Indonesia alone over 80% of the population are Muslims. That is over 200 million people. When such a high percentage of ppl follow a faith, there is likely to be some trouble. Unfortunately that is how numbers work.

    • Actually it was a survey done by Pew, in Egypt. 90% of Egyptians believe that apostasy should result in the death penalty.

      Understanding Islam:
      I teach comparative law overseas, including a section on Islamic law. I do a great deal of research too. From my experience, nothing Maher or Harris has said is factually wrong – Harris especially appears to be quite careful with his facts. Both he and Maher oppose Islam, not Muslims. They are analytically distinct: one is an idea, the other are humans. They oppose the idea, not the humans.

      Islam, like Judaism, is a legalistic religion. That is a good place to understand it. See "The Spirit of Islamic Law" by Bernard Weiss (a purely academic work). Islamic jurisprudence works like this: That God exist is a certainty, not a matter of faith. God is the ruler, man is the subject. Man's duty is to discover God's law and follow it dutiful. The Koran is the source of Islamic law. The Koran says to follow the example of the prophet.So, Mohammed's biography and sayings then are additional sources of law. Where two aspects contradict, like most legal systems, the last-in-time doctrine prevails. This is unfortunate. For the "inclusive" stuff in Islam occurs early in Mohammed's mission, and the "exclusive" stuff occurs later.

      For the first 12 years of his religious mission Mohammed preached in Mecca an accrued around 200 followers, here he had no political authority. The last 10 years in Medina he obtained some political power. The inclusive stuff in Islam comes from the Meccan period. The exclusive stuff from the Medina period. At Medina Mohammed used coercion. First, he engaged in banditry. Banditry brought him booty, and booty began to attract followers. In addition to bandatry, he engaged in extortion, murder, assassination and genocide. He also advocated deception and dishonesty (Taqiyya/kitman) if done for the advancement of Islam. He ran Medina much like a Mafioso boss (see "Goodfellows"). One could choose to join and share in the booty, or pay an extortion tax or die. Apostasy also meant death. Entrapped inside such a system, a kind of version of Stockholm syndrome eventually would set in and completed the transformation. Clearly without politics and coercion Islam would never have succeeded as the low number of converts during the Mecca period signify, with coercion Islam rarely failed. In less than 10 years Mohammed controlled all of Arabia. In less than100 years his deputies would control the largest empire to have ever existed up to that time.

      At a fundamental level, Isis is closely following Mohammed's example, in that it is consistent and within Islamic law. Moderates Muslims, to their credit, maybe cannot stomach the thought of such barbarism and so don't embrace it but that doesn't mean it isn't in Islam, it just means they ignore that aspect of it – but other Muslims, Isis in particular, can and do embrace it. Moderate Muslims don't speak out enough against extremist, because technically they would be speaking out against Islamic law, and that could be interpreted as apostasy, and the punishment is death by which any stray Muslim might act on – so while they don't practice barbarism against non-Muslims, they don't speak out against the practice either – why would they take such a chance? All of this goes to demonstrate that it is not Muslims that are the problem per se, it is Islam and Islami's ideology. In its fundamentalist form it is, indeed, "the mother lode of bad ideas" It is the problem child of world religions. Aside from Russian incursion into Ukraine, the only source of significant and sustained voilence/strife/warfare today comes from everywhere Islam is the prevailing ideology and where it confronts the non-Islamic world: Southern Phillipeans, Southern Thailand, East Timor, Pakistan/India, Chechnia/Russia, and so on. The rest of the world is mostly at peace and pursuing knowledge and prosperity and frequently freedom – including freedom of thought, speech and conscience.

      • I thank you for your wonderful resume of Islam. I anly wish you would send your piece to the BBC, NYT, Guardian, and other apologists, with quotes from the Suras of Hate…

    • It is worth point out, that comparing 'western' religion with Islam is a false equivalency.

      Yes "Western" religious have engaged in violence and warfare. However, in the case of Christianity, the religious cannot find validation of violence from the source of their religion, Jesus. He specifically preached non-violence. Additionally, Jesus commanded his followers to separate religion from civics – something not promulgated until 1791 in the 1st amendment to the current U.S. constitution (Constantine was the first to attempt to use Christian religion to bring cohesion to the Roman empire beginning around 305 or 312, but he did this as a non-Christian, converting only upon his death bed).

      Muslims receive validation, in fact very strong validation, for performing voilence against non-Muslims, for the purpose of the expansion of Islam. As a result, Islam engaged in constant warfare against the west, taking 2/3rds of Christian lands from the West. In 600 the Mediterranean Sea was a Christian lake. The Muslim offensive against Christianity resulted in over 400 battles being fought for the expansion of Islam resulting in over 1 million Christians being taken as slaves back to Islamic lands. The crusades were a reaction to this assault on Islam, but they did not occur until almost 500 years after the first assault upon Christianity and until 2/3rds of Christian lands had been lost. The crusades resulted in 12 battles being fought. In the event the crusaders engaged in some barbaric violence. Again this is small potatoes compared to the 1000 years of Jihad against the west and the hundreds of thousands of lives lost, the millions taken as slaves. But most importantly, concerning all this violence, the Christains cannot draw upon the source of their religion for inspiration nor validation of violence, religious or otherwise. Muslims can and do. Indeed, it is intrinsic to Islamic law. Muslims are called upon by the prophet to engage in warfare against non-Muslims until the entire world is Islamic.

      You could say that "they started the violence" and perpetuated it, and it's all because the voilence against non-Muslims is intrinsic to the Islamic system. You could say that Christians engage in religious warfare too, but to say it is equivalent, or to suggest so is a complete dishonest characterization of the reality. The amount of violence engaged by Muslims on behalf of religion is an order of magnitude worse and different than that done by Christians on behalf of religion.

      The big problem is Christians cannot find a source of inspiration for violence in the founder of their religion. Muslim's can. And what they find looks a lot like Isis today. Isis is run by an Islamic scholar – he has a PhD in Islamic studies. He stays very close to Islamic law. As more than one source has stated, Isis has shown us the true character of Islam. Not of Muslim's, mind you, but of Islam. Thankfully, most of the worlds Muslims are not strict fundamentalist followers of their religion.

  72. exactly what I said when all were defending ben and getting bent about Maher point, he just umped to defense without even LISTENING to what bill actually SAID, ben may think he understands through his rich Muslim friends but not everyday Muslims and defiantly not Muslim women! it was pathetic the rational of commenters defending ben which as well showed they reacted instead of understood or was rather funny if people didn't get so upset..

  73. Once again the same mistake is made it is not the religion that forbids anything rather the elders of any religion and community that make thes so called rules and ask people to follow it isn't in the Holy Book (s) that women should wear a burka . Please learn to read , understand that accuse . I read the Quran recently to make a friend understand that GOD doesn't want humans to conduct anything even written in the book. The Holy Books of an Religion are mere guidelines please people wake up

  74. She is not muslim. She does not live in a muslim country. She has basically nothing in common with most muslims. Why is she writing this article, as if she is a part of the community?

  75. I think most of these comments are offpoint. This blog was not about Ben Affleck; it was about the need for liberal Muslims to stand up and speak up and for all of us to support them.

  76. I too saw that disturbing exchange on Real Time as it aired. I thought at the time that Ben was blocking a conversation that needs to be had. All three parties at that table proved themselves ignorant withing the first 30 seconds, however, and that panel would have likely done more harm than good had Ben not put a stop to it. If Bill wants to tackle this specific area on his show he needs to tailor his guest list that night around it. A random panel of pundits that don't necessarily have a clue what they are talking about isn't a proper forum for this, and Bill needs to educate himself beforehand as well. Some good did come of it though: it prompted Eiynah's open letter. Thank you Eiynah for showing me that (my personal leaning that people who practice Islam are "tolerant" of violence) isn't necessarily the case: its a matter of who is in power.

  77. I have posted this link to Bill Maher show and hope that Ben the smart alec reads this. I was a born pakistani and grew up in a islamic society myself, so people like Ben, please keep your half ass head in your pants and don't comment on anything that you don't know about.

  78. Islam may not be perfect, but that's because it's an offshoot of Christianity (Nazarene) and Judaism. Islam is still the safest bet we have to justice and equality on a massive scale. All other beliefs are solely based on upper-class wealth, while teaching the poor to suffer peacefully; or die a brutal death.

  79. I advise you to seek freedom and expose all your body as a sign of freedom. I also advise you to share your virginity in casual relationships. I advise you to have unlawful children and when your children grow they will keep looking who their father was. And you know much more than me. I would suggest that you don't wait. Immediately take off your veil (that if you have any).

