A WHILE back, the print edition of Freethinker carried Three Reflections on Islam. In the last of these articles – under the heading Islamophobic? There’s No Need to Apologise, Asad Abbas pointed out the difference between Islamophobia and Muslimphobia.
Following a report today that Lady Warsi – the first Muslim woman member of the British Cabinet – was about to deliver a speech about Islamophobia and bigotry towards Muslims, Abbas contacted us, saying:
She may not be aware of the danger of using Islamophobia when Muslimphobia is meant, and may not be aware of the motivation of some for deliberately blurring the distinction. It needs to be pointed out that the suppression of any criticism of Islam leads straight to blasphemy law, which is precisely what is happening in Pakistan.
Abbas was so alarmed by the Warsi report that he contacted the National Secular Society. Terry Sanderson, the NSS President, informed him at the following statement had been issued to the press:
It seems that she will suggest that the Muslim community should more forcefully condemn terroristÂ acts, but I wonder if she will say anything about the reluctance of Muslims to integrate. ThisÂ is theÂ main causeÂ for creating suspicion of Muslims as Rumy Hasan so ably and convincingly points out in his book and in an interview he granted to the Freethinker.
If Baroness Warsi’s speech has been accurately reported, it is an alarming attempt to shut down debate about Islam in Britain. Using the Islamophobia concept, she seems to be saying that only approved opinions are permitted and that even genuine concerns about the growth of extremism in this country should not be expressed in case they reflect badly on innocent Muslims.
But there is a difference between inciting hatred against individuals, which is reprehensible, and debating the problems of how to integrate a culture into British life that often seems not to want any part of it. There is a genuine problem of separatism in this country and it cannot be solved by people like Baroness Warsi trying to stifle debate and discussion.
Last May Lady Warsi was described by Islamic hate preacher Anjem Choudhary as a “coconut”:
Sayeeda Warsi is not a Muslim in my eyes. She may look like a Muslim and have a Muslim-sounding name but she does not Ârepresent Islam or anyone in this country who is a Muslim.
And, for good measure, he added this racist comment:
She is a â€˜coconut’, brown on the outside but white on the inside. In fact, she is whiter than most of the other white people in government.