If you don’t know who Tarek Fatah is you can ignore this blog post, though maybe you want to Google [Bing!] him. I thought Tarek was one of the good guys. In some ways he still is (he won’t blow anyone up in the name of a deity), in some ways he’s a confused anti-fundamentalist, fundamentalist. I’ll tell you why, in bullet-points (because I don’t want to give him too much time).
- Tarek Fatah states that he’s a proud Indian born in Pakistan, who lives in Canada. But why not go right back to saying he’s a proud African whose ancestors moved over time to South Asia? In other words, a proud African living in Canada? No, because this messes Fatah’s narrative of wanting to be picky about nationality.
- He is proud of his Hindu ancestry as a Muslim and castigates South Asian Muslims who don’t. Yet he doesn’t criticise Hindus who don’t respect their default atheistic past.
- Has called himself Muslim while supporting atheist viewpoints (right down to evolution), but he hasn’t defined himself then as a cultural Muslim. He wants to be both a believing liberal Muslim and an atheist. You can’t be both. You can be a cultural Muslim and an atheist, though, as Dawkins has pointed out. I suppose outing himself as atheist would mean he can’t let himself be framed in context of Hindu/Muslim or Jew/Muslim relationships, which is what he lives off.
- Says Urdu is a language that belongs to India and was stolen by Pakistan. Not quite true, as the vast majority of Indian Urdu speakers went on to live in Pakistan. That is, they took the language with them and India tried but didn’t fully achieve the wholesale installation of Devangari as a response to differentiate from Pakistan. Languages belong to people not lands. The British took English to America, Australia and New Zealand, thus those languages belong to those countries because of the people. If all English speakers left England, the English language would only belong to those who left, not those still in it.
I’m generally a fan of people who rock the boat in order for a greater good, but I think he’s too willing to criticise the failings of his own community disproportionately to others in order to get respect from his peers. If he was balanced and not looking for trouble I’d be more of a fan.