In all honesty, up until recently she was an unknown obscure who did not have much relevance in my life. However, Anne Marie Waters caught my bored eyes as she nestled between Quilliamite Usama Hasan and Zionist hate preacher Sam Westrop, in a discussion program which discussed the neocon deflective postulation that “Islamism” poses the greatest to the world. But where some neocons obscure their hate for Islam behind linguistic gymnastics of “Islamism”, Waters boldly declared Islam itself to be the problem,
“the idea that Islamism can be completely separated from Islam I think is problematic to say the least.”
Later in the same discussion she trivialises Islamophobia as “a phrase used to shut down any criticism of anything to do with Islam”. Perhaps she should trivialise Islamophobia and its realities directly addressing the many women who are attacked by white, non-Muslim and – like Waters – right-wing for being Muslims because of the hate directed at Islam and Muslims thanks to extremist ideologues like herself. And make no mistake, Anne Marie Waters hate for Islam as a religion is unfettered and focussed.
Maryam Namazie’s view of Islam is not dissimilar to Waters’. Thus both were suited for each other at the organisation “One Law for All” (OLFA), a front organisation for the anti-Islam Worker-Communist Party of Iran.
During her time at OLFA she made shockingly anti-Muslim remarks, loaded with prejudiced, reductionist assumptions. In one particular lecture she claims “criminal cases” occur in the context of “Taliban-esque” Sharia courts, which is patently false (See here from 10:50). In the same diatribe of a lecture Waters, in supporting the French ban on the niqab cites an unverifiable conversation with a French parliamentarian who stated that because of the French ban many women were now happy that they didn’t have to wear the hijab. In responding to the contention “what about women who do want to wear it, she replies
“why do you care about the women who want to wear it than the women who don’t want to wear it?”
The stupidity inherent in this argument is plain to see. For a secularist the notion of “individual liberty” simply did not dawn on her. Or perhaps it does, but not in the context of Muslims. This discriminatory notion is given credence when earlier in the same talk in defining her version of “secularism”, she goes on to say that “if you don’t want to have an abortion don’t have one, if you don’t want gay marriage, don’t marry a gay”. The implication is of course that the choice is there. But if you are a Muslim, who chooses to follow the precepts of the faith, then the message is well sorry, you are lesser entitled to this liberty.
The hate extends to the faith itself arguing that Islam is not intrinsically a “religion of peace”. In an Oxford Union debate on Islam, Waters, siding with the motion that Islam is not a peaceful religion, pedals distortions with half-truths. She conflates various crimes perpetrated by individuals and groups as well as acts of various countries which rarely implement the Shari’ standards properly and in societies which have been unseated from their Islamic culture to an imposed concoction of Western nationalism, secularism and capitalism. Much of the violence in the MENA regions which Waters highlights is a natural reaction to this Western imposition. Further, certain judicial aspects of Islam are typically swept aside under the fallacious notion that Islam is all about chopping limbs and beheading. It is like arguing that Western nations are all about imprisoning people, taking away their rights and liberty through arbitrary detentions, without due judicial process and the US’s secularism is all about the electric chair, lethal injections, imposing sanctions on poor nations which result in starving children to death, torture, using depleted uranium shells to the destruction of future generations , raping and then burning young girls and supporting regimes which use war crimes to “control” their populations in order to protect “vital interests” of the West. These are policies pursued or propped by the West in the past century of “enlightenment liberalism” and neoconservatism. Would the above be representative of the secularism of the West rooted in the Judeo-Christian culture which Nigel Farage and the neocons talks about?
Her uniformed view is exposed by Mehdi Hasan who highlights to her the conflation between Saudi Arabia, “the birth place of Islam” ignoring the fact that the Saudi regime did not exist during the “birth of Islam” and therefore the comparison with the Vatican is deeply erroneous. Needless to say, the debate was overwhelmingly won by Mehdi Hasan and those speaking on his side.
“British values”, which has been pushed by the present government, entails tolerance and mutual respect. Waters actively opposes these British values thus being categorised as an extremist when she says
“I’m constantly told I need to respect Islam, I’m not given quite a good enough reason why.”
The claim that she doesn’t respect Islam any more than any other doesn’t hold water: her specific targeting of Shari’a courts whilst ignoring the fate of women hanging in marriage limbo within the Orthodox Jewish community for instance and her silence on this reinforces this point. Respect of course doesn’t entail acceptance of differing ideas or religions, be it Islam or any other faith. But one would afford a degree of nuance and knowledge which does not simply regurgitate the neocon and “counter-jihad”, Islamophobia industry-narrative so prominent in the US. It is little wonder then, that her reductionist ravings were lauded by the EDL and a “counter-jihad” website which carry writings by authors that directly influenced far-right terrorist, Anders Breivik. Her views further resonated with extremist websites when she claimed that “Islam was new to Europe” (despite Bosnian Muslims living in Europe for centuries) and “religiously observant Muslims should leave the country”. Though the original video in which she makes these offensive remarks has been rendered “private” on Youtube, the quote has been reported by Andy Newman here, and approvingly reproduced on a hate-filled “counter-Jihad” website.
