‘Islamophobia’ and the Abuse of the Discourse of Anti-Racism
‘Islamophobia’ has many definitions, but it is generally understood to incorporate an irrational bigotry towards Muslims and a view of Islam which is based on prejudice. While anti-Muslim bigotry is undoubtedly a problem that needs to be confronted, the elasticity of the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ is dangerous, for it is open to abuse by those who seek to silence legitimate criticism of Islamism and Islamic beliefs and practices. Arguably, for many who push the idea that the West is in the grip of rampant ‘Islamophobia’, silencing criticism of Islamist politics or Islam itself is their true intention. The most disturbing aspect of the rise of the discourse of ‘Islamophobia’ has been the deliberate conflation of opposition to a religious ideology (or to theocratic politics) with racism. As Paul Sikander rightly notes:
The construction of the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ began in the aftermath of the Rushdie affair. The impetus for it was to stigmatise an entire range of individuals and opinions, from those who took issue with religious precepts of Islam, to those who questioned certain values of the religion, certain cultural practices recurrent inside the sub-culture of some British Muslim groups, all the way through to those who critically analysed Islamist politics.
For the first time, ‘racism’ was not considered to be the active discrimination against individuals because of their ethnic background. Now, ‘racism’ was asserted to be anything that remotely offended the sensibilities of religious Muslims, including those from within the Muslim community who dissented from a certain line on any range of issues.
‘Islamophobia’ and the Left-Islamist Axis
A strange alliance of the far-left with Islamists has been instrumental in the success of this dishonest melding of ‘Islamophobia’ and racism into a notion of ‘anti-Muslim racism’. The term ‘anti-Muslim racism’ is etymologically meaningless, given Muslims do not constitute a ‘race’ and in fact constitute a diverse group consisting of members of many different national and ethnic groups. As such, the term is bogus and if, as it commonly is, ‘Islamophobia’ is held to be a manifestation of ‘anti-Muslim racism’, then ‘Islamophobia’ is clearly a spurious concept as well.
Those on the far-left who promote the notion of widespread ‘Islamophobia’ are arguably racially obsessed, and the idea of the West being at heart a corrupt, racist, and imperialist phenomenon is central to their worldview. As a result, they have formed a strange coalition with Islamist groups who they have tried to enlist as part of their Trotskyist plan for ‘revolution’. In recent years, the anti-war movement has been central to this marriage of revolutionary left-wing politics with the Islamist far-right. In Britain, the Stop the War Coalition has seen groups such as the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and George Galloway’s ‘Respect’ party making common cause with supporters of Islamism and terrorist groups such as Hamas.
For the far-left, racism in the guise of ‘Islamophobia’ is central to a Western conspiracy which has sought to delegitimise Islam and whip up hatred of Muslims in order to gain support for its ‘imperialist’ projects in Afghanistan and Iraq. Consequently, the far-leftists at the heart of the anti-war movement present any kind of criticism of Islam as being either a deliberate contribution to the promotion of the West’s ‘racist’ ambitions or as the work of people who are unwittingly being used as ‘useful idiots’ by this conspiracy. Promote freedom for the Afghan people? – You’re a tool of the racist imperialist plan. Criticise Islam’s treatment of women? – You’re an arrogant cultural imperialist who is assisting the racist plot to subjugate Muslim nations.
This delusional worldview is well illustrated by the mission statement of ‘Islamophobia Watch’, a far-left website that routinely smears liberal critics of Islam and Islamism as ‘Islamophobic’ or racist:
Islamophobia Watch has been founded with a determination not to allow the racist ideology of Western Imperialism to gain common currency in its demonisation of Islam.
Islamophobia, as a racist tool of Western Imperialism, is strongly advocated by the political right but has also found an echo in the left, particularly sections of the left in France and the countries that make up the United Kingdom.
Lindsey German of the SWP and the Stop the War Coalition shares this view and declared at the 2007 launch of a ‘Coalition to defend freedom of religious and cultural expression’:
Anti Muslim racism reached a crescendo last year with the remarks by Jack Straw about his discomfort with women who wear the veil. Government ministers who took us into war with Iraq and Afghanistan are now trying to scapegoat the Muslim community, which did so much to oppose these disastrous wars in the first place.
