Irshad Manji: The Wow and the Awesome

I am always on the lookout for new additions to my growing Honor Roll, and today I have a new addition:

Irshad Manji

She lives under threat of death every day and has little chance of dying of old age. Someone, somewhere, someday is going to kill her.


Because she is a Muslim that dares to lay bare the corruption at the heart of those who control discourse in Islam. She is a brave (and beautiful) Muslim who deserves every word of praise. I am in awe.

(Which means, of course that she is awesome.)

Here is a quote from an opinion piece that she wrote in The Australian:

Which is why Carter’s new book disappoints so many of us who champion co-existence. Entitled Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, the book argues that Israel’s conduct towards Palestinians mimics South Africa’s long-time demonisation of blacks. Of course, certain Israeli politicians have spewed venom at Palestinians, as have some Arab leaders towards Jews, but Israel is far more complex – and diverse – than slogans about the occupation would suggest. In a state practising apartheid, would Arab Muslim legislators wield veto power over anything? At only 20per cent of the population, would Arabs even be eligible for election if they squirmed under the thumb of apartheid? Would an apartheid state extend voting rights to women and the poor in local elections, which Israel did for the first time in the history of Palestinian Arabs?

Would the vast majority of Arab Israeli citizens turn out to vote in national elections, as they’ve usually done? Would an apartheid state have several Arab political parties, as Israel does? In recent Israeli elections, two Arab parties found themselves disqualified for expressly supporting terrorism against the Jewish state. However, Israel’s Supreme Court, exercising its independence, overturned both disqualifications. Under any system of apartheid, would the judiciary be free of political interference?

Would an apartheid state award its top literary prize to an Arab? Israel honoured Emile Habibi in 1986, before the intifada might have made such a choice politically shrewd. Would an apartheid state encourage Hebrew-speaking schoolchildren to learn Arabic? Would road signs throughout the land appear in both languages? Even my country, the proudly bilingual Canada, doesn’t meet that standard.

Would an apartheid state be home to universities where Arabs and Jews mingle at will, or apartment blocks where they live side by side? Would an apartheid state bestow benefits and legal protections on Palestinians who live outside of Israel but work inside its borders? Would human rights organisations operate openly in an apartheid state? They do in Israel.

For that matter, military officials go public with their criticisms of government policies. In October 2003, the Israel Defence Forces’ chief of staff told the press that road closures in the West Bank and Gaza were feeding Palestinian anger. Two weeks later, four former heads of the Shin Bet security service blasted the occupation and called on Ariel Sharon to withdraw troops unilaterally, which later happened in Gaza. Would an apartheid state stomach so much dissent from those mandated to protect the state?

Above all, would media debate the most basic building blocks of the nation? Would a Hebrew newspaper in an apartheid state run an article by an Arab Israeli about why the Zionist adventure has been a total failure? Would it run that article on Israel’s independence day? Would an apartheid state ensure conditions for the freest Arabic press in the Middle East, a press so free that it can demonstrably abuse its liberties and keep on rolling? To this day, the East Jerusalem daily Al-Quds hasn’t retracted an anti-Israel letter supposedly penned by Nelson Mandela but proven to have been written by an Arab living in The Netherlands.


In fact, that’s why I included such a big chunk of the article. I just couldn’t stop myself.

This is someone who has broken free from ‘the box’ and said, “the emperor has no clothes”. She has stepped past the rhetoric and the flag waving and the hysteria. She has looked at the ‘universal truths’ that Muslims grow up believing and pointed out those parts that are a lie.

Bravo Bravissimo!

She exemplifies an ideal that we should all adhere to. We must ALL be willing to look at the ‘universal truths’ and point out the lies. We must always be willing to point out the errors in our own culture. But, I doubt that any of you reading this has ever had to put your life on the line to do this.

Think about that, and while you are doing that bit of thinking, read the whole article in The Australian. Here’s the link:,20867,21194124-7583,00.html

And then look at her website:

Think about just what it means for her to have chosen THAT name for her website.

1 thought on “Irshad Manji: The Wow and the Awesome”

  1. Wow – can’t stop reading – she’s a truly impressive writer and person! And really brave for speaking out the way she does.

    It’s either amusing or disturbing that her critics seem to focus on her sexual orientation and her haircut instead of the content of what she says. :/

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