Houzan the Communist pretends to defend freedom

Yesterday I found in the Guardian’s letters section a letter from Derek Lennard, disassociating gay humanists from the much-reported opinions of Andy Armitage, the former editor of the Lesbian & Gay Humanist magazine ([1], [2]), which led me to peruse the first edition of their new rag, the Gay Humanist Quarterly. The magazine, which can be downloaded (2.2Mb PDF here), boasts on the cover that it is “certified 100% faith free” and on the front cover shows a bearded male figure in Superman costume, with the headline “Is the Government giving religious groups SUPERPOWERS?”. Contributors to this issue include David T (of Harry’s Place) and one Houzan Mahmoud.

David T’s article is more positive than you might expect (although perhaps not given the recent history of the publication). The PDF is composed of images rather than text so I can’t copy and paste it (perhaps that’s the idea, but it’s usually the sign of a badly-composed PDF), but it’s on page 13 and is entitled Racists in Secularist Clothing, it takes apart conspiracy theories, in which:

Familiar arguments about non-white immigrants have been recast as critiques of Islamism, complete with conspiracist fantasies - usually about something called “Eurabia” - which bear more than a superficial resemblance to antisemitism. In its purest form, all Muslims are thought to be engaged, either consciously or unwittingly, in a demographic and cultural plot to destroy western society generally.

As for Houzan Mahmoud, they have allowed her to spout an anti-Muslim diatribe while posing as the “UK representative of the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq”, which is a somewhat gramatically-challenged name for a front group for the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq. I’m not sure if the GALHA know that she is a communist; the western media were quite happy to play along with the “Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan” for quite some time without noticing what should have been obvious from their name: that they are Marxists and as such highly untypical of the women of Afghanistan. Right now, the Worker Communists are the toast of liberal society and able to use such venues as Conway Hall for their speaking engagements, which may well be why they use the language of gender equality and other liberal causes. But women’s experience in real communist states has been characterised by the double burden of work and childcare and by “equal opportunity brutality”.

Houzan Mahmoud starts off on the topic of the Jyllands Posten blasphemy case, in which the Danish newspaper ran twelve cartoons of the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), in various poses including one with a bomb-shaped turban. Muslim community organisations took the case to court and, as might be expected, lost. Houzan’s article leaves out the obvious defamatory content of the cartoons, preferring to concentrate on the fact that Muslims object to the drawing of pictures of the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam):

The common denominator - whatever the political size or relative weight of these protestors - is that all preach that people cannot use that most intrinsic of human capabilities - our imagination - to depict the prophet (sic). Islamists assert that Mohammed never sat for a portrait, so - by definition - his pictorial representation is an act against Islam, a blasphemy.

The author asserted that various foreign ambassadors “fired off letters of complaint to the Danish prime minister and demanded he condemn this newspaper and clamp down on it”, something the governments of certain countries have been known to do when the western media criticise them, not just Islam or the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). The fact remains that a newspaper appears to have decided to offend Muslims’ sensibilities for its own sake, taking advantage of an anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant political climate. Even if Muslims in Europe are as powerful as some haters suppose we are, insulting our religion really does nothing to redress any injustice; insulting people’s religions generally has the same effect as insulting people’s parents, which is exactly the reason Allah ta’ala gives for telling us, in the Qur’an, not to curse others’ idols. There are good reasons why social taboos exist for delivering such insults. And it’s a fact that Muslims can revere the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) without needing to know what he looked like.

Houzan falsely asserts that Islam has become “the exceptional religion”, “with the clear implication no one has the right to even mildly criticise it” (grammatical oddity hers). Anyone who has looked on the internet for long enough the past few years, especially (but not only) since 9/11, will know that there are entire websites dedicated to slandering Islam and Muslims and entire books published with the same purpose. There have been flurries of anti-Islamic sentiment in response to every major incident involving Muslims, or thought to involve Muslims, which have involved Muslims, or Sikhs mistaken for Muslims, being shot or stabbed. Despite the complaint on the page of GHQ following Houzan’s article, most Muslim children are not educated in Muslim schools but in second-rate secular state schools, and those that exist were not established as Muslim state schools, but as private schools. If people want dedicated secular humanist schools, as opposed to neutral state schools, they are quite at liberty to set them up.

The “brutal truth”, according to Howzan, “is that Islam - in the contemporary Middle East - has justified people killing, stoning, imprisoning, veiling and forcing women into burqas. Women are imprisoned in the name of political Islam - a crime against all of humanity”. She does not elaborate on where or how they are “imprisoned”. She also alleges that “progressives and secularists of all kinds have been persecute simply because they challenged political Islam’s intrusion on the private realm of human beings …”, which if true, refers to governments acting in excess of what Islam permits, let alone demands, and the practices found in a number of Muslim countries are widely criticised by Muslims as well as others. Her definition of “freedom”, as ever for Worker Communists, does not apply to religious people:

So-called ‘freedom of choice is cited to impose the veil on young girls and ‘freedom of expression’ to open Mosques, religious schools to bring up a brain washed generation of young people, and to silence those of us who want to tell the truth about them to society.

Communist states, remember, traditionally do not shy from the brain-washing of young people themselves; in many cases they have even encouraged them to spy and inform on members of their family who refuse their indoctrination. They have no respect for the autonomy of young people under the arbitrary age of 18, which is why, in their briefing no. 143, they demanded that the British government “is duty-bound to intervene now and ensure that Shabina Begum has the right to an education - whether she likes it or not - just as it intervenes to ensure children don’t work or smoke, despite their preferences”.

Houzan then goes on to accuse “the Islamists” of using “the western states’ espousal of ‘multiculturalism’ to inflict violence against women and girls and practise the most barbaric ‘traditions’ within these so-called ‘Muslim communities’”. This is simply not true. Islamists have nothing to do with such matters as female genital mutilation, to which they are often opposed, as anyone with knowledge of what Islamic literature actually says on the subject would be. As for violence against women, wife beaters are wife beaters, regardless of their ideology.

The hypocrisy remains to the final paragraph:

Freedom of speech and expression should be protected. Criticism of all religions and Islam must be viewed as a normal right of all people. The progress of any human society can be measured by how free it is from religion. Questioning, criticizing and finally separating religions from politics is the only guarantee for a healthy, secular and egalitarian society.

And the reality we see from actual Communist-ruled countries is that they are not egalitarian at all; rather, there is a privileged class, namely the party’s leadership and those surrounding them, with their Zil limousines and opulent dachas, and there is the struggling mass of the population and a persecuted underclass of those the party dislikes, such as those who dared to actually vote in an election rather than assist the party in stuffing the ballot boxes. And this is at best; at worst, we see the notorious excesses of Mao’s China, Nicolae “Socialism in One Family” Ceausescu’s Romania (I’ve heard this used as a byword for a miserable and fear-ridden household) and Pol Pot’s Cambodia. The excesses reported from Iran, such as the incident of a judge personally killing a female defendant with whom he was angry, are to be condemned by Muslims as well as everyone else (if they are true), as is the notorious Khomeini personality cult, but it remains to be seen if Houzan Mahmood’s communists would allow us the same freedom to criticise the excesses of their judges, police and politicians if, Allah ta’ala forbid, they ever gain power anywhere.

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