This rise in Islamophobia is connected with the war on terror and should be opposed by all those who oppose the war.
In 2006, the Stop the War Coalition organised a ‘People’s Assembly on Islamophobia’, at which both far-leftists and Muslims joined together to denounce ‘anti-Muslim racism’. Socialist Worker, the newspaper of the SWP, reported on the event and it seems that much of its attention was given to opposing Government plans to ask university lecturers to monitor students for signs of Islamist radicalisation:
Paul Mackney, joint general secretary of the UCU lecturers’ union, pledged UCU’s opposition to the scheme. “The department of education and skills has given draft advice to universities and colleges about identifying ‘Islamic extremists’,” he said.
“It is about vetting student societies. It says that Islamic student societies are being inflamed by radical leaders and that this leads to extremism and terrorism.
“But radicalism is not the same as terrorism, and identifying it gives no one the right to contact Special Branch.
“If you’re at university now and you’re not radical, then you aren’t paying attention.”
Noreen Fatima from London Metropolitan University testified as to how the government’s spying plans were designed to weaken support for the anti-war movement, especially among Muslim students.
“We need to help people come forward, and give them the confidence not to be silent in the face of this racism,” she said.
One of the most thought provoking speeches was by the playwright David Edgar.
He spoke of how superficially liberal invocations of “Enlightenment values” were being used as a cover for racism against Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.
Another report on the ‘people’s assembly’ found on a blog run by the ‘New Communist Party of Britain’ provides further highlights:
Opening the assembly, Stop the War Coalition chairperson Andrew Murray, described Islamophobia as the last resort of the warmongers to make up for their failure. “George Bush said he was getting ready for one last push. We too are ready for one last push to get the get the troops out of Iraq.”
Stop the War Coalition widened its aims to opposition to the racist backlash against Muslims and the defence of civil liberties.
“What kind of society asks parents to rat on their children, lecturers to rat on their students?” asked Anas Al-Tikriti former president of the Muslim Association of Britain.
The assembly’s closing statement declared its solidarity with all the Muslims peoples in Britain facing a hurricane of official and unofficial legal, political and physical attacks in a climate of Islamophobic hysteria. It recognises these attacks as being essentially racist and anti-democratic.
It said: “They are driven by the same political agenda as has inspired the criminal and disastrous ‘war on terror’, which has laid waste Iraq and Afghanistan and presently threatens Iran and elsewhere.
“In particular we condemn the statement made by government ministers designed to isolate, demonise and even criminalise Islamic religious practices, choice of dress and cultural expression. We affirm that such diversity in fact makes an important contribution to the overall development of our society.
“We condemn terrorist atrocities such as the London bombings last year, which are in all circumstances, indefensible. However the assembly believes in common with the majority of the British people, that the key to tackling the treat of such atrocities is a change in the foreign policy of the government.
All this is typical of the far-left/Islamist alliance. We have the deliberate conflation of ‘Islamophobia’ with racism, outlandish conspiracy theories about the War on Terror, an attack on the promotion of Enlightenment values (such as you will find on this website) as being ‘a cover for racism’, a foolish refusal to take the problem campus radicalisation seriously, and a pathetic ‘condemnation’ of terrorism that essentially says: ‘We don’t agree with killing people, but the terrorists have a point and you’d better do what they say or you can expect more of the same’.
The claim that asking lecturers to monitor students for signs of radicalisation is ‘racist’ is an absurd notion which may well cost lives in the future. The promotion of extremist Islamic views on UK campuses is a serious problem, as the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC) think-tank has shown. Recent research published by the Centre illustrates the fact that university Islamic societies in Britain have promoted a number of extremists, including the al-Qa’eda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki. It is not ‘racist’ to point this out, and it is in fact grossly negligent to fail to address this problem. Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens of the CSC notes that university authorities consistently ‘turn a blind eye to the problem of radicalisation on their campuses’ and reveals a worrying pattern of pandering to arguments about ‘racism’ and ‘Islamophobia’:
We spend much of our time informing them of the extremist nature of preachers invited by the Islamic societies, yet they tend to follow a ‘shoot the messenger approach’.
