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Boko Haram, Islam and the Left.

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From One Jihad to Another.

European recruits to the jihadist cause in Syria are in the news again.

Apparently some of them, native French speakers, were the gaolers and torturers  of the French journalist hostages released this week (French journalists describe tortures by ISIL militants in Syria. Mock executions, hunger, thirst, cold, beatings a makeshift chess game, and a “surreal” snowball fight with their jailers).

It is hard to see how anybody can find anything progressive in those going to fight and kill Syrian Muslims, Alwaites, Christians and non-Believers in a Holy War.

Liberals who try to find excuses for Islamism face wider problems.

How do they explain the actions of the Nigerian Boko Haram?

This April we have already seen,

The streets of Nigeria are covered in blood. Boko Haram Islamists have attacked and killed hundreds of people since Wednesday, April 9th. Targeting students and any semblance of Western influence, they viciously gunned down some 200 university students. Many students traveled to the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, in Borno State. As reported by the National Mirror,”The UTME, conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was held nationwide yesterday.” It was here that Boko Haram Islamists ambushed the innocent students and viciously slaughtered them.

And,

More than 180 Nigerian schoolgirls remain missing after being snatched from their classroom in Borno State last week.

Islamist group Boko Haram is suspected to be behind the kidnapping but has not issued any statement.

Footage has now emerged from inside the school, which was torched afterwards.

Last year the SWP’s Nigerian allies (Socialist Workers Bulletin) attempted to offer an explanation for the rise of Boko Haram.

 Beyond President Jonathan’s war on terror June 9, 2013 – 2:53 am

by Baba Aye.

There is a lot of detail about Nigerian politics which we are in no position to judge.

But this element in Aye’s article stands out.

Boko Haram, Ansaru and co, like most of the new militant Islamist sects that have blossomed in the period of neoliberal globalism have a contradictory nature.

On one hand, they involve sections of the ruling elite for whom religion-as-politics is a tool for mobilisation of mass support for their aims. These include electoral aims of winning gubernatorial and other political positions or as bargaining chips for access to state power (and with it the treasury). We saw examples with the political Shari’a wave that swept through twelve northern states in the early 2000s. Specifically, it has been established that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, courted Boko Haram in his successful bid for the governorship of Borno state in 2003. Apart from mass mobilisation, Boko Haram supporters played the role of armed hirelings not unlike that which some Niger delta “militants” played for Peter Odili and co, that same year.

On the other hand, elements of the anti-establishment demands of Boko Haram and its sister organisations, find resonance in the hearts of many poor and dispossesed people within their localities that are fed up with the corruption and flamboyant lifestyle of the elites, in the face of their own poverty and hopelessness. At the earlier point before it went underground after the murder of its founding leader, Boko Haram had also aided the spread of its ideology’s influence with social work, very much like Hezbollah in Lebanon. It had provided housing, (Koranic) education, healthcare and the offsetting of debts for hundreds if not thousands of the wretched of the earth, winning hearts and minds, as much as souls to its standpoint.

While a nominal roll of Boko Haram membership might not be something we could secure, the group’s membership including its armed insurgents and unarmed supporters cannot but be in the thousands, if not tens of thousands, with a significant proportion of these being poor and working people. This would dwarf the numbers of “radical” or “revolutionary” groups in the country added up together, several times over, and could equal the sizes of many a trade union.

Of course, the large presence of the poor and oppressed people in an organisation does not make it, pro-workers, talk less of being revolutionary. Fascist parties such as the Nazis in Germany or Mussolini’s National Fascist Party, did have significant mass following while pursuing anti-workers’ causes. It is also not being suggested that Boko Haram is in anyway a revolutionary or “progressive” group.

….

“Radical “Islamism”, with associated spontaneous and organised violence, has come to stay as one of the macabre symptoms of the period we are living in i.e. where the capitalist system has become a putrid living-corpse holding down the progress of human society, on one hand, but the poor and working class have not risen to consuming the task of overthrowing it, due to the weaknesses of revolutionary forces’ influence within it.”

“But” (there’s always got to be a ‘but’) “only one-dimensional thinking would sum all these up to mean that the sect “is nothing but a set of foot soldiers of sections of the Nigerian ruling class that went berserk” or worse still conclude that “Boko Haram is part and parcel of Nigerian ruling elite”.

So, apparently in some ill-defined way Boko haram is linked to the economic and social conditions neo-liberalism have created. It is a ‘result’ of the failure of groups like the Nigerian SWP to grow and take a lead. A group backed by some sections of the poor and working population has arisen. They are  murdering large numbers of people. They they “dwarf” the size of the left.

