Tendance Coatesy

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Socialist Workers Party Denounces Feminism in London Debate on Fundamentalism for “Islamophobic Stereotypes.”

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Not for Feminists says SWP.

Last weekend this was a panel held during the Feminism in London Conference.

Unlikely Allies: Religious Fundamentalism and the British State.

This session will overturn many long held perceptions about the British state. In its fight against extremism too many institutions have got into bed with fundamentalists and actively promote their narratives. A growing coalition of  secular, left and minority women’s organisations has successfully challenged them Two cases to be discussed are successful campaigns against Universities UK policies permitting gender segregation and the Law Society’s attempt to promote ‘sharia -compliant wills’. These campaigns are part of a global solidarity movement to defend free speech against fundamentalists of all stripes and are seldom reported in the left and liberal press. This session is your chance to hear the left, feminist case for a solidarity movement against fundamentalism and for secularism.  Organised by One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters and the Centre for Secular Space.

With Maryam Namazie, Pragna Patel, Gita Sahgal and Houzan Mahmoud, chaired by Yasmin Rehman.

This is what Socialist Worker had to say on the event – Judith Orr.

Unfortunately the panel and discussion in a session on “fundamentalism” was dominated by Islamophobic stereotypes of Muslims with only a minority of dissenting voices.

There is no mystery why the SWP would dislike a panel featuring comrade Maryam Namazie, whose right to speak at Warwick University as an Iranian humanist and Marxist on a left-wing and secularist critique of Islam and Islamism, was not conspicuously defended by the group.

Nor that comrades Pragna Patel, Gita Saghal, some of the most widely admired grass-roots feminists in the land, who have spent several decades (since 1979) defending women’s rights in Southall Black Sisters, and, (founded 1989), have been part of the inspiring Women Against Fundamentalism (WAF), would raise their hackles.

Here is WAF’s statement,

Women Against Fundamentalism (WAF) was formed in 1989 to challenge the rise of fundamentalism in all religions. Our members include women from many backgrounds and from across the world.

In Britain in recent years fundamentalism has increased its influence in all religions. This has been encouraged by government moves to define complex and diverse communities solely according to ‘faith’, with public funds increasingly being handed out to religious bodies to provide services to ‘their’ communities on behalf of local and central government. WAF believes that this increases the power of religious leaders to discriminate against women and other groups and to exclude or silence dissidents within their own communities.

We believe that public funds should be administered by accountable, democratically elected representatives and not by religious leaders. Only secular institutions with no religious agenda can begin to bring about equality for people of all religions or none.

Houzan Mahmoud would have not found favour either. She is a Kurdish women rights and anti-war activist born in Iraq. She was  the Co-founder of Iraqi Women’s Rights Coalition. She has led an international campaign against Sharia Law and oppression of women in Iraq

 Yasmin Rehman is a secularist Muslim, associated with the Muslim Institute.

For me the Muslim Institute is a beacon of light in what can only be described as a rather depressing landscape for many of us. It is that increasingly rare space for its members to debate, be critical, explore and learn in an open, respectful and most importantly safe space to discuss issues relating to Islam, Muslims and the world at large. It is also a testament to the Institute that it shares its work openly with Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I am deeply grateful to all at the Institute for allowing me to be a part of this work and to share in their work.

It must have been deeply galling for the SWP to have to listen to Iranian women, Kurdish women, women with a heritage from the Sub-continent, and critical – free-thinking –  Muslim women.

True secularism is an alliance of these disparate voices – including believers –  for a free public domain.

The contributions of these admirable women to introducing to British public life  – often parochial and inclined to deference to religious figures of all kinds, particularly the part of the left the SWP, and groups originating in their tradition, such as Counterfire,  represents –  are to be welcomed.

Do we need to be reminded that all societies in which the Sharia ‘law’ and Islamism have an influence, let alone are principles of the state, and  political power, are riddled with oppression? That women are amongst the chief victims?

Women’s rights in Iran: Exiled activist reveals how her fight for equality is attracting male support

Heretic, whore, CIA operative – Masih Alinejad has been called all these things, and worse, by the Iranian authorities. What is her crime? Campaigning for equal rights for women in her home country.

Now Ms Alinejad, 39, who was born in the small village of Ghomikola in the north of Iran but was forced into exile and lives in New York, has launched a campaign to get Iranian men to take up the fight in solidarity with their wives.

Growing up, Ms Alinejad would quietly question why she didn’t enjoy the same rights as her brother; but when she began to speak out and criticise her country’s MPs, she was thrown into prison, aged 19 and pregnant.

Upon her release she continued to aggravate the authorities through her work as an investigative journalist before moving to the UK in 2009, and then to the US where she lives with her son, 18, and husband. There, she presents a weekly programme, Tablet, on Voice of America’s Persian language channel which examines issues affecting young Iranians.

Affectionately referred to by her supporters as “Ghomikola Eagle” – a nickname supplied by her husband – the activist has inspired thousands of women to remove their hijabs, thanks to her “My Stealthy Freedom” campaign which she launched last year. The project encourages women to take “stealthy” photographs of themselves without their head covering and send them to Ms Alinejad to post on her Facebook page, which has almost a million followers.

No doubt Masih Alinejad is also full of “Islamophobic stereotypes.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2015 at 11:45 am

8 Responses

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  1. What else would you expect from the SWP? These days an orientation to Islam is obligatory by so much of the so called left (if you can really call these people “left”). Women’s rights are just one of the issues that have become suppressed in relation to the new wave of “anti-imperialists”. The SWP also ignore anti-Semitism, especially if it comes from an Islamic source. They no longer understand the difference between rights and wrong.

    Howard Fuller

    October 31, 2015 at 12:10 pm

  2. The SWP back some of the most viciously reactionary, misogynistic and anti-Semitic forces presently to be found in UK politics. These ex-Marxists who now grovel to Islamism are simply a disgrace and must be denounced and exposed whenever and wherever they raise their miserable heads.

    Jim Denham

    October 31, 2015 at 5:52 pm

  3. Trot vs Trot.

    SWP vs AWL

    Anti semitism vs Islamophobia.

    Zionism and Islamism – two sides of the same coin as fascism, the third face of the coin if coins had three faces.

    Dean

    November 1, 2015 at 12:28 am

  4. Dean: since 1948, “Zionism” simply means support for the existence of the state of Israel.

    Jim Denham

    November 1, 2015 at 1:37 am

  5. It’s not just the SWP. See the Islamophobia, Secularism and Feminism panel on Friday morning at the Historical Materialism conference. The conspiracy theorists of Spinwatch will be there denouncing secularism as a cover for Islamophobia and smearing these same feminists as in their recent Open Democracy article. This is seriously shit. Nobody reads Socialist Worker, but people do respect Historical Materialism.
    http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/conferences/annual12/ProvProgramme20153110.pdf/view

    Redbridge

    November 1, 2015 at 8:27 pm

  6. I do not. Not while they have Sebastian Budgen and other mates of the ‘anti-race mixing’ Indigènes de la République are in charge there, not to mention those who took the side of the class enemy against Charlie Hebdo.

    Andrew Coates

    November 2, 2015 at 2:06 pm

  7. Me neither.

  8. Reblogged this on Cbmilne33’s Blog.

    cbmilne33

    March 31, 2016 at 11:56 pm


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