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← Islam and "Islamophobia" - a little manifesto

Islam and "Islamophobia" - a little manifesto - Comments

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 1 by Ignorant Amos

Muslim Logic.
Ironic isn't it... They're not happy in Gaza. They're not happy in Egypt. They're not happy in Libya. They're not happy in Morocco. They're not happy in Iran. They're not happy in Iraq. They're not happy in Yemen. They're not happy in Afghanistan. They're not happy in Pakistan. They're not happy in Syria. They're not happy in Lebanon. And where are they happy? They're happy in England. They're happy in France. They're happy in Italy. They're happy in Germany. They're happy in Sweden. They're happy in the USA. They're happy in Norway. They're happy in Canada They're happy in Australia They're happy in New Zealand They're happy in every country that is not Muslim. And who do they blame? Not Islam. Not their leadership. Not themselves. THEY BLAME THE COUNTRIES THEY ARE HAPPY IN. Mustapha fucking screw loose.

I know, I know, a joke in bad taste.........

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 04:09:19 UTC | #845059

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 2 by Vicktor

Conversely, extreme-right critics of Islam have gained a degree of respectability by co-opting issues and adopting stances that many politicians and members of the public find compelling. E.g., extreme-right figures have attacked such practices as forced marriages, honour-killings, female genital mutilation, and highly conservative apparel for women such as the burqa and the chador.

None of these things are compulsory in Islam, and you don't have to do any of them in order to be considered a Muslim. Why not attack the five pillars or tenets of Islam instead? At least then "moderate Muslims" won't be able to say, and rightfully so, that you are labeling all Muslims as extremists.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 04:41:10 UTC | #845069

zengardener's Avatar Comment 3 by zengardener

Greg Egan said...

My own view is that the best way to criticise objectionable social practices without giving succour to bigots is by focusing very precisely on the objectionable practices themselves, and leave it up to the theologians who wish to speak for various religions as to whether or not those religions support such practices.

Once specific people who are engaged in, or supporting, objectionable practices make an appeal to their religion as an excuse for it, I believe the correct response is simply "Sorry, that's not relevant" rather than accepting that the ground should shift to a debate on theology.

Worth repeating.

When religion is the topic at hand, we can flip this, and pull out the long list of policies supported by each religion.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 04:44:46 UTC | #845071

superbeanson's Avatar Comment 4 by superbeanson

At a more practical level, opponents of Islam who do not wish to be seen as the extreme-right's sympathizers or dupes would be well-advised to take care in the impression that they convey. Where practical, they should explain their positions with as much nuance as possible,

I suggest prefacing any dubious comment with the epithet: 'I'm not racist, but...'

that'll do it.

R.B. is a very clear writer but sometimes takes up a lot of space stating the obvious

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 05:25:13 UTC | #845082

martwek's Avatar Comment 5 by martwek

This article is a joke. Islam in general, is an intolerant religion, and it's not only a matter of 'few' Islamic leaders. All the hassles we're going through while boarding an airplane is due to people of Islam/ Arab origin, most of the conflicts in the world has an Islamic origin. This is the only religion which worships Death rather than Life. This is the only religion which is committed to a destruction of another neighborig nation.
I assume the author was referring to academic/ business Muslims living in the united state, this is partially correct, especially relating to those who have grown up in the American democratic system, and also this is yet not guaranteed...

Concerning the "[criticism] associated with [European] groups found on the extreme right", also here the author is mistaking. The extreme right only says out loud what the majority of Europeans think, but do not dear to say.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 07:23:46 UTC | #845107

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 6 by Vorlund

The dishonest word islamophobia needs to be expunged from discourse. It is a mustalidian jibe often used to disarm, fend off or attack legitimate criticism of an anithuman system of social organisation.

Legitimate criticism of antihuman practice is not a phobia.

Note the references to forced marriage, conservative apparel, honour killings and female genital mutilation. These are not be compulsory under islam but mostly occur among those peoples whose world view is dominated by ideas on reality promulgated by islam. We have to acknowledge there is a connection. We also have to say that it is not excusable. We have come a long way in the west in the way women are treated and it is not acceptable to say these things are OK because a different culture's religion says so. Is that the best we can do? Just wash our hands of it?

