Tag Archives: islam

A Response to Islamophobia

Let’s first begin with a definition of the term Islamophobia. I posit that Islamophobia is the irrational prejudice against Muslims, often revolving around an idea that Islam as a whole is violent in nature due to the occurrence of terrorism among a minority of Muslims.

There are some who posit that this is just a made up word that is used to discourage any kind of criticism of Islam. The first thing to point out is that all words are made up, it is what tends to be done when a new thing occurs that needs a concise description. To say a word is made up and therefore cannot be describing something real makes no sense. Secondly it’s not true that it was invented to discourage criticism of Islam, it is meant to discourage criticisms based off a bigoted and prejudiced view of Islam. No secular person is going to have a problem with you putting forth a well reasoned argument as to why you think the Qu’ran is not divinely inspired. The problem is when people like Sam Harris advocate that we profile people who ‘look Muslim’ (whatever that means) at airports because being Muslim inherently makes you suspect according to him.

Of course as with any word it is going to get misapplied and misused, but this does not negate the fact that Islamophobia is a very real phenomena, and is becoming increasingly prevalent in society. If you are not convinced that the above definition relates to an actual phenomena, take a look at the following examples:

This list is by no means exhaustive. Anti-Muslim hate crime is rampant across the Europe and the US. In the face of these facts you cannot deny that there is an irrational hatred and fear of Muslims that is aptly described by the term Islamophobia. Obviously it is not just something that is expressed in violent crime and abuse. By far the most pervasive form of Islamophobia is in it’s rhetoric. With people like Sam Harris insisting that Islam is somehow an existential threat to civilization or Donald Trump advocating for a ban on Muslims from entering the US.

In my opinion perhaps the main issue that aids the growth of Islamophobia is the mainstream media, and what it chooses to report. We only ever hear about Islamic terror attacks, thus it is easy for us to develop a misguided belief that this is a characteristic of Islam rather than an anomaly. This, combined with a lack of education on Islam provides fertile ground for the development of Islamophobic views. One thing that is often said is that moderate Muslims do not do enough to speak out against terror. This is demonstrably untrue:

(Again, not an exhaustive list)*

Muslims do more than enough to speak out against terrorism. Failure to do elemental research before making a claim is a characteristic of bigotry. Having said all that, why should they have to speak out in order to prove that your assumptions about them are incorrect? They have no more obligation to condemn it than your average Christian has to condemn the Westboro Baptist Church. They might want to of their own accord, but they shouldn’t have to just to educate ignorant morons who can’t be bothered to do elemental research. If someone says “all Christians are like the Westboro Baptist Church” does that mean all Christians are obligated to now speak out against the WBC in order to prove this moron wrong? Of course not. In the case of Islam people are speaking out, all the time, and it still doesn’t change people’s views.

As with Christianity, Islam is incredibly diverse. A brief glance at this Wiki page will demonstrate just how diverse. Extremely conservative sects such as Salafism are prone to extremist interpretations, but it is important to note that this is but one of many diverse sects. It is also worth adding as a side note that an ally of the West; Saudi Arabia uses it’s extreme wealth (a lot of which comes from us) to export Wahhabism (the strict Saudi form of Salafism) across the world—a contributing factor to the rise of ISIS. Politics aside however, the point is that Islam contains a wide variety of interpretations, only a very small subset of which promote extremism.

It is for this reason that pulling quotes out of the Qu’ran doesn’t prove anything. You can find horrendous abhorrent things in the Bible, but you’d be hard pressed to find many Christians that believe it, or act upon it—many won’t even know it’s in there. The same goes for the Qu’ran. Just because you can find something in there that appears to condone violence, it doesn’t necessarily follow that all Muslims believe it. Religions are complex things, we can appreciate this when we talk about Christianity, why is it so difficult to accept when it comes to Islam?

Islam is a religion, not a race is a catchphrase you hear a lot in this debate. I don’t see how that is relevant though, all it really suggests is that Islamophobes are bigoted in a different way than racists are. Well done! Although in many instances this is not true—hence why attacks on Sikhs have risen along with the rise of Islamophobia. If you have brown skin, a beard and a turban you must be Muslim according to some. Demonstrating a link between racist views and Islamophobia.

It is often asserted that the left are inventing the term Islamophobia in order to limit the free expression of those who are just out there to criticise ideas. This not true. Criticise ideas all you want, no one is going to call you an Islamophobe if you want to write an article about how you don’t think that Muhammad was divinely inspired (assuming it doesn’t make broad generalizations about all Muslims or insults them unnecessarily). If, however, you are going to advocate social policies that are inherently discriminatory against Muslims, or ramble about how moderate Muslims do not do enough to condemn terrorism (despite this being demonstrably false) thereby implying that all Muslims are terrorist sympathisers then you are an Islamophobe and you deserve to be called out on it.

