Meet the newest sensation within the “Islamo-” demonology franchise: “Islamo-leftism,” the French state’s pet bogeyman du jour. In line with the anti-Islamo-leftists, discourses difficult oppression – resembling anti-colonialism, anti-racism, and feminism – truly function sources of oppression, by enabling “radical Islam”.
In earlier many years, it was “Islamo-fascism” that was all the craze: connoting Islam’s purported affinity not with the left, however the far-right. For hundreds of years earlier than that, it was what may now be referred to as “Islamo-Judaism”: the recurrent conspiracy theories conjoining Jews and Muslims as threats to European Christendom, in order that “the 2 infidel races have been [treated] as halves of a single physique of Semitic aliens,” as analysed by medieval literature scholar Geraldine Heng.
Because the political sands shift, the bogeyman is perpetually reconfigured to suit the present panorama. To cite Nineteenth-century French Orientalist Ernest Renan, Islam is imagined as “essentially the most full negation of Europe” – nevertheless Europe occurs to see itself on the time.
When Europe was gripped by homophobia and sectarianism, Muslim societies have been criticised for being too non-heteronormative and multicultural – indicators of Muslim “degeneracy” remedied by way of the imposition of colonial rule.
Now that the signifiers of “civilisation” have switched, public “intellectuals” like French thinker Pascal Bruckner complain that Islamo-leftism is curbing their capacity to freely demonise Muslims for being too illiberal. In anti-racism’s “everlasting battle of all towards all,” accusations of Islamophobia are a “weapon of mass intimidation,” Bruckner insists.
In the meantime, the non-metaphorical state of “everlasting battle” towards Muslims persists, and people documenting its atrocities and critiquing its underpinning ideology proceed to be topic to marginalisation, suppression and punishment by the state and different establishments of energy.
For instance, the Collectif contre l’islamophobie en France (Collective Towards Islamophobia in France) was liquidated by the French authorities in November.
Outstanding Islamophobia knowledgeable Professor Farid Hafez’s house was raided by counter-terrorism police in Austria, additionally in November – a part of a collection of raids towards Muslim lecturers and activists.
And in February, the eminent thinker and anti-racist, Palestine solidarity activist Professor Cornel West was denied tenure at Harvard College.
It appears Bruckner’s “weapon of mass intimidation” inhabits the identical aircraft of unreality as Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction”. And it serves a similar operate – of depicting the targets of systemic aggression because the aggressors.
Bruckner is regularly described as a person of the left, highlighting the incoherence of the time period “Islamo-leftism”, which obfuscates the Islamophobia throughout the left itself.
Even the very occasion accused by French political leaders of being an epicentre of Islamo-leftism, France Insoumise, has hosted audio system claiming that “one has the proper to be Islamophobic,” and will barely muster any representatives to take part in a march towards anti-Muslim hate after an assault on a French mosque in 2019.
The enduring energy of Islamophobia is that there’s one thing in it for nearly everybody, from proper to left.
In March, the right-wing Swiss Folks’s Social gathering managed to interrupt its dropping streak in residents’ referendums, with its victorious proposal to banish Muslim girls’s face-veils from public area – which attracted twice the vote share because the occasion gained within the common election. As did its equally profitable 2009 marketing campaign to ban minaret development, which appealed to feminists by portraying minarets as a logo of ladies’s oppression. This from the identical political organisation that beforehand fought towards a movement to recognise gender equality in marriage.
In nations like Germany and France, left-wing events and activists have been on the frontlines of initiatives to impose state coercion on Muslim girls’s clothes. For the sake of “liberating” Muslim girls, there are actually 5 occasions extra European states legally forcing girls to unveil as there are Muslim-majority states requiring girls to veil.
The Inquisition obsession with stripping Muslims of their head coverings and minarets lives on. Within the Fifteenth-century, the issue was stated to be the “uncleanliness” of Muslim (and Jewish) blood. Now, it’s the incompatibility of Muslims with “our” tradition and values. As Black American novelist Toni Morrison wrote, in the case of racism, “there’ll at all times be another factor”.
Islamophobia is a good unifier, transcending even the ideological divide between China and “the West”. Since 9/11, China has repackaged its settler-colonial assault on the Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang as a “battle on terror” train: pathologising Islam as a “virus” to be eradicated with mass surveillance and biometric assortment, compelled labour, compelled sterilisation, little one separation, criminalisation of spiritual practices and “re-education” in focus camps.
But within the title of resisting Western imperialism towards China, some on the left act as denialists and apologists for China’s genocidal imperialism, essentially the most damning proof of which emanates from China’s personal official paperwork. At a current seminar organised by Canadian anti-war teams to “debunk” the Uighur genocide, China’s Consul Basic confirmed a PR video of Xinjiang that was predominantly photos of empty landscapes. Even in China’s genocide-denying propaganda, the Uighurs are largely scrubbed out of the image.
To invoke the language of the US army, Islamophobia is a system of “full-spectrum domination”: not the purview of 1 phase of the political area, however a standard body of reference throughout the sector as an entire.
