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New Yorkers Against Religion-Based Bigotry

NYARBB's position against both Islamic supremacism and anti-Muslim bigotry

NYARBB will need to tread a very delicate balance between (1) opposing Islamic supremacism (the political doctrine that governments should be subject to Islamic law) and (2) opposing bigotry against Muslims.

Islamic supremacism is an exceedingly repressive and retrograde ideology. Its most extreme form can be found in Saudi Arabia, where there is zero freedom to practice any religion other than the most puritannical form of Sunni Islam. We need to take a strong stand against Islamic supremacist persecution of "apostates," persecution of gays, restrictions against women, etc., just as we also oppose the Christian religious right wing. We are stauch supporters of modern secular society, with separation of church (mosque) and state.

On the other hand, Muslims here in the U.S.A., including modernizing reformers, have themselves been targets of quite a bit of bigotry and harassment here in the U.S.A., especially after 9/11/2001. We need to oppose that, too. We also oppose the egregious human rights violations, e.g. torture, that have been justified in the name of opposing Islamic supremacist terrorism. We will be active in political movements against torture and in favor of indicting Bush and Cheney for war crimes and for starting a war based on lies.

Bigotry against Muslims harms other people besides just Muslims. For example, Sikhism is a religion distinct from Islam; it is the world's fifth largest religion, born in India. Because male Sikhs traditionally wear turbans, they are often harassed, here in the U.S.A., by ignorant folks who assume that anyone wearing a turban is not only a Muslim, but another Osama bin Laden. On similarly silly grounds, anti-Muslim bigotry also spills over into racist attitudes against Arabs (not all of whom are Muslim) and against other Middle Easterners, and against all South Asians.

We do not consider criticism of the more intolerant traditions of Muslim societies to be anti-Muslim bigotry. However: (1) Not all Muslims are Islamic supremacists. There are plenty of Muslims who appreciate a modern secular state. (2) Here in the West, even Islamic supramacists are entitled to the same rights as everyone else, including the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. They should not be assumed a priori to be terrorists and stripped of rights accordingly.

We need to be careful about how we voice our concerns about Islamic supremacism. Unfortunately, there are groups and websites that claim to take a position similar to ours, but which, in fact, use concerns about Islamic supremacism as an excuse to advocate bigoted claims about Muslims in general, or to advocate violations of the civil rights of Muslims.

Bigotry against Muslims in general is often justified on the alleged grounds that secularist and progressive Muslims don't really exist, that all Muslims are really terrorism-supporting, apostate-killing extremists, some of whom just don't admit it. In fact, plenty of secularist, progressive, and anti-terrorist Muslims do exist. (Note that by "secularist," we mean a person who advocates separation of church/mosque and state; we do not mean a person who isn't devoutly religious.)

Various right wing bloggers, e.g. Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Daniel Pipes, have alleged that there is a significant danger of an Islamic supremacist takeover here in the U.S.A. In fact, here in the U.S.A., there is much greater danger from Christian supremacists than from Muslim supremacists. Muslims are a tiny minority here, and, among U.S. Muslims, only a small minority are fanatical enough to desire a Muslim supremacist regime.

However, Islamic supramacism is a significant threat in other parts of the world. And, alas, in today's world, both Islamic supremacism and the more sexist, puritanical, and religiously bigoted forms of Islam have been artificially strengthened both by Saudi oil money and by U.S. government support for Islamic supremacist regimes and Islamic supremacist terrorist groups overseas. Examples of U.S. support for Islamic supremacists include:

Even after 9/11/2001, U.S. foreign policy has still tended to favor Islamic supremacist regimes over more secular Muslim regimes. And the so-called “war on terror” has had the net effect of strengthening - not weakening - both Islamic supremacist terrorism and lawful Islamic supremacism overseas. For example:

We are concerned about the possibility that, despite the alleged “war on terror,” the U.S. foreign policy establishment may still see Islamic supremacist terrorism as a useful weapon against Russia and China. There has been lots of terrorism in Russia, e.g. in Chechnya and Dagestan. And the U.S. foreign policy establishment seems to have both the goal of encircling Russia and a tendency to downplay that goal in public (e.g. the U.S. missiles in Poland, allegedly aimed at Iran).

To whatever extent a pro-Islamic-supremacist policy still exists, it is very harmful to all non-Muslims, and to women, and to gays. It is also very harmful to moderate Muslims, both by killing them directly and by sparking bigotry, on the part of non-Muslims, against all Muslims including moderates.

The threat of Islamic supremacist terrorism has been used as an excuse for war against Muslim countries (including relatively secular Muslim countries such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq). We, on the other hand, aim to oppose both Islamic supremacism and the wars by pointing to the history of U.S. support for Islamic supremacism. For more about this history, see the following collections of news stories on the History Commons site:

(The first three of the above pages are part of a much larger collection of news stories on Geopolitics and Islamic Militancy, which in turn is part of the Complete 9/11 Timeline on the History Commons site.)

Thus, the "war on terror" has been conducted in a very hypocritical manner, in addition to being, itself, a reign of terror against Muslims. We believe that both Islamic supremacism and terrorism should be opposed by means other than war, where possible.


Comments? Please post them here on the NYARBB blog.

[Last edited November 9, 2008.]

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NYARBB: main site > Views > Islamic supremacism