Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category
Frère Tariq Feels Qualified to Give Orwell Lecture.
This year’s Orwell Lecture will be given by Professor Tariq Ramadan of Oxford University on ‘Democratising the Middle East: A New Role for the West’ on the evening of Tuesday 12th November. The event will take place at the new venue of University College London.
More information here.
Here are some extracts from our posts about frère Tariq,
Ramadan’s inability to adopt secular values has come to the fore, as the Flight notes, in his tortuous calls for a “moratorium “ on the most severe Sharia punishments, the “huddud” – the death penalty for apostasy, the stoning of adulterers, the amputation of the limbs of thieves, and other ‘laws’.
That is before we go further into different Islamic ‘legal schools’ and their versions of these and the vengeance of the Muslim talion. The fact that women and non-Muslims count for less than Muslim men in these religious ‘courts’ casts doubt on the credentials of anyone who considers them just. There is no equality before the law in Islamic ‘jurisprudence’.
This came to a head on French television in 2003. The future French president, Nicolas Sarkozy confronted the future Oxford Don. Ramadan refused to condemn these punishments, specifically on stoning miscreant women, arguing that a “consensus” amongst scholars and the Muslim community had to be reached on the subject before anything more than a temporary halt could be called for.
Ramadan simply would not denounce stoning outright. We could then see, “The whole panorama of Muslim women’s oppression suddenly deployed across the television screens of France…”(Ibid) (Post: 2011)
Review. What I Believe. Tariq Ramadan. Oxford University Press. 2009. (Post 2009)
Tariq Ramadan is a “controversial intellectual”. He faces “many-sided opposition”. The soft-spoken supporter of “solidarity, human dignity, and justice” is accused of “doublespeak”. “Criticisms first of (and mainly in) France, then taken up by some French loving groups of some ideological currents, have built up a haze of controversy around me and my commitment.” He asks, “What are the “ideological and/or interests” of these groups?” Not too savoury, as we shall see. He, by contrast, tries to “build bridges between two universes of reference”, “Western and Islamic ‘civilisations’” “and “between citizens within Western societies themselves”.
The book’s contribution to this “process of mediation”? It’s an “opportunity to read me in the original and simply get direct access to my thought”. To show that we “share many common principles and values”. That it is possible to ‘live together’” (all liberal English Anglian inverted commas Ramadan’s). That he belongs to a “reformist trend” within Islam. Which is? A “great and noble religion.”
To counter this, he claims, the religion’s contribution deserves a larger place in the culture. Revised syllabi, he argues, may help. There needs more mention of Muslim thinkers, from al-Kindî (ninth century), al-Ghazâlî (twelfth century) to Ibn Khaldûm (fourteenth century) To rival no doubt the attention already given in Europe’s school trivium to Thomas Aquinas, Dun Scotus, and Anselm of Canterbury.
That in “my Sharia” “all the laws that protect human life and dignity, promote justice and equality, enforce respect of Nature, and so on” are part of the “way to faithfulness to Islam’s objectives”. Take what is true to this, and, as for the rest, well we are not sure. Applied to law and jurisprudence he argues for “radical reform”. Of what? There are plenty of ‘controversial’ parts of the Sharia, throughout all the different schools of Islamic ‘law’. Quite a few subjects for a would-be reformer. Including the Hudud ‘claims of God’ – punishments against Theft, Highway Robbery, Extra-Martial Sex, Apostasy and so on.
These – applied in many countries under what at least some scholars call the Sharia (many with as strong qualifications as Ramadan) are renowned for what we shall call in non-clericalese, obscenity and brutality.
The laws categorised as Qisas, “eye for an eye” – (the law of the Talion) are not mild either. In these what exactly is a matter of custom, tradition, and of divine law?
Sometimes a particularly weaselly attempt is made to say that the Sharia will only really exist in a ‘pure’ Islamic society, with no penalties being carried out – presumably as there will be no theft, no sexual impropriety, no unbelief, and indeed no crime whatsoever.