They ignore our advice and instead criticise us for supposedly trying to sow tension and division.
The sooner universities wake up and accept the reality of what is happening under their noses, the safer we will be from terrorist attack.
Universities must have staff who are able to identify extremists, and must also not be afraid to expose them for fear of being labelled racist or Islamophobic.
The Times has revealed that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed Christmas Day 2009 aeroplane bomber is a former president of the Islamic Society at University College London. While holding that post, Abdulmutallab organised a ‘War on Terror Week’ – just the kind of event that attracts members of the far-left/Islamist alliance, and just the kind of event that university authorities refuse to monitor, because to do so would be ‘racist’ and ‘Islamophobic’. According to The Times, Abdulmutallab
is the fourth president of a London student Islamic society to face terrorist charges in three years. One is facing a retrial on charges that he was involved in the 2006 liquid bomb plot to blow up airliners. Two others have been convicted of terrorist offences since 2007.
Given this, Noreen Fatima’s comments are particularly irresponsible, as she promotes the conspiracy nonsense that monitoring campus radicalisation is a cover for shutting down the anti-war movement and is motivated by ‘racism’. The use of the word racism here is utterly meaningless, but is deliberately included to imply that anyone who disagrees with her must be racially prejudiced. Fatima, it turns out, is quite the activist, juggling the posts of Vice President of London Metropolitan University Student’s Union and Chair of the student wing of the Respect party, while at the same time working for the Stop the War Coalition’s ‘Muslim Network’. This anti-war ‘Muslim Network’ makes inflammatory statements that again involve an abuse of the discourse of racism, and its literature makes the baseless claim that the British government operates with ‘a racist agenda’, thereby trivialising the very real problem of racism and seeking to encourage a victim mentality amongst Muslims. This in turn, of course, makes them easier prey for Islamist organisations with a theocratic political agenda who claim to be standing up against the supposed tide of ‘Islamophobia’ sweeping the West.
‘Islamophobia’ and anti-Semitism: A false equation
The claim that ‘Islamophobia’ is essentially the same as anti-Semitism has been promoted by a number of leading figures in the British Muslim community:
- Dr Muhammed Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and Chair of the East London Mosque, has twice presented the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany as analogous with their treatment in contemporary Britain. In 2006, Bari asked: ‘What is the degree of xenophobia that tipped Germany in the 1930s towards a murderous ethnic and cultural racism?’ He went on to state: ‘We know what happened in Nazi Germany and we have to be on guard against entire communities being demonised due to the actions of a minority’. In 2007, he warned: ‘Every society has to be really careful so the situation doesn’t lead us to a time when people’s minds can be poisoned as they were in the 1930s’.
- In 2006, after several British Muslims were arrested in connection with an alleged terror plot, Dr Mohammad Naseem, chairman of the Birmingham Central Mosque, claimed that Britain is becoming a ‘police state’ and compared the arrests to Nazi persecution of Jews in the Third Reich.
- In 2008, Shahid Malik, a British Labour Party MP and prominent Muslim, claimed in a documentary film that ‘I think most people would agree that if you ask Muslims today what do they feel like, they feel like the Jews of Europe’, and that ‘[s]omehow there’s a message out there that it’s OK to target people as long as it’s Muslims’.
- ‘Engage’, an organisation dedicated to promoting British Muslim ‘media awareness’ and ‘political participation’, claims to be fighting ‘Islamophobia’ and demands ‘that anti-Muslim prejudice is regarded just as socially unacceptable as anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and xenophobia’. Inayat Bunglawala of the MCB is one of the key figures behind Engage, and in August 2009 claimed that the setting up of a ‘Committee against Islamophobia’ is ‘surely crucial’. Part of the basis for Bunglawala’s proposal was that there is already a Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, and he was clearly suggesting that ‘Islamophobia’, therefore, was not being treated ‘equally’ with anti-Semitism.
