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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

On the dictatorship of Islam - Mahmood Ketabchi (風刺漫画のこせこせ)

(Note: I post this piece quite late on the subject of the massive wave of reaction following the publication of satirical cartoons of the 'prophet' Mohammed. No need to explain my absolute disdain for the totalitarians [Hizb Ut-Tahrir] who threw a frothing screamfest in favor of the men's society. Obviously I do not agree with everything Ms. Ketabchi says in this article, I think for instance that to believe in 'the freedom of the press' is to believe wholly in the separations of the society of the spectacle, but I post it out of solidarity, for all those secular and communist Arabs who have been murdered by the armies and police squads of (or occupying) the mid-East. Let us remember in this time of pure reaction the 800 bus workers arrested in Tehran by the dictators of 'the holy prophet'. )

Written by Mahmood Ketabchi, an exiled comrade of the Worker Communist Party of Iran in active in support work for workers' and women's movements in Iran and Iraq. Emphasis added.

Defend Freedom of Press—and the Right to Blasphemy

by Mahmood Ketabchi
February 9, 2006

The publication of cartoons of Muhammad by several European newspapers has given the political Islamists an opportunity to launch a brutal international assault against freedom of press and the right to blasphemy. Islamist demonstrators attacked and burned a few European embassies, launched sectarian attacks on people from other religions, and threatened the lives of European citizens. In the streets of London, they called for murder and beheading of the cartoonists and anyone who insults Islam and threatened a special 9/11 massacre for Europeans. It went so far that a demonstrator in front of the Danish Embassy in London wore suicide bomber's gear. The US and European governments declared their regrets over the cartoons and apologized to the Islamists. Even the Pope, representing the Catholic establishment, pitched in his two cents condemning the cartoon, maybe out of fear that someone might draw caricatures of the church's collusion with pedophilic Catholic priests raping little children. The apologies only added more fuel to the Islamist's rage and outcry, for they saw it as justification for their actions.

It is naive to believe that these protests were "spontaneous" movements of Muslims against Islamophobia—as some Islamists and their western apologists would like to tell us. This assault has been in the making for a few months. In September a right-wing Danish newspaper publishes 12 drawings of Muhammad. Islamist groups in Denmark began a campaign against the caricatures of Muhammad. Then, despotic and reactionary Arab regimes, friends or foes of the west, in solidarity with their brethren in Denmark, mounted diplomatic pressure on Denmark. In fact in December the issue was discussed at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (made up of 57 "Islamic countries") that later condemned the cartoons as an "act of blasphemy." In January, Copenhagen prosecutor refused to press charges against the paper. After all efforts to silence the Danish press failed, the Islamist attack dogs were unleashed to commence a violent protest campaign to teach the west a lesson. Professional Islamist hooligans and paid agents of authoritarian and fascist nationalist and Islamist governments and organizations for the most part formed the core of these protests. As the Islamists and the nationalist forces find themselves in a growing conflict with the US and western governments, the cartoons of Muhammad gave them a chance to try to gain advantage over the European and the US government in order to reinforce their position internationally and specifically in the Middle East.

The fascist mobs who are asking the world to hold their prophet in reverence and are expressing outrage at the mocking of Muhammad are the same people who waste no time to impose their reign of terror and barbarity when they come to power or gain any significant political strength. They do not hesitate to spit on and trample upon every bit of human decency and values. These are the same currents that commit daily crimes against humanity. They are the same criminal club- and knife-wielding crowd, resembling the brown-shirt fascists, who beat up protesters and progressive forces that dare to stand up for freedom, equality, and human dignity. They are the same misogynists who brutalize women and regard them as subhumans, the same homophobics who kill and maim those who do not fit their man-fuck-woman-only lifestyle, the same anti-worker forces who suppress any independent workers' protests and organizations, the same people for whom child molesting is a law of god—the list of atrocities has no end. Islamism is not a "protest movement of oppressed nations"; it is an offshoot of the US and western governments' campaign against communism, freedom, human decency, and a better world, in collusion with the nationalist bourgeoisie in Islamism-stricken countries.

The Islamist campaign to impose their taboos and intimidate the world into submission must be confronted head on. It is an attempt to spread their message of hate and brutality across the world. Since long ago, when Ronald Regan called Afghani Islamic criminals "freedom fighters," Islamist regimes and forces, with the knowledge and clear understanding of the western powers and the US government and oil money behind them, have started a quiet but concerted effort to spread their propaganda machinery across the world (including Europe), build political power, and shape Islamist hate groups that are now being instrumentalized to their advantage.

Benefiting from "multiculturalism" and "moral relativism" in the west, they have sought to create and maintain Islamist ghettos and implement their oppressive and reactionary practices. Islamism is a dreadful and grim political movement. The recent uproar over the cartoons only helps highlight the challenges political Islam pose to progressive humanity. The western powers and the US government, as they have demonstrated repeatedly, have no intention to confront this movement. In fact, they have no problem to work hand in hand with the Islamists as long as their cooperation can be secured. They are concerned with their capitalist economic and political interests and domination over the world, not anyone's freedom.

Islamism must be defeated in a political arena. First and foremost, the Islamist's call to limit and suppress freedom of expression must be strongly opposed. Religion and for that matter Islam should not be above criticism. No religion, no god, and no prophet should hold any special privilege. Islamists are free to praise their prophet as long as and as much as they want. However, that is the limit. To demand that the freethinkers must succumb to their taboos is outrageous and preposterous. Islamists should not be allowed to impose their ignorance, taboos, and superstitions on humanity. The right to blasphemy, to question and protest against god, to criticize religious beliefs, to mock religious personalities, is not just equally as important as freedom of worship and religious beliefs—but is rather more essential given the rise of sectarian religious tendencies in the world. Religion as an oppressive industry continues to be a human malaise and catastrophe. It does nothing but propagate ignorance, superstitions, human bondage and submission, bloody conflicts, sectarian wars, and genocides. Freedom from religion is an important safeguard for human liberation and dignity. Requesting respect for "religious sensitivities" as an argument to curb freedom of expression is as preposterous and dangerous as any attempt to silence freethinkers. Freedom has no boundaries and the religious sectarians and fundamentalist fanatics should get used to it. Putting limits on freedom under the pretext of "respect for religion", "emergency situation", "national interest", "security", "war", etc. can only give brutal forces the opportunity to suppress people.

