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David Aaronovitch Reply to Douglas Murray on Islamophobia

Islamophobia definition


I am not generally a fan of David Aaronovitch and I couldn’t disagree more with him that Douglas Murray combines “intellectual and street-fighting skills” but other than that his following article, originally published in the Jewish Chronicle, is spot-on and hits a number of points we have made in the past as well.

An unhelpful approach

By David Aaronovitch (The Jewish Chronicle Online)

Two weeks ago in the JC the writer Douglas Murray described the idea of Islamophobia as “a crock”. Douglas and I have shared a few platforms over the years and I have a respect for his combination of intellectual and street-fighting skills.

So it is with disappointment and trepidation that I take issue with him here. He is, I think, completely wrong. And here’s why.

It is evident that some people dislike Muslims. It is also evident that some people, acting on this dislike, fail to discriminate between aspects of Islam that they claim to disapprove of and Islam in general. This is why many mosques are being attacked in this country, without any obvious relation to anything specific that is being said or done in those particular mosques. If these were, say, black churches, synagogues or Hindu temples we would probably not hesitate to describe such attacks as racist or antisemitic in nature. Nor would we have much difficulty in recognising movements of people who broadly give support to such actions as being racists or antisemites.

Yet when the static targets are mosques and the moving targets are Muslims, it would be somehow wrong – buying into “the crock” – to describe the attacks as “Islamophobic”. Says Douglas.

Why? Allow to me to distill his argument. First, there cannot be such a thing as Islamophobia because Muslims are neither a race nor a people. Second, a phobia is an irrational fear and fear of Muslims is not irrational (because there are more Salafis than Ahmmadis). In other words, Islam is a religion that is not like other religions.

Third, even if there were such a thing as Islamophobia, its definition is contested and therefore it is unhelpful to talk about it. Fourth, there may actually be such a thing, but there isn’t much of it around and the accusation of Islamophobia is being misused to close down legitimate criticism of aspects of Islam. And finally, insofar as there is something that might be called Islamophobia it is a reactive response to what Muslims themselves do. If they didn’t do those things then it wouldn’t exist. Which in any case it probably doesn’t.

Some of this is, whatever Douglas says, very familiar. Before the race theories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, antisemitism (or Jew hatred) was not racial. The problem wasn’t with the Jews themselves but with what they obstinately believed. If they abandoned Judaism they could become good people. So it is quite possible to posit an Islamophobia which corresponds to pre-racial antisemitism. The fact that, in this society, most Muslims are brown, can give this hatred a racial dimension.

Now if we agree that most British Muslims are indeed law-abiding, and pacific (as Douglas agrees), this means that attacks on their mosques occasioned by fear and hatred are quintessentially “phobic” and not rational.

Nor is the experience of having a term misused a good reason for rejecting the term itself. It is instead a good reason for arguing against the misuse. Imagine someone in Hackney wishing to criticize the exclusionary way the strictly Orthodox there seek to use new localised planning laws. If such a critic is wrongly accused of antisemitism would we regard that as grounds for dumping the idea of antisemitism itself? I think not.

As to “they bring it on themselves”, well maybe some few do. But the people who then do the supplying of “it”: the attacking and scaring and intimidation of ordinary Muslims for being Muslims – the EDL foot-soldiers and the BNP and the rhetorical fringes of UKIP – well, we’ve seen them before. We see them now. We understand their atavistic urge. Whatever we call it, we who think about it know what it is.

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  • Chameleon_X

    “So, loonwatch, what is your position on the American Constitution in light of these beliefs?”

    You still have not provided even ONE fact from Islam on how the American Constitution conflicts with sharia law. So how can we possibly comment with no facts or logic? Where’s the beef?

    With respect to what the ideal state would look like, I think the Quran makes it abundantly clear that the state is not supposed to be a warden over people’s private morality, religiously policing the community like in Saudi Arabia or other countries. There is no precedent for this even by Muhammad himself, since he was following the repeated command he was given in the Quran NOT to be a religious warden of the people, but rather just a WARNER.

    Finally, the Quran actually exhorts both Jews and Christians to use their own holy books — not the Quran — as their personal and community moral code. Quite ironically, this actually goes far beyond the restrictive limits of democracy as practiced today, where there is only one moral code and one system of punishment permitted for people of all religions. This is further backed up by the practice of Muhammad himself, who gave judgments in Jewish community disputes based on what the Torah stipulates, NOT based on what the Quran stipulates. Because they asked him to be the independent judge of their disputes, he resolved their disputes according to their own Jewish criteria, NOT sharia law.

