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Submitted by Daniel_Randall on Mon, 19/01/2009 - 00:30

Let's put aside for a moment the fact that the people Sean was referring to weren't just ordinary demonstrators who happened to be Muslim but rather organised Islamist activists (a point that 'Johnb' seems to have missed). It seems pretty elementary to me that making "God is great" your lead chant on a demo isn't ideal from a socialist point-of-view, and that socialists would attempt to engage with people who chant this and persuade them not to. But for 'Johnb', we just get "well, duh - it's because they're Muslims."

If a political movement was dominated by, or included a significant minority of, say, Jewish elements whose world view was firmly, ideologically, politico-religious I imagine 'Johnb' would argue with them, criticise them, whatever, even while attending demonstrations alongside them. But when the people in question are Muslims, there apparently can be no criticism. They are politico-religious "because they're Muslims", and that's that.

Let's unpick the logic here; as far as I can see, 'Johnb' is implying that the British Asians of a Muslim background who're chanting "God is great" on the demonstrations can't really be expected to develop anything beyond this politico-religious consciousness (such as working-class, socialist consciousness, for example) "because they're Muslims." And we're the racists? Get a grip, mate.

If, 'Johnb', you actually believe that we "should be aiming [...] to win them away from religion and to socialism", how do you propose that we go about this if any criticism of their existing, reactionary ideas is immediately shouted down as "racist"? If we don't have a critique of their current ideas, why should any of them bother breaking from them and becoming socialists?

As we've pointed out many times, many (probably most) of the young British Asians on the Gaza demonstrations have gone out of sheer shock, indignation, revulsion, opposition, whatever to the colonial slaughter Israel is dealing out to the Palestinians. That's the right instinct, it's one we share, and it's precisely because they are motivated by that instinct (and not necessarily by clerical-fascist ideas) that it's so important for secularist, working-class revolutionaries to intervene in the movement to offer an alternative political basis for solidarity with the Palestinians than the Islamist one offered by organisations such as BMI or MAB.

As you'll see if you read articles like this, AWL members are making serious attempts to engage with the people radicalised and drawn into political activity by this war. We'll keep doing that, and you can... well, do whatever you like really. Keep smearing us as "racist" from behind your keyboard when in reality it's your perspective that relies on patronising the very people whose religion you're so keen to protect from criticsm.

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