Bob Pitt’s zany Islamophobia Watch website reprints an amusing article by Ken Livingstone, the supposedly left wing mayor who has cast himself as the defender of the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, Sheikh Qaradawi. The article appears in the Morning Star: the newspaper which used to cheerlead for the USSR’s imperialist misadventures in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Afghanistan:
“In an ironic mirror image of Al Qaeda’s denunciations of the West, Islam is portrayed as uniquely evil, or, in the left variants, uniquely reactionary.
In this latter camp can be found a whole raft of supposedly “left-wing” internet blogs.
The hysteria against Muslims is the same type of demonology as used against Jews in the first half of the last century.
It is no accident that this ideology arose in the United States at a time when Washington was developing plans for a new era of colonialism in the Middle East.”
Here are a few points:
1. Harry’s Place argues that a clear and important distinction can be made between Islam (which is a religion) and Islamism (which is a political movement).
2. I have spent some time arguing against posters in the comments thread who have sought to argue that Islamism is a natural and inevitable expression of islamic theology. This is an argument which I wholly reject.
3. Ken Livingstone’s conflation of Islamism with Islam is itself “an ironic mirror image of Al Qaeda’s” view.
4. Ken Livingstone would do well to learn to differentiate between Islam and Islamism if he is to avoid looking very silly.
5. We do not regard Islam as “uniquely evil“. In fact, we don’t regard it as “evil” at all.
6. I regard Islamism as, at best, an intensely conservative political movement. We certainly do not regard it as “uniquely reactionary“. Islamism is just another in a long line of reactionary theocratic movements which have emerged from the loins of most of the major world religions in the last century or so.
7. Ken Livingstone should not be aligning himself with the Muslim Brotherhood faction within Islamism, which Al Qaradawi represents, for reasons we have discussed on this blog, often at tedious length. Qaradawi is not Mandela. He is also not Pope John XXIII.
8. I appreciate that Ken Livingstone has thrown his lot in with Qaradawi’s Muslim Brotherhood because it thinks that it is “anti-imperialist”. If he wants to form an alliance with a reactionary and often totalitarian political movement, and continue to describe himself as “socialist” or “progressive”, then he is welcome to do so. But he shouldn’t gripe when the nature and implications of that alliance is pointed out.
9. I’m glad that Ken Livingstone spends his time reading and worrying about what is written about this subject on blogs. He might learn something.
10. When we’ve written about Qaradawi, our focus hasn’t chiefly been Islamism: although we’re concerned with its growth, much in the same way that we’re worried about the success of other authoritarian and reactionary political movements.
Our focus is, rather, liberals, progressives and socialists who ally with or otherwise “soft soap” reactionary Islamist movements and political leaders, and expect not to be “called” on it.
In other words Ken, this is not really about Islamism, and certainly not about muslims. It is chiefly about you.
PS: Piss off.