1. arthur says

    It seems like the secular position is winning out here. Influential figures, including the Prime Minister, are now speaking out against segregation, and Universities UK have withdrawn their guidance.

    Kudos to all those who publicly objected to the Islamists, from Lawrence Krauss to Maryam Namazie.

  2. says

    Well done.
    I must also say that the interviewer did a good job. Not only did he make sure that Maryam could finish her sentences, he also mentioned important points like the fact that this is about public spaces and not private places like mosques and community centres

  3. Eric MacDonald says

    I can see, Ophelia, why you should squirm with anger and revulsion. One of the things that is made very clear in this interview (or ‘panel’ discussion) is how dogmatists speak in only one register, without any nuance or even apparent understanding of those who oppose them. (And, yes, the moderator was very good, enabling speakers to say their piece.) What is so important here is the distinction between private and public spaces (which is one reason why I think that the ban on the burqa or chador is not only necessary, but consistent with liberal principles of value). Islamists (and I am not at all convinced that there is a distinction between Islam and Islamism — and if there is, Islamism has existed almost from the seventh century) want to impose Islamic rules on aspects of free societies (like the Islamic guardians in Tower Hamlets (I believe)) — and since their avowed aim is to convert whole societies to submission to Allah, they have to begin somewhere — so that, eventually, they can extend their reach over more and more of a society’s public spaces and institutions. It would be foolish of us not to recognise the objects to which these people are dedicated.

    One of the things Jonathan Israel has pointed out about Enlightenment ideals of freedom is that those ideals included an awareness of the ability of religions to accumulate power, and the need to minimise this aspect of religious hegemony. Indeed, it was rightly held that religion itself could be a force for the subversion of liberty. And so it has turned out time and again. Liberal societies need badly to recapture that awareness of religious power, and the way that it can subvert civil liberties. For this reason, we should look with more favour upon efforts to limit religious expression in public space, an expression which is, for the most part, dedicated to perverting the course of democratic governance. In the Weimar republic, quasi religious power was exercised by uniformed gangs of thugs. It is right that paramilitary organisations of this sort should be banned. Why is it thought that religious groups should be exempt from the same kinds of limitations placed on dress? After all, those who dress in supposedly religious ways, or who assemble in public places for demonstrations of religious power (of religion’s ability to impose uniformity on its followers), do so precisely from political motives. The idea that Muslims or others should be recognisable by their religious dress is an expression of the wish of religions so identified to exercise religious power, and to be seen to be exercising such power, to keep themselves unsullied by the kafirs, pagans, or however else they choose to describe those they consider religiously (and therefore humanly) defective. The expression of such sentiments should not be a protected right. Indeed, in general, I support such things as the ban on the burqa/chador (call individual portable tents what you will), and other expressions of the power of religion over individuals, and I find it difficult to understand why liberals should be opposed to such limitations of religious expression.

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