How the British Left is betraying Muslims
Islamophobia has always been seen as the domain of the political right. The British Prime Minister is renowned for his ‘letter box’ comments. 60 percent of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party considers Islam a threat to Western civilisation whereas 40 percent wishes to limit the country’s Muslim population. The State of Israel has also traditionally looked to the political right as its primary support base.
Yet recently we have seen the left turn its back on the Muslim world. Without espousing the crude rhetoric so prevalent among the Conservatives, the left is abandoning causes that are vital to Muslim people both in Britain and throughout the world. Simultaneously, they are putting pressure on all minority faith groups to embrace Western family and gender norms in clear violation of their religious beliefs.
Leftwing political parties are proving unwilling to support the Palestinians at a critical time. At a recent event co-hosted by the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel, the candidates looking to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party took turns to accuse him of anti-Semitism for his critical stance towards Israel.
Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy both agreed that it is anti-Semitic to ‘describe Israel, its policies, or the circumstances around its foundation as racist’, effectively criminalising all support for Palestinian rights. It bears restating that Nandy chairs the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East parliamentary group.
Keir Starmer, meanwhile, stated unequivocally that he supported Zionism and boasted of having family in Israel. Emily Thornberry, who is no longer standing for party leadership, absurdly suggested on Twitter that the mere act of flying Palestinian flags is anti-Semitic.
Labour is far from being the only party on the left to silence opposition to Israeli apartheid. The Scottish National Party has recently expelled Neale Hanvey for his support of the Palestinian cause. Various leftwing parties throughout Britain, Europe and North America are working to stifle the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.
Concurrently, leftwing parties are embracing a radical (and scientifically dubious) stance on gender and sexuality. Moreover, these parties are also imposing these views on their members under threat of expulsion. Both Long-Bailey and Nandy, for example, have recently signed a pledge that erases the distinction between biological women and transgender women, demanding that all party members subscribe to this view or leave the party.
This implicitly makes party membership impossible for most religious minority groups as well as those of us endowed with a basic common sense. Muslims can and should be tolerant towards individuals whose sexual practices or gender identity violates Islamic doctrines. Yet they should not be forced rewrite their own laws by politicians who know nothing of Islamic theology. Homosexual activity and transgenderism are clearly condemned in Islam and the Labour Party cannot claim to represent the Muslim community it forces them to change their views on sexuality and gender.
The political left in Britain and elsewhere must remember its responsibility to implement a genuinely progressive foreign policy, supportive of human rights yet firmly opposed to neoconservative militarism. Yet at home, it must manage diversity carefully and resist the temptation to assimilate religious minority groups.