We need to junk the idea of ‘Islamophobia’

Those who throw around this term are enforcing a new blasphemy law.

Wasiq Wasiq

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Last week marked the 15th anniversary of one of the most horrific acts of terrorism ever to have taken place on British soil. The 7 July 2005 bombings, commonly known as 7/7, in which 52 people were murdered and a further 700 injured, left the nation with a wound that may never heal. We are told to keep calm and carry on in the face of Islamist terror – a threat that has licensed itself to target anyone who does not subscribe to its worldview of a global Caliphate ruled by Sharia law. But only a coordinated effort against these people will stop them – a coordinated effort that is being put at risk by the policing of so-called ‘Islamophobic’ speech.

We find ourselves at a crossroads. Either we exercise and defend our right to freedom of speech, or we buckle under the pressure of allegations of Islamophobia. It should never be considered Islamophobic to challenge Islam or the actions of individuals who happen to be Muslims. And I say this as a Muslim myself. We must show no privilege to either Islam or Muslims – because to do so would give them an unfair advantage. But that is exactly what organisations like the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and Cage – both of which were markedly quiet on the anniversary of 7/7 – appear to be doing.

Take the Muslim Council of Britain. An umbrella group for over 500 Muslim organisations, the MCB prides itself on ‘empowering Muslim communities to achiev[e] a just, cohesive and successful British society’. But it also seems to be in the business of accusing people of Islamophobia. In March it submitted a dossier of allegations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Some of the allegations fall into the realms of anti-Muslim bigotry and hatred, but others are not so straightforward. The EHRC decided against launching its own inquiry, after the Tories launched their own, sparking outcry from the MCB.

To determine whether such claims of Islamophobia are true, we first need to examine the definition of the term. The All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims published a report on Islamophobia last year. It states that ‘Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness’. The use of this definition in effect treats Muslims as a race, and hatred towards this group as a type of racism.

But this is wrong. Muslims are not a race. Muslims are people of different races from around the world who share the faith and its traditions. Faith is not an immutable characteristic that cannot be dispensed with if someone wants to. To suggest that Islamophobia is rooted in racism homogenises Muslims as a monolithic group, bound by religion and lazily lumped together. This is despite the fact that there is huge racial and theological diversity within Islam.

It is also wrong because it can only chill discussion of religion, extremism and social issues. When Boris Johnson criticised and mocked the burqa in an article for the Telegraph, he was accused of Islamophobia. In March, Trevor Phillips, the former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, was suspended by the Labour Party for Islamophobia simply for raising the issues of parallel communities and the grooming-gang scandal. For these comments, the Muslim Council of Britain denounced him as ‘providing licence to far-right ideologues such as Tommy Robinson’.

When accusations of Islamophobia are used like this, it weakens an already flawed definition. It conflates anti-Muslim bigotry with critcism of religious practice and Muslim individuals. It provides an additional layer of protection to Muslims, when none is needed. Islamophobia is an attempt to create a modern-day blasphemy law, ringfencing Islam from criticism under the guise of protecting Muslims.

When organisations like the MCB appear to be silent on the 15th anniversary of 7/7, but are quick off the mark to make allegations of Islamophobia, it is clear where their priorities lie. The protection of Muslims and Islam seems to be of more importance than standing in national solidarity against the terrorists who took away 52 innocent lives.

The fight against Islamist extremism and terrorism will only succeed if freedom of speech remains an absolute right, and if Muslims are not treated differently by the abuse of the term ‘Islamophobia’.

Wasiq Wasiq is an academic specialising in law and terrorism. Follow him on Twitter: @WasiqUK

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

Mor Vir

14th July 2020 at 2:11 pm

I was once accused of blasphemy. I argued that if Jesus was God and truly human, and if God is everywhere, as Christianity claims, including in the toilet, then it follows that God did a sh/t on God, and that that is contrary to the dignity ascribed to God. Well, I was accused not of subtle philosophy but of immature blasphemy, which just goes to show what a load of cr/p such accusations can be.

Daniel Goldstein

14th July 2020 at 1:36 pm

Regent’s Park on Sunday was a dystopian vision of Britain, an English park in our capital city on a summer’s day, filled with hijabs and even niqabs. It’s like an Islamic conquest. The local area has been similarly colonised. This country is sleepwalking into disaster, to the extent that criticising it is taboo. They have no respect for our traditions and culture. The area I live in is also becoming rapidly Islamic. Politicians are too afraid to speak out, but action must be taken.

a watson

15th July 2020 at 10:21 am

Camden Council. They have been socially cleansing Camden of the white working class for many years.

