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Who Are We To Judge How People Live In Islamic Countries?


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Atheist Republic (Op-Ed)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/09/21

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: I hear arguments from different people on Islamic countries and people who live in them. Some argue for different standards for different beliefs and groups. If not in an explicit manner, then the implicit understanding in the conversation amounts to different standards for different people.

The conversations start with the general question about the judgment of people who live in Islamic countries. In these dialogues, the person may respond with a question, “Who are we to judge how people live in Islamic countries?”

Armin Navabi: We are their fellow human beings. Why does care for our fellow human beings have to be dependent on their location? Why does it have to be dependent on where they were born, their race, or how far or close they are to us? I do not understand the relevance of that. Pain is pain. Happiness is happiness. Our care shouldn’t depend on whether somebody is being starved, oppressed, discriminated against, tortured or killed next to us, or a thousand kilometres from us.

The suggestion that “I can help people who are close to me more than people far away” isn’t valid anymore. Our reach is now global, through social media, blogs, and podcasts. It is much easier than before to influence decisions of people miles away. Geography is not a barrier anymore. Language still is. And we are making efforts to break the language barrier as well.

In fact, given that you and I live in free countries, we might be able to make certain differences that people living in countries where our help is needed the most can’t. And the influence goes both ways. We all should seek to have our decisions influenced by global connectivity rather than just being influence makers.

They Need Your Voice

You live in a country where you could say whatever you want. People living in many Islamic countries do not. They do not live in a country where they can speak their minds. That is why you might be able to make a bigger difference in their lives compared to people close to you.

Too many people who enjoy freedom of speech, peace and security, gender equality, anti-discrimination laws, and gay rights don’t seem to want the same rights and freedoms for people in Islamic countries. It is so arrogant to suggest that we own these values. If implementing these rights and freedoms have proven to work, they should be implemented everywhere. The values behind the demand for such rights and freedom already exist and have been fought for, for hundreds of years. The difference is that these voices have been forced in the dark. That’s where we come in and shine the light on them.

Morally Superior

Many people who have inherited enlightenment values see themselves as morally superior without actually being responsible for the adoption of these values. They might claim “We came to these values ourselves. It is up to them do the same thing.” I call bullshit. There is no country, no idea, and no value that hasn’t been influenced by other countries, by other values, and by philosophers and thought leaders from different corners of the world. Europe was introduced to its own ancient Greek philosophers through the Arab Empire.

No group of people or country lies in a bubble. Of course, they are going to be influenced by foreign countries. And they are going to influence other countries.

The world is connected. If that was true a thousand years ago, how is it not a ridiculous expectation for countries not to influence each other today? If European countries’ enlightenment was due to the influence of foreign countries at that time, are we going to deny foreign influence to Islamic countries today?

Jacobsen: What about the people in Islamic countries who do not want to be influenced by other countries’ cultures?

Navabi: People who do not agree with these values should bring values they prefer and compete with the rest of us in the free market of ideas. If your values are superior for your country, you should be able to sell them and win in a free and fair environment where all arguments are presented. If you have valid arguments, you should not need to deny others the opportunity to introduce competing ideas. Let the people make their decision instead of speaking on their behalf.

That is how we respond to your shitty backwards barbaric ancient ideas. Because it works. We do not silence you. We compete with you. If your ideas are better, challenge us. If you think our ideas are too liberal, too empty of spiritual guidance, too empty of meaning, and provide no purpose to life, then I am sure your ideas are going to win. So bring it on.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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