Moreover, separation of religion and the state must be vigorously enforced. Religion and for that matter Islam should be pushed out of public life into mosques, churches, and synagogues where they belong. Reactionary and brutal religious practices that undermine and denigrate human life have to be prohibited. Religious bigotry and discriminatory practices must be outlawed. Children need to be protected from religious proselytizing and industry. Religious teachings should be banned from education, public or private. Children rights and women rights should be expanded and strongly implemented. No public money, not even a cent, should go to religious institutions. Tax laws should be equally applicable to all properties and revenues belonging to religious institutions. To fight religious movements it is inseparable that we fight against bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and anti-immigrant policies, and ghetoization of immigrant communities, all of which feed into the Islamist movement. Islamism grows in a swamp; that swamp must be dried up.

Freedom from religion and the right to blasphemy must be of particular importance for progressive forces, socialists, and communists in the US. Bush calls himself a "Born Again Christian." Some of his followers believe god chose him to become president of the United States. He is a man who believes his "War on Terrorism" is his "Holy Mission." Bush's ascendancy to power became possible to a large extent due to the growing power of Christian religious bigots who are dreaming of their own apocalyptic Christendom. These reactionary forces, with their vast resources, as well as public money at their disposal through "Faith Based Initiatives," and with their president in office, are chipping away slowly but steadily at our freedom, particularly women's rights, under the guise of "religious sanctities." These are the same people who unleashed criminals to bomb abortion clinics, murder physicians, and assault women seeking abortions, all in defense of "sanctity of life." These messengers of hate have enough taboos and "sanctities" that can create a hellish life if enforced upon the society. To the extent that the power of religion and religious movements grows, freedom and human dignity become its inevitable casualty. Stopping Islamists from imposing their taboos on us is inseparable from our struggle to prevent the Christian bigots from forcing their sanctities on society.

It is similarly crucial that we defend freedom of press and expression. This is a hard-won achievement for humanity that is under a brutal assault by the Islamists. Succumbing to the Islamists' demands will be a dangerous precedent. Not only will it allow them to come up with other outrageous demands, it will also create a fertile ground for all other reactionary forces to make the same argument that such and such "sanctity" or "interest" is in jeopardy, and therefore demand their own limits on press freedom.

It is no secret that the US mainstream media are by and large in the pocket of the US government. We know that without their help, for example, the Iraq war could not have happened. They deliberately refused to publish information that challenged the lies about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. We know that under the pretext of "national security", they withhold crucial information from people, or only reveal a a very insignificant part of it. As the Islamists mount an attack on freedom of press, the US media once again have shown their cowardliness by refusing to take a stand in defense of freedom of expression. It is a no-brainer that fighting for press freedom here in this country is of significant importance and that includes beating back the Islamists who want to impose their taboos on the world.

(Salvador Dalí's depiction of the birth of Israel; the desert blooms!)

I'm happy to find this perspective. Thank you for posting Mahmood Ketabchi's writing.

Forces on the right, will stand for freedom of the press, as long as it's anti-Islam. If you put a crucifix in urine, they side with clerics. We need to differentiate ourselves.

The left needs to start showing solidarity with secular and communist organizations in the Middle East. If not the masses will look at Blair and Bush for help.

I'm linked to your site.

A Guide to minimize personal discomfort of moving
Humans are emotional creatures. No matter how strong we portray ourselves to be, we always end up in a puddle of tears, when we are forced to leave behind something or someone who happened to be very close. However, as life would have it, often due to academic or professional commitments we are forced to leave a familiar town, city, country and at times even the continent.

There is nothing wrong about feeling homesick. From Hollywood actors to dare devil sportspeople, everyone at some point of time has suffered from this problem. So next time when you feel like crying when you come across something that reminds you of Mumbai don’t blame yourself for it, instead learn to deal with it.
Here are some tips that shall help you to get ready for a new life in a new city.
Accept All Type of Invitation
Once your movers and packers from Mumbai delivers your goods to your new home, do not shut your door and remain isolated. Instead make an effort to know your neighbors. Accept all kind of invitations that you come across. Join a new club or indulge in a new hobby and soon you shall make new friends. If you have small kids, the support system at their school can be very helpful.
Do Not Visit Your Old Home Too Soon
Homesickness kicks in a few weeks or months after you have settled in your new place. Once the initial business of settling down is over, theadreline high of moving to a new place wears off. That is when things start to get gloomy. Do not give into your desire of visiting your old place too soon. Instead focus on your new home. If you happen to miss your extended family and friends you can ask them to come and spend some time with you.
Stay Busy
Staying busy perhaps is the best medicine for almost all types of emotional problem. Understand the fact that you have to function in your new environment and feeling depressed would only add to your problems. Focus your attention on your work and make use of modern age technology to like Skype to stay connected with your friends. Spend time in cooking your local delicacy, once your packers and movers from Mumbai deliver all the kitchen supplies.
Feeling down is a common symptom after moving to a new space. Give yourself some time and develop a support system. Gradually as your heart settles in the new place, you shall discover that you have created a new home in a new city that once used to be a foreign place.

movers and packers from Mumbai

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