Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blinkered View of Islamism

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blinkered View of Islamism

Article excerpt

Byline: MARYAM NAMAZIE

THE ENEMY WITHIN: A TALE OF MUSLIM BRITAIN by Sayeeda Warsi (Allen Lane, PS20) MARYAM NAMAZIE SAYEEDA Warsi's new book catalogues some of the hypocrisy and double standards of the British Government, the rise of the far-Right and bigotry against Muslims, yet has a glaring blind spot when it comes to Islamism. According to Warsi, Islamist terrorism is the result of everything but Islamist ideology.

Since most of those killed by Islamists are "Muslims" in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa, her argument that terrorism is the result of Islamophobia, racism, foreign policy and social exclusion is unconvincing. Also, she fails to see that many aggrieved people end up involved in progressive political and civil rights work rather than inciting violence or murdering women, men and children in schools and marketplaces.

Without any apparent understanding of the context and rise of the contemporary transnational Islamist movement, including Iran's key role in it, Warsi says "simmering resentment" began when the British Government apparently failed to prosecute Salman Rushdie for blasphemy. "Muslims," she says, "wanted British laws to protect Islam," and when it didn't happen, the Iranians were more than happy to step in with what she characterises as "concern and moral support". According to her, Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa put Iran in "pole position, ready and willing to come out leading the collective Muslim sentiment".

Like any good apologist who is more concerned with blasphemy than murder, and who homogenises "Muslim sentiment" to coincide with her own, Warsi doesn't seem bothered that the act of "concern" was a fatwa against a British citizen, nor that it took place during the bloody Eighties, when thousands of Iranians were executed by the regime. Warsi also seems to conveniently overlook the fact that blasphemy laws continue to persecute freethinkers such as Ayaz Nizami in Pakistan and Sina Dehghan in Iran.

Her apologia for Islamism is shocking. She says, for example, that "Islamist ideology has created a new generation of Muslim democrats" such as the AKP in Turkey (though President Erdogan has arrested tens of thousands, limited freedoms and rights of citizens, and is murdering Kurds).

She approvingly quotes a former US assistant secretary of state saying "'Islamists' are Muslims with political goals", which is like saying Pegida are Christians with political goals. …

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