Sunday, January 02, 2005

Farish A. Noor: Hatred for the Moderate

An editorial response to the recent hacker attacks and death threats on the website MuslimWakeUp!

Hatred for the Moderate
Farish A. Noor
Daily Times

Let us, the growing and increasingly visible fraternity of moderate Muslims, lay our cards on the table and be honest with ourselves. While we must — as it is our ethical duty — condemn the rising tide of militarism worldwide, the brutal abuse of human rights, the economic exploitation of the poor, the growing power differentials between the developed and developing worlds; we must not spare ourselves and our community the criticism.

I write this as person who has studied the political Islam for nearly a decade. In the course of my travels and research I have come across some of the most astounding, redemptive and uplifting examples of religio-politics that underscores my faith in political Islam as a counter-hegemonic and anti-systemic discourse that can safeguard humanity against the predatory forces of economic globalisation. I am proud of being an Islamist-democrat myself and have worked with Islamist activists in Malaysia and Indonesia who have been, and remain at the forefront of the struggle for human rights, democracy and justice for all human beings.

But in the course of this long sojourn in the ever-shifting terrain of Islamic/Islamist political praxis, I have also come across a wide spectrum of losers, cop-outs, desperados and hapless ne’er-do-wells, ranging from closet homophobes, latent racists, self-denying bigots and downright fascists masquerading behind a presumed religiosity that in my opinion they are not entitled to.

To get off the ground progressive Islam needs to prioritise and enunciate its concerns in the most inclusive, tolerant and universal manner. It must seek meaningful strategic alliances with all groups and communities that are likewise fighting for social justice and the uplift of humanity. In the course of my own struggle as an academic and activist, I have found allies among fellow Islamists as well as secular democrats.

I have never found, on the other hand, any of the hothead Muslim bigots to be genuine defenders and promoters of democracy, human rights or human dignity. I find it hard, if not impossible, to take seriously those so-called ‘Islamic groups’ that claim to defend the rights of Palestinians when their own websites are festooned with articles and postings taken from neo-Nazi and Fascists websites, dripping with bile and venom. Xenophobes are not our allies and they never will be. We can never defend them. Nor should we try.

Entire Editorial

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