  80. You dare saying that no one stands for "the oppressed by religion". Are you kidding ? It's on TV, newspapers and radio everyday. I almost never see Muslims being portrayed in a positive way, even by those stupid liberals who, in the end, only feel disdain about the savages we are supposed to be – according to the media.
    Moreover, it's true that there are some problems with some Muslims but they are never explained correctly. Have you ever wondered WHY in the world there are no churches in Saudi Arabia ? Well, maybe because a Wahhabi extremist named Ibn Saud was chose as king of that country by the US in order to get the oil. Muslim extremists would not exist today if they had not been funded and supported by the Western world, who used them in Afghanistan againsts the Communists, who helped them come to power in Saudi Arabia, who supported the Muslim Brotherhood against laic Nasser, who toppled Kadhafi and try to topple Assad the result being the takeover of the Middle East by Wahhabi extremists. That would be a great service you could do to Islam if you were standing to denounce the geopolitical agenda behind Muslim extremism.

  81. A number of posts here have reminded us who are reading and commenting that this is not about Ben Affleck or about Eiynah's open letter for that matter. -It is about moderate Muslims coming together and speaking as one voice to condemn the violence.

  82. Does the Golden Rule apply in Islam? "Treat others as you wish to be treated." so simple…so respectful… but difficult to understand why millions of people feel and think it does not apply to them.

  83. Bill Mahler's statements about a fifth of the world population are populistic and polarizing.
    He's basically discriminating everyone, from Harvard professors to poor African women just because believe X without any regards for individuality, culture and freedom of religion.

    Or even better, let's focus on why the richest country in the world has a sixth of its population in poverty instead of ranting about Muslims and Ebola? The only ones destroying the US are its citizens, media and politicians…not the Chinese, Muslims, Russians or Ebola..

  84. I saw the interview/discussion on Bill Mar's show. I would advise you all to go to youtube and watch it. Ben Affleck was right in defending his point that not all Islamic people are evil. Bill Mar was painting Islam with a very broad brush. If we were to paint America as a bigoted place where slavery and discrimination took hold and stayed for hundreds of years, a lot of us would be offended. Why didn't she write a "letter to Bill Mar and Sam Harris?"

  85. to me honestly its a confusing article bold & confused cant say bold & beautiful… to be very honest very few muslims actually knw wht actually islam is…all muslims love islam and defend islam but 90% of thm dont knw how to defend islam because unfortuantley they dont know what islam is & just what thy learned and saw since there childhood..specially ones who are canadian muslim or american muslim or british muslim or any other muslim regardless the nationality… even born and raised in muslim country dont knw how to actually defend but yes they get hyper extremest abusive & speechless at the end when thy can not defend it properly and present it properly…

  86. Ideology presented in Quran and in hadith is many areas is very similar to ideology presented in Mein Kampf. Saying that both ideologies depends strongly on interpretation is just a lie. There is no 'good' or 'bad' interpretation of ideology of evil. Degrading (or killing) people because of their religion/race/sex and their sexual orientation is just evil. There is no place for further interpretation.

    I'm not talking here about Muslims. I'm talking about Muslim ideology only.

  87. Thank you, Eiynah, for writing such a balanced letter regarding the current situation in the Muslim world. Stay safe and good luck with your career as an illustrator.

  88. Surprising that most of those defending Islam are MALE??? I judge any country or religion by the way women and children are treated and I do not like that about Islam.

  89. Eiynah. You will not get any response from Ben. He is no defender of Islam. His heart is (in love) with the Saudi financiers of his movies so that he can make more movies like Argo (that humiliate Iran). He has no interest in the well being of those who are religiously oppressed as long the oppressors (Saudis) are his buddies. People like Bill Maher and Sam Harrison are trying to get the conversation started and that is why they are shouting louder than what they mean.

  90. It is an excellent, piece I agree with the discussion she is talking about, but I dont think she understood Bill Maher and Sam Haris at all. Bill Maher says that ISIS is the real Islam and most Muslims believe in the ideas that ISIS preaches. This is completely wrong and a bigoted statement. I think what Ben Afflek did was right, this is not a conversation I or any Muslim wants to have. Outside of that I agree that muslims must look at themselves and be critical of the centuries old traditions that have no place in the 21st century.

    I agree with the conversation she wants to have, but Bill Maher or Sam Haris were NOT having that conversation.

  91. what an idiot….stop trying to please western society by giving up your fundamental beliefs…drinks (which I am also not allowed to have)….really shows what kind of integrity, faith and understanding you have…..fool.