    So tell me again, how does your obsession with your favorite mullah fit in to this picture as being relevant somehow? Based on what authority does this mullah you so adore (and hate) have the power to contradict Islam?

  • The main cause of Islamophobia, which is what this post is about, is not so-called “hate-sites” such as Jihad Watch, or “loons” for that matter, but what Muslims themselves do and say, such as Zaid Shakir, an American iman, who believes Sharia is superior to the American Constitution. And Muslims such as Yusuf Al-Qaradawi who says:

    “Secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society. For Muslim societies, the acceptance of secularism means something totally different. As Islam is a comprehensive system of worship (Ibadah) and legislation (Shari’ah), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari’ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions.”

    “It is indeed a false claim that Shari’ah is not proper to the requirements of the present age. The acceptance of a legislation formulated by humans means a preference of the humans’ limited knowledge and experiences to the divine guidance: “Say! Do you know better than Allah?” (Qur’an, 2:140)”

    He also says: “Whoever reads …. the books of Islamic jurisprudence, in its different schools of thought, will find that they comprise all of the affairs of life, from the jurisprudence of purity, to that of the family, society, and the state.”

    Sharia is not a pick-and-choose menu. He “rejects the partitioning of its rulings and teachings,” And “Shariah cannot be amended to conform to changing human values and standards,”

    These views, these injunctions, are not the view of some minority crank.

    Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is listed fourteenth out of 500 of the world’s influential Muslim figures, according to the most recent study released by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center and the Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.

    And, Syed Mawdudi the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, the South Asian Islamist party, who said: “merely believing in God is not enough. Muslims have a sacred duty, wherever you are, in whichever country you live, you must strive to change the wrong basis of government, and seize powers to rule and make laws from those who do not fear God”.

    Mawdudi believed “…. [an] ideal Islamic state, private and public life would be inseparable”. In this respect it would bear “a kind of resemblance to the fascist and communist states”.

    So, loonwatch, what is your position on the American Constitution in light of these beliefs?

  • Chameleon_X

    “What you say now looks like an excuse to avoid discussing issues that are too difficult for you and your colleagues at Loonwatch.”

    Au contraire, once again. I am waiting … and waiting for you to engage in a discussion and to accept my challenge to your most fundamental views against Islam. And it won’t be difficult for me in the least. Face it, you’re just scared shitless that I am going to turn your worldview upside down and to start a bonfire with all of your rotting trash for the entire world to see. Islamophobe cowards like you always choose humiliation over defending their empty convictions when they recognize a worthy opponent. I can smell your panic from here. You are just another pathetic statistic proving the rule, and yet another notch on my belt of Islamophobe cowards and failures. You just don’t know it yet. However, you can bet that your zombie faithful watching you with your pants all the way down right now sure do!

    Like I said, the fun never stops. Please do come back again.

  • Chameleon_X

    “You should be more concerned about that than whether Robert Spencer knows the correct meaning of dhimmi.”

    How funny then that you too criticize the baneful existence of “dhimmis” in Muslim-majority countries, per your post above. Since you clearly did not learn the incorrect definition from Robert Spencer, then how about you tell us what the correct definition of “dhimmi” is?

    “Points you ignore ….

    # The tribal nature of Islam

    # The views of American Muslims regarding the US constitution and the teachings of al-Qaradawi (fourteenth out of 500 of the world’s influential Muslim figures, according to Georgetown University) and Syed Mawdudi”

    We are still waiting on just ONE fact from Islam demonstrating this monstrous “tribal nature of Islam”, your alleged evils of “brotherhood” and “sisterhood” across a very diverse humanity notwithstanding.

    We also seem to have missed your reputable survey data on how American Muslims view the Constitution. In contrast to your utter lack of statistically relevant data, surveys in Britain, for example, show that British Muslims are more loyal to Britain and its founding principles than non-Muslim Britons. How about them apples? I am sure that reputable survey data would be nearly the same in the U.S., and I would be happy to challenge you on this absurd claim of yours too. By the way, do you even have any clue what “sharia law” is and how exactly it conflicts with the Constitution, if at all? Are you saying that you are pro-murder or something by being against all sharia law?