More to the point there are reprehensible and vile matters which are undoubtedly promulgated by islam, the koran and the hadith and still taken quite seriously by many muslims (though not all of them), namely its gynaephobia and the way they treat women generally, the rabid antisemitism, the homophobia, the homicidal intolerance of dissent, the position on family law, justice and punishment all of which stands on an interpretation of 'facts' which are as fanciful as fairies.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 07:25:35 UTC | #845109

andersemil's Avatar Comment 7 by andersemil

Comment 2 by Vicktor :

None of these things are compulsory in Islam, and you don't have to do any of them in order to be considered a Muslim. Why not attack the five pillars or tenets of Islam instead? At least then "moderate Muslims" won't be able to say, and rightfully so, that you are labeling all Muslims as extremists.

Quran- 4:34 "Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other."

Quran- 4:15 “If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, take the evidence of four (reliable) witness from amongst you against them; if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them. Or God ordain for them some (other) way.”

Quran-24:2 “The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication—flog each of them with hundred stripes: Let no compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by God, if ye believe in God and the last day.”

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 07:28:55 UTC | #845115

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 8 by Stafford Gordon

Comment 4: superbeanson.

Since "I'm not a racist, but..." is archetypally racist, I take it you're waxing ironic.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 07:31:46 UTC | #845116

jel's Avatar Comment 9 by jel

All the hassles we're going through while boarding an airplane is due to people of Islam/ Arab origin,

Sorry, but that's just bollocks. I recall, many years ago, way before the islamic world started suicide bombings etc. that planes were hijacked and the "comic" phrase, "take me to Cuba" came into fashion. Due to this, security was increased at airports for anyone flying. These people were not of Arab origin nor were they muslims.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 07:55:52 UTC | #845125

monkey's uncle's Avatar Comment 10 by monkey's uncle

At a more practical level, opponents of Islam who do not wish to be seen as the extreme-right's sympathizers or dupes would be well-advised to take care in the impression that they convey. Where practical, they should explain their positions with as much nuance as possible,

It really doesn't matter how carefully any criticism of islam is expressed, the PC brigade will always label it as islamaphobia. Just as (in the UK) the BNP wish to create a polarised, simplistic debate where everyone who does not support the BNP must be in favour of (or at least not outraged by) islamic extremism, the PC mob seem to want to portray everyone who has any criticism of islam as a raving fascist.

What I find curious is that I have, on many occasions, discussed with muslims my views on religion in general & islam in particular & in all cases the discussion has been conducted in a calm & even tempered manner. When I have seen similar views expressed to non-muslim left wing types, the inevitable accusaions of islamaphobia coupled with references to hitler & jack boots follow.

In much the same way, whenever a story is bandied about regarding some change that has been made to avoid offending muslims, I have rarely seen a muslim who actually objects. Far more frequently I see PC types saying the change must be made to avoid offence being caused. I know that there is a degree of intolerance in all religions but I fear that, by hijacking the muslim cause for their own ends, the left are portraying muslims as more intolerant than they actually are.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 07:58:19 UTC | #845127

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 11 by AtheistEgbert

Most intellectuals are perfectly capable of understanding the not-so-nuanced difference between prejudice and criticism. The average person, however--if your read the comments on any major news website for example--do not. It's a farce but political correctness has given us the appearance of tolerance, but underlying the thoughts and feelings of ordinary people is plain simple prejudice.

This is not the thoughts of intellectuals but the thoughts of society, where blame is the easiest solution to people's problems. Unsurprising that the most oppressive or repressive societies (including the UK) vent their bitterness, anger and powerlessness the only way they know how--watch the Jeremy Kyle show for example--by hating people who are different or placing blame on others.

One solution I offer to dampen the sensitivities of hipsters and intellectuals--who flog the dead horse over and over about how stupid and prejudicial the stupid prejudicial people are--is to refer to all religion as medievalism.

I'm not talking about a romantic backward looking medievalism such as that promoted by the likes of William Morris and others, but rather the real cruel horror show of medieval cultures, cultures that still persist today in the Arab world as they struggle to accommodate things like progress.

Medievalism is what conservatives cherish in their hearts--only they ignore the torturer, the inquisition, the executioner, the plagues, the death rates. They only see the man dominating his pretty defenseless wife while his children dance around on the village green.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 09:36:10 UTC | #845141

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 12 by Vorlund

Comment 11 by AtheistEgbert :

One solution I offer, to dampen the sensitivities of hipsters and intellectuals who flog the dead horse over and over about how stupid and prejudicial the stupid prejudicial people are is to refer to all religion as medievalism.

