Dear Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman….

April 29, 2014


Dear Abdullah Zaik,

I’ve been following the curious statements you and your group – Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia – have been making recently on the subject of human liberty, and I thought I’d take the time to address one statement in particular. At the weekend, you said:

“Islam is Islam. Ideologies are not part of Islam and all these ideologies are from the west..liberalism, liberty, equity and human rights are all agenda of the atheist.”

There are so many flaws with this argument, it is difficult to know where to begin, but I’ll give it a try.

Firstly, it seems that you’re confused as to what an ideology actually is. Put simply; if one is to arrange a series of individual thoughts and ideas into a dogmatic framework of political and economic control that seeks to restrict the liberty of the individual, an ideology is born. Thus, to claim ideologies are not a part of Islam, is to insist that political and economic control must not be handed to Islam; which I believe is the exact opposite of your intended goal. You have therefore discredited your own point. Congratulations.

An ideology is a sort of cage, whereby certain freedoms are restricted. Any restriction on human freedom must be rationalised in the context of how that freedom injures the freedom of others. I give up the freedom to murder someone, because I do not wish others the freedom to murder me. Where my liberty is strictly individual, and does not restrict you in the free exercise of your liberty, you have absolutely no inherent right to oppress it. This is how to constitute society. A line of equal protections for all regardless of gender, sexuality, belief, and ethnicity. This ensures a level playing field that allows for the flourishing of individual talents and abilities, on a level that ideological cages – such as the one you wish to throw us all in – just don’t. It is what Bertrand Russell referred to as the reverence for human personality.

Secondly, it is perhaps worth pointing out that the concept of human liberty is not an ‘ideology’. There are no doctrines. You are not born attached to any doctrine. Liberty is a natural human condition before ideology is attached. You are free to speak as you wish, you are free to love whom you choose, you are free to wear whatever you wish to wear, to believe whatever you wish to believe, and act however you wish to act. To restrict any of those freedoms, is to apply ideology. For example, your country’s ‘National Fatwa Council’ (a group of grown men telling others how to live their lives according to the prejudices and beliefs of that particular group of grown men) declared that all Muslim women must not dress like boys, in case it encourages them to be gay. The ignorance of this is astounding – it’s like claiming we green eyed people shouldn’t wear something a blue eyed person wears in case we become blue eyed ourselves – and yet, this ignorance is given a distinctive state privilege to force its moronic rulings upon a population at the point of a gun, restricting freedoms because, well, they want to. This is ideology. It is also completely unable to justify itself, which then leads to ridiculously weak arguments like that which you presented.

So to recap on the first two points; Islam, when used to control the lives of anyone other than an individual who freely chooses to believe and adhere to its principles, becomes ideological and unjustifiable. Liberty is to be free from oppressive ideological structures that seek to restrain us in some capacity. I would argue that liberty should be protected for all. Civil rights equally protecting us all from oppressive structures we do not wish imposed on us, is the vehicle by which liberty is protected. It is a response to oppressive ideologies – such as Islamism. This is significant, because over the course of history we as a species have learnt that without such protections, it would seem the most powerful ideologies seek to grant themselves state privileges used to oppress the rights of those dissenting voices. This appears to be the case in Malaysia.

For example, in your country, a marriage between a Muslim and non-Muslim is not recognised. This is the state granting privileges to your faith only, whilst restricting the same liberty for others. If I, as a non-Muslim fall in love and wish to marry a Muslim, what inherent right do you have to restrict that for me, whilst enjoying it for yourself? This is a case of Malay Muslim supremacists controlling my life. What then should prevent me from controlling your life, according to my beliefs? I believe all members of Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia should be forced to talk in a high pitched Cockney accent, on threat of imprisonment. According to your logic, I am perfectly within my rights to do this, because I believe my individual belief is ordained by my new God.

Malaysia isn’t a Muslim country. Let’s get that cleared up. Malaysia is a country with Muslims, with Christians, with atheists, with Hindus, with Buddhists. For one to claim privileged power to control others – like you did, when you opposed the renovations of Sri Sundaraja Perumal Hindu temple in 2013 because you claim Malaysia is an ‘Islamic country’ – they must provide legitimate reasons for assuming a position of privilege that cannot equally apply to those of other faiths. What you mean when you say that a country is ‘Islamic’ is simply that one faith has successfully forced its way into an illegitimate state of privilege. It’s important to note that a majority of the country being Muslim, does not in any way grant Islam an inherent privilege to state power, in much the same way that a majority of the country having a mustache, does not grant people with mustaches an inherent privilege to state power. To refer to a country as owned by a particular faith, is both ideological and imperialist. You are the very imperialists that you apparently condemn.

