One of the earliest decisions I made as a youth was that I did not believe in "God" and became an atheist. It was probably instrumental in seeing me take a "turn" to the left politically from a very "Liberal" family and background. .
This being the 1970's the world was a very different place to the one we live in today. The worst you would come across was a stern lecture from some religious aunt or local Vicar about how one would end up in "Purgatory" or even worse Hell (!), neither of which caused any sleepless nights since I didn't believe they existed any more than "God" and Heaven did.
On a national scale the enemy was limited to a few oddballs, most notably Mary bloody Whitehouse and her Festival of Light or whatever they called themselves. More concerned in protecting our morals from sex, profanity and the violence of Tom & Jerry on the telly it was all rather quaint compared to the situation that has developed since the "Rushdie Affair".
Still on the far left I supported and contributed to a statement going in the press to defend the writer from persecution and the "fatwa" issued by some barmy cleric in Iran. This was never published since the so-called "comrades" who organised said statement bottled it and returned all monies saying they were not going ahead in case people thought it was racist.
Even putting aside the background of the parties involved, Islam is not a race!
Islam is a set of man-made ideas dreamt up in the Middle Ages by a desert warlord who along with his followers went on to conquer a large swathe of the world.
"Islam" was imposed on the ancient Christian, Pagan, Jewish and other minorities that already lived in these lands.
Islam was an instrument of ideology used in a clearly imperialist form to create an Empire.
Of course Christian Kings and Emperors did the same utilising the name of their "God" to conquer and expand. As did other religious faiths across the world throughout history before them.
Fast forward to today and religious conflict still remains a major threat to civilisation and basic human rights, even at a level where it would seem unexpected. The Times (no link £) reported a disturbing event yesterday:
The rubber dinghy carrying about 100 African migrants across the Mediterranean had started to deflate when one young Nigerian Christian started praying for his life. The Muslims on board insisted that "here we only pray to Allah" according to one witness ordered him to stop.
His refusal and the desperate fight that ensued left 12 Christians drowned after they were thrown overboard by their fellow Muslim refugees.
Mass murder caused by religious intolerance, an all too familiar event taking place across the Middle East and parts of Africa by Islamic inspired groups such as ISIS, Boko Harem and others in a struggle for religious dominance.
The basis for these murderous outbursts are taken from religious texts, the Koran and the Hadiths, purported to be sayings of the prophet even if many were only suddenly "discovered" centuries after his death.
Of course Christianity had its problems, mostly, but not entirely gone away. I say mostly because the growth of rabid and quite violent homophobia has been recorded across much of Africa's "Christian" nations.
Such backwards ideas and theology needs challenging wherever and by whoever uses "God" or "Allah" to justify their violent oppression and murder.
But the left is not up to the task and hasn't been since the Rushdie affair. Huge swathes of the left, especially Marxists have simply accommodated Islamism to their ideological outlook. The most obvious culprits are Respect, the Socialist Workers Party and the oddball Socialist Unity website amongst others.
It's all in the name of "anti-imperialism". Islam in particular cannot be criticised. It's "racist" apparently.
Islam is no more a race than Catholicism is.
Religion, Islam included should be and must be subject to firm criticism. Basic human rights are under threat. Even that of voting. The Times also reports the appearance of Islamist inspired posters telling people not to vote only "Allah" can legislate. By which they mean themselves who claim to speak for their imaginary friend and say voting violates the rights of "Allah".
There have been reports of intimidation by small groups of "young Muslims. Sounds very much like the "Muslim Patrols that tried enforcing Shariah in East London.
Britain is despite the nonsense spouted by some of the comrades a quite tolerant country, but like everywhere else there are those who are not. Just witness the violence against foreigners in South Africa this week.
Multiculturalism has failed as has the so-called left that marches around the streets utilising whatever struggle takes place elsewhere to mask their own inherent political impotence.
The time for a new secularist based "left" to replace the charlatans of the anti-imperialists has never been more urgent.
Time to move forward and ditch the tired ideas of religion and Marxism.
Human Rights and Free Speech must be the foundation of future thinking.