Boris Johnson and the liberal criticism of Islam

Boris Johnson and the liberal criticism of Islam, by Brendan O’Neil.

A truly bizarre thing happened yesterday: Boris Johnson was branded an Islamophobe and a bigot for writing in defence of Muslim women who wear the niqab.

In his Telegraph column, Johnson said it was wrong for Denmark to ban the niqab and burqa in public places because the state should not be telling any ‘free-born adult woman what she may or may not wear, in a public place, when she is simply minding her own business’.

Top-down burqa-banning risks ‘play[ing] into the hands of those who want to politicise and dramatise the so-called clash of civilisations’, he said. That is, authoritarian state controls on religious dress are both illiberal and also seem ‘intended to make some point about Islam’ that could whip up those who believe the West is at war with that religion.

So he defended Muslim women’s right to wear religious garments in public and he expressed concern about the state appearing to be in conflict with Islam. A liberal, tolerant take on a difficult issue, right?

Apparently not. He’s been slammed everywhere as a racist, a borderline fascist, a poundshop Mussolini who if he ever gets to No10 will declare war on Muslims and other minorities. …

Why?

You’re not allowed to say anything even remotely critical about Islam or its practices these days.

Allowed by whom?

The PC left love Islam. What did you expect? Of course the party of peace and tolerance loves the religion of peace and tolerance:

We’re witnessing the return of blasphemy laws by the backdoor. Only now it isn’t the Christian God and Christian beliefs that are protected from ‘contemptuous, reviling, scurrilous or ludicrous’ commentary, as was the case under the old blasphemy laws; it is Islam. Slowly but surely, informally, through the sly and hyperbolic demonisation of anyone who has any issues whatsoever with Islam, we have erected a moral forcefield around this religion to protect it from criticism or scepticism. Old blasphemers against Christianity were denounced as ‘heretics’; new blasphemers against Islam are branded ‘phobes’. …

What Boris’s shrill detractors are really demanding is that he respect everything about Islam. That he be unquestioning towards this religion. That he celebrate it and love it, unconditionally.

hat-tip Stephen Neil