Quote of the day, STWC

  • From: "muslim-news.net" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2003 11:09:30 -0000

"They do not understand that you cannot extend the practices of the
church or mosque into civil society. Places of worship have their rules;
civil society has its own."

Salaman, Stop the War Coalition, Birmingham
http://www.cpgb.org.uk/worker/420/letters.html

-----Original Message-----

"In the second instance, we reject practices like that of segregating
men 
and women or recitation of the Quran in STWC meetings as islamic 
expression. These practices, along with the politicisation of certain 
islamic prayers and their use as political slogans at anti-war 
demonstrations, has nothing to do with islamic expression and everything

to do with fundamentalist politics, which is only one of many political 
currents among muslims."

http://www.cpgb.org.uk/worker/420/letters.html

Weekly Worker 420 Thursday February 21 2002

Letters
Sectarian manipulation
In the mayhem that engulfed the general meeting of the Stop the War 
Coalition (STWC) in Birmingham, one thing was crystal clear. An alliance

of the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Action, acting as the front

troopers of an obscure muslim group, had planned to remove all those 
(including a number of progressive muslims), who have resisted the 
politics and practices of muslim fundamentalism, to dominate and 
manipulate the STWC in order to replace them with their own supporters.

In the event, however, what they achieved was to split the coalition 
right down the middle. Their resolution and amendments, followed by 
supporting speeches, portrayed us as being anti-muslim, which in reality

is a retreat from their earlier position of characterising us as racist 
and islamophobic. Ironically, these people, who now call us anti-muslim 
are the same people who, during the imperialist attack on Yugoslavia, 
sided with the Serb nationalist thugs who massacred in cold blood many 
thousands of muslims in Kosovo.

Then we did not accuse them of being anti-muslim since we acknowledged
it 
was their anti-imperialist politics that led them to side with rabid 
Serbian nationalism. As it was our politics which led us to side with 
oppressed muslims in Kosovo against both Serbian nationalism and 
imperialism.

By the same token, with regard to the war in Afghanistan, it is their 
anti-imperialist politics which has led them to side with barbaric and 
brutal muslim fundamentalism and it is our politics that has led us to 
oppose both imperialism and fundamentalism. However, to expect the 
demagogues of the SWP and co to acknowledge that our differences are of
a 
political nature and not a racial one is to ask too much of these
people. 
They would then be forced to expose some of their political positions 
that they have been so careful to hide from sympathisers and supporters 
of muslim fundamentalism.

They invite the STWC to be more sensitive towards muslims who express 
their resistance through their faith. While we have no objection to this

broad statement, we can neither accept the SWP and co adaptation of the 
muslim fundamentalist definition on who is a muslim, nor can we accept 
the imposition of some reactionary and divisive practices as islamic 
expression.

In the first instance, we cannot accept the assertion that muslims who 
object to their religion being used for reactionary political purposes 
(ie, muslim opponents of muslim fundamentalism) are not really muslims
or 
that there are no such things as muslims who are also socialist, 
anarchist, liberal, etc. We think muslims should feel free to consume 
alcohol and dress as they wish without being threatened or their muslim 
status denied. In short, we cannot accept that only muslim 
fundamentalists are muslims and resistance to their politics is anti-
muslim.

In the second instance, we reject practices like that of segregating men

and women or recitation of the Quran in STWC meetings as islamic 
expression. These practices, along with the politicisation of certain 
islamic prayers and their use as political slogans at anti-war 
demonstrations, has nothing to do with islamic expression and everything

to do with fundamentalist politics, which is only one of many political 
currents among muslims.

Furthermore, these practices not only have nothing to do with the basic 
demands of the anti-war movement, but are also extremely divisive. How 
does the SWP and co expect people from all sections of the city to take 
part in building the anti-war movement, when at every demonstration and 
meeting they find muslim fundamentalist practices are imposed upon them?

Is it surprising that even many progressive muslims have distanced 
themselves from the STWC?

It would be no exaggeration to say that if we leave it to the two 
gentlemen who proposed the controversial resolution they would ask all 
women attending STWC meetings to cover themselves in order to
demonstrate 
sensitivity to muslim (read muslim fundamentalist) sentiments. They do 
not understand that you cannot extend the practices of the church or 
mosque into civil society. Places of worship have their rules; civil 
society has its own.

By imposing its slogans and practices on the anti-war movement, muslim 
fundamentalism wants to change this movement into one which is a front 
for their reactionary political objective - a far cry from the civil 
rights movement where black churches put all their resources at the 
service of that progressive movement. There is nothing wrong in having
an 
STWC meeting in a mosque with a mullah speaker as long as the aims and 
objectives of the STWC are promoted. However, there would be everything 
wrong with promoting a fundamentalist political programme at these 
meetings even if it is held in a brewery with one of the two gentlemen
as 
speakers.

The fact is that there are two political perspectives in the STWC with 
regard to the anti-war movement. The SWP and co aim to limit this 
movement to an anti-imperialist movement, where they can fight alongside

fundamentalists or Serbian nationalists against imperialism. Whereas we 
are part of a new, but nevertheless growing international movement which

aims to unite all the workers and the oppressed people of the world not 
only against imperialism and its oppressive satellites, but also for the

creation of a fraternal international society where we have done away 
with all international forces whose only way of promoting their
interests 
is through war and destruction.

It is the inability of their anti-imperialist politics to address the 
concerns of this new movement which has infuriated our opponents and has

turned the tragedy of their anti-imperialist politics into a farce,
where 
in order to justify it they have to label us as racist, islamophobic
and, 
in their latest discovery, secular fundamentalists. We could have
laughed 
at these comedians who in order to advance their anti-imperialist 
politics find it necessary to frame us as being violent towards muslim 
women, leaving us exposed to violent attacks by muslim fundamentalists. 
We could have laughed, had it not been for the fact that tens of 
thousands of the best militants have paid with their lives at the hands 
of muslim fundamentalists as a result of their politics of anti-
imperialism.

Finally, let us give a helping hand to the philistine who through a 
method of trial and error is struggling so hard to find us a name. We 
should inform him that, by calling us secular fundamentalists he is much

closer to reality than ever before. Just in the same way that some 
muslims who are for fighting the islamic state are called muslim 
fundamentalists, we who fight for a secular state could be called
secular 
fundamentalists. It is only because we are fighting for a particular 
secular state that we would rather be called socialists.

Salman
Birmingham

 

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