Boko Haram, then,  claims to be, and indeed is Islamist. Whatever the conditions that encouraged its growth it  is hard to find anything that relates this ideology directly  to the conditions created  neo-liberalism. Their objective is the Sharia: forcing a cowed population to the yoke of Islam. They have a religious mission, not just to reflect suffering but to create it.

The material presence of Boko Haram, a material force, is rapidly becoming a central political and social problem in Nigeria.

The issue is: What is to be Done?

So what do they advocate doing? “In principle, working class activists have to be against any form of “state of emergency” and the curtailment of democratic rights of the poor and working people.”

Following Chris Harman (the Prophet and the Proletariat)  they state,

The point of departure on this matter, as we see it is that: we cannot support either the institutional terror of the Nigerian state, nor can we support the non-state group of Boko Haram and co. From a working class standpoint, we would say, we stand for“neither the FGN state of emergency or Boko Haram insurgency”. Such an approach is not new as the correct line, in or out of Nigeria. We stood for neither Washington nor Moscow during the “cold war”, as workers were exploited and oppressed in both the Western “democracies” and the Eastern “socialist” states.

So, “The most urgent task at this hour might be the establishment of a united front to stop the state of emergency. “

We have seen what a success that strategy has been.

Islamism, embodied in groups like Boko Haram,  is rapidly becoming a major enemy of all progressive  peoples.

The issue  now is simply: how to fight it?

Written by Andrew Coates

April 24, 2014 at 11:56 am

Birmingham Schools, Islam and Secularism.

with 5 comments

Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.6pGqqmIt.dpuf

 

http://chevaliersdesgrandsarrets.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/laicite.jpg?w=244&h=288

Secular Emancipation: What UK Education Needs.

Amongst the confused reactions to the very evident problems raised by the Birmingham Schools and the influence of Islamist ideology in education  two responses stand out for their  good judgement.

The first is Shiraz Socialist’s defence of  secular education.

Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf

It makes this simple observation,

….it is important to note that whether or not the Trojan Horse document proves to be genuine, there is no doubt about the influence of Islamic fundamentalists over many Birmingham schools: teachers and other school staff members have already come forward with reports of segregation of boys and girls in classes and assemblies, bans on sex education and bullying of non-Muslim staff. Shiraz Socialist has spoken to several Birmingham teachers, including activists within the main teaching unions, who have confirmed that these claims are true and, in some cases, such things have been going on for years.

The all-too predictable line taken by an article in today’s Guardian (“Despite reasonable evidence suggesting the plot letter is a hoax, it has sparked debate in the city, with far right groups looking to capitalise”) simply will not do: the concerns about Islamic fundamentalists undermining secular education are not the preserve of the far right, but are felt by teachers, Labour councillors and MPs and -not least - many Muslim parents who want their kids to have an inclusive, secular education.

The second is by comrade Rumy Hasan (a long-standing defender of left-wing secularism) on the National Secular Society site.

Since the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter came to light, some 200 reports have been received by Birmingham City Council, including claims that boys and girls are being segregated in classrooms and assemblies, pressure on girls to cover their hair, sex education being banned, the prevention of the teaching of non-Islamic faiths in religious education classes, and non-Muslim staff being bullied. Yet all this is precisely what has been happening in Free Schools such as Al Madinah in Derby (which Education Minister Lord Nash found dysfunctional) and the Madani faith school in Leicester. But none of this should be surprising: on the contrary, it is entirely to be expected that leaders of faith communities wish to impose values and practices in schools in their neighbourhoods that are in accordance with their religion. The reason for this is that the emphasis on a multifaith society facilitates the primary identity of some minorities being on the basis of their faith.

………

Bob Jones, the elected West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, is correct to state that ‘My main concern is that the Secretary of State is attempting to divert attention away from the governance and diversity issues that might be embarrassing to his policies and approach to school governance’. Indeed they should be embarrassing and it really is high time that the both the government and the opposition grasped the nettle that a firm commitment to a rounded secular education is what is needed for the benefit of children and for society at large, and act accordingly.

One should add that the actions of the Birmingham ‘faith communities’, imposing their religious ideology on education, are inconceivable n a secular educations system, like France’s.

A great deal of noise has been heard from liberals and multicultural leftists about the robust prohibition of faith symbols, from the veil to the cross,  in French schools, as well as other progressive policies designed to prevent these kind of communalist politics in education.