Ramadan does not provide an answer to how to separate custom from divine legislation. More modestly he once made a call for a ‘moratorium’ (not abolition) on many of the harshest Islamic penalties.
This request doesn’t get a mention here. The idea was dropped without support. What happened on the Way? Did it not shine a light on Ramadan’s reforming path that others may follow? What are his proposals now?
Tariq Ramadan, faces a new crisis (here). This time it’s in Holland. (Post 2009)
Ramadan is employed part-time as an Adviser by Rotterdam City Council. His role is to ’stimulate discussion” on immigration and to ’build bridges’ with the Dutch Muslim community. At the pay of 27 500 Euros a year he does two days a month work, has produced two reports and has led some public debates. This adds to Ramadan’s active presence in various guises across the world: in France, Switzerland, and elsewhere. Which includes the United Kingdom where he has an academic reputation, and is fêted by Conservatives, New Labour, multi-culturalists and Islamophiles alike.
According to Le Monde this week Ramadan stands accused by the magazine Gay Krant of homophobic and sexist comments.
Ramadan aurait déclaré que l’islam prohibait l’homosexualité, laquelle serait “un dérangement, un dysfonctionnement, un déséquilibre”. “Dieu a fixé une norme qui veut qu’un homme soit destiné à une femme et une femme à un homme”, aurait aussi indiqué le philosophe.
Ramadan is alleged to have declared that Islam prohibits homosexuality, which is ‘a disorder, a disequilibrium, a disfunction’. He is also said to have declared that ‘God has fixed a norm that means a man is intended for a woman, and a woman for a man’.
Regarding women’s public appearance he recommended that they take less care of their appearance, and behave with modesty (soberly). In the street, they should “garder toujours les yeux fixés sur le bitume” (keep their eyes fixed on the pavement).
Reactions to these reported remarks have hit Rotterdam Council. An enquiry has been launched. The comments are alternatively denied or considered taken “out of context”. The Islamist has been defended by the Green Party, whose Rik Grashof holds the portfolio of Integration. He has declared that even if Ramadan is opposed to homosexuality he gives priority to “respect for people.”
In France long-standing secular critics of Ramadan place these remarks in context (here). Caroline Fourrest remarks that ’Brother Tariq’, praised as a religious progressive, has more in common with Jerry Falwell than Martin Luther King. In brief his comments are par for the course. While the Council has (here) apparently ‘exornerated’ Ramadan, the controversy rumbles on.
Protest Against Tunisia’s Islamists (September 2013).
“We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British Left in one of its periodical fits of morality.” (Tendance Coatesy. Collected Works Vol.3).
At present the Alliance for Workers Liberty is caught up in such a spasm of outrage.
Beside himself with rage Marcus Halaby writes of the “AWL’s anti-anti-imperialist Islamophobia” in Workers Power Yassamine Mather in the Weekly Worker (October the 31st) spends a page pinning down ”angry accusations of Islamophobia, racism and pro-imperialism” against the AWL leader Sean Matgamma. Halby states, “Matgamna’s shameless Islamophobia, the latest, virulent strain of racism in the West, and the AWL’s failure to distance itself from it certainly deserves to be harshly criticised and condemned.”
One AWL member states that it is this was the final straw that pushed him to resign from the group,
Pat Smith says, “Not just the Islamophobic language, but the chauvinist – worse than chauvinist – world view that it presents; a world view that permeates and informs the entire article, a world view upon which Sean’s explanation for the appeal of Islamic fundamentalism is predicated.”
The response of the AWL is here.
What is this all about?
One article, originally published in 2007, and now re-presented, Political Islam, Christian Fundamentalism, Marxism and the Left Today
Yassamine Mather summarises its arguments,
- First, that “The ‘war on terror’ was not a ‘put-up job’, an artificially concocted replacement for the old cold war with Stalinist Russia … to create an external enemy which can be used to bind atomised capitalist society together.”
