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False phobia
Confusing 'Islamophobia' with racism

By Maryam Namazie
February 10, 2004

Peyvand Khorsandi's 'Hatred for all things Islamic' - which frankly reads very much like an Islamic Republic of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence statement - badly, or should I say, sadly, misses the point of my article entitled 'Unveiling the Debate on Women's Rights and Secularism'.

While my article was aimed at defending the principles of secularism, the separation of religion from the state and educational system and women's rights vis-à-vis political Islam, Khorsandi seems to think it was primarily about 'Islamophobia' and the war on Iraq [I will come to Iraq further below].

While interestingly remaining silent on his own position, if any, regarding secularism, veiling, women's rights, sexual apartheid, Islam and political Islam, his only discernible response is to cry racism.

Khorsandi erroneously confuses critical thought in the form of opposition to a religion, its political movement and the sexual apartheid it imposes as racism. Moreover, he confuses a critique of the veil as an attack on Muslims or women wearing the veil.

If it were so, a critique of child labour would be deemed an attack on the child, a critique of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), an attack on women and girls who are mutilated, a critique of poverty, an attack on the poor, a critique of Zionism, anti-Semitism and so on and so forth.

This is no where the case.

Also, he confuses 'Islamophobia' with racism. Again, this is factually inaccurate. Islamophobia is not racism in anyway, shape or form no matter how many powers that be say it is. Only phobias against people because of their race are racism (like xenophobia).

Opposition to or critiques of or even 'phobias' of ideologies, religions, cultures or political movements are not racism. It is only in the bizarro-world of the New World Order's cultural relativism that Islamophobia has been increasingly and deceptively given legitimacy as a form of racism.

This is an important point and one I have stressed on numerous occasions because I believe the use of the term 'Islamophobia' is in itself an attempt to silence a critique of Islam, political Islam and its oppression of women by deeming all those who do as racist.

Suffice it to say that Khorsandi's argument is one often used by Western governments, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Saudi Arabian government, the British Muslim Association (BMA) and so on to do just that. Just as the Israeli government similarly labels opponents of its policies and occupation of Palestine as anti-Semitism. Again, this is no where the case.

Now a few words on the other 'issues' that he raises in his piece: Khorsandi is irate that we at the Worker-communist Party of Iran waste any of our time exposing political Islam when we could all be good old anti-imperialist nationalists that support any reaction, including Khomeini in Iran and the Taliban in Afghanistan (go look at their literature) as long as they are 'anti-imperialist'; when we could instead not care a whit about what these reactionaries do to real live human beings.

From our perspective, though, there are two poles of terrorism in the world today - the USA-led state terrorism on the one hand and Islamic terrorism on the other (see Mansoor Hekmat's 'The World After September 11 on

Ignoring Islamic terrorism is at best irresponsible and at worst reprehensible given the carnage it always leaves behind. This is not difficult to grasp if you begin with the human being as your basis as we do -- then you will easily see why we oppose sanctions in Iraq, the war on Iraq, the USA's New World Order as well as the Islamic regime of Iran, September 11, the imposition of Sharia law in Iraq, the death threat against Yanar Mohammad by an Islamic group and so on. Khorsandi, however, fails to do so. I guess hanging around the Socialist Workers Party and the British Muslim Association can do that to you.


Maryam Namazie is the Executive Director of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees and Director of the International Relations Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran.

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