David Redfern

14th July 2020 at 11:56 am

No point in beating about the bush here. The Islamic faith has been self divided into ‘peaceful’ Muslims and Islamic Muslims – the SS of the Muslim faith.

And be under no illusion, when a critical mass of both are reached in any western country, the cry will go up from the Islamist’s to strike and Infidels will be corralled and converted or killed. Will there be any objection from the ‘peaceful’ Muslims?

No, because they understand the brutality of the Islamist’s and will comply.

Nor is this a figment of my imagination. It’s been repeated numerous times by Islamist’s as their ambition, even boasting the Muslim birth rate will overrun Christianity in the UK within the next couple of generations.

Conforming to the concept of Islamophobia is indeed the first step in creating an untouchable elite community, free to pursue their ambitions with no acknowledgement or criticism.

We not only have protected Pakistani Muslim rape gangs, we have groups patrolling Muslim enclaves at night to ensure compliance with Islamic ‘codes of decency’.

Michel Houllebeq

14th July 2020 at 11:54 am

Islam’s been at war with non-muslims since its creation – Governments allowed millions into the UK over the last few decades and now we have child rape of white children and endless Islamist terror attacks we did not have before on our streets. This self-inflicted mess by our governments opening the borders is beyond insanity.

Mike Stallard

14th July 2020 at 10:23 am

Islam now faces one of the greatest challenges of its entire existence: modern scholarship.
I say this as a Christian: we had modern scholarship thrown at us a couple of hundred years ago and, yes, it killed off most Protestant Churches (though not the Catholic one). Now that same scholarship is turned on the Muslims with examination of the Qur’an, the hadiths and the very existence of Mohammed himself.
You can react with anger and terror. Or you can argue. Or you can just go on as if it wasn’t happening. Actually the only way is to join in and prove your case – which we Catholics have already done especially with Pope Benedict’s books on Jesus.
There is a strong case for Islam – Barry is wrong (above). But it needs spelling out and not just being taken for granted.

Dominic Straiton

14th July 2020 at 12:07 pm

Or they can cut your head off and ignore the “evidence”.

Geoff W

16th July 2020 at 6:34 am

There is a strong case against Islam.

Firstly is it even a religion? The ECHR established criteria back in 1982 that to be considered a religion, a belief system must be:
Worthy of respect in a democratic society
Be compatible with human rights
Not infringe the rights of others.

Islam fails on all three counts. The ECHR ruled back in 2003 that sharia was incompatible with democracy and human rights. It contravenes at least 10 of the 15 primary article of the convention on human rights. See resolution 2253 from the Council of Europe Jan 2019 and report ajdoc28 2016 from the Council of Europe that was the basis for 2253.

The “House Built on Sand” by Peter Townsend is also revealing regarding the flaws in the story of Islam. Particularly the alignment of the earliest mosques towards Petra not Mecca and the convenient just in time revelations that benefited Muhammad’s love life.

Then there are quranic verses such as 33:50 allowing sex slaves (ref: ISIS treatment of the Yazidi people/ Boko Haram and the Chibok girls for how that verse plays out in practice), 5:38 and 5:32-33 giving ‘divine’mandate to execution, crucifixion and lopping off limbs for theft and opposing allah and his messenger.

An unsavoury belief system constructed on falsehoods and protected by violence (Charlie Hebdo, Asia Bibi etc).

James McCarthy

21st July 2020 at 10:08 am

Excellent comment Geoff – a pity we don’t have an up-vote system.

a watson

14th July 2020 at 10:12 am

Why are our elected representatives so afraid of criticising muslim criminals and gangsters? Why does our media such as the BBC laud muslim communities?

Barry O’Barmy

14th July 2020 at 9:53 am

It is not “bigotry” to criticise or find risible religions such as Islam. Religions are merely organised superstitions. They believe in the supernatural and as such are adhered to by the ignorant. Most religious people have been brainwashed from birth but some come to accept the nonsense of religion because of lack of knowledge of science.
I have nothing but contempt for all religions, especially those willing to resort to violence to try to enforce “respect” for their silly beliefs. Most Muslims are poorly educated, backward people,brainwashed and afraid to give up the superstition because of fear of repercussions. Pathetic,isn’t it? BUT it is much worse for our politicians to keep spouting the tripe of “Islam is the religion of peace” when it plainly is NOT.