We hear very little from British left and liberal quarters equates about sexual segregation and other aspects of religious bigotry being imposed in Birmingham schools and elsewhere.

Henri Pena-Ruiz of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Parti de gauche (left Party)  recently said (March 2014),  that it was ten years since the law banning ostentatious religious signs from French schools was passed.

Laïcité scolaire: une exigence d’émancipation

“It has discouraged  religious proselytism and those who would wish to take schooling  hostage (for the religious agenda). Today communalist demands are rare.”

De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.T567GEet.dpuf

Pena-Ruiz calls secularism an “emancipatory demand”.

The British left could learn from this approach.

De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.6pGqqmIt.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.6pGqqmIt.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.bblaeVz0.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.6pGqqmIt.dpuf

Islamic Forum of Europe, Tower Hamlets, and Luftar Rahman.

with 6 comments

Benefiting Islamist Reactionaries.

“A London council at the centre of an investigation into alleged fraud is also under scrutiny over its links to Islamic extremism, according to a classified government document leaked to The Telegraph.  Ministers sent inspectors to Tower Hamlets council, in east London, last week to investigate the alleged abuse of public resources to reward supporters of Lutfur Rahman, its controversial directly-elected mayor.”

   continues,

The document, a report to Mr Cameron dated Sept 2013, expresses particular concern about the council’s lavish funding of the East London Mosque and the Osmani Trust, a Muslim-only youth group. The mosque is also named in the counter-terrorism local profile, the document reveals. The document says there are “serious concerns” about both organisations’ “links to extremists, or willingness to host extremist speakers or organisations”.

The East London Mosque has hosted hundreds of meetings with extremist preachers, including a “live telephone Q&A” with the al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, advertised with a picture of Manhattan under bombardment.   Both bodies are closely linked to the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which seeks a sharia state in Europe and played a key part in Mr Rahman’s election as mayor in 2010. Together they have received more than £2 million in council funding.

Can we say, with George Galloway (2010) that, “I don’t know who is or isn’t a member of the IFE, and I have only the haziest knowledge of what they stand for….” ?

Is the IFE the  “European wing” of Jamaat-e-Islami, the violent Bangladeshi Islamist group, normally classed on the extreme right? Wikipedia makes these allegations  about one of the founders of the IFE.

Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin Mueen-Uddin born 27 November 1948), is one of the convicted war criminal for killing Bengali intellectuals in collaboration with Pakistan army at the time of Bangladesh liberation war.[1][8][9][10] After the liberation of Bangladesh, Chowdhury escape from Bangladesh and took British citizenship.[11][12]

 Chowdhury is a trustee (former Chairman) of Muslim Aid,[3][13][14] and a director of Muslim spiritual care provision in theUnited Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).[4] On 3 November 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal which is set up by the government of Bangladesh to judgeinternational crimes committed during 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, sentenced Mueen-Uddin, in absentia, to death for killing 9 teachers of Dhaka University, 6 journalists and 3 doctors in 1971.[5][9][10][15]

 Mueen has remained in the United Kingdom since leaving Bangladesh shortly after its independence in 1971.[16] Mueen-Uddin denies the charges.[17] Since moving to the UK in the early 1970s, Mueen-Uddin has taken British citizenship and built a career as a community activist and Muslim leader. In 1989 he was a key leader of protests against the Salman Rushdie book, The Satanic Verses. Around the same time he helped to found the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe,Jamaat-e-Islami’s European wing, which believes in creating a sharia state in Europe and in 2010 was accused by a Labour minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, of infiltrating the Labour Party. Tower Hamlets’ directly-elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was expelled from Labour for his close links with the IFE.

Until 2010 Mr Mueen-Uddin was vice-chairman of the controversial East London Mosque, controlled by the IFE, in which capacity he greeted Prince Charles when the heir to the throne opened an extension to the mosque.

He was also closely involved with the Muslim Council of Britain, which has been dominated by the IFE. He was chairman and remains a trustee of the IFE-linked charity, Muslim Aid, which has a budget of £20 million. He has also been closely involved in the Markfield Institute, the key institution of Islamist higher education in the UK.

The IFE makes this bland description of itself,

Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) is a community organisation that seeks social and spiritual renewal. Through the values enshrined in the Islamic faith, members of IFE are obliged to be full and active participants in society, benefiting all people. IFE has branches throughout the UK and has affiliates in Western Europe. Its youth wing is called the Young Muslim Organisation UK (YMO UK), with branches across Britain. Its women’s wing is Muslimaat UK. With origins in the 1970s, IFE brings together Muslims of all backgrounds who have made Europe their home. As a collective, IFE facilitates an enlightened appreciation of Islam that is relevant to the context and realities of our time. We undertake social activities – from schools and youth clubs to community engagement and women’s empowerment projects, spiritual development – from prayer to retreats

But dig a little deeper and we find that the IFE is indeed closely aligned to the Jamaat.