These attempts to link ‘Islamophobia’ and anti-Semitism are inaccurate at best, and ideologically motivated at worst. ‘Islamophobia’, if taken to mean a form of irrational bigotry directed at Muslims taken as a monolithic group (which is not what it actually means), may seem superficially similar to the bigotry that has been directed against ‘the Jews’, but there are key differences. Modern anti-Semitism, unlike anti-Muslim bigotry, has tended to be predicated far more on the supposedly deviant ‘racial’ nature of Jews than on a hatred of Judaism. Jews in Nazi Germany were not earmarked for extermination based on whether or not they practiced Judaism; in fact, religious allegiance made absolutely no difference. Ethnic Jews who were practising Christians were treated no better than Jews who practiced Judaism. The rationale was simple and perverse – the Jew is a corrupt and corrupting racial entity that exists in eternal enmity with non-Jews and seeks world domination through a number of methods, chief among them being Capitalism and (atheistic) Communism. While Judaism was attacked in Nazi publications, it was done as part of a broader campaign to demonstrate the inner depravity of the Jewish race, with Judaism presented as just one manifestation of the wickedness inherent within Jews, a wickedness that could be purged only through physical annihilation.
That conversion to Christianity could not save Jews from Nazi persecution is clear in Third Reich propaganda. For example, Ernst Hiemer’s The Poisonous Mushroom, a rabidly anti-Semitic text for children, claims that priests who baptise Jews ‘admit a criminal mob into the churches’ and warns:
If a Jew comes along
Wanting a priest to baptise him,
Be on your guard and beware:
Jew remains always Jew!
Baptismal water helps not a jot.
That does not make the Jew any better!
He is a Devil in time
And remains so through eternity!
Modern ideological anti-Semitism continues to follow this racialised definition of Jews, as can be seen through the reading of neo-Nazi publications. For example, Edgar J. Steele, an attorney who has defended a number of racist extremists, writes in his 2003 article ‘In Defence of Anti-Semitism’:
‘Jew.’ It’s a race, not a religion. Facts are facts. The majority of Israelis are atheist. […] And I don’t want to hear all this buzz about Khazar versus Sephardic jews [sic] or who deserves to claim to be descended from the Biblical family of Abraham. There is a group of people scattered throughout the world that calls itself jewish [sic]. We all know who they are, just as they do. They are racially identifiable, even if of two or three flavors. They get the label ‘jew,’ [sic] and that is reality, history aside.
The fundamental difference between anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Semitism is that one is based on religious belief and practice (chosen/taught) and the other is based primarily on ethnicity (fixed). Whereas Muslims can leave Islam and will no longer be regarded as Muslims (I can’t think of any ‘Islamophobes’ who continue to view Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maryam Namazie, for example, as Muslims), Jews can never cease to be Jews in the eyes of anti-Semites, for their Jewishness is ‘hard wired’ in their DNA. While anti-Muslim bigotry is often appalling and must be opposed, it is simply untrue to claim that the experience of Jews and the experience of Muslims fall into the same category.
Likewise, the claim that British Muslims feel like they are living in Nazi Germany shows either that many Muslims are woefully ignorant of the brutal realities of life for Jews under Nazi rule, or that those who use this analogy are wilfully and deviously trying to engage in manipulation of the Government and the general public through use of hyperbole that is as offensive as it is inaccurate.
Unsurprisingly, each of the Islamic figures cited above who have sought to link ‘Islamophobia’ to anti-Semitism or Nazi Germany are found to have links to Islamism:
- Muhammed Abdel Bari is Secretary General of the MCB. The MCB presents itself as a ‘moderate’ and ‘mainstream’ Muslim organisation but its ‘elected CWC members’ include a number of individuals who have offered support for extremists and extremist views, including support for the anti-Semitic terrorist organisation Hamas and defence of an Islamist hate preacher who has described the 9/11 attacks as ‘God’s work against oppressors’. In addition to this, the MCB has repeatedly boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day. Bari is also Chairman of the East London Mosque, which has been linked to numerous extremists, including supporters of Anwar al Awlaki, the al-Qa’eda preacher who inspired the Fort Hood shooter, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Under Bari’s leadership, East London Mosque has played host to Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Al-Sudais is a supporter of terrorism who has said of Jews:
Read the history to know that yesterday’s Jews are evil predecessors and today’s Jews are worse successors … History of Jews is full of deception, trickery, rebellion, oppression, evil and corruption … Fellow Muslims! Today we are facing the most severe war against the enemies of yesterday, today and tomorrow … May everlasting curse of Allaah be upon them.
