Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Atheist, Humanist, Buddhist, and Leftist Voices Against The Islamic Threat To Freedom

This is an extremely varied group of individuals. Their criticisms of Islam are also quite varied, and to some extent they hardly belong all lumped together in this way, except for one thing. And that one thing is what they are not. They are not right-wing xenophobic Christians, like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.

In addition to those named below, also see the 12 signatories of the 2006 statement for "The Universality of Freedom of Expression" (there is some overlap).

Sam Harris (American, atheist, long-time student of Buddhist philosophy and meditation)
Bill Maher (American, political satirist, social critic, self-declared apatheist)
Richard Dawkins (British, atheist, scientist, writer)
Lama Ole Nydahl (Danish, Lama in the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism)
Pat Condell (British, comedian, troublemaker, atheist)
Femke Halsema (Dutch, LeftGreen party leader)
Villy Søvndal (Danish Socialist Peoples Party leader)
Bahram Soroush (Iranian, Worker-Communist Party of Iran)

From an Interview with Maryam Namazie:
"No one deserves to die because of their views or the views that they have expressed. Actually that shows the essence of the political Islamic movement. It is a violent movement; it is an atrocious movement, and it needs to be stopped. They will start with van Gogh and Ayaan and then try to impose their dark scenario and rule in the West over the rest of the population . . . .

"It is difficult to say it in one sentence. In essence, it's from the standpoint of the human being, from a humanistic perspective, against religion as an ideology, against political Islam as a political movement, in defence of women's rights, in defence of children's rights, in defence of political freedoms and the right to freely and safely criticise any religion."
Maryam Namazie (Iranian, atheist, One Law For All Campaign, UK)
Alice Schwarzer (German feminist pioneer)
Taslima Nasreen (Bangladesh, atheist, humanist, feminist, writer)
Philippe Val (French, former editor and director of leftist magazine Charlie Hebdo)
Caroline Fourest (French, feminist, anti-racist and secularist activist, Le Monde Columnist)

From Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan
Hassan al-Banna is a figure revered by Islamists the world over. In the early years of the twentieth century, this Egyptian preacher developed a program for reasserting social and political control that has served as amodel for all those engaged in the fight to extend the reign of a form of political Ialsm that is both archaic and reactionary. He oversaw the birth of a diabolical machine -- the Islamic Brotherhood -- that to this day grinds out its fundamentalist message, spreading it to the four corners of the world. Even Al-Qaeda is no competitor in terms of the scope of this negative force. Al-Qaeda militants were often fascinated by al-Banna before they crossed the line into bin Laden-type terrorism. Given the nature of al-Banna's influence, which remains a constant threat, citizens of Muslim origin are often uneasy when they see Tariq Ramadan continue his grandfather's work in the very heart of the West [Tariq Ramadan is the grandsom of Hassan al-Banna, and both of his parents were ardent supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood].

In a collection of interviews with Alain Gresh, editor in chief of Le Monde diplomatique, Tariq Ramadan made no secret of the fact that he had taken Hassan al-Banna as a model: "I have studied Hassan al-Banna's ideas with great care and there is nothing in this heritage that I reject. His relation to God, his spirituality, his mysticism, his personality, as well as his critical reflections on law, politics, society and pluralism, testify for me to his qualities of heart and mind." And he added: "His commitment also is a continuing reason for my respect and admiration." This admission is in itself terrifying. Every word was chosen to to play down the fanaticism and totalitarianism advocated by al-Banna, a man for whom "the Islamic banner must wave supreme over the human race." His name still fills any Muslim who is modern and liberal—or simply healthy-minded—with rage over the crimes that have been committed in the name of Islam. Yet his grandson finds nothing wrong in all this. On the contrary, in a book written for a popular audience, he fully accepted his role as one whose mission it was to continue in the footsteps of his grandfather, whom he presented as a model of “spirituality” and of “critical appreciation of society.” By extolling his grandfather’s “critical reflections on pluralism,” essentially he was praising the virtues of al-Banna’s totalitarian outlook.