We’ve encountered Asra Nomani before: in a post I put up showing her short television debate with Jonathan Alter about whether women should be segregated from men in mosques. Nomani, founder of the Muslim Reform Movement, has no truck with the ingrained misogyny of her faith, and handily won the exchange (video here). I have immense respect for the women, both apostates and ex-Muslims, who fight the sexism of Islam, for they face even more opprobrium from other Muslims (including death threats) than do men. So first a salute to women like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Maryam Namazie, Sarah Haider, Eiynah “Nice Mangos,” and, of course, Asra Nomani.
Over at his website Godless Spellchecker’s Blog, Stephen Knight presented a video of an encounter between Nomani and the odious Nathan Lean, the writer who not only produced a ridiculous hit piece on Maajid Nawaz for The New Republic, but called Nawaz a “Muslim validator”, a “trophy Muslim”, and a “lapdog” for simply engaging in conversation with Sam Harris. Lean’s incessant and wrongheaded cries of “Islamophobia!” brand him as only slightly less ridiculous than C. J. W*rl*man as an unhinged defender of the worst bits of Islam.
Here’s a short video of Nomani, in the audience, asking Lean a question after Lean had a conversation with Asma Uddin at Georgetown University. This was three days ago. Nomani wanted to know why Lean, while claiming to defend Muslims against nasty attacks, participates in them when the Muslims happen to be reformers. The cowardly Lean refuses to answer, instead trying to smear Nomani as a way of ducking her question:
Can you imagine someone like Hitchens refusing to answer that question? He would take it head-on. Lean, however, is simply a crybully who refuses to defend his stand in public.
I am still baffled why those people who decry the prevalence of Islamophobia spend most of their venom on people like Nawaz and Nomani, Muslims who risk their lives trying turn Islam into the faith that the apologists claim it already is: a “religion of peace.”