Historically, criticism of religion has been a crucial aspect of free expression and intrinsically linked with anti-clericalism and the dismantling of that which is deemed taboo and sacred by the gatekeepers of power.
Such criticism has been key for social progress. It is also a matter of life and death for many living under Islamist rule, such as in those areas where Isis has seized power, Saudi Arabia, or in Iran where criticism of religion and the state are analogous. There, anything from demanding women’s equality or trade union rights to condemning sexual jihad and the “Islamic cultural revolution” (which banned books and “purified” higher education) can be met with arrest, imprisonment and even the death penalty.
…. The labelling of much-needed criticism of Islamism as antisocial, even dangerous by left apologists sees dissent through the eyes of Islamists and not the many who refuse and resist. How else are we to show real solidarity with those who struggle against the theocracies we have fled from – if not through criticism? The fight against Islamism and the need for international solidarity apparently does not enter into their calculation.
Even their paternalistic “concern” for British Muslims is incoherent. After all, aren’t many critics of Islamism Muslims too? In fact, Muslims or those labelled as such are often the first victims of Islamism and are at the forefront of resistance. Also, not everyone in what’s referred to as the Muslim “community” is a Muslim, and even if they are, religion is not the only characteristic that defines them. [Maryam Namazie, 352 comments]
[TOP RATED COMMENT 183 votes] Wow. Didn’t expect to read such an article in the Guardian today.
Ironically, these postmodernist “leftists” have one set of progressive politics for themselves (they rightly want gay marriage, women’s equality and the right to criticise the pope and Christian right) and another for us.
Yes, this is pertinent. I broadly identify as a liberal, and am frequently bemused at the cultural relativism so many others who do the same indulge in when it comes to Islamism.
[2ND 163] “At its core, this is a global fight between theocrats and the religious right on the one hand, and secularists and those fighting for social justice on the other. … Now is the time to reclaim the left and the values it represents for us all”.
A thousand recommends. This is a much-needed call to action. Is the left capable of responding?
[3RD 133] Great article. A contrast to the drivel spouted by Shariatmadari last week
[4TH 127] This has been a monumental betrayal by much of the left, who have stood around while the rights of women have been decimated, freedoms have been curtailed and minorities have been persecuted.
More than that, these same people who claim to be of the left have chucked around accusations of racism at those who have tried to speak out, have ‘no-platformed’ critical intellectuals, and generally done their damnedest to shut down anybody who might point out their moral and intellectual bankruptcy.
[5TH 123] And I admit, I’m a socialist who is baffled by the Left’s attitude to reactionary religion and don’t know how to respond. Recently I’ve started arguing with other lefties, but that upsets my friends and lets the rest simply write me off as a ‘racist’. What does anyone else suggest?
[6TH 120] There is so much to say about this issue, and no doubt, more will be written about this incident and the response to it.
In the meantime, thanks to the Guardian for publishing Maryam’s response. Hopefully you will be able to find space for more Exmuslim secular voices in future.
[7TH 118] Great stuff, well done.
I too am puzzled about how the left can be pro LGBT and feminism and yet also embracing a homophobic and misogynist religion (note: not race)
[8TH 112] Excellent. A much needed article.
“After all, aren’t many critics of Islamism Muslims too?”
A point often overlooked by those who seek to silence criticism of islamism with cries of xenophobia etc.
[9TH 110] “if we’re going to go after one we ought to go after all of them”
That’s exactly what she’s saying – that this one particular religion shouldn’t be any more protected than any of the others. We are perfectly free to openly condemn Christianity, yet criticism of Islam is being actively censored.
And why shouldn’t we be able to say that Islam is currently more harmful than the others? It is illogical to think that they are all precisely as good or bad as each other, we should be able to judge them like we would judge anything else.
[10TH 106] Excellent article. I stopped buying The Guardian recently after enjoying it and believing in its principles for the last 35 years. I stopped because it became clear to me that in order to be seen not to be opposing what was perceived as a persecuted racial minority it began to become an “excusenik” for a right-wing, religiously extreme group of fascist bigots.
This became a step too far for me. Sadly other left-wing pillars that I have supported since I became politically aware: Universities and the Labour Party for example, have also painted themselves into this particular corner.
There should be no doubt among the Left….if organisations seek to appease Fascist organisations, whatever their race whatever their religion, they will not be forgiven by our children or grandchildren, particularly if those children are women, are gay or who seek not to believe in a particular pre-medieval superstition.
[ANOTHER COMMENT 41] I have to say I am quite shocked with the Guardian’s behaviour when it comes to Islam. They published Shariamadari’s article fairly prominently on their front page, then censored a large portion of the comments (overall most of them were highly critical of that ridiculous piece).
And now it appears that despite having given Maryam the right of reply, she’s had her article heavily edited in order to avoid upsetting “sensitivities” and as a final insult, buried deep in the recesses of website. Completely inaccessible to most people, who have to discover it from second hand sources.
Judging by the overwhelming majority of opinions, you are failing your readership. Big time. It’s time you started siding with sanity. [Guardian Cif] Read more