Philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris joined fellow author Maajid Nawaz in an appearance on MSNBC on Thursday to discuss their new book, “Islam and the Future of Tolerance,” with both accusing some on the left of refusing to address realities surrounding Islamic extremism.
“The challenge we’re facing today is that there are plenty of people on the politically correct side of this debate who are prepared to take the view that [Islam’s] not a religion of war,” Nawaz told host Lawrence O’Donnell. “The problem is, at the same time, what they’re not prepared to do … is to recognize that, though it may not be a religion of war, it’s also not a religion of peace.”
Nawaz, a Muslim who said that he spent 13 years working in an Islamist organization that went after former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s regime before going to jail and becoming a liberal activist, believes that there’s a connection between belief and action when it comes to extremism and that this is a reality that must be addressed.
“It has something to do with … one’s interpretation of scripture to what one believes one must do,” he said.
Watch the segment below:
And Harris, an atheist who last year called Islam the “mother lode of bad ideas,” also hit back at those who deny the connection between “ideas and behavior.”
“The crucial issue here is … the link between ideas and behavior, which is just denied across the board on what we’re calling the regressive left side of the political spectrum,” Harris told O’Donnell. “It’s pure masochism and delusion … people on the left will blame the [Charlie Hebdo] cartoonists for their insensitivities.”
These are the very subjects that Harris and Nawaz address in “Islam and the Future of Tolerance,” which consists of a conversation that the two men have had about whether Islam is “a religion of peace or war” and why so many Muslims “seem drawn to extremism.”
“Remarkable for the breadth and depth of its analysis, this dialogue between a famous atheist and a former radical is all the more startling for its decorum,” a description of the book reads. “Harris and Nawaz have produced something genuinely new: they engage one of the most polarizing issues of our time―fearlessly and fully―and actually make progress.”
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