The mayor is a man of the Left, and I am a classical liberal. We can agree that neither of us personally wishes to be subjected to the Shari‘a. I will assume, you [looking at Ken Livingstone] will correct me if I am wrong [short sporadic applause] that neither of us want this as part of our personal life.
But our views diverge sharply as to how to respond to this phenomenon. Those of my political outlook are alarmed by Islamism's advances in the West. Much of the Left approaches the topic in a far more relaxed fashion.
Why this difference? Why generally is the right alarmed, and the left much more sanguine? There are many differences, there are many reasons, but I'd like to focus on two.
One is a sense of shared opponents between the Islamists and those on the left. George Galloway explained in 2005, "the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies," which he then went on to indicate were Israel, the United States, and Great Britain.
And if you listen to the words that are spoken about, say the United States, you can see that this is in fact the case. Howard Pinter has described America as "a country run by a bunch of criminal lunatics." [big applause and shouts] And Osama Bin Laden [stops … ] I'll do what I can to get an applause line. [laughter] And, get ready for this one: Osama Bin Laden called the United States, "unjust, criminal, and tyrannical." [applause]
Noam Chomsky termed America "a leading terrorist state". And Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a leading Pakistani political leader, called it the "biggest terrorist state." [scattered applause]
Such common ground makes it tempting for those on the Left to make common cause with Islamists, and the symbol of this would be the [huge, anti-war in Iraq] demonstrations in Hyde Park, on the 16th of February 2003, called by a coalition of leftist and Islamist organizations.
At other times, the Left feels a kinship with Islamist attacks on the West, forgiving, understanding why these would happen. A couple of notorious quotes make this point. The German composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen termed the 9/11 attacks "the greatest work of art for the whole cosmos," while American novelist Norman Mailer, commented that "the people who did this were brilliant."
Such attitudes tempt the Left not to take seriously the Islamist threat to the West. With John Kerry, a former aspirant to the [U.S.] presidency, they dismiss terrorism as a mere "nuisance."
That is one reason; the bonds between the two camps. The second is that on the Left one finds a tendency to focus on terrorism – not on Islamism, not on radical Islam. Terrorism is blamed on such problems as Western colonialism of the past century, Western "neo-imperialism" of the present day, Western policies—particularly in places like Iraq and the Palestinian Authority. Or from unemployment, poverty, desperation.
I would contend that it actually results in an aggressive ideology. I respect the role of ideas, and I believe that not to respect, to dismiss them, to pay them no attention, is to patronize, and to possibly even to be racist. There is no way to appease this ideology. It is serious, there is no amount of money that can solve it, there is no change of foreign policy that make it can go away.
I would argue to you, ladies and gentlemen, it must be fought and must be defeated as in 1945 and 1991, [applause] as the German and the Soviet threats were defeated. Our goal must be, in this case, the emergence of Islam that is modern, moderate, democratic, humane, liberal, and good neighborly. And that it is respectful of women, homosexuals, atheists, whoever else. One that grants non-Muslims equal rights with Muslims.
In conclusion, Mr. Mayor, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, on the Left or on the Right, I think you will agree with me on the importance of working together to attain such an Islam. I suggest that this can be achieved not via the get-along multiculturalism that you propose, but by standing firm with our civilized allies around the globe. Especially with liberal voices in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with Iranian dissidents, and with reformers in Afghanistan.
I also propose standing with their counterparts in the west, with such individuals as Ayaan Hirsi Ali [applause], … formerly a Dutch legislator and now in exile in the United States; with Irshad Manji, the Canadian author; [applause] with Wafa Sultan, the Syrian in exile in the United States who made her phenomenal appearance on Al-Jazeera. Individuals like Magdi Allam, an Egyptian who is now a leading Italian journalist; Naser Khader, a parliamentarian in Denmark; Salim Mansur, a professor and author in Canada, and Irfan Al-Alawi, here in Britain. [applause]
Conversely, if we do not stand with these individuals, but instead if we stand with those who would torment them, with the Islamists, with, I might say, someone like Yusuf al- Qaradawi [applause] we are then standing with those who justify suicide bombings, who defend the most oppressive forms of Islamic practice, who espouse the clash of civilizations [notion that] we ourselves reject.
To the extent that we all work together, against the barbarism of radical Islam, a world civilization does indeed exist – one that transcends skin colour, poverty, geography, politics, and religion.
I hope that you and I, Mr. Mayor, can agree here and now to cooperate on such a program.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
From the transcript of Daniel Pipes' London debate with Ken Livingstone: