The Brexit vote and the rise of Islamism
Posted by Secular on June 30, 2016
Much of the doom and gloom predicted as a result of the British decision to leave the European Union is unlikely to eventuate. The fears are overblown. There is no obvious increased security risk. The trade issues can be negotiated. Movement of people between borders may change little.
While there were many factors motivating the vote, a significant one is a reaction against Islamisation. This a is hardly mentioned by commentators, but it is certainly the main reason for anti-EU sentiment in Holland and France, where the open borders policy is more relevant. Islamism creates an undercurrent of discontent. Not all of this can simply be dismissed as xenophobia or “Islamophobia”. There are some legitimate concerns. The average person could see that elements of Islam, especially its preference for sharia law, are hardly compatible with British values of equality. The political elites have refused to recognise the problem of Islamism or to effectively address it. It adds to the perceived lack of sovereignty. Hence the reaction, which is likely to be replicated in other parts of Europe. The European Union has more to fear from the Brexit vote than Britain.
There are real problems with the European Union, and a cogent case could be made for leaving. The common currency, which Britain had the good sense not to join, has been a disaster for countries like Greece. They are denied the exchange rate flexibility to re-balance their economies, while Germany benefits from an under-valued Euro. Had the European Union remained as the Common Market, a free trade zone, it would have been sufficient. Even as such, it was not ideal, as it erected significant barriers against non-European goods, such as Australian agricultural products, and still does.
But the ambitions of the European Union did not stop at free trade. The vision was one of a “United States of Europe”, with supreme powers invested in the European Commission. This made it attractive for surrounding countries to want to join, and the addition of the Eastern European states added to its presumed importance. But there was never a prospect of full fiscal integration that a federal system would require. It is an unstable half-way house. The European Union has become an unstoppable bandwagon heading for an impossible destination. It is a flawed project. Britain was right to get out.
These perceptions of the EU’s failings however are unlikely to have been the only factor in the Brexit vote, even though they provided a valid justification for it. Resentment of immigration was likely to have been a more dominant factor.
A lot has been said about the numbers of Polish immigrants, which certainly have made their presence felt. However the migration that occurred after Poland joined the Union is likely to have been beneficial to both Britain and Poland. The Polish people in Britain have not set up enclave communities, sought to impose their own laws, made demands upon wider society or engaged in terrorist attacks.
This is not to suggest, of course, that all Muslims follow an Islamist agenda. However a certain proportion do. The problem is not inherent in the people themselves but with the nature of the religion they are required to follow. The doctrines of Islam, literally interpreted, are incompatible with secularism, human rights and democracy. In the political ideology of Islamism, sharia laws must dominate. This is because the laws of Allah are placed above civil laws. Such laws cannot be changed democratically.
It is an unfortunate part of current political discourse that these matters cannot be raised without facing accusations of “hate mongering” or “Islamophobia”. However unless we are are aware of the content of Islamic teachings we cannot properly evaluate the issue. In Islam the example of the Prophet Muhammad is held as exemplary. Yet the biographical details of the Prophet, which are held in Islamic doctrine to be authentic, depict a figure who engaged in insurrection, mass beheadings, took sex slaves and a child bride. It is not an example that should be followed in the 21st century, but it is being followed. Muslim reform advocate Maajid Nawas refers to it as “a global Islamist insurgency“.
Given the apparent acquiescence of social liberals, and the support given to Islamism by the “regressive left”, it is no surprise that many voters turn to right wing anti-immigration parties. The Brexit vote is, in part, a manifestation of this. However this is hardly a solution to the to rising social tensions and violence that Islamism portends.
The only alternative to the rising tide of Islamism is a more rigorous implementation of secularism. This is what the Secular Party seeks to advocate. Only the Secular Party proposes this solution. We are not a right wing, but a liberal minded party. Yet we are continually constrained by a reluctance to speak openly on this issue due to accusations that we are offensive to Muslims and promoting bigotry. This is not the case at all. We are very much aware that the people who suffer most from the oppressive and misogynist aspects of Islam are the Muslims themselves. We support efforts of Muslim reformers to address these issues.
The most important step towards secularism that we can take, and foremost in our policy aims, is to stop indoctrinating children with religion in schools. Any religion. Children should be taught about religions, including the mythological legends on which they are all based. Children must be encouraged to critically evaluate and make up their own minds about religion based on reason and evidence.
In Australia there is only one political party that is pledged to implement such a policy: the Secular Party. We will not only prohibit religious instruction during school times. We will not fund religious schools, saving up to $10bn per year. We will stop any school from promoting to children that there is such a thing as the ‘one true faith’.
This is the only way we can start to get society back on a more rational track. We live in turbulent times. The widespread prevalence of the religious mindset, and the aggressiveness of Islamism, clouds the minds of the current political elites. They have no solution. We do, and we will remain resolute in promoting it.