According to one extremist “counter-Jihad” website, Douglas Murray was also supposed to side with Waters in the Oxford Union debate, but was unable to make it. Douglas Murray attended OLFA whilst Waters was a member, and made some interesting points,
“Just like in the cold war in the battle against communism a vital component is the toolbox approach to defeating the enemy of Islamist extremism. Some of that will be people will be people you and I don’t like… the British National Part is an overtly racist party… there are people like that who will jump on this bandwagon, sure, but we gonna have to be extremely careful in who else we lump in with them… the English Defence League an extraordinary phenomenon… the English defence league when it started protesting had banners like Sharia discriminates against women, sharia law is anti-gay, well I am good with those sentiments.. if ever you want a grass-roots response for non-Muslims to Islamism, that would how you would want it… In America I respect Robert Spencer, he is a brilliant scholar”
The rant is pretty spectacularly shocking in that it ends with an allusion to the “final solution” for ending this new cold war with “Islamist extremism”:
“The fact is this at the end of the Second World War the Nazi leaders were tried and executed. At the end of the cold war it didn’t happen, one of the biggest problem we have is that it wasn’t resolved.”
The video abruptly cuts off but the question remains, is Douglas Murray calling for the execution of “Islamist extremists”? After all, we already know that “Islamists” for Murray are generally practising Muslims.
More pertinently though, are the words of Douglas Murray what lead to Waters who was on the side of the “left” during her membership with the extreme OLFA, to leave the organisation and veer towards the right which has increasingly been gaining currency through the rise of the UKIP? Of late she has been frequently Tweeting Murray’s articles (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here).
To the even more extreme
With Waters resigning from Labour, her true colours started to emerge as she started to write for a “counter-Jihad” website Dispatch International (DI). This was celebrated by known, extremist supporters of “Tommy Robinson”, the EDL and the terrorism-inspiring Robert Spencer and Pamella Geller. The editor of DI has compared Islam to Nazism stating,
“We consider Islam the most dangerous challenge to the Nordic countries and the entire West since the democracies succeeded in crushing Nazism and Fascism and beat back the third totalitarian ideology of the 20th Century, Communism. That is why we will write a lot about Islam and Muslim immigration.”
Her writings on this website have demonstrated subtle forms of racism. In one article by Waters in DI, she denounces Sharia councils (whilst ignoring Beth Din courts of course), on the grounds that they “operate outside of the laws of the mainstream, overwhelmingly white, secular majority”.
The OLFA soon after announced their publication condemning the allying with far-right extremists in the attack on Islam, linking the far-right with extreme fascists.
For Waters, echoing Murray’s call, it seems the attack against Islam should be enjoined with extremist groups, including sources linked to far-right terrorism. She resigned from OLFA, in the process becoming extreme for even the extremists. Maryam Namazie wrote,
“Given the context of Anne Marie’s resignation, her initiation of “Sharia Watch” and her leaving the Labour Party and joining UKIP as a candidate should be seen as an attempt at organising a “respectable” rightwing response to the issue of Sharia law… Since its establishment last month, Sharia Watch has publicised links like “Muslim Rape Culture” from the ghastly Frontpage Magazine, given updates on the far-Right Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller and the English Defence League, publicised videos like “Sacrificing our Daughters: On the Psychology of Islamic Rape Gangs”, and written a piece on how halal meat funds terrorism!”
The Bigoted Formation of Sharia Watch
Sharia Watch was launched in the House of Lords by noted Christian, Caroline Cox. This is interesting because Cox possesses distinctly bigoted views. Given the fact that Waters is currently a UKIP candidate, it is rather fitting to note that Cox signed a pro-UKIP letter which ultimately resulted in her leaving the Tories. In addition to believing that Muslims are compulsive liars, that Islam is a warring faith and Jihad is the conquest of the world, Cox, since 2005, has been a co-president of the Jerusalem Summit, a hardline pro-Israel advocacy outfit, which brings together neocons, evangelicals and Zionists. She also invited anti-Islam, far-right politician Geert Wilders to screen his inflammatory film “Fitna”.
The Geert Wilders connection does not end here, however. In an article supporting Pat Condell, she starts with a disclaimer that “she doesn’t agree with every word Condell says” (a tactic learned from Douglas Murray as quoted above perhaps), but Condell makes a “solid point”, that,
“‘progressive’ feminists who confidently challenge everyday sexism but who are struck deaf and dumb by Islamic misogyny…they turn a blind eye to religiously endorsed wife-beating, forced marriage, honour killing, genital mutilation, organised rape gangs, sharia courts that treat women as less than fully human, and little girls forced to dress like nuns”.
Condell’s frankly disgusting, extremist views on Islam and Waters’ defence drew sharp criticism even from other athiests. Condell’s views are understandable however, given he has also voiced his support of Geert Wilders.
Anne Marie Waters and her views seemed to have found a home in UKIP. From shifting from one extreme (the left) to the extreme right, Waters’ associations have become increasingly bigoted. This is further evidenced by the fact that the Sharia Watch website contains references to a hate preacher who was one of the inspirations for Anders Breivik’s terrorist ideology, Robert Spencer.
In sum, her Sharia Watch website was born out of the need to broaden the base of attack against Islam and the Muslim minority using reductionist, misleading and caricaturised arguments. This broad base consists of racists and bigots, which results in the voice of hate becoming louder, not legitimate. This in turn fuels the rising violence against the Muslim minority on the streets of Britain. Perhaps she needs a reminder of the “secular” International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 20(2), which states,
“Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”