I have often wondered how it is that groups espousing opposing views can rationalise common cause* with religious extremists. It has lately been much on view with the recent gatherings in various Canadian cities in support of the wretched** residents of Gaza, however these aren’t the only occasions.
And so, for instance, one sees self identifying socialists, feminists or members of the GBLT community waving placards along side islamist protesters, railing against the latest outrage to be pinned on the US, Israel or the West [ globalisation ] etc.
How do they square the debt of liberal freedoms owed by them to the [largely secular] social democrats who went before with the crude, dangerous and illiberal desires expressed by their fellow islamist marchers? Do they not realise that the Islamists despise them and would if given the chance eliminate them altogether? One need look no further than the Iran of 1979 – 1980 when during the consolidation of the Islamic Republic, among the first rounded up for liquidation [after supporters of the Shah] were the social democrats, secular trade unionists and so on. Can they really wish to condemn their fellow women, gay or socialist friends in those countries to fates which they themselves would not accept in Canada?
The communists had a name for these folks – useful idiots.
To top it off, the forces of religious conservatism are working very hard to ensure that on the international stage it will be virtually impossible to cite religious persecution as grounds for a human rights complaint.
Anything which can be deemed “religious” is no longer allowed to be a subject of discussion at the UN – and almost everything is deemed religious. Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union has tried to raise topics like the stoning of women accused of adultery or child marriage. The Egyptian delegate stood up to announce discussion of shariah “will not happen” and “Islam will not be crucified in this council” – and Brown was ordered to be silent. Of course, the first victims of locking down free speech about Islam with the imprimatur of the UN are ordinary Muslims.
Here is a random smattering of events that have taken place in the past week in countries that demanded this change. In Nigeria, divorced women are routinely thrown out of their homes and left destitute, unable to see their children, so a large group of them wanted to stage a protest – but the Shariah police declared it was “un-Islamic” and the marchers would be beaten and whipped. In Saudi Arabia, the country’s most senior government-approved cleric said it was perfectly acceptable for old men to marry 10-year-old girls, and those who disagree should be silenced. In Egypt, a 27-year-old Muslim blogger Abdel Rahman was seized, jailed and tortured for arguing for a reformed Islam that does not enforce shariah.
To the people who demand respect for Muslim culture, I ask: which Muslim culture? Those women’s, those children’s, this blogger’s – or their oppressors’?
As the secular campaigner Austin Darcy puts it: “The ultimate aim of this effort is not to protect the feelings of Muslims, but to protect illiberal Islamic states from charges of human rights abuse, and to silence the voices of internal dissidents calling for more secular government and freedom.”
Those of us who passionately support the UN should be the most outraged by this.
Underpinning these “reforms” is a notion seeping even into democratic societies – that atheism and doubt are akin to racism. Today, whenever a religious belief is criticised, its adherents immediately claim they are the victims of “prejudice” – and their outrage is increasingly being backed by laws.
All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don’t respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don’t respect the idea that we should follow a “Prophet” who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn’t follow him.
I don’t respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don’t respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. This is not because of “prejudice” or “ignorance”, but because there is no evidence for these claims. They belong to the childhood of our species, and will in time look as preposterous as believing in Zeus or Thor or Baal.
*perhaps not so much ‘cause‘ as an inclination amongst some in the left wing to authoritarianism – distinguishing themselves from the dogmatic believers only in the details……
**their wretchedness being imposed upon them by religious mafia – Hamas. For those who disagree with me – imagine if tomorrow the Palestinians unilaterally disarmed – does any mentally stable person think for a minute that their condition would worsen? Likely goods would flow across the border and a functioning economy freed from the mafia like embrace of the gunmen in Gaza would emerge. I am reminded of one of the less remarked upon features of the Northern Ireland troubles wherein both sides had a vested interest in keeping British soldiers in the province as the millions of pounds spent in the local economy were open to graft, extortion – mostly to the betterment of the armed factions and their bank accounts.