Because of your faith, the LGBT community of Malaysia are treated as criminals, simply for whom they fall in love with. They are not permitted to appear on state media, nor be depicted in films. Your country’s leaders despicably refer to themselves as moderates on the World stage, whilst in the confines of the four walls of your state of Islamic imperialism, forcing two people in love to live by your soulless religious standards and 7th century dogma. You and your fellow Islamists running Malaysia have no more right to control whom someone else falls in love with, than we non-Muslims have to control whom you fall in love with. You just don’t. Appealing to your faith as justification to abuse others, whilst claiming you’re not promoting an ideology, would be laughable if it wasn’t so grotesquely dangerous.

Thirdly, liberalism, liberty, equity, and human rights are not an ‘atheist agenda’, nor are they western. Indeed, atheism is given no privileged position whatsoever. They simply do not allow you to control me according to your faith. We are considered equal. If you don’t like this, you’re going to have to inform the rest of us why it is you believe you should be afforded a place of authority over the rest of us. Why do you think you are better than us?

Liberty, and human rights are not ‘atheist’ values. They are universal values that protect you as equally as they protect me. They are simply not Theocratic values. They are a response to Theocratic values. They break the religious cage and free the prisoner. Liberalism and secularism benefit religious minorities by protecting the right to inquire, to speak freely, and to believe according to one’s own conscience without force. In your country, non-Sunni interpretations of Islam are illegal. Ahmadiyyah, Islamailiah and Shia are all banned. They are not allowed to speak freely about their beliefs. Thus, one sect of one religion controls what opinions are ‘acceptable’. This, again, is oppression. John Stuart Mill in his essay ‘Of the liberty of thought and discussion’ notes:

“If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

– Therefore, there appears no reason to ban other beliefs or opinions, except through fear that you may lose your privileged position that you cannot justify through reason, and so resort to force and threats. This is your sect enforcing its views upon others, and so it is the very definition of imperialism and oppression. Why then do you believe that one interpretation of one faith (coincidentally, yours) is to be considered uniquely predisposed to state privilege? What if a Shia uprising one day replaced that Sunni-only interpretation, with a Shia-only interpretation? Would you accept that as legitimate and thus bow to its demands? Would you remain silent and climb in the cage whilst the new master whips you every time you question their unjustifiable privilege over your life? Secularism and liberalism trusts you as an individual to come to your own conclusions and beliefs freely and without fear. What don’t you like about this?

If a constitution and law – like that of Malaysia – threatens to withdraw the ethnic status of an individual simply for leaving Islam, that constitution enshrines oppression and supremacy of the beliefs of one section of society above all others, at the point of a gun. An individual’s very identity is thus handed over and controlled by one sect of one faith, without any consent and any justification. Indeed, basic rights thus become dependent on belief. I think it wise to quote Thomas Jefferson at this point:

“Our civil rights have no dependence upon our religious opinions more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”

– With this in mind, perhaps you could inform us why you believe our civil rights should depend entirely on our adhering to your personal religious opinions?

It should be obvious to all that a faith, or an interpretation of a faith enhances its integrity if those who find it, find it through their own free inquiry and will, rather than indoctrination and threat. Mr Zaik, you appear to be appealing to indoctrination and threat, rather than free inquiry and will. What a terribly insecure belief you must have.

Your argument, Mr Zaik appears to be focused upon trying to convince the rest of us that we’re all much better off giving up our freedom, our equal rights, to abandon reason, and to be forced to live in your cage, by the dictates of your faith, with you as our Master, and beaten if we disobey. For this, your sales pitch is going to have to be quite extraordinary. I wish you all the luck in the World with that.

