Walking a tightrope: Between the pro-Islamist Left and the far-Right

1236466622-one-law-for-all-campaign-against-sharia-law-in-britain29189_29189Opposing Sharia and Islamism in the west is like walking on a tight rope most of the time – thwarting attacks from the Left, refuting cultural relativism, preventing alliances with the far-Right, explaining the issues ignored by government and the media, mobilising support for secularism and citizenship whilst opposing racism and xenophobia, and making linkages with the many fighting Islamism on the ground in countries across the world. It’s easy to fall off the tight rope and doesn’t surprise me when it happens given all the pressures involved.

Most disconcerting for many are the pressures from the Left; it is particularly hard when your “natural allies” betray basic human principles whilst using the language of rights and tolerance to defend the denial of rights and the intolerable.

Take this past weekend’s panel discussion at the NYU Global Secularisms conference that I was on. One of my co-panellists said she opposed all fundamentalists, including secular ones, when asked about my talk and another accused me of aiding and abetting racism against Muslims and Arabs by my very use of the term Sharia (I’ll have to comment on these later).

Add to this constant demonization, the day to day difficulties of doing such work, including the threats and all the clandestine attempts at intimidation and it is quite easy to see how one can be disillusioned and fall off the tightrope. (Just this week, I was asked to reassure a ‘moderate Muslim gentleman’ – read Islamist – with the content of my talk though he wouldn’t be attending and wanted me disinvited.)

I suppose it’s easier for people like me to stay the course coming from an Iranian Left political tradition with crystal clear clarity and an uncompromising defence of humanity. The Left I belong to has opposed cultural relativism and defended universal values and hasn’t sided with the Iranian regime or Syria’s Asad like Stop the War Coalition and the Socialist Workers Party.

When faced with such betrayal, I can fully understand that, for some, staying on course becomes impossible. What I can’t understand and will never accept, though, is falling off the tightrope or even trying to stay on whilst simultaneously finding solace in and partnership with the far-Right.

The argument in favour of collaboration with the far-Right is that we need as many allies as possible in the fight against Sharia and Islamism, which means that we must be “inclusive” and “tolerant” of those whose views we may find distasteful – all for the “cause.”

Sound familiar?

Is this not what the pro-Islamist Left says in justifying its collaboration with the Islamists?

I for one already work with many groups and individuals whose views I find distasteful; it is possible to do that in specific campaigns like One Law for All. But no movement includes or represents everyone. There are limits. And there are principles that are more important than any “cause.”

Also, creating movements is not merely a numbers game. When Stop the War Coalition brought in Islamists as partners, it ignored Islamic terrorism and discrimination against women. It sided with oppressive regimes, segregated meetings and defended Sharia and the veil. It brought lots of people to the streets initially but at what cost and for how long?

Collaborating with the likes of the English Defence League (EDL) may increase numbers in the short-term, but it’s self-defeating. This isn’t only about numbers. Aims and principles matter too.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I’m against the war on Iraq as is Al Qaeda but we’re against it for different reasons. I’m against Sharia and so is the EDL and the supposedly reinvented Tommy Robinson but we’re against it for different reasons.

I oppose Sharia in Britain and everywhere because universal rights, secularism, women’s rights and equality mean something to me. The EDL and Tommy Robinson oppose it because they want to defend their “homeland” (which I am reminded is a human right recognised by the UN) from “the changes and dangers brought to it by mass influxes of people from cultures they don’t understand or recognise.” Can you not see the fundamental differences in position? Theirs is a xenophobic position that blames immigrants and minorities for everything wrong with Britain. It’s a racist perspective that sees the teeming masses as the “other” trying to change white, British, Christian culture.

But people’s “culture” is not based on their immigration or citizenship status. Not every white European represents enlightenment values – as the EDL clearly proves. Nor is every immigrant or minority a regressive theocrat. This is not about a clash of civilisations between a regressive “east” and a secularist “west” but a clash between theocrats and the religious-Right on the one hand and secularists and democrats, including Muslims and immigrants on the other.

Where we each stand is based on our politics and choices not on our “identity” or immigration status. I too am one of those teeming immigrant masses after all as are many who are at the forefront of doing much of the dirty work of defending secularism in Britain and elsewhere.

It always annoys me to no end when I hear that the EDL are the only ones speaking out against Sharia. Please, we were speaking out against Sharia when EDL/BNP-types were openly collaborating with neo-Nazis and for white supremacy. Their language may have changed but political movements and organisations are thankfully not merely judged by the duplicitous language they use.

An undue focus on Britain, “homeland” and the west means that one can only see the likes of the EDL, thereby seeking common cause where there is none.

