Islam: a religion not yet put in its place

Just imagine for one second that Christian fundamentalists call for the murder of atheists in Europe on a regular basis, for the reason that Christianity is being insulted by their absence of faith… One would be back to the times of Chevalier de la Barre, who himself was so young a man when he was tortured and executed for exactly the same reasons of ex-Muslims today. Would this be tolerated by the Left and human rights organisations, if it were Christian fundamentalists doing that? I doubt it. Then why this special treatment, this tolerance which only covers up for an unconscious racism, in the wake of such violations of the right to freedom of conscience and freedom of expression, including in the heart of Europe, – when it comes to Islam?

says Marieme Helie Lucas in UK: Blame the Victim. Read more here.


  1. Steersman says

    Indeed, although the “unconscious racism” bit seems somewhat wide of the mark. But, speaking of “its place”, it is hard to imagine a political/religious ideology more deserving of being thrown into the dustbin of history than Islam. While there is no doubt some value in having a common set of principles and values to knit together a group to reach common goals – “divided we fall, united we stand”, not all such principles and related goals are on an even footing or even in the same ballpark. And those of Islam seem remarkably odious, and, as Anthony Flew said in his review of Ibn Warraq’s Why I’m Not a Muslim, are “flatly incompatible with the establishment and maintenance of the equal individual rights and liberties of a liberal, democratic, secular state”.

    I’ve periodically argued, though none too successfully, that the US at least has a ready made law already on the books – the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 313 – that may provide a bulwark against what is a virtual invasion by such a culture and ideology. More specifically, the Act prohibits “the naturalization of persons opposed to government or law, or who favor totalitarian forms of government”. Hard to imagine a more totalitarian form of government, predicated as it is on a theocracy, than that intrinsic to Islam.

    • Mike Griffin says

      ” Hard to imagine a more totalitarian form of government, predicated as it is on a theocracy, than that intrinsic to Islam.”
      Don’t worry. We’ll build a wall so that our christofascists and you can feel all safe from the islamofascists.

      • Steersman says

        Oooh! Our very own safe space! Though I rather doubt the people gunned down in the Orlando nightclub, and those Bastille Day celebrants who were run down in Nice were all “christofascists” – many of the latter were probably too young to even know what the concept meant.

        And you might consider the wisdom of the aphorism about fighting fire with fire. Though you might also consider that your boogeyman of “fascism” isn’t quite the killer phrase you think it is, and that its impact has been seriously reduced through a too free, unjustified, and ignorant use of it. Kind or like “racist” and “sexist”, the too free use of which has, maybe arguably, contributed to Hillary Clinton’s largely welcome and quite deserved electoral defeat.

        But more specifically, you might note that the root of “fascism” is fasces which means or denotes “a bound bundle of wooden rods, sometimes including an axe with its blade emerging … [that] symbolized a magistrate’s power and jurisdiction … [and in] the modern world [symbolizes] a representation of magisterial or collective power”. As I argued or suggested in my original comment, groups are, at least at first blush, largely entitled to create and enforce laws to govern the interactions between their members – “fascism” in essence. But not all such groups and corresponding sets of laws are created equal, have equal merit, or should be given equal credence and support. And Islam, in that regard and on the basis of no shortage of evidence, has to be one of the worst, if not the worst, in all of recorded history. Rather an egregious case of false equivalence to even suggest otherwise.

        Karl Popper, in his 1945 book “The Open Society and Its Enemies”, quite reasonably and cogently wrote [1] that “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.” If Islam and Muslim immigrants are incapable of abandoning their barbaric practices and laws – like child marriage [2] and Sharia [3, 4], as clearly seems the case, then it’s hard not to conclude that the only rational solution the West has available is to close the borders to Muslim immigrants, ban the religion entirely, and/or deport all those Muslims – as happened in Greece in 1923 [5] – who object.

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          • Steersman says

            Thanks Anjuli.

            I’ve of course been getting emails whenever you post something new, and have periodically managed to at least skim through some of them without having the time to comment, as much as I’ve wanted to. But I did read recently one of your older posts, Sleepwalking, and listened to the interview with Wafa Sultan; that woman is a going concern, making any number of cogent and damning criticisms of Islam. Even managed to tweet it thither and yon – couple of times anyway. 🙂 But I think it vitally important to broadcast such far and wide.