So let’s be honest Mr Zaik, you just wish the freedom to control the lives of others, according to your beliefs, without anyone fighting back. I have seen you refer to liberalism, feminism and human rights as Christian and Zionist conspiracies. This is simply a way to scare Muslims away from questioning the authority of one sect of one faith that seeks complete domination over their lives. You understand as well as I do that liberalism, feminism, and human rights secularised Christianity, and culled it of its overbearing and unjustifiable supremacy, and you fear the same will happen across the Muslim World. You mask this fear, with weak and incoherent arguments. But the mask is thin and it is clear that you simply wish the unjustifiable freedom to cage those who don’t believe exactly what you believe, for the sake of power, and you’re currently having a bit of a child-like tantrum at the fact that if you force human beings into your cage, and demand they live by your dictates, eventually they will fight their way free from it.

To those who follow you; I’d urge you to put down the ideological dogma, and pick up John Stuart Mill’s ‘On Liberty’, and we’ll all benefit.


Futile Democracy.

The Ironic Nature of The “Global Peace & Unity” Event.

April 5, 2013


There seems to be a growing incapability of Western ‘liberals‘ (and I consider myself a Western liberal) to criticise anything to do in any way, with Islam, or any of those who preach hate in such open forums, if they happen to be Muslim. It is taboo. We register our “disgust” with those who make “offensive” cartoons of the Prophet, and attempt to defend those who burn down embassies simply because they are “offended“. It is treated akin to racism, to criticise, mock, satirise Islam, in a way that isn’t present when speaking of Christianity, for example.
We will for example see countless ‘Unite Against Fascism‘ counter-demonstrations against the Fascist EDL or BNP. We wont see the same anti-fascist sentiment from the UAF aimed at preachers of Islamic hate at the ‘Global Peace and Unity‘ Event. Excuses are made; we are told it’s our fault in the West, for the behaviour of Islamic extremists, rather than taking any sort of critical analysis of the Qur’an, Hadith, the history of Islamism, the autonomous nature of its ideology, or Scholarly works. It is a curious form of liberalism, an extreme form of cultural relativism. A form in which we see ‘Respect‘ councillor Salma Yaqoob tell us that any attack on the ‘Global Peace and Unity Event‘ must come from ultra-zionists. She doesn’t mention the countless vile hate preachers that speak at the event, nor does she speak out against the vile rhetoric employed by some at this event. Instead, she used her time to lecture us, predictably, on how terrible the West is, and how anyone who says otherwise, is Islamophobic. She goes on to say:

“The kind of politics motivating these attacks on the GPU and IslamExpo events is highly dangerous. If, inside the Muslim community, the public space to even discuss concerns and distress over foreign policy gets squeezed, a dangerous vacuum is created….

…We should also challenge and seek to eradicate hateful ideologies which seek to divide us, whether this is Islamophobia, anti-Semitism or any other form of racism. ”

– I will demonstrate in this article, what those “concerns and distress” amounts to. It amounts to Salma herself, referring to 7/7 as a “reprisal attack“. It includes promoting terrorism, killing those who insult Islam, and insisting that society should not tolerate homosexuality in any way.
She unreasonably suggests that those of us criticising the GPU events, wish to silence discussion on foreign policy. Which is utterly ridiculous.

Notice also that her only inclusion of what constitutes ‘hateful ideologies‘ are based on religion. She mentions racism, but in the same context as religion. This follows the Islamophobia line, that to criticise or satirise the concept of Islam, is inherently racist. This is a supremely effective way of silencing criticism from a liberal perspective, making sure criticism of Islam in any form is regarded as the realm of the far right only. This has to change.
She does not include homophobia, hate for “the West” (which i’m now calling Kuffarophobic), or calling for the death of anyone deemed to have “insulted” Islam. Her position, is indicative of a Muslim superiority complex. Her sentiment, that we should all love each other, be one, fight those who seek to divide; is a beautiful sentiment. Yet when applied to the event that she is defending here, it is completely devoid of reality.

When you hear that an event entitled ‘Global Peace and Unity‘ will again be staged in London, and that it is usually attended by many tens of thousands of people, it inspires a sense of hope for humanity. That perhaps, people are able to put aside their religious, social, and economic differences and call for a time of unity for humanity based not on silly little prejudices, but on our common connections. Unfortunately, that is not what the annual ‘Global Peace and Unity’ event promotes, when we take a look at who is asked to attend and speak at these events. The conclusion is far more sinister.

