If not now, then when?

Someone always has some statistics about the West’s failings whenever I speak of Iran or Islam or sharia and wants to know what I’m doing about it…

Next time I meet someone protesting against the welfare cuts in Britain, I’ll be sure to ask what s/he is doing about the Iranian regime’s cut in subsidies or the brutal economic sanctions!? (Not.)

And this happens to me all the time and it’s usually from people who do – well – nothing.

Just recently, after my talk at the National Secular Society’s Secularism conference, someone came up to specifically advise me not to focus on  Sharia law as it is discriminatory to do so (I guess they were sleeping during my speech). I asked the ‘well-meaning’ chap whether he would then go up to the brilliant Sue Cox at the adjoining Survivors Voice – Europe stall to ‘advise’ her to focus on something other than paedophilia and child rape in the church because it was so very discriminatory against Christianity. My point was that this is a demand solely made of us dissenters of Islam.

It never seems to be the right time or place to raise our issues…

I am now reminded of this because again today some dimwit, biasedfreethoughts, has spewed off statistics on US executions in a comment on my piece on the current killing spree by the Islamic regime of Iran and asked what I am doing against executions in the US!

That I am a long-term anti-death penalty campaigner or that this demand is never made of anti-DP campaigners in the US are side issues.

What angers me most about this sort of comparison (apart from being patronising) is that the reason behind it is not a real concern about the death penalty. Rather it is an attempt to promote a hierarchy of rights and wrongs – with the US always in the lead, thereby trivialising and dehumanising the lives of ‘the other’ and also their forms of resistance. If it’s not somehow holding the US culpable for everything, then it’s not the time and place.

Let me fill you all in on a secret.

The precious lives of the thirteen executed in the past 48 hours  – whatever their ‘crimes’ – is just as important  as the precious lives of those languishing on death row in the US – not more and not less.

And whilst I have often said that US-led militarism is the other side of the coin of Islamism, am I not allowed to focus on the executions in Iran if I so choose without someone telling me what is more important to condemn?

If not now, then when?

If not me, then who?



  1. Becky says

    So true. It’s like you have to put really obvious disclaimers at the end of everything, because stupid people think that if you pay attention to Islam it means you’re promoting Christianity or cheering on every single thing ever done in the West.

  2. says

    Well, for what it’s worth, I think now is as good a time as any, and you’re as qualified as any.

    As to ‘never the right time’, it’s funny the number of reasons you hear for this, and the number of times you do.

    …on so many issues. On all sides of every ocean.

  3. operation archangel says

    rich millionaires with their heads up the arses


  4. Zachary Mullin says

    Christian medivalism is, for the most part, simply a matter of history books, the same is not true with islam. A christian is more likely to annoy you with idiotic points if you attack his faith, with muslims physical attack is a very real concern.

  5. Mehran Mahbobi says

    Dear Maryam,
    Against execution in Iran has political meaning just because tbe regime bas started this campaign to execute people to push back people from overthrowing it! It is completely different matter from any where else! That is what we can add on top of what you already said. This makes it much more of importance tomce against execution in Iran!

  6. sheila says

    Funny how the people who say “Why are you campaigning about X when Y is so much more important?” are almost never doing anything themselves about X or Y or even Z.

    It’s not just Islam vs Christianity, or the USA vs Iran. On the few occasions when I’ve raised money for third world children, I get “But what about local charities?” The friend who helps out at the animal shelter gets asked why she hates humans…

    It’s weird, and completely unhelpful.

  7. M, Supreme Anarch of the Queer Illuminati says

    “Don’t talk about X, talk about Y” goes in all directions, and it’s always counter-productive. One day it’s “don’t talk about state killings in Iran, talk about state killings in the U.S.”; the next it’s “don’t talk about state killings in the U.S., talk about violent theocracy in Iran.” Especially in spaces like FtB, can’t we all just take it as the norm that a person talking about X is doing so in addition to, rather than instead of, talking about Y (which they do on other occasions)?

    (In other places, sure, I’ll make a point of mentioning in passing if I’m condemning the actions of one authoritarian state that I’m not defending bad actions of other states; but that’s because there’s a whole sector of public discourse that will take for granted that the only reason to criticize Iran is as an excuse for a military occupation and forced conversion campaign, because that’s why they criticize Iran. But this is FtB; we’re all on the same page with the “violent authoritarianism is bad!” bit.)

  8. iknklast says

    The left’s version of American Exceptionalism is to make America the worst villain in the room. We are still number one – but we’re number one at bad. So any focus on any other problem somewhere else in the world, if it can’t be tied to the bad US, can be ignored.

    Or maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe these are just people who hate to hear horrible things about other countries, and worry about racism, and honestly want a better world for everyone. Far be it from me to try to read minds.

  9. ismenia says

    It’s just a way of saying, “shut up!”

    I was once asked why the human rights organisation I worked for didn’t focus on cancer instead. When I pointed out that you might as well ask why Cancer Research don’t do anything about torture I was told that torture is just one of those things that happens.

    Sometimes it’s because people are very uncomfortable with others doing good work. It makes them feel guilty or maybe challenges their world-view. Others just derail because they don’t like what you’re saying but can’t fault you on the facts.

    I’ve never had this kind of problem with people who are doing charity work in some other area. A colleague and I were once quite shocked when some people we were talking to at a function seemed really impressed by what we did, saying we were “hardcore” then told us that they worked with children with HIV!

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