            But of course the main issue on the front burner, as it was for many people, was the US election, and particularly how Trump and Clinton were planning to deal with Islam. And while I think that Trump was, at least, the lesser of the two evils, but that Trump’s “cure” may yet be worse than the Obama/Clinton/eltites “disease”, I still think that his position on Islam is the far more rational one. Hard to imagine a more dangerously deluded view than Obama’s and Clinton’s, that “Islam is a religion of peace”. And then she compounded [1] and amplified it by attacking Trump’s position:

            Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is accusing Donald Trump of treasonous behavior, because he’s specified that radial Islam is responsible for the surge of terrorist acts around the world.

            “The language that Mr. Trump has used is giving aid and comfort to our adversaries,” Clinton said, citing an article by former head of the counter terrorist center Mike Olsen citing Trump’s tough rhetoric as fueling Islamic state recruitment. She described Trump as a “recruiting sergeant” for ISIS.

            As if to say that we shouldn’t be criticizing criminals and psychotic thugs on the off chance they might do something worse to us than what they’ve already done. Which of course many artists and satirists on Twitter made much hay out of [2]. But far too much “sleepwalking” indeed from those who should know better – or would have known better about if at least some of them [HRC and the Clinton Foundation] didn’t have their hands shoulder-deep in Saudi Arabian pockets.

            In any case, hopefully Trump’s win will make it a little easier to broach what I and many others think is the vitally important question of whether Islam is compatible with Western democracies or not. I kind of doubt it, and Wafa Sultan herself certainly seems to suggest, and more, that it’s not. But we’ll see.

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            • says

              the vitally important question of whether Islam is compatible with Western democracies or not. I kind of doubt it

              You doubt that it is or you doubt that it isn’t?

      • Adam Zain says

        Your equation of Christianity and Islam is not valid.
        Islam is unusual in modern religions. The supposed founder – Mohammed, claimed that his sayings were the direct word of god and when these were collected and written down, they are supposed to represent an absolute and perfect book (which is of course a means of communication, and thus logically, translatable into every known language and understandable to every person). That means that the contents of the Quran are perfect and absolute and do not need interpretation – ie. can be taken literally. This is not true of the Bible which, by its own admission, is written by fallible humans who are merely reporting on their god. This gives Christians almost unlimited leeway in their interpretation – most take the words of Christ as the fundamentals of the religion but it is up to them how much trust they place in any single part of the Bible.

        Here are some things that Christ did not say (as far as I can remember – happy to be corrected here): Non-believers are sub-human. Non-believers are deliberately blinded to the truth by god, and then punished with torture because they are unbelievers. It is alright to rape your female captives that you have taken as slaves. It is alright to beat up your wife if you think she might be disobedient. Kill people who don’t share the same religion.

        In addition to the things Christ isn’t reported as saying, are the things he isn’t reported as doing, such as:

        Making money by robbing merchants and other tribes. Conquering non-believing towns/regions by force. Murdering male captives. Raping/encouraging his followers to rape female captives. Ordering the murder of a woman who mocked his religion. Ordering the murder of a person who left his religion. Extorting money from non-believers. Having sex with a little girl, while claiming to be under direct divine guidance and sanction.

        The Quran, I believe, claims that Mohammed (who did do all the above – again happy to be corrected; my memory is imperfect) is the best example of a person and is the final prophet.

        To follow the example of such a person – as a Muslim must do – is clearly antithetical to being a citizen in a secular democratic state. This can not be said of Christians, per se, though it can arguably be said of some followers of Christ.

        It is true that some self-identifying Muslims are not against secular democracy. These are people who disagree with the fundamentals of Islam (many in my extended family, for example). If it is OK to refer to these people as Muslims, then the word Muslim merely means someone who calls themselves a Muslim, even though disagreeing with Islam’s fundamental ideas.

        If this is the case, then my status as a self-identified multi-millionaire is secure, and the bank will be able to release funds to me that they currently claim I don’t have.

