The Debate on Islam Bill Maher Keeps Trying to Have but Most Liberals Seem to be Avoiding (Video)

bill-maher-islam-1As I prepared to watch the season premier of Real Time with Bill Maher last night I knew what would most likely dominate the panel discussion – Islam. Being that Maher has been a very outspoken liberal critic of the religion (he’s actually critical of all religions), I knew he was going to have plenty to say following the recent terrorist attack in France.

But I also knew what would inevitably happen. For months he’s been having this debate and for months many liberals (not just the ones who were on his show last night) have avoided the true context of what he’s been saying. While he’ll bring up the non-radical aspects of Islam, liberals seem to always steer the conversation back toward the talking point of “we can’t judge an entire religion based on radicals.”

While much of the focus of this debate has centered around Islamic extremists such as ISIL, Boko Haram, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other recognized terrorist groups, that hasn’t really been Maher’s main focus. The point he’s tried to push, but liberals often dodge, is that even outside of radical extremists, Islam supports and practices ideologies that are in complete contrast with liberal beliefs. Yet liberals seem to want to ignore all of that to defend Islam against critics for some unknown reason.

And I can somewhat relate to Maher, though on a much smaller scale, because I too have tried to have this same debate often with the similar results. I am someone who supports gay rights, women’s rights, religious freedoms, freedom of speech and just freedom in general. Generally these are supposed to be cornerstones of liberal/progressive ideology, right? Yet these are values that the vast majority of those who follow Islam strongly oppose.

I’m not talking about radical Islamic militants. Nowhere in this article am I discussing Islamic militants. For the sake of this piece, let’s pretend that they don’t even exist. All I’m focusing on are Islamic states and the Muslim citizens who reside within each one of these countries.

That’s it.

Now, here’s a very in-depth survey conducted by Pew Research, a non-partisan and well-respected research firm, concerning politics, religion and society in the Muslim world. It’s easily one of the most expansive surveys done on this subject that I’ve come across, especially seeing as how these surveys are not easy to conduct.

Again, this is not a survey of radical Islamists. This was a survey conducted throughout many Muslim nations all around the world.

But to simplify it a bit, I’m going to keep the areas I focus on in this article restricted to the main three regions of the Muslim world (the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia) that combine to make up about 81 percent of the world’s Muslim population.

The percentage of Muslims from each region who oppose abortion rights:

  • Southeast Asia: 93%
  • South Asia: 64%
  • Middle East: 72%

The percentage of Muslims from each region who think someone should be executed for leaving Islam:

  • Southeast Asia: 27%
  • South Asia: 76%
  • Middle East 56%

The percentage of Muslims from each region who think Sharia law should be the law of the land:

  • Southeast Asia: 77%
  • South Asia: 84%
  • Middle East: 74%

The percentage of Muslims from each region who think a woman should have the right to divorce her husband:

  • Southeast Asia: 32%
  • South Asia: 44%
  • Middle East: 33%

The percentage of Muslims from each region who think religious leaders should have political influence:

  • Southeast Asia: 79%
  • South Asia: 69%
  • Middle East: 65%

These numbers represent a valid sample size from three regions that comprise 81 percent of our planet’s entire Muslim population. And considering there are anywhere between 1.7-2.2 billion Muslims on the planet, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of people being represented here.

Let’s just look at possibly the most alarming set of numbers, the one concerning those who believe someone should be executed for leaving Islam. For this I’ll just use the 1.7 billion figure when it comes to the number of Muslims on the planet. If we take the 81 percent number (the percentage of the Muslim population these three regions represent) that gives us roughly 1.38 billion Muslims in these three areas. Then if we take the percentages from each region (76, 56, 27) and average those out we get 53 percent.

Then we just do some simple math: 53% of 1.38 billion = 731,400,000 million people support executing someone for leaving Islam in regions that house 81 percent of the world’s Muslim population. It’s an estimate and obviously it’s impossible to come up with an exact number, but it’s not far off from whatever the actual number is.

And while this survey didn’t have any questions pertaining to homosexuality, it’s a pretty safe bet based on these answers that gay rights aren’t exactly proudly supported in these same regions.

These are the points Maher constantly tries to make, but many liberals avoid at all costs. Because I don’t see how you can call yourself a liberal while defending a religion where hundreds of millions of people believe it’s okay to kill someone for leaving the religion, women shouldn’t have the right to divorce their husband or that Sharia law should be the law of the land.

