Just a little more about Sholto. It doesn’t seem to have gone very well for him – the comments at the New Statesman are scathing, and Google blogsearch turns up only more scathe, no pleased cries of “At last somebody talking sense about sharia.” He must be feeling sadly disappointed in the multicultural broadmindedness and flexibility of – of – well of everybody but himself, I guess. There’s one comment at the NS that looks favorable at first blush, but when you read on it becomes obvious that it’s a parody. So Sholto is 0 for 0 with the “let’s look at the good side of sharia” enterprise.
Back to the article for a moment.
The example of Saudi Arabia undoubtedly has much to do with this [distaste for sharia]. Yet it is important to stress that to look at that country and then assume that its version of sharia is the only one, or the one to which Muslims all secretly aspire, would be akin to holding up a vision of Torquemada’s Inquisition and concluding that this was what real Christianity was.
So the Saudi version of sharia is not the only one; so what other version is there? He never says. He says that in Malaysia non-Muslims are allowed to ignore it, but he doesn’t point to some other kind of sharia that is benign and fair and reasonable and just the right kind of thing. Actually he doesn’t even say that the Saudi version is not the only one, he just says what it would be like to assume that it is. Maybe that’s because even he doesn’t actually believe that there is a different one, he just wants his readers to think so. Tut tut, Sholto.
He commented only once, and concluded with something really silly when he did:
There are plenty of atheists and anti-religious writers who appear in the NS – surely you don’t object to the debate being a bit wider than that?
Yes, I damn well do, when “a bit wider” means “pro-sharia.” The NS is supposed to be a left-wing magazine and there are some things that are not left-wing by any definition. Sharia is right-wing; it’s savagely, harshly, vengefully right-wing, and there is nothing left-wing about it. Nothing at all. The New Statesman is a disgrace.