DEFEND EUROPA: WHY ATTACKING ISLAM IS A POOR TACTIC FOR NATIONALISTS


For those on the right of the political spectrum, it is as trendy today to criticise the Islamic faith as it is for those on the left to criticise bankers or ‘capitalists’. Despite the hysteria that can be found in many a far-right circle, there is in fact very little restriction on the extent to which one can criticise Islam and those who adhere to it, even if a few opponents may cry out in faux outrage. Long gone are the days when, like Salmon Rushdie, you could find yourself living under round the clock police protection for daring to refer to Mohammed in derogatory terms.

However, the accusation often levelled at those on the right who criticise Islam is that they have built up an boogeyman-like perception of the faith, as if it were to blame for all of their problems. It has to be said that this is not without foundation. When listening to some prominent voices on the right such as Geert Wilders or UKIP leadership hopeful Anne-Marie Walters, you could be forgiven for getting the impression that Islam is organised and conspiratorial on a par with freemasonry.

This is of course a false assertion. Islam is not an omnipotent, omnipresent force through which the Muslim leaders of the Middle-East are somehow manipulating the actions of our naive western politicians. Notwithstanding that this would simply offer too much credit to our political leaders, it is also to assume that Islamic leaders and Muslims in general have the intellectual wherewithal to influence our politics to such a degree. That’s not to say they’re stupid or that the intent isn’t there; they’re not and it is. But there is not a political leader or group in all the world, of all faiths and none, who don’t chance their arm at influencing foreign affairs to better suit their aims.

Furthermore, to suggest that there is a secretive Islamic conspiracy to “Islamise the west” is quite frankly preposterous. To claim such a conspiracy exists and is succeeding is to excuse the shortcomings of our own faiths and cultures far too lightly. If Islam is spreading throughout the west, it’s because those native to the  Occident are failing to counter it with their own arguments in favour of their own cultures and faiths, or because they have lost the confidence of the people who claim to be part of said systems.

Do western politicians give Muslims a free pass, where many other faiths and groups may be pushed back? Yes, of course, but this is born out of a misplaced desire to atone for colonial guilt or to curry favour with the influential, anti-European lobby groups and donors, not because they have been won over or otherwise tricked by the persuasive arguments of the cunning Imams. Does the media paint Islam in a favourable light more so than native cultures and faiths? Again, the answer is yes, but the reasons for this are largely the same. The pro-Islam journalists don’t call by the Mosque on their way home each evening; they don’t secretly face Mecca and bow their heads 5 times a day. In fact, many a liberal journalist probably find much of the Islamic faith rather distasteful.

Besides, the evidence for this Islamic master plan simply isn’t there. They do not possess what is necessary to control a nation; they don’t own banks; they don’t own media outlets; they don’t own tech companies; they actually supply very little of the west’s oil and they have relatively few elected representatives in European nations. Of course, this doesn’t prevent the far-right from taking isolated incidents and blowing them out of proportion – veiled pun intended – such as a Saudi consortium purchasing a few percent of Twitter’s shares, or London having a Muslim mayor.

Thus far, we have demonstrated the invalidity of the argument, but as with any other political position the evidence and facts can be twisted to support either point of view. There is also a strong case for those on the right to do this, as it is much more acceptable to slander Islam than it is to, say, discuss the fact that those of African descent commit a disproportionate amount of crime in the west. Nevertheless, this is a tactic that should be avoided by nationalism as a movement, for it is both easily dismissed cliche and a deflection from the real issues.

Consider the argument that Islam must reform, that a more moderate brand of Islam should be adhered to in the west to better suit our liberal sensibilities. By taking such a position, the argument then becomes about the nuances of an Abrahamic faith, as opposed to the issues of immigration and integration. It is an abstract position that has many difficulties, not to mention the fact that it’s a wholly unrealistic demand of the vast majority of Sunni Muslims, who see only Islam or infidelity with no grey areas in between. Added to the fact that European liberals will engage in a constant barrage of accusations of persecution and discrimination, the entire argument can be deconstructed just as quickly as it’s spoken.

Furthermore, it presents mixed messages to the Muslim migrant, who is now unsure as to whether you want him in your country at all, whether the west is multicultural or assimilationist, or what sort of Islam is acceptable to the host population. It leaves too much room for doubt as to what position the right is actually taking. It’s a message with grey areas left for both opponents and Muslims themselves to challenge and debate.

Surely, a less disruptive position would be to say that every man or woman is free to practise the faith of their native land, provided it is in that native land. Why should Frenchmen or Swedes concern themselves with what faith is practised in Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh? Why is it the preserve of the European to demand immigrants come here, but then relinquish their faith and become like the host population? Practises that seem barbaric to us, such as those legislated under Sharia law, may be celebrated by the vast majority of another country, as we can see in many an Arabic land. Therefore, it is not such an extreme position to say that a Muslim should be free to practise this faith in a Muslim country.

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  1. "Furthermore, to suggest that there is a secretive Islamic conspiracy to “Islamise the west” is quite frankly preposterous."

    Where have you been living the last 30 years? Of course there is no conspiracy they are blatantly telling us they are Islamist the west. You sound like a member of the Bush family. The next thing you will tell us is Islam is a religion of peace.

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