Unified’s Adam Pond is back for another opinion piece. This time, he’ll be discussing something higher up on the scale of controversy: Islamophobia.
“Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not reply solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindiness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.” – Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great
Writing this article is a difficult job, especially for a university magazine, as students seem to be on the front lines of silencing unpopular opinions. I see this as an exercise somewhat akin to going into battle for the simple reason that some of the readers may not make it to the end.
I would describe myself as an anti-theist, as well as an atheist. I argue that organised religion in its many forms is responsible for many awful things, and the key texts such as the Koran, the Bible and the Torah have justified the most heinous of crimes.
Topics such as slavery are treated as morally okay and all three texts are homophobic, sexist and have been used to justify wars. Not to mention as well that I assert that there is no evidence for these beliefs, and would of course say that I’m an atheist rather than an agnostic.
I’m not on the fence about my belief in God. But I will fight for the right of anyone to believe in religion, and I uphold freedom of religion as a principle of mine. I also uphold freedom of speech as one of my principles, and wholeheartedly believe it is a right to criticise Islam (or any religion) without being branded Islamophobic (or any other term).
Can you criticise Islam without being labelled Islamophobic?
I, of course have no issue with any Muslim (or Christian). What I dislike is the ideas that they hold. One of my closest friends is very religious and religion has been debated between us many times, as friends. I abhor what seems to be a modern value of hating everyone that holds different opinions and beliefs to yourself, and the culture of outrage that goes along with it.
Can you imagine the outcry if Monty Python made a modern equivalent of the film ‘the Life of Brian’, but focused on the Prophet Muhammad, as oppose to Jesus Christ. I think that film would be good, and a testament to freedom of expression.
To quote Noam Chomsky:
“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for those we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
Maybe the term ‘muslimaphobia’ would be more appropriate as it makes the distinction between the religion and the people. This distinction is a very important one to make; as the case against religion can be hijacked to promote racist ideas.
This is particularly prevalent in the UK’s far right activist Tommy Robinson, who has argued that Muslims should be barred from entering the UK, based on their dangerous religion. Tommy is of course a Christian, and it seems to me that both the Koran and the Bible are equally violent and detestable. I wonder if he would make the same point about the Bible, if it backed up his racist and damning political views?
The Merriam Webster dictionary definition of Islamophobia is “Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against Islam or people who practice Islam”. I, of course, don’t argue discrimination or irrational fear of Islam or those who practice it, but certainly I have an aversion (or dislike) toward the religion itself. I believe that freedom of religion is equally important as freedom to criticise religion, and that the term Islamophobia can certainly be used wrongly to prevent fair criticism of Islam.