One of the stalls selling merchandise at the 2010 event, was a group calling themselves “Wearaloud“. The stall sold tshirts (one of which the Telegraph brought, at the event) with the logo of al-Qassam Brigade, the militant wing of Hamas, responsible for countless terrorist attacks. Shirts showing militants holding rifles, and others with the flag of Hezbollah. This isn’t surprising when we see who organises the event that Yaqoob thinks is a symbol of peace and unity.

The event is organised by the ‘Islam Channel‘, for the sake of promoting dialogue within Islam.
This, from a channel in which Islamist propaganda is spewed daily, whilst also, rather curiously, playing the victim card with constant references to “Islamophobia“. Mehdi Hasan similarly uses the victim mentality, shouting “Isamophobia” at anyone slightly critical of his faith, or satirising his Prophet, whilst at the same time insisting that it’s perfectly reasonable to refer to non-believers as “animals” and that we are a “people of no intelligence“, see here for my article on the hypocrisy of Mehdi Hasan, and the right and responsibility of all to be free to question and offend ideas that demand authority over the lives of others.

In the past, the Islam Channel has openly advertised DVDs for the sermons of al-Awlaki; a regional commander of Al Qaeda, a preacher of hate including to 9/11 hijackers, himself involved in the failed Christmas day airplane bombing, and in contact with the Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan. A terrorism expert referred to al-Awlaki, the hero of the ‘Islam Channel‘ as:

“one of the principal jihadi luminaries for would-be homegrown terrorists.”

In 2010, Nazreen Nawaz, a reporter for the channel, and member of Hizb ut-Tahrir; a group that wishes to impose a resurrected Islamic Caliphate upon non-Muslims across the World, by destroying Secularism, and feels the need to insult everything – including the concept of Democracy – that doesn’t conform to Islamist standards as “kufr” (an abusive term for non-muslims) said this:

“The idea that a woman cannot refuse her husband’s relations…. this is not strange to a Muslim because it is part of maintaining that strong marriage. But it shouldn’t be such a big problem where the man feels he has to force himself upon the woman.”

– So keep that in mind, when these kuffarophobic, extremist, sycophants attempt to mould the words “peace” and “unity” to their horrific cause, whilst referring to anyone who disagrees as “Islamophobic“.

One of the speakers at a past ‘Global Peace and Unity‘ event was Sheikh Shady Al-Suleiman. He is active with the “Muslim Youth” (also known as, indoctrinating impressionable minds). On his website, his group gleefully announces that they have invited al-Awlaki to speak in front of thousands of young people. The forum is full of excited extremists. According to Lakemba mosque, which put on the event, Al-Suleiman was the man in charge of booking the speakers at the time. Of all the people he could have chosen, why one of the most extreme, violent, and deadly men on the planet, linked to practically every major terrorist incident in decades? Sheik Shady Al-Suleiman is advertised here on the ‘Global Peace‘ website.

It isn’t only Al-Awlaki promoters invited to speak on ‘Global Peace & Unity‘. Here they are advertising the Pakistani Muslim fanatical politician Mohammad Ijaz ul-Haq. They describe his previous statements rather flippantly with:

“Ijaz is famous for his comments supporting nuclear engineer Abdul Qadeer Khan as well as his public denunciation of the knighthood of Salman Rushdie.”

– “Public denunciation” it was not. Public incitement to terrorism and suicide attacks, it was. On the subject of Sir Salman Rushdie receiving a Knighthood, ul-Haq (invited to the Global PEACE and UNITY event) said this:

“If someone exploded a bomb on his body he would be right to do so unless the British government apologises and withdraws the ‘sir’ title.”

– Here, he presumes he has a right to threaten the UK, and the life of a man who simply wrote a book that he and others found “offensive“, unless the government does as he wants, and conforms to his ideals on ‘blasphemy‘; ideals that the rest of us grew out of centuries ago. Ijaz is a member of the Pakistani Government, whose delegation to the UN demanded their role extend to finding and publicly shaming:

“abuses of free expression including defamation of religions and prophets”.

– Defamation of a religion, consider an ‘abuse of free speech‘? Can we similarly search out and publicly shame those who constantly defame the “kuffar“, or “The West“? or homosexuality? Do those Islamist ideals fall under ‘abuses of free expression‘? I suspect not. We are all entitled to defame, criticise, satirise, and mock, ideas that demand authority over the lives of others. It is a right, and it is essential. It is horrendous for any liberal minded person, to defend these illiberal, totalitarian, Theocrats. It isn’t just offensive to Western values, it is offensive to liberal values. He is entitled to his views, he is entitled to say what he thinks, we cannot, and should not silence him. But the moment he starts inciting violence, he should no longer be tolerated.
This is a violent man, advocating the World conform to his standards, by threat of violence, based on an extreme interpretation of Islam, which places it above all forms of criticism or satire. A civilised, liberal society is no place for a man like that.

