Bernard Lewis: Says Lack of Openness Makes Scholarly Discussion of Islam Dangerous





One of the world’s foremost Islamic scholars warned Friday that Middle Eastern studies programs have been distorted by “a degree of thought control and limitations of freedom of expression without parallel in the Western world since the 18th century, and in some areas longer than that.”

Bernard Lewis, professor emeritus of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University, made the remarks in the keynote address at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, an organization Lewis chairs.

His address, titled “Studying the Other: Different Ways of Looking at the Middle East and Africa,” examined the development of Middle Eastern studies and the challenges it faces inside and outside of academia.

These difficulties arise mainly from post-modernist thought, the current, combined orthodoxies of multiculturalism and political correctness, and a “clash of disciplines,” primarily between historians and Arabic linguists, which have undermined the serious, objective study of Islam.

“It seems to me it’s a very dangerous situation, because it makes any kind of scholarly discussion of Islam, to say the least, dangerous,” Lewis said. “Islam and Islamic values now have a level of immunity from comment and criticism in the Western world that Christianity has lost and Judaism has never had.”...



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