Vänsterns problem med islamsk fundamentalism, del 2

Nu till det andra problemet med den muslimska fundamentalismen och vänstern. I detta fall blir det faktiskt ett problem med vänstern och islam. Beröringsskräcken med muslimsk fundamentalism parat med västerländsk misstänksamhet mot islam, traditionell marxistisk inställning till religion och dåliga erfarenheter från Iran leder till en fientlig inställning till allt eller det mesta som är muslimskt. Detta är synligt i den franska vänstern (främst hos Lutte Ouvriere) och i delar av den svenska autonoma vänstern (ska återkomma till detta), som inte på några villkor vill alliera sig med eller kämpa bredvid borgerligt nationalistiska eller islamskt fundamentalistiska muslimska grupper. Så här skriver Gilbert Achcar om detta:

The duty of Marxists in France is to fight unfailingly racist and religious oppression conducted by the imperial bourgeoisie and its state, before fighting religious prejudice in the midst of the immigrant populations.

When the French state concerns itself with regulating the way in which young Muslim women dress themselves and exclude from school those who persist in wearing the Islamic scarf; when the latter are taken as targets of a media and political campaign whose scale is out of proportion with the extent of the phenomenon concerned and thus reveals its oppressive character, perceived as Islamophobic or racist, whatever the intentions expressed; when the same state favours the well-known expansion of religious communal education through increasing subsidies to private education, thus aggravating the divisions between the exploited layers of the French population – the duty of Marxists, in the light of everything explained above, is to be resolutely opposed.

This has not been the case for a good part of those who call themselves Marxists in France. On the question of the Islamic scarf, the position of the Ligue de l’Enseignement (the League for Education), whose secularist commitment is above all suspicion, is much closer to genuine Marxism than that of numerous bodies that claim it as their source of inspiration. Thus, one can read the following in the declaration adopted by the Ligue, at its June 2003 general meeting at Troyes:

”The Ligue de l’Enseignement, whose whole history is marked by constant activity in support of secularism, considers that to legislate on the wearing of religious symbols is inopportune. Any law would be useless or impossible.

”The risk is obvious. Whatever precautions are taken, there is no doubt that the effect obtained will be a prohibition, which will in fact stigmatise Muslims….

”For those who would wish to make the wearing of a religious symbol a tool for a political fight, exclusion from state schools will not prevent them from studying elsewhere, in institutions in which they will have every opportunity to find themselves justified and strengthened in their attitude….

”Integration of all citizens, independent of their origins and convictions, passes through the recognition of a cultural diversity, which should express itself in the framework of the equality of treatment that the Republic should guarantee to everyone. On these grounds Muslims as with other believers, should benefit from freedom of religion in the respect for the rules that a pluralist and deeply secular society imposes. The struggle for the emancipation of young women in particular goes primarily through their schooling and respect for their freedom of conscience and their autonomy: let us not make them hostages to an otherwise necessary ideological debate. In order to struggle against an enclosed identity, secularist pedagogy, the struggle against discrimination, the fight for social justice and equality are more effective than prohibition.”

In its report of 4 November 2003, submitted to the Commission on the application of the principle of secularism in the Republic, the Ligue de L’Enseignement deals admirably with Islam and its representations in France, of which only some excerpts are quoted here:

”The resistance and discrimination encountered by the ‘Muslim populations’ in French society are not essentially due, as is too often said, to the lack of integration of these populations but to majority representations and attitudes which stem in large part from an old historic heritage.

”The first is the refusal to recognise the contribution of Arab-Muslim civilisation to world culture and to our own western culture….

”To this concealment and rejection is added the colonial heritage … bearer of a deep and long-lasting tradition of violence, inequality and racism, which the difficulties of de-colonisation, and then the rifts of the Algerian war amplified and reinforced. The ethnic, social, cultural, and religious oppression of the indigenous Muslim populations of the French colonies was a constant practice, to the point that it is echoed in limitations to its legal status. It is thus that Islam was considered as an element of the personal statute and not as a religion coming under the 1905 Law of Separation (of Church and State – trans).

”For the whole duration of colonisation, the principle of secularism never applied to the indigenous populations and to their religion because of the opposition of the colonial lobby, and in spite of the requests of the ulema (Muslim scholars – trans) who had understood that the secular regime would give them freedom of religion. Why should we be surprised then that for a very long time secularism for Muslims was synonymous with a colonial mind-police! How should we expect that it would not leave deep traces, as much on the previously colonised as on the colonizing country? If many Muslims today still consider that Islam should regulate public and private civil behaviour, and tend sometimes to adopt such a profile, without demanding the status of law for this, it is because France and the secular Republic have ordered them to do it for several generations.

”If many French people, sometimes even amongst the best educated who occupy prominent positions, allow themselves to make pejorative appraisals of Islam, whose ignorance vies with their stupidity, it is because they subscribe, most often unconsciously while denying it, to this tradition of colonial contempt.”

A third aspect gets in the way of the consideration of Islam on a footing of equality: it is that Islam as a transplanted religion is also a religion of the poor. Unlike the Judeo-Christian religions whose followers in France are spread across the whole social chessboard, and in particular unlike Catholicism, historically integrated into the dominant class, Muslims, whether French citizens or immigrants living in France, are situated for the moment in their great majority at the bottom of the social ladder.

There the colonial tradition still continues, since the cultural oppression of the indigenous populations was added to economic exploitation, and since the latter has for a long time weighed very heavily on the first immigrant generations, while today their heirs are the first victims of unemployment and urban neglect. The social contempt and injustice that strike these social categories affect every aspect of their existence, including the religious dimension. No one is offended by the scarves on the heads of cleaners or catering staff in offices: they only become the object of scandal when worn with pride by girls engaged in studies or women with managerial status.

