Why I speak out against Islamism

Oct 15, 2015

Paul Macnamara/Guzelian

By Maryam Namazie

Warwick University Student Union’s reversal of its initial decision to bar me from speaking about Islam and Islamism on campus, at the invitation of Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists Society, has been widely celebrated as a small win for free speech. But it has also ruffled the feathers of Islamists and their apologists.

Historically, criticism of religion has been a crucial aspect of free expression and intrinsically linked with anti-clericalism and the dismantling of that which is deemed taboo and sacred by the gatekeepers of power. Such criticism has been key for social progress. It is also a matter of life and death for many living under Islamist rule, such as in those areas where Isis has seized power, Saudi Arabia, or in Iran where criticism of religion and the state are analogous. There, anything from demanding women’s equality or trade union rights to condemning sexual jihad and the “Islamic cultural revolution” (which banned books and “purified” higher education) can be met with arrest, imprisonment and even the death penalty.

Where Islamists are not in power but have influence – I include Britain here – critics face accusations of racism and Islamophobia to deflect legitimate outrage against Islamism, which I regard as a killing machine and a network with global reach. Atheist bloggers have been hacked to death by Islamists in Bangladesh while UK-based Bangladeshi bloggers have been placed on death lists.

The labelling of much-needed criticism of Islamism as antisocial, even dangerous by left apologists sees dissent through the eyes of Islamists and not the many who refuse and resist. How else are we to show real solidarity with those who struggle against the theocracies we have fled from – if not through criticism? The fight against Islamism and the need for international solidarity apparently does not enter into their calculation.

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12 comments on “Why I speak out against Islamism

  • I can remember members of the WRP rejoicing at the return from exile in Paris of the Ayatollah Khomeini after the death of the Shah of Persia, and to this day members of the hard left – and I speak as someone who is politically on the left myself – are obliging female party members to sit at the back in meetings out of respect for Islam.

    Quite how much it’s going to take to bring them up to speed I don’t know, but I learnt long ago that they have no appreciation of how fortunate they are to live in a country which has Magna Carte, and which has benefited from the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and has a mature Parliamentry democracy, albeit it that last is far from perfect.

    Perhaps it will turn out to be a good thing that those fleeing IS are coming to Europe and the UK; they have first hand knowledge of the dangers of their unreformed religion, and the undermining effect it could have on the very things which make them risk their lives and those of their families to reach democratic countries, and they will speak out loud and clear in criticism of the excesses of Islam.

    And of course, to their eternal shame many left wing and liberal “thinkers” abandoned Salman Rushdie; and without mentioning names, I’ve had occasion to work with a couple of their leading lights before all that broke, and I was more than a little disappointed at their cowardice; the one among them who stood up and out on behalf of the novelist, was the late and lamented Christopher Hitchens.

    However, I detect signs of an awakening among people in general as to the dangers posed by the armed wing of Islam, Islamism.

    But it jars with me every time I hear the conflation of skin colour or so called race and Islam; albeit that sometimes it’s just ignorance, or credulousness; but sometimes it is a conscious and cynical ploy, and a very dangerous one indeed.

    Well, that’s my somewhat rambling rant for the day!

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  • 4
    voiceofarabi says:

    Hi Staffod Gordon,

    I like your post, and the flowery language it is written in, which is wasted on me since my English is not strong enough, and I apologies if I misunderstand it.

    I believe you are on the right track, however, you are addressing the symptoms and not the actual virus that causing this illness, (and so does Maryam Namazie – and I realy think she is doing a good job, but focusing on killing Islam instead of killing what changed Islam into this radical version is the wrong priority, and only gets people more resistance to her message.)

    OK.. Let me explain what I mean…

    If you go back about 90 years back into the “Iran – India (and Pakistan and Bangladesh) and Indonesia region, you will find that majority of people are what we call today “mild Islam”, with many backward customs and traditions that are unsavoury, but they believed in live and let live, and they accepted other faiths and believes.

    All that changed since Saudi came to power, and Wahhabi Islam started flowing to these regions (only parts of Iran), and started changing Islam into more rabid and violent version, that does not accept anyone else, as clearly demonstrated in Pakistani Muslims vs. Indian Muslims (they used to be the same prior to partition, but Wahhabi Petro Dollar changed that drastically, and today’s Pakistani Muslims are hugely different than Indian Muslims.

    So, The virus is “Wahhabis” in the body of Islam… Yes, we can try to kill the body of Islam, and then the whole body defences will fight against us, or alternatively, we can Kill the “Wahhabi” virus first, and then look into ways of helping the body of “Islam” heal into more manageable part of society.

    So, I agree with the general direction, but I think we need to pick our fights if we want to succeed.

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  • The left need to be called out on this more often.

    Many (most?) of those who would vociferously pursue and ruin an academic’s career for making an inappropriate joke, in the name of women’s rights, are strangely silent on the real women’s rights issues of the day, in which Islam and Islamism features prominently.

    I would consider being habitually forced to sit at the back of a meeting, and generally being considered a 2nd class citizen,. somewhat more disrespectful than the odd joke told at a private gathering.

    And when it comes to the subject of burkas and clitorectomies and child brides, you can’t get a squeak out of them.

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  • Hello voiceofarabi; thanks for your response to my post.

    I bow to your superior knowledge of Islam.

    You’re correct to say that I’m dealing with the symptoms and not the root cause.

    However, much as I would wish it, we will never rid ourselves of religions; or rather, our propensity to imagine all sorts of rubbish in an effort to find comfort in the knowledge that we are going to die; cheery thoughts come to me with ease!

