In an discussion on Peter Flack’s Facebook page, Catriona Grant says the following about me: ‘Maryam Namazie has shared platform with fascists on the basis they share her anti – muslim agenda i find her a strange enigma blending ultra leftism with reactionaryism and she gets away with things many people wouldn’t on the basis that she is Iranian and a woman. She has set up bogus organisations of “former muslims” that have been funded by the right wing think tanks…’ She adds: ‘Maryam Namazie was involved in the Right for Free expression rally alongside rather dubious anti left and racist forces, the BNP built for this rally, much to my disappointment was people like Peter Tatchell unprincipledly involving himself and Outrage in this rally.’
There are so many inaccuracies in her comments I am not sure where to begin. Whilst the motives of discrediting me are quite clear, I will clarify a number of issues for other readers:
1. I spoke at a free expression rally in March 2006 as did Peter Tatchell. The rally was not organised by right-wingers. The organisers – two men – invited a lot of others to speak too including from the right. Here is the blog calling for the rally.
I spoke at the rally from my own left perspective on the issue of free speech. Here is my speech. I don’t consider this ‘sharing a platform’ with other speakers there. I have spoken at many events and panel discussions with people with vile opinions like Stephen Green, Anjem Chaudary to Inayat Banglawala. Does that mean I have shared platforms with them? That is clearly not the case. Unlike our friend here, I refuse to leave the playing field open to the far-right and will speak anywhere they speak (as long as they have not organised the meeting) in order to push back their fascist agenda and bring a left and human alternative to the fore.
2. In FAQs on the One Law for All website, another campaign I have organised, I have clearly stated my position on far-right organisations, such as the British National Party, the English Defence League and so on and so forth. You can read it here.
In one response to a question on the EDL I have written: ‘Political ideologies are not measured by the numbers of ‘ordinary’ working class people who subscribe to them, and anyway have you counted ours versus the BNP’s or the EDL’s to know? Irrespective of numbers, ideologies and movements linked to them have to be judged not by the makeup of their supporters but their impact and effect on the lives of ordinary people everywhere. The nationalism that the EDL, BNP, SOIE and their likes promote is segregationist, divisive, anti- working class and inhumane; it denies universal human identity. In fact, nationalism is by its very nature discriminatory and a reactionary trend and incompatible with human freedom and progress. So it is obvious then that we can’t build links with far-right groups that are antithetical to ours. Just as we can’t forge links with the Islamists. Our job is to criticize both of them, and mobilize people to oppose them and leave their ranks and to join us. That is politics and if people can’t take the heat, well there is always football hooliganism to return to.’
In another I have spoken of the similarities between the far-right and Islamism in a response to Stop Islamisation Of Europe. In it I say: ‘For now, however, suffice it to say that I find it comic how they – and the likes of the English Defence League or the British National Party – don’t see their affinity with the Islamists and the political Islamic movement. Stephen Gash’ statement is a great case in point. The Islamists blame Westerners for Western government policies – no matter how many of them come out and say ‘not in our name.’ For the Islamists, all Israelis are fair game; so is every single man, woman and child in America and so on and so forth. That’s why they target buses and discothèques. They too say that the people in the West elected those governments and therefore must be held accountable. In the world according to them, the people in America elected Bush so they deserved September 11; the people in Britain elected Blair so 7/7 was fair game. And in the world according to the likes of Stephen Gash, the millions languishing under and resisting Sharia law deserve what they get no matter how many are killed, tortured, burnt, stoned and hung from city squares…’
3. The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is not funded by right-wing think tanks. This is the first time I have heard such a ridiculous assertion. The CEMB is also not a ‘bogus organisation.’ The CEMB aims to break the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam and religion. This is particularly important given that apostasy is punishable with death for those living under Sharia laws and can be met with threats, intimidation and isolation for those living in Britain. We believe one’s religion or atheism is a private matter but not when one can be killed for it. Then a public renunciation becomes a form of resistance and challenge. This is a new and imaginative way of tackling the issue at hand, very much like gays coming out of the closet as a form of resistance. You can find out more on our website.
4. Opposing Sharia law, Islam, political Islam is not one and the same as promoting an anti-Muslim agenda. This is the perspective of the pathetic excuse of a European Left (of which our friend clearly belongs to), that takes the side of the ‘colonies’ no matter what goes on there, and their understanding of the ‘colonies’ is Eurocentric, patronising and even racist. In the world according to them, the people in Iran are one and the same with the regimes they are struggling against and that goes for their perspective on the ‘Muslim community’ here in Britain. They are one and the same with the Islamists. Here is more information on my perspective on this ‘left’.