How exactly are those “liberal principles”?

Now don’t get me wrong, I think all organized religion is bad. Individual faith is great. But when you start organizing it, putting rules to it and establishing “religious leadership” – it spirals into complete corrupt chaos. Especially when you put it on such a grand scale as government and laws governing a society.

But what I find so interesting is that I can write articles bashing right-wing Christian radicals time after time after time – and liberals will often cheer me for doing so. Cyber high-fives all around for “calling out right-wing Christian ignorance.” But anytime I dare criticize Muslims, many liberals just lose their minds. I can guarantee you right now that I’ll lose a few followers on my Facebook page Right Off a Cliff and be slammed on my Twitter account as a bigot for writing this. Even though the only thing I’ve really done is taken a credible survey and presented the actual answers Muslims gave to various questions.

So when I say Islam is an oppressive religion, I don’t even have to be talking about Islamic radicals. When you look at most of the Muslim world, the nations that rule over it and the citizens who live within these countries, they:

  • Oppose gay rights.
  • Oppose equality for women.
  • Oppose abortion rights.
  • Oppose non-religious democracy.
  • Favor Sharia law as the law of the land.

And hundreds of millions of them apparently support execution for leaving Islam. I’m sorry, but I just don’t get how as a liberal/progressive you defend an ideology that actively promotes that kind of ignorance. Because, like I’ve said several times, I am not talking about radical Islamic militants – these are beliefs held by the majority of everyday followers of Islam in the Muslim world.

And while I know there are millions of Muslims who do support equality, acceptance, love and tolerance like we strive for as liberals – they’re in the minority. I wish they weren’t. Just like I constantly push real Christians to reclaim Christianity from the right-wing radicals who continue to distort if for their own selfish gains, I wish more Muslims were doing the same thing for Islam. Because they are the only ones who can put an end to all of  the oppression, the dictatorships, the monarchies and even the Islamic militant fanatics. The “West” can’t do it, Muslims have to do it. But what worries me is that while many Muslims do oppose terrorism, it’s not as if they’re rushing to embrace freedom and equality outside of strict religious rule.

While everyone from Christians, to the leader of Hezbollah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and even Iran have condemned the terror attack in France – that doesn’t address the underlying point Maher made last night when he said that while Islamic radicals differ from greatly ordinary followers of Islam, there are still a lot of ideological beliefs that they share that aren’t at all what any liberal would call “progressive ideologies.” Especially when it come to women and homosexuals.

Watch the segment below via HBO:

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • felipe63

    A couple of psychotic a-holes commit a horrible act of violence, killing 12 and people use that as an excuse to demonize a whole religion, yet when we use a fucking killer flying robot to vaporize twice as many folks, including children, we’re a beacon of freedom?

    We don’t demonize the whole of Christianity for the decades long war in Northern Ireland do we? People were dragged from their homes and executed in front of their children because of sectarian differences but I never heard anybody say ‘all those Christians are savages’. Nobody claims that ALL Christians are hate filled bigots because of the actions of the Westborough Baptist church (even though the words of the bible would actually support that observation).

    If you’re an US citizen posting anti-Muslim bullshit, yet say nothing about our own actions you are a fucking hypocrite and no better than those 2 dickheads in Paris.

    • Pipercat

      You proved the point perfectly by answering a straw man with a straw man of your own. Thank you!

      • felipe63

        How is that?

      • Pipercat

        Look for the conditional statement in your reply and Allen’s essay.

      • Allen Clifton

        The whole 5th paragraph:

        I’m not talking about radical Islamic militants. Nowhere in this article am I discussing Islamic militants. For the sake of this piece, let’s pretend that they don’t even exist. All I’m focusing on are Islamic states and the Muslim citizens who reside within each one of these countries. That’s it.

      • Jason

        Your created a straw man unknowingly because you don’t know what one is.

      • Pipercat

        Oh, then please explain how one works precisely.

  • Jay Hale

    Oddly the statistics listed above DO seem to indicate a “mother load of bad ideas”… not a single one of them is justifiable or rational, and yet people complain when you make that (accurate) assertion. Charlie Hedbo teaches us we *have to* stop deferring to religious people – it shouldn’t even be open for debate anymore.

  • Jason

    Pew or not, it is unlikely in a Muslim world that women and their views are accurately represented at all. For that reason I don’t really trust the data.

