Gathered under the slogan “Democracy, Secularism, Fun,” it laments the fact that “millions of Arabs have internalized the notion that secularism is tantamount to faithlessness, and is all about demonizing Islam and promoting a dissolute way of life. Not only can secularism coexist with religion, Free Arabs argues, but it protects the free exercise of religion and can help promote other civil liberties, like gay rights.
Some don’t want to be dragged into culture wars, a favorite ground for Islamists who bank on the fact that many Arab societies are still socially conservative. ….Still, the controversy triggered by Free Arabs is just the kind of debate Islamists and secularists in the Arab world should be having, if only because they couldn’t have had it under the old regimes. Also, there’s plenty of room for debate: In this part of the world, the term “secular” means very different things to different people.”