- Mohammad Naseem, Chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque, is also an executive member of the Islamic Party of Britain and the party’s home affairs spokesman. The party’s policies for an Islamic Britain include the death penalty for gay people who are considered to have engaged in ‘a public display of lewdness’ (the nature of which is undefined). The party claims that ‘[p]eople afflicted with unnatural conditions like homosexuality or pedophilia need treatment’. Naseem has used his position at Birmingham Central Mosque to promote conspiracy theories in the Muslim community by organising screenings of a wholly discredited 7/7 conspiracy video, and has distributed 2,000 copies of the film via the mosque.
- In 2008, Shahid Malik attended and spoke at the Global Peace and Unity Event, despite the fact it had already been exposed as playing host to extremists, bigots, and supporters of terrorism. In his speech, Malik stated:
In 1997 we got our first Muslim MP; in 2001 we had two Muslim MPs; in 2005 we had four Muslim MPs; Insha’Allah [God willing] in 2009/10 we’ll have eight Muslim MPs, in 2014 we’ll have sixteen Muslim MPs. At this rate the whole Parliament will be Muslim [crowd cheers]. But just to say, in case there are journalists here today, that is not my objective. We have four Muslim MPs; there should be twenty Muslim MPs. And I’m confident, that as Britain’s first Muslim minister, that Insha’Allah in the next thirty years or so we’ll see a Prime Minister who shares my faith.
Strange words from a man who claims ‘Islamophobia’ has made British Muslims ‘feel like the Jews of Europe’.
- Engage wants to see ‘Islamophobia’ and anti-Semitism treated in the same way. However, as David Toube notes, Engage’s approach to ‘fighting Islamophobia’ has included peddling anti-Semitism. Inayat Bunglawala, who helped establish Engage, is a long running MCB member and activist. He typifies the MCB’s fake moderate approach by claiming to oppose bigotry and extremism while at the same time promoting Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, an extremist preacher currently barred from entering Britain. Al-Qaradawi is a supporter of terrorism, an anti-Semite, a misogynist, and a homophobe. In January 2009, he expressed the desire to die as a ‘martyr’ fighting against ‘Allah’s enemies, the Jews’, and claimed:
Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers [Muslims].
Consequences of the abuse of the discourse of anti-racism
The deliberate abuse of the discourse of race and racism by those who promote either an extreme left-wing or Islamist agenda has led to a number of worrying consequences, and unless this dishonest propaganda about ‘Islamophobia’ is sidelined the damage will continue to be done. Some key effects of the spread of the ‘Islamophobia’ ideology include the following:
Racist ideas have gained new legitimacy
The concept of ‘anti-Muslim racism’ which is incorporated into ‘Islamophobia’ has set anti-racism back enormously. By claiming there is such a thing as anti-Muslim racism, proponents of the ‘Islamophobia’ smear have explicitly linked religious belief and cultural practices with race, and in doing so have revived the notion that race and culture are inextricably linked. Part of the justification for racist ideology has long been based on the assumption that non-white people are unassimilable into majority white societies because they are intrinsically biologically orientated to certain patterns of thought and behaviour. Racists hold that biology is destiny, an idea crudely summed up in the expression ‘You can take the negro out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the negro’. An Islamic equivalent to this sentiment would be: ‘You can take the Muslim out of a Pakistani village but you can’t take the Pakistani village mentality out of the Muslim’. This is essentially what proponents of the notion of ‘anti-Muslim racism’ are saying. If it is possible to be ‘racist’ against a religion, then that implies that the religion itself is biologically determined.