It also means that one cannot see the real allies in this fight, including amongst the “teeming hoards of immigrants” and women and men struggling in Iran, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, Bangladesh, Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere. One Law for All and the fight against Sharia and Islamism is a continuation of their struggle and fight – not that of the EDL’s and far-Right.

The far-Right will never have a place in One Law for All. I will make sure of that.

***
As an aside, I must briefly address the fact that Tommy Robinson has left the EDL. I for one have nothing against working towards common goals with those who have left far-Right organisations – EDL or Islamist. One Law for All already works with ex-Islamists and ex-members of the BNP and EDL. However, I am doubtful that Tommy is a changed man. When Ed Hussain or Majid Nawaaz left Hizb ut Tahrir and founded Quilliam Foundation, they criticised the Islamist organisation they left and created a new position and space for themselves and others. Tommy has yet to do that. So far, all I have heard from him is how proud he is of his time with the EDL; he continues to defend the organisation. He has merely criticised certain elements within the EDL but not the organisation itself and its politics. One can’t be ex-EDL and still defend the EDL if one wants to show that they have truly changed. Islamists do this all the time by changing their organisational name and carrying on with business as usual.

Personally I think this is all a publicity stunt for Tommy to reinvent himself into a more palatable persona without any lasting change in his politics. (Notice how the BBC follows him everywhere?) For his politics to be considered different, he would need to take responsibility for the EDL’s far-Right politics during his leadership and must be judged not only by what he says but by what he does. Only time will tell whether he is the same old Tommy; I certainly hope not.

Two new reports by One Law for All

Siding with the Oppressor: The Pro-Islamist Left

A new report by One Law for All entitled “Siding with the Oppressor: The Pro-Islamist Left” exposes Stop the War Coalition, Respect Party, Unite Against Fascism and individuals such as Ken Livingstone and George Galloway and their agenda and methods.

This section of the Left uses accusations of racism and Islamophobia and a conflation of Muslim with Islamist in order to defend Islamism and Islam rather than out of any real concern for prejudice against Muslims or their rights, particularly since Muslims or those labelled as such are the first victims of Islamism and on the frontlines of resisting it.

The report has been written as a companion volume to “Enemies not Allies: The Far-Right”. Like the far-Right which ‘despises’ multiculturalism yet benefits from its idea of difference to scapegoat the ‘other’ and promote its own form of white identity politics, the pro-Islamist Left also uses multiculturalism to side with the oppressor by viewing the ‘Muslim community’ and ‘Muslim world’ as homogeneous entities thereby ignoring and silencing dissenters.

This politics of betrayal sides with the Islamic far-Right and the oppressor. Challenging this perspective is especially important given its wide acceptance as ‘progressive’ in mainstream society.

Any principled point of view must oppose all forms of fascism, including Islamic fascism, and instead side with the countless people, including Muslims, who are fighting and challenging Islamism here in Europe as well as the Middle East, North Africa and the world.

Multiculturalism and Child Protection in Britain: Sharia Law and Other Failures

Another new report by One Law for All entitled “Multiculturalism and Child Protection in Britain: Sharia Law and Other Failures” reveals how a multicultural approach, adopted by local authorities and other public authorities, to child protection is placing children in danger and creating parallel societies. [Read more...]

Siding with the Oppressor: The Pro-Islamist Left

SidingWithOpressor_Web_Page_01

A new report by One Law for All entitled “Siding with the Oppressor: The Pro-Islamist Left” exposes Stop the War Coalition, Respect Party, Unite Against Fascism and individuals such as Ken Livingstone and George Galloway and their agenda and methods. This section of the Left uses accusations of racism and Islamophobia and a conflation of Muslim with Islamist in order to defend Islamism and Islam rather than out of any real concern for prejudice against Muslims or their rights, particularly since Muslims or those labelled as such are the first victims of Islamism and on the frontlines of resisting it.

The report has been written as a companion volume to “Enemies not Allies: The Far-Right”. Like the far-Right which ‘despises’ multiculturalism yet benefits from its idea of difference to scapegoat the ‘other’ and promote its own form of white identity politics, the pro-Islamist Left also uses multiculturalism to side with the oppressor by viewing the ‘Muslim community’ and ‘Muslim world’ as homogeneous entities thereby ignoring and silencing dissenters. This politics of betrayal sides with the Islamic far-Right and the oppressor. Challenging this perspective is especially important given its wide acceptance as ‘progressive’ in mainstream society.

Any principled point of view must oppose all forms of fascism, including Islamic fascism, and instead side with the countless people, including Muslims, who are fighting and challenging Islamism here in Europe as well as the Middle East, North Africa and the world.
The below is my postscript to One Law for All’s new publication Siding with the Oppressor: The Pro-Islamist Left. It is a companion volume to Enemies not Allies: The Far-Right. You can read full report here.

