Good read that. Very salient points made and its noticeable that the most extreme language in the article came from the American Religious Right.
Also something was said in there that made a light go off in my head. Islam will never be changed from the outside, it takes genuine movement from the inside the faith. If this is the first sign of that then more power to the good doctors elbow.
a way of focusing on the positive aspects of the religion, of inculcating peaceful, life-giving virtues in children and of presenting a peaceful, tolerant, multicultural version of Islam to the rest of the world.
This guys bio has the bones of a fine dark comedy:
Mutawa was born into a prominent, well-to-do Kuwaiti family. His father was what he terms "an investor" and his mother a philosophy teacher ("That's where the crazy stuff comes from"). But he was exposed to American culture from a young age, attending an annual summer camp in New Hampshire. It was his parents' choice and they sent him back year after year, without ever realising that their son was the sole Arab at a predominantly Jewish summer camp. "I mean, it wasn't religiously Jewish, it was culturally Jewish, but we were just kids. There was no way of knowing. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I figured it out."
It was, by his own admission, a profoundly life-informing experience, not least because he was, he says, probably the only Arab child ever to grow up traumatised by the Holocaust. "It had an impact because what I learned at summer school was so inconsistent with what I learned at school in Kuwait."
What sort of things? "Like, 'What are the physical characteristics of Jewish people?' That was an exam question."
What was the answer supposed to be? I ask.
"Sssh," he says, looking around, genuinely alarmed. "We're in New York now. You know certain antisemitic stuff. And when I wrote, 'Two eyes, two ears and a nose', it was the only time I got less than an A in religion."
It's this experience of difference, of being foreign and different and yet also accepted and welcomed, that's informed so much of what came later. A fundamental interest in what makes people tick led him to study psychology at Tufts University, near Boston, during which time his country was invaded by Iraq, and later pursue a doctorate, winning scholarships all along the way, eventually taking up a post at the Survivors of Political Torture unit of Bellevue hospital in New York. There, he treated soldiers who had been part of Saddam's invading army.
"There's a consistent thread which shadows self-perception because you grow up with this hero, Saddam, who's everywhere and then you get tortured by him. What does that mean? That's pretty intense stuff."
It was also pretty intense work. "I didn't really realise how much it was affecting me until I went to see a movie, Three Kings, with George Clooney. There was a torture scene and I just couldn't sit through it. Nobody else was sensitive to it, but I just couldn't watch it. And I thought, 'OK, I need a break' and that was when I went to business school."
At business school, he came up with his masterplan to create a Kuwaiti company to conquer the Arab nutraceutical market. "But then America invaded Iraq and trying to raise investment during a war didn't make sense," he says. That's when he had his flash of inspiration. More precisely, it was in the back of a cab travelling from Edgware Road to Harrods or, as he calls it, "a pilgrimage that every Kuwaiti must make at least once a year".
For Mutawa, it's a question of freedom of speech. "In Kuwait, it's so sad, it's funny. When I was growing up, Animal Farm was banned. At least in the Soviet Union they understood the problem was that it's about anti-totalitarianism, whereas in Kuwait it was banned because it had a pig on the cover."
Good post there mate, if anything can help to stop the spread of extremism in islamic culture then i for one will support it, but this guy must spend a helluva lot of time looking over his shoulder, Rushdie to the loonies in the islamic world will seem like a pussycat compared to him.Makes you wonder though how the Saudis can present two faces to the West and get away with it? We don't need them that much, any other tribe of goat herders sponsored by the CIA will do!