We have close family living in Wellington, New Zealand, and we have been strongly emotionally affected by the horrific massacre of worshippers in mosques in Christchurch. Like all decent people, we utterly condemn the attack, and our hearts go out to all the victims and their families. A Muslim colleague and friend of one of our relatives had advised several Syrian friends to come and settle in lovely, peaceful, New Zealand, and two of them are now dead. So this feels very close to us, and we can only imagine what our relative’s friend is going through now. The attack is especially shocking precisely because it has happened in such a peaceful country, hitherto untouched by terrorism.
You will understand from the above that we strongly condemn all generalised anti-Muslim bigotry, as we do all bigotry. But, that said, we do have grave concerns about the kinds of response we are seeing to this attack, in terms of the closing down of freedom of speech on Islam, and even the closing down of opinion, and banning of books, from what is, often wrongly, designated the right in politics (even Jordan Peterson’s blameless “12 Rules for Life.” has been removed from bookshops in New Zealand).
In democratic, secular New Zealand, the Islamic call to prayer is to be broadcast nationwide in commemoration of the victims, and non-Muslim women are being asked to honour the occasion by donning the hejab, a garment that is a symbol of the oppression of women under Islam, with Iranian protesters against its imposition currently in prison, and apparently suffering rape and flogging there. At the same time, references to Jesus have been removed from Parliamentary prayers in Wellington. As a secularist, I (Mary) can see an argument for removing religious observances from political institutions and national events, but broadcasting the call to prayer, and asking non-Muslim women to wear hejabs, makes no sense alongside this action.
The response to the atrocity in Britain, while not as florid, has also been extreme. In just the last few weeks, hundreds of Christians have been murdered by Muslims in terrorist attacks around the world. These attacks on non-Muslims, and Muslims not considered Muslims by the killers – 34,725 since 9/11 – go on month in month out, unceasingly. But where is there any response to those atrocities which remotely compares to that which the lone-wolf, apparently ethno-nationalist, Christchurch atrocity has elicited in the West? There has been near silence on those attacks which took place virtually at the same time as the Christchurch attack.
We are very worried that this horrific event is already being used to defame any criticism of Islam as “Islamophobic”. Let’s be clear, “Islamophobia” is not, and never has been, a legitimate concept, and we now desperately need to repudiate it as dangerous nonsense. How about Christianityophobia, Zionismophobia, human rightsophobia, Nazismophobia, Hinduismophobia, secular democracyophobia – or Kuffarophobia for goodness’ sake (though that one is actually a reality of course) – the whole idea is absolutely ludicrous. Sticking the word “phobia” on the end of a word representing an ideology or set of ideas, thereby suggesting that you are mentally impaired (or morally reprehensible) even to examine or debate those ideas, is unconscionable, or should be, in any free society – and in this case, it seems to us, completely calculated. How did the word “Islamophobia” ever get accepted as having any legitimacy? We can only assume as a result of fear of Islam (which as we know is not unfounded).
The current standard definition of Islamophobia is “Dislike of, or prejudice against, Muslims or Islam, especially as a political force.”. This deliberately conflates human beings and ideology – something which we’re sure you agree should never be done – in order to close down debate on the ideology of Islam, which we must, of course, be free to examine, criticise, debate, and even condemn, as we see fit, like any other set of ideas. And anyone who doesn’t more than dislike political Islam is a great deal worse than a fool – when we can we see what it does in the countries living under Sharia control (and is already doing in the West). The OIC refused to sign up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because Islam doesn’t recognise human rights. So they confected their own Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, which, it goes without saying, doesn’t protect human rights as we understand them at all. (And yet Saudi Arabia, one of the greatest human rights abusers in the world, has chaired the UN Human Rights Committee – with our government’s shameful support). And have people forgotten the centuries of hideous wars, slaughter, persecution and torture inflicted by theocracy on mediaeval Europe, and elsewhere?
To be perfectly frank, the point is being reached where ordinary people like us, with very serious, and perfectly legitimate, concerns about political Islam, and its codification in the Sharia, will have no choice but to “be Spartacus”, and say yes, I’m an “Islamophobe”- because I believe in human rights, and therefore condemn political Islam and the Sharia, which discriminate against, and oppress, women, children, gays, apostates, blasphemers, and “dhimmi” Christians and Jews and other “Kuffar”. And because they endorse forced and child marriage, wife-beating, rape in marriage, and slavery etc. etc.. And because where Sharia rules it frequently executes gays, apostates, blasphemers, and women or girls judged to have committed adultery (who have often actually been raped), or exerts totalitarian control by means of the threat of those barbaric penalties. And also because Islam’s scriptural incitement of violence against Jews is stoking a shocking rise in antisemitic violence against Jews in Europe.
Such a protest against the inflicting of the the false concept of “Islamophobia” on us all to silence criticism of Islam would be entirely justified. And the longer freedom of speech on this vital issue is suppressed, the worse the eventual consequences will be for everyone. You can support individual human rights, or you can support theocracy – you can’t do both. https://youtu.be/3zoYoxBl9yo
We cannot let this happen. We must maintain and defend our freedom of speech, which has already been shockingly constrained, and must be re-established. People have rights, ideas have none, and, as Maajid Nawaz of the Quilliam Foundation has affirmed (as a result of which we understand that he has received much abuse, and some threats), “No human being is beneath dignity, and no idea is above scrutiny.”. (Regarding our reference above to “Muslim rape gangs”, we use that phrase advisedly, because, as Maajid Nawaz has observed, the overwhelming preponderance of members of these shocking and widespread gangs are Muslim, mostly of Pakistani origin, but some from the much smaller Somali Muslim population. And the same phenomenon is in evidence in Europe, involving Muslims from other Islamic countries.)
We will be very grateful if you can give some serious consideration to this issue, and commit yourself to the repudiation of the concept of “Islamophobia”, and the defence of freedom of speech – our foundational human right. This is essential in the interests of our whole society, including, of course, many Muslims, and others, suffering from coercion and abuse as a result of aspects of political Islam and the Sharia.