Another anti-Islam stunt involving a roster of characters, “left”, right and liberal, who have featured regularly on this website. They have signed a manifesto denouncing “the new totalitarianism”. It begins: “After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.” Maryam Namazie of the Worker Communist Party of Iran, who is one of the signatories, has posted the text on her blog, accompanied by the announcement that the manifesto would be “published in Charlie Hebdo, a French leftwing newspaper”.
In fact, the manifesto first appeared in Jyllands-Posten, the right-wing Danish paper responsible for publishing the offensive anti-Muslim cartoons. The manifesto has also been enthusiastically welcomed by the likes of Little Green Footballs, Jihad Watch and Western Resistance.
In his book The Future of Political Islam Graham Fuller defines an Islamist as a person who holds the view that “Islam as a body of faith has something important to say about how politics and society should be ordered in the contemporary Muslim World and who seeks to implement this idea in some fashion”. Islamism is thus a category that includes a huge variety of ideologies and individuals, from Tariq Ramadan to Osama bin Laden.
As Soumaya Ghannoushi pointed out in an article entitled “The many faces of Islamism”, published in the Guardian last October: “Islamism, like socialism, is not a uniform entity. It is a colourful sociopolitical phenomenon with many strategies and discourses. This enormously diverse movement ranges from liberal to conservative, from modern to traditional, from moderate to radical, from democratic to theocratic, and from peaceful to violent. What these trends have in common is that they derive their source of legitimacy from Islam.”
By lumping all these trends together under the heading of “totalitarianism”, the signatories to the manifesto merely demonstrate their own ignorance and bigotry. It is all too reminiscent of Cold War propaganda that depicted all proponents of radical politics, from liberals leftwards, as “commies” who were intent on destroying democracy and imposing a totalitarian political system.