Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Faysal Al-Qasim yesterday hosted a debate on Al-Ittijah Al-Mu`akis on Aljazeera. The topic was secularism and it featured Sayyid Al-Qimni and `Abdul-Wahab Al-Masiri. Qimni did a lousy job defending secularism, and (falsely) claimed that secularism always goes hand in hand with democracy. Somebody needed to yell out the name of Anver Hoxa. He also--kid you not--dozed off midway through the program...and loudly snored. The camera wisely ignored him, but the snoring was so loud that Masiri could be seen smiling. Al-Masiri used to be a progressive leftist and now he is an Islamist of sorts. While he was too subdued to be a good debater (Qimni is a more colorful and dynamic personality when he is awake--which was not the case today), he made better arguments for his case. He pointed out that the Nazi regime justified the extermination of Jews on secular grounds. He also spoke of Stalin and other oppressive secularists. But he was of course on the weakest of foundations to offer an Islamic formula of equality and citizenship. He spoke in slogans in that regard. At the end of the program he went back to his view (which he had expressed in a book on the subject of secularism) that secularism is to be applied in the political and economic realm. When he said that, Al-Qasim realized that he invited the wrong person to argue for the anti-secularist view. Qimni also claimed that secularism is science, and without secularism you will have to travel by camel. Good night.