International TV interview with Hamid Taqvaee
24 July 2005

Maryam Namazie: There have been many solutions put forward for ending Islamic terrorism in Europe. One of them is an immediate end to Western intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East.

Hamid Taqvaee: In my opinion, you have to first define the problem in order to find the solution. Defining the problem as Islamic terrorism or extremism is incorrect; the problem is in fact political Islam.

Political Islam exists because it was created in the final analysis by the policies of Western governments. And, I am not referring to the Iraq war alone or Western intervention in Afghanistan. These are only the most recent examples. Western governments have basically been supporting political Islam for some twenty to thirty years now, including the Taliban vis-à-vis the former Soviet Union. They created the climate for the problems we are faced with today. Political Islam rose to power when Western powers supported Khomeini against the Shah in order to control and in fact defeat the revolution in Iran. These are the roots of the political Islam that we see today. And that is only one aspect of the reality we are faced with.

The other is the way that Islam and religion are promoted as a whole in Western society. With Reaganism, Thatcherism, and neo-conservatism, religion has been given a growing role in education and our system of values in the name of multiculturalism and toleration of cultures.

Basically, then, if you want to find a solution to a problem, you must first understand what the problem is. The problem is not extremism. The problem is not only terrorism. The problem is political Islam.

The terrorism we have seen in Iran, Iraq, or Palestine for some time now is the sort of terrorism being seen in the US, Spain, England… To tackle this problem, one must stand against political Islam – politically, socially, and ideologically – and also support common human values all over the world – not Western or Eastern or British values against Islamic values.

The whole system is upside down and the reason we are faced with such problems.

You must rely on the universal values of civil society, on secularism and humanism and attack political Islam and religion as part of government, the educational system, and a social system with the most backward system of values. The solution is secularism, defending humanism, defending civil society, defending universal values of human beings against any kind of religious political, social, governmental system, including political Islam.

Maryam Namazie: The British government’s proposals to deal with terrorists include setting out new measures to deport “Muslim preachers of hate” or bar people who incite terrorism. Muslim leaders are to set up a commission into the religious and political problems that are driving Islamist extremism. Tony Blair has met with ‘Muslim envoys’ and told them to “confront this evil ideology.” “Take it on,” Blair said, “and defeat it by the force of reason”. Are you saying that all these sort of policies will actually not get us anywhere?

Hamid Taqvaee: I don’t think so because they don’t deal with the problem. If there is a proven relationship between a group or cleric and political Islamic trends in the UK, they must be condemned and prosecuted. Where does deportation come into it? If British citizens are British citizens and are prosecuted according to the law, deporting them only divides citizens between those who are born here or who are Anglo-Saxon versus others. It is a form of racism. The fact that they or their parents originally came from other countries, and can therefore be deported back there is part of the problem.

The problem is that these governments don’t see human beings as human beings – not even their own citizens. Even British citizens are classified as Muslims or Asians or Arabs, or from wherever they came from, or where their parents and grandparents came from; that is exactly the problem. Of course if someone commits a crime, treat them like a criminal; prosecute them according to the law but why deportation?

Regarding the “force of reason”, it is clear that the basic root of recent events lies in their policies in Iraq. In Iraq, we have the same situation that we had in London recently but on a daily basis. They are killing people, children everyday in Iraq. It does not justify what happened in London but it does explain it somewhat. If we are to talk about reason, then this is clearly a political problem. It is not a problem of semantics – of some fundamentalists or extremists in England. If you want to see what the reason is, the reason is Western government policies. And the cause is not only their intervention in Iraq or Afghanistan as I said before, but also Thatcherism, Reaganism and neo-conservatism. These are the dominant policies of Europe and the USA as well. They give leeway and promote religion in education, in the system of values, in society, in government. For example, we have Islamic schools and other religious schools everywhere. Secularism has been forgotten in the West. If Tony Blair wants to attack the problem with reason, then one cannot stand against extremism and Islamic terrorism alone without referring its roots, without referring to the environment created by Western policies. That is the root of the problem. That is the real force of reason.

Maryam Namazie: So, are you saying that Iraq is the problem then?

Hamid Taqvaee: Withdrawing from Iraq is a good move. But, what I am saying is that it is not enough. Do something with religion and Islam in your own country. Do something in the philosophy of your culture. Go back to the French revolution. And attack any religion as a social activity. Religion is a private matter. Everybody has a right to have a god or not. It’s their personal problem. Please treat religion as a private matter.

This will mean no religious schools any more. No good and bad religions. Don’t try to have good Muslims versus bad Muslims. Attack Islam and any other religion as a part of the state, the educational system, and system of values. Let them be the private matter of people. That is the best way of solving the problem.

Maryam Namazie: What practical steps will stop Islamic terrorism in Europe?

Hamid Taqvaee: First pull out of Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East. Second, declare that you support secularism everywhere in the world. Break ties with religious regimes like the Islamic Republic of Iran. Condemn Islam in government everywhere, including in Saudi Arabia or other countries allied to the West as well. Don’t put West and East as a factor in your position and fight against terrorism. Don’t just call it terrorism but political Islam. Fight political Islam and religion in political systems anywhere in the world.

The second step is to declare secularism and civil society as a universal value and goal for governments and people all over the world. It means that you have to condemn the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Mr. Karzai in Afghanistan. It is not only a question of withdrawal from certain countries but the promotion of civil values, secular and humanistic values of the French revolution all over the world.

They can do this easily but they don’t because when you think about it, you see that this is actually part of the policies of Western governments and the Western ruling classes. The problem is that having Islam and religion as a whole as a component of the political system is part of the new doctrine of Western neo-conservatism. It is a part of Thatcherism and Reaganism. It is a part of what Mr. Bush as done in the recent US election; his campaign was promoting himself as a representative of god in the White House.

This has to be fought. Everybody knows that Western governments won’t do this because their policies won’t allow it; they are fact promoting the exact opposite. They want to have some sort of even extreme Islam active in the world and support governments like Saudi Arabia for example and at the same time they do not want terrorism. You cannot do this. Either you stand against the whole thing and declare secularism, civil societal values, universal, humanistic philosophy of society, or you are condemned to having terrorism occurring all over the world again and again. That is the fact of life these days. A very concrete way of fighting political Islam is declaring and defining secularism as a universal value everywhere in the world.

The above interview was broadcast on TV International English on 24 July 2005 and transcribed by Ozgur Yalcin. The programme can also be viewed via the internet:

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