Still not Fooled by Islamophobia

4 Dec 2009 by CST

Stephen Gash, leader of the Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) group has criticised CST blog for its condemnation of SIOE’s Islamophobic cartoon. (In this CST blog article, “Don’t be Fooled by Islamophobia”.)

The cartoon was shown in the original CST blog article. We will not publish it again, as it is so offensive. It shows a mosque dripping blood from its minarets, and from a crescent moon that sits on its roof. The front of the mosque is covered by a skull that is dripping blood from its teeth.

Gash does not dispute that the cartoon is Islamophobic; but he believes that it is justified because it is based upon a speech made in 1998 by the current President of Turkey, Recap Tayyip Erdogan, in which he repeated lines from an Islamic poem that said “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and Muslims our soldiers…”

After making the speech, Erdogan was convicted of racial incitement. He served four months of a ten month prison sentence. (More information on Erdogan’s political career, and the complexity of Turkish identity, secularism and Islam, can be seen here, here and here. The current situation regarding Turkish Jews and antisemitism can be seen here.)

As Erdogan was convicted of racial incitement; so we believe that SIOE’s cartoon is likely to encourage prejudice and hatred against British Muslims, and British Muslim institutions, regardless of their personal or collective politics and behaviour. (Indeed, as with antisemitism, it is likely that people who are merely assumed to be Muslim will also fall victim to such ‘catch all’ language and imagery.)

Perhaps even worse than the actual cartoon, however, is this banner headline from SIOE’s website:

Racism is the lowest form of human stupidity, but Islamophobia is the height of common sense

SIOE clearly believes that Islamophobia and racism are two very different things. There are, of course, philosophical and semantic arguments to be had about Islam being a religion, or a way of life, or a political system, or an identity: rather than a race. Nevertheless, it is the inciteful street level impact of Islamophobia that is paramount. It is here that all Muslims risk being treated with suspicion, if not outright contempt and hatred. It is here that mosques are threatened with far Right terror attack; and where Muslim women in veils are spat upon by their fellow British citizens. Islamophobia reinforces all of these cycles, by ensuring that all Muslims are obstructed from ever successfully integrating into British society. Jews know what it means to be regarded as "the other". (See here: opening pargraph of wikipedia page on antisemitism).  

Stephen Gash has also stressed his opposition to the fascism and racism of the British National Party; and he has stood against them four times. This does not alter CST’s criticism of SIOE’s language and imagery. Nor does it alter our advice that Jews should have nothing to do with them. Indeed, if anything, it makes SIOE’s tactics all the more foolish: as it is only groups like the BNP on all sides who can benefit from catch-all Islamophobia, and dangerous stirring up of community tensions.


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