Who is Mohammed Usman Rana? He's a 31-year-old Norwegian doctor and newspaper columnist who first appeared on my radar in 2007 when, as an undergraduate at the University of Oslo, he took part in a debate about Muslim attitudes toward gay people. Rana, who at the time was head of UiO's Muslim Student Association, said that he personally opposed executing gays, but refused to criticize countries that punish homosexuality with death. Pressed further on the issue by his opponents, Rana pulled a slick switcheroo, charging that it was not he but they who were displaying intolerance. How dare they sit in judgment of Islamic law?
Did Rana's failure to condemn the execution of gay people make him an outcast? Of course not – we're talking about Scandinavia here, after all. Only a few months after the above-mentioned debate, he wrote an op-ed for Aftenposten, Norway's newspaper of record, in which he picked up where he'd left off. Norwegians, he complained in the piece, are "secular extremists" who are insufficiently respectful of orthodox Islam, who hope for an "Islamic reformation" that would in fact mutilate the religion, and who prefer to hear from secular Muslims and ex-Muslims (think Ayaan Hirsi Ali) than from genuine believers such as himself.