- Second, that “[the west] did not for that purpose invent the upsurge of militant political Islam, or, rather, the emergence of political Islam as a force in international politics …” So “Neither covert western encouragement nor neo-con manipulation” explains the “fundamental root of the luxuriantly thriving Islamic fundamentalism.” Instead, “it has other, indigenous, roots.”
- Third, that “In the Arab countries, especially, political Islam has expanded to fill the space created by the collapse of Arab nationalism”, which imploded “in part … because it had achieved all it could achieve – the independence of Arab states such as Egypt and Iraq, which were semi-dependencies of Britain until the 1950s.”
- Finally, that today’s political Islamist movements are the contemporary equivalents of the “desert tribes of primitive Muslim simplicity and purity enviously eyeing a rich and decadent walled city and sharpening their knives, or country folk in former Yugoslavia eyeing a city like Dubrovnik – so now much of the Islamic world looks with envy, covetousness, religious self-righteousness and active hostility on the rich, decadent, infidel-ridden, sexually sinful advanced capitalist societies.”
For her the fault line is clear, for the “philistine Matgamna…. this phenomenon is simply as some sort of ideological ‘living fossil’, separate from the main developments that characterise the other, ‘modern’ world.”
Sean Matgamn’s “monstrosity” largely centres on this paragraph – the pivot of all the other arguments (nobody is, to be honest, interested in the comments on Christianity).
Like desert tribes of primitive Muslim simplicity and purity enviously eyeing a rich and decadent walled city and sharpening their knives, or country folk in former Yugoslavia eyeing a city like Dubrovnik, so, now, much of the Islamic world looks with envy, covetousness, religious self-righteousness and active hostility on the rich, decadent, infidel-ridden, sexually sinful advanced capitalist societies.
Marcus Halby says, “Thus he is accusing, let us put it plainly, Muslims of making hypocritical denunciations of the Western world when in reality they want to plunder it of its riches and enjoy its corruption.”
Yasminna comments, “It is oddly reminiscent of passages one might have read in a mid-19th century history text book, possibly taught in a (second-rate) public school.”
Halby outdoes her, “It should, of course, be shocking that the leading figure of a far left organisation should be using the sort of racist and Orientalist language more traditionally associated with professional Islamophobes like Melanie Phillips, Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz, Brigitte Gabriel and Mark Steyn: a fleshly paradise, harems of virgins, a starved beggar squatting, desert tribes, primitive simplicity and purity, decadence, envy and covetousness, the sharpening of knives, a walled city, the walls of Vienna, sexual sinfulness, infidels, luxuriantly thriving.”
Well, so much for the colourful language. And so much for Marcus Halaby whose detailed sectarian attacks on the AWL – even for Coatesy – pass beyond the will to read further than the lines we cited.
Few Western Fellow-Travellers Today?
David Caute’s The Fellow-Travellers: A Postscript to the Enlightenment, (1973) is one of those books you have to read and re-read.
It’s the history of those individuals who were not willing to become Communists but were attracted by the socialist systems of the Soviet Union, the Popular Democracies, and Communist China.
Caute distinguished those who became members of the European (German, French and British) and US Communist parties from those who more than ‘attracted’ but actively supported the Soviet Union (and later China and the Eastern bloc).
The term Fellow Traveller originates from Russian,попутчик, poputchik (literally: “one who travels the same path”)
It was used after the Russian Revolution for intellectuals who went along with the Bolshevik ‘Soviet’ power, but did not join the Party. It became internationally known (it’s generally accepted) when Trotsky used it,
Between bourgeois art, which is wasting away either in repetitions or in silences, and the new art which is as yet unborn, there is being created a transitional art which is more or less organically connected with the Revolution, but which is not at the same time the art of the Revolution. Boris Pilnyak, Vsevolod Ivanov, Nicolai Tikhonov, the “Serapion Fraternity”, Yesenin and his group of Imagists and, to some extent, Kliuev – all of them were impossible without the Revolution, either as a group, or separately. … They are not the artists of the proletarian Revolution, but her artist “fellow-travellers”, in the sense in which this word was used by the old Socialists. … As regards a “fellow-traveller”, the question always comes up – how far will he go? This question cannot be answered in advance, not even approximately. The solution of it depends not so much on the personal qualities of this or that “fellow-traveller”, but mainly on the objective trend of things during the coming decade. 1924 Literature and Revolution.
