Speak up, secularists

Abhishek Phadnis considers the silence of secularists in the face of the left-Islamist alliance.

Radical Islam mines a rich seam of support in the British radical Left, nowhere more so than in our universities. In light of the Birmingham reversal, it may be instructive to take stock of the role of this unholy alliance in other recent events in British academia (of which I present a small selection) and what this implies for those of us who seek to keep this space secular.

In March, attendees were evicted from a debate at University College London for defying the gender-segregation imposed by the Islamist organisers, after the forewarned UCL issued glib assurances that there would be no segregation and did absolutely nothing to back them up. Two weeks later, the LSE Students’ Union twinned itself with the Islamic University of Gaza, which has been described as “the brains trust and engine room of Hamas”.

This time last year, the atheists of Reading University were evicted from their Freshers’ Fayre by the Labour-controlled Union for hosting a pineapple named ‘Mohammed’. Likewise, my own society has faced systematic harassment from the LSESU for refusing to genuflect to Islam, particularly since the Union’s 2012 thought-crime resolution banning “Islamophobia” (inter alia “hatred or fear of Islam…or Islamic culture” and “attacking the Quran as a manual of hatred”).

We have repeatedly been forced to take down cartoons from our private Facebook page, following anonymous complaints. We have also been arbitrarily thwarted in our attempts to better signpost ourselves for Islamic apostates (a heroic and persecuted ‘black’ minority that receives indifferent treatment from the Black Students’ Campaign) by incorporating “ex-Muslim” into the society’s name. Our latest proposal was rejected on the grounds that it ‘jeopardised the safety of ex-Muslims’, which came as news to the ex-Muslim organisations on whose recommendation we’d sought the change.

It’s a terrible, pathetic situation.


  1. maudell says

    As much as I dislike the iERA, I find it misleading to call them Islamist. There is quite a difference between Islamist and Islamic…

  2. Omar Puhleez says


    There is only difference between ‘Islamist’ and ‘Islamic’ depending on circumstances. In London the difference is huge compared with say, Riyadh, or even Istanbul.

    Where the Islamists have the most self-confidence, the difference diminishes to nothing. For example, the Islamic world united very solidly against the US and in support of the Taliban .after 9/11, but as the Taliban took losses and retreated, so did Islamic bravado.

    Ever since Lenin, the Left has generally failed to make any disinction between liberalism and ‘bourgeois liberalism’. Liberalism has generally, but not always, been sacrificed to expediency by the Left, particularly in the modern context where Arab-Israeli and Arab-US hostilities have featured so often on the front pages.

    The Left’s members are played for suckers by their Islamist allies. How welcome are leftist campaigners in Riyadh and other places where Islamists have real clout?

  3. Pen says

    @2 Omar – so what you’re saying is that the Muslim hive mind tries to disguise itself as people of different nations and cultures but really, centralised control is absolute?

    Really, some of Phadnis’ complaints are serious and deserve a more nuanced response than that. I’m going for ‘a sub-group of British people who’ve suddenly found themselves in a position of localised power and haven’t learned to sit on their offence and respect others yet’. I may be wrong and I do suspect some of them are also control-happy intolerant jerks but I’m not sure if that makes them virtually identical to whoever the Muslim version of Hitler is today. Needs dealing with, yes, but …

  4. ttch says

    Hmmm… The LSE Students’ Union believes that ex-Muslims who self-identify as such are endangered? I wonder from whom? Could the LSESU itself be Isamophobic?

    The LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society should publicize this position of their parent body as widely as possible.

  5. Dima Ziauddin says

    This issue is starting to come to a head. It is pustulating nicely, and will be ready to be lanced soon enough. These people will not win.

  6. Omar Puhleez says


    Nobody’s power has ever been absolute, not even Hitler’s or Stalin’s. I can’t see how what I wrote above could have implied that. But we all read things with (somewhat) different eyes.

  7. says


    Yeah, that, exactly. I try to be cautious about when and where I go to Islamophobe, but seriously, I’m really struck by that. That decision is pretty incredible, really. Notwithstanding the situation for Muslim apostates does have its peculiar flavour, telling them ‘We’re going to demand you remain invisible for your own safety’ does pretty definitely carry overtones of ‘Muslims are so dangerous’.

    Hell, overtones? Not even. That’s like the tonic in the triad, more.

    Seriously, I get there are issues, some places, at least. So do plenty of human rights organizations. But I think it’s pretty safe to say the ex-Muslims themselves are the ones could tell us all the most about that. And if they figure they want to say who they are on their banner, that’s a pretty basic human right. And a pretty important one.

    Oh, and on that: I keep going back here to that thing Ophelia commented on some weeks back. That need to be heard. Apostate from whatever, unbeliever of whatever, we and they need that too. And it’s something there just seem to be a billion excuses for denying. It’s a misery and cruelty builds up over your lifetime, this demand you be silent, invisible. The world really is going to have to start to take that more seriously. A little more nervous, but visible and feeling properly up-front about your own identity is probably much happier. And regardless, it should be their decision. It’s not just about the politics of it; it’s about that need, and what should be that right.


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