- Posted by Maryam Namazie
- On July 22, 2005
- 0 Comments
Stand up to Political Islam Warning: religion is bad for our social health
Published in the Tribune
July 22, 2005
It is no longer only in places like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia where political Islam and religious rule are wreaking havoc but also in the very heart of the secular west albeit in different and more subtle ways.
Here the Islamists are generally more ‘civilised’. They cannot hang the likes of sweet 16 Atefeh Rajabi for “acts incompatible with chastity” as in Iran, stone the likes of Amina to death for adultery as in Afghanistan or beat doctors for treating female patients as in Basra.
Instead, they demand the ‘right’ to veil for women and children in France when in the Middle East they impose compulsory veiling by throwing acid in the faces of those who refuse and resist. In Britain, they cry racism and Islamophobia against anyone who speaks out against Islam and its political movement, whilst in Iran and its likes they hang ‘apostates’ and ‘Kafirs’ from trees and cranes. In Britain, they demand the prosecution of those who ‘incite religious hatred’ when everywhere it is they themselves who incite more hatred and violence than can be articulated or imagined. In Europe, they call for tolerance and respect of their beliefs, when it is they who have issued fatwas and death threats against anyone who they deem disrespectful and intolerable.
Steadily, political Islam, using rights language and cries of Islamophobia in order to silence any opposition, is gaining ground and hacking away at secularism here even though criticism or even ‘phobias’ of ideologies, religions, cultures or political movements are not racism.
In the heart of secular Europe, women and men who have resisted political Islam, no longer feel fully safe. We can soon be prosecuted and face up to 7 years imprisonment in Britain for being offensive against or going beyond the ‘legitimate’ criticism of Islam. We are already called Islamophobes whenever we speak against Islam and its movement. It is we who are deemed extremists by Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, when we oppose the visit of Yusef al-Qaradawi, the ‘moderate’ Islamic scholar whose support for women’s ‘modesty’ and violence against women and his condemnation of sexual acts as ‘perversions’ are no different from the Islamic laws in Iran. And even here in Europe, our rights are culturally relative and never universal. Each and every one of us is forever the ‘Muslim minority’ who must have Sharia courts, faith schools, and the ‘right’ to veil… Never ever equal citizens but fragmented minority communities deserving of the same rules and regulations that we resisted and fled in the first place.
In Europe, Islam and political Islam are constantly being repackaged in a thousand ways to make this cultural relativism and appeasement more palatable for the western audience. There is now moderate Islam, Islamic reformism, Islamic human rights, Islamic feminism, Islamic democracy… These notions would have been ridiculed by the avant-gardes of 18th century enlightenment. Yesterday’s ridiculed notions, however, are today replacing the very human values fought for and taken for granted by modern society.
In the face of this onslaught, secularism, universalism and values worthy of 21st century humanity can only be defended via another transformative enlightenment by this century’s avant-gardes. We must give no more concessions to religion and cultural relativism; we must no longer respect and tolerate inhuman ideals, values and practices. An uncompromising and shamelessly aggressive demand for secularism is only a minimum, though, if we are to ensure that humanity is safeguarded. Today, more than ever, we are in need of the de-religionisation of society – a concerted battle against the religion industry, which is above the law, unregulated and never held accountable for its fatwas and murder.
Whilst this avant-garde battle has begun in Iran where an unprecedented anti-Islamic backlash and the demand for secularism are being championed by society, it had yet to really begin once again in Europe. The July 7 Islamic terrorist atrocity on London could mark the beginning of this battle here but only if religion and political Islam are taken head on.
So far this does not seem to be the case. The futile and ongoing support for a ‘moderate’ Islam, the justification of Islamic terrorism as retaliation for Iraq and Afghanistan, the warnings not to call it ‘Islamic terrorism’, the promotion of the brisk business of ‘Muslim community leaders’ and the policy of minoritism and cultural relativism will only continue appeasing this movement, increase Islamic terrorism and provide other opportunities for it to gain further access to power in Europe.
‘It has been proved time and time again that pushing back religiosity and religious reaction is not possible except through unequivocal defence of human values against religion. It has been proved time and time again that preventing religious barbarism does not come about through bribing it and trying to give it a human face, but through the fight against reactionary religious beliefs and practices. What price should be paid… to realise that Islam and religion do not have a progressive, supportable faction?’ (Mansoor Hekmat, In Defence of the Prohibition of the Islamic Veil for Children.)