Islamic experts Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, and Dr. Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-born American psychiatrist held a debate on the topic:
Can there be a truly moderate Islam compatible with liberal-democratic notions of human rights and democracy? Is "radical Islam" a modern phenomenon or is Islam itself inherently radical?
Mr. Pipes and Ms. Sultan agreed on some specifics, for instance, that Western governments must not welcome non-violent Islamism and should monitor the hate being taught in Muslim schools in the West. Overall, however, Mr. Pipes, while not denying what Islam has been or is, insists that Islam, like other religions, can and will change. Ms. Sultan was significantly more pessimistic and declared that historic, orthodox Islam, as practiced and taught by Muhammad and as practiced today by those we call “radical” is an inherently radical religion and cannot be reformed short of deleting significant portions of the Qur’an and other sacred Islamic scripture which, incidentally, is forbidden by the Qur’an itself.
Mr. Pipes primary concern with Ms. Sultan’s position appeared to be that if Islam itself is the problem, that leaves the West with no solutions. That seems to be a case of whistling in the dark – denial of reality. He add that, to truly reform Islam, Western governments must begin to empower genuine moderates. However, most “genuine moderates”, after periods of exposure to the light, appear to be in bed with the radicals. Mr. Pipes needs to do a much better job of defining and vetting “genuine moderates.”