An excerpt from my latest column for the International New York Times, which looks at the controversies surrounding Donald Trump and Maryam Namazie and what they tell us about free speech, Islam and the left. For the full article see the INYT.
In the strange world of contemporary radicalism, however, many look upon Ms Namazie almost as they regard Mr Trump: as an ‘Islamophobe’. Student groups at several universities, including the University of Warwick and Trinity College Dublin, have attempted to stop her from speaking on campus.
Last month, the Islamic Society at Goldsmith’s College, part of the University of London, objected to Ms Namazie’s speaking there on the grounds that it would be a ‘violation of our safe space‘, creating ‘a climate of hatred and bigotry towards Muslim students’. When the meeting went ahead, members of the Islamic Society attempted to disrupt Ms Namazie’s talk, and were accused of making death threats. The college’s Feminist and LGBT Societies expressed their solidarity — not with Ms Namazie, but with the Islamic Society, claiming that ‘hosting known Islamophobes at our university creates a climate of hatred’.
All this reveals the odd relationship that many on the left have with Islam. They view all Muslims as helpless victims, and regard any criticism of Islam as a form of bigotry. A columnist for the Guardian, David Shariatmadari, called the attempts to muzzle Ms. Namazie ‘reasonable’ because ‘we don’t want to have any part in the further stigmatisation of Islam’. Some academics disdainfully dismiss liberal Muslim critics of Islam as ‘native informants’ — defined by one academic as ‘insiders’ who ‘air the dirty laundry of Muslim communities’.
Read the full article in the International New York Times.