        Perhaps so-called moderate Muslims – ie. disbelievers who call themselves Muslims – should be referred to as cultural Muslims. This would remove one of the major sources of confusion evident in current debate, and might lead to media and politicians actually engaging with the facts for a change.

    • Mike Griffin says

      We are what we do, not what we use to justify our actions. I don’t see any evidence that ideology or dogma, is what motivates people. The bible and the koran were both written by people no matter what their followers say. Most of the “followers”it ignore it in their daily lives except to go through the social norms of their culture to not offend anyone. The fundies are different. for them it’s all fear and power over others.
      If you don’t think the christian fundies would not do exactly what the taliban does if they could, you are delusional. Your ignoring history..Most believers don’t care what the bible or the koran say. They mine them to find writings to justify doing what they want. Christians had no trouble finding passages to defend slavery and the subjugation of women. Some christians “believe” in the father god who justifies their domination of women and any “other”. because it’s what they want to believe. Others embrace a loving god, also by cherry picking the scriptures, which are incoherent anyway. The appropriate writings in the bible will be found to justify whatever position people who claim to be believers take. Muslims ditto. It isn’t about the dogma. It’s self-serving. the ideology really doesn’t matter. That’s why there are so many different types of believers.
      And it doesn’t matter what you “recall” Jesus saying because it has no bearing on anything. American evangelical christians don’t care what Christ supposedly said. They care about social and political power over others. That’s why they pray in public and love rich authoritarians, things that Jesus supposedly condemned. But none of it matters. My mom was born in Germany in 1923. She told me that one of the excuses for persecuting Jews is that they couldn’t be real Germans because their fist loyalty was to their faith. Sounds a lot like what I’m hearing about muslims. Using some religious or cultural identifier to demonize a whole people is what bigots do.
      I’m sure Herr Trump will save us from the awful muslims, btw. As well as immigrants and a few others on the list. It’s

      • Adam Zain says

        You are confusing demonizing with holding people accountable for the ideologies they support. You can disapprove of an aspect of someone’s life choices without demonizing them. You can also be realistic about the impact of those life choices on one’s children and peers. The UK has plenty of moderate Muslims – if, and it’s a big if, we can define Muslim as someone who rejects the basic tenets of the faith. Many of those moderates are happy to send their children to Islamic schools or to madrassas where they learn from the Quran. None of the moderate Muslims in my family, for example, are prepared to advise their children that parts of the ‘perfect’ Quran are just plain wrong and need to be ignored. As a result, we have fundamentalists in the mainstream, in the UK, in numbers, and protected by a wall of silence for much of the time, while they are preaching murder, misogyny, homophobia and intolerance of democratic principles. This freezing effect on criticism, combined with a willingness to accept Saudi money in many areas, has led much of moderate Islam in the UK to be powerless to prevent the radicalisation and increasing Salafism/Wahabism from effectively claiming some sway over much of an entire generation.

        So, yes, I do have a right to tell my Muslim family and friends to stop supporting the Quranic ideology, to stop putting their name to a faith – and a publication – that attacks the basis of our cultural values; just as I have a right to disapprove of neo-nazis – even the ones that are just in it because of family and peer pressure and have no actual interest in the racist ideology – and yes these people do exist. I have a right to disapprove of Christian ministers that preach from the Old Testament (most do), of people who drive cars or eat meat – or drop litter or neglect their dog. That’s not demonization; it’s treating others as adults who have some responsibility for the choices they make and the things they support.

        We have had a good record with fascism in the UK – at least since the 1930s, since when it has been an ideology that is disapproved of and mocked here. The result is that the far right has never got a foothold here and otherwise decent people who may have been swayed by the rhetoric, the racial flattery or the fancy uniforms, have been forced to think about what it is that they are considering supporting. In a totalitarian regime, I wouldn’t blame people so much for nominal support of fascist ideology, just as I wouldn’t blame an Iranian woman for wearing a niqab or similar – it’s a survival strategy for many. In this country, however, there are greater freedoms and therefore greater responsibilities for all of us.

