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Den ene lever i Pakistan, den andre i Nederland og den tredje i Canada. Den første er blitt gjengvoldtatt etter landsbyvedtak, har startet skoler lokalt for jenter for å skaffe dem utdanning og mulighet til å unnslippe kvinneundertrykkelsen på den pakistanske landsbygda. Den andre er truet på livet for «blasfemi», for å ha beskrevet profeten Mohammed som en pedofil og tyrann, og for å ha laget film om islams kvinneundertrykkelse. Den tredje er truet på livet fordi hun ønsker modernisering av islam.
De er pionerer for et opprør mot den føydale eiendomsrettstankegangen overfor individer og mot den religiøse undertrykkelsen av kontrollen over særlig kvinner, men i realiteten også av alle som ikke tilhører en eller annen sosial eller religiøs «rettroende» maktelite.

Les hva Mukhtaran Mai sier til Christian Science Monitor, og hva Ayaan Hirsi Ali sier til The Guardian. Føy til Irshad Manji («Hva er galt med islam») og hennes analyse. Guardians journalist Alexander Linklater beskriver Ali som den som overtok plassen til Pim Fortuyn da han ble myrdet. Fortuyn er konsekvent blitt beskrevet her i landet som høyrepopulist, og plassert i bås med Le Pen og Jörg Haider. Ayaan Ali og Irshad Manji tilhører den samme politiske og humanistiske holdningsverdenen som Fortuyn. De tar tak i maktmisbruket, i overgrepene og trusselen som islam representerer mot individer og moderne, sekulære og demokratiske samfunn, mot friheten og ikke minst ytringsfriheten – og for Manjis del; den trusselen islam representerer mot seg selv.
Kampen bondejenta Mukhtaran Mai har tatt opp i sitt eget miljø i Pakistan er så stor, hun er et ufattelig modig menneske. Det samme gjelder Ali og Manji, som har tatt på seg et stort og farlig opplysningsoppdrag i Vesten.

The Netherlands, with an overall population of 16 million, has among the highest concentrations of Muslim inhabitants in the EU. Hirsi Ali argues that there is less a problem with migration in general, than with its Muslim component in particular, and that she should know, because she is herself a Muslim migrant. Hopes for a moderate Islam are only meaningful, she argues, if it is possible to chip away the theological brickwork – constructed, she believes, on a foundation of female oppression – which permeates the structure of the religion. But Islam, she says, is unable to endure criticism or change, and is essentially at odds with European values.

Of course the circumstances in which people live in Turkey are different from those in Morocco or Somalia. But when it comes to the relationship between men and women, in all these countries there is a red line of the woman being subordinate to the male. And most Muslim men justify this subordinacy with the Qur’an. There are so many meanings Europeans miss. We Muslims are brought up with the idea that there is just one relationship possible with God – submission. That’s Islam: submission to the will of Allah. I want to bring about a different relationship, in which you say, ‘Dear God, I would like to have a conversation with You.’ Instead of submission, you get a relationship of dialogue. Let’s just assume it’s possible.»

It is painfully moving to think of this smart, quiet Somali woman, who looks so small walking away between her bodyguards, believing herself to be dangerous. But she is. Anyone who wants to work with her will have to calculate the risk. «I don’t want somebody else to be murdered,» she says. «But if I stop doing what I’m doing, it will be like another murder. That’s the real trauma, perhaps, the thought of going through what happened to Theo van Gogh again. We told each other we would make part two, and the thing that keeps me going is the thought, ‘I have to do it, I have to do it, I have to do it.'»

Danger woman

«I pray to God to get justice as my victory will be the victory of suppressed and oppressed women,» says Mai. «God forbid if I lose. Then it will be a defeat for everyone who believes in social justice.»

«She has become a symbol of resistance and defiance in the country,» says Farzana Bari, a leading women rights activist who has worked closely with Mai. «For the women’s movement, her case is significant as she is showing the cruel face of a system which considers women as property.»

«Even some people in the community taunt me, but I don’t cry anymore. I only cry when the darkness hides my face. I curl up in my mother’s lap but smile with sunrise with more vigor and courage,» Mukhtaran says.

A rape victim defies traditional code

The problem with Islam today, in a word, is literalism. Literalism is a commitment to strict exactness of words or meanings in reading or interpretation. Every religion has its share of literalists. But the difference is that only in Islam today literalism is 2_kommentarstream. We Muslims, even here in the West, believe that because the Koran comes after the Torah and the Bible, it is therefore the final and perfect manifesto of God’s will. Even moderate Muslims will say to one another that the Koran is not like any other holy book. It’s like a God 3.0 and there shall be nothing after it. It’s a dangerous supremacy complex, because when abuse happens under the banner of religion most Muslims, included those with University degrees, have no clue how to challenge Islam. They don’t have to think and critical thinking skills need not apply. We were never able to question the Koran.

This does not mean that I reject to be a Muslim, but I refuse to join an army of automatons in the name of Allah. This is why the spirit of my book is about questioning. It challenges Muslims worldwide to end human rights violations committed against women and religious minorities in the name of Islam. It also calls for an end to anti-Semitism which has no basis in the preaching of the Koran.

Irshad Manji: Muslims need critical thinking