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Southall Black Sisters Stand with the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain.

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Southall Black Sisters: One of the Most Respected Campaign Groups in Britain. 

Pink News: Ex-Muslim group hit back after Pride ‘Allah is gay’ sign row: ‘They are trying to silence us’

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Great Britain (CEMB) has hit back after the controversy concerning their placards at the Pride in London paradeearlier this month.

Members of the secularist group held signs reading “Allah is gay” and “F**k Islamic Homophobia”, prompting an official complaint from the East London Mosque claiming that the group “was inciting hatred against Muslims”.

Prior to the march, the CEMB rejected claims of Islamophobia, their co-founder Maryam Namazie saying: “We need to stand up to racism and bigotry and at the same time we should be able to criticise religion and the religious right… people should be allowed to criticise without threat or intimidation.”

Following last week’s complaint from the East London Mosque, Namazie took issue with the suggestion that the signs and protest were in any way “anti-Muslim” – the group also published a full press release outlining its response in full.

“Why are signs critical of Islam (a belief) and Islamism (a far-right political movement) ‘anti-Muslim’?” she told Pink News.

“Muslims are people, with as many different opinions as anyone else. They are not a homogeneous group but individuals.

“Some will agree with us, others won’t. In fact, several Muslims visiting from Bangladesh joined us.

“The incredible support we received from minorities in the crowd cheering us on is a reflection of that. Not everyone was offended. And offence can never be a reason to censor and silence dissent.”

She added that ex-Muslims, including LGBT ex-Muslims, should have the right to speak beyond the confines of Islam and away from the control of “regressive” so-called leaders, including the East London Mosque.

“The East London mosque’s accusation that we are inciting hatred against Muslims for criticising their incitement to violence against apostates and LGBT would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic and if so many didn’t buy into it,” she said.

“The East London mosque has a history of inciting hate and violence against apostates and LGBT. It has clear links to the Islamist movement which executes apostates and gay men.

“Moreover, it has no ‘track record for challenging homophobia’. If so, where is its support for Muslim and ex-Muslim LGBT or LGBT persecuted outside of Britain in countries under Sharia?”

Namazie argued that the Mosque has refused dialogue with the LGBT community.

She noted that Peter Tatchell claimed to have asked to meet with the Mosque 11 times since 2015 but been knocked back each time.

Read more here.

It’s not often these days when we agree with ‘arry’s Place.

But on this one they are more than right to point out that if the kind of racist, violent misogynistic, anti-gay, anti-humanist views expressed at the East London Mosque were broadcast by anybody else, notably Christian fundamentalists, they’d be the target of a massive left-wing campaign.

The East London Mosque – Surrealist Politics

Here’s Maajid Nawaz’s take on the CEMB protest:

Maajid accepts that “these posters are provocative” but argues that this “is not Islamaphobia.”

He said “I wouldn’t want to hold up those banners, you may not want to hold up those banners, but it’s their right to hold up those banners. It’s like complaining about The Book of Mormon or The Life of Brian.”

The LBC host said that the East London Mosque were using the Islamaphobia as a “shield to prevent people from critiquing the religion of Islam itself.”

He went on to say the only signs that could be considered Islamophobic were those that encourgaed hatred and violence towards Islamic people and none of the signs reached that criteria. He said that a poster saying “‘Allah is gay’ that isn’t telling anyone to go and target a Muslim.”

Yes, that’s pretty much where I stand.

The East London Mosque’s record is far, far more “provocative”. And we’re helping to pay for it all – the mosque has raked in public sector grants totalling £3.2 mn over the last decade. This includes grants for “community cohesion” (£325,000 in total). No, really.

The mosque’s surreal “track record” stance will be backed by the malignant and the deluded, of course. They are sadly numerous in East London.

For those with eyes to see, though, yet more scales should fall now.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 18, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Protest at Court of Appeal: Gender Segregation is Gender Apartheid!

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Protest at Court of Appeal hearing on 11 and 12 July 2017 at 9.30am.

Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL.

Pack out the public gallery in the court so that the judiciary is under no illusion as to what is at stake.

GENDER SEGREGATION IS GENDER APARTHEID

Southall Black Sisters Intervention in Court of Appeal case on Gender Segregation

SBS is intervening on a legal case in the Court of Appeal on 11th – 12th July against gender segregation and has organised a protest outside the court.

Gender segregation in education

School X – a co-educational, Muslim voluntary aided school in the UK – segregates its pupils based on their gender. From the age of 9 to 16, boys and girls from Muslim parents are segregated for everything – during lessons and all breaks, activities and school trips.