The lack of understanding shown by the main organisations of the extra-parliamentary Marxist left in France of the identity and cultural problems of the populations concerned, is revealed by the composition of their electoral slates in the European elections: both in 1999 and 2004 citizens originating from populations previously colonized – from the Maghreb or from sub-Saharan Africa in particular – have been outstanding by their absence at the tops of the LCR-LO slates, by contrast with the French Communist Party slates, a party so many times stigmatized for its failures in the antiracist struggle by these two organizations. In so doing they are at the same time depriving themselves of an electoral potential amongst the most oppressed layers in France, a potential which the results obtained in 2004 by an improvised slate such as Euro-Palestine demonstrated in a spectacular fashion.

Hans kritik riktar sig främst mot den i detta hänseende bätre franska organsiationen, LCR. Men inte desto mindre avslöjar den ett av vänsterns problem med islam och med islamsk fundamentalism. Svårgheten att skilja det ena från det andra, islam från de fundamentalistiska strömningarna (nåt jag har blivit anklagad för flera gånger i samband med de inlägg jag skrivit tidigare, felaktigt enligt mig själv) inom islam. Ett fel som också Achcar har gjort sig skyldig till i en av de tidiga artiklar jag länkat till i ett tidigare inlägg, vilket en kommentator påpekat.

Så här skriver Alex Cowper om samma sak:

Det finns vissa likheter mellan de processer som pågår i väst och i den muslimska världen. Men i väst framställer sig den härskande klassen som försvarare av upplysningen när det passar dess politiska agenda, till exempel när den vill piska fram islamofobi. Utbildningsdepartementen i Storbritannien och Frankrike har plötsligt blivit försvarare av sekularism, trots att det existerar religiösa skolor i båda länderna och trots den anglikanska kyrkans status som statskyrka i Storbritannien.

Många på vänsterkanten i Frankrike har omfamnat denna version av sekularism. 1 exempel har Lutte Ouvriere (Arbetarkamp) givit sitt stöd till den nya lagen mot att bära slöja (hijab) i skolorna. Den andra organisationen långt till vänster i Frankrike LCR – Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire är mot denna lag. Men LCR har även gett sitt stöd till lärare som stängt ute elever från skolan för att de burit hijab. Båda organisationerna menar att hijab är en symbol för kvinnoförtryck. Men en symbol kan betyda mer än en sak. Den kan till exempelvis också vara ett sätt att uttrycka sin kulturell identitet och visa att man är mot rasism I ett nummer av tidningen Socialist Outlook argumenterade Jane Kelly för att de förtryckta själva både måste få bestämma vad som utgör förtryck och själva bekämpa det.(2) Marxister förbehåller sig rätten att kritisera religion, men vi borde vara för individers rätt att utöva sin religion.

Jane Kelly som nämns ovan argumenterar i sin artikel också mot Gilbert Achcar när det gäller vad jag citerat i mitt förra inlägg. Jag är benägen att i princip hålla med Gilbert Achcar och anser att Kelly övertolkar vad han skrivit. Men när hon säger att det är riktigt att samarbeta med MAB i Stop the War Coalition (vilket jag inte tror Achcar är mot) så är det rätt, liksom när hon skriver:

It is true that there have been Muslim candidates standing for Respect, including Anas Al-tikriti, who stood as a Respect candidate in the European elections, 2004. But he stood as an individual, resigning as MAB’s President in order to do so. Surely that is his contradiction not Respect’s, for in standing he accepted Respect’s manifesto and its programme. There are also of course individual members of Respect who are in MAB, as well as individual Muslims who are not, but MAB as an organisation calls for a vote for different candidates in different parts of the country – including Liberal Democrats and Greens as well as Respect.

We do not think all this amounts, as Achcar argues, to Respect ‘choosing to ally electorally with an Islamic fundamentalist organisation like the MAB’. Nor would we oppose someone from a Christian background standing as a candidate. The central anti-war candidate in the up-coming general election in Britain, George Galloway, is himself a Catholic and is personally opposed to a woman’s right to choose. This latter is a problem, but since Respect has a woman’s right to choose in its programme and its manifesto, it is a different kind of problem to one which would exist if a Catholic organisation was allowed to affiliate.

På samma sätt tyckte jag det var korrekt av Enhedslisten att ha Asmaa som kandidat till Folketinget.

Läs också: Vänstern, islam och yttrandefriheten

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  • Z

    Det vore roligt att läsa lite mer av dina egna tolkningar och analyser av texterna du citerar. Jag inser att det tar längre tid att skriva då, men ibland tror jag folk bara scrollar förbi alla långa engelska citat.. Dvs. mer egen text? 🙂

  • Knut

    Jag instämmer med Z. Det vore mer intressant att få läsa en analys av dig och höra vad du själv tycker än att skumläsa stora sjok med inklistrad text. Troligtvis blir det svårare att hinna med att publicera så många inlägg som du gör per dag, men de skulle bli mycket mer intressanta att läsa.

  • Anders_S

    Det kommer. Det är precis som med mins erie om antisemitism. Jag använder andras skriverier för att åskådligöra vissa punkter.

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  • Anonym

    Hej Svensson!
    Varför översätter du inte dessa massiva textblock från engelska till svenska?
    Du anar inte hur många inom arbetarrörelsen och dess motsvarigheter som inte förstår engelska.
    Du vill väl nå ut med budskapet?


    • Helt enkelt för att jag inte har tid. Dessutom kunde alla arbetskamrater som jag arbetat med på Pååls och Saab tillräckligt bra engelska (i sammanlagt 20 år arbetade jag fabriksarbetare, mekaniker och elektriker. I ytterligare 7 som programmerare. Problemet är nog ganska litet.