I do think that in this day and age, criticism of political Islam – and its banner Islam – is an urgent necessity because of the havoc it is wreaking the world over.
You can’t tiptoe around, appease, ignore or excuse one of the outrages of our century no matter how much some try.
And whilst criticism is crucial, the reason behind it and to what aim are even more so. After all, throughout history, criticism and confrontation of reaction has always helped pave the way for progress and the advancement of the lot of humanity. It is within this context that criticism matters – for people’s lives at least.
I’ve always said that criticising Islam and its political movement is not racism in any way shape or form. You cannot be racist against a belief or idea, no matter how much that criticism may cause offence. But that doesn’t mean that racism does not exist, or that there are not racist groups and organisations – like the British National Party or the Stop Islamisation of Europe campaign as well as institutionalised racism – that aim to stop ‘Muslim’ immigration, or consider all those labelled as ‘Muslims’ as sub-human ‘teeming hordes’ destroying the ‘Christian nature of Europe’.
These groups have no problem with religion’s adverse role within society as long as it is theirs. They have no issue with reaction as long as it is theirs.
And the religious-nationalist left is no better. The Socialist Workers Party, Ken Livingstone and Stop the War Coalition deserve notable mention for their whirlwind love affair with political Islam.
Whilst the left has always been the traditional banner carrier of social justice, the religious-nationalist left are only concerned about ‘rights’ as it is applicable to themselves.
They want women’s liberation for themselves but the ‘right to veil’ for us; they are against homophobia but greet Qaradawi as a long lost friend and stay silent when gay teenagers are hung in public; they want pension rights for workers here but do not want the Islamic regime of Iran to be described in their resolutions as repressive. They don’t want Britain to be a nuclear power, but will quite happily debate the need for nuclear power for the Islamic regime of Iran (with the CND even inviting an official to speak at one of their meetings).
In this type of politics, there is also a deep-seated racism, which like the right, fails to distinguish between the oppressed and oppressor and actually sees them as one and the same.
A politics that implies that people want to live the way they are forced to.
That they actually deserve no better because it is ‘their own culture and religion’ imputing on innumerable people the most reactionary elements of culture and religion, which is that of the ruling class, parasitical imams and self-appointed ‘community leaders’.
In a sense, both of them fail to see millions of people as truly human – with just as many differences of opinions, and belonging to vast social movements and progressive organisations and parties – demanding and worthy of the same rights and dignity as they so strongly believe is their due.
Effectively they both promote a policy of minoritism or the more palatably labelled multi-culturalism – where people who are deemed to be ‘different’ are denied universal standards and norms, freedoms, equality and the secularism fought for by truly progressive movements over centuries.
In foreign policy too, whilst one is generally anti-war and the other pro-war, their politics don’t make much difference in terms of people’s lives. One wants to bomb Iran and Iraq; the other wants to make nice with the Islamic regime in Iran and Hezbollah – both at the expense of people’s rights, lives and freedoms.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that whilst criticism of Islam and political Islam is an historical duty and necessity it has to be based within a politics that puts people first to have real meaning and affect real change.
It has to be done but for humanity’s sake.