Monthly Archives: February 2011

Civilizing the Muslims of London

This is a real 'Christmas ornament' that can be purchased at

This is a real 'Christmas ornament' that can be purchased at

Johann Hari just tweeted about his article, ‘Can We Talk About Muslim Homophobia Now?‘. I tweeted back, ‘@JohannHari What do you mean by ‘now’? This was echoed by Gary Younge who joined in with his tweet: ‘Johann It implies ‘we’ weren’t discussing muslim homophobia before. But ‘we’ were. Alot. It’s hardly been taboo’.

And that is the point: it is not new or brave to discuss Muslim homophobia. It is what everyone does, whether – by the way – you are gay or straight and whether you in fact care about gay rights. It is not that we should not be outraged about violence against gay people, it is that the fact that some Muslim people have been violent against gays is used as another stick to beat all Muslims with in the current climate.

Johann Hari obviously cares about gay rights, but that does not mean that his message cannot be boiled down to: all Muslims hate gays and therefore should be discriminated against. This may not be the intent of Hari’s article, but it is its not altogether undesired outcome. When he says, ‘In the Netherlands, they now show all new immigrants images of men kissing, and if they object, they tell them they should go and live somewhere else. We should be doing the same’ he is pandering to argument that liberal values need to be protected by illiberal means. The conflation between ‘Muslims’ and ‘immigrants’ hardly needs mentioning.

When he says, ‘I believe British Muslims can change. I believe they can accept and love their gay children, just as surely as my parents – who also grew up in horribly homophobic places – accepted and loved me’ the civilizing mission that he has embarked upon could not be clearer. Do Muslims, and gay Muslims in particular, need Hari to ride in on his white horse to save them? Clearly not.

‘This is the most fucked up conference I have ever been to.’

Read Mikki Stelder’s critique of the recent Sexual Nationalisms conference that took place at the University of Amsterdam.Although touted as an event critiquing homonationalism and gay imperialism, certain elements in the conference, in particular the racist outbursts of Dutch scholar Gert Hekma, appeared to recompound these racisms. As reported here in several posts over the last year or so, the silencing of the voices of queer people of colour, through for example the censoring of Out of Place, continues. There is a lot to be learned from the Sexual Nationalisms experience…

If this is ‘freedom of speech’…

sarrazin-quitsThe London School of Economics has seen it fit to invite Thilo Sarrazin to a debate tomorrow as part of this year’s ‘German Symposium’. Sarrazin recently made waves with his book, ‘Deutschland schafft sich ab’ (‘Germany does away with itself’), a rant on how Germany is being ruined by immigrants. he has also said that all ‘Jews share a certain gene’. Sarrazin certainly strengthened German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her remarks in October that attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany had ‘utterly failed. Merkel’s anti-multiculturalist stance, although hardly new, gave renewed succour to David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, both of whom have joined her in speaking out about the dangers of multiculturalism as they see it in recent days.

German academics and students in the UK have written an open letter in protest against Sarrazin’s invitation to an event under the banner of ‘free speech’. The ‘freedom’ to peddle racism is not free: it runs a high cost for those on the receiving end. Please join us in protesting this by signing the petition and/or joining the Facebook group.

Read on for the open letter sent to the LSE by Germans in the UK. Continue reading

Racists of Europe Unite!

Stolen from the brilliant Steve Bell

Stolen from the brilliant Steve Bell

So David Cameron has been given Marine Le Pen’s blessing. As the new head of the racist French party, the Front national, she says,

It is exactly this type of statement that has barred us from public life [in France] for 30 years… I sense an evolution at European level, even in classic governments. I can only congratulate him.

Marine Le Pen is right to point out that what used to be beyond the pale, is now acceptable speech. White Europeans everywhere are now ‘daring’ to say what they always thought about black people, migrants, and Muslims having been given the go ahead by their politicians. As Seumas Milne points out in the The Guardian, Cameron’s anti-Muslim racism is nothing new: “much of the ground for Cameron’s neocon turn was laid by Tony Blair and New Labour – and politicians such as Phil Woolas, who unsuccessfully tried to play the Islamophobic card to save his skin.” Continue reading

David Cameron Jumps on the Bandwagon of anti-Multiculturalism

We need ‘a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism.’

David Cameron has announced that the ‘doctrine of state multiculturalism’ has encouraged different cultures to live separate lives. He went on to say that, while we are quick to condemn white racism (really?), we are ‘too cautious’ when someone who isn’t white holds ‘equally objectionable views’. Continue reading

EDL Appearance on Newsnight Exemplifies Postracialism

Excerpt published on the Muslim Council of Britain site

Ours is a righteous cause,” says Stephen Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) of the English Defence League, “Alright, OK,” replies Jeremy Paxman, anchor of BBC2’s flagship news programme Newsnight, “A lot of people are worried, I believe you.

The decision to invite the EDL to appear on Newsnight on February ahead of the its march on Luton planned for February 5, touted as the “the biggest demonstration in its 18-month history” according to The Guardian, was ill-informed. Those interested in engaging in the ‘no platform’ debate may do so. However, what was more striking about the Newsnight appearance was Paxman’s ultimate inability to counter the incendiary, anti-Muslim statements tripping off Lennon’s tongue. Inability or unwillingness? Continue reading

Sussex Salon Tonight: ‘Are EU countries right to ban the wearing of religious symbols?’

Hijab1I will be appearing at this event tonight. If you are in Brighton, please come along although, annoyingly, it clashes with Judith Butler’s lecture at the University of Sussex at 17h00. I have a feeling this will be an event heavily skewed towards the liberal standpoint of the type advocated by Christian Joppke in his book Veil: Mirror of Identity, an approach we critique in our forthcoming book, The Crises of Multiculturalism (with Gavan Titley). Joppe argues in favour of the French ban on the hijab because, to put it bluntly, you have to be illiberal to protect the overarching values if liberalism which bizarrely place freedom on top of its list of priorities. Mainly in reaction to Joan Scott’s excellent 2007 book, The Politics of the Veil, Joppke continually rejects an analysis of the French ban in terms of racism, poo-pooing any such claim as naive and immature. However, what becomes clear is it is the racialised whose freedom is sacrificable in favour of the protection of the right ‘not to be offended by the Other’ of the dominant culture.

All this in light of the English Defence League’s appearance last night on BBC 2’s Newsnight programme and the call from the Muslim Council of Britain to respond to what AbdoolKarim Vakil of the MCB calls an example of how “mainstream politicians irresponsible remarks license and legitimise populist and extremist racism and Islamophobia.”

A longer and more considered to response to that event will appear here tomorrow in juxtaposition to tonight’s Salon debate – let’s see how far away from each other they will be!

Sussex Salon: ‘Are EU countries right to ban the wearing of religious symbols?’

With Belgium and France taking steps to ban the wearing of veils in public places, and some UK hospitals banning the wearing of crucifixes, we ask whether such steps violate human rights or ensure them? Join the debate with a panel including: Anglican vicar, writer and broadcaster Rev. Peter Owen-Jones (Around the World in 80 Faiths), Dr Alana Lentin (The Politics of Diversity in Europe and Racism: A Beginner’s Guide) and Dr Sue Collard (Politics, University of Sussex). Wed 2 Feb 2011, 8pm, Pavilion Theatre