Following a short debate on Facebook, I sent Steyn the following message:
Mark, a friend recently linked to this article suggesting that Azerbaijan is proof that Muslim-majority populations aren't always that bad. I know next to nothing about Azerbaijan, other than that it's a member of that venerable beacon of peace and charity, the OIC. And because this writer dismisses reasonable debate with the term "Islamophobia", I'm inclined to call shenanigans.
I'm ignorant on Azerbaijan, but I suspect you're not. What do you say? Is Azerbaijan a respectable nation with freedom and respect for non-Muslims? Is it, like Turkey, only respectable so long as an authoritarian government prevents Islam from directly influencing policy?
This was Mark's reply:
Ah, Azerbaijan – the Stan that thinks it’s a Jan. Central Asian Islam is certainly different, although (thanks to a lot of Saudi and Iranian money) not as different as it was twenty years ago. But, as you’re a Ricochet member, I think I’ll leave this one to Rob Long, who, as he told a somewhat befuddled Granite State crowd when we appeared together in New Hampshire a couple of years ago, has an Azerbaijani acupuncturist.
Alright, Rob. Your turn.