Anti-extremist castigates Labour Party over ‘Islamophobia’ definition

Anti-extremist castigates Labour Party over ‘Islamophobia’ definition March 26, 2019

MAAJID Nawaz, a British anti-extremist campaigner who was recently the victim of a vicious racist attack, used his weekend slot on London’s  LBC Radio to castigate the UK’s Labour Party for formally adopting a definition of Islamophobia.

Image via YouTube

On Saturday, after engaging in a heated debate with an hysterical Muslim who strongly defended barbaric punishments meted out to women under sharia law, Nawaz, above, turned his attention to the Labour Party’s adoption of the definition, which reads:

Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.

Nawaz insisted that the word“Islamophobia” wrongly conflates scrutiny of Islam with hatred of all Muslims, and that the definition serves only to shield Islam from valid criticism. A couple of days later, the former Islamist who founded the Quilliam organisation, enlarged on his argument in an op-ed for Jewish News, writing:

The terms ‘Anti-Muslim hate’ or ‘Muslimphobia’ are more precise, and do the job nicely to address a very real and rising problem. This is why the word ‘Islamophobia’ is too blunt. It fails, in principle, to distinguish between hating Muslims and criticising Islamic doctrine.

Unlike other words that have drifted from their original meaning, away from polite liberal circles and among the most vulnerable of minorities within our minority communities, it is still used regularly and interchangeably to mean either or both.

Islamists know this. They deployed this ambiguity in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. And they continue to do so after New Zealand. They seek nothing but an opportunity to reintroduce a blasphemy taboo through the backdoor. In allowing them this, we betray ex-Muslims, liberal Muslim reformers and those from minority sects.

Image via YouTube

Last week, the Guardian reported that more than 750 British Muslim organisations, 80 academics and 50 MPs have backed the definition. Naz Shah, above, the Labour MP for Bradford West and a shadow Minister for Women and Equalities who got herself suspended from the Labour Party in 2016 for making anti-Israel comments, said all political parties should adopt the definition because:

Islamophobia has been rising in our society and across the world, and support for the far right and their extremist white supremacist views is growing.

Nawaz pointed out that the definition was backed by a “pro-Islamist” organisation called MEND (Muslim Development and Engagement), and that:

A one-time founding director of MEND is Azad Ali, a man who actually lost a libel case against a newspaper that labelled him an extremist.

Of the “Islamophobia” definition, Nawaz wrote that it:

Unhelpfully borrows from definitions of anti-semitism. Though Islam and Judaism share much, Jews are more than a religion, they are also a national group, with a national homeland. Muslims – taken as a whole – are not.

So it is ill-fitting for Labour and our mayor [Sadiq Khan] to have accepted the definition that Islamophobia is ‘… a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness …

The vagueness of this definition begs the question: is it now ‘Islamophobic’ to criticise the misogynistic face veil as an expression of someone’s ‘Muslimness’? It would indeed be an anti-Muslim hate crime to target such a person, but to criticise the practice itself surely cannot be.

Nawaz concluded:

Politically lazy, intellectually dishonest and morally opportunistic Labour Party policy adoptions such as this ignore human dignity, and enforce only blasphemy taboos.

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  • Unhelpfully borrows from definitions of anti-semitism. Though Islam and Judaism share much, Jews are more than a religion, they are also a national group, with a national homeland. Muslims – taken as a whole – are not.

    While technically true, I do think the comparison between the two remains valid. As most people understand “Islamophobia” (not a great word, but it’s what we have and it’s here to stay) it really is a mix of racism and dislike of specific religious beliefs, just like anti-semitism. Islamophobes, by and large, perceive Muslims as “brown Arab” – a racial classification in their minds as much as “semitic” is in anti-semites.

  • Brian K

    Getting people to be precise with language is an uphill battle, but it’s the only way to short circuit the need to have the same conversation endlessly. Islam is an ideology, Muslims are people. We should structure the rest of language accordingly.

  • I don’t disagree… but this is equally true of Judaism, which is why I think the comparison between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism isn’t unreasonable.

  • jmjm208
  • John Thunderer

    It is at least arguable that the so-called ‘national homeland’ of those who consume Judaism is not theirs.
    Those who argue it is are the true antisemites as the land of Palestine was stolen from its Semitic residents.
    Eventually, the wrongs perpetrated in the Middle East by UK and US imperialism will be reversed.
    As for for the claim of Jews being a national group, that too is contestable, as more than half the world’s Jews choose not to live in Israel.

