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By far the dumbest Muslim response to Islamophobia is the use of what Leftists (in other contexts) call ‘whataboutery’ – in this case, the claim that many Islamic sins are shared if not exceeded by other, more respected communities, such as Hindus and Sikhs.

Forced marriage in Islam? – “Well yes, but what about the same practice in Hinduism? Why don’t you pick on them?

Head coverings in Islam? – “Well yes, but what about the same practice in Sikhism?”

And so on….

This is invalid for several reasons, but the primary objection is that people can (and do) leave Sikhism and Hinduism without having to fear for their lives. That is quite an important fact and one should never let the Muslims work their way around it. I have never heard of a Hindu being killed for apostasy, nor – given the chaos of ideas and approaches combined in that religion – do I believe a clear-cut apostasy from it to be possible. Hindus and Sikhs maintain their religious beliefs by choice, not under the threat of an early demise.

Of course, Hinduism and Sikhism have their own imperfections. Tradition of any kind is a retardant that freezes cultures at their least-evolved point in time. I don’t agree with nor do I condone the phenomenon of ‘arranged’ (i.e. forced) marriage in Hindu society. A woman should have the right to marry whomever she pleases. The caste system, propped up by Hindu theology, is similarly idiotic and must be abolished if India is to be taken at all seriously. ‘Castes’ do not exist in reality, and as Sartre put it ‘reality alone is reliable’.

I must declare a bias here. I’ve had something of a soft-spot for Hindus ever since I worked in a bookshop in Leicester before university. My fetish for Indian women has never gone away, nor has my gratitude for Indian medical expertise. After I injured my knee (badly) one time, I was taken promptly to the Leicester Royal Infirmary; arguably the best NHS hospital in the country and staffed almost exclusively by Indian migrants.

I have before me a compendium of Vedic hymns which I often enjoy delving into. The ancient Hindus were gifted in poetry and, unlike much Islamic literature, the canonical texts of Hinduism provide genuine philosophical insight for secular readers.

The flaws of the Islamic religion are often unique to it. Even when they are not, I repeat that they are magnified a thousand times by the fact the faith itself is compulsory, not voluntary. If Islam were only voluntary and the death penalty for apostasy was abolished, then the religion would be much more difficult to distinguish from other Eastern traditions. But then the death penalty is grounded in the Hadith, an authority second only to the Qur’an. This means that no reform is possible without opposing the judgement of Muhammad himself.

I welcome Hindus and Sikhs (in reasonable numbers) into the Western community. Voluntary religions can never be sensibly compared to a totalitarian cult.