        • MG says

          “You are confusing demonizing with holding people accountable for the ideologies they support.”
          “I wouldn’t blame people so much for nominal support of fascist ideology, just as I wouldn’t blame an Iranian woman for wearing a niqab or similar ”
          Which is it?
          Why not just hold people accountable for what we do, and stop pretending anyone is motivated by these ideas. The religious right in the US is a cultural tribe of mostly bigots who use religion as a tribal marker and to justify their fear of others. Any religion or ideology will do. I don’t think the new testament is much better than the old, but who cares? They don’t read it anyway. Islam is just another tribal religion used to justify the same behaviors toward women and keep the social food chain as it is.
          The problem I have with the anti-Islam crowd here in the US is they are just catering to the right wing base, and not explaining why all of these religions should not be used as an excuse to hate others, or to keep people “in their place” .I know some of these hardcore Christians, and make no mistake, they would love a theocracy that favors them. Here in the US, my worries are less about immigrants and more home grown hate. Our freedoms can be taken away by the people who will “protect us” from the muslims.
          I fear the worst is yet to come, and it won’t be from overseas.

          • Adam Zain says

            Secondly, you quote two of my statements, misquoting the second one:

            ““You are confusing demonizing with holding people accountable for the ideologies they support.”
            “I wouldn’t blame people so much for nominal support of fascist ideology, just as I wouldn’t blame an Iranian woman for wearing a niqab or similar ”
            Which is it?”

            Both my statements were consistent with each other. Why did you leave out the first, qualifying part of my sentence ie. “In a totalitarian regime, I wouldn’t blame people so much for nominal support of fascist ideology, just as I wouldn’t blame an Iranian woman for wearing a niqab or similar”.?

            That qualifier was the whole point of that sentence – to say that I would hold people less accountable for their actions where they have less real choice – as in the case of state oppression in countries held hostage by Islamic gangsters – Iran, Saudi, etc. But, there is still some accountability – there is a limit to what you should allow yourself to be forced or bullied into doing – murder, for example, can’t be entirely excused by the fact that you were forced into it.

            Deliberately leaving out the qualifying statement in someone’s sentence when you quote them, is a dishonest tactic. Or was it really a mistake? Please be more careful or more honest in future.

            On your other contention: Islam isn’t just some convenient thing to use to support views people already hold, like any other religion, as you claim. It, like any other ideology or religion, actively shapes people’s perceptions of the world and therefore their actions within it. People don’t blow themselves (and others) up because they just happen to feel like blowing themselves up and use Islam as an excuse. They blow themselves up because they believe they are going somewhere else after they have done so – somewhere nice, where they will be rewarded for killing the ‘enemy’ of the religion.

      • Adam Zain says

        Firstly, MG, in relation to your previous comment – of course ideology and dogma motivates people. I’m amazed you haven’t seen any evidence of it. People aren’t just ‘bad’ or ‘good’ for no reason – their behaviour and attitudes are affected by their beliefs about the world. I’ll give you a few examples from my extended family. Modern progressive women who are naturally fair minded and egalitarian, colluding with the Islamic inheritance system, in which the woman inherits a half share, compared to her male siblings. They wouldn’t do this – and it affects not just them, but helps keep a system going that will potentially impact their female relatives, nieces, daughters etc – they wouldn’t do this in any secular sphere of life. The only reason for going along with this is doctrinal.

        Another example; my partner’s brother beating up his younger sister in front of other members of the family. This sister had mental health problems. The brother is a member of the business community and, on the surface, fully integrated into modern progressive Britain. Yet, he beats up his vulnerable sister in order to get rid of the evil spirits – Jinns – that he believes are possessing her. The other family members – some of them progressive, highly educated people, do nothing. (My partner wasn’t there – she would have done something, I’m glad to say). This particular sister is now dead, due to depression and the subsequent neglect of her own health. I’m sure that the dogma and ideology she had been subjected to all her life from family and peers, had a part to play in her problems. I’ve seen plenty of friends, partners and family members – women and girls particularly – pulled in different directions by the need to adhere to dogma and ideology in order to retain their sense of identity, even though the ideology is at odds with their character, inclinations and personal ethics.

