RELIGION
10/08/2014 05:34 pm ET Updated Oct 08, 2014

Cornel West Weighs In On Bill Maher-Ben Affleck Debate: Islam Isn't 'Inherently' Oppressive

The heated debate last week between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck over the relationship between Islam and liberal politics is still raging on. Author and activist Cornel West weighed in Wednesday during a HuffPost Live interview, saying that Maher has a “deep hostility toward religion” that “zeroes in on Islam.”

Maher said on Friday’s episode of HBO's "Real Time" that liberals who he believes should champion liberal principles -- like freedom of speech and religion and equality for women and homosexuals -- are accused of being Islamophobic when they point out that these liberal principles are lacking in the Muslim world. Affleck responded by accusing Maher of “stereotyping” Islam unfairly and went on to say that Maher and fellow panelist Sam Harris were “painting the whole religion with that broad brush.”

West, author of the new book Black Prophetic Fire and a frequent panelist on Maher's show, explained his own stance to HuffPost Live's Marc Lamont Hill.

“I agree with Brother Bill Maher in terms of being honest about the challenge of democracy vis-à-vis any religious tradition," West said, but he does not agree with "the degree to which it seems as if it’s an obsession with Islam."

“I don’t think that somehow Islam is inherently or innately [oppressive]," West added. "It’s a cultural and historical phenomenon, it can undergo democratization, it can undergo liberalization like any other religious tradition.”

Watch Dr. Cornel West respond to the Bill Maher-Ben Affleck debate above, and catch his full HuffPost Live interview here.

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