On 13 and 14 June 2016, the school was inspected by the regulatory body, Ofsted, which raised concerns about a number of leadership failings including those involving gender segregation, the absence of effective safeguarding procedures, and an unchallenged culture of gender stereotyping and homophobia. Offensive books promoting rape, violence against women and misogyny were discovered in the school library. Some girls also complained anonymously that gender segregation did not prepare them for social interaction and integration into the wider society. As a result of what it found during the inspection, Ofsted judged the school to be inadequate and placed it in special measures.

‘Separate but equal’

The school took legal action to stop Ofsted from publishing its report. They argued that, amongst other things, the report was biased and that gender segregation does not amount to sex discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

On 8 November 2016, following a High Court hearing, the presiding judge, Mr Justice Jay, found that there was no sex discrimination because of his reading of the law and the lack of evidence before him. He found that gender segregation did not amount to sex discrimination since both boys and girls were ‘separated equally’. He noted that although women hold minority power in society generally, there was no evidence before him that girls suffered specifically as a result of the segregation in this school. Mr Justice Jay noted the differences between segregation on the grounds of race in the USA and South Africa in previous decades and gender segregation in the UK today, concluding that he had not heard evidence that gender segregation made girls feel disadvantaged or inferior.

Ofsted appealed against the ruling of the High Court which will be heard at the Court of Appeal on 11 and 12 July 2017.

The case for intervention

Southall Black Sisters and Inspire are intervening in the case because of its great public importance – especially for minority women and girls. Although, gender segregation and its implications are not specific to School X, but apply equally to a number of other faith schools, the point of our intervention is two-fold:

First, to show how the growing practice of gender segregation in education is not a benign development: Like racial segregation in the USA and South Africa, gender segregation within BME communities in the UK, has a social, and political history that can be traced back to the Rushdie Affair when religious fundamentalists sensed an opportunity to seize education as a battleground and a site on which to expand their influence. Since then, we have seen emboldened fundamentalists in South Asian communities attempting to impose gender segregation in schools and universities. Mr Justice Jay did not look into the wider social and political context in which gender segregation is practiced in minority communities. Had he done so, he would have seen its broad-ranging and long-lasting effect on all areas of women’s lives: that gender segregation is a political choice and that the struggle against it mirrors the struggle against racial segregation.

Second, we want to ensure that gender equality is placed at the heart of Ofsted inspections in all schools, irrespective of their status and composition. We recognise that gender segregation can sometimes be educationally beneficial. But in the hands of ultra-conservatives and fundamentalists, it has an entirely different intent and consequence which is to mount a wholesale assault on women’s rights: socially, culturally and politically.

A violation of human rights

UN human rights experts have noted that ‘fundamentalists everywhere target education in different ways: In some places, they kill teachers or carry out acid attacks on students. Elsewhere they attempt to impose gender segregation in schools or to exclude women and girls altogether. In other places, they seek to change the content of education, removing sex education from the curriculum or censoring scientific theories with which they do not agree’

School X’s approach is consistent with Muslim fundamentalist ideologies that strive to create a fundamentalist vision of education in the UK: one that discourages mixed-gender activities as ‘Un-Islamic’ and ultimately legitimises patriarchal power structures. Their aim is to reinforce the different spaces – private and public – that men and women must occupy, and their respective stereotyped roles, which accord them differential and unequal status. This approach constitutes direct discrimination under the UK’s Equality Act 2010. It also violates International human rights laws, standards and principles on equality and non-discrimination such as CEDAW and Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, to which the UK has signed up. Women’s rights must take priority over intolerant beliefs that are used to justify sex discrimination.

Gender segregation is gender apartheid

This is a significant and potentially precedent-setting case about sex discrimination and equality. Ultra-conservative and fundamentalist gender norms are seeping into the everyday life of minority communities. Education has become a gendered ideological terrain upon which the potential of women and girls together with their hopes, aspirations and dreams are extinguished. Gender segregation in school X is part of a wider political project that is ideologically linked to the creation of a regime of ‘gendered modesty’: one that promotes an infantilised and dehumanized notion of womanhood and, ultimately, amounts to sexual apartheid.

What you can do

We are mobilising for the Court of Appeal hearing on 11 and 12 July 2017 from 9.30am onwards.

We urge you to join us by:

  • protesting outside the court on both days – Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL;
  • packing out the public gallery in the court so that the judiciary is under no illusion as to what is at stake.
  • publicising our campaign widely and encouraging others to join us.

