IHT: Opining without Reading

Dear Editors

Wouldn’t it be wiser for columnists to read first about what they want to write, rather than rely purely on soundbites and media-generated hearsay?

Mona Eltahawy, in “Delusions in Canterbury” (IHT, Feb 15) says about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ideas on Shari’a law that “words are especially cheap“, and “he probably thinks his ‘tolerance’ for Shariah is progressive“. She even wonders “whose version of Shariah he meant“.

There is no need for wondering or probability. Archbishop Williams originally gave a thoughtful lecture on the topic, as part of a series, on February 7. The lecture is available online and consists of 8 densely-written pages, where many if not all of the objections have already been answered.

Perhaps it was the length, combined with the complexity of the topic: or perhaps it was the objective difficulty in translating a long and reasoned argument into a few journalistic words. In any case, anybody reading the original will be able to understand how much the Archbishop’s thoughts have been distorted in hundreds and hundreds of reports.

Shari’a law, Muslim integration in Europe, the status of women and gays are very serious topics. I just wish Ms Eltahawy and everybody seriously considering them will make a point of finding the time to explore proposals such as Archbishop Williams’ fully and on the original sources, instead of by whatever appears on TV or newspapers.


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