Trump, Namazie, Islam, Free Speech and the Left
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX18607
On the odd relationship that many on the left have with Islam. They view all Muslims as helpless victims, and regard any criticism of Islam as a form of bigotry.
In the strange world of contemporary radicalism, however, many look upon Ms Namazie almost as they regard Mr Trump: as an 'Islamophobe'. Student groups at several universities, including the University of Warwick and Trinity College Dublin, have attempted to stop her from speaking on campus.
Last month, the Islamic Society at Goldsmith's College, part of the University of London, objected to Ms Namazie's speaking there on the grounds that it would be a 'violation of our safe space', creating 'a climate of hatred and bigotry towards Muslim students'. When the meeting went ahead, members of the Islamic Society attempted to disrupt Ms Namazie's talk, and were accused of making death threats. The college's Feminist and LGBT Societies expressed their solidarity -- not with Ms Namazie, but with the Islamic Society, claiming that 'hosting known Islamophobes at our university creates a climate of hatred'.
All this reveals the odd relationship that many on the left have with Islam. They view all Muslims as helpless victims, and regard any criticism of Islam as a form of bigotry. A columnist for the Guardian, David Shariatmadari, called the attempts to muzzle Ms. Namazie 'reasonable' because 'we don't want to have any part in the further stigmatisation of Islam'. Some academics disdainfully dismiss liberal Muslim critics of Islam as 'native informants' -- defined by one academic as 'insiders' who 'air the dirty laundry of Muslim communities'.
Just as Mr. Trump seems unable to distinguish between Muslims and terrorists, do many on the left seem unable to distinguish between criticism of Islam and bigotry against Muslims. And just as Mr. Trump views Muslims as an undifferentiated lump, all potential terrorists, those on the left also often view Muslims as a homogeneous community speaking with a single voice. Both ignore progressive Muslim voices as not being truly of that community, while celebrating the most conservative voices as authentic.
I once interviewed Naser Khader, a secular Muslim and a Danish member of Parliament. He recalled a conversation with Toger Seidenfaden, then editor of the left-wing newspaper Politiken, about the “Muhammad cartoons” that had caused global controversy in 2005 when published in another Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten.
Mr. Seidenfaden claimed that “the cartoons insulted all Muslims.” “I am not insulted,” Mr. Khader responded. “But you’re not a real Muslim” came the reply. To be a real Muslim is, from such a perspective, to find the cartoons offensive. Anyone who isn’t offended is, by definition, not a real Muslim.
Right-wing bigots may see all Muslims as reactionary, but so, apparently, do many left-wing and liberal antiracists.