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BRUCE BAWER
Bruce Bawer, photo by Robin Holland
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May 18, 2007
"The main reason I'd been glad to leave America was Protestant funamentalism. But Europe, I eventualy saw, was falling prey to an even more alarming fundamentalism whose leaders made their American counterparts look like amateurs."
--Bruce Bawer, WHILE EUROPE SLEPT

Author, Bruce Bawer has written extensively (A PLACE AT THE TABLE, STEALING JESUS) on gay rights and how he believes that religious fundamentalism in America has "betrayed Christianity" by replacing Jesus' message of love with a prejudiced legalism.

"Jesus' message is the strongest thing that gay people have going for us, I think, in terms of asserting our right to be ourselves," Bawer explains to Bill Moyers.

In 1999, he and his partner moved to Amsterdam and later to Oslo, Norway, to escape this intolerance, only to encounter another radicalism brewing:

"I wasn't fond of the hypocritcal conservative-Christian line about hating the sin but loving the sinner, but it was preferable to the forthright fundamentalist Muslim view that homosexuals merited death."

Bawer's latest book, WHILE EUROPE SLEPT: HOW RADICAL ISLAM IS DESTROYING THE WEST FROM WITHIN, was a finalist for the Book Critics Circle Award, yet as testament to its controversy, when the book was announced as a finalist, Eliot Weinberger, a previous finalist himself, called it "racism as criticism."

"...Many Western authors and intellectuals who pride themselves on being liberals have effectively aligned themselves with an outrageously illiberal movement that rejects equal rights for women, that believes gays and Jews should be executed, that supports the coldblooded muder of one's own children in the name of honor," Bawer responds in his blog.

"Civilized, tolerant, pluralist values are at stake - values that affect freedom-loving individuals of all races."

What do you think? Tell us on the Moyers Blog.
References and Reading:
More on Islam in Europe and Sharia Law

ISLAM: Empire of Faith
Explore the website for the PBS EMPIRE series, which offers a glossary on basic Islamic terms, as well as a timeline that details the history of Islam.

BBC News: The Many Faces of Sharia
"When many non-Muslims think of the Sharia, they often conjure up an image of a public beheading or amputation. However, Sharia differs enormously in its various implementations throughout the Islamic world."

MSNBC: Islam in Europe - Interactive Map
Explore the map of Europe to learn more about the Muslim populations in various countries.

Council on Foreign Relations: Islam, Governing Under Sharia
A primer on Sharia Law and its various forms of practice around the world.

PBS FRONTLINE: Muslims
Frontline examines Islam's worldwide resurgence through thr stories of diverse Muslims strugling to define the role of Islam in their lives and societies. Watch video profiles and learn about the intersection of Islam and the modern world.

Amsterdam Mulls Axing Dole for Women in Burqas
SPIEGEL ONLINE, April 21, 2006.

Can secular Turkey survive democracy?
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, LA TIMES, May 9, 2007

In Turkey, a Looming Battle Over Islam
by Claire Berlinski, THE WASHINGTON POST, May 6, 2007

Germany Cites Koran in Rejecting Divorce
By MARK LANDLER, NEW YORK TIMES, March 22, 2007

NEW YORK TIMES Review: WHILE EUROPE SLEPT
"Award nominations are generally occasions for exaggerated compliments and air kisses, so it was something of a surprise when Eliot Weinberger, a previous finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, announced the newest nominees for the criticism category two weeks ago and said one of the authors, Bruce Bawer, had engaged in 'racism as criticism.'"

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Photo by Robin Holland

Published May 18, 2007

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