    As for your continued sadomasochistic infatuation with your favorite mullahs, I think that speaks entirely for itself. The vast majority of Muslims worldwide couldn’t care less what someone on a foreign politician’s payroll thinks, and I don’t care what any religious leader on a politician’s payroll thinks. As far as I am concerned, those leaders are completely compromised without compelling proof to the contrary.

    “However it is a shame that Islam in all this time has not been able to eradicate honour killing or FGM. I suspect again it is to do with the tribal ethos of Islam itself.”

    Correction. It is a shame that you are not aware of the hundreds of Muslim scholars who have publicly condemned honor killings and FGM. If you don’t believe me, then I would be happy to embarrass you with the link – just say the word. It is also a shame that you are willfully ignorant of the fact that regional variables explain almost all the prevalence of honor killings, and that those regional variables provably predate Islam. You are indeed right that honor killings are highly correlated with and even caused by tribal culture. However, the “tribe” is genetically defined, not religiously defined, and it is rooted in a local culture, not any global Islamic culture. If the latter were the case, then how do you explain away the near statistical absence of honor killing in many Muslim-majority countries?! Finally, it is a disgraceful shame on you that you have still not provided even ONE fact from Islam to support your bald assertion that the crimes of honor killings and FGM are advocated or condoned in any way by Islam. Instead of relying on facts, you rely on nothing but suspicion, as you just embarrassingly conceded. Why? Because you are a bigot. You insist on insulting someone’s identity without any fact-based reason to do so.

    “I am going to respond to those Spencer links (but it will take a few days). This will no doubt please your fellow loonwatcher Chameleon whose idea of discussion seems to be to shout as loudly as possible. He also seems to have swallowed a dictionary of ranters favourite insults and accusations.”

    And we all look forward to your very first fact-based argument on this web site if you do properly respond to those articles. Your idea of discussion is to avoid all discussion and facts that crush your conclusions. Why are you so anti-free speech? Why not instead come celebrate your “love” of “Liberty”, discussion and free speech with me? Live up to your chosen name instead of the name you truly deserve, LibertyPhobe Bigot.

    Oh, and by the way, “ranting” is making endless claims of wild opinion you can’t cash, which is exactly what you are doing. I stand behind all of my claims, whereas you avoid all rebuttals to yours. Moreover, my entire focus is on your claims, NOT mine. If you think swallowing a dictionary might help you, then go for it. Idiocy has no bounds, and we all love the entertainment that your idiocy so generously provides.

    Finally, since you are asserting that my comments are copies of “favorite insults and accusations”, I will add yet another challenge to your list of challenges to run away from: Prove it. I will then enjoy proving in my rebuttal that every “insult” and “accusation” you object to is fully justified by the facts. Your pathetically predictable ad hominem diversion is hereby noted and dismissed as completely irrelevant to your vacuous claims in question. What is relevant is your absolutely shameful avoidance of debate, particularly with respect to the claims you are making, along with the fundamental conclusion of hate and “Islamdunnit” hysteria that your web sites promote.

  • I didn’t miss anything. I was drawing attention to the points you had chosen to ignore.

    How come not many posts ago you were willing examine the miniscule number of selected links LibertyPhile recently made to the “hate site”, Jihad Watch, which in my opinion covered fair or reasonable reportage!!!

    What you say now looks like an excuse to avoid discussing issues that are too difficult for you and your colleagues at loonwatch.

  • Chameleon_X

    “You have ignored completely many of the points I have made”

    LibertyPhobe, the problem is that what you call “points” are just vacuous claims. You are just ranting opinions without supporting facts. Sorry, but a conclusion does not an argument make.

    For example, here is yet another grossly absurd claim of yours with ZERO facts or logic behind it:

    “The statement that Spencer makes regarding Muhammad’s experience as a warrior is strictly correct even by Danios’ own analysis.”

    I would love to hear you stumble your way through that analysis. We are all ears.

    As for honor killing, if you had studied the data properly — or had referenced any data whatsoever — you would understand that this is a highly regional phenomenon that easily crosses cultural and religious boundaries in said regions. Virtually all of the correlation with honor killing that you assert against Muslims is actually explained by regional variables, not religious variables. If you would like to be embarrassed by these facts some more, then be my guest. I have already covered this ground elsewhere, and my copy-paste fingers stand at the ready. But let me guess, you will just run away again with your tail between your legs, as usual, instead of engaging with actual facts?

