Here’s a point of view that you won’t see in the mainstream media:
My views on Irshad Manji (self-proclaimed “Muslim refusenik” 🙂 🙄 ) are mixed. One one hand, I find it refreshing that Irshad Manji is a Muslim who saw the way that Islam is being practiced, but chose not to reject the entire religion. She can see that it is not the Islamic ideology that is the problem, but rather how some people choose to interpret their faith, and this I find refreshingly open-minded. Additionally, the victim mentality is dangerous, which means that if we want things to change, I agree that we need to be self-critical.
However, I think Irshad Manji’s world view is rather simplistic. For example, I find her staunch defence of Israel to be rather hypocritical. There’s clearly a double standard there; I don’t understand how on one hand she can be self-critical when it comes to her own brethren, but isn’t at all critical of Israeli policy in the West Bank. I think empathy is absolute; if you sincerely believe in truth and justice, then you empathise with anyone facing oppression and persecution. I just can’t understand how someone can one hand empathise with Israelis persecution but places no emphasis on the rights of the Palestinians who are also facing persecution every single day. It is sheer ignorance to suggest that only Muslims have a role to play in the Palestinian conflict.
I think it is important for Muslims to be self-critical, but at the same time, Manji ignores all effects of the Western media, instead attributing all blame to only Muslims. The irony is that she is herself as victim of Western bias towards Islam; since she is a relatively progressive and moderate Muslim, the only channel that will give her air-time is Al-Jazeera.
Nevertheless, given that the media only chooses to portray either fundamentalist Muslims or ex-Muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali who completely reject the faith, Irshad Manji provides an alternative view that at least challenges conventional beliefs about Islam. You could argue that it takes an open-minded person to face the kind of reaction that Irshad Manji has from her Muslim brethren and still remain loyal to their religion.
On the other hand, when you consider her perspective on global issues (she was once quoted as saying “Neither Israel nor America lies at the heart of Muslim problems”), one wonders about her sincerity. One would like to give her the benefit of the doubt, but perhaps, at the end of the day, she is just another attention-grabbing mediocre author looking to sell a few books.