True anti-racists do not accept the idea that the majority of Arabs, Pakistanis, and so on believe in Islam, or promote Islamism, because of their racial make up, but rather because it is a part of an inherited cultural package. I, as a proponent of Enlightenment rationalism, democracy, and secularism, do not consider my values to be ‘white values’, any more than I consider superstition, misogyny, homophobia, and support for theocratic politics to be ‘brown values’. If I did consider this to be the case, I would be a racist. Those who claim we should adopt a ‘multicultural’ approach which states that opposing Islamic ideas or Islamist politics is a form of ‘racism’ are actually engaging in a kind of ‘politically correct’ racism. The subtext to this kind of approach is the unspoken assumption that culture derives from race (race essentialism), as opposed to the anti-racist understanding that ‘race’ emerges in and through culture. To oppose religious and cultural practices that are based on superstition and bigotry is not to claim that those who support them are biologically determined to be superstitious and bigoted, but to claim that we cannot criticise cultures deriving from majority non-white nations because that would be ‘racist’ is to claim exactly that.
The ‘politically correct’ mania to not criticise other cultures (or aspects of them) has led to supposedly anti-racist and progressive thinkers making the most unbelievably racist assumptions. Some Western feminists, in the name of opposing ‘racism’, have adopted an absurd cultural relativism that has even led to them condoning the barbarous practice of female genital mutilation. What could be more racist than leaving non-white girls to suffer this abuse in the name of ‘respecting other cultures’ while strongly opposing it in white communities? The implication is clear: that kind of behaviour is what ‘those kind of people’ naturally do. This, as the Canadian liberal Muslim writer Tarek Fatah rightly notes, is the racism of lower expectations:
[T]here is a tremendous amount of white guilt. The intelligentsia in this country in a selfish way tries to assuage this guilt. It caters to the most idiosyncratic behaviour of the immigrant and practices the racism of lower expectations. It sets standards of behaviour for our community, but when dealing with immigrants and especially the Muslim community, it does not expect them to live by the same standards.
Muslims are not a race, nor is there any link between their beliefs and practices and their ethnicity. Those who speak of ‘anti-Muslim racism’ abuse the discourse of anti-racism and legitimise racist thinking.
Ideological racists have gained new ground
Naturally, given the notion of ‘anti-Muslim racism’ is mired in racist thinking, those who promote ideological racism are now seeing a resurgence. The British National Party (BNP) is a neo-Nazi party that, under the leadership of its current Chairman Nick Griffin, has progressively sought to obfuscate its neo-Nazi agenda by toning down its propaganda and attempting to appeal to mainstream voters. To an extent it has been successful, and the 2009 European Elections led to something that a few years ago would have been unthinkable: two BNP candidates were elected to the European Parliament.
A major campaigning issue for the BNP in recent years has been its claim to be opposed to Islam, as opposed to being the ideologically racist organisation it really is. While it is only now, as a result of legal action, being forced to change its whites only membership policy, and while its members and supporters still make its inherent universal racism and anti-Semitism crystal clear for those of us willing to scratch the surface, the BNP has managed to reposition itself as party fighting for ‘Western civilisation’ by taking up a crusade against ‘Islamification’. The reality of this campaign is that the BNP sees the Muslim community as the easiest first target (especially given the ongoing threat of Jihadist terrorism) to use to gain support for its hard line policies on immigration and ‘voluntary’ repatriation of non-white citizens.
The BNP’s opposition to Islam and Islamism really is motivated by racism, and the BNP undoubtedly views Islam as an inferior system of thought because it is the product of ethnic groups it considers to be racially inferior. It has been helped immeasurably in the promotion of its racist agenda, which is currently cloaked in ‘anti-Islamism’, by the far-left and Islamist characterisation of Muslims as a ‘race’ and their abuse of the terms ‘racism’ and ‘racist’. The constant attacks on resolutely non-racist individuals, using terms like ‘Islamophobe’ and ‘anti-Muslim racist’ have served to trivialise the concept of racism, and the BNP has capitalised on this. It can now say: ‘The Islamists say we’re racist, but that’s just part of their agenda’. The fact that the BNP really is racist no longer matters for many voters, because they have heard so much flippant talk about ‘racism’ that the term has been devalued and no longer has the ‘shock value’ it once had. ‘It’s racist to oppose Islamism’, say Islamists and the far-left. Voters think, ‘Well I oppose Islamism and I’m not racist so that’s bullshit’. ‘The BNP is racist’, say Islamists and the far-left. ‘That’s probably bullshit then too’, says the voter, and puts his cross next to ‘BNP’ on the ballot paper.
