Where is the Moderate Muslim?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes in the New York Times:

A 20-year-old woman from Qatif, Saudi Arabia, reported that she had been abducted by several men and repeatedly raped. But judges found the victim herself to be guilty. Her crime is called “mingling”: when she was abducted, she was in a car with a man not related to her by blood or marriage, and in Saudi Arabia, that is illegal. Last month, she was sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes with a bamboo cane.

Two hundred lashes are enough to kill a strong man. Women usually receive no more than 30 lashes at a time, which means that for seven weeks the “girl from Qatif,” as she’s usually described in news articles, will dread her next session with Islamic justice.


It is often said that Islam has been “hijacked” by a small extremist group of radical fundamentalists. The vast majority of Muslims are said to be moderates.

But where are the moderates? Where are the Muslim voices raised over the terrible injustice of incidents like these? How many Muslims are willing to stand up and say, in the case of the girl from Qatif, that this manner of justice is appalling, brutal and bigoted — and that no matter who said it was the right thing to do, and how long ago it was said, this should no longer be done?

I fancy that Ali intends these as rhetorical questions. Having said that, I think that some other religions are also, at their heart, “appalling, brutal and bigoted.” But their primitive aspects have been tempered down with the passage of time and the advent of modernity. I think that is happening to Islam as well—in parts of India, for example—but that process is not as visible as the radicalism that more easily draws headlines.

And there’s plenty of that around, unfortunately.