  92. Another write-up in clear conscience by Eiynah, a Muslim, like that 'Open Letter' by Ali Rizvi. A fresh experience.

  93. Religion is the ultimate mousetrap but still it does not work without cheese. Affleck is the latest ‘cheese’ in the (Dr. Maurice) Bucaille genre.


  95. I think there is enough ignorance to go around on all sides of this issue for those not part of the Islamic culture. How someone like Afflect can be called a racist for defending Islam is rather funny, but his view and that of Bill Maher is very limited in it's scope due to their limited life experience with the Islamic community. Neither of them have lived for any long period of time in a majority Muslim nation, let alone one with very conservative populations. The majority of people in the West, either liberal or conservative are in the same situation. Even Western soldiers who have spent time in Islamic countries don't have an accurate view of Islamic culture as they were not living in those countries as tourists or residences, but as military occupiers and would not have been able to experience the culture fully due to their status.

  96. Islam is not a race and Affleck was a fool thinking that he could one-up a philosopher like Sam Harris (and vocal critic of all religion, Bill Maher).

    I am sure that the writer of this letter has good intentions, however she might want to pick up a book or watch a few videos of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and listen to her opinions regarding the 'religion of peace'…

  97. all of us wants a reform, a change, even the mother earth changes, but we are all subject for this great change that we aspire. Only GOD can help for the changes we hope regardless of whatever belief and standards we belong. Individually we are accountable to GOD, the higher judge, and no one is perfect. We are all his creation, in some ways we are but innocent, and emotional of course, we need to be more prayerful to God that we know is true then the "GODS" BE THE JUDGE of all his creations…. Amen

  98. I really doubt this was written by a Pakistani Muslim woman born and raised in a Muslim country.
    There are many issues I have with the premises in this letter. I don,t have the time to list them.
    I will only ask this. Why is Saudi unwillingness to allow other religions in the country a result of Islam and not the result of a totalitarian monarchy?
    *There is no compulsion in faith.* *Respect and tolerate other religions* Mohammed

    Also, why is the responsibility of Muslims everywhere to apologize for the actions of a few crazies? Muslims everywhere speak out against Muslim extremism, but it is not reported. But why do they have the responsibility? Their religion forbids the violence. For those who scoff at the phrase *Islam is the religion of peace* I invite them to actually read the Korann.
    For those who claim Islam endorses treating women as less than men, I invite them to read the Koran.
    Beware of internet translations of the Koran. They are mostly wrong, and often deliberately presented that way.

  99. "who are you trying to seduce"? is the mantra of women who wear burkas against those who do not. Burka has nothing to do with religion. It is a cover up of women's sexuality..

  100. Some value people over ideas, others value ideas over people. I don't think Affleck knows it, but he falls into the second category, and Eiynah has demonstrated why superbly. I always try to evaluate opinions against how much misery they are likely to cause, and when a specific ideology is causing needless misery, then it is our responsibility as moral agents to bring it under scrutiny. Failing to do this is to hand the conversations to extremists, and then no one benefits.

    Thank you for writing this – I only wish that perspectives like yours, of which there must be many, were publicised over and above people who are more interested in being megaphones for the status quo.

  101. my dear if you were oppressed by this religion you can leave it any time you want and don't tell me you can't because we both know that no ones forcing you not to leave and actually you'll do good to others more than yourself by doing so.

  102. نجدد ترحابنا بكم في العاب بنات التي تعتبر من افضل الالعاب على الاطلاق وعندها جمهور كبير جدا وهي بدورها تتضمن التلبيس والمكياج وكذلك الطبخ وتلعبها البنات بكترة واصبحت مشهورة جدا في السنين الاخيرة مما جعل مواقع الالعاب تصبح كتيرة وهناك كتير منها مشهورة متل فرايف و كيزي ومواقع اخرى كما ان هناك ايضا موقع جميل عربي يقدم تشكيلة من العاب بنات مميزة ومتجددة يوميا هذا النوع بدوره يشمل اصناف كتيرة سنتعرف عليها الان ومن بينها العاب الطبخ الدي يملك معجبين كتر جدا ويعتبر هو الاول تم يليه العاب التلبيس وهذا الآخر ممتع ويحبه الكتير لان التلبيس تعشقه البنات اكتر من الاولاد وهذا امر بديهي ومعروف وبعده بالتتابع يوجد العاب المكياج او الميك اب نوع جميل ومحبوب عند الصغار والكبار ويبقى في الاخير نوع قص الشعر وهو الاقل اهتماما

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