Daniel Goldstein

14th July 2020 at 1:25 pm

Spot on. If the Conservative party was 2,000 years old it would be a “protected characteristics” – religions are just sets of beliefs that have lasted a long time, like political parties.

a watson

15th July 2020 at 10:14 am

Too long.

steve moxon

14th July 2020 at 9:49 am

It’s even worse: ‘islamaphobia’ is a myth.
There is no evidence that anyone has an antipathy for Islam or for a group of people on the basis simply that they are Muslim.
The terminology itself is absurd, of course: there is no such thing as a pathological fear of Islam any more than there is of homosexuality or other gross political mis-use of the term ‘phobia’.
All this political crap is nothing more than hate-mongering by extreme ideological Left bigots.
The host community in the UK has a natural affinity for those within the host community and less so for those living within what are migrant enclaves through the very same psychology: a lot of research reveals in-group ‘love’, not out-group ‘hate’.
If those living within migrant enclaves choose to intensify signalling their difference from the host community, then the host community hardly will do otherwise than take note of the intention not to assimilate. That’s in no sense a ‘phobia’ or even so much as any sort of non-rational dislike. It’s a fully justified reaction; indeed it’s a constructive one. Those who pretend there is no problem are the problem. Human nature needs to be played out openly if honest, proper resolution of issues is to be achieved.

Daniel Goldstein

14th July 2020 at 1:28 pm

Exactly – it’s ridiculous to enforce acceptance or assume we should welcome this difference with open arms.

Vlod Barchuk

15th July 2020 at 9:41 pm

Indeed. Furthermore, if anyone really was suffering from a phobia of Muslims, they should be pitied as having a mental health problem. But the point is not to accurately describe those who might question Islam but to shut them up, just like shouting ‘racist’ has become a means for the left to silence awkward questions on other matters.

Philip Humphrey

14th July 2020 at 9:39 am

Interesting how nobody on the left is talking about “Christianophobia”. Yet Christianity shares much in common with Islam, both are universal faiths open to all regardless of race, colour etc. Both are majority non-white among practicing believers. Both are persecuted in places, but persecution is far more widespread against Christians than Muslims.
The “woke” left is really twisted over this. I rather suspect they hate all religion and would like all to conform to their atheist wordview. But the tactics are divide and conquer, they are willing to support Muslims as a racial group and identity badge (as long as they don’t take their faith and teaching on sexuality etc. too seriously). Once they’ve finished with the Christians, then they’ll come for those Muslims that take their faith seriously.

Barry O’Barmy

14th July 2020 at 9:55 am

Your suggestion that atheists are “leftists” is not only wrong, but also stupid.

Mike Stallard

14th July 2020 at 10:27 am

No Barry, you have reversed what he said. He was saying that leftists are atheists which, in my own experience is largely – but certainly not always – true.

Daniel Goldstein

14th July 2020 at 1:27 pm

Muslims vote for the left: red-green-brown alliance. As simple as that.

Dominic Straiton

14th July 2020 at 5:25 am

The problem with Islam is Islam. Its a terrible dead end. If you want to know what the middle east is like watch ” Fauda” on Netflix. A more depressing portrayal of humanity is hard to find although its a great series to watch. To say Islam and Christianity are “of the book” and therefore much the same is probably the most dangerous idea ever created by our useless politicians who know nothing about either. Without Christianity (or belief in the institution its message created) their is no defence against it and all the rights that we enjoy, which have come directly from the message of love and forgiveness will disappear in a puff of smoke. Woke and Islam are the same intolerant hateful message with no forgiveness of sin.

steve moxon

14th July 2020 at 9:54 am

Nonsense.
Liberalism is based in Christianity. Just as with contemporary Left bigotry, it’s a residue of Christianity.
And Christianity and Islam are chalk & cheese in terms of their respective stages of evolution.

L Strange

14th July 2020 at 3:44 am

“When Boris Johnson criticised and mocked the burqa in an article for the Telegraph, he was accused of Islamophobia.”

Yes, even though he was arguing against the banning of it. He basically said that whilst he thought it looked daft and didn’t like it’s implication, that was irrelevant – women should have the right to wear the burqa if they so choose, that it would be illiberal to insist otherwise.

Mark Lambert

14th July 2020 at 7:01 pm

Yes. When someone pointed that out on “Politics Live”, Labour MP Rushanara Ali got really miffed, obviously it was inconvenient to point that out.

For a long while the BBC “Politics Live” and “Question Time” could be relied upon, week on week, to have a “Letterbox” moment. It was juvenile playground stuff at best.

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