Islamists have been emboldened
Islamists know the damage that allegations of racism can do, as do their fellow travellers on the far-left, and given ‘Islamophobia’ is also now held to incorporate racial prejudice, allegations of ‘Islamophobia’ can be very damaging to a person’s reputation. Islamists have capitalised on this dishonest use of the term ‘racist’ and are using it to further an Islamic supremacist and theocratic agenda. In early 2009, two disturbing cases came to light in the UK which illustrate what can be the terrible consequences of false allegations of racism and anti-Muslim bigotry.
In February, a school Head Teacher resigned after a row erupted over her plans to better integrate Muslim students. The Sheffield Telegraph reported:
A Sheffield headteacher has resigned in a row over her plans to scrap separate assemblies for Muslim pupils.
Julia Robinson moved to stop the assemblies at Meersbrook Bank Primary on Derbyshire Lane soon after taking up her post last February.
In their place she wanted to hold assemblies for all the pupils, which would encompass all faiths – which is common practice in most schools.
After taking advice from the local authority, Ms Robinson set up a working party to look at alternatives – but their work was stopped after a number of parents complained about the plans.
‘The headteacher inherited the separate assemblies when she started the job and she took careful advice from the authority on what to do about them,’ said a school insider.
‘But when she tried to stop them, feeling they did nothing to promote inclusiveness, she was accused of being a racist.’
Then, in March, another Head Teacher was finally vindicated after a campaign by Islamist parents at her school had led to her resigning after suffering from depression and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder:
A campaign by two Muslim governors to give Islam a greater presence in a state school played a key part in forcing a successful head from her job, the High Court found yesterday.
Erica Connor, 57, the former head teacher of the New Monument primary school in Woking, Surrey, was forced to leave the school because of stress after she was accused of Islamophobia.
The High Court ruled yesterday that Surrey County Council had failed in its duty to protect her and to intervene when the actions of the governors created problems in the school’s governing body, and awarded her £400,000 damages.
The court was told that over two years, two governors campaigned to make the school more Islamic and that their behaviour had torn apart the school’s governing board. Paul Martin, a Muslim convert, tried to stir up disaffection in the community against the school and Mumtaz Saleem was verbally abusive in school meetings, it was said in court.
Although during the first five years that Mrs Connor was in charge of the school there had been good relations with the local Muslim community and improved results, the judge, John Leighton-Williams, QC, said that the situation had changed when the two men were elected as governors in 2003.
The last five years have been a long haul at great personal cost to myself and my family.
It is so unfortunate that matters have taken so long to resolve and at such a financial cost, but I finally feel vindicated in terms of the accusations of racism and Islamophobia against myself, accusations which attacked the heart of my being and my values.
I believe in equal opportunity. I believe every child has the right to achieve to their full potential, in an environment that celebrates diversity and respects the beliefs and culture of each individual.
‘Islamophobia’: A concept that has to go
Robinson and Connor are just two victims of the disgraceful campaign to promote the notion of ‘Islamophobia’ as a form of ‘racism’. As Paul Sikander rightly notes: ‘”Islamophobia” is a constructed model designed to protect Islam and Islamic politics from criticism. It has little or nothing to do with protecting individual Muslims from discrimination’. The discourse of ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘anti-Muslim racism’ is ideologically motivated, dishonest, and dangerous. It threatens free speech, trivialises racism, reinvigorates real racism, and emboldens those who promote theocratic politics. As such, it is a discourse that must be wholly rejected by all who promote the values of the Enlightenment, oppose racism, and seek to stand up against genuine anti-Muslim bigotry.
