The existence of violent Islamists has enabled many deeply reactionary Islamic preachers to claim the mantle of being "moderate" because they do not support jihadism. This means they can assert values that in any other context would be challenged by liberals and progressives as bigoted, intolerant, hateful and reactionary. But cultural relativism allows them to claim to be ‘moderate’ because, hey, as least they don’t say suicide-bombing bombing is halal.
An example is Mufti Menk, who is something of a rock star among Islamic preachers. He has almost 200,000 followers on twitter, was trained as a cleric in Saudi Arabia and is based in Zimbabwe.
One of his fans was Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston bombers, who re-tweeted some of the Mufti’s words of wisdom, much to his horror. Mufti Menk distanced himself from Tsarnaev, saying he was ‘shocked out of my skin’ and added,
“I believe the perpetrators should be brought to justice, which is a common statement. We stand for peace, we stand for tolerance and promoting harmony and that went a long way in clearing my name.”link
This month, Mufti Menk will be touring British Universities.
But look closely at Menk’s opinions, and his declaration of believing in tolerance and harmony falls apart. Menk promotes hatred of gays and apologises for stoning, and yet in Britain, the promoter of such views can be hustled as a ‘moderate’ and perform a tour of University campuses, including the hallowed halls of Oxford.
Menk says of gays:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWFLF-CY-Eg
“Indeed you are the people who have transgressed the limits of Allah....Allah speaks about how filthy this is.....so, with all due respect to the animals, they are worse than those animals. Remember, we are saying, with all due respect to the animals, because to the animals it is an insult to them to even suggest this to them. Automatically the pigs and the dogs do not engage in this
And here is friendly, harmony and tolerance seeking Mufti Menk on stoning women to death:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v32v1A5xI74
“Now before we go into the punishment of Zina (fornication) there are two punishments. One is the stoning to death of the person who has been married in the past, or is correctly married and they commit zina, the sharia says such a person should be stoned to death. That is there. There is no doubt, there is no debate"
So in the topsy-turvy place we are now in, a religious preacher who promotes the idea that stoning women to death is a good thing, and that gay people are ‘worse’ than animals, freely engages in a speaking tour of British Universities and wears the halo of the ‘moderate’ Muslim preacher with pride.
Is it fear that prevents gay and female students from pointing out the bigotry and intolerance behind the moderate mask of Mufti Menk? Why do we accept the terms of dehumanisation of women and gays that is structurally embedded in the speech of this ‘moderate’ preacher?
If a speaker who said Muslims were ‘worse’ than animals was invited to give speeches on university campuses would the National Union of Students allow it to go unnoticed?
Either way, the time has come for all truly liberal, secular and progressive people in Britain to critically scrutinise religious preachers and activists and their rhetoric and beliefs without inhibition. We should no longer allow the dehumanisation of women, gays, ex-Muslims, secular Muslims and dissenters to be propagated from our University campuses by Islamic preachers out of fear or cultural relativism.
Because if you compromise through association, assent, or support reactionaries who promote intolerance and hatred, whilst claiming to be promoting ‘tolerance’ and ‘harmony’ you debase yourself, and the values that are the very essence of the progressive movement – freedom of conscience, women’s rights, gay rights, anti-racism, are discarded cheaply. And if that happens, you have no values worth defending. You literally become worthless and value less.
A failure to introspect and deal with this issue is a failure of moral conscience that threatens everyone. Because at some point the real question for the progressives will become, when did our silence become complicity with the hateful and reactionary?