The invaluable blog Gates of Vienna, has translated the Die Welt interview of a thoughtful, courageous 22 year-old Moroccan "apostate" from Islam, Kassim al-Ghasali. Requisitely threatened with death because of his openly professed rejection of the Muslim creed, al-Ghasali fled Morocco in February, 2011, and now lives in exile in Switzerland
Young Mr. al-Ghasali's perspicacious-and brutally honest-insights on the Arab Spring, and Islam, validate what I contended back in 2005 comparing the Muslim apostate Ayaan Hirsi Ali to various "moderate Muslims," championed by conservatives at that time, in the US. Apostates, free-thinking human beings born into Islamic societies, but till now, deprived of their basic rights, and as a corollary, crushing any spur to meaningful change in Islamdom, represent the only hope, if there is any at all, of transforming totalitarian Islam.
Die Welt: What do you think of the so-called "Arab Spring? Can you discern positive changes?
al-Ghasali: The beauty of Spring comes from various colors. Unfortunately, the supporters of the Arab Spring do not know these distinctions. They want everyone to think the same, dress the same and pray at the same time. Most of the supporters of the Arab Spring do not believe in human rights as the West understands them. For them, democracy is just a ladder for the climb to power. Then they fasten knives to the treads so that no other political parties can climb the ladder. What is happening in the Arab World now is comparable to what Europe went through in the 17th and 18th century. The difference is that this phase at that time brought forth enlightened philosophers and thinkers. In the Near East, on the contrary, the supporters of divine laws and the followers of Islam are coming to power.
Die Welt: But couldn't Islam reform as happened with Christianity?
al-Ghasali: In my opinion, there can be no reformation or enlightenment in Sunni or Shiite Islam, because there is no church to be reformed. In Islam, we are subject to the power of a sacred book and the instructions it gives. Identity and understanding of self come from the Koran. If Muslims could use their reason without the instructions of a book which is recognized as the Word of God, then we could talk about enlightenment. But today most Muslims are against the ideas of the Western Enlightenment. And they do not know that Muslims would be capable of achieving the same rights as the people in Western society. Historically, there were several attempts at reform in Islam, but they were not welcomed. Any moderate Muslim who would like to reform Islam should admit to himself that terror and violence are in the Koran. The unmitigated horror. But no Muslim could admit that the Koran is a politically- and historically-determined book - and not the word of Allah. [emphasis added]