Muhammad Alshareef, a speaker at the 2010 ‘Global Peace & Unity‘ festival, is a big fan of attacking, and Jews, as much as possible. Here he says:

“When a Prophet came to them, if what he taught did not appeal to them they either rejected that truth or slit the throat of the Prophet and followed what was to them appealing.
[We had already taken the covenant of the Children of Israel and had sent to them messengers. Whenever there came to them a messenger with what their souls did not desire, a groups (of the Messengers) they denied and another party they killed.] – al-Maa’idah 5/70
And we must remember here that this is not the commentary of some human journalist who claims to be neutral. This is the Lord of the Universe telling us – in verses to be read till the final day – the deepest secrets that lie in the pits of Judaism.”

– The “deepest secrets that lie in the pits of Judaism“. The Islamic superiority complex; one that feels it can insult whomever it wishes, whilst condemning to death anyone who “insults” Islam.
Alshareef’s Islamic superiority complex continues:

“The Qur’ân tells us of snakes in the grass that bit the Jews. Allâh tells us this so that we may take warning of what led them to evoke Allâh’s anger and not be bitten by the same snake………. A Muslim may never marry a Jewish or Christian man that remains in his beliefs.”

– The Jews are presented as wicked, in need of saving, by a vicious God that Jews don’t believe in, in the first place.
That Muslims are not supposed to keep their faith private, but instead, must get in the face of innocent Jewish people, minding their own business, to parrot the line that they’re wicked and in need of saving. This has nothing to do with Israel. We are lead to believe that Islamists simply dislike the violent nature of Israel. It just isn’t true. One look at the Constitutions of Hamas and Fatah, will show you that Islamists dislike Jews, because they are not Muslim. Hamas are currently teaching Hebrew to children in Gaza, not to advance a peaceful resolution through dialogue, but to “understand the language of the enemy”. Here, watch this rather harrowing clip. Those who preach anti-Jewish hatred, are given a platform in what Yaqoob describes as “uniting all in favour of peace and unity“.
Notice as well, a Muslim may never marry a Jewish or Christian “man“. It doesn’t matter who the woman falls in love with, according to alshareef. She’s a woman. And therefore must do as the patriarchal Islamists demand. Horrendous. Illiberal.

It’s not just Jews that Alshareef hates, and tells others to hate. It’s also gay people. Homosexuality is only stigmatised, because of the bile that people like alshareef spew. The bullying continues, because of religious hatred. There is no logical reason to stigmatise homosexuality. Nothing. It is just religion.
Religious people, who insist we are intolerant of their beliefs, then spew hate like this:

“Whenever there is a gay rally – isn’t it interesting that they call them gay, they’re happy people, right? – there are a type of people who go to these rallies and stand up for the truth. They have signs that tell them to stop what they’re doing or they will go to hellfire. Do you think they are Muslims? No, they are not Muslims, they are Christians. They are Christians who stand up for this. … I pray to Allah that you will join the ranks and start to stand up and speak against things like this.”

– “Stand up for the truth“. Muslims are most definitely a group of people that do not quite understand the word “truth“.
He doesn’t quantify what he means by “truth“, but he argues that the Christian aggression against homosexuality, is correct, and so we must look at the “truth” of the Christian arguments. It usually falls into three rather ridiculous arguments. Firstly “It’s unnatural“. In fact, there is not one reputable scientific source that will in any way, suggest that sexuality is merely a choice. There is not one reputable scientific source that will say: “You know, turns out Leviticus and homophobic Muslim were right. TRUTH!”. None. This includes:The American Psychiatric Association, The World Health Organisation, The American Psychological Association, The American Medical Association, The Academy of Pediatrics, The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists, Council on Child and Adolescent Health, The British Psychological Society,The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy…. all of these intensely reputable sources, with a wealth of research and evidence, will all tell you that sexuality, is part of a natural spectrum. There is no debate here. We could also point to homosexuality spotted in over 1000 species. Do you know what isn’t natural? Do you know what isn’t noticed in over 1000 species? A Prophet claiming ‘divine‘ revelation from a God that spends an eerily convenient amount of time proscribing a large array of women the Prophet is allowed to marry or have sex with, whilst murdering his way across the World. I could go on, but I cover the silly religious arguments against same-sex marriage here. We must be intolerant of religious intolerance. It is based on nothing but ‘belief‘ in absurdities, obscure teachings, and 7th century ‘morality‘. And yet, this man is given a platform to announce his hate to even more people, at an event manipulatively entitled “Global Peace and Unity”. It should come with the subtitle: “Unless you’re gay. Or Jewish. Or a dirty Kuffar“.