Image result for women protest at gender segregation

 

More information. 

http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/…/gender-segregation…

See the High Court judgment here: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/…/uploa…/2016/11/x-v-ofsted.pdf and here: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/…/11/x-v-oftsed-press-summary.…

Southall Black Sisters is also part of the One Law for All campaign which also includes the Kurdish Culture Project, Centre for Secular Space and others working to challenge the rise of religious fundamentalism and extremism and it specific impact on the rights of black and minority women in the UK. We are currently running a campaign against the accommodation of Sharia laws in the law or as part of alternative dispute resolution systems in relation to family matters. See here: http://onelawforall.org.uk/over-300-abused-women-issue-sta…/

Information about previous challenges to gender segregation in universities can be found here: http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/…/campaign-gender-ap… and here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/pragna-patel/’shariafication-by-stealth’-in-uk and here: http://www.wewillinspire.com/tag/segregatio

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 10, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Saudi Arabia chief foreign promoter of Islamist extremism in the UK: time for the Left to respond.

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Theresa May meets King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia in April

Theresa May with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud in April

Saudi Arabia is the chief foreign promoter of Islamist extremism in the UK, a report has warned.

The conservative Henry Jackson Society said there was a “clear and growing link” between Islamist organisations preaching violence and foreign state funding.

In a new report entitled “Foreign Funded Islamist Extremism in the UK”, the thinktank calls for a public inquiry into extremism bankrolled by other countries.

It suggests several Gulf states and Iran are responsible for much of the foreign funding of extremism in the UK, but that Saudi Arabia in particular had spent millions on exporting its conservative branch of Wahhabi Islam to Muslim communities in the West since the 1960s.

The thinktank, run by controversial journalist and political commentator Douglas Murray, said this typically took the form of endowments to mosques and Islamic educational institutions which host radical preachers and distribute extremist literature.

The report calls for a public inquiry in Saudi Arabia’s connections with UK based extremism.

The UK’s Saudi Arabian embassy told the BBC the allegations were “categorically false”.

The Henry Jackson Society is not a friend of the left. But this report cannot be dismissed. The left needs to come up with a response to Islamism. Opposing anti-Muslim racism does not mean protecting the ideology of Islamism and the actions of violent Islamists.These are opponents of human rights, the enemy of all democrats, feminists, progressives and the left. We have to oppose all forms of Islamism, but above all the jihadists.

The Guardian reports,

Tom Wilson, a fellow at the Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism at the society – and author of the report, said: “While countries from across the Gulf and Iran have been guilty of advancing extremism, Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly at the top of the list.

“Research indicates that some Saudi individuals and foundations have been heavily involved in exporting an illiberal, bigoted Wahhabi ideology. So it is ironic, to say the least, that Saudi Arabia is singling out Qatar for links to extremism when it has patently failed to get its own house in order.”

The report argues that although Saudi leaders have acknowledged the need to rein in some of the funding of extremism, including by setting up a counter extremism centre this year, the level of funding of Wahhabism has been on the increase.

It claims in 2007 Saudi Arabia was estimated to be spending at least $2bn (£1.5bn) annually on promoting Wahhabism worldwide. By 2015 that figure was believed to have doubled.

The impact of this increased spending may well have been felt in Britain: in 2007, estimates put the number of mosques in Britain adhering to Salafism and Wahhabism at 68. Seven years later, the number of British mosques identified with Wahhabism had risen to 110.

It argues that Saudi Islamic charitable groups have tended to fund Wahhabist ideology. Some of Britain’s most prominent extremist preachers — such as Abu Qatada, Abu Hamza, Abdullah al Faisal and Shiekh Omar Bakri — have all sat within what can be described as a broadly Wahhabi/Salafi ideology, the report says. In 2014, it was estimated that Britain’s Salafi Mosques had a collective capacity for a 44,994-strong membership.

The report by no means exclusively blames Saudi – pointing out that the Qatari-funded Al-Muntada Trust has been connected with a number of mosques where radicalisation has taken place. Specifically, in the case of a group of young British men from Cardiff, it has been suggested that “attendance at the al-Muntada-linked Al-Manar Mosque was significant in their radicalisation and decision to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State”.

In its own outline the Report says,

  • The foreign funding for Islamist extremism in Britain primarily comes from governments and government linked foundations based in the Gulf, as well as Iran.
  • Foremost among these has been Saudi Arabia, which since the 1960s has sponsored a multimillion dollar effort to export Wahhabi Islam across the Islamic world, including to Muslim communities in the West.
  • In the UK, this funding has primarily taken the form of endowments to mosques and Islamic educational institutions, which have apparently, in turn, played host to Islamist extremist preachers and the distribution of extremist literature. Influence has also been exerted through the training of British Muslim religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, as well as the use of Saudi textbooks in a number of the UK’s independent Islamic schools.
  • A number of Britain’s most serious Islamist hate preachers sit within the Salafi-Wahhabi ideology and are apparently linked to Islamist extremism sponsored from overseas, either by having studied in Saudi Arabia as part of scholarship programmes, or by having been provided with extreme literature and material within the UK itself.
  • There have been numerous cases of British individuals who have joined Jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria whose radicalisation is thought to link back to foreign funded institutions and preachers.

