Islamism is the political ideology seeking the supremacy of Islam over all other values. those “other values” include not just other religions, but also the concepts of freedom, secularism, and the liberal democracy itself. This is what threatens to take over the Islamic world when powers such as ISIS, Taliban, Hamas and other Salafists rise. We must separate this “political” Islam from the religious Islam that ordinary Muslims practice and cherish. Islamism is a poison both to ordinary Muslims and to the rest of the world. But saying g that it has nothing to do with Islam is disingenuous and dangerous. That’s what Left has been preaching, though.
Left has had a problem in the west. Given how successful capitalism has been, and given the success of emerging economies as they become more capitalistic, propagating socialism keeping getting unfashionable despite a recent resurgence, via Sanders etc. In general though, the Left in West has become enmeshed with identity politics. Women’s rights, Black rights, Immigrant rights, minority rights in general.
These are all issues close to anyone seeking liberty. Equality is the cornerstone of a modern society. The problem starts when this thinking becomes cultish. It is a short distance from “minorities should have rights” to “minorities are always right”. We know this well in India, were there is a history of appeasing minority “leaders”, whether they are right or wrong. And in the name of “social justice” we have created gangs of goons roaming the hinterlands. This approach benefits neither majority nor the minority, nor the socially disadvantaged. It just keeps some leaders happy, the backwards backward and the Left in power.
The Left is a means to struggle against oppression. It started against the royalty and the dictators. In 50’s and 60’s, some western Leftists raised their voice against USSR too. Today, they only stand against whoever happens to be the majority in their country. So the American Left idolises the “Eastern Spiritualism” and to them Yoga is the most eclectic exercise ever, but Indian Left starts convulsing as soon as the PM wants to promote it. And while all liberty loving people in the Islamic world recognise the dangers of Islamism, the Westen Left wants to hug and protect everyone who is against Western powers.
Case in point: Francois Hollande, the french president. He belongs to the Socialist Party. He did not support the ban on face-covering burqa that previous president Sarkozy applied. He campaigned to the muslims claiming to be their deliverer from Sarkozy. He got 93% of Muslim votes in a face-off with Sarkozy. That was no doubt a factor in French parliament unilaterally recognizing Palestine. Even after Charlie Hebdo, Hollande was pretty mild, resisted criticizing Islamism, and tried to prevent the PM of Israel from attending the solidarity march, as that may offend Muslims. So what happened? France is the largest non-Arab exporter of fighters to ISIS. France has had coordinated attacks against jews. Of course Charlie Hebdo. And now this.
Why does this happen? Slowly, by broad generalizations. Left feeds into and reinforces the feeling of victim-hood that has spawned political Islam. There have been attacks on countries with Muslim populations by the West, but they were not Islamic nations anyway. Iraq and Libya are probably more Islamic today than they were under their dictators. And There have been more attacks on Muslim countries by other Muslims (Yemen, ISIS, Iraqi Shia-Sunni clashes, Turkish-Kurd conflict, I could go on). If every attack on any Muslim by a non-Muslim is portrayed as an attack on Islam itself, it feeds the narrative of Muslims v/s the rest. It feeds into a feeling of isolation and pushes people into ghettos. It isolates both the sides. Pushes them apart. Left has been feeding this narrative of victimhood to the Islamic world, and the chickens are now coming to roost.
If only Hollande was an exception, though. We have a barrage of idiocy from Left, starting with the refusal to recognize the threat of Islamism. When the Left, from Obama onwards, keeps shouting at the top of their voices that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, they are fooling the world, and probably themselves. ISIS, and similar organizations, have a mission according to their reading of Islam: that of making Islam and Islamic Caliphate the predominant power in the world.
By keeping Islam and any criticism of it out of public discourse the Left has created a vacuums that is being filled with rabid hatred of Islam, and of Muslims in general. The rise of far right parties, like UKIP in England, and National Front in France is precisely because the rhetoric of Left seems hollow. When, time and again, bunch of young Muslims kill themselves and others to the chant of “Allah O Akbar”, repeating ISIS has nothing to do with Islam makes less and less sense.
Nor does ignoring all reformist, liberal and feminist voices in the Islamic world. Those people, fighting for the oppressed, are painted by the Western Left as cronies of the West. Any criticism of Islam is tarred by the brush of Islamophobia, and brutal suppression is condoned as “cultural difference”. The natural allies of Left are thus abandoned. Long term Leftists are recognising this and raising their voices.
It is very important that ordinary Muslims not be tarred by the same brush as ISIS. It is clear that ISIS represents a small minority of Muslims. It is also clear that ISIS and other Islamists do represent some Muslims. And that their ideology is based on Islam. You don’t, after all, see Buddhist ISIS fighters. Islamism is a threat to ordinary Muslims as well as to the non-Muslims. Its imperative that the Left takes a note of it, and fight it. But the head is so far down the sand that I doubt they are listening.