    That being said, religion is the problem.

    • Mona

      Hey 🙂

      I have to disagree with you on this one. Islam doesn’t support unequality. The problem are the people and I’m not only talking about muslims here. I still do not understand (even as a muslim) where these people get these ridiculous ideas as to where a womem are treated less equal to men and do not have the same rights. This is not in the Quran and these countries along with the media are giving Islam a bad reputation. It does not say in the Quran that homosexuals should be killed either. Leaving Islam is allowed in our religion and the Quran itself says so. Womens rights are equal to men and the Quran proves it. If you wish, I can point out all the exact suras (if you do not trust Hadiths) in the Quran where it says so.
      My friend, my religion doesn’t make me a bad person nor am I trying spread evil anywhere. If you have decided that Islam is a bad religion and that you want nothing to do with it that it absolutely fine. I respect your wish. But it is my job as a muslim to point out what you are saying wrong.
      Peace and love!

      • Jason

        Disagreement is allowed (at least here in the US). The problem is that in the majority of the islamic world, your beliefs toward freedom of thought, expression, and religion are not reality. You can’t take your microcosm of the world and pretend it is, by extension, the truth.

  • Kenneth Browning

    Just because most muslims hold views I don’t agree with, doesn’t mean I won’t speak out against blind hate directed at them either. That doesn’t mean I condone those beliefs either.

    The problem is, muslims aren’t being attacked and having their place of worship attacked because of these views. They’re being attacked because of what the radicals do. A grenade wasn’t thrown into a mosque in Paris because they don’t like gay marriage. A family of muslims driving in paris wasn’t attacked because they don’t believe in abortion rights. These things happened because of what 3 other guys did. You can tell me you aren’t talking about radicals in this article. It don’t change the fact the majority of hate towards muslims stems from radical muslims.

  • Kenneth Browning

    I also have to ask, you talked about how many felt sharia should be law of the land. Why no mention of the question asking if it should apply to only muslims or all citizens? Guess the percentages didn’t fit the narrative.

    • Duncan McNeil

      I’m interested in why you think this is relevant.

      • If you knew anything about Islam, you wouldn’t have to ask. Stop expecting everyone in the blogosphere to be your teacher. Do your own research.

      • Duncan McNeil

        Excuse me?

  • Nancy

    I get your point but the math is wrong. Using an average of the percentages is only valid if each region has the same number of people.

  • Recoloniser

    But right now I’m not particularly interested in the rights and wrongs of islam as a faith, any more than I’m interested in the merits of christianity. What I’m interested in is the willingness of my muslim neighbours to live in peace with me and my countrymen and accept the law of the land as it stands.
    I live in a city, Rotterdam, where we have a muslim mayor who said recently that people who are so unhappy here that they feel they have to resort to violence should pack their bags and leave. Three days ago he repeated that on live tv saying that they should “get the f*ck out of my city and preferably this country too”.
    A few weeks ago I helped some muslim youngsters write a statement that they fully underwrote the Constitution and everything that followed from it. Their idea, I just helped with the wording. They put it on the internet and collected 2,500 signatures in the first hour.
    As for gay rights: I had a conversation with young muslim recently. He began by saying that Allah forbids it. I said that that was an issue between a gay person and Allah (if he exists). All that is required of him is to respect the rights of every person and defend them if necessary. He agreed.

  • Funny. More “Muslim” countries have elected women to the top leadership positions of their governments than so-called liberal Democratic nations have elected to theirs. Why, a woman can’t even get on the effing ballot in this country, and you’re bragging? What are the arrest and conviction rates for rape in this country?

    Do you even know what “Shari’a Law” is?

    I think you should take a closer look at just how ineffective your ideas are in the political theater of the United States. You have nothing to offer the rest of the world until you put your own house in order.

    • Mr President Sir!

      Funny some Muslim Countries won’t even let a woman drive a vehicle or own property or show her face in public or walk around without a male family member to escort her. How does that work when they elect them to office? I mean what is the title for the male family member who has to escort them everywhere and keep them in line?

  • ElectronicJesus

    “There is no equivalent in Christianity” – three words for you. “Anders Behring Breivik”. Forget about that one?

  • Mr President Sir!

