Sara Khan Not Anjem Choudhary

Listen to modernist women not medievalist beard-wearers

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In my first ever post I outlined my reasons for starting this blog. I said that I disliked the coarsening of political debate and the intolerance of differing opinions that has disfigured political discourse in the West over the past couple of decades. I also decried the triumph of emotion over reason and some people’s apparent inability to separate their opinions from their identity, as if disagreeing with the former was an attack on the latter. But most of all I wrote about how I was concerned about the ongoing march of aggressive, authoritarian, intolerant, far-right religion.The continuing problem of Islamist (not Islamic) terrorism has challenged the world view of traditional conservatives, classical liberals and loud-mouthed, so-called “progressives” alike. The racists and Islamophiles at the BBC and the Guardian have fully embraced the agenda of the Islamist far-right and label even the mildest criticism of Islam with the fascist word “Islamophobia.” Why self-styled “progressives” want to defend people who are misogynists, homophobes and anti-Semites has always mystified me. I am also unable to explain how “Muslim” has become an ethnicity – an ethnicity that seems to encompass blonde-haired, blue-eyed Bosnians and sub-Saharan Africans. I’m not even sure “race” is a real thing but I’m pretty sure “Muslim” doesn’t qualify.

As a white person born in the United Kingdom, I am not routinely referred to as a “Christian.” Nor do we refer to people of Indian heritage as “Hindus” or people from South East Asia as “Buddhists.” The only religion that is used as an ethnicity is “Muslim.” And the racists at the BBC and the Guardian who push this idea also have a certain type of “Muslim” in mind. As far as these idiots are concerned, the only authentic “Muslim” is an angry man in a dress wearing an unkempt beard; “proper” Muslim women are said beard-wearer’s silent, burka-clad minions. Any “Muslim” who attempts to break away from this stereotype is branded an “Uncle Tom” – the delightedly racist phrase used by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

But just as not everyone of South Asian, Middle Eastern or North African descent is a “Muslim,” not every follower of the Islamic religion is an angry bearded moron who has only read one book. Which brings me to Sara Khan.

Khan is the director of the anti-extremism organisation Inspire and author of the fascinating book, The Battle for British Islam. She wrote an excellent article in the Evening Standard that attacked the way Islamist extremists have been allowed to dominate the image of the so-called “Muslim community”…

“Our tolerance to intolerance is a familiar story. The book-burning rallies during the 1989 Rushdie affair should have been a wake-up call to religious fundamentalism. Instead we became paranoid about causing offence and tried to appease regressive community leaders who dishonestly claimed to be speaking on behalf of the “Muslim community”. We lacked the confidence to challenge them or extremists, and as a result they have thrived.”

Khan was even allowed to write an opinion piece in the racist Guardian which contained the brilliant observation that…

“We defended the right of extremists to free speech in the belief that the most effective way of undermining them was for us to counter their speech. This was nice in theory; there was, however, one rather large problem. Apart from a handful of people, no one did counter them. And those who did were promptly labelled ‘Islamophobes.'”

An almost perfect description of the attitude taken by the BBC and the Guardian.

Because the BBC and the Guardian believe that everyone of South Asian, etc descent is a “Muslim” they are racists. But their view that only angry beard-wearers represent Islam shows that they are also sexists. How’s that for intersectionality? The Sunday Times printed a letter signed by a number of Muslim women that laments how violent misogynists have been allowed to dominate the “progressive” view of Islam. The British Establishment simply does not care about the fate of women and young girls who suffer female genital mutilation (FGM) because the victims are not white. As one of the authors of the letter said…

“Female genital mutilation is organised crime against women. It desensitises us to violence.”

Just as the British Establishment did nothing about the victims of organised sexual abuse in Rochdale, Rotherham, etc because they were working-class, they do nothing about the victims of cruel practices like FGM, forced marriage and ‘honour’ killings because the victims are not white.

The average person in the UK of South Asian, etc descent is no more responsible for Islamist atrocities than I am for the anti-euthanasia stance of the Church of England. The average person of South Asian, etc descent is no more a “Muslim” because of their ethnicity than I am a “Christian” because of mine. The average person of South Asian, etc descent has more in common with Sara Khan than with Anjem Choudhary. Stop blaming people for atrocities committed in the name of Islam because they share the ethnicity of the perpetrators. Stop listening to angry, hate-filled Islamists and treating them as if they are the “community leaders” they claim to be. And stop equating dislike of Islam and its fascist political offshoot Islamism with racial hatred.

 

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