This is their protest against the hanging of convicted genocider and war criminal Abdul Qader Mollah,

The Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) condemns in no uncertain terms the hanging to death of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Assistant Secretary-General, Abdul Qader Mollah, on Thursday as an act of judicial murder( Statement Issued 13th December 2013)

Mr Mollah’s summary execution follows a sham trial which has been described by international human rights groups as failing to meet international standards, politically influenced and discredited.

IFE considers Abdul Qader Mollah’s death as state murder by a government doing all it can to cling onto power indefinitely. The whole process has been a farce, and the Bangladeshi government has ignored international demands to ensure that this process calls under international jurisdiction.

The execution of Mr Mollah, in breach of all international standards will, no doubt, plunge Bangladesh further into crisis. The threat of violence and civil unrest is very real. The IFE is concerned that this pre-determined process will be used by the Awami League regime to declare a state of emergency and derail any attempts to hold free and fair elections in January.

The IFE urges the international community, and in particular the UK government to reconsider the financial and diplomatic support afforded to this regime.

There are clear questions about the public funding of groups involved in Bangladeshi politics.

For the left, apart from those deluded enough to think that Rahman is “Progressive”, the issues are wider.

Last year Gita Saghal commented,

Fundamentalist demonstrations from the Jamaat associated East London Mosque  have been taking place regularly after Friday prayers, according to activists.  Secular Bangladeshis of all religious backgrounds and none were finally able to rally and march outwards from Altab Ali park through Brick Lane and the surrounding streets. It was a suitable demonstration that the secular activists who have been receiving regular death threats have not been cowed into retreat.

Thousands of leaflets have been distributed from the East London Mosque and across the world labelling prominent bloggers as atheists. Sermons have been read attacking atheists, Hindus and suggestive statements made regarding sexual assault.

In Bangladesh, fundamentalists  paraded a banner which said, ‘we demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers because they use obscene language to criticise Allah, Mohammed and the Quran.’  Statements such as these, along with murderous attacks on atheist and free thinking bloggers, need to be considered alongside the leaflets identifying named individuals as atheists and accusing them of insulting religion, to see whether they amount to incitement to  murder.

Fundamentalists consider it an obligation for believers to kill apostates; a recent Moroccan fatwa  makes this very clear, as does the experience of an atheist from Bangladesh, applying for asylum in Canada.

This is worth remembering every time people read something on Tower Hamlets,

John Ware, Independent, 13th of April.
An investigation is not Islamophobia

The Asian Mayor of Tower Hamlets says he welcomes scrutiny, yet he tried to stop a BBC ‘Panorama’ report.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Eric Pickles Fights ‘Militant Atheists’. A Militant Secularist Reply.

with 2 comments

 

Militant atheists should ‘get over it’ and accept Britain is a ‘Christian nation’, according to communities secretary Eric Pickles.

Having previously introduced laws that ensure parish councils can avoid legal challenges for holding prayers in public meetings, Pickles this weekend urged non-believers to avoid imposing their ‘politically correct intolerance’ on others.

Speaking at the Conservative Spring Forum, the communities secretary said he had ‘stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish’.

‘Heaven forbid,’ he added. ‘We’re a Christian nation. We have an established church. Get over it. And don’t impose your politically correct intolerance on others.’

In his speech, Pickles said the Government had also ‘backed British values’ and ‘stopped Whitehall appeasing extremism of any sort. Be it the EDL, be it extreme Islamists or be thuggish far-left, they’re all as bad as each other’. From here

This follows the much more strident claim by  Baroness Warsi in February that,

For me, one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities.”

There have been many commentaries on this bluster.

One of the best, by Matt Broomfield (Left Foot Forward), focuses on the secular alternative to Pickles’s  ‘Christian nation’.

What is secularism?

Following Broomfield we note  that,

Secularism is not  Atheism.

Secularism is the policy of opening up society  to all beliefs by making no one faith or non-faith a central part of the public sphere.  This means no public subsidies for religious groups, and certainly no “established” Church. It means that education is free from religious doctrine. It means that official religious values, symbols and practices in these areas – such as schools – should be excluded.

