Je meurs en adorant Dieu, en aimant mes amis, en ne haïssant pas mes ennemis et en détestant la superstition.

I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition.

Voltaire


Returning to the subject of Islamophobia and the detractors of that particular definition of offense, I recently wrote a feature article at The clubof.info Blog addressing it.

“Islamophobia versus criticism of Islam”

You can read the full feature article, “Islamophobia versus criticism of Islam”, here.

I notice an absurd but dominant notion among many anti-Muslim circles, for example within online discussion threads, that bloggers, commentators, politicians or intellectuals who defend Muslims must be Muslims themselves. British MP George Galloway is one of those people. As if it would matter. It seems to me that accusing people in that way is reminiscent of the climate that existed in the Spanish Inquisition, when Muslims and Jews were hunted down and tortured because of their faith, and simply being accused of being “one of them” was enough to get someone sent to the dungeons. It is unfortunate that such behavior has not yet been overcome in western states (e.g. Guantanamo) and that the broader political audience may even be reverting back to that medieval way of thinking.

From my feature article:

And if Islamophobia sought to criticize Islam, whence cometh their theses against Islam? Where are the intellectual battles being fought by Islamophobia against the errors of Islam? In what lecture theaters are academics explaining where Islam is wrong, and how to non-violently correct its errors in the mind before one goes out to shoot these people or make drone strikes against them? Instead, all that we find are lobbyists, who know very little about Islam but a lot about making war against Islam.

I consider Islamophobia to not be a principled rejection of Islam for its supernatural claims or the content of the Qur’an, or the statements of certain clerics, but a form of prejudice and hate directed against a community. Because of this, some of the ideas “critics of Islam” have put forward, including Salman Rushdie, about Islamophobia not being a valid concept, are harmful. There are very real people out there who hate Muslims and not simply terrorism, as they claim, which is usually just a way of making themselves look like the victims. It is extremely ignorant for we in the west to act like our civilization has been attacked by the Muslim world, when it is in fact our countries that have repeatedly been bombing the Muslim world and have killed millions of people there.

As I emphasize in the feature article, I consider the threat from terrorism to not be the terrorism itself but the idiocy of our reactions to it. I believe those reactions, blaming the Muslim community and lashing out at them, are what terrorists aimed to create in the first place. By getting the apparent cover of a community to hide behind and distract the state’s attention towards discriminating against that community rather than hunting specific criminals down, terrorists succeed in delegitimizing the state. Of course, I think state delegitimization is inevitable, but it shouldn’t have to happen like this, creating so much discord and potential for violence that will destroy the bonds of communities themselves rather than simply the government.

My final point is that criticism of Islam targets specific claims in Islam that can be debated in a civilized format, whereas Islamophobia targets Muslims. Propaganda against a community to try and justify internecine war against them, as much of the political right in Britain and America are guilty of, isn’t legitimate criticism.


By Harry J. Bentham

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