At the Education for Tomorrow meeting yesterday, I was very surprised at how many of the people there said that the only reason that Faith Schools were an issue now was that Muslims were starting to want their own schools and it was pure “Islamophobia” to oppose that.
I am strongly of the view that “Islamophobia” is a bogus concept – one which does not convey sueful information, and is used as a battering ram to rule out of the debate any criticism of Islam, regardless of that criticism’s merits.
I recorded my bits, and this is what I said:
Well, a lot of people have talked about Islamophobia. I think Islamophobia is an imaginary concept. I think that it is completely different from the other phobias, and phobia of course means fear, and I think that instead of having an irrational fear of Islam, many of us have looked at Islam, and are deeply worried about the vision that many Islamists have for society.
Now we talked about people worrying about Islamic schools, now I didn’t want to talk about Islamic schools [for the very reason that our opposition to faith schools is not based on one particular religion – we have principled objections based on the nature of the special privileges enjoyed by all faith schools] but people have brought it up. We need to look at things like the King Faad Academy, where students were reading school books that are part of the Saudi curriculum, which is what they were using, where Jews are called monkeys and pigs. Now the reason, of course that the Jews were called monkeys and pigs in these books is that what the Koran says about Jews.
[At this point, an audience member exclaimed “No!”]
It is. It’s what the Koran says about Jews. In the Koran it says, “Oh Muslim, at the end of the world, even if a Jew is hiding behind a tree or a rock, then the tree and the rock will call out, ‘Oh Muslim! There is a Jew here, come and kill him’ at the end of days”. It is absolutely in the Koran [actually, I was wrong. It is not in the Koran, it’s in the Hadith, and it’s called the Promise of the Trees and Stones, see the email I sent at the end of the talk transcription] give me your email address and I will email you the Sura of the Koran. I mean, the Koran is filled with anti-Semitism from beginning to end. IT is also filled with hatred of non-believers be they Christian, Jew or so-called idolaters [I meant polytheists], you know, the Hindus, and people like us [referring to another self-declared atheist] we have the worst of all fates, according to the Koran.
[Another audience member called out “What about the Bible?”]
Well, I’m certainly not here to defend the goodness of the Bible, but Islam is more than a religion, for many people, many Islamists, is a political ...
[The same audience member who had previously asked about the Bible, objected vigorously to this, and accused me of tarring all Muslims with the brush, it was at this point that I was accused of being Islamophobic.]
process [I meant project] for many Islamists [note that I never talk about all Muslims, I talk about Islamists]. For many people who believe in Islam…
[We talk over each other a bit here, with both of us trying to gain (or retain) the floor.]
they believe Islam gives the entire structure for not only the way their lives should be lived religiously, but also the way the state should be structured and the interactions between people, and between the state and people as well.
[A fellow panellist interjected with the comment, “It sounds like all religion to me”.]
Well, yes, it’s certainly true [by which I meant that other religions sometimes have political agendas attached to them.] But there is a clear problem with…
[Another interjection from a different attendee, this time about Catholics and Protestants, I was going to go on and say that those other religions are not seeking special privileges and supremacy at the present time, as Islamists seems to be doing.]
Why were Catholics so hated and feared in England for such a long time? Because Catholics tried to blow up Parliament and tried to kill the King. There was a long period of religious war in Europe between Catholics and Protestants. That’s the reason a Catholic can’t marry into the Royal family, that’s the reason that there was so much discrimination against them. But Catholicism has created a modus vivendi which allows for people to be Catholic [I should have added and to be full citizens]. There was great consternation when Kennedy was going to be President in America, you know, the first Catholic President, “Gosh! Are we going to have a President who takes his orders from Rome?” The answer is “No!”, because Catholics now have a division between their secular and their religious duties, and I don’t think we see that with Islam, maybe it will come, maybe not, but we’re in that process.
[I was now accused by the second interjector of “creating a hierarchy of religions”.]
I don’t want to create a hierarchy of religions.
[“Yes you do!”]
Why? Why am I doing it? [I meant “How”.]
[Another interjection which I can’t hear on my recording.]
Ok, Ok, let’s discuss it afterwards.
Of course, after the meeting the second interjector avoided me like the plague.
I think what he meant by the hierarchy of religions idea was that he thought that I thought that Islam was uniquely awful, that there is no place in modern society for Muslims. But this is not my position.
I think that Islam, when practised as a personal faith, where it’s adherents refrain from pork and booze, and give to charity, and pray five times a day, and believe outlandish things about Mohummed, and go on holiday to Mecca is fine – in this case, it’s just like any other religion. Maybe crazier than some, but by no means the most mad religion in the world.
But, the point I tried to make is that there are some Muslims for whom it goes further. They think that Islam is also a political project. They think that God has given Islam the right (and responsibility) to rule over the whole world. They use political and violent means to try and bring this state of affairs about. I just do not see how opposing a political project could be “Islamophobic” (which is code for racist). Opposing Islamism (the name of this political project) seems to me to be the right course of action.
Islamophobia, and covering their political acts with the hijab of “faith” allows Islamists considerable free action in our society, and this is a problem that we must confront.
I’m happy that I was called an Islamophobe. Like Kafir, it’s kind of a badge of honour. It means that I’m stepping on Islamist toes, or at least on the toes of those who would give the Islamists cover (the people who interjected were not Muslims, as far as I know).
I promised one of the attendees an email explaining the Suras (and Hadith it turned out). Here’s the email I sent:
I hope you enjoyed your drink with … last evening.
I promised I would send you information on the two specific quotes I made - one about Jews being turned into pigs and monkeys, and the other about even the stones and trees crying out for the Muslims to come and kill the Jews hiding behind them.
Sura that refer to Jews being turned into Apes and Pigs:
(all translations by Yusufali from this source:
And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected."
Say: "Shall I point out to you something much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from Allah? those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil;- these are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even path!"
When in their insolence they transgressed (all) prohibitions, We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected."
As I said, the context is less important than how these verses are actually interpreted by the faithful. Here is a MEMRI TV clip showing these verses being explained to an audience by the Syrian Minister of Religious Endowment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQERHieZHcg.
And here is a disgusting recording of a show from Iqra TV in Saudi Arabia showing exactly what little children are tuaght: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhbHVEGnYD8&feature=related
Now, I was wrong about the "Promise of the Trees and the Stones". This is a Hadith, and not in the Koran. The Hadith is found here:
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:
Allah's Apostle said, "You (i.e. Muslims) will fight wi the Jews till some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, 'O 'Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.' "
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4xvuROQ0_s (the quote is at 4:50 if you can't stand to watch the rest of the vile anti-Semitism in this man's talk)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFAkmsszTD8 (do you think this preacher is referring to the Hadith in a metaphorical way, or a literal way?)
I welcome a debate on this.
I think Islam is a personal religion - no-one is interested in stopping people declining alcohol and pork, and praying five times a day, but as I said, for many Islamists, Islam is also a political project. It is not "Islamophobia" to oppose a political project that is founded on violence, and seeks to destroy every freedom that we in the West have secured for ourselves.