Here’s another horrid little Islamic Preacher invited to the 2010 ‘Peace and Unity‘ event. Yasir Qadhi. A man who has spoken and written on “Islamophobia“, also seems to enjoy propagating his disturbingly vicious views on Homosexuality. He speaks of living in the ’80s, when names were given to “these people“, when the “average” person viewed gay people with disdain. With apparent nostalgia, and admiration for that period of time, that led to such vitriol, and uninformed hatred, Yasir Qadhi suggests we have now “regressed” out of that ’80s mindset, because it is unacceptable to present weak and dangerous arguments that promote the further stigmatising of homosexuality. Here, is presents a hugely illiberal and curiously uninformed idea, as acceptable.
He is a typical religious extremist, fighting tooth and nail against any evidence that contradicts his position. It isn’t that he’s banned from speaking out, he can be as hate filled as he wishes. It is simply that Western, liberal society does not accept his arguments are legitimate any more. They are baseless. They are vicious, and they have been crushed by reason along with a huge amount of verified research pointing the fact that sexuality, is just as natural as eye colour or skin colour, and that to stigmatise based on something so natural, is just not right. This is what Qadhi doesn’t like. He wants to be free to be a homophobe, without being called a homophobe. His freedom to abuse people, he feels is under threat. Good.

He then, rather amusingly, states that its unfair to call anti-homosexual remarks “hatred” or “homophobia“…. he follows this by telling us a story about his mythical fairy sky man lifting up a city of gays into the air, turning it upside down, and smashing it into the ground, to punish them for being gay; that the Dead Sea is full of “evil waters” because of gay people, hinting to us, that gay people should be punished for being gay…. but then insisting that its not hateful for saying so. Given that it is a fact that homosexuality has a genetic element, it would seem that his God created gay people, only to kill them all for being gay. What a nasty little game.
He then argues that our Western values ‘change day to day‘. This is of course what all Islamists like to suggest, when arguing a case for religious “objective morality“. What they mean is, Western values are based on reason, and evidence, which progresses over time. We change based on the information we have available to us, and according to humanist principles. Some times we get it wrong. But we learn and we move on.

Perhaps he’s right. Perhaps we should base our entire system of morals on the life of a Prophet who married a 6 year old girl, sold women captives into slavery, and waged war on anyone who disagreed, along with his band of thugs. Maybe we should find it acceptable to demand death for apostasy. Maybe, instead of employing actual thought, we should look at the suspicious ‘revelations‘ given to one man, whenever he or his friends had an idea and take it as the quite obvious word of God. For example, It seems from the Qur’an that Allah didn’t actually wish women to be veiled originally. But Muhammad’s friend Umar ‘wishes’ it, and suddenly Muhammad gets a conveniently timed call from Allah, and women are to be veiled from then on, for the most mundane reason:

And as regards the (verse of) the veiling of the women, I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! I wish you ordered your wives to cover themselves from the men because good and bad ones talk to them.” So the verse of the veiling of the women was revealed. (Qur’an 24:31)

How dare we suggest that it is not reasoning to include the ‘wishes’ of a friend of a suspiciously ambiguous historical figure, or the remarks of a suspiciously ambiguous 7th Century Middle Eastern book into consideration when framing out system of values. How silly of us. Maybe we should all kill people for land that we claim divine right over. Maybe we should suspend all of our faculties of reason, and critical abilities, and just unquestioningly accept the authority of one religion. Maybe that’s the way forward. And in the meantime, we’ll slay all gay people, demand death for anyone who wrote a book we didn’t like, and belittle Jews. Global Peace and Unity!

