The Western world must defend democratic values of Arabs and Muslims

While three kidnapped young Israeli Jews are in danger somewhere threatened by terrorists, Israeli Arabs who support the operation to find them alive have also faced enormous threats and danger by other Arabs in the recent days. 

We in the Western world 1000% have to stand by those Arabs and Muslims who embrace our common democratic values of freedom of speech, human rights and, if they are Israeli Arabs, the right to feel proud about their country Israel! Because that is their damn right. They are also our hope for a future of co-existence between the Arab World and the Western World – Israel included!

The situation for Arabs in Israel embracing democratic values is not unique. Arabs and Muslims who embrace and integrate into their Arab culture Western stances, supports Israel, freedom of speech, freedom of religion or gay rights are constantly under threat wherever they are. Tobias Petersson In my country Sweden an Imam told the press that maybe in 500 years Islam would be ready to a discussion about homosexuality. Because of his words he received many angry e-mails from people asking for him to resign. The imam also believed that an imam who would say yes to wed a gay couple would have to run for his life. The Swedish authorities and politicians do nothing against these destructive attitudes.

Irshad Manji is a Canadian Muslim with roots in the Middle East. She is constantly threatened for being a feminist, lesbian and promoter of a new reformed liberal Islam.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Dutch politician, converted from Islam to atheism, strongly embraced democratic values, became persecuted  and had to leave Europe.These are the conditions that outspoken liberal, democratic Arabs and Muslims in the Western world today are facing.

In the Middle East in places like Saudi Arabia or Syria they are jailed, tortured or executed for saying what many of us take for granted that we can say. And most of the time our authorities in Europe are silent about the lack of democratic values.

My country Sweden supports the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, that works with terrorists, glorifies terrorists and spreads hatred against Jews.This authority threatens not only free speech of people living under its own authority but it also incites hatred against Israeli Arabs who feel proud of being Israeli, who feel democratic and enlightened and who use their democratic right of freedom of speech.  Terrorists, and extremists are a threat to them and to all of us.

My thoughts today are with those who live in fear because they are Jews, because they are Israelis, and kidnapped because of that. My thoughts are with those Israeli Arabs who fear for their life today because they expressed openly that their thoughts also were with the kidnapped Jews and supported their country Israel in finding them.

It is time for the Western world to stand up and defend our democratic values and defend those who are threatened because they are Arabs or Muslims who embrace our universal democratic values.

About the Author
Tobias Petersson is a Swedish freelance writer who has focused on Israel and the MENA region. He came to Israel first in 2007 for a summer vacation and learned much. Soon after his return to Sweden he was suddenly aware of the anti-Israeli sentiments in his country and decided he wanted to change that. He has published articles about Israel in various Swedish and Israeli media to make the distance between Israel and Sweden less. Today Tobias is active in the Swedish pro-Israel network Perspektiv på Israel/Perspective on Israel.
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