Geoff Martin on Respect and Islamophobia

“By the time you read this, Respect will be finished as a political organisation – not just because of the Galloway nonsense but for far better reasons which are bound up with their hopeless attempt to tie religious fundamentalism in with progressive left policies…. Ask them why they don’t challenge the rank homophobia of leading figures in the Muslim Association of Britain and ask them why they share platforms with the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ask them any of these questions and the convenient accusation of Islamaphobia will be slung back at you.”

Geoff Martin in Labour Left Briefing, February 2006

Martin is particularly angered by the fact that Respect supporters on the UNISON London Region Committee recently voted against a motion which he says laid out a “socialist alternative” to the government’s education policies and “called for an end to the creation of faith based schools and for those existing religious schools to be turned back into secular institutions”.

This contributor to Islamophobia Watch is in fact a supporter of a secular education system, but I’d have voted with Respect on that motion. There is no prospect of existing religious schools being abolished any time soon and, at present, of some 7,000 state-funded faith-based schools only a handful are Muslim. In these circumstances, it is a legitimate democratic demand on the part of Muslim communities for this discriminatory situation to be rectified. They are not going to be satisfied with the argument that some time in the distant future we will have a socialist society in which all faith-based schools will become secular institutions and Muslims will therefore no longer be discriminated against.

It would be interesting to know where Geoff Martin stands on the issue of St Albert’s, a state-funded Catholic primary school in Glasgow, where parents and their supporters are campaigning for it to become a state-funded Muslim school, on the not unreasonable grounds that 90% of its pupils are from Muslim families. I could be wrong, but suspect that they wouldn’t get much support from comrade Martin. Basing himself on the “socialist” education policy proposed at the UNISON London Region Committee, he would presumably be committed to launching a rival campaign calling for St Albert’s to be turned into a secular school.