I recently wrote a piece in the Daily Times, Pakistan and the Huffington Post explaining why I believed Hirsi Ali’s radical stance against Islam and Muslims makes her a bigot. I explained why I believed Brandeis was right in rescinding the award they had initially nominated her for. The response was outrageous. As part of the conversations that ensued, a self-described atheist Muslim (a fellow doctor and writer), Ali Rizvi, asserted that the Quran prescribes the death penalty for apostasy (A piece I wrote years ago: Here). Despite insisting that he quote the Quran on this issue, just as he readily does on other issues, he presented nothing. After some insistence, he agreed to debate me on the issue.
However, he now refuses to engage me in any conversation. Not only this, he has asked all fellow atheists who were defending him, to disengage with me. Did my pen hurt him so bad? Well, all I did was criticize his ideas openly. This is his statement:
In short, his refusal to engage me is because I am not an official representative of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The irony is that I never claimed to be one. I believe we must debate ideas, not people and this excuse shows poorly on Ali. I wont embarrass him further, but if he now wants to backtrack and debate officials instead, then he is free to ask Hirsi Ali, Sam Harris or Dawkins to debate the official spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, USA. The invites are pending.
Also, if he cares about the Ahmadi Muslims – who stand up for freedom of expression and criticism of ideas – then he must ask people close to him to stop demonizing the community and work on criticizing ideas instead.
For now, while I await Ali’s – and his followers – willingness to engage in discourse, I present Sam Harris’s eloquent response to Ali Rizvi. He writes:
“Interestingly, [the penalty for apostasy] isn’t spelled out in the Koran…” I could nominate Sam Harris as my representative in the debate if Ali so wishes. Harris is official and represents a sizable school of thought. We shall wait and see.