No can do
With cries of "Islamophobia" they
want us to
critiquing 'the religion itself'
August 18, 2004
Imagine at a synagogue somewhere in London. Jews
are working together to send out £1m worth of books, DVDs
and videos about Judaism and the Torah as an act of 'self-defence'
against anti-Semitism and 'Judaism-phobia'.
Or imagine black South Africans during Apartheid
sending out mass mailings of Steve Biko's books on Black Nationalism
in order to combat racism, Apartheid
and 'Black Nationalism-phobia'.
Or imagine the Stephen Lawrence Campaign sending
out Bibles in order to combat his racist killing and Christianity-phobia.
to imagine? Of course it is hard to imagine such responses because
we know they are irrelevant to fighting racism, discrimination, and racist
That is of course unless you're a 'Muslim'. In that case, then, Vikram
matter-of-factly state in The Guardian that volunteers are working
together at a Finsbury Park mosque packing the first of £1m worth
of books, DVDs and videos about Islam to send to 300 public libraries across
of self-defence and to combat racism and prejudice! ("Muslims put faith
in written word to fight prejudice, A mosque in Finsbury Park confronts
on", August 9, 2004.)
Someone should inform Vikram Dodd (though this is well-known to the volunteers
at Finsbury Park mosque) that he and many like him have been duped into
thinking there is actually a connection between handing out books on Islam
The fight against racism and discrimination has always and rightly focused
on the causes and reasons behind the racism and not on the victims' beliefs.
is because the victims' beliefs are irrelevant when combating racism or
discrimination. When The Scotsman reports on the terrifying racist attack
on Runbi Musunhe
and Nonkululeko Khawula, it doesn't delve into their beliefs and it shouldn't.
two asylum seekers hang themselves as a result of state racism towards
asylum seekers in the UK, their beliefs aren't discussed. When the BBC
a black man losing his sight in one eye after being attacked by a schoolboy
in a racist attack in Rotherhithe, south-east London, it does not delve
into the victim's beliefs. Because it is irrelevant what the victim believes,
what s/he thinks, whether you agree with her or him or not. It doesn't
matters is that human beings have been attacked or targeted by racism
and responding to that means targeting the cause of the racism
institutionalised racism or by ensuring that those who commit racist
acts and killings are
or by promoting a society in which the human being is sacred and is
treated equally as a citizen with universal rights and is not forever
rights or or or...
I don't think though that one of the responses of
the 'Defend Runbi Musunhe and Nonkululeko Khawula Campaign', if there
were one, would
be to send
and Korans if relevant and if not, then maybe books on Mugabe and
Zimbabwe since one of the women was originally born there! You
have to agree
that it would be
ridiculous to do so.
Another problem with this response is that it assumes
that everyone attributed to a group have the same beliefs, which
is racist in itself
beliefs attributed to the entire group are often that of the dominant
class and the
most reactionary segment of it. People are more complex than that.
And most importantly, this sort
of response equates racism against human beings as one and the
same with a critique of or opposition to belief systems. Come
on, Vikram Dodd, you know this is not the case, don't you? Criticising
Islam is not racism just as a criticism of FGM is not racism against
girls who have been mutilated and 'believe' in mutilation; just
as a critique and opposition
to child smacking is not racism against parents who smack their
children out of a belief that it is an act of love; just as a critique
opposition to Zionism
is not anti-Semitism...
You cannot be racist against an idea or belief
or ideology. Racism is distinctions, exclusions, restrictions or
preferences based on race,
colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin of
individuals - of human beings.
Of course the Finsbury Park mosque
wants us to think otherwise. Fadi Itani, an organiser of the project
says in the Guardian article: "There
is a real sense of our communities being under attack." "The
attack is on everything, our institutions, scholars, individuals,
and the religion itself." Itani
and his cohorts put an attack on beliefs and institutions on a
par with an attack on individuals by deeming it all equally racist.
do this because they want us to stop criticising their 'institutions'
- the likes of the Muslim Association of Britain, which by the
way is linked to
the reactionary political Islamic Muslim Brotherhood tradition
with the stated aim of "the widespread implementation of Islam as
a way of life; no longer to be sidelined as merely a religion".
They want us to sit quietly by when London Mayor
Ken Livingston invites their 'scholars' - the likes of Al Qaradawi
way is a misogynist homophobe. They want us to believe that a
criticism of Al Qaradawi's beliefs is an attack on his person or
want us to
critiquing 'the religion itself' - Islam, which like all religions
is anti-woman, anti-human and calls for the death of apostates
and non-believers with one
important difference - that it is a religion in power or vying
for power in this century.
They do this by calling it racism!
Well I am sorry but no can
You cannot attribute human qualities to a belief
system and institutions in order to rule out and deem racist any
You cannot take advantage
of a strong anti-racist movement in the West to strengthen
your political power here in the West. The Finsbury Park mosque,
Al Qaradawi and Islam itself are part and parcel of a reactionary
movement that has wreaked havoc in the Middle East and North
Africa and aims
to do so here
We, its first hand victims, have been
pushing it back for years in Iran now. Fortunately for
the West and civilised humanity, and unfortunately for the likes
of the Finsbury Park mosque, we will do the same here as
Maryam Namazie is the host of TV
International English, is a Central Council Member
of the Organisation of Women's Liberation and Director
of the International Relations Committee of the Worker-communist
Party of Iran.