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Iceland’s Proposed Ban on Circumcision Puts It at the Forefront of Western Europe’s Crusade against Religion

March 5 2018

The Icelandic parliament is currently considering a measure that would prohibit parents from having their male children circumcised. Noting that Iceland is not the first Western country to consider such a measure, Melanie Philips comments:

The Icelandic bill is drawing on increasing hostility within Europe to the practice [of circumcision]. In Britain, a survey by the National Secular Society indicates that some 62 percent want Britain to follow Iceland’s example. Nor is this the only attack on religious rites. There are also bans on ritual slaughter [of animals for food] in Denmark, New Zealand, Switzerland, and other European countries and jurisdictions.

Although these are attacks on Islam as well as on Judaism, they threaten Jewish religious life most of all. . . . Muslims are more flexible over ritual slaughter by allowing a measure of animal stunning which Jews cannot permit. Circumcision bans are most threatening of all to Jewish life because the circumcision of eight-day-old boys . . . is absolutely fundamental to Judaism. . . .

The secularists deny that their campaign against circumcision is anti-Jewish. Yet as one British commentator has observed, “some of the most virulent anti-Semitism on Twitter is obsessed with foreskins and pictures of demonic rabbis holding knives.”

The self-delusion of such campaigners is remarkable. In 2013, the leading Norwegian daily Dagbladet published a caricature of what appeared to be Jews torturing a baby during a circumcision. The cartoonist, Tomas Drefvelin, said he meant no criticism of either a specific religion or a nation but a general criticism of religions. . . .

Resistance to Islamist extremism in Britain and Europe has fueled a general climate of intolerance toward religion in general. There is now a widespread and growing view that distinctive practices marking out religious ways of life are equally divisive, threatening, or abhorrent. Yet at the same time such critics deny their target is religion.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Anti-Semitism, Circumcision, Europe, Freedom of Religion, Religion & Holidays, Secularism

 

The Future of a Free Iran May Lie with a Restoration of the Shah

June 25 2018

Examining the recent waves of protest and political unrest in the Islamic Republic—from women shunning the hijab to truckers going out on strike—Sohrab Ahmari considers what would happen in the event of an actual collapse of the regime. Through an analysis of Iranian history, he concludes that the country would best be served by placing Reza Pahlavi, the son and heir of its last shah, at the head of a constitutional monarchy:

The end of Islamist rule in Iran would be a world-historical event and an unalloyed good for the country and its neighbors, marking a return to normalcy four decades after the Ayatollah Khomeini founded his regime. . . . But what exactly is that normalcy? . . .

First, Iranian political culture demands a living source of authority to embody the will of the nation and stand above a fractious and ethnically heterogenous society. Put another way, Iranians need a “shah” of some sort. They have never lived collectively without one, and their political imagination has always been directed toward a throne. The constitutionalist experiment of the early 20th century coexisted (badly) with monarchic authority, and the current Islamic Republic has a supreme leader—which is to say, a shah by another name. It is the height of utopianism to imagine that a 2,500-year-old tradition can be wiped away. The presence of a shah, [however], needn’t mean the absence of rule of law, deliberative politics, or any of the other elements of ordered liberty that the West cherishes in its own systems. . . .

Second, Iranian political culture demands a source of continuity with Persian history. The anxieties associated with modernity and centuries of historical discontinuity drove Iranians into the arms of Khomeini and his bearded minions, who promised a connection to Shiite tradition. Khomeinism turned out to be a bloody failure, but there is scant reason to imagine the thirst for continuity has been quenched. . . . Iranian nationalism . . . could be the answer, and, to judge by the nationalist tone of the current upheaval, it is the one the people have already hit upon.

When protestors chant “We Will Die to Get Iran Back,” “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, My Life Only for Iran,” and “Let Syria Be, Do Something for Me,” they are expressing a positive vision of Iranian nationhood: no longer do they wish to pay the price for the regime’s Shiite hegemonic ambitions. Iranian blood should be spilled for Iran, not Gaza, which for most Iranians is little more than a geographical abstraction. It is precisely its nationalist dimension that makes the current revolt the most potent the mullahs have yet faced. Nationalism, after all, is a much stronger force and in Iran the longing for historical continuity runs much deeper than liberal-democratic aspiration. Westerners who wish to see a replay of Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 in today’s Iran will find the lessons of Iranian history hard and distasteful, but Iranians and their friends who wish to see past the Islamic Republic must pay heed.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Iran, Nationalism, Politics & Current Affairs, Shah