Of course Islamic terrorism is evil, and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms, but we shouldn’t allow it to fill us with so much hatred and fear that we completely abandon our critical faculties. Sadly it seems many already have. This is not a case of uber-left-wing people pandering to extremists through fear of reprisals if they so much as venture the slightest criticism of Islam. It’s simply reasonable people trying to tell those who are caught in an epidemic of scaremongering that they have blown things out of proportion and should think before they make sweeping generalizations. Islamophobia is a real and very disturbing phenomena and it needs to be spoken out against.


* I realise that I appear to contradict my assertion that we only hear about Islamic terror attacks in the news by posting a list of news sources that report Muslims speaking out against terror, however I do not believe these stories are as widely spread, or given as much time as stories about terror attacks. Terror attacks are always front page news, these stories aren’t.

A NYr’s reflections on 9/11

I’ve been asked by AndromedasWake to say a few words on the entire 9/11 Ground Zero debate and give a New Yorker’s perspective. I thought it would be appropriate to wait until time has passed since the Ground Zero anniversary, considering the content of this blog post.

I have lived through a decade of Ground Zero controversy. From the moment the dust settled, individuals and groups with political agendas descended on the wounded carcass of lower Manhattan, cutting out and dishing up great slabs of suffering to serve at the gluttonous feast of their ambitions.

“All of Ground Zero should be declared hallowed ground’, “The memorial in light should remain until the towers are rebuilt’, “it should be called the Freedom Tower’, “THIS tower design is a better memorial than that one’, “A design contest will show the true spirit of American freedom’, “The stairway to heaven can’t be moved, it would be disrespectful!’, “The beams that form a cross cannot be moved, God placed them there!’

It has gone on and on, year after year. Continue reading A NYr’s reflections on 9/11

Pope in-fallacy

A recent speech by the current Pope, in Britain, where he links atheism and Nazism has caused some controversy in the blogosphere and in our own forums. The Pope spoke of “a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society’ and went on to express concerns over “aggressive forms of secularism’. This is such a common trope in debates that I wanted to take an entire blog post to explain what I see as the gaping flaw in this form of argument. What I want to discuss is the way atheism and theism should be properly related to religion and ideology and why it is incorrect to set up atheism as the counter-position to religion.

Atheism, at its most inclusive, describes anyone who has no belief in gods. From even this basic understanding, it is remarkably difficult to see how atheism could be expected to produce any action from an individual atheist. There is no causal line from the absence of a single belief to any other belief or action, be it good or bad. Even explicit atheism (the denial of gods) does not imply any further belief or action. If we say this for atheism, in order to be consistent, we must also say this for theism. Theism (the belief in gods), as a single belief, does not entail any other beliefs or actions by the individual theist. A theist may believe in the philosopher’s god, a non-interventionist god, Allah, the trinity, or a whole pantheon of pagan gods. But even these basic beliefs about the nature of gods are additional to the initial claim of theism, not derived from it. Taking the example of the Thirty Years war, the Pope would have us blame theism for the conflict. However, given both sides of the conflict were theists this conclusion makes little sense. The true dividing factor was the different religions, Catholicism and Protestantism, which each side maintained. My contention is that while atheism and theism are blameless in the great atrocities of history, ideology and religion should be held to account.

Continue reading Pope in-fallacy

On Thunderf00t, Park51 and the elusive point

This poor old blog; it just hasn’t seen much action lately. I myself have several unfinished posts in the edit bin which need attention. Hopefully the problem will atrophy as the blogging team expands before the year is out.

In the mean time, I have been blessed with a topic that’s perfect for a blog post; too big for a rant on Facebook, and too opinionated and irrelevant for a YouTube video. That topic is of course Thunderf00t’s videos about Park51. I will also be focussing on my role as a subscriber and commenter, as I have apparently become central to a debate about miscommunication.

Before getting started, I should note that I see Park51 as a complete non-issue blown up out of all proportion for the sake of sensationalism. Many of my favourite commentators on religious and rights issues have left me disappointed with the use of “they have the right but…” arguments, where what follows the “but” has been universally superfluous or just plain incorrect. False attribution, red herrings and appeals to emotion are popping up all over the place and making a mockery of the actual debate.

But of course, we all think in chorus, this is the Internet!

Continue reading On Thunderf00t, Park51 and the elusive point

Countering “The Narrative”

A recurring phenomenon in the spate of Islamic terror attacks has been that the perpetrators are often citizens who turn on their own countries. Mjr. Hasan’s attack on Ft. Hood in America being a prime example. A recent 60 minutes documentary purports to explain how peaceful Muslims can be turned into fanatical extremists willing to engage in suicide attacks on the very countries they live in.