Caute lists some European calques, Mitläufer, compagnon de route compañero de viaje (or ruta), as well as the English.
The history of those who admired the Soviet Union during the Stalinist period is deeply saddening.
The book stands on its own, but two aspects of Caute’s analysis struck me to the quick.
They are relevant to anybody trying to explain how callously some on the Left reacted to the Kenyan shopping centre bombings.
The first is that the fellow travellers – even during the Moscow Trails – remained committed to Western ‘bourgeois’ democratic forms – in their own countries. They were indeed often specialists in the defence of civil liberties. D. N. Pritt, the most outrageous apologist for the Moscow Trials, was a British barrister and a member of the Labour Party (expelled during the Second World War). Amongst many cases, he successfully stopped the deportation of Ho Cho Minh from France in 1931.
To continue, “In 1934 he successfully defended the veteran socialist Tom Mann, on trial for sedition with Harry Pollitt in 1934, and the same year won damages against the police for the organizers of the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement. Pritt also worked for the recently formed National Council for Civil Liberties. In August 1936 he attended the first Moscow show trial. His account, published as The Zinoviev Trial, gave support to the attempt by Joseph Stalin to purge his political opponents. Margaret Cole pointed out that Pritt had “fallen in love” with Soviet socialism.” Spartacus.
Fellow Travellers like Pritt thought that bourgeois democracy was not suitable for the Soviet Union. They accused critics of the regime of not understanding what today is called The Other.
Secondly, the Fellow Travellers, thought that people were determined by their environment. They could be ‘made’ better once that was changed. So better that the Soviet Union had created a ‘New Man’ and ‘New Woman’. Caute says this is their Enlightenment legacy – though perhaps the less rose tinted attitude towards human nature of Lumières like Denis Diderot not bear out that claim.
To look at the reaction of some of the European left to the Kenyan bombings is to see that some of these attitudes remain.
There are those (that is the SWP) who claim that the Somalian Islamists at least established ‘order’ and even ‘law’.
As the SWP put it,
“After the invasion by Kenyan and Ethiopian troops in 2011 it said that it supported the ideas of Al Qaida. Even Rob Wise of the US Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank comments that it was “a relatively moderate Islamist organisation”, which was driven towards Al Qaida by invasion.
He added that since 2008 al Shabaab has “increasingly embraced transnational terrorism and attempted to portray itself as part of the Al Qaida-led global war on the West.”
The killers, then are the product of ‘imperialism’. This environment has made them. Only changing these conditions can stop their terrorism.
Above all we have to be wary of ‘Islamopbia’.
We should not ‘impose’ Western standards on Muslims.
Thus in the recent SWP Socialist Review Talat Ahmed argues,
Faced with Islamophobia the response of some Muslims has been to go on the defensive – a form of “quietism” or retreat whereby people withdraw from society in the hope of avoiding its worst excesses. This level of disengagement can lead to identify with overt Islamic “symbolism” – adopting a certain type of dress code, not eating pork, abstaining from alcohol, having traditional marriages and observing certain religious ceremonies.
Though understandable, this approach lends itself to a certain form of “lifestyleism”. This dovetails with an electoral politics that seeks to represent distinct “Muslim interests” within existing institutions. The main weakness with this approach is that it can safely incorporate genuine concerns and grievances of all Muslims in a strategy of reform, rather than challenging the roots of Islamophobia.
Those who criticise these ‘lifestyles’ and ‘traditions’ should no doubt be very wary of attacking the Other, and, indeed risk ‘Islamophobia’.
There is absolutely no idea of the need for a democratic left-wing political struggle against Islamism.