The politics of the pro-Islamist Left is a politics of betrayal.

It’s a betrayal of the dissenters and victims of Islamism but also of the very principles that the Left has historically defended (from social justice, egalitarianism, secularism, universalism, and human liberation, including from religion).

This Left uses multiculturalism, charges of racism and Islamophobia, and anti-imperialism, amongst others to defend the far-Right political Islamic movement.

Multiculturalism and Cultural Relativism

The Pro-Islamist Left relies on multiculturalism (not as a positive lived experience but as a social policy and political point of view) to deny the existence of dissent by pigeonholing innumerable individuals with innumerable characteristics into one imagined homogeneous grouping: ‘the Muslim community’ or ‘the Muslim world’. And since it is those in power that determine the dominant culture, this point of view sees Islamist values and sensibilities as that of ‘authentic Muslims’.

In fact, ‘Muslims’ or those labelled as such include secularists, ex-Muslims, atheists, free thinkers, women’s rights activists, LGBT campaigners and socialists.

Conflating Islamism with Muslim is a narrative peddled by Islamists in an attempt to feign representation.

Contrary to how it’s viewed, regressive Islamists are given authority as ‘community leaders’ not because they actually represent the ‘Muslim Community’ but because of their access to the state, political power and their links with the political Islamic movement. Multiculturalism is a cheap way for the state to outsource social control.

Clearly, the ‘Muslim community’ is not synonymous with Islamism any more than English is synonymous with the English Defence League or Christian with the Christian-Right.

Ironically, like the far-Right which ‘despises’ multiculturalism yet benefits from its idea of difference to scapegoat the ‘other’ and promote its own form of white identity politics, the post-modernist Left also uses multiculturalism to defend cultural and moral relativism and side with the oppressor.

To accept the Islamist narrative that Muslim equates Islamist is to hand over countless individuals to the political Islamic movement and to ignore the dissent, political, social and civil struggles and class politics.

This conflation means that those who challenge Islamism are accused of cultural imperialism and orientalism because the pro-Islamist Left has bought into the culturally-relativist notion that societies in the Middle East and North Africa (and the ‘Muslim community’ in the west) are ‘Islamic’ and ‘conservative’. Whilst those in power determine the dominant culture, there is no one homogeneous culture anywhere. Those who consider opposition to the veil or Sharia law as ‘foreign’ and ‘culturally inappropriate’ are only considering Islamism’s sensibilities and values, not that of the many who resist.

Only those who see their rights and lives as separate and different from those deemed ‘other’ and who have bought into (or are selling) Islamism’s narrative can see solidarity and the demand for equality in this warped way.

In fact, this politics doesn’t merely ignore dissent, in many ways it forbids it. The likes of StWC, Socialist Workers Party, Unite against Fascism, Islamophobia Watch, and Respect Party or Ken Livingstone and George Galloway are there as prefects to silence dissenters and defend Islamism as a defence of ‘Muslims’. There are many examples to show that they equate Muslim with Islamist.

In responding to those opposing its alliance with the Muslim Association of Britain (which is understood to be a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood), the StWC’s leadership Andrew Murray and Lindsey German have written:

Anyone remotely acquainted with the British trade union movement will be aware that neither sexism nor homophobia are uncommon in its ranks. […] woman can be subjected to more crude sexist behaviour than they might be likely to encounter within the Muslim Association of Britain. No one would suggest that an anti-war movement should have no truck with trade unionism until its ranks are 100 percent cleansed of such behaviour. Yet this is good enough as a stick to beat Muslims. Such attitudes indicate a form of racism, a desire to hold their organisations at arm’s length for the flaws which are, in some measure, tolerable in ours.

The comparison is absurd. The difference of course is that the ethos of the trade union is not anti-woman, its ethos does not say that apostates should be killed or as the head of the MAB said recently at a debate with One Law for All that women should be stoned to death. StWC’s alliance with the MAB is akin to aligning with the EDL and then saying that racism exists in the ranks of the trade unions too so why single out the English!?

Racism and Islamophobia

This pro-Islamist Left deems any criticism of Islam or Islamism as racism or Islamophobia. However, criticising a religion, ideology or political movement – far-Right or otherwise – has nothing to do with racism. In fact, Islamophobia is a political term used to scaremonger people into silence. [Read more...]

Simplicity is killing us…

In September 2011, I spoke at a meeting on Sharia law in Copenhagen, Denmark organised by the Danish atheists. The discussion was on sharia law but as in most talks on the issue, I also dealt extensively with the far-Right, the racist scapegoating and blaming of immigrants and Muslims for the crimes of Islamism and also the pathetic excuse of a pro-Islamist left who sides with Islamism at the expense of the population at large… [Read more...]