  • John Thunderer

    Semitism refers to language – not to people. Hebrew and Arabic are examples of Semitic languages and cultures.
    There are a number of other languages that fit within the Semite definition.
    Judaism and Islamism are more complex than – for example – Christianism and other religions.
    Juda/Islam-isms exert a much greater cultural influence over their adherents and followers.
    In essence, they existed before modern-day Enlightenment and politics, and they have internally modified very little since then.
    With Christianism and other religious ideologies, they have adapted internally to accept the split between religion and politics.
    To some extent, what I am thinking of and writing about here is tentative, and may need further thinking and exploration.

  • I view homelands as belonging to those strong enough to take and hold them.

  • Semitism refers to language – not to people

    Except in actual usage, that simply isn’t the case. And actual usage wins over etymology or technical usage.

  • John Thunderer

    To some extent, all -isms are artificial constructs, which are often deployed to divide human beings from one another rather than to unite them.
    They are all tools of imperialism and social control – whether ancient or modern.
    The artificial distinctions between Islamism and Muslimism are equally bogus to any humanist.
    Of course, Humanism may also be said to be an artificial construct.
    Its one redeeming quality is that it seeks to treat all members of the human species equally, unlike all the other artifical constructs.
    Nationalisms and racisms too are out-of-date these days.
    Just because a person holds a different passport or has a different skin tone to me does not make them any less human than me.
    We are all one people. That should be the defining and guiding rule for us all.

  • John Thunderer

    So might – in your opinion – is right, rather than morality or legality?
    On that basis, it will be OK when someone else comes along with greater might to dispossess existing occupants then?
    If I turn up at your home tomorrow with a bunch of armed people and force you out of your own home, that is OK then?

  • Might often does define right. Morality is a human invention without absolutes. Legality is just the enforcement of rights. It’s not okay if you force me out of my home because that’s illegal. If ideas about rights change, and the law follows, it may well be “right” (that is, moral and legal) for you to do so.

  • John Thunderer

    Semite refers both to language and ethnic origins.
    There is some question mark over the ethnic origins of the Ashkenazim, of course.
    In essence, almost all people living in the Middle East are ethnically connected.

  • John Thunderer

    What you say in simple terms opens up a whole “can of worms”.
    When the Balfour Decaration stated that the rights of existng Palestinians would not be affected by the establishment of a new homeland for Jews, they conveniently overlooked the fact that the Palestinians had no existing rights that could be enforced.
    They existed in a situation of literal lawlessness which the British administration did little or nothing to resolve.
    Rather similar to the situation of the indigenous North American population before the invasion of Europeans.
    That era is defined – I believe – as “The Wild West” – where might truly was right.
    Could that line of thinking be reasserting itself in the USA?
    As the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for.”

  • When Israel was created, that real estate didn’t belong to the people living there. It belonged to the British, as a colonial holding, fully in accord with international law. The American Indians lacked the ability to hold onto this continent (and I’m glad they lacked that ability) and lost it fair and square, according to broadly held principles of law and morality.

    (I’m not wishing for anything. Just recognizing the way that things actually work.)

  • John Thunderer

    Palestine did not belong to the British.
    They were given a mandate by the League of Nations (fore-runner of the United Nations) to administer the territory in order to prepare the indigenous people for self-government – part of the Wilsonian Doctrine.
    They double-crossed the League of Nations and the indigenous people by acceding to zionist demands for inward migration.
    The native Palestinians certainly did not want to see boat-loads of foreign migrants being allowed into their country.
    Previously, different communities – both of a “faith” and non-“faith” variation – had co-existed peacefully for centuries.
    British – and now American – treachery has laid a foundation for indefinite conflict and violence in the Middle East.

  • John Thunderer

    You need to re-read the history of what you define as the “American Indian”.
    Something like 90 per cent of them were slaughtered by Europeans through disease and violence.
    There was no “fair” fight. It was simple mass genocide by the Europeans against them.
    Some managed to survive and now live on in the poorest parts of the North American continent.
    The same fate is scheduled for the Palestinians.
    The US administration will not object. How can it?
    It is just as gulity at home.

  • The British controlled Palestine and largely had authority to do with it as they wished. There was nobody living there who had self-governance. The actions of the world in creating Israel was certainly legal. And it was moral in the eyes of most of the world.

  • Some 90% of the Indians died through no deliberate action of Europeans, simply by exposure to disease, long before there were many Europeans living in American, and long before any significant hostilities occurred. The resulting collapsed cultures could not stand up against the people who were moving into their lands and claiming them. An action that was both legal and moral by the standards of the time, and which denigrates the term “genocide”.

