Why Peter Tatchell Is Getting Islamophobia Wrong.
[ Posted by Lara Keller 16/5/19 Updated 19/5/19 ] Blog Table Of Contents
UK Human rights secular saint Peter Tatchell, is someone of whom I greatly approve, although he does not know this and probably could not care less. He has written a letter to UK “The Times” newspaper agreeing with police criticisms of new rules banning Islamophobia. The arguments he uses are strange.
Race is a weak concept, and it is true that Muslims belong to many so called “races”. Islamophobia proposes that Muslims display social behavior that is inferior or dangerous when compared to non-Muslims, this is “effective” racism. Tatchell is wrong to get absolute about weak definitions.
He says “Muslims who oppose Women’s and LGBT rights claim they are expressing their Muslimness”. Fundamentalists’ claims are subject to debate as any other claims are. Most Muslims would claim that claiming “Mulsimness” means opposing the rights of Women and LGBT people is itself an insult to Islam. So a claim of Islamic belief can itself be Islamophobic. Indeed what (so called) Islamist Extremists say about Islam matches what rabid Islamophobes say about Islam. their actions and propaganda feed each other. So Tatchell asks “Is criticism of them [fundamentalists] Islamophobia or not?” Accepting the fundamentalist statements about Islam can be Islamophobic. So the answer is clearly “No”.
Islam is not just an idea, as Tatchell says, it is a collection of ideas. Some of which Muslims believe were revealed by God to the Prophet Mohammad. Other come from the life of the prophet, his actual and alleged sayings and later interpretations of these ideas. In this way Islam is like Judaism and Christianity. So Islam is more than an idea. But it is still open to criticism and interpretation. Indeed criticism and interpretation is central all religions, including Islam.
Tatchell says “Yet criticisms of Islam and tyrannical Islamic regimes are often denounced as Islamophobia.” It is also true that denouncing genuine debate and criticism of Islam and supporting tyrannical Islamic regimes, is an insult to Islam, and is itself Islamophobic.
So Tatchell letter amounts to the truths that the concepts of “Muslimness” and “Islamophobia” are not clearly defined enough to be the basis of actionable rules. The rest of his letter is not relevant. The best way forward is to debate these concepts, and produce reasoned examples. (Note the Antisemitism definition has been partly hijacked by the needs of Zionist propaganda).
I disagree with Peter Tatchell. “Islamophobia” does exist as an objective racist activity, that needs to be dealt with by rules and public opinion. There is a “Muslim Identity” that comes from the positive values of Islam that people should be free to express (ie “Muslimness”). I agree with him that these issues are difficult to get right.
The way to empower women, gain LGBT rights and end brutal dictatorships for Muslims (and their non-Muslim neighbours an d fellow citizens) is via Islam. There is no insurmountable obstacle. Start with “There is no god but God. Muhammad is the messenger of God.” Excellent way of saying there is only one God. Mohammad is not the only messenger of God (although most Muslims believe he is the last one, I see no reason God is limited). The same God for all, where the oppression and neglect of others is an insult to this one same shared God.