Maajid Nawaz is a sharply dressed, cosmopolitan European campaigner against “theocracy” and patriarchal society, so you’d think that he’d win plaudits from the left. Instead he’s been attacked in the pages of the Guardian—because he’s a Brit of Pakistani descent campaigning against Islamic radicalism. Somewhere in the past few years, the international left’s wires seem to have gotten crossed on the subject of Islam, such that the angriest voices in Islam are treated as the most “authentic” (frequently by privileged white Western lefties), while those in Islam who speak out against such voices, no matter how just their cause or how deep their roots in the community, get little support. Nawaz writes in the Daily Beast:
The great irony is that, unlike many of today’s champagne socialists and shisha-jihadists my entire life has been a prototype of their archetypal aggrieved Muslim. Unlike the Guardian’s private school, Oxbridge-educated journalist David Shariatmadari, I am a state school-educated Muslim and racial minority. I have been stabbed at by neo-Nazis, falsely arrested at gunpoint by Essex police, expelled from college, divorced, estranged from my child, and tortured in Egyptian prison, and mandatorily profiled. I’ve had my DNA forcibly taken at Heathrow Airport under Schedule 7 Laws, which deprive terror suspects of the right to silence at UK ports of entry and exit, among much else. I’ve been blacklisted from other countries. I am every grievance regressive leftists traditionally harp on. Yet their first-world bourgeois brains seem to malfunction because I refuse to spew theocratic hate, or fit their little “angry Muslim” box.
Well, Nawaz himself isn’t backing down. And sometimes the simplest truths take the most courage to say:
[I]t is as plain as the light of day to me—a Pakistani-British liberal Muslim—that any desire to impose any version of Islam over anyone anywhere, ever, is a fundamental violation of our basic civil liberties. But Islamism has been rising in the UK for decades. Over the years, in survey after survey, attitudes have reflected a worrying trend. A quarter of British Muslims sympathised with the Charlie Hebdo shootings. 0% have expressed tolerance for homosexuality. A third have claimed that killing for religion can be justified, while 36% have thought apostates should be killed. 40% have wanted the introduction of sharia as law in the UK and 33% have expressed a desire to see the return of a worldwide theocratic Caliphate. Is it any wonder then, that from this milieu up to 1,000 British Muslims have joined ISIS, which is more than joined the Armyreserves. In a case that has come to symbolize the extent of the problem, an entire family of 12 recently migrated to the Islamic State. By any reasonable assessment, something has gone badly wrong in Britain.
But for those who I have come to call Europe’s regressive-left how could Islamist tyranny—such as burying women neck deep in the ground and stoning them to death—possibly be anything other than an authentic expression of Muslim rage at Western colonial hegemony? For don’t you know Muslims are angry? So angry, in fact, that they wish to enslave indigenous Yazidi women for sex, throw Syrian gays off tall buildings and burn people alive? All because… Israel. For Europe’s regressive-left—which is fast penetrating U.S. circles too—Muslims are notexpected to be civilized. And Muslim upstarts who dare to challenge this theocratic fascism are nothing but an inconvenience to an uncannily Weimar-like populism that screams simplistically: It is all the West’s fault.
Except, as Nawaz notes, it isn’t. Voices like his need to be heard and encouraged. The whole essay is definitely worth your time.