This therapy of Muslims as a “common enemy” is deeply rooted in historical past. Within the well-known Sixteenth-century Valladolid debate on the colonisation of the Americas – thought of a foundational occasion within the (Eurocentric) historical past of worldwide legislation – Spanish authorized students debated Indigenous peoples’ humanity by deciding whether or not they have been like Muslims and subsequently to be massacred (the “conservative” place), or in contrast to Muslims and subsequently to be missionised into Christianity (the “liberal” place).
Erasmus, one of many “fathers of humanism,” urged Europeans to cease combating one another and “let free [this evil passion] upon the Turks” as an alternative. “Father of free speech” Voltaire opined that Muslims have been the best curse on Earth and “ought to be destroyed.” “Mom of feminism” Mary Wollstonecraft advocated for the emancipation of European girls by distinguishing them from “subordinated” and sub-humanised Muslim girls (though it wasn’t “Mahometan” legislation however European legislation that barred girls from impartial personhood and proudly owning property).
Freedom, peace, rights and equality for these throughout the West’s “zone of being” has lengthy been premised on battle, domination and dispossession exterior of it.
Some Nineteenth-century liberal writers sought to shunt off European accountability for Europe’s foundational atrocities – the Crusades, the Inquisition, and genocide within the Americas – by blaming Christians’ alleged internalisation of “the precept of Islamism: extermination”.
Within the current, progressive commentators confer with neo-Nazis as “vanilla ISIS,” Trump’s officers as “mullahs,” and Trump himself as “Osama bin Laden’s revenge” on America. As if a social order that continues to reap the spoils of the brutalisation of Black, Indigenous and Muslim lives and the theft of Indigenous lands wants to look exterior itself for explanations of White supremacism.
“Our” violence is rendered an aberration or a mirrored image of “their” violence; “their” violence is depicted as important to who they’re.
Inside this framework, Muslims are simply normalised as objects of abuse – defined away as presumptively responsible, or ignored as collateral harm.
As lecturers Arun Kundnani and Deepa Kumar identified, home opposition to the US’s mass surveillance program dropped off precipitously when it was revealed the targets have been principally Muslims.
Within the current debates over increasing counterterrorism to handle right-wing extremism, we learn in socialist journal Jacobin that the first objectionable function of terrorist listings is that they is likely to be used sooner or later towards left-wing activists – not that such listings have already been used for nearly twenty years overwhelmingly towards Muslims, together with charities for donating to humanitarian work in Palestine.
Equally, within the “principled and progressive” Nation journal, we’re instructed that the issue with militarised policing of American anti-racism protests is that techniques and weapons applicable for “Iraq and Afghanistan” are actually being wielded in locations like Portland – the place “protesters carry skateboards, leaf blowers, lacrosse sticks, and cardboard indicators [as opposed to rockets and guns]” and “some are pregnant”.
“Nobody ought to be handled this fashion,” proclaimed writer Andrew McCormick. Besides, apparently, all of the Afghans and Iraqis who haven’t been spared from army brutality for being pregnant and/or unarmed.
Just a few weeks in the past, the Nation even featured a bit praising the “attribute erudition” of notoriously Islamophobic Canadian journalist Robert Fulford, celebrating him as “the nation’s most interesting cultural critic”.
Unmentioned within the Nation’s panegyric, some gems of “erudition” from Fulford’s regular stream of vitriol embody excoriating the Palestinians beneath occupation as “terrorists” and “indiscriminate murderers,” exalting anti-Muslim idealogue Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a “Muslim Martin Luther,” and exhorting a number of months after the Quebec mosque capturing – essentially the most deadly act of political violence in Canada on the time since 1989 – that “we must always start by retiring the phrase Islamophobia within the curiosity of a franker angle to terrorism”.
The difficulty isn’t Islamo-leftism, however Islamophobo-leftism. Throughout the political spectrum, a standard assortment of narratives rationalises, minimises and invisibilises violence towards Muslims: pitching Islamophobic insurance policies as progressive, projecting Muslims because the paradigm of barbarism, and expurgating the racism of its personal previous and current.
This spectrum presents a collection of false selections: between Euro-American imperialism and China’s alter-imperialism; between conservative, right-wing racism and liberal and left-wing racism; between being subjugated violently and subjugated barely extra gently (with violence at all times in reserve).
Considering and dealing past this artificially-restricted consensus are these Muslims who, in solidarity and collaboration with different peoples and actions, are drawing on Islam’s prohibition of worshipping something apart from God to problem human-made hierarchies of oppression: of human over non-human, white over non-white, coloniser over colonised, man over lady, heteronormative over queer, and the rich over the dispossessed. “Like sunflowers that solely the solar can subjugate,” within the phrases of French-Algerian decolonial author and activist Houria Bouteldja.
Maybe that is the true hazard posed by “Islamo-leftism”: the chance not of a extra “violently radical” world, however one radically extra equal and simply.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.