    “Because of its huge size India still has a very low per head economic performance, but it does have a thriving and rapidly developing modern industrial sector.”

    The first part of this sentence is your acknowledgement that Ilisha completely crushed your conclusion. And the second part is your flimsy straw man counter-assertion as a rebuttal, which applies to just about every country in the world these days, including Saudi Arabia. Don’t you realize that there is almost always some “industrial sector” in each non-agrarian country somewhere that is “rapidly developing” and “modern”?

    “Saying what you want and ignoring facts is something I can very easily accuse you of”

    That is the most juvenile parroting and finger-pointing I have heard all week, especially since it is so obviously false. I emphasize yet again, in all of your verbose posts here, there is NOT ONE single fact from Islam in support of your claims against Islam. Is this your pathetic standard of debate — a fact-free parroting of propaganda? Quite surprisingly, you supposedly do have some mysterious standard of debate, per this comment, of which I would love to hear more:

    “Given the standard of debate, and some of the comments, I have to say it doesn’t really bother me if I am welcome here or not.”

    Au contraire, you are most welcome here indeed. I love to publicly humiliate you, your web sites, your zombie followers, and your hate agenda, and to do so immortally on the Internet as your record of shame. It’s a package deal that is simply too irresistible to pass up. And I will continue to do so every chance I get until you step up to the plate and accept my trivial challenge to your views. The fun never stops. Please do come back again!

  • Just a few quick points, which even if you don’t publish them you might see.

    Saying what you want and ignoring facts is something I can very easily accuse you of as well as having an agenda. Think about that, even if it is only for a nano-second.

    How do you know I haven’t studied the Spencer links you gave? I am busy too, though not preparing desserts. Perhaps I have studied them.

    I’m surprised that Jordan has laws based on the Napoleonic code as it was created by the British. And if I recall correctly French law is inclined to take passion into account, somewhat different from the cool planning of an honour killing. Also if the Muslim figure is not 91%, what is it? 81% 71%?

    The statement that Spencer makes regarding Muhammad’s experience as a warrior is strictly correct even by Danios’ own analysis. The clash he has with Spencer is to do with interpretation and emphasis. (In any case, I think biographies of Muhammad prepared 100+ plus years after he lived contain a lot of myth and propaganda)

    One of the links is to a list of accusations some concerning him mixing with people you, loonwatch, don’t like.

    Because of its huge size India still has a very low per head economic performance, but it does have a thriving and rapidly developing modern industrial sector. The other factor regarding India which you don’t mention is that it is a functioning democracy.

    You have ignored completely many of the points I have made, and I note especially the one about Spencer’s interview with an imam where the imam admits Spencer knows more about the Koran that he, the imam, does.

    Given the standard of debate, and some of the comments, I have to say it doesn’t really bother me if I am welcome here or not.

  • Tighe McCandless

    It would seem that you probably can’t respond anymore, but I find that irrelevant, so here it goes.

    From Merriam-Webster:

    “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance”

    “a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion,” which sounds a little more like your definition, however they quote from the World English Dictionary’s definition as well:

    “a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, esp. on religion, politics, or race”

    Cambridge Dictionaries:

    “a person who has strong, unreasonable ideas, esp. about race or religion, and who thinks anyone who does not have the same beliefs is wrong.”

    Ad nauseum. They do not mention professionalism on the topic, which was your original claim. Normally, I would be accepting of the print dictionary over the Internet, but this is so basic that I felt it was unnecessary. As for intolerant…

    The Free Dictionary:

    “Unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions, practices, or beliefs, especially religious beliefs.”

    Merriam-Webster, more significantly:

    “unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters” and more damningly “unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights” (and where fans of Spencer are all too eager to deny Muslims basic rights by their own admission, or even at times, their basic humanity; men like Ali Sina – who goes so far as to call practicing Muslims “evil,” by the way – show that even talking heads are capable of spouting off this kind of thing).

    Cambridge again:
    “Disapproving of or refusing to accept people, behavior, or ideas that are different from your own”

    The definition is also clear-cut. Your question should be phrased as, ‘To what extent can we call behavior and discussion intolerant?’