This isn’t an event that cares too much for peace and unity. It certainly doesn’t conform to Salma Yaqoob’s grotesque manipulations residing in the shadows of all the straw men she employs. It is an Islamic exercise and showcase in superiority, another chance to call “Islamophobia” against any criticism, whilst affording the opportunity for bigots, racists, extremists, violent people who wish to silence all criticism of their faith through threats, stall owners profiting from selling terrorist merchandise, and regressive ignorant homophobes to shout down any hint of Western ideals and liberal values. It is the show case of the Kuffarophobes. It is dangerous, it is divisive, and it offers a huge platform for fascists and thugs. Do not be deceived into believing it is a liberal event, calling for peace, unity, and an end to divisions. It isn’t. Quite the opposite.

Those, like myself, who consider ourselves truly liberal, must be prepared to speak out against illiberal, and vastly destabilising and divisive rhetoric and actions, regardless of where they come from. We must accept that within a secular, and liberal framework, far-right Muslims have just as much right to express their views as the rest of us. But to be tolerant of diversity, is to be suspicious of, and speak out against those preaching intolerance, and hate as unfalsifiable dogma, rather than points that can be argued rationally against and confined to the history bin of bad ideas. Islam is an idea. Like Conservatism. Like Democracy. Like Liberalism. Like Christianity. As such, it is open to all the satire, criticism, and mocking that comes with every idea; especially those that seek authority over others. We must not consider those ideas freee from criticism, ridicule, satire, or any form of questioning simply because the illiberal nature of the view is cloaked in “faith“.

The guinea-pig Nation

May 5, 2010

According to the Australian reporter Prue Clarke, growing poverty in Ghana has tripled the number of children who work the streets as prostitutes, over the past decade. There are now over 20,000 children living on the streets of Ghana.

The IMF likes to claim that it has given well over $160,000,000 to Ghana to help rebuild the economy of Ghana, plus an extra $1.1bn from the World Bank, and how wondrous this is. Now, whilst it is true that a minority of citizens of Ghana have benefited from the IMF liberalisation of the markets of Ghana, most have been displaced by cheap imports that have destroyed their local industry, made them jobless, and then thanks to massive cuts in social spending, they’re simply left to rot. The IMF says it’s wonderful, because growth for the sake of growth is the neoliberal way.

The IMF are a group that are rather dictatorial in their running of an economy. To them, the idea of Nation States, and their sovereignty is meaningless. To the IMF, the IMF control your country. They in affect, make sure the richer countries remain rich, and the poorer countries open up their markets for the richer countries to exploit at will.

The IMF is essentially a bank. They give loans and aid to countries that need it, but they only give that aid, if the countries in question implement right winged economic principles. The idea is “you do it our way, or fuck you“. This ideological vehicle, of course has it’s problems. Not least for Ghana, who the IMF insist they have done an excellent job with.

What they fail to point out, are the findings by Christianaid:

“In the year 2000 alone, sub-Saharan Africa lost nearly US$45 dollars per person thanks to trade liberalisation. Most trade liberalisation in Africa has been part of the conditions attached to foreign aid, loans and debt relief. This looks like a bad deal: in 2000, aid per person in sub-Saharan Africa was less than half the loss from liberalisation – only US$20. Africa is losing much more than it gains if aid comes with policy strings attached. The staggering truth is that the US$272 billion liberalisation has cost sub-Saharan Africa would have wiped clean the debt of every country in the region (estimated at US$204 billion) and still left more than enough money to pay for every child to be vaccinated and go to school.”

The government of Ghana no longer has any control over Ghana. Social policies are tied to economic policies, and the government of Ghana can only implement a social policy, if the IMF agree to it. If a Sub-Saharan African nation needs help, it has to sell it’s soul to the economic devil, for eternity. Who gave the IMF that sort of power over so many lives? I certainly didn’t vote for them? Why is this form of totalitarianism considered legitimate?

According to Waldon Bello, a senior analyst at “Focus on the Global South”, a program of Chulalongkorn University’s Social Research Institute:

“At the time of decolonization in the 1960s, Africa was not just self-sufficient in food but was actually a net food exporter, its exports averaging 1.3 million tons a year between 1966-70. Today, the continent imports 25% of its food, with almost every country being a net food importer. Hunger and famine have become recurrent phenomena, with the last three years alone seeing food emergencies break out in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Southern Africa, and Central Africa.