At least we can be thankful there are few mass murdering Islamist regimes around for large numbers of Western Fellow travellers to marvel at.
The dictatorships that there are, from Sudan on wards, don’t seem to have attracted more than fellow Islamists.
Even the worst elements of the SWP and British left would not go so far as to praise them directly.
“Obscene Outfit” says Mélenchon.
Birmingham Metropolitan College was similarly cowed and had to reverse a directive forbidding students from covering their faces. One hooded lady crowdsourced a protest against the college. Some overexcited student union members, Muslim objectors and online petitioners have forced a U-turn. Shabana Mahmood, MP for Ladywood, Birmingham, welcomed the capitulation. Happy days. Muslim women can now to go to courts and college in shrouds.
That all-covering gown, that headscarf, that face mask – all affirm and reinforce the belief that women are a hazard to men and society. These are unacceptable, iniquitous values, enforced violently by Taliban, Saudi and Iranian oppressors. They have no place in our country.
In this passionate and well argued piece Alibhai Brown continues,
None of our sacred texts command us to cover our faces. Some branches of Islam do not even require head coverings. These are manmade injunctions followed by unquestioning women. We are directed always to accept the rules of the countries we live in and their institutions, as long as they are reasonable. For security, justice, travel, education and health identification is vital. Why should these women be exempt? We Muslims are already unfairly thought of as the enemy within. Niqabs make us appear more alien, more dangerous and suspicious. If it is a provocation for Ku Klux Klan to cover up so they can’t be recognised, it is for Muslims too.
This is a struggle between the light of the faith and dark forces here and also in Islamic countries. The clothes symbolize an attempted takeover of the religion just when believers are looking for liberty, autonomy, democracy and gender equality. Malala Yousafzai doesn’t hide her determined face. Nor do our female Muslim MPs and peers or civil rights lawyers.
So why do we get this gang announcing in Socialist Worker, the following,
Students celebrate beating Birmingham college niqab ban
The successful campaign in Birmingham should serve as a warning to college bosses everywhere – students will not allow their Muslim friends to be scapegoated.
‘Islamophobia’ Watch has joined the fray.
Bob Pitt is, amongst his usual forth, particularly exercised over a Tory MP’s Twitter comments,
Pitt and the SWP would have heart attacks if they were on the French left.
This is what Jean Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the Front de gauche, and their presidential candidate, said on the Face veil (during the 2010 debate on French laws in 2010).
Full veil: Mélenchon “for a general ban”
The chairman of the Left Party (PG), Jean-Luc Mélenchon has called for a total ban of the full veil in the Figaro.
According to him, the restriction prohibiting the wearing of the full veil in public services alone is “an incredible cowardice.”
He added that the law “must be of universal application.”
In more detail Jean Luc Mélenchon set out his position (2010) on his Blog.
Why is he wearing the full veil degrading for women? Firstly, because it is obscene. It reduces the wearer to the status of sexual potential prey. As it is not proposed to blind men, it is designed to hide the object of desire from natural desires of all those watching. It’s worth noting how it is insulting to men who are deemed as being that are predatory and obsessed. In any case, the fully veiled woman bears a humiliating statement of that she has the status of property of another. is attached to the veiled woman.
A human being can not be the property of another. This is contrary to the human rights principle, that all are born free and equal in rights.
Mélenchon wanted a law that would not just ban the full face veil in public places but for legislation to guarantee ” it would give “ l’obligation de mixité des lieux publics et services publics.” – the obligation to have women and men together in all public places and services. That is, to refuse all demands for single sex treatment.
Mélenchon has done far more defending French Muslims and “métsisage’ (cultural mixing) than the likes of the British Islamophiles.d.
What passes for defending Muslim women’s rights for the SWP and Bob Pitt, is deeply misguided.
Some liberal-minded people may think that people can do what they like (Harry’s Place), a way of presenting the issue is profoundly misleading terms.
The face veil is there to maintain the wearer’s ‘purity’ and to treat others as ‘unclean’ because they do not have the modest dress that their interpretation of a religion demands.