  • John Thunderer

    There were people living in Palestine for tens of thousands of years.
    Even someone allegedly called Jesus lived there some 2,000 years ago,
    There were many many other generations living there before him too – if he ever really existed.
    The British did not have authority to do as they wished.
    They were in possession of a League Mandate, which was the only reason their administration was there.
    They were supposed to prepare the local people for self-government.
    What they actually did was to betray the local people and society to outsider European “settlers” – just as in the USA..

  • John Thunderer

    But genocide it was, as in Palestine, where the Nakba resulted in half the local population being dispossessed by alien Europeans.
    The infamous US Army and Cavalry murdered their way across the continent and took massive retaliatory actions when the indigenous peoples tried to hold on to their territories and resources.
    Eternal shame on the UK and US for their treatment of indigenous peoples not just in North America but right around the world.

  • Maybe 30,000 Indians died in fights against the military or settlers. A fraction of a percent. Mainly, it was just a culture whose time had come, between the disease and the inability to maintain itself against an encroaching culture. That’s the story of humanity. There is no shame in it. What was done in the U.S. was entirely moral by the standards of the time, which means it was moral.

  • Every group living in Palestine took it from people living there before. That’s how humans have operated since the beginning of time.

  • John Thunderer

    Not always.
    You – like every other human being on this planet – have about 4 per cent neanderthal DNA in you.
    That would have come about through cross-breeding.
    Groups can emerge, evolve, mix and thrive.
    It doesn’t always have to be based on conflict, hatred and murder.

  • John Thunderer

    It was amoral conduct by ruthless and rapacious individuals.
    Just as in Palestine.

  • Of course. We are social animals. But there’s a reason there are no more neanderthals. And I doubt it’s because of gentle assimilation. (Not all humans have neanderthal genes, only those who left Africa. And we have more like 1-2%.)

    The point is, people have always invaded and taken over territory, typically to the detriment of those living there already. There was nothing shameful or immoral about that.

  • I disagree. It was either moral, or morally neutral. In both cases.

  • Freethinker
  • Freethinker

    The whole concept of Israel being a “Jewish” homeland is based on mythological real estate deed whereby a sky daddy “gave” the land to his “chosen people”. This is in its entirety the only validity Jews use to occupy Palestine and to brutally displace and exterminate the people who have lived there for thousands of years and coexisted with others of various faiths and cultures. Israel continues to steal land that is not theirs and use the might is right doctrine to uphold their theft. Useful idiots like Trump are simply paid to do their bidding on an international stage and the all purpose slur of antisemitism is thrown at anyone who critical of Israel’s abhorrent policies and, what the UN has declared on multiple occasions, crimes against humanity.

  • Freethinker

    You are shifting goalposts with the introduction of legality. Your initial argument

    I view homelands as belonging to those strong enough to take and hold them.

    indicates that all it takes for someone to take over your home – that is acceptable to you – is to be strong enough to break in and either dispose of you and your family or keeping you all in the basement at their discretion. After all, might is right. This is a classic belief foundation of both Imperialism and cavemen dragging their future sex partners by the hair. It’s about as un-evolved as one can get.

  • Legality is critical, because it is part of might. The person who takes over my home is not mightier than I am if I have the power of the state behind me. In free developed countries, the might lies with the people, through the institutions of their government. So a criminal is unable to redefine what is right by any particular act of overpowering someone. In a free society, might still makes right. You’re just mistaking who has that might.

  • Freethinker

    You are continuing to argue your original point. A criminal is absolutely “able to redefine what is right by any particular act of overpowering someone” simply by the virtue of power dynamics. Whether or not there are consequences to their actions is immaterial and outside of the discussion. By shielding yourself behind the opaque and changing legalities of the laws of the state you are essentially relying on a different form of “muscle” to protect you. No different than a mob member would to protect themselves from other mobs. What if the state itself takes over your property and changes the laws if necessary to do so or simply hires corrupt law enforcement officials to commit a crime against you? What if it’s just law enforcement officers taking the law in the their own hands knowing that they are above the law? What happens when the state that you are relying on protecting you in violating the rights of other states by invading them under false pretenses making them a criminal state? The argument of nebulous legality is circular and does take away from your original assertion that power is all that matters as long as you can get away with it.

  • I didn’t assert that power is all that matters as long as you can get away with it. What I said is that might makes right. It always has, and it always will. It is a universal truth.