I have been avoiding the “burkini” debacle for a while as I have posted on the topic of veiling and the French colonialist fetish for denuding women before. But as France continues to embarrass itself by bullying women into stripping in a public spectacle, red herrings about Islam, women and “morality” have dominated the discourse. The aim of these discourses is not protecting women from such harassment, but undermining the very tenets of Islam.
The French comedy-cum-horror show reached a head with the now familiar image of a woman being forced by four courageous male police officers to remove her “burkini”. Reports state that her daughter cried and bystanders cheered. In perhaps what is the most perverse of ironies, the 34-year-old woman was fined for not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism”. Good morality, the implication is, baring all – a point I will explore further below in my discussion on morality.
Last week, Nice’s deputy mayor described the “burkini” as a “provocation from Islamists”. The hypocrisy of the French mayor requires little attention; Muslims are frequently lectured about the freedom to offend. Perhaps the deputy mayor should attend them instead.
Mark Sykes, 1917
“I want to see a permanent Anglo-French entente allied to the Jews, Arabs, and Armenians which will render pan-Islamism innocuous…” – Mark Sykes, 1917
The Middle East is experiencing convulsions as the vicious cycle of violence continues and the boundaries which were once drawn upon ignorance and arrogance remain in a state of uncertainty. The continued Western violence in the Muslim world and the destructive responses of individuals in Europe too are also not disconnected from history and historic politics. Indeed, the upheavals in the Middle East are not an isolated phenomena, as is often made out to be.
The source of this great distress for Muslims has been in no part due to the intrigues and “great games” which have played out over the past century.
And no, this is not an “Islamist lie” like Maajid Nawaz seems to have informed you. It is however, a neoconservative conspiracy, which spans the inception of the War on Terror.
David Cameron’s doublespeaking speech was incessant in its assertion that there is no conspiracy to “destroy Islam”.
Increasingly, it seems that practically any argument, however well referenced, even academically-backed, is to be rapidly brought into the sphere of “extremism” or “Islamism” and suppressed through State apparatus. They have become the terms through which the government is censoring counter-narratives.
For neocons, “active opposition” to their civic religion of secular liberalism and its symbols – “British values” of democracy, rule of law and human rights – is equivalent to “undermining” it. It is “an attack” no less. To protect it, the state has effectively deployed the counter-extremism and terrorism industry. However, the double-standards applied by neocons means that any effort to undermine Islam, as understood from the time of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and explained and refined through the past fourteen centuries by thousands of Ulama – scholars of impeccable learning and piety – cannot be seen as an “attack on Islam”. Nay, for David Cameron and his colonialist brown-sahibs, it is part of the “Islamist” narrative. Presumably the “extremism” policy, which imposes an extreme interpretation of secular liberalism on Muslims and an opposition to it seen as “undermining our values”, is also part of the “Islamist” narrative.