Mustafa Akyol: A Muslim case for liberty

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The debate about Islam and Liberalism has been going on for decades, if not longer. Just as the case is with any other political discourse, Muslims have also fallen into the habit of labelling themselves, which can lead to lazy categorisations instead of proper critical analysis and thought.

“Liberalism is not the fundamentals of a religion but a political idea of how a government should conduct itself,” says Mustafa Akyol, a prominent Turkish writer and journalist. “If I am on an island by myself, I don’t need liberalism,” Akyol says, “but I need my faith – Islam.”

The self-described libertarian was in Penang earlier this year to deliver a lecture titled “Is liberty an Islamic value?”

While Akyol accepts that the debate tends to put liberalism at loggerheads with Islam, in particular with conservatives, he strongly disagrees that they are incompatible.


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