    I see your point. Bill Maher ‘ s mistake with me on this subject was that the first thing I heard about him saying on it , I completely disagreed with. Which was that Islam was worse than Christianity. The only real difference I see between Islam and the right wing prostitution of the Christian religion is the American Constitution. Which so far has kept the fanatics from taking over and running things here. Both religions are based on the Old Testament and draw from it.
    The disciple Muhammad stayed more true in the forming of the Koran to the tenants of the Old Testament than those who followed Jesus teachings and wrote the New Testament based primarily on those. However since the right wing version of Christianity only uses Jesus death as their personal get out of Hell free card while following his teachings not at all. They are basically the same.
    You are quite correct however and I assume Maher is too in that the Islamic Community has a long way to go and a lot to answer for on equality and basic human rights. As usual I agree with you on this. We have a moral obligation to raise our voice against these atrocities. Quite often people get in a habit of defending a theology in general against attack and sometimes fail to recognize when they have crossed a line. Let’s hope that many of our fellow liberals will realize their mistake and see where they are standing soon.

    • “The Islamic community” (whatever that is) has nothing to justify or “answer for” in regards to anything. Who died and made you Lord of the Realm? You can’t even get a woman on the ballot for President, or send rapers to jail, or provide food, shelter and care for the mentally ill and homeless, or keep your children out of poverty — and you think more people should be like you? You really think the ability to bloviate on the net makes up for the dead children in Sandy Hook?

      Take a bite of the reality sandwich. Clean up your own mess before yakking on about others.

      • Mr President Sir!

        What facility for the mentally ill allowed you access to a smart phone or computer? I and Many others spend a great deal of time trying to address our own issues our religious and governmental issues. That is no reason not to address those of other cultures. If you read what Mr Clifton wrote you see the issues we are speaking of. Sorry that you took our criticism so personally. However the facts are there to speak for them selves grasp a little maturity and deal with it. Also i think Islamic Community speaks for itself and anyone with any half decent education should be able recognize what that refers to.
        This is one World and what happens in/to one segment eventually will effect us all. Nothing makes up for mistakes or short comings and yes I do think more people should be like me. I think more people should care enough to atleast be willing to address these issues and try to make the World a better place. Don’t you?

      • lin2log

        Yeah, it really sucks balls when someone calls you out on your delusional bullshit and nails it 100%, doesn’t it? You just keep making your ridiculous excuses. We expect no less of the pathetically indoctrinated.

      • Mr President Sir!

        I think you been sucking more than balls Bub! My delusional bullshit is funny thing to call the facts. I am neither pathetic nor indoctrinated about anything. If you have a point somewhere besides your head make it. Other wise the only thing nailed here that’s 100% bullshit is your pathetic attempts at unsubstantiated ignorant comments.

  • Jason Waters

    Some of us get it. Maher is right, he’s not saying all Muslims are terrorists, he’s saying that the political spectrum in the Muslim world is skewed way over to the right because of some of the core tenants of Islam, to the point that the vast middle ground still holds some really vile beliefs about how to govern themselves. The same thing happens here, the GOP keeps moving further to the right, and it drags the moderates and liberals with them, to the point that few democrats today support issues that would have been mainstream Issues for them half a century ago.

  • ThePeopleofDetroit

    Hmmm. If the foundational texts of Christianity call for violence against innocent people (as they do), Christians who do violence against innocent people are the “real Christians”


  • Thara Spooner

    Yeah and people wonder why I criticize Islam. It’s backwards even though the world has moved on. I mean the Western world.

  • Fusrih The Philosopher

    Remember about 300 years ago when the vast majority of Cristian’s:

    Opposed gay rights.

    Opposed equality for women.

    Opposed abortion rights.

    Opposed non-religious democracy.

    Favored Biblical law as the law of the land.

    That does not mean that the core tenants of Christianity are skewed to the Right, That just means that peoples perceptions about their Religion change depending on a multitude of variables. People who live in poorer areas tend to be much more Conservative, While people who live in richer areas tend to be more liberal. Much of the Muslim World right now is experiencing poverty and war right now, in no small part thanks to Western Imperialism. The core tenant’s of Islam are actually fairly liberal. Muhammad, founder of Islam, advocated for equal rights for women and the Quran speaks of this as well
    Evidence: I am a loyal Muslim and a loyal Progressive, and I believe their is much overlap between the two.

  • Ventura County Resident

    Tolerance is one thing, ignorance is another. Islam is so completely opposite to American culture and values that anyone who thinks they can co-exist with us here in America is @#$%^& crazy!