Anti-Muslim cartoons

Remarks by an IBT supporter at a public meeting of the Toronto International Socialist group on Islamophobia held on 1 March.

The anti-Muslim cartoons published in Denmark were certainly a deliberate racist provocation. Flemming Rose, the editor of Jyllands Posten, [the right-wing Danish newspaper which originally commissioned the cartoons] admitted as much when he told the New York Times: "This is about the question of integration and how compatible is the religion of Islam with a modern secular society" [New York Times, 2 February]. He also said: "People are no longer willing to pay taxes to help support someone called Ali who comes from a country with a different language and culture that is 5,000 miles away" [International Herald Tribune, 12 February].

The most ardent defenders of the cartoons have been Islamophobes like the pro-Zionist National Post, the Western Standard [the right-wing biweekly that published the cartoons in Canada] and the fascist British National Party, as well as an assortment of supporters of the U.S. attempt to seize the petroleum resources of the Middle East in the name of “the war on terror.” The furor over the cartoons alarmed the imperialists—[U.S. Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice quickly complained that Syria and Iran (two potential future targets for American attack) were attempting to "incite violence" [BBC News Online, 8 February].

Islamophobia and the terror-scare provide cover for introducing the security state measures at home that have accompanied the brutal military adventures abroad. Revolutionaries have a side in neo-colonial wars like Iraq and Afghanistan—we want to see the military defeat of the imperialists, regardless of the political character of the indigenous resistance forces.

At the same time, we recognize that the proponents of "Islamic Revolution" —from Ayatollah Khomeini to Osama Bin Laden—are reactionaries. While Marxists oppose all forms of religious obscurantism—whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish or any other—we know that superstition will persist until a new socialist society is created in which people will no longer feel a need for fantasies of divine retribution, an afterlife, etc.

The Marxist movement, from its inception, has always opposed attempts by the state to criminalize speech or ideas, however offensive. In Britain, however, the leaders of the International Socialist tendency, hoping to ingratiate themselves with Muslims, recently supported Tony Blair’s law banning "religious hatred." [In its 11 February issue Socialist Worker (London) said "left wing opponents of the Religious Hatred Bill look pretty stupid."]

Comrades, the capitalist state is an instrument of class oppression. Hate laws, anti-blasphemy laws and other sorts of thought-control legislation will inevitably be turned against the left and workers’ movement. The IS may claim to be socialist, but its cravenly opportunist character is revealed by its persistent political adaptation to Islamic obscurantists under the guise of combating Islamophobia.

Posted: 03 March 2006