I sometimes wonder if things in the Arab world were always so bad, and we just didn't know about them because a monolithic press wasn't interested. I mean, an iman attacking a six year old can't be something new, but probably arises logically out of a culture of poverty and misogyny (and can occur in any culture when a crazy man intersects with a child). Likewise, the Koran has always espoused extreme punishments such as beheading, behanding (is that a word?), stoning, and whipping, and we've known about it in Saudi Arabia and Iran for decades — we just haven't cared very much, because we weren't on the receiving end. The nexus of 9/11 and the Internet, however, has turned our attention to that part of the world and allowed us to look far beyond what a stingy press wants us to see. Suddenly, through blogs such as Little Green Footballs and Jihad Watch, we have a huge window into an often ugly soul.
Sometimes, though, I think we in the blogosphere forget to look for the pockets of good in those communities — and they're important things because they need to be cultivated. That's why I was so thrilled to read about Morocco, a country that almost never appears in the news. It's an Islamic monarchy, but one of a very different strip from its neighbors:
As Osama bin Laden and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continue to breathe their murderous threats against Christians and Jews, and attempt to incite Muslims around the world to annihilate the U.S. and Israel, another Muslim leader made the rounds in Washington last week offering a radically different vision.
Topping his agenda were under-the-radar peace talks with Israel, religious classes to teach Imams the history and virtues of the West, and dramatic new initiatives to build ties to Rabbis and evangelical Christians.
Were Dr. Ahmed Abaddi merely a soft-spoken, gentle-mannered professor of comparative religion in his native Morocco, his views would certainly be welcome, but not particularly newsworthy. However, Abaddi is actually in a position of some influence. As Morocco’s Director of Islamic Affairs and senior advisor to King Mohammed VI, he is responsible for overseeing his country’s 33,000 mosques. And he’s not just talking about a new approach to Muslim relations with the West. At the direction, and with the blessing, of his King, Abaddi has already taken a number of concrete—and controversial—steps.
Please read the rest.