This is to accept the installation of a group of people with what are close to a racist form of religious intolerance inside public institutions.
This is not about ‘choice’ but a right to demand the restriction of choice.
Let us be clear: there is no right to be oppressed.
The face veil is dramatically opposed to the progressive goal of “métsisage’ (cultural mixing).
An important place where there should be taking place, in education, has become a battle field, pitting progressives against those from the extreme-right and the Islamists, who oppose this.
The full face veil is as Yasmin Alibhai Brown says, a reflection of “unacceptable, iniquitous values, enforced violently by Taliban, Saudi and Iranian oppressors.”
Amina: Worried About ‘Israeli’ Finance for Femen.
This morning on France-Inter the Tunisian Femen activist (imprisoned and still charged with outrage of public decency) explained why she had left the feminist group.
She highlighted her concerns about Femen’s ‘Islamophobia’.
Amina then stated that she was worried about the finances of the organisation.
She expressed the view that she would not accept money from “America or Israel”.
Why did you decide to quit the Femen group?
I don’t know how the movement is financed. I asked Inna several times, but I didn’t get a clear answer. I don’t want to be in a movement supported by dubious money. What if it is financed by Israel? I want to know.
And then, I don’t want my name to be associated with an Islamophobic organization. I did not appreciate the action taken by the girls shouting “Amina Akbar, Femen Akbar” in front of the Tunisian embassy in France, or when they burned the black Tawhid flag in front of a mosque in Paris. These actions offended many Muslims and many of my friends. We must respect everyone’s religion.
But these actions were taken to support you while you were in prison. Why didn’t you consider them as such?
I thank them all for their support. Especially Joséphine, Marguerite and Pauline, who were also imprisoned. They took some good actions, but it wasn’t the case for all of them. They should have asked for my lawyer’s advice before taking some of these actions. This made my case even more difficult. Because of the protests I was charged with a new crime, “criminal conspiracy,” when I was in prison.
Have you informed the Femen group about you quitting the organization?
No. They are not going to like it, but that’s the way it is.
So, you decided to quit the organization, but you posted another topless photo just four days ago…
Yes, a topless photo of myself bearing a painted circled A, the anarchist symbol. It’s different.
Amina then announced her possible support for an Anarchist group Feminism Attack.
She declared that the “problème c’est tout le système” , the problem is the whole system (original – bizarrely translated in the English language Huffington Post as “I don’t like the system altogether”).
We strongly suspect this is the source of Amina’s ‘concern’ about the money behind Femen.
From what is known about their funding: the key player appears to be an individual named Jed Sunden. (6) Sunden is a Brooklyn-born American Jew who founded a major Ukrainian newspaper/media company; KP Media (which owned the Kyiv Post till 2008/2009 for example) , (7) and also is an active part of the Ukrainian jewish community. (8) Sunden was the man who‘discovered’ Femen and it was he who began to give them the oxygen of publicity (and notoriety) for their topless protesting in the Kyiv Post.
The anti-Semitic site (Semitic Controversies), continues,
This Jewish money and influence behind Femen seems to also be reflected in the organization’s public activities in so far as it protest against a vast number of things in different countries, including outraging Islamic opinion by performing topless stunts in North Africa and outside mosques in Europe. (13) This is in addition to Femen’s attacks on anything even remotely conservative as being‘patriarchal’ as well as their fairly crude hatred of religion writ large (and without qualification), but primarily of Christianity and Islam which they consider (as good third wave feminists) to be ‘evil patriarchal religions’ responsible for ‘innumerable atrocities against women’ as being intrinsically deeply oppressive towards the fairer sex.
There is plenty in the same vein from Russian racist sites, and the British ‘Stormfront‘.
This is a great shame.
Amina showed great bravery in protesting at sexism in Tunisia.
She still risks two years in Prison.
Amina betrayed not FEMEN but thousands of women who acted for her freedom during “Free Amina campaign” and because of who she is free now