This comes after this (the Blaze)

Intelligence officers have said they have identified 23,000 jihadist extremists living in the United Kingdom, according to a report by the Times of London on Saturday.

Of the 23,000 radical jihadists identified in the United Kingdom, the intelligence sources said about 3,000 are believed to pose a “threat” and are currently being investigated or actively monitored. “The 20,000 others have featured in previous inquiries and are categorised as posing a ‘residual risk,’” reported the Times.

The BBC  stated earlier this year,

Approximately 850 people from the UK have travelled to support or fight for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, say the British authorities.

This BBC News database is the most comprehensive public record of its kind, telling the story of over 100 people from the UK who have been convicted of offences relating to the conflict and over 150 others who have either died or are still in the region.

Many of these people, the modern-day equivalent of those who joined the Nazi Einsatzgruppen have committed war crimes.

The jihadists of Daesh above all have murdered Syrian, Kurds and Iraqis,  enslaved and committed genocide against our Yazidi sisters and brothers (Genocide of Yazidis by ISIL).

They need to be brought to justice.

Defence of universal human rights begins with the fight against the ideas and the people who give the jihadists succor and support.

 

Tariq Ramadan’s ‘Debate’ ‘Within the Islamic Tradition’ on Female Circumcision.

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Image result for tariq ramadan sayings

Ramadan Faces, “campaign by far-right circles, fundamentalist secularists, inveterate Zionists, lying ex-Muslims…”

Tariq Ramadan (Arabicطارق رمضان‎‎; born 26 August 1962) is a Swiss academic, philosopher and writer. He is the professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and also teaches at the Oxford Faculty of Theology. He is a visiting professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies (Qatar), the Université Mundiapolis (Morocco) and several other universities around world. He is also a senior research fellow at Doshisha University (Japan). He is the director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE), based in Doha.[3] He is a member of the UK Foreign Office Advisory Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief.[4] He was elected by Time magazine in 2000 as one of the seven religious innovators of the 21st century and in 2004 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world[5] and by Foreign Policy magazine (2005, 2006, 2008-2010, 2012-2015) as one of the top 100 most influential thinkers in the world and Global Thinkers. (Wikipedia)

To get an idea of why this Blog has nothing but disdain for Ramadan his reaction to the massacres at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher is a good place to start,

Speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme earlier this morning, Prof Ramadan condemned the attack on the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, saying that, “these are very difficult times and a very sad situation” and expressing his “deepest sympathy for the victims’ families.”

“We must start by condemning what happened and what was done in the name of Islam… what they did in fact was to betray our principles, our values and the overall message of Islam,” he stated.

Prof Ramadan also outlined the need for a more nuanced reaction to the atrocities, and for there to be a real attempt to understand the grievances that might lead such people to commit such extreme acts of violence.

The Oxford Don is perhaps best known for calling for a “moratorium” – not the abolition – of some  Sharia law penalties as stoning people to death (An International call for Moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in the Islamic World. 2005)

A new controversy about Islamic Legality  began last week (June the 14th).

It has not stopped growing.

Tariq Ramadan Defends Female Genital Mutilation: ‘Part of Our Tradition’ and an ‘Internal Discussion’ for Muslims Only.

… on Monday, influential Islamist thinker and activist Tariq Ramadan released a 10 minute video on Facebook expressing support for Elsayed staying on. Ramadan stated Muslim leaders who advocate for FGM should be understood as “brothers,” part of “our community” and Muslims who disagree should engage them with “internal discussion” and are instructed “not to expose them.” Here are some of the highlights from this video.

The author continued,

First Ramadan starts by framing opposition to FGM as a critique coming from “outside the community” and stating that he opposes the calls for firing Elsayed:

“I’m reacting to what I heard and some questions that I had about what happened in Washington with this controversy round a shaykh who was not yet fired – I hope he is not going to be, but he was asked to stop preaching and to stop being active within the community or within the mosque in Washington. And I think that some of the brothers and the sisters even wrote a letter after the controversy around female genital mutilation and excision asking for him to be fired from the mosque and reacting to a video that was posted about what he said in the gathering with Muslim students, men and women. Let me say three things about this because I think this [sic] are critical times and we have to be quite serious about the way we are reacting to controversies and the way we are reacting to some critiques that are coming from outside the community and we have to ask ourselves what we are doing.”

