Islam, Liberalism and Power

Islam, Liberalism and Power
A Muslim policeman wearing mask is using smartphone while his colleagues are looking on at Malaysia airport/Getty Images

Soon after I said ‘religion cannot be policed’, the Malaysian religious police came in and started interrogating me. They showed me their ID cards – and their job is defined as ‘religion enforcement officer’ – so I was challenging their job. They arrested me.

Mustafa Akyol, senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC, is the author of a new book, Reopening Muslim Minds: A Return to Reason, Freedom and Tolerance.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Newlines’ Faisal Al Yafai, they discuss what happened when Akyol was arrested by the religious police in Malaysia; early Muslim reformers and the making of the first Muslim state; the coercive power of modern Islamic states and why Akyol believes it is holding back the full flourishing of the Muslim world.

They also discuss France’s “illiberal secularism”; Tunisia’s revolution; the “grand political revolution” that Akyol contends Turkey is now living through – and why his criticisms of Islam don’t include the role of power, colonialism and war.

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