It is not  Extremist.

Broomfield states, “In his speech, Pickles aligned secularism with the extremist doctrines of the English Defence League and militant Islam, saying “they’re all as bad as each other”. In reality, secularism is not a religious or political ideology at all, so much as it is the absence of any one dominant ideology.

It is not Intolerant. 

Broomfield notes that secularism  has nothing to do with the Marine Le Pen’s claim that Front National schools will only lay on pork for children to eat. This is as bad as forcing people to eat Halal food (something  rigorously  forbidden from diet  example, to all Sikhs). Le Pen is not a secularist – she has backed Catholic led-demonstrations against gay marriage and teaching gender equality in schools. Such has been the importance of this clash that Libération has a whole special section on its site devoted to it: here. Those citing the FN should look there before pontificating about its opportunistic ‘secularism’.

Militant Secularism.

But more is needed.

In Britain the education system, particularly through ‘free schools’ and academies’ has been wide open to the influence of faith groups. These have imposed their narrow agenda with public funding.

Some on the ‘left’ would no doubt prefer Pickles to promote faith more broadly.

The multiculturalism that has been used to promote religious causes, from reinforcing traditional authority, to the state where active communalism, with public subsidy is promoted by municipalities  like Tower Hamlets.  It bolsters reactionary political influence of religious groups – the opposite the aim of secularists who wish to make the public domain open and free from bigotry.

Only a militant, that is vigilant, secularism, can fight back against this.

It requires not just the ‘absence’ of an official doctrine  but a conscious effort to undermine religious dogma.

That  is,  not an official replacement doctrine but a call for mass pressure and activity to create free spaces for people’s ideas, culture and values.

Contrasts with the Front National.

But before one lie gets repeated again and again, nobody has ever proposed the following (as Broomfield claims), “the National Front’s plans to force Muslim schoolchildren to eat pork.”

A weaker version of this claim, closer to the truth,  is made by the Bob Pitt,

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen said on Friday it would prevent schools from offering special lunches to Muslim pupils in the 11 towns it won in local elections, saying such arrangements were contrary to France’s secular values.

The Front National proposes to put  pork on the menu in all school canteens.

In practice this has not meant denying an alternative.

« Il y a toujours eu deux menus dans les cantines : l’un avec porc, l’autre sans porc pour ceux qui ne désirent pas enconsommer. Naturellement, cette possibilité sera préservée dans les cantines de Fréjus, l’essentiel étant que la liberté de chacun soit préservée »

There has always been two menus in the canteens: one with pork, the other without pork, for those who don’t want to eat it. These possibilities will be maintained in the canteens of Fréjus” (Front National town).

Today Le Monde summarises the real conditions which the Front National operates within.

It debunks some myths. Essentially that there is a major issue about Halal food in French school, and that Marine Le Pen’s Party is laying down an important marker on the subject.

The question of pork is a sign of secularism in danger

But the issue is not new, the vast majority of canteens offers alternative dishes and have done  for decades, and no religious organisation has recently made a special request on this subject.

Le Pen’s  party will not accept halal in canteens

But there is none in the places where the party is in charge.

Impose the presence of  pork on school  menus

This is already the case for all menus that we could see in towns run by the FN.

- But maintaining a substitute menu

But this, too, is already the case in most  FN run towns

- If the municipality cannot offer an alternative to pork dishes, would it keep the pork?

This is already the case in the past for menus in FN controlled towns.

- Finally, will the president of FN  ensure that “there are always two menus”

This is mostly true for municipalities  run by the  FN, it is not in general the practice

So, not only is Halal Food not a major topic of controversy, but that all it boils down to in practice is that the Front National claims that it will “offer” a pork menu.

The only really major fault of their position (distasteful rhetoric aside)  is that they do not guarantee to offer an alternative Halal – or vegetarian? –  dish.

But in practice they do: as can be seen below.

Ville FN Restauration Porc dans les menus Substitution proposée?
Cogolin privé oui
Beaucaire privé oui
Le Luc privé ?
Mantes-la-Ville ville oui
Villers-Coterêts ville oui
Camaret privé ?
Béziers ville oui
Fréjus ville oui
Beaucaire privé oui
Hayange ville ?
Le Pontet ville ?
Marseille 7 ville oui

Written by Andrew Coates

April 8, 2014 at 11:38 am

Far-Right Jobbik Election Gains – Leader has called Islam “Last Hope of Humanity”.

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“Islam is the last hope for humanity in the darkness of globalism and liberalism.”