Next Ramadan makes his argument that because FGM is defended by some Muslim scholars it qualifies as “part of our tradition” and is therefore worthy of being “promoted”:

“My position as a Muslim scholar, my position: it’s wrong that we should not promote this because I think that first, it’s not in the Koran and second, it’s part of the Sunnah that we have, and it’s something that is done in African countries, among the Christians and the Muslims and it’s not religious. Having said that, I cannot deny the fact that some scholars at the highest levels of their institutional position are supporting the fact that this is possible that you can go for excision, not to go up to the mutilation and infibulation as it is known in African countries, but we have this in our tradition and it’s part of the internal discussion that we need to have. So to please people who are attacking Islam by saying ‘Oh no, no, no, this is not Islamic. It’s illegal,’ it’s not even faithful to our tradition. We need to have an internal discussion… So, once again, we have to be serious. Any one of the six months of any basic Islamic training, no one can say it’s not part of our tradition. It’s controversial, it’s discussed… you need to take a position, but you then cannot deny the fact that this is something which is part of our tradition.”

Then Ramadan shifts to attacking opponents of FGM, decrying them as Islamophobes, attacking MEMRI by name, and criticizing Muslims for wanting “to be perceived as moderate, open-minded”:

“You need to ask yourself: who are these people who are using videos, putting them and creating controversy? If you are reacting only when Islamophobes – and the people, MEMRI, we know who they are, we know what they want to do, we know in which way they want to make Islam problems, not only in the United States of America but around the world through the translation, distorting and covering in ways that are very specific, they have a very specific objective, they have a very specific way of dealing with scholars, intellectuals, and Islam. These are Islamophobes, and you react to them by just exposing one of your leaders, a shaykh that has been serving the community for more than 30 years and you ask for him to be fired so quickly just to be on the safe side of the political discussion in the United States of America by saying ‘Oh, we have nothing to do with this’ while your tradition is there and it’s discussed within your tradition and whoever is attacking you at least you have to be cautious with the people who are using this and are putting you in a situation which is yes, problematic, but you have to stand for your rights to have opinions, and at least to have internal discussion and not to react so quickly to these issues… And the last thing that I wanted to say: we disagree. I don’t agree with the statement. I don’t with one brother, I don’t agree with one leader. Can’t we take the time to have an internal discussion? To say ‘Look we are not going to respond to the controversy, we are not going to fire the people just to be on the safe side and to be perceived as moderate, as open-minded.'”

Ramadan’s concluding comments are perhaps the most revealing [emphasis added]:

At least we take the time and we let the people know these are internal issues, these are discussions that we want to have among ourselves and it’s not for you to decide when we have to fire somebody or even what are our priorities, because at the end of the day the context is now deciding for us, and people around us are deciding for us what are our priorities, what are the main principle of Islam, and we are not able to come with dignity, with consistency, with confidence and say, ‘Ok, this is who we are, we don’t have all the same opinions, there are discussions, there are internal discussions, we will take our decision, we will have our Shura, our deliberation with it, and it is for us to decide, not for Islamophobes, not for racists, not for people who have political agendas that are now deciding for us… The way you have to be dignified as a Muslim is to rely on him [points upward] to be consistent with yourself and to respect your brothers, not to expose them, not to expose your sisters, even though you disagree, even though you don’t agree. And no double standards, no selective indignation, or selective rejection of some of our brothers because they are exposed outside. And as to our internal business, we talk about it but we let the people, we let the brothers say whatever they want to say.

This insistence on “no double standards” is loaded with irony, as double standards are inherent in Ramadan’s worldview. He advocates for one moral standard for his Muslim “brothers” and “sisters” to engage in “internal discussion” and for imams to “say whatever they want to say.” But for non-Muslims who oppose the barbaric (and illegal) practice of FGM – that makes one a racist and “Islamophobe.”

The international religious authority has tweeted,

Ramadan’s further  reply:

I thought it was not needed as I repeated three times in the video that I do not support either excision or FGM. In any way and I have been involved around the world against both practises. I disagree as well with the comments made by Shaykh Shaker about hyper-sexuality. Yet, this was not my point and I made it clear in the video. To say this discussion has no ground within the Islamic tradition is wrong : it has been debated and still is. Even though I am against these practises as I think it is not the right Islamic interpretation, it cannot be denied that it was condoned by some Muslim scholars (even contemporary ones). So let us be clear about it and address the issue the way it should be, in a clear, wise and scholarly manner. My other point was about our reactive way to deal with issue when vicious islamophobic agencies, such as MEMRI, are attacking people and leaders within the Muslim community. This is the time where we should be wise and decide for ourselves how we have to deal with these issues and prioritise our struggles. Instead of exposing people, let us have an open internal debate even if it has to be heated, tough with no compromise. This is where I stand and I hope it is clear enough by now.

