Ihsan

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Liberal-Leftist Islamophobia watch

A few recent examples:

An article by Michael Dickenson (who apparently lives in Turkey) published by Counterpunch on 9/11/07 extensively quotes OBL's recent video, and then concludes with the following:

Bin Laden ends his address by suggesting that Americans choose Islam as the 'alternative 'upright methodology' he mentioned, but I can hardly imagine the average citizen of America bowing down five times a day in the local mosque to pray in the direction of Mecca, stoning adulterers, and cutting off the hands of shoplifters.


Like the neo-cons Islamophobes, Dickenson pairs Islam with some of the worst stereotypes - and like the US media, he pairs the Islamic prayer with violence, further he insuniates that the "average citizen" could not possibly be a Muslim. Obviously he has no sense of American history, and the role that Islam has played in the past few decades in the lives of so many African-Americans (presumably not average enough American citizens for Dickenson, nor for White supremacists).

Another article (also in Counterpunch) by the same author helps further clarify his disdain:

There are at least five visible minarets (although more are obscured by apartment blocks), but the people passing below in the street the students in their school uniforms, youths in jeans and T shirts with gelled hair, hippie types, young couples strolling hand in hand, girls in slacks and tight jumpers with bare midriffs, sunglasses, dyed hair and make-up, walk past those in headscarves and long coats, even the occasional woman covered from head to toe in black, only her eyes visible, keeping her distance behind the bearded skull-capped husband, amber prayer beads twisting in his hand. A mélange of society, mixing together seemingly without pain.

And yet...

Only last year at the end of a three month course teaching at one of the many private English schools in Istanbul, as I congratulated the students on their progress, wishing them luck, one headscarfed woman refused to take my proffered handshake.

"I can't touch a man with my naked flesh," she explained. "It's against Islam."

Outraged, I turned to another headscarfed girl I'd already pressed palms with.


Yoginder Sikand who usually writes fairly insightful articles also could not escape this focus on women's clothing - about his recent visit to Iran, he writes:

I had expected to be greeted with swarms of somber-looking burkha clad women and grave-faced men sporting bushy beards—for that is what the media effectively reduces Iran to—


and a little further down the letter:

Some, obviously seeking to circumvent the law altogether, had streaked their hair golden and let it provocatively fall well below their scarves onto their faces. Others wore such tight fitting coats that they miserably (and probably deliberately) failed to perform their supposed function of concealing the outline of the body. Not a few sat at tables in the lobby heavily powdered and their eyebrows neatly plucked, puffing away at slender cigarettes along with their male companions. Sombre pictures of Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khameini and pious quotations from the Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali slung on the walls of the opulently decorated lobby
made for a surreal contrast.



I have discussed similar obsessions by Nir Rosen, and Juan Cole in a previous blog entry:

Nir Rosen:

In the wake of Israel’s 33-day war with Hizballah, the 24-year-old Islamic movement has become the most popular political party in the Middle East. Here’s why that shouldn’t worry us.”

So, why should the Islamic movement not worry “us?” Rosen gives several reasons, but what is with this “scantily clad” nonsense?:

“There were youths in trendy attire, girls in tight jeans with hair exposed and who had turned their Hizballah T-shirts into stylish form-fitting fashion statements. "

Juan Cole:

They are leveling the towns of the south altogether. They are hitting people who are not Muslim fascists.

(And how does he “prove” that those being bombed are not “Muslim fascists” - well, you see, the women are scantily clad: The pictures he has posted on that entry says it all! -ed)

It is the kind of place where they play the pop music of Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram in the nightclubs.


Meanwhile, the reactionary fraud As'ad Abu Khalil (pretending to be a leftist) had this to say on the first day of Ramadan:

Since I don't observe any religion, I will make sure to make people hungry throughout the day in the hope of breaking their fast prematurely. Enjoy.


As one of the comments said:

As'ad, you can't pretend to care for people Palestinians or Lebanese , those who bear the brunt of the Zionist (or Lebanese army) agression, or even Pakistanis, while denigrating the thing they hold dearest to their hearts.


Yoshie on her blog Critical Montages has some good related entries worth checking out:

Iran, Islam, and Modernism/Post-Modernism

Those who are the most implacably opposed to the Islamic Republic tend to be modernists who consciously or unconsciously think of the mythical West as the telos of humanity. The silliest section among them, such as the Worker-Communist Party of Iran, go so far as to say that the Iranians must change their alphabet from Farsi to Latin, adopt the English language as a "prevalent language of education and administration," and change Iran's calendar to the Western one, as if such changes had anything to do with liberation:


In another entry What do Socialists want?

Yoshie quotes Tariq Ali:

For socialists the task is clear: the Muslim communities must be defended against being made scapegoats, against repression, against the very widespread representation that terrorism is proper to Islam. All that must be energetically fought. But at the same time we must not close our eyes to the social conservatism which reigns in these communities, nor hide it. We have to try to win this people to our own ideas.


It is interesting to note that for Tariq Ali the task is not about self-determination, but rather, ultimately about "winning people to our own ideas" i.e. as I see it, playing the hearts and minds game - and not accepting a Muslim communitys' right to define our own traditions, goals, and modes of resistance.

1 comment(s):

  • I sat in a lecture in Leeds led by Tariq Ali some years ago, on the subject of the media representations of the first Iraq war. In an aside, he unashamedly affirmed his support for the banning of elections in Algeria "because that is better than Islamic fundamentalists in power". He has since allegedly reversed his views on this issue, but comments like this clearly indicate that - fundamentally - he is no friend of the Muslim world.

    By Anonymous Yakoub, at 9/16/2007 03:01:00 AM  

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