Liberalism v Islamism
Mermaid Statue Draped in Muslim Dress
I don’t know who did it, but it’s still a glimpse into the future of Europe — unless Europe wakes up.
Back to Melanie Philips:
Presentation at Neo conference, Stockholm, Sweden, 11 May 2007
First of all, let me define my terms and say what I mean by Islamism and liberalism. Islamism is the politicised version of Islam which mandates jihad, or holy war against the infidel and conquest of the non-Islamic world for Islam. I’m well aware of the argument that there’s no difference between Islamism and Islam: that’s a theological argument for others to have.
By liberalism I mean the commitment to a free society, founded above all on the separation of secular government from religious worship â€” from which follow the concepts of equal respect for all people, freedom of conscience, tolerance and the rule of law.
These two concepts, Islamism and liberalism, are currently engaged in a fight to the death. My argument is that liberalism is in danger of losing this fight because it has so badly undermined itself and departed from its own core concepts that it is now paralysed by moral and intellectual muddle.
Liberalism is the creed of modernity. The driving force behind the Islamic jihad is the fight against liberalism and modernity. All the iconic conflicts â€” Iraq, Israel, Kashmir, Chechnya, Sudan â€”are secondary to the fundamental aim of the jihad to prevent liberalism and modernity from destroying Islam.
The founding ideologue of modern Islamism, Syed Qutb, made clear in his writings that at the core of the salafi interpretation of Islam was opposition to the separation of religion and temporal power that resulted in liberalism and democracy. His governing impulse was the fear that the instinct for liberty was so powerful it would spread to and infiltrate the Muslim mind unless it was checked by the most repressive possible form of Islam.
The Big and Little Satans themselves, America and Israel, are proxies for liberalism and modernity. That’s why Islamism says they must be destroyed. Qutb famously went to America and concluded from seeing men and women dancing at a church hop that America was one giant brothel. And much of the bitter hostility to the Jews who started returning to Palestine in the 1920s was because the women wore shorts and were sexually free.
The Islamist goal is to destroy the virus of freedom and modernity before it infects the Islamic world, and to replace it with Islam. That is the core of the profound threat it poses to the west, a threat mounted through the pincer movement of both terrorism and cultural takeover.
This cultural takeover, or the aim to Islamise the west, was explicitly laid out in a programme of subversion for Europe by the Wahabbi Muslim Brotherhood almost 30 years ago. In 1978, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference sponsored a seminar in London which said Muslim communities in western countries must establish autonomous institutions with help from Muslim states, and lobby the host country to grant Muslims recognition as a separate religious community as a step towards eventual political domination.
In Britain in 1980, a book called ‘The Islamic Movement in the West’ by Khuram Murad advocated an ‘organised struggle to change the existing society into an Islamic society…and make Islam…supreme and dominant especially in the socio-political spheres…’ A Muslim Brotherhood document seized in Switzerland in 2001, known as ‘The Project’, outlined a twelve-point strategy to ‘establish an Islamic government on earth’. And the Brotherhood has now set up an intricate network of bodies across Europe to put all this into action.
Many Muslims in Britain and around the world are deeply opposed to this; indeed Muslims are the most numerous victims of the jihad. That’s why I use the term Islamism, to distinguish those who believe in Islamic conquest from those who merely draw upon Islam for spiritual sustenance. But at the same time, it is false to deny that Islamism is the dominant force in the Muslim and Arab world, false to deny that it is radicalising millions of Muslims in the west, and false to deny the huge inroads it has made into western society through this pincer movement of terrorism and cultural pressure.
But many in the west do deny it. They ignore the clear evidence of the goal of Islamising the west. They choose to believe instead that the reason for Islamist terror lies in the wrongs the west has done to the Islamic world â€”Iraq or Palestine, discrimination or Islamophobia. Indeed, even to speak in this way is to invite the deadly label of Islamophobia â€” a term invented to shut down legitimate and vital debate about Islamism. Far from defending core liberal values that are thus singled out for destruction, such people thus side with or appease those who attack them. So Europe â€” bastion of free speech â€” attacked those newspapers which published and re-published the Mohammed cartoons. And liberals committed to human rights march on the streets of London, behind banners saying Free Iraq and Free Palestine, shoulder to shoulder with Islamists who believe in death to gays.
Why is a liberal society so reluctant to defend its own most cherished values of freedom and tolerance? The answer, I suggest, lies both in the intrinsic nature of liberalism â€” and also in what I would call our dominant culture of corrupted liberalism, in which true liberal values have actually been turned on their heads.