“…I think the ban even on depicting him, let alone criticizing him, is rank idolatry. There. Did you get all that? I don’t like Mohamed or the Qur’an, and I’ll mock them when, where, and how I like.”
“In a nutshell, it was much easier in the post-colonial Middle East for the West to do business with un-democratic regimes where deals could be made without accountability or transparency. The result of this decades-long trade-off has been the transformation of cultural specificity pretext into a (somehow racist) alienation of local democratic and liberal forces and a paving of the way for the rise of Islamist radicalization.”-The West’s hollow talk of Arab democracy.
“This discussion usually leads directly to the familiar question of whether the West should “engage” with Islamists? The answer is that this is the wrong question. The right ones are: “What can the West do to encourage Arab regimes to engage with Islamists?” and “How can the West encourage Arab regimes to allow reformers to convert armchair theorizing into effective – but non-revolutionary – mobilization?” Engagement must be among competing political visions in the Arab world. Western policymakers can help in modest ways, and if they fail to do so they risk continued political cynicism and radicalism in the region. And even if they opt to do so they must be aware that the pay-off may be a generation away.”