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Andy Newman turns to the dark side of the force

This is a guest post by Howard Fuller

When I was younger I used to feel slightly envious of the local Vicar who would wander into the pub in the evening and be offered drinks by all and sundry, always taking “just a half” until he had imbibed enough and then wandering back across to the local church. Seemed like a good job to me, though not one suitable for the atheist I had already become.

The advent of the eighties saw a rather jolting revival of religious intervention on the political scene when a mob of angry young men started burning a book that had apparently been blasphemous in intent. Since those days there has been a growing disquiet over religion and one in particular that of Islam. The rest we know since Harry’s Place has covered the issues in depth.

Meanwhile Andy Newman over at the rather peculiar Socialist Unity website is continuing his witch-hunt against Anne Marie Waters, the One Law for All campaign and this website all of whom he accuses of “Islamophobia” (whatever that term actually means) in a rather torturous article entitled On not fearing Muslims.

Newman seeks in particular to defend a charming character called Yusuf Qaradawi and persuade us that this reactionary cleric is not a bigoted hate monger, so let’s have a quick look at this mans thoughts:

On Gays:

A homosexual should be given] the same punishment as any sexual pervert – the same as the fornicator…The schools of thought disagree about the punishment. Some say they should be punished like fornicators, and then we distinguish between married and unmarried men, and between married and unmarried women. Some say both should be punished the same way. Some say we should throw them from a high place, like God did with the people of Sodom. Some say we should burn them, and so on. There is disagreement…The important thing is to treat this act as a crime

On Women:

In his book The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam, states that wife-beating is permissible after the failure of all other means of persuasion. In such circumstances, a husband may beat his wife “lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive areas.”  (Daily Telegraph)

On Genital Mutilation:

“whoever finds it serving the interest of his daughters should do it, and I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world. (Modern Fatwas)

On Jews:

Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one

and don’t forget the Holocaust:

Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the Jews people who would punish them for their corruption…The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them…Allah Willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.

Which shows any attempt to claim that Qaradawi is just “Anti-Zionist” is complete bollocks.

Yet Newman attempts to excuse this hate preacher is just a product of his “conservative society”. He may well be but that’s no excuse to be a bigot, others have managed to break with tradition.

I was horrified by Newman’s conflation of female and male circumcision (FGM is more akin to castration) and his argument that this is “cultural relativism” is a disgrace and shows a complete disdain for brown women’s rights, since in his eyes they would seemingly have to accept their fate. Oddly he suggests that “unnecessary surgery” including ” circumcision for male minors” should be illegal.

Of course the real problem with Newman’s piece is that he shows no concern for those within the Muslim world who are struggling for change, like the Turkish protesters, one of whom simply stated he “wanted to hold his girlfriends hand” as Erdogan tries to crack down on “public displays of affection”.

Newman and his co-thinkers at Socialist Unity are purveyors of reaction and stand in the same tradition as George Galloway with their pandering to reactionary conservatism. What this man is doing in the Labour Party, witch-hunting secular activists is open to question. He seems intent on wrecking the internal processes of candidate selection in order to keep a member of the Green Party as an MP. The Greens in Brighton are currently in dispute with their own workforce whose wages they have have cut by £4,000 a year.

In ending I would like to draw your attention to this rather enlightening quote from Qaradawi

“If they had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment Islam wouldn’t exist today.”  (Statement form Al Jazeera Interview)

In other words he’d be out of a job.