What_are_we_to_do_with_Islam._Socialist_International.odt

What_are_we_to_do_with_Islam._Socialist_International.odt -...

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Search for: Latest issue Back issues Links Resources Translations Subscribe About What are we to do with Islam? The case of Turkey Issue: 151 Posted on 22nd June 2016 Ron Margulies The question of the relationship between socialists on the one hand and Muslims and Islamic organisations on the other is of burning relevance both in the West and, even more so, in the countries of the Middle East. In Western Europe and the United States the issue is straightforward. Official ideology demonises Islam and Muslims. Muslims in the West, with insignificant exceptions, are poor and working class. The fight against Islamophobia is thus a major element of the struggle both against racism and for working class unity. Organisations that make concessions to Islamophobia, in the name of secularism, modernity, civilisation or freedom of speech or expression (or anything else), will find themselves on the side of the state against a particularly poor section of the working class, on the side of racists against a generally defenceless and unorganised immigrant section of the population. No such organisation can hope to build any united working class struggle. All of this should go without saying but, alas, it does not. The argument by parts of the French left, that the state was right to ban religious garb in schools, utterly failed to acknowledge that what was under discussion was not religion in general but Islam, not religious symbols but Islamic dress, not what French kids could or could not do but what members of a particular minority could or could not do. The issue was not one of secularism, but of racism. This is so clear as to have made any discussion of the matter unnecessary but, of course, it did not. The issue remains a live one, and not only in France. Nevertheless, my concern here is not with the West, where the issue has been the subject of considerable debate and discussion, 1 but with the Middle East. Mistakes in the West can have serious enough results, such as, for example, the alienation of Muslim migrant communities from the left and from organised politics in France. In the Middle East mistakes can cost thousands of lives, as with the destruction of the Iranian left after the revolution of 1979, or the current situation in Egypt, or what would have happened had the Turkish military succeeded in overthrowing Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the first half of the 2000s. I shall concentrate here on Turkey, which I know best and am actively involved in,
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but the parallels, particularly with Egypt, will, I hope, be clear. Modernisation and the exclusion of Islam Almost all of Turkey’s citizens are Muslims. There are something like 60,000 Armenians, 20,000 Jews, less than 2,000 Greeks, and even smaller numbers of Assyrians and others in a total population of around 75 million. It might therefore be assumed that, as far as religion is concerned, the Turkish state has no problems with Muslims and Muslims have none with the state. It would be assumed wrongly.
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