It would seem that the huge problem caused by neoliberalism on economies that just aren’t ready for it at all, is the huge increase in imports and the meagre growth or even decline of exports, which in turn leads to huge rates of unemployment, awful exploitation at the hands of Western business and the bare minimum social protection for the those affected the worst. Markets are incomplete and so the social programs that gave access to land to local farmers, and offered them a degree of protection, were suddenly taken away. People who had no idea how to work in a highly competitive global marketplace, had absolutely no chance of survival. What happens, in areas like chicken farming, which is one of Ghana’s biggest industries, is that with market liberalisation, UK and US excess chicken produce, is imported and sold ridiculously cheap in Ghana, thereby pricing the local farmers out of the markets. It is not “competition”, it is economic imperialism. Ghana is thankfully fighting against it. Unfortunately, they have been in this position once before. In 2003, the Ghanaian government passed legislation that increased import duty on poultry in an attempt to help local poultry farmers keep their livelihoods. The IMF forced them to repeal the legislation a few months later. How very undemocratic of the IMF, given that the Ghanaian government is a fairly elected government of the people. The IMF apparently consider themselves far more important than the Ghanaian people.

With this, came the liberalisation of health in Ghana. Which meant paying for healthcare. The most vulnerable people in Ghana were thus unable to gain access to healthcare. Healthcare from a specialist in Ghana after IMF liberalisation, cost people ten times the average wage of Ghanaians. Primary education, costs Ghanaians money too.

Ghana is not making anything. It’s industrial base is non-existent. According to Christianaid, Ghana’s employment in manufacturing actually fell quite horrendously after liberalisation occured. Which is why its exports are so weak. It’s farmers are forced out of the market by multinational competitors, which works only to benefit the richer nations. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development:

“The more recent evidence from liberalisation episodes in sub-Saharan Africa as well as Latin America suggest that they have often been accompanied by an increase in unemployment. ”

The IMF’s fundamental grasp on markets is interestingly weak. They forced Vietnam to liberalise it’s coffee industry in the 1980s. And it worked. Pretty well too. (In stark contrast to Senegal’s tomato production, which after IMF liberalisation, fell from 74,000 tons to just under 20,000 tons and pretty much killed off the entire trade in Senegal) Vietnam went from producing 50,000 tons, to 400,000 tons of coffee. Which, is a success. The IMF then decided that which works in one Nation, must be true for all. Neoliberalism at it’s oddest. And so it urged Uganda and Kenya to do the same in 1993. Suddenly, with increased coffee exports, the market was over supplied, and a huge economic crises occurred in the major coffee producing nations, causing the World Bank to report:

“coffee prices have declined sharply in recent years because of large increases in coffee production and exports from traditional exporters such as Brazil and new entrants such as Vietnam, Between July 1998 and June 2001, coffee export prices declined by almost 50%.”

In 2008, the World Bank, released a report, beautifully hidden away, and ignored by pretty much all major news institutions, which seems to be a subtle hint, that perhaps neoliberalism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be:

“Structural adjustment in the 1980’s dismantled the elaborate system of public agencies that provided farmers with access to land, credit, insurance inputs, and cooperative organization. The expectation was that removing the state would free the market for private actors to take over these functions—reducing their costs, improving their quality, and eliminating their regressive bias. Too often, that didn’t happen. ”

IMF demand absolutely no trade restrictions from poorer Countries, whilst richer Countries like the US ensure that entry into their markets are as difficult as possible. The US high tech industry would have died horribly, many many years ago, had the Pentagon not kept it going.

Trade liberalisation in a global economy, does work. But only when it is appropriate. Countries like Malaysia explicitly ignored the IMF’s recommendations to liberalise their markets, and Malaysia succeeded. Such strong neoliberal recommendations do not work in the most developed of Nations, so attempting to implement them in the poorest, is always destined to fail. Especially given that a huge cut in import tariffs means a far smaller tax revenue for Nations like Ghana, who then cannot afford to pay their debts back. Even the US and the UK retain protectionist policies, that the IMF have strictly forbidden from the poorer Nations. It seems like the IMF is simply a vehicle for the economic imperialist ideologues who adhere to the theories of neoliberalism, to experiment on poor and struggling Nations. It has created a tyranny of an economic system. Ghana has no choice but to do what the IMF says. Ghana, is a guinea-pig.