        The idea that dogma and ideology do not motivate people is ridiculous – it flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence that shows the opposite. People act on reality. Ideology and dogma – if you believe in it – provides your reality.

  2. Steersman says


    Steersman: the vitally important question of whether Islam is compatible with Western democracies or not. I kind of doubt it

    You doubt that it is or you doubt that it isn’t?”

    Sorry for the ambiguity. I doubt that it is compatible; I expect that Islam is entirely and fundamentally incompatible with democracy: oil and water. How can a theocratic form of government ever co-exist within the same body politic as does democracy?

    As Anthony Flew put it, in his review [1] of Warraq’s “Why I’m Not a Muslim”, “Islam is flatly incompatible with the establishment and maintenance of the equal individual rights and liberties of a liberal, democratic, secular state”. And of course, Warraq elaborated on that theme in exhaustive but comprehensive and quite damning detail. And even Shadi Hamid [2, 3] basically reaches the same conclusion, at least the precursor to it, though he seems not to have sufficient intellectual integrity to address the implications of it, i.e., Islam should be banned in Western nations, and that they (we) should close the borders to Muslim immigration. Maybe a harsh conclusion, but it seems the only one of any credibility. And the one most consistent with the “facts on the ground”, including your observations [4] on “the violence inherent to Islam”.

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    • says

      Islam is entirely and fundamentally incompatible with democracy

      I think it’s worse than that. All religion is fundamentally incompatible with democracy by virtue of being “revealed truth”. So all discovery must necessarily conform to such revealed truth. This makes religion fundamentally incompatible with reason. This, in turn, makes nonsense of debate, opinion, seeking innovative solutions, or unconventional implementations. The only way around this, while retaining religions, is to make religion subject to reason. This, as I understand it, is achieved by making religion a private matter of personal choice that cannot be imposed on another. A precondition for this is individual freedom and guaranteed equal rights and protections.

      Subject to reason, religion can be anything you want, provided it does not impinge upon anyone else’s rights and freedoms. No religion accepts such a dressing down without a fight, they deal in “God’s Law” after all. Christianity set off some spectacular bloodletting in a series of overlapping religious wars between 1524 and 1651 (btw. one of my disagreements with Ayaan Hirsi Ali is that she imagines the Christian Reformation was a peaceful affair borne of reason and debate), all to preserve its pre-eminence in the face of the upstart “man’s laws”. The rule of law prevailed and religion, all religion, was forced to comply. Henceforth worship would be on secular terms, not on God’s terms.

      Except Islam, which was preserved in its pre-rational condition under social conditions that did not require its subjugation to equality and equal rights for all. The undercutting of Islam and it subjugation to reason never happened. There have always been isolated individuals and fringe heretical movements that put such subjugation forward. We know what happened to them. When there were still thinkers amongst Muslims, they tried their utmost to reconcile the Qur’an with reason (Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd being famous examples), but failed. And they were not thanked for their efforts! So it is perfectly normal to hear a learned professor say that he believes a winged horse, that instantly places its foot as far as its eye can see, had carried Muhammad to Heaven and back in one night (Dawkins should not have been so astounded when Mehdi Hassan smugly declared that he believed it too). In Islam, discovered truth is still subject to revealed truth. If what science discovers does not comply with the Qur’an, then science is wrong, obviously. There is no way on Earth that you are going to persuade Muslims to submit the Qur’an to reason. “God’s Law” has not yet been cut down to size. I’m sorry to say, but there still needs to be an almighty bloodletting in a tectonic intra-Islam religious war, between the voices of reason inside Islamic societies who are going to have to take on the Islamic establishment. Their chances of success are high, since the most steadfast observers of the Qur’an have taken it upon themselves to cleanse the world of fitna, both the West and all Muslims who have strayed from the path. They chalk up every act of terror as a victory, not realising that every single day in Muslim lands, Islam is haemorrhaging adherents by the thousands.

      I’m sorry, that’s a bit of a longwinded response. In nutshell, Islam first has to be made subject to reason before the question of compatibility with democracy can even be approached.

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