Islam a Threat to Humankind
Political Islam versus Secularism
Islam against Islam is an interesting topic. The irony of a believer
criticizing the beliefs is provocative. I am not a Moslem. I am
an atheist. However, I have lived Islam; I have first hand experiences
of Islam. I was born within a religious conflict: a religious mother
and an atheist father. From childhood I began to see the flaws,
the restrictions, the misogyny, the backwardness, the dogma, the
superstition, and uncritical nature of Islam vis-à-vis the
enlightenment, the freethinking spirit of atheist thinking.
I became an
atheist at the age of 12.
of the Islamic Republic of Iran after a failed revolution laid bare
many other appalling and cruel dimensions of Islam, which we later
came to use the term political Islam. It was not only dogma or superstition
anymore. It was torture, summary executions, stonings, amputations,
and the rape of 9 year olds in the name of marriage. Another face
of Islam? Perhaps. But a real one. Millions in Iran, Afghanistan,
Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, Nigeria, and Iraq are experiencing this
true face of Islam daily.
With the coming
to power of the Islamic Republic in Iran we began to witness a revival
of the Islamic movement as a political movement, i.e. the emergence
of political Islam. I prefer not to talk about this movement as
fundamentalism, but rather political Islam. We are talking here
about a contemporary political movement, which refers to Islam as
its ideological framework and vision. It is not necessarily a doctrinaire
and scholastic movement, but it embodies different and varied trends
of Islamic tendencies. It is a political movement seeking hegemony
and a share of power in the Middle East, North Africa and in Islamist
communities. This movement embodies Islamists who in the fight against
secularization of society in the West, hypocritically defend the
freedom of clothing, so as to fight against the banning of veil
in schools and for under-aged girls and those in Iran, Afghanistan,
Iraq and Algeria who throw acid at unveiled women, cut them with
knives and razors, and who lash them for not observing the dress
code. They are part and parcel of one movement. This movement is
a threat to humankind. A movement, against which all freedom loving,
equality seeking human beings must take a firm and uncompromising
Islam may imply finding ways and means to reform Islam, to resort
to so-called more moderate interpretations of Islam. As a personal,
private belief this may be possible, as a political movement is
not. What we are experiencing today, the movement, which has terrorized
the world, what we have become first hand victims of, is not capable
of being reformed. We are dealing with a political movement, which
resorts to terror as the main means of achieving power. My experience
in Iran explicitly shows that the only way to deal with this movement
is to relegate it into private spheres, cut its hands from the state,
education and societal sphere. To do this we need to build a strong
movement both in the region and worldwide.
In this brief
time I have, I like to focus on few points, which in my opinion
can be the basis for an international united front against political
Islam in order to make the world a better, more humane and safer
Defense of secularization
and de-religionization of society. This banner has historically
proven successful in the fight against the church and now against
the gains of political Islam. The voice for secularism has become
loud and clear in Iran. There is a strong movement for secularization
of society in a country under the siege of political Islam for 25
years. We should unequivocally raise this banner, in the West, and
in the East. We should recreate the spirit of the 18th century,
the enlightenment, the French Revolution, in a contemporary manner.
The fight for
universality of human rights and women's rights is an important
cause. In the past two decades the Islamists were largely helped
by the proponents of cultural relativism. The Western academia,
media and governments by defending this racist concept turned a
blind eye to the atrocities committed by this misogynist and reactionary
movement, not only in the so-called "Moslem world", but
in Islamic communities in the West. Apparently, there are some rights
that are suitable for Western women and not appropriate for women
like me, who are born in the other part of the world.
The veil, sexual
apartheid, and second class citizenship became justified by reverting
to this arbitrary concept of "their culture". A violation
that felt appalling if committed against a Western woman, was a
justifiable action committed against a woman born under Islam. This
double standard, this sheer violation of humane principles must
be stopped. I must admit that it has been pushed back a great deal.
We have fought hard against it for more than one decade.
Defense of children's
rights must be extended to areas where so-called religious beliefs
are concerned. Veiling of under-aged girls must be banned, not only
in schools, but altogether. Veiling of children is a clear violation
of their universal rights. Just as we fight for obligatory education
for children, abolition of child labor, banning of corporal punishment,
we should fight for banning of veiling of under-aged girls. This
demand has the same significance as other basic children's rights.
The veil deprives a child from a happy normal life, from a coherent
and healthy physical and mental development, stamping their life
as a different being by segregating them. It defines two sets of
gender roles and imposes it upon children who have no way of protecting
themselves and demanding equality and freedom. Children have no
religion; they are only by accident born into a religious family.
The society has a duty to protect them and uphold their rights as
equal human beings.
religious schools is another important arena. This too is an important
principle of a secular state, and protection of children's rights.
Children must be free from official religious teachings and dogmas.
Religion's hands must be eradicated from children's lives. The new
legislation in France, regarding banning of conspicuous religious
symbols in public schools and institutions, is an important step
but insufficient. In order to safeguard children's rights, religious
schools must be abolished. Otherwise, we create religious ghettos,
isolate children from religious families from the society, and condemn
them to a life in isolation. The new legislation is the easiest
way out for the state. But we cannot remain indifferent to these
kids' lives. The society and the state have the duty to protect
their rights. They should be allowed to integrate in the society,
to go to school like any other kid, and to be free from meddling
of religion in their lives, at least until they are still children.
of the right to unconditional freedom of expression and criticism
is one of the important pillars of a free society and freethinking.
The right to criticize Islam is an important means to fight religious
predominance in society. We need and must criticize Islam relentlessly,
without the fear of being beheaded in countries under the siege
of Islam, or being called racist in the West. Islamophobia is a
new term created by Islamists, or their apologists in order to stop
a growing critical movement against Islam and Islamic movements.
This is as hypocritical as it is regressive.
I like to call
upon all of you here to recognize the importance and the urgency
of demanding secularization and de-religionization of the state
and society, unconditional freedom of expression and criticism,
recognition of women's equality and universality of their rights,
banning of child veiling, and abolition of religious schools. In
order to build a better, safer, freer and a more egalitarian world,
we must unequivocally raise this banner.