    “Perhaps we are all bigots.”

    Not bigots, no. But we are all intolerant in some fashion, because it’s an age-old evolutionary mechanism of being distrustful of those different from one’s group (usually a small clan); it needn’t be based on skin color and is explanatory of persecution in other ways. I am intolerant of the following:

    -Those that deny scientific consensuses (evolution, climate change, etc.)
    -Those that engage in conspiracy theories
    -Bigots (whether it is based on race/ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexuality and the like)

    I have no problem with criticism of Islam’s history and tenets…as long as it does not demonize Muslims. Actions of individual Muslims can, and should, be called out if unconscionable but it is not the majority of them. If it is wrong to speak with such a broad brush about other groups, then it is the same for Muslims.

    Indeed, speaking of biases: rather quick to simply assume the possibility I was a Muslim, no? I’m not. I’m not an atheist per se – I guess I hold the possibility of divine power is possible – but I guess it’s close enough for government work.

  • Chameleon_X

    What’s the matter, LibertyPhobe, are you really that scared of me? Phobia got your tongue? Or is my Liberty too much for you to handle? Why can’t you defend the most fundamental conclusion of your hate sites, that Islam is the root cause of unjust violence by so called “Muslims”? I am not even asking you to defend this absurd claim. All I am asking for is ONE measly verse, ONE proven fact in support of it. Are you that pathetic that you can’t even come up with ONE?

    But, hey, while you wallow in embarrassment, there is one comment of yours I couldn’t agree more with, which emphasizes how utterly compromised institutionalized religious leaders are by the political motives that fund them:

    “The Saudis make sure the religious establishment is very well funded, and they in turn are not going to spurn all that money.”

    Yes, indeed, like any investor, the Saudis will make sure to extract the required ROI from their investment in the “religious establishment”, and that is why this establishment has little to no relevance to the vast majority of Muslims. Given your overt acknowledgment of how politically compromised they and other religious leaders are, I always find it so funny how Islamophobe zombies like you blindly follow the same type of compromised individuals, like the terrorist-linked Robert Spencer, who is quite happily whoring out his services to the political lobbyists that fund him.

    It is even more hilarious how Islamophobes like you always love to hide behind the coattails of their favorite mullah on some politician’s payroll. Your mullah’s arguments are so attractive and seductive to you when they support your hate, and yet you love nothing more than to whip and tongue lash them with abandon like they’re your misogynist pigs. I find all of this sick, twisted behavior of Islamophobes peculiarly similar to, even reminiscent of, extreme sadomasochistic fetishes.

    But, hey, don’t let my inconvenient exposé
    deter you from enjoying your delicious fantasy while you debase yourself in front of us, obsessing over your “distinctly dressed” and “bearded” mullah. There is nothing in Islam that prevents us from enjoying that show. Just don’t try to indulge the hopeless fantasy that you are actually making a reasoned argument. Unfortunately for you, tolerating your lies is not permitted in Islam. I promise to keep reminding you of that here until you can summon enough dignity to accept my trivial challenge to your views.

  • (1) Islam is tribalism on steroids. Followers call one another “brother”, “sister”. It has distinct styles of dress for men and women. And beards (the men that is). It treats those who are not Muslims as inferior. It has dhimmis. There is a land of peace, where Islam rules, and a land of war, where Islam is not yet on top. It has a holy city where non-Muslims may not go. A Muslim woman may only marry a Muslim man. There is death if you leave the tribe.

    Islam was created as a solution to the tribal conflicts of dark ages Arabia. Muhammad invented a supra-tribe which then spread from Arabia by military conquest.

    (2) Wealth in Saudi Arabia comes from the top, the royal family control it. It does not come from the labours and enterprise of common people. The Saudis make sure the religious establishment is very well funded, and they in turn are not going to spurn all that money. That is why there is no shortage of imams and religious bigots in that country.

    (3) Yes, in a free country like the US if someone thinks the constitution is wrong and needs to be replaced or changed dramatically he/she is entitled to say so. But we have people like Zaid Shakir who, in my opinion, should put up or shut up. Why doesn’t he say clearly and unambiguously what Muslims should strive for regarding the US Constitution. (That would be an interesting article for loowatch.) I’m sure you are familiar with the views of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and Syed Mawdudi the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami.