 

In a more forthright vein, in French the scholar talks of,

A new campaign by far-right circles, fundamentalist secularists, inveterate Zionists, lying ex-Muslims, and propagandists from all sides…claims that I am a defender of female genital mutilation! Not satisfied with altering my remarks and twisting their meaning, these imposters are waging a campaign in all directions, at Muslims, at Africans, and my self…I have campaigned for 30 years in Africa, and across the world against female circumcision, and all forms of mutilation. These claims are abject smears.  But there is no greater deafness than the deafness of liars, racists and the dishonest.

 

One assumes that the erudite savant was referring to this report in French language media,

Après la lapidation, Tariq Ramadan voudrait avoir une discussion « interne » sur l’excision : « Elle fait partie de notre tradition » toute l'information et l'actualité sur Israel, sur l'Europe, les news sur Israël et le Moyen Orient

Ramadan’s response is, one might observe, in just the kind of tone which we need in the present climate.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 22, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Counterpunch – Diana Johnstone – Defends Marine Le Pen Against “Racism” charge and Rallies to the Cause of National Sovereignty.

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Johnstone: Cannot “reduce” Marine Le Pen’s anti-Immigrant stand to “racism”. 

Diana Johnstone is a columnist for the American left site, Counterpunch.

She has, to put it mildly, ‘form’ on French Politics saying that the Front National is “basically on the left”. And indeed on British Politics, where she warmed to UKIP’s views on European immigration (Diana Johnstone’s poisonous nativism) (1)

In her most recent contribution (21st of April)  to the favourite journal of ‘wise-guys’ who want the ‘low down’ on politics, this is her view on tomorrow’s French Presidential election.

The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty 

Johnstone is torn in the French elections,

A most remarkable feature of this campaign is great similarity between the two candidates said to represent “the far left”, Mélenchon, and “the far right”, Marine Le Pen.  Both speak of leaving the euro.  Both vow to negotiate with the EU to get better treaty terms for France. Both advocate social policies to benefit workers and low income people. Both want to normalize relations with Russia. Both want to leave NATO, or at least its military command.  Both defend national sovereignty, and can thus be described as “sovereignists”.

Left-wing internationalists may protest at this side of Mélenchon’s politics (La chevènementisation de Jean-Luc Mélenchon Philippe Marlière).

She ignores such critics

The main divide appears to be racism.

But…

In a country suffering from unemployment, without jobs or housing to accommodate mass immigration, and under the ongoing threat of Islamist terror attacks, the issue cannot be reasonably reduced to “racism” – unless Islamic terrorists constitute a “race”, for which there is no evidence. Le Pen insists that all French citizens deserve equal treatment regardless of their origins, race or religion. She is certain to get considerable support from recently nationalized immigrants, just as she now gets a majority of working class votes. If this is “fascism”, it has changed a lot in the past seventy years.

So that’s all right then.

Human rights bleeding hearts and internationalist globalisers  might remarks that giving national preference to the French in jobs and housing, chanting “on est chez nous”, claiming that the French have fewer rights than foreign residents(“les Français ont parfois moins de droits en France que des étrangers, même clandestins”) restricting free schooling to French citizens, and systematically linking terrorism to immigration is about as racist as you get.(Immigration et terrorisme : Marine Le Pen multiplie les intox.)

Then there is this,

The globalist media are already preparing to blame the eventual election of a “sovereignist” candidate on Vladimir Putin. Public opinion in the West is being prepared for massive protests to break out against an undesired winner, and the “antifa” militants are ready to wreak havoc in the streets. Some people who like Marine Le Pen are afraid of voting for her, fearing the “color revolution” sure to be mounted against her.  Mélenchon and even Fillon might face similar problems.

Against the views of the “globalist media” Johnstone concludes,

By far the most fundamental emerging issue in this campaign is the conflict between the European Union and national sovereignty.

 That  Counterpunch claiming to be on the left, publishes Johnstone’s  defence of the ‘nation’ against the EU is, well, not unexpected.

A section of the former French ‘republican’ and anti-EU  left has moved from  ‘sovereigntism’ to active involvement in the Front National. From the “regulation” heterodox economist Jacques Sapir (a former supporter of the Front de gauche) who has called for a “common front” against the Euro with the FN ( J’ai dit, et écrit, que, dans la lutte contre l’européisme, il faudrait faire front commun et que, sous certaines conditions, le Front National pourrait y participer) to Thibaut Garnier (former youth secretary of the  Mouvement républicain et citoyen (MRC) and many others, they have found in Marine Le Pen a defender of National Sovereignty (Ces chevènementistes séduits par le FN).

This little gang obviously has its admirers in the US.

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Four Way Race in French Presidential Election: Jean-Luc Mélenchon neck-to-neck with François Fillon.

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Video Game, “Fiscal Kombat“: Mélenchon versus  Socialist Party Tax Evader Cahuzac.

France 24 reports, “Jean-Luc Mélenchon neck-to-neck, or even ahead, of conservative candidate François Fillon.”

The  Independent states,

The first round in the French presidential election could turn into a four-way contest, after a leftist candidate’s unexpected surge in the polls.

Jean-Luc Melenchon is now 0.5 per cent behind conservative Francois Fillon, who sits in third place.

Mr Melenchon gained one percentage point in the daily Ifop-Fiducial poll, putting him at 18 per cent, while Mr Fillon was stable at 18.5 per cent.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen is seen as leading the first round of the presidential election at 24 per cent, while centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron is at 23 per cent.

The Independent points to this,

Ms Le Pen has drawn protests from her election rivals bydenying the French state’s responsibility for a mass arrest of Jews in Paris during the Second World War.

Her comments appeared at odds with years of efforts to make her once-pariah National Front (FN) more palatable to mainstream voters.

“I think France isn’t responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” Ms Le Pen said, referring to the Nazi-ordered roundup by French police in the Velodrome d’Hiver cycling stadium of 13,000 Jews, who were then deported to Auschwitz concentration camp in July 1942.

“I think that, in general, if there are people responsible, it is those who were in power at the time. It is not France,” she said in an interview with media groups Le Figaro, RTL and LCI.

Other polls give Mélenchon 18% and Fillon 17%.

The left socialist, and anti-‘Third Way’ candidate of the Parti Socialiste,  Benoît Hamon, is now below 10% in the opinion polls.

With an audience of 70,000 in Marseilles on Sunday Jean-Luc Mélenchon spoke of peace and in defence of “métissage” (cultural and ethnic mixing). He called a minute’s silence to respect those who have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe (A Marseille, Mélenchon à bon port)

 

Meanwhile Macron’s latest backer is unlikely to bring him much joy:

The Way of the Strangers. Encounters with the Islamic State. Graeme Wood. Reflections on Islamism.

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The Way of the Strangers. Encounters with the Islamic State. Graeme Wood. Allen Lane 2017. La Fracture. Gilles Kepel. Gallimard/France Culture. 2016. Pour les Musulmans. Edwy Plenel. 2015 (2014).

The problem must be posed anew, the hypotheses inverted, for in this domain ‘ideology’ is but another name for ignorance: the religious expression of a social phenomenon is not its disguise, but its unveiling. Gilles Kepel. (1)

From the 7th of January 2015 Islamist murders at Charlie Hebdo and the Vincennes Hyper Cacher to the massacre on the 14th of July in Nice, on the Promenade des Anglais, was for those living in France, Gilles Kepel, begins La Fracture, “une année terrible”. That the anniversary of the 2016 jihadist killings in Belgium was marked last week by the Westminster atrocity has brought the Islamic State, Daesh, back to European headlines. In Mosul and Syria ferocious battles, waged with few scruples, continue against their genocidal tyranny.

Some figures have reacted to the latest tragedy with what Nick Cohen calls the “lies of the right” – Nigel Farage’s tirade against “migration” in first place – “debase civilised society.” (Observer 26.03.17) In Pour Les Musulmans the journalist Edwy Plenel one of the first to signal the dangers of Le Pen and the Front National in the 1980s (L’Effet Le Pen 1984 Edwy Plenel and Alain Rollathas written a generous appeal, in the spirit of Émile Zola’s Pour les Juifs (1896). Against hatred, and the accumulated prejudices against Muslims that makes them a “global enemy” and target in French political life, Plenel offers the British reaction to the 2005 London carnage, “We Are Not Afraid”.

Perhaps now is also the moment to look anew at Jihadism, the most violent wing of Islamism. In his column Cohen reflects a wider dissatisfaction with those who try to explain these outrages as responses to western foreign policy (the ‘anti-imperialist’ left), or the ‘result’ of multiculturalism (the ‘alt-right’).

Kepel was an early critic of the view that political Islam was a “mask” for deeper social causes. Since 9/11 we have heard much of the “religious disguise” that Al-Qaeda and now Daesh presented, while the ‘real’ issue of Western intervention, or more generally ‘neo-liberal globalisation’.  While these abstractions count for little, there are without doubt hard social facts that help extreme forms of Islamism flourish. In France the social divisions that leave many of those of North African descent marginalised, time in prison, and the psychological fragility of individuals, are conditions working behind the acts of individual Jihadists. But “l’idéologie donne la conscience de l’action et en détermine la forme.” Ideology is material, and exists, in ISIS/ISIL, as an organised would-be state, with international offshoots. Daesh, Kepel states, aims to provoke a violent fracture in France, which their ideologues elaborate from Salafist materials, a conquest of Europe, ending in the mass conversion, the enslavement or extermination of the inhabitants. (2)

The Islamic State.
These may be outrageous beliefs, but Kepel does not misrepresent them. The Way of Strangers is a thorough account, first hand evidence, of Islamic State ideas. Those wearied by the media use of the “so-called” before Islamic State will find that, after consideration, Wood, uses the term they use themselves. He shifts the attention to what they are and not to what a ‘real’ ‘Islamic’ state might be. It cannot be grasped as “Jacobinism with an Islamic veneer. It has its own story, the will of god written on the battlefield.