Recruiters for these fundamentalist Islamic organisations rely on ‘the narrative’, a collection of stories, conspiracy theories, propaganda, and outright lies that claims the USA and the rest of Western civilisation is trying to eradicate Islam. This set of stories has been propagating wildly since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre and appeals not to the poor and needy, but to prosperous and educated citizens who make foreign countries their home. Consider Mohamed Atta, the leader of the WTC attacks and educated at universities in Cairo and Hamburg. Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the London metro attacks, educated at Leeds University and prior to the attack was holding down a steady job. Or the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad. He holds double degrees from American universities, had a good job, a wife, and a nice house in the suburbs. These are the faces of Islamic terrorism in the West.

Even though there are many instances of Western governments defending or supporting Muslims in Bosnia, Somalia, Kuwait, Pakistan and Indonesia (disaster relief), Iraq and Afghanistan (overthrowing tyrannies) belief in the narrative remains strong. This set of beliefs is also being successfully exported to Western countries, with tragic results. Hatred of those who kill Muslims is encouraged yet, despite the fact that deliberate suicide bombings by Al-Qaeda kill more Muslims than drone attacks by American forces, adherents to the narrative still direct their hatred towards the West and their support towards terrorist organisations. The narrative includes the idea that the US government actually encouraged Al-Qaeda to carry out the attack on the WTC as a justification to invade Afghanistan – these fundamentalist Muslims are apparently 9/11 truthers.

Funded by the oil revenues of the Arab states, political Islamism is attempting to spread itself across the globe by going to war with any opposition. Having seized control of many regimes in the Muslim world, Islamists are enlarging the area they control. Conflicts between Muslims and other local populations in Russia, Indonesia, India, North Africa, Europe, and the USA show they have been extremely successful in spreading their ideology and bringing the fight to us. According to Maajid Nawaz (a former Islamic radical) of the Quilliam Foundation, countering the narrative is the most important aspect to preventing the spread of Islamism. I would add that moving away from an oil-based economy and ending the cozy relationship with Saudi leaders would also help by cutting off the economic backing of this dangerous, and deadly, movement.

The Qur’an . . ? Really?

The day I’ve had.

Cold, so very bitterly cold. Anyone who’s been any closer to outside than their own bedroom knows it’s been cold enough to freeze the smile of a Catholic priest in an orphanage. Cold enough to make people who should know better wear beanies. You get what I’m saying; coldness.

Walking down Kilburn high road (note to foreign types; Kilburn high road is a shopping street in London that contains a pub called The Cock, and this is all you need to know) I noticed a couple of trestle tables with brightly coloured pamphlets. A few people stood behind these tables, picking up a sheet from the ground. Initially I thought they’d been breakdancing, poppin’ some sweet moves in the grindstreet dustcore scene, yo.

Nope. Muslims! Continue reading The Qur’an . . ? Really?

Catering Manager Outraged At Expectation To Handle Pork

Hasanali Khoja, an Islamic chef for the Metropolitan Police, is sueing for religious discrimination after being expected to handle pork in his new job.

He’d previously arrived at an informal arrangement whereby he wasn’t expected to handle pork products, but his new placement has no such leniency.

And why should it? It’s just his belief, unauthorised and unjustified. Quite why an expectation for a chef to handle pork is religious discrimination is, I freely admit, beyond me. Oh, I can see why – but I don’t get how such a case is even allowed to get as far as the news.

Fine, if you have a delusional belief that prohibits you from handling certain foods and your bosses allow you – in your job as a catering manager, remember – to not touch such food, then lucky you. Someone else has been the man that you couldn’t be. But when you get transferred and are suddenly outside this umbrella of leniency and you view an expectation to handle pork products (remember – your job is a catering manager) as religious discrimination? Hell, you’re not going to leave your job. Why should you? You’re a catering manager who has decided they can’t touch pork. Your will should be done.

Seriously. Let’s apply this to something else. I’m working in an office, and I don’t like to touch paper because I have a personal belief that this isn’t right. Not a physiological issue, not a phobia – some mythical being has commanded that I do not touch paper.

Let’s assume for a moment that I would even get a job after saying “By the way, I can’t touch paper” in the interview. If I have a lenient boss who allows me to work without the requirement to touch paper, I’m very lucky. But why should I take such luck and generosity for granted? When my boss is replaced and I’m expected to touch paper just as everyone else is, why should I take umbrage?

It would be too much to ask that I wear gloves. Then surely I could touch the paper and save myself from hell.

Mr Khoja said: “The Met has shown no sensitivity towards my religion. Their response has been ill-thought and discriminatory.”