    And if he is so keen on a Sharia replacement for the Constitution why doesn’t he go and live in Iran, or Saudi Arabia or Syria or Pakistan …. where he can experience Sharia in action.

    (4) “…. So if that’s your approach, then I’ll wish you well in the Cult of Spencer” There you go again!!!

  • Tighe McCandless

    “A bigot, by the way, is someone who knows nothing about what he is criticising.”

    This is simply not true.

    A bigot merely means someone who is intolerant – to varying degrees – to members that are not part of their chosen ‘in group,’ whatever that happens to be. No more and no less. No definition includes how qualified someone is when discussing the matter.

    Indeed, the best bigots are those who manage to hide behind mountains of data in a way that makes them look very intelligent. Men like Jared Taylor, of American Renaissance, for example, are very good at twisting statistics and will provide many, many links, but that does not necessarily mean that said information is good or that their agenda is not well understood. Taylor can doll it up however he likes but there’s no denying that one may really boil his argument down to, “Everyone non-white (except eastern Asians) is genetically inferior [which he essentially says as much],” and while he never calls for out and out violence against them, he gives his readers every impression that it it would be permissible for them to do so.

    Climate change skeptics are very similar. Despite the consensus of the scientific community being overwhelmingly in favor on the issue, they will look for any scrap of information they can (or outright fabricate, as turned out to be the case, to use an example, as the supposed leakage of papers ‘confirming’ that the entire thing was a fraud by Fox News some years ago; something that turned out to be false and they quietly just ‘forgot’ about). Not necessarily ‘bigots’ in the traditional sense of the world, but the utter mistrust of scientific intellectualism and the process of consensus-building is rather the same. It paints a vast conspiracy of those who wish to keep the ‘truth’ hidden.

  • Chameleon_X

    “That is what your religion teaches.”

    A bigot is someone who vilifies someone else’s identity or religion without facts to support those insults. In all of your verbosity, I could not see a single fact about what Islam actually teaches. Now isn’t that special?

    Back up your claim now or else I will gladly and quite accurately label you a bigot and ridicule you to boot. Take your pick. Oh, and feel free to invoke any of the “well-informed” people you mentioned whose opinions you so much respect. Let’s see how well their arguments hold up under some real heat. Before you step in too deep, I strongly advise that you ask yourself why these buffoons always run away from us when we challenge them to a debate. Why would they do that if their arguments were defensible and not just propaganda?

  • 1DrM

    Typical western ignorance, hypocrisy and stupidity in action. “libertyphile” indeed. Another graduate of the Robert Spencer institute of steer manure. Muslims are not like Westerners, crazy for power, whose motive is to dominate everybody else and who are very bad losers. History will judge them harshly, and rightly so.

  • Solid Snake

    Wow, excellent post Ilisha. And excellent summary also. Now I wont have to visit that site just to see what I have seen several times.

  • “You seem to be equating being a pious/observant Muslim with necessarily being rigid, intolerant and perhaps even violent.”

    I could add a few more points but that sums it up pretty well. That is what your religion teaches. It teaches other things as well, I know, and it teaches things which are contradictory, and dependent on context (as interpreted by humans, etc). And you have the huge burden of the hadith.

    Out of that mess you seem to have found an agreeable version which suits you and your surroundings in America. Good luck to you.

    Unfortunately a vast number of your fellow Muslims haven’t managed that trick. I won’t bother you with lots more examples.

    The LibertyPhile website has over 6000 links to news, analysis and comment about Islam and Muslims. The great majority (70%+) are links to reputable mainstream sources, such as the BBC, the Guardian, Reuters, AP, Al Jazerra, Daily Telegraph, the Independent, Huffington Post, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, International Herald Tribune (New York Times), National Post, Spiegel Online, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, national papers in Canada, and Australia, etc., etc., and even Harry’s Place and loonwatch(!!),

    You people at loonwatch are obsessed with Robert Spencer. I suggest you spend more time considering the 70%+

    You also seem to get a lot of your news from Islamophobia Watch (a site I also use). I know, for example, a swastika painted on a Mosque somewhere in England, is pretty nasty, and the culprits should be caught and punished, but in the general scheme of things you might do better to spend more time addressing the issues reported by the 70%+. Say, for example, the Taleban’s recent letter of justification for shooting a 16 year old girl because she wanted a modern education.

