Whilst there has been strong economic improvement in Turkey under the AKP, there has been a growing move against both secularism and modernisation by their attempt to "turn the clock back" through measures such as allowing the Hijab back in state universities (where such head wear had previously been banned), censoring popular TV soaps such as one about the Ottomans where they insisted on more "Conservative dress" and more recently placing extra restrictions on selling alcohol and trying to stop "public displays of affection".
The secularists and in particular the young rebelled against this attempt to enforce such restrictive intrusions into their personal lives and that led to the major confrontations that we witnessed in recent weeks.
Such "conservatism" has also begun to be enforced by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and has led to the current split in their society that is being seen in the form of mass protests across the major cities. In an interesting developmen Reuters reports that the Tunisian Governemnt has made the following observation:
"Our approach is characterized by consensus and partnership," said Larayedh, who is also a senior leader of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party.
What this shows is that the world of Islam is far from untied in its' outlook for the future and divisions that previously exist have begun to be accentuated in the current political climate.
The reaction of some so-called "progressives " in the UK has been disturbing. The Socialist Workers Party has been long associated with supporting some rather dubious characters in their "front organisations like as James Bloodworth points out in the The Independent:
A good example is Unite Against Fascism.
Launched in 2003 as a response to the electoral activity of the British National Party, UAF spends most of its time these days organising counter demonstrations against the EDL.
An honourable way to pass the time, you might think.
UAF’s definition of what constitutes fascism, however, is a peculiar one. Not only are those advocating the resurrection of a fascistic Islamic caliphate seemingly not worth opposing, they have been actively welcomed into the UAF fold by the leadership.
One of UAF’s vice-chairs is Azad Ali, affairs co-ordinator for the Islamic Forum of Europe, an offshoot of the far-right Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami. As well as quoting an Islamist militant on his website in 2008 who claimed it was a religious obligation to kill British and American soldiers, Ali is on record as saying of democracy that “if it means, you know, at the expense of not implementing the Sharia, no-one’s gonna [sic] agree with that. Of course no-one agrees with that”.
On telephoning UAF’s office to clarify the group’s position on Islamic fascism, One Law for All was told by a UAF representative that there was “no such thing”.Of course the other problem is that the SWP actually called for a vote for the reactionary Muslim Brotherhood along with its' sister (sic) organisation the Revolutionary Socialists.
I have previously drawn readers attention to the report Siding with the oppressors: The pro-Islamic left and a further exposition on this theme has been published at the A Very Public Sociologist website which also looks at the role of individuals like Livingstone and Galloway:
The evidence martialled does show that figures associated with the SWP/Galloway/Livingstone triad not only have views that would make Tommy Robinson look like Harvey Milk; but shows clear instances of them apologising for or covering for their Islamist allies. Not that this is any news, of course. As well as covering up a macho culture of sexual predation in their own ranks, the SWP are well known for soft-soaping any regime or movement that earns Uncle Sam's ire. I'm sure they would even find some positive things to say about Saudi Arabia should it ever fall out with the State Department.
One has to ask why so many on the left (and there are those that don't) refuse to countenance any criticism of the Islamists despite the fact that like Qaradawi their views on Gays, Women, FGM and Jews make them so reactionary as to be on a par with the indigenous far-right like the BNP. For a look at what this character I published an article on him at Harry's Place in response to a disturbing piece at Socialist Unity written by Andy Newman.
Unfortunately the "comrades" at SU are not ones for rational thinking or free debate as I discovered when responding to Newman's diatribe. I was told that they have the right to "curate" comments (in plain English censor is the word they were looking for) and that there are no "buts" in defending Muslims. Indeed according to the charming Tony Collins:
Perhaps you just can’t see that we genuinely think you are assisting the rise of racism. Well, we’re not lying. We mean it. We genuinely put some of the blame on your shoulders.
So long as individuals take this false approach of calling anyone they disagree with as "racists" then there remains a section of the "left" that has become so aligned with reactionary points of view they can only be considered appeasers of clerical fascism.
Freedom of speech, democracy, Women's rights, Gay rights and more are not negotiable. It is clear that there there is a growing reformist movement in the Muslim world, expressed by the revolts against reaction in Turkey and Egypt and we should stand shoulder to shoulder with these brave men and women fighting for their basic rights.
The old reactionaries like Livingstone, Galloway, Respect, the SWP and Socialist Unity are part of the problem and must be treated as such.