“The notion that religious belief is a minor factor in the rise of the Islamic State is belied by the crushing weight of evidence that religion matters deeply to the vast majority of those who have travelled to fight. “(3) Not only does it issue mountains of Fatwas and other pious declarations, but also, Wood demonstrates, the Islamic state cannot be understood without a deep immersion in the ideology of Salafism and a variety of Islamic schools. The “simplest explanation” for their roots is that their founders were “extreme Islamists”. As for effort to dismiss their faith basis, those doing so rarely have any knowledge of the clerics and scholars in its ranks.

“Since 2010, tens of thousands of men, women and children have migrated to a theoretic state, under the belief that migration is a sacred obligation and that the state’s leader is the worldly successor of the last and greatest of prophets. If religious scholars see no role for religion in a mass movement like this, they see no role for religion in the world.” (4)

In meetings, across the world, with those in sympathy with this goal Wood talks to figures, many of them converts, Musa Cerantonio, ‘Yahya’, Anjem Choudary, and some with decided distance from the Islamic state, such as Hamza Yusuf. The Way of Strangers melds these encounters, invariably over Halal food, with considerations on Islamic history, above all the legal school of Dhaharism, which rigorously bases its rulings on the Qur’an and the prophet, and no additional material or judgements. Parallels with the seventh century Kharijites, a vicious Muslim splinter group who practised mass excommunication, and denied all authority but their own, are dawn.

As one reads The Way of Strangers happy talk about Islam as a “religion of peace” quickly evaporates. The ‘literalist’ Islam of the Islamic, baked by scriptural authority, state sanctions the most severe forms of Hudud punishment, slavery, infamously including sexual captives, and the regulation of all aspects of personal life fused around loathing of the non-licit and the ‘kuffer’. It is obsessed with, The Way of Strangers continues, the takfir¸ the “sport” of declaring those who disagree with them and claim to be Muslims “apostates” under sentence of death. It has genocidal intentions, already put into practice against Yazidis. Wild dreams of a worldwide apocalypse the Islamic state’s followers, to come in decades not months, round off the picture.

Religious Genocide.

Most people do not want, Wood writes, to be part of a religion seen as “fanatical and bloodthirsty.”Most religions have zealots that the mainstream would prefer to make disappear and the Muslim bind is not unique”. Yet, is the Islamic State Muslim? “Whether it is ‘legitimate; is a question other believers answer for themselves, overwhelmingly in the negative” That can be said of any minority, “the group led and supported by Muslims albeit Muslims with whom they vociferously disagree.” To say that it has “nothing to do with Islam” is to deny that they “cite Koran, hadiths, and carefully selected thinkers within the Islamic tradition.” In brief, the denial of the Muslim roots of Daesh is a way of avoiding answering uncomfortable questions, starting with the fact that the Qu’ran does contain verses that support slavery, sexual oppression, and is riddled with ideas that are hard to reconcile with democratic values. Word for word reading shows them, and reasoning by analogy, historical context, and other methods used to adjust Islam to today, on the model perhaps of Saint Augustine’s 5th century reading of the Bible in On Christian Doctrine  always runs up against the problem that the book is claimed, however bizarrely, to be the inerrant word of god. (5).

The Way of Strangers is not just an important and brave book. It is a way of confronting difficult issues about religious politics above all religious genocide based on a form of spiritual racism. The immediate response to defend universal human rights a point of unity between people. Yet Wood leaves us with multiple dilemmas. If the Islamic State is now facing defeat in its Caliphate, will it be able to retain and rebuild support in other violent conditions? What will happen to those who have joined its genocidal regime? Will they return home, or will they, like the butchers of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen be tried and imprisoned?

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(1) Page 234. Gilles Kepel. The Roots of Radical Islam Saqi 2005. Originally published as Le Prophète et Pharaon. La Découverte. 1984.
(2) Pages 47 and 256 – 8 La Fracture. Gilles Kepel.
(3) Page 73. The Way of Strangers. Encounters with the Islamic State. Graeme Wood.
(4) Page 77. The Way of Strangers.
(5) Pages 217 – 8 .The Way of Strangers.