Kenana Malik told a poignant little anecdote in his talk on multiculturalism at the Secular Conference last weekend.
The Danish MP Naser Khader tells of a conversation with Toger Seidenfaden, editor of Politiken, a left-wing Danish newspaper that was highly critical of the Danish cartoons. Seidenfaden claimed that ‘the cartoons insulted all Muslims’. Khader responded that ‘I am not insulted’. ‘But you’re not a real Muslim’, was Seidenfaden’s response.
Ahhh, not real. So to be “real Muslim” you have to be offended by the Danish cartoons. So a real Muslim = someone who is offended by the cartoons. So the core of being a Muslim becomes [the state of being offended by the cartoons]. It’s no longer an incidental, or a possible outcome of being a particularly devout or ardent Muslim – no, it’s the thing itself. A real Muslim just is someone who is offended by the cartoons.
It’s a strange move, taking something so obviously constructed and contingent, something so worked up, as definitional of something as large and sweeping as being a real Muslim. It’s not as if [being offended by a particular set of Danish cartoons about Mohammed] is one of the five pillars.
It’s a strange move for an outsider, a non-Muslim, who seems to be thinking of himself as a champion and defender of real Muslims, to define real Muslims as willing to be nudged into being offended that easily.