    So, I see no purpose in arguing for an end to religions, which are the root cause. But, of the three monotheistic religions, Islam is the only one to have not undergone a reformation, and therein lies the problem.

    And as I understand it, and you’ll correct me if I’m wrong, the difficulty is compounded by the fact that it’s also the only one without an official head honcho; or group of leaders that are willing or able to get together to organize matters.

    No one’s worried about the antics of the Mormons, or the Anglican Bishops prancing around in gaudy frocks, and although celibacy among Catholic Bishops is causing some of them to rape children, and Scientology damages lives, the principle problems lie with Islam; and they are massive!

    Not least of all for rank and file Muslims with whom I greatly sympathize.

    Perhaps it would be a good start if the different factions stopped killing one another, because the problems caused by religions can only be solved by the religious.

    Anyway, this site is one place where I can let off steam in relative safety; albeit it serves no practical purpose.

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  • 7
    voiceofarabi says:

    Hi Stafford Gordon,

    We both have the same views, and just like you, I wish we could end religion today, but deep inside me, I know we come in different shades of grey, and some of us (humans) will want to live in fantasy regardless of how educated we are.. (if I had my way, I want both religion and football out…. I just can’t understand why 22 grown men chase after one football…, but that’s just me being silly)

    Just two things I want to clarify… Islam always had a head honcho (which they called Al-KHALIFA), and the last one was during the Ottoman Empire. Since then, Saudi showed up on the scene (100 years ago) and they wanted to claim that position, but having Saudi lead Islam, is like trusting the fat kid to guard the pies.

    That’s why many countries refuse to allow Saudi to be Muslim leaders, however, their petro dollar makes them the de facto (unofficial) muslim “godfather”, and that’s why you see people being killed for silly things like speaking out against corruption of current Islam.

    Without the support of the Western World, Saudi would crumble under its own weight, as it is a failed state, but your money is paying to prop up this country that is the root of all evil.

    The explanation I was given previously was… “you don’t understand the energy shortage in Europe”… I translate that to… We don’t mind crazy Islam as long as I am OK Jack. (or as they say, pull the ladder up Jack)

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  • voiceofarabi
    Oct 17, 2015 at 7:21 am

    (if I had my way, I want both religion and football out…. I just can’t understand why 22 grown men chase after one football…, but that’s just me being silly)

    It has been suggested that all the conflicts could be avoided if the football teams were given a ball each to play with in their own half of the pitch, – but I am told that that is missing the point! 🙂

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  • Hi Stafford,

    Perhaps it will turn out to be a good thing that those fleeing IS are coming to Europe … they will speak out loud and clear in criticism of the excesses of Islam.

    The triumph of hope over experience. With the systematic undermining of the religious school system, election rigging and home-grown Islamist terrorists Britain’s experience is that welcoming the poor huddled masses of the Middle East might, at best, be called a mixed blessing.

    Trust and verify, say I. If we’re so stupid as to continue the … um, misguided? … practice of bombing other states ‘back to the stone age’ then we will reap a whirlwind we made for ourselves unless we also take adult education and rebuilding broken states very seriously. Voiceofarabi is spot on, see also Saudi Arabia’s offer to build mosques for the refugees in Germany.

    And of course, to their eternal shame many left wing and liberal “thinkers” abandoned Salman Rushdie …

    I think your being a little hard on the left. Almost the entire political spectrum was found wanting over threats to Salman Rushdie, and the press abandoned what little was left of their pretension to professional standing over the Danish Cartoon affair. It has only been since the Charlie Hebdo shootings that we have been thrown a few sops on free speech.

    Every part of Western society, in my view, is guilty to some degree of accommodating intolerance when it comes to addressing the rise of Islamism. Free speech is a double-edged sword – the bad guys get to speak up, as is so outstandingly demonstrated in US politics. Yet we need it more than ever.

    If the left want to atone for past wrongs then start here: Britain has no defence against attacks on the free speech of its citizens. Some of us are still very angry over so-called hate-speech law.

    Looking backwards is helpful for learning that we got it wrong, but rather than lamenting lost leaders I’d much rather we looked forward and planned the best way ahead.

    US Neocons’ Jack-Boot policies in the Middle East – supported, against the majority will, by some Britons in power, have created a perfect breeding ground for religion in general, and extremism in particular. Ask not what the resulting refugees can do for your country, rather, ask what making progress to returning those refugees can do for their countries.

    Let them carry principles in their hearts, and in their heads, back to their lands: secular polity, equality under the law, innocent until proven guilty, one adult one vote, gentle commerce, secret polling, democracy …. and the greatest of these shall be their foundation: free speech.


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  • It is quite clear, that backward bigots are not going to listen to anyone! – Even if critics are “alarming them” by pointing out their primitive barbaric stupidity.

    An “alarming change” in Britain’s attitude towards Saudi Arabia could lead to “serious repercussions”, the Saudi ambassador has warned.

    Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz highlighted the UK’s cancellation of a deal to train Saudi prison staff.

    He said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had “breached mutual respect” by claiming to have been instrumental in the move.

    Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia would “not be lectured to by anyone“.

    Saudi Arabia has long been accused of human rights abuses, and has come under pressure from the UK over its treatment of both expats and Saudi nationals who have fallen foul of the country’s Islamic laws.

    God-delusions in positions of authority, are not open to rational negotiations!

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  • Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia would “not be lectured to by anyone“.

    Apparently the European parliament was unimpressed by the prince’s assertions!


    Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, whose flogging sentence caused an outcry, has been awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov human rights prize.

    Parliament President Martin Schulz urged Saudi King Salman “to free him, so he can accept the prize”.

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