The Guardian Reports,

Hungarians handed prime minister Viktor Orbán another four years in power in Sunday’s parliamentary election, while about one in every five voters backed Jobbik, the far-right opposition party accused of antisemitism.

Orbán has clashed repeatedly with the EU and foreign investors over his maverick policies, but many Hungarians regard the 50-year-old former dissident against communist rule as a champion of national interests. Under his government, personal income tax and household power bills have fallen.

After 71% of the ballots were counted, election officials projected Orbán’s Fidesz party would win 135 of the 199 seats in parliament – passing the two-thirds threshold needed for his party to unilaterally change the constitution.

In the past four years, Orbán’s policies have included a nationalisation of private pension funds, swingeing “crisis taxes” on big business and a relief scheme for mortgage holders for which the banks, mostly foreign-owned, had to pay.

The socialist-led leftist alliance was projected to win 39 seats, with 25 going to Jobbik, whose share of the national vote on party lists rose from 15.9% four years ago to 21.25%.

 

This aspect of Jobbik’s ideology does not seem to get much publicity in the anglophone media.

 

The leader of Hungary’s Jobbik movement has said that “Islam is the last hope for humanity in the darkness of globalism and liberalism.”

During the recent Hungarian parliamentary elections, the Jobbik movement earned 16.67% of the overall vote, securing 47 seats in the National Assembly. Subsequently, the President of Jobbika made a trip to Turkeywhere he visited various universities.

“We’re not coming to Turkey to build diplomatic and economic relations, but to meet our Turkish brothers and sisters,” Gábor Vona, Jobbika’s president said.

He also claimed that “the West does not tolerate seeing my party support Turkey and other Turanian peoples, such as Azerbaijanis, in international conflicts.”

Gábor Vona also affirmed that his party had no relationship with the Islamophobic, far-right European parties, as some commentators have claimed. Jobbik’s president also stated that Turkish society, grounded in love of the family, respect for tradition and a strong sense of patriotism, was a great example for Hungary.

According to Gábor Vona, the relationship between Hungary and Turkey is based on fraternity and not just friendship. The Jobbik party’s leader also emphasised, on many occasions, that “Islam is the last hope for humanity in the darkness of globalism and liberalism.”

Also on the universal significance of Islam, Gábor Vona has stated on the official website of his party:

Africa has no power; Australia and South-America suffer from a perplexed identity due to their much-congested societies. Considering all this, there’s only one culture left which seeks to preserve its traditions: it is the Islamic world.”

Furthermore, Vona said that his personal life was influenced by Islam and Muslims that he has met as friends and colleagues throughout his life. More surprisingly, one of the witnesses at his wedding was a Palestinian, something that infuriated his opponents.

From Five Pillars. February 17th 2014.

In more detail Le Monde Diplomatique carries this article, “Une extrême droite qui n’exècre pas l’islam (A far-Right that does not loath Islam)  by  Corentin Léotard.

It reveals the reasons behind this convergence of European extreme right and Islamist extreme right.

It’s not hard to guess what the motivation is.

Jobbick is against the “Hebrew State”.

In Parliament, its representative,  its representative, Gábor Vona,  wears a Palestinian  keffiyeh and has denounced the “génocide de Gaza.

Another source is Jobbik’s “turanism”: The right-wing Jobbik party and its president Gábor Vona are uncompromising supporters of Turanism and Pan-Turkism (The ideology of Jobbik considers Hungarians as a Turkic nation.).

The leader of the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross PartyFerenc Szálasi, believed in the existence of a “Turanian-Hungarian” race (which included Jesus Christ). The idea was a key part of his ideology of “Hungarism”.[59]

In Hungary some fascists (and non-fascists) tried to link the ancestors of the Hungarians to Timur, the Ottomans and Japan, which some Hungarians of the 1930s described as the ‘other sword of Turan’ (the first sword being Hungary).

While some Hungarian Turanists went as far as to argue they were racially healthier than and superior to other Europeans (including Germans, who were already corrupted by Judaism), others felt more modestly, that as Turanians living in Europe, they might provide an important bridge between East and West and thus play a role in world politics out of proportion of their numbers or the size of their country. This geopolitical argument was taken to absurd extremes by Ferenc Szálasi, head of the Arrow Cross-Hungarist movement, who believed that, owing to their unique historical and geographical position, Hungarians might play a role equal to, or even more important than, Germany in building the new European order, while Szálasi’s own charisma might eventually help him supersede Hitler as leader of the international movement.

Wikipedia.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2014 at 10:47 am