The capacity of humans for violence and inhumanity is thousands of years older than this, though I agree that these particular forms of inhumanity come to prominence in the medieval period. However, calling it medievalism lets religions off the hook when it is religions and particularly the abrahamic cults which fetter their adherents to egregious medieval barbarism.

It is not enough to tackle behaviours when believers 'know' they are justified by a supreme authority. In their view antihuman behaviour is a part of submitting to the will of god. Anyone who fails in this duty to god is godless and fair game for inhuman treatment. As a result they don't think they are actually doing anything wrong!

We have to continue to attack the basic premise on which religions are based in order to move forward. We have to educate people that believing and having faith is to map reality to ones own wild speculation without recourse to evidence. And to inflict suffering on others as a consequence of that belief is manifestly wrong.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 09:55:13 UTC | #845144

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 13 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 10:02:58 UTC | #845147

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 14 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 10:06:34 UTC | #845149

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 15 by Vicktor

Comment 7 by andersemil

I was referring specifically to: "forced marriages, honour-killings, female genital mutilation, and highly conservative apparel for women such as the burqa and the chador."

The only things ALL Muslims everywhere must follow in order to be considered Muslim are the five pillars of Islam. This is why I prefer to point out the ridiculousness of the compulsory 5 daily prayers instead of the burqa. It's something even "moderate" Muslims cannot argue against.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 10:07:00 UTC | #845150

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 16 by Richard Dawkins

I passed a woman in a full black bin-liner in Oxford this week. Her husband was casually dressed for the heatwave, with an open-necked shirt. Her eyes, which I could just see peeping through the slit, looked really nice, and it was all I could do to stop myself telling this unfortunate, downtrodden woman to kick her foul husband in the balls.

Was my impulse racist? I genuinely believe the answer is no. I feel positively benign towards Hindus in Britain (although I know Hinduism in India is responsible for some horrible things, including the caste system), but unfortunately in Britain Hindus are far outnumbered by Muslims.

Richard

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 10:26:43 UTC | #845155

12PM's Avatar Comment 17 by 12PM

From Islam 4 France

[Qur'an 5:3]

What is Islam? The word "Islam" is an Arabic word that means "submitting and surrendering your will to Almighty God". The word comes from the same root as the Arabic word "salam", which means peace. Unlike the names used for other religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, the name for the religion of Islam was both revealed by God and carries a deep spritual meaning — only by submitting one’s will to Almighty God can one obtain true peace both in this life and in thelife hereafter. Islam teaches that all religions originally had the same essential message — which was to submit whole-heartedly to the will of God and to worship Him and Him alone. For this reason, Islam is not a new religion but is the same divinely revealed Ultimate Truth that God revealed to all prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus.

I think the author represents the general view of Muslims in their active roles for Islam. There you can see some emotional factor in this Islam is not a new religion etc. There you see the competition or necessity for comparing with others.

Do Muslims really need that? That mentality can be interpreted as Islam is under threat... With that emotional problem, how can ever some of these Muslims necessarily see others as friends?

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 10:41:24 UTC | #845159

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 18 by Vicktor

Comment 16 by Richard Dawkins

What you probably didn't see, Richard, was this woman refusing her husband sex because she didn't see him performing one of the compulsory prayers that day.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 10:43:02 UTC | #845160

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 19 by Vorlund

Comment 16 by Richard Dawkins :

it was all I could do to stop myself telling this unfortunate, downtrodden woman to kick her foul husband in the balls. Was my impulse racist? I genuinely believe the answer is no. > Richard

No I don't think it was racist to feel that way. If you saw a european mistreating his wife in public wouldn't you feel the same?

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 10:44:52 UTC | #845161

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 20 by Richard Dawkins

No I don't think it was racist to feel that way. If you saw a european mistreating his wife in public wouldn't you feel the same?

Of course. In that case I might have called a policeman. If you see a Muslim beating his wife, there would be little point in calling a policeman because so many of the British police are terrified of being accused of racism or 'Islamophobia'.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 10:53:33 UTC | #845164

Noble Savage's Avatar Comment 21 by Noble Savage

Comment 18 by Vicktor :

Comment 16 by Richard Dawkins What you probably didn't see, Richard, was this woman refusing her husband sex because she didn't see him performing one of the compulsory prayers that day.

So you're saying they're both crazy?

