"I'd like to tell your readers not to believe anything you say about me, anything you say about any of us. No one could understand us from so far away."
I've been slowly working my way through a couple of books for the last week or two; that's why I haven't written about any books recently. Snowby Orhan Pamuk is the main book I'm reading. It's not really very long, but it isn't a book to be rushed through. I enjoyed it very much. Melissa had a few posts about Snow a year ago where she wrote about having the right background to enjoy this book. I have to completely agree. If you know nothing about Turkey- whether its politics, people, or conflicts- this book may not be for you. And if you don't know much about current conflicts within Islam itself, this book could be confusing too.
This book isn't simply about the head scarf girls; in fact, despite the focus of many reviews on these girls, I didn't think head scarves are a major part of the book even though religion certainly is.
Complaints of reformers in the West will not have any kind of significant impact on people like Blue or the MIT. Forcing anyone to obey a repressive set of laws, either through military coups or Islamic law isn't right. Almost every Muslim country struggles with either or both of these, but reform has to come from moderates within those countries. From people who allow Muslims to practice their religion freely, but also allow non-Muslims to practice (or not practice) their faith as they choose. From people who try to change things that drag a country down, but don't turn their backs on their country's history. From people who want others to be happy and have respect for others' choices. Democracy requires quite a bit of tolerance at least.
I particularly like the places where its Turkicness- not just Turkishness- comes through.
Even though the book was sloooow to read, I never considered quitting in the middle. And I particularly liked what Fazil had to say at the very end of the book- what I quoted at the beginning of this post. He's right, but I'm not sure Fazil misses the point. I can't really understand the intolerance of political Islamists, nor can I understand the motivations of repressive governments. And I can't understand why the vast majority of humankind submits to repressive leaders, whether political or religious. But I'm not sure understanding is the goal. Respect and cooperation and compassion are more important, and that's what's really hard to manage from so far away.