Tuesday, March 22, 2016


So here we are again, Brussels this time. All over again...it's happening over and over, and we find ourselves in the same place... My heart goes out to all those who lost family and friends. 

The nothing to do with Islam crew are out, as are the Ban all muslims crew. Neither have a grasp on reality.

How many more will it take before our politicians can at least identify the problem. How many more lives need to be lost before we stop shielding Islam (an idea) from criticism. Before we stop equating any criticism of it with demonizing of all Muslims (people). It's exhausting, having to repeatedly explain the difference between people and ideas to both those on the left and right. So many are confused about this. 


I received a very thoughtful email from Iceland: 

Today we have attacks in Brussels (Islamist, I am assuming after rumours about Arabic shouting, although we don't know yet). So tensions will keep building. Anything said about Islam is considered phobic, and lots of things that need to be said are not being said.

Here in Iceland it really isn't possible to critically discuss Islamism. Real bigots and white supremacists jump aboard so quickly that the discussion turns racist in the blink of an eye. 

This is so sad, and so frustrating. 

Therefore we can't really discuss how to prevent cultural clashes in the future; we will most certainly have similar problems to those in the other Nordic countries. But as of yet we have rather few Muslims and no visible problems of that nature to speak of. But immigration is on the rise. Only a matter of time.

This is exactly why i think its important to call out and distinguish ourselves from those who are coming from a real place of bigotry. This is why I refer to it as a 3-headed beast of sorts, that we must battle. Because increasingly so, in the age of Trump, there are more and more people joining this conversation - who would simply prefer another brand of fascism in place rather than secularism and equality. Critique of Islam is so incredibly important, and not pandering to xenophobes who jump on this bandwagon, is key to keeping that conversation going productively. 

It’s such a frustrating situation, and I completely empathize. Even in Canada, it is only devout Muslims who are given platforms, any secularists or liberals from our communities are written off as ‘Islamophobes’. On the other hand we have our fox news type narrative as well...but no real space for middle ground. 

With a rise in immigration and no proper critique, heightened relativism because people refuse to address problems within Islam, this polarization will certainly get worse. We need to start recognizing forms of non violent extremism as well, and we need to start calling it out. Gender segregation, burqas, fundamentalist religious schools…these things should not be acceptable to the general public. Banning of course is not the solution, as it will only have the opposite effect. ...but public opposition is important. One law for everyone in terms of face coverings in banks, airports, courts, etc. is important.

In Denmark all kinds of ideas are being discussed after a recent hidden camera show revealed fundamentalist teachings in many large danish mosques, going against local laws and restricting women from working in the Danish community. Ideas discussed, for example: banning radical imams form countries such as Pakistan and making Danish the mandatory language for prayer.

In Sweden immigrants end up in high rise housing projects with future crime and segregation problems.

This is unsurprising :( Such awful beliefs are prevalent, and there are little to no challenges. Absolutely, hate-preachers should not be allowed immigration. I assumed that much was already in effect! I doubt that people would be willing to forego the traditional Arabic recitations in the mosque. But mosques and religious schools do need to be regulated and scrutinized. 

If only the governments/media were to stop demonizing/ignoring people of Muslim descent - who do criticize such radical ideologies….and instead prop them up, a world of difference could be made. They don’t because they fear the take over from legit bigots, its a fair concern, but people need to learn to distinguish between rational critics and fear mongers. Otherwise the only option left for frustrated people will be those like Trump, and Pegida. It’s a terrible direction we’re headed in, one that will undoubtedly cause a rise in actual anti-muslim bigotry. If the left doesn’t get on the 'right side' (no pun intended) of this…many will shift to the actual right.

Very interesting dilemma. And for people such as yourself of course very strange, not to be able to discuss women's rights and the Islamist right without being called a bigot.

It is rather strange, isn’t it. Such a frustrating position to be in. I’ve been bumped off of shows, and panel discussions once they find out I’m a critic of religion, and an ex-Muslim atheist.

I worry that if we can't discuss these things properly with solutions being proposed and researched, we will leave the discussion to the far right, like Sam Harris has mentioned, and thus we will get a far right nationalist party very soon I think. We already see signs that these kinds of political powers are on the rise here and I think that is very sad.

It’s not even that it will happen… it is happening. I’ve seen a clear shift to the right from many atheists too (Pictured below is a group that many 'secularists have recently supported or refused to denounce). And alliances being formed with far-right anti ‘islamization' groups, very worrying. And also alienating for atheists and liberals of muslim descent.

Pegida Rally - Image from: gatewaypundit.com

An Arabic cultural center has been started in Iceland. Hopefully such moves will help Arab and Muslim immigrants to thrive here without resorting to fundamentalist Islam as a cultural beacon in search of identity.

I really hope so. But more efforts to encourage secularism within Muslim communities are needed. I’ve written some children’s books that I received lovely death threats for. Instead of highlighting their importance, especially for children of immigrant parents, the schools have been bullied into silence and abandoning such resources. Meanwhile we fight for LGBT equality and updated sex ed curriculums in our schools in Canada, but nothing to specifically encourage this acceptance among (muslim) immigrants. 

Thank you for your interesting email. 



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