And, yes, I think it's probable that Richard did not see the sex-denying part.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 10:57:40 UTC | #845166

Mrkimbo's Avatar Comment 22 by Mrkimbo

'Islam' must always be carefully differentiated from "Muslims' - I loathe Islam, but the Muslims I met in Turkey (admittedly about as secular as an Islamic country gets) were about the nicest people I've come across anywhere. This simple differentiation dishes the "critics of Islam are racist' nonsense instantly. Muslims are a collection of widely differing individuals.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 11:03:15 UTC | #845167

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 23 by Vicktor

Comment 21 by Noble Savage

No, I'm saying maybe just she's crazy. Her husband may not be the one forcing her to cover up like that, especially if she's the kind of Muslim who insists on the even-more-compulsory-than-covering-up daily prayers.

To put it simply, if a Muslim woman performs the 5 daily prayers willingly, she probably covers up willingly too.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 11:03:55 UTC | #845168

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 24 by Barry Pearson

The examples above of the attitude of Islam towards women suggests one way to criticise Islam while hopefully avoiding a spurious charge of racism (etc) towards Muslims.

After all, criticising Sura 4:34 (wife-beating) doesn't logically imply hatred or fear of all Muslims! It should lead to sympathy towards half the Muslims on the planet, Muslim women. It is worth emphasising this while criticising this aspect of Islam.

In fact, I believe most of the victims of Islam are Muslims. I suggest that most Muslims are victims of Islam, for example women, or people in countries where Islam is inhibiting R&D to the disadvantage of the inhabitants of those countries.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 11:34:14 UTC | #845174

andersemil's Avatar Comment 25 by andersemil

Comment 15 by Vicktor :

Comment 7 by andersemil

I was referring specifically to: "forced marriages, honour-killings, female genital mutilation, and highly conservative apparel for women such as the burqa and the chador."

The only things ALL Muslims everywhere must follow in order to be considered Muslim are the five pillars of Islam. This is why I prefer to point out the ridiculousness of the compulsory 5 daily prayers instead of the burqa. It's something even "moderate" Muslims cannot argue against.

The quran instructs muslims to show no mercy towards adulterers and non-believers. Period.

The five pillars of Islam are considered essential by the Sunni Muslims, but you are using false logic; true, you cannot be a muslim without performing these five essential acts, but it certainly doesn't mean that you shouldn't follow the word of god in all other aspects; and the quran IS the word of god, it's not an interpretation, an ode to god or anything like that-- "moderate" muslims are in denial, they do not follow the word of god, which they must, but they still want a ticket into heaven. IOW, Bollocks!

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 11:43:24 UTC | #845179

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 26 by AtheistEgbert

Religion is irrational. There is no 'true' or 'right' way to be a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Pastafarian or any other such nonsense. There is no 'true' or 'right' way to interpret scriptures other than using your own brains or reason while interpreting anything.

There is a fad currently where atrocious acts in certain barbarian nations are divorced from their religion, while all the pleasant advances in science or culture are married to religion. How convenient!

As I tried to say above, culture are either backward looking or medieval and dragging their feet or they're progressive and modern, albeit only half damn modern and still not fully modernized.

I'm sure most of us here want a fully modernized culture with free liberal values, democracy and a secular state where science education is science education and not based on an ancient book.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 11:56:24 UTC | #845181

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 27 by Vicktor

Comment 25 by andersemil

The point is, why are non-Muslims (atheists, in particular) making such a big deal about the things that are not essential to Islam? You care that the woman is "forced" to cover up but you don't care that she is (even more so) forced to pray 5 times a day.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 11:57:20 UTC | #845182

keith's Avatar Comment 28 by keith

Hmm. I can't help thinking that this could have been put a bit more concisely. How about:

"Although some people want to tar us with the extreme-right racist brush (or 'quasi-racists', whatever they may be), we shouldn't let that slur silence us. Or we weren't going to anyway? Okay, that's alright then".

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 12:05:44 UTC | #845183

Noble Savage's Avatar Comment 29 by Noble Savage

Comment 23 by Vicktor :

Comment 21 by Noble Savage No, I'm saying maybe just she's crazy. Her husband may not be the one forcing her to cover up like that, especially if she's the kind of Muslim who insists on the even-more-compulsory-than-covering-up daily prayers.

To put it simply, if a Muslim woman performs the 5 daily prayers willingly, she probably covers up willingly too.

Yeah maybe. Maybe not.

It doesn't matter though. The point is that Islam is misogynistic, regardless of whether women embrace the doctrines or not.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 12:06:58 UTC | #845184

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Comment 30 by Stephen of Wimbledon

I cannot accept Russel's premise that dislike of Islam has a quasi-racist character. If you take that argument to its logical conclusion someone who dislikes Boy Scouts because they wear woggles is a racist. It's clearly utter nonsense.