 Paul Sikander (2009) ‘Islamophobia’, Butterflies & Wheels.
 Edmund Standing (2009) ‘The far-left campaign to silence critics of Islam’, Butterflies & Wheels.
 Islamophobia Watch, ‘Press Release Coalition to defend freedom of religious and cultural expression launched’, June 6 2007.
 ‘People’s Assembly on Islamophobia: standing together against racism’, Socialist Worker, Issue 2028, November 25 2006.
 Karen Dabrowska, ‘People’s Assembly tackles new anti-Muslim racism’, London Communists, November 23 2006.
 John Thorne and Hannah Stuart (2008) Islam on Campus: A survey of UK student opinions (London: Centre for Social Cohesion).
 Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens (2009) Anwar al-Awlaki: The UK Connection (London: Centre for Social Cohesion).
 Quoted in Ted Jeory, ‘Jet bomb ordered by 9/11 spiritual leader’, The Express, December 27 2009.
 Sean O’Neill and Giles Whittell, ‘Al-Qaeda “groomed Abdulmutallab in London”’, The Times, December 30 2009.
 ‘Ministers compared to Nazis over Islam stigma’, The Telegraph, December 17 2006.
 Quoted in Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson, ‘Dr Bari: Government stoking Muslim tension’, The Telegraph, November 10 2007.
 David Cesarani, ‘Muslims the “new Jews”? Not by a long way’, Jewish Chronicle, January 17 2008.
 Cahal Milmo, ‘Muslims feel like “Jews of Europe”’, The Independent, July 4 2008.
 Engage, ‘Aims and Objectives’.
 Inayat Bunglawala, ‘A committee against Islamophobia’, The Guardian, August 27 2009.
 Ernst Hiemer (1938) The Poisonous Mushroom.
 Edgar J. Steele (2003) ‘In Defence of Anti-Semitism’.
 Edmund Standing, ‘How “moderate” is the Muslim Council of Britain?’, October 13 2009.
 Hannah Stuart, ‘MCB boycotts Holocaust Memorial Day’, Centre for Social Cohesion, January 27 2009.
 Habibi, ‘A Radical New Year From East London Mosque’, Harry’s Place, December 22 2009.
 Lucy Lips, ‘East London Mosque Linked To Nigerian Aeroplane Bomber’, Harry’s Place, December 28 2009.
 Habibi, ‘Praying for Hamas in East London’, Harry’s Place, August 3 2009.
 Quoted in Habibi, ‘Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais: Guest of Dishonour’, Harry’s Place, August 1 2009.
 Islamic Party Of Britain, ‘Dr. Muhammad Naseem’.
 Islamic Party Of Britain, ‘Question Forum: Islamic View on Homosexuality’, March 9 2002.
 Mark Rudin, ‘Unmasking the mysterious 7/7 conspiracy theorist’, BBC Magazine, June 30 2009.
 David Toube, ‘The Global Peace and Unity Event: Extremists, Bigots, Supporters of Terrorism… and Senior Labour Politicians’, Harry’s Place, October 10 2008.
 David Toube, ‘Engage Plays Hunt The Jew’, Harry’s Place, December 2 2008.
 Edmund Standing, ‘“Moderate” Muslim praises Al-Qaradawi’, November 18 2009.
 Quoted in Paul Lungen, ‘“White guilt” helps Islamists, moderate Muslims say’, The Canadian Jewish News, March 5 2009.
 See, for example: Edmund Standing (2009) The BNP and the Online Fascist Network , (London: Centre for Social Cohesion).
 Mike Russell, ‘Racism storm head quits’, Sheffield Telegraph, February 9 2009.
 Laura Dixon, ‘“Islamophobe” head Erica Connor wins Surrey County Council payout’, The Times, March 20 2009.
 Quoted in ‘Head teacher wins race row damages’, Get Surrey, March 19 2009.
 Paul Sikander (2009) ‘Islamophobia’, Butterflies & Wheels.
Edmund Standing is a secularist and anti-fascist. He holds a BA in Theology & Religious Studies and an MA in Critical & Cultural Theory. His other articles on this website can be found in the articles archive.