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Progressives allying with theocrats again

This is a cross-post by Tom Owolade

Nothing illustrates the alliance between the far left and the religious far-right more lucidly than the work of two university of Bath academics: Tom Mills and David Miller, both of whom, in concert with Bath researcher Narzanin Massoumi, wrote an apologia of CAGE for OpenDemocracy, denouncing those who are critical of the group.

The article is a tsunami of misinformation, misrepresentation, euphemism and hysteria. When it isn’t demonising progressive individuals like Gita Sahgal, or progressive groups like the council of ex-Muslims, it identifies CAGE as a human rights group and presents Haitham al Haddad as a misunderstood conservative cleric.

In a manner like this:

There is no doubt that Haddad expresses a conservative strand of Islam, in particular on the appropriateness of punishment fitting the crime (Hudud) and on questions of sexuality. It is not clear, though, that the other views attributed to him are accurately rendered. Much of the substance of the question from Neil appears to be based on a report from the Council of Ex Muslims, an organisation close to the ‘new atheist’ movement which enjoys the ‘generous support’ of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, amongst other benefactors. Their 2014 report Evangelising Hate: Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), was drawn to Andrew Neil’s attention on Twitter in advance of the programme.

There is something so rotten about supposedly left-wing people siding with theocrats against secularists. It’s a betrayal of values. It’s not merely a disfigurement of moral clarity, but an inversion. The demon presented here is a group that believes, without equivocation, individuals should be free to leave the religion of their birth and free to criticise the ideas imbibed through their culture – a secular ideal. Whereas the innocent in this battle, the defamed and misunderstood “conservative” cleric, is a man who believes that to be born into Islam is to be chained by Islam; and those that escape, even discreetly, deserve the most severe punishment – the death penalty. If a person believed to be a Christian is to be chained by Christianity, and to escape is to deserve death, the term “conservative” would not suffice. This is a totalitarian ideology: compliance is murderously enforced, and dissent is savagely curtailed.

Do read the rest of Tom’s post here

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