Saturday, September 26, 2015

Our enemy’s enemy is not our friend

Maryam Namazie fled Iran with her family in 1980. She is now a prominent secularist. She has been barred from speaking by the student union’s at a Warwick University event due to fears her speech would “incite hatred” against Muslim students. Maryam Namazie had been booked by the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists (WASH) group which was notified that Ms Namazie’s speech had been cancelled.

“They’re basically labelling me a racist and an extremist for speaking out against Islam and Islamism,” she said. “If people like me who fled an Islamist regime can’t speak out about my opposition to the far-right Islamic movement, if I can’t criticise Islam… that leaves very [few] options for me as a dissenter because the only thing I have is my freedom of expression. If anyone is inciting hatred, it’s the Islamists who are threatening people like me just for deciding we want to be atheist, just because we don’t want to toe the line.” She added, “To try to censor me, does a double disservice to those people who are dissenting by denying people like me the only opportunity we have to speak.” 

The decision to cancel the talk has been met with criticism from physicist Professor Brian Cox and physician and science writer Dr Ben Goldacre, who said they will no longer visit the university to give lectures as a result of the ban. Students in higher education should expect to be able to cope with having their views challenged, Cox said. "We can't allow over-sensitive students to wrap themselves in intellectual cotton wool." 

Her argument is that 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. She argues that 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. 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.”

Namazie is critical of the 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. 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.

Namazie writes: 
“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!?”

Namazie continues:
“Fundamentally, this Left’s support of Islamism comes down to its affinity with Islamism, which it sees as a force of resistance against imperialism. If racism was its real concern, it wouldn’t support the blatantly racist notion of different and lesser standards and rights for those deemed ‘different’.
This Left is part of an anti-colonial movement whose perspectives coincide with that of the ruling classes in the so-called Third World. It is on the side of the ‘colonies’ no matter what goes on there. And their understanding of the ‘colonies’ is Eurocentric, patronising and even racist. To them the people in these countries (and the ‘Muslim minority in the West’) are one and the same with the Islamists they are struggling against. This is why StWC manhandles and expels anti-Iranian regime activists from its demonstrations and rejects resolutions that simultaneously opposes a war on Iran and the regime’s attacks on the working class and population at large. It sees Islamism as a force for resistance whilst it is nothing more than a regressive force for repression. But an enemy’s enemy is not necessarily an ally.”

Further Reading:




Recommended Reading


The Socialist Party is perhaps the only political party that refuses membership to anyone subscribing to religious ideas. We are a Marxist materialist party. 


2 comments:

Peter Bennett said...

What are the members of the Warwick students' union beliefs? How are they selected?

Mike Ballard said...

For Germany, the criticism of religion has been essentially completed, and the criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism.

The profane existence of error is compromised as soon as its heavenly oratio pro aris et focis [“speech for the altars and hearths,” i.e., for God and country] has been refuted. Man, who has found only the reflection of himself in the fantastic reality of heaven, where he sought a superman, will no longer feel disposed to find the mere appearance of himself, the non-man [Unmensch], where he seeks and must seek his true reality.

The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.

It is, therefore, the task of history, once the other-world of truth has vanished, to establish the truth of this world. It is the immediate task of philosophy, which is in the service of history, to unmask self-estrangement in its unholy forms once the holy form of human self-estrangement has been unmasked. Thus, the criticism of Heaven turns into the criticism of Earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics.

A young Karl Marx