This is exactly what is wrong with the multi-cultural-ism that we see so much in today's political debate.

An obvious problem for critics of Islam who do not share the values of the extreme right is that they may find themselves painted with the same brush.

I'm sorry but that's just bollocks. Yes it's true if you swallowed your M-C-ISM pill this morning, as all good pseudo-intellectuals do, that these things can be equated. But, if we equate, or let others equate, religion with race, or race with skin colour, or skin colour with cultural norms, or cultural norms with religion, then minorities will only:

... continue to suffer from suspicion, cultural and personal misunderstanding, discrimination, and outright intolerance ...

We liberals are guilty of:

... encourag[ing] an environment where all this is possible.

Let us be absolutely clear as crystal on this point:

This is evidence of our failure, a failure of dialogue by us - a failure to ensure we are basing our political discussion on precepts of reason and thinking logically.

An obvious problem for critics of Islam who do not share the values of the extreme right is that they may find themselves painted with the same brush. Conversely, extreme-right critics of Islam have gained a degree of respectability by co-opting issues and adopting stances that many politicians and members of the public find compelling. E.g., extreme-right figures have attacked such practices as forced marriages, honour-killings, female genital mutilation, and highly conservative apparel for women such as the burqa and the chador.

If some liberals among us leave the door open, why are we surprised when extreme politicians walk through? Give me a break, this is not rocket science!

In the circumstances, it is unsurprising when a phenomenon such as Islamophobia is identified by academics, political commentators, and public intellectuals... and steps are taken to combat it.

Islamophobia is NOT a phenomenon - it is a label. Islamophobia is a tag invented by politicians of the left to expand the scope of their messages on racism - and the far right fell for it because they're idiots. That doesn't mean the rest of us need follow their lead. Accepting that measures put in place to combat so-called islamophobia is to accept, de facto, that it exists. Resit these activities with every fibre of your being - because not doing so privileges one religion above all else. You can do that if you are always working from the basis of religion is only an idea and a pastime - like the rules of football and the judgements of referees - or collecting back issues of Playboy (with all the masturbatory implications that involves being, of course, perfectly relevant).

Where there is a fear of Islam many of us would say that it is not a phobia - it is demonstrably rational based on a very long history of widespread evidence. Use of the word phobia in the label is a tactic to twist the political agenda. We can and should deny Islamophobia exists for exactly that reason.

Russell's piece improves greatly towards the end:

At a more practical level, opponents of Islam who do not wish to be seen as the extreme-right's sympathisers or dupes would be well-advised to take care in the impression that they convey.

This is true. We must be sure to identify Islamophobia as being a label invented to identify opponents of Islam in an automatically negative light. Liberals must reject the use of this word at every possible opportunity. Only by doing so will we recapture the right to free speech in the free market of ideas.

Where practical, they should explain their positions with as much nuance as possible ...

No. Nuance smacks of special pleading, and this will have the effect of presenting our argument as liitle diferent to the far right. This is a big mistake. Liberals must be clear and concise: Culture is a set of values, ideas, practices, artistic impressions, norms and traditions. In a free country where multiple cultures exist it is both natural and desirable that some cultures evolve further, and faster, than others. It is a plain fact that the majority in a free and economically successful country must be expected to resist change from an incoming minority. Finally, it is imperative that we make clear that culture is very different from race or gender: Some cultures really are superior. If that were not so, the free countries of the World, quite simply, would not be the magnets that they are for the oppressed, the downtrodden, and the poor.

Distance yourselves from extreme-right figures by making these arguments, and I believe we will make a clear delineation between us.

The words "where practical" are important, because what is practical in, say, a philosophical essay may not be practical in a satirical cartoon, or even in a polemical book aimed at a popular audience.

I have never understood this approach to any argument. True, I do have a reputation for giving long, detailed, answers - when, perhaps, a short and sweet response will do. On the other hand, I've never been accused of being confusing or unclear. Personally, it is my belief that this is partly to do with the constant message we get from legacy media that no one has time to do anything constructive outside work any more - "we're all too busy juggling our busy lives". Pish and tush. We're all too brainwashed by TV more like.

Beyond a certain point, there is too much disadvantage in walking on eggshells. We don't have to do it all our lives.

Russell closes with some common sense ... at last.

Fri, 01 Jul 2011 12:36:56 UTC | #845194