  • That’s one way of putting it.

    But, how do you define a good Muslim? And what is all this about not all Muslims being the same, which critics of Islam like myself are told again and again.

    Do you think the Saudis/Salifis are good Muslims? Would you like to live in Iran under an intolerant Shia theocracy? Are they good Muslims who destroy Christians and churches in Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt and Indonesia?

    And closer to home, the East London mosque and its hate preachers! Are they good Muslims?

  • We are told time and time again that not all Muslims are the same, which, in fact, is a view I agree with!!!!

    Some of those who have emigrated to the western world have managed to integrate (mainly by dropping some of their Islamic beliefs/practices) but a good many are still struggling.

    And, we have, to alarm us, the examples of Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Aceh province, etc, etc,.

    I’m not a pessimist. I think Islam will go the way of Christianity in the medium term. People will pick from it certain principles which are in tune with the 21st century but in practice reject/ignore most of it. Getting there may well be a bumpy ride!

    Also, I believe Islam will evetually be subject to the same historical analysis as Christianity has been and it will be recognised how much of it is a man-made (all of it in my opinion).

    In the longer term mankind will look back on the Abrahamic faiths as we look back on the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, with amusement, and sometimes horror.

  • (1) In my opinion, and judging by various surveys of Muslims in Europe, the problematic minority of Muslims is far greater than the problematic minority of Christians. You won’t find many like Terry Jones over here.

    Regarding the US my guess is that you have attracted better educated and pro western Muslims, and you have a lot fewer!

    (2) I’m all in favour of extremist Muslim hate preachers*. As long as they don’t actually tell people to be violent or break the law they can say whatever they like about western liberal ideas and the supremacy of Islam.

    They simply serve to show the mixed up and hopeless nature of Islam and how totally unsuited it is to the modern world.

    * The corollary of this is, of course, there is no restriction on non-violent criticism of such people and their beliefs.

  • “This is why many mosques are being attacked in this country, without any obvious relation to anything specific that is being said or done in those particular mosques.”

    No mosque should be physically attacked under any circumstances.

    But there is a problem. Some mosques do preach hatred of western and liberal ideas, the supremacy of Islam, (not that it might simply be a better religion, but supreme in the sense it must oppose and suppress its rivals) and foster behaviour inimical to their non-Muslim host communities.

    The famous East London mosque for example, that has an amazing record for hosting unpleasant anti-western speakers.

    Perhaps mosques should have a star system like hotels, 5-star if it is in the same class as the East London mosque to 1-star if it is one of Aaronovitch’s “harmless” establishments.

    Yes, I know it is a silly idea, but don’t kid yourselves that all mosques are blameless!

    I went to a funeral at one not long ago, and my wife who was upstairs in another room (of course) told me afterwards she was shocked by the material that Muslim children and their teachers had been pinning to the wall as examples of their work!

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    I agree, pretty boring.

    Unfortunately individuals like Murray get mileage out of such posts at times. I also didn’t expect a response by Aaronovitch which was good to see.

  • Pingback: David Aaronovitch Reply to Douglas Murray on Islamophobia | Islamophobia Today eNewspaper()

  • SarahAB

    It’s a very good piece. I remember reading a useful article by Hussein Ibish which noted why the term ‘Islamophobia’ was suboptimal but concluded, like DA, that we should focus on distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate uses of the term, rather than fret too much about semantics. The penultimate paragraph makes a particularly good point – antisemitism is certainly a contested term, partly because it can be seen to intersect with an idea (Zionism). Some people say they object to the term Islamophobia because it implies they cannot criticise Islam in the same way they might criticise another ideology or philosophy such as socialism. I do take that point, but also think that in practice many (not all) who are concerned by Islamophobia do accept reasoned critiques and also – important point – where they identify something as Islamophobic they are not saying people should not be allowed to say that. (I mean, sometimes some people are of course, but I have often seen Muslims accused of trying to censor just because they say they don’t like something.) Similarly criticism of Israel can become a vector for antisemitism – but need not be, and people who do see an intersection between opposition to Israel and antisemitism will *generally* not pounce on any criticism of Israel as antisemitic. (Though I noted the case of the Palestinian American sportsman who has been seen as suspect partly because he used the term ‘Nakba’!)

  • mindy1

    Well written and thought out 🙂

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