Our response to ‘Islamophobia’ is a Classical Marxist view of the issue sent to Westminster parties
Dear Party Chairperson
We understand you have adopted the definition of Islamophobia as “a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”. We are sure that you have been contacted by some groups criticizing this definition which the government has chosen not to adopt. We are an organisation that represents a small number of working people and some of us identify ourselves as classically Marxist in our approach to Politics. We too are concerned that you have adopted this definition and we will explain why.
Firstly, according to the views of Karl Marx all religion represents different stages in the development of human consciousness. Marx described this evolution of consciousness in terms of humanity casting off “snake skins” and different religions represent different stages in that process. As our consciousness matures over millennia, some groups gain power and come to recognise, ‘injustice’ and ‘unfairness’ within the context of their life experience and on the back of new material realities changes in thinking take place. Religion thus reflects past material circumstances and is therefore ideological, promoting a material reality which works to the advantage of some groups over others, men over women for example.
However, religion differs from mere ideology in that unlike an ideology (like socialism or communism for example) it is identified with the divine. In the case of Christianity, the divine is the personhood of Jesus the son of God, in the case of Islam, the divine is the Qur’an Gods word dictated to Muhammed by the Archangel Gabriel. By promoting Islamophobia as “a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness” you are at risk of protecting from criticism ideas that have little modern relevance and indeed may advance the cause of a consciousness which accepts different moral standards to many promoted in the twenty-first century West. In Marxist terms you are asking us or at least some of us to try and re-enter or remain within, a now discarded snakeskin, at least discarded in much of the liberal western world.
One final point and that relates to the frankly inaccurate claim that Islamophobia is a type of racism. By including this in your definition you essentially turn all criticism of Islam into racism and people who legitimately criticise Islam into racists. This may not be what you intend to do, we are sure your consciousness has evolved to the point where you wish to defend freedom of expression and freedom of speech. However, your definition will make it increasingly hard for those who wish to challenge Islam to do so.
We are fully in support of any definition of Islamophobia which is intended to protect the rights of individuals to speak their truth even if their ideas represent the views of an earlier age or period of collective consciousness and therefore may offend. However, it must be a definition which refers to protecting people rather than ideas, ideologies or faiths. This is the twenty-first century and all working people and those of all faiths and none need to speak their truth openly and without fear of persecution or indeed prosecution.