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HomeGlobal Perspective & Critical Research“Islamo-Leftism” or Islamophobo-Leftism?

“Islamo-Leftism” or Islamophobo-Leftism?

Author: Azeezah Kanji

Affiliation: Legal academic and writer based in Toronto

Organization/Publisher: Aljazeera

Date/Place: April 2, 2021/Doha, Qatar

Type of Literature: Opinion Article 

Word Count: 1693


Keywords: Islamo-leftism, Bruckner, Degeneracy, Anti-Islamo-leftists, Swiss People’s Party


The article discusses the latest term “Islamo-” as a demonology charter: “Islamo-leftism,” the French state’s atrocity du jour. According to the anti-Islamo-leftists, movements that challenge oppression – such as anti-colonialism, anti-racism, and feminism – actually serve as sources of oppression by enabling “radical Islam.” In previous decades, it was “Islamo-fascism” that was all the phrenzy: predicting Islam’s supposed sympathies not with the left, but the far-right. When Europe was engrossed by homophobia and denominationalism, Muslim societies were nevertheless criticized for being too non-heteronormative, a symptom of  “degeneracy” that justified the need for colonial rule. Now that the signifiers of “civilization” have switched, public “intellectuals” like French philosopher Pascal Bruckner grumble that Islamo-leftism is restraining their aptitude to freely demonize Muslims for being too bigoted. In anti-racism’s “permanent war of all against all,” accusations of Islamophobia are a “weapon of mass intimidation,” Bruckner insists. In March, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party succeeded to break its mislaying streak in citizens’ referendums, with its victorious proposal to banish Muslim women’s face-veils from public space, which involved double the vote portion as the party won in the general election. It was similarly successful in its 2009 campaign to prohibit minaret construction, which it appealed to feminists by portraying minarets as a symbol of women’s oppression. For the sake of “liberating” Muslim women, there are now five times more European states legally forcing women to unveil as there are Muslim-majority states requiring women to veil. This treatment of Muslims as a “universal enemy” is deeply rooted in history. In the famous 16th-century Valladolid debate on the colonization of the Americas – considered a foundational event in the (Eurocentric) history of international law – Spanish legal scholars debated indigenous peoples’ humanity by deciding whether they were like Muslims and therefore to be massacred (the “conservative” position), or unlike Muslims and therefore to be missionized into Christianity (the “liberal” position). Thinking and working beyond this artificially restricted consensus are those Muslims who, in solidarity and collaboration with other peoples and movements, are drawing on Islam’s prohibition of worshipping anything other than God to challenge human-made hierarchies of oppression: of human over non-human, white over non-white, colonizer over colonized, man over woman, heteronormative over queer, and the wealthy over the dispossessed. Perhaps this is the real danger posed by “Islamo-leftism”: the possibility not of a more “violently radical” world, but one radically more equal and just.

By: Maryam Khan, CIGA Research Associate



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