Sweden’s Far-Right hope to Antagonise Muslims with Gay Pride Parade

pride-jarva

Haaretz reports today that Sweden’s far-right have organised a gay pride parade which will march through Muslim-majority districts Tensta and Husby in Stockholm. The Israeli media outlet states:

The organizer of the march, Jan Sjunnesson, is the former editor of the far-right Sweden Democrats’ newspaper, the Samtiden. The Sweden Democrats are known for their anti-immigration policies, and came out strongly in support of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten when it published cartoons derogatively depicting the Prophet Mohammed in 2005.

‘Expression of pure racism’

The scheduled march has been criticized as provocative and racist by those on the left, with angry comments appearing on the event’s Facebook page. Two residents of the Jarva area, Noah Nord and Emelie Mårtensson, claim that ‘Jarva Pride’ “pits two oppressed groups against each other,” and have organized a counter-demonstration.

One person to defend the march is evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins, who slammed criticism of the event as emblematic of “the pathetic Left.”

Swedish nationalists plan gay ‘pride’ march through Muslim areas of Stockholm

Homophobia is clearly abhorrent, however bigotry towards LGBT peope is rife in all societies; some well-known examples being in Poland, Russia and many states in the US. In America embracing homophobia is part of the country’s mainstream political discourse – you only need to listen to the reaction of many Republican presidential hopefuls to understand that.

Thus by singling out Muslims it is obvious that this event has been planned with the aim of causing trouble. Ironically, the leader of the Sweden Democrats – Jimmie Åkesson – was barred from attending Stockholm Pride, the largest pride festival in Scandinavia, last year. English language Swedish paper The Local reported:

“The management of Stockholm Pride has decided that the Sweden Democrats do not share our values and therefore are not welcome,” Maria Paulsson, press secretary at Stockholm Pride, told Dagens Opinion earlier this month. She said no other organizations were banned, as far as she knew.

“It’s not primarily because of their stance on family and LGBT issues, but because we see them as a racist party, and the LGBT fight and the fight against racism go hand and hand,” Sandra Ehne, chairman of Stockholm Pride, told The Local.

Ehne stressed that Stockholm Pride is a non-profit association consisting of many members, and that it aims to be a safe community for its members.

“Their politics are built on racist grounds, and these grounds usually include homophobia. We do not want to give our platform to a party which works against us throughout the year. And our members need to feel safe,” Ehne concluded.

Stockholm Pride bars Sweden Democrats

Therefore it seems clear that Pride Järva has been specifically designed to antagonise a minority, or indeed, as Noah Nord and Emelie Mårtensson say, to target not one oppressed group but two. Just as with Charlie Hebdo, the creators had the right to draw Mohammed. But since then, with the proliferation of ‘draw Mohammed cartoon contests’ – usually with Geert Wilders in attendance – these events are concocted by bigots hoping for a negative if not violent reaction, in order to vindicate their own prejudices about Muslims.

Those of us on “the pathetic Left” must condemn homophobia, just as we must condemn all types of intolerance – including that towards Muslims. It is not exactly difficult to understand why we sympathise with and feel the need to defend Muslims living in the West: because they are marginalised members of society and are becoming increasingly more so.

It is evident – though it is not mentioned by politicians nor covered by the media – that the real problem facing Europe comes from the far-right, not the so-called ‘Muslim threat’.

The Ominous Symbolism of Libya & Syria’s Rebel Flags

There is something slightly ominous about the reemergence of a number of colonial-era flags in the twenty-first century.

Libya
In 2011 rebel militias in Libya took the old flag of the Kingdom of Libya as their standard, and this is now used as the official Libyan flag in the post-Gaddafi era.

Flag of the Kingdom of Libya under King Idris (1951-1969), and the current Libyan flag since 2011.

Although this symbol – red, black and green with a white star and crescent in the centre – was used in the African nation following its independence in 1951, ordinary Libyans continued to be treated like second-class citizens during this period, as the country was home to several British and American military installations. The bloodless coup that brought Colonel Muammar Gaddafi  to power took place in 1961. In 1977 he renamed the state the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” –  “Jamahiriya” roughly translating to “state of the masses” – and the country’s flag was reborn as a plain green field.

Flag of the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,” from 1977-2011.

Despite the simplicity of this insignia-free flag, it was a powerful representation of Libya’s national identity, with the green symbolising both Gaddafi’s Green Book, and green being the traditional colour of Islam.

Syria
As with Libya, the armed groups currently attempting to overthrow the government of Syria – led by President Bashar al Assad – have raised the banner that first came into being as the country struggled to win its independence from France in the 1930s.

Flag of the Syrian Republic, from 1930-1958, and current standard used by the SNC and FSA.

However, despite the creation of a treaty of independence to end official French rule in 1936, the French government refused to accept this agreement. Due to the outbreak of WWII and the fall of France in 1940, Syrian independence was deferred until after the war.

Khaled Kamal, an official of the Syrian National Council, has commented: “We are using the old flag because it symbolises independence. It’s a symbol of independence and the end of the Bashar regime.”

Flag of Syria, 1980-present.

 The Financial Times says that the return to such earlier flags in Libya and Syria is an attempt by the opposition to distance themselves ideologically from both country’s periods of Arab nationalism. Despite the Western-backed SNC’s insistence that the old flag represents independence, it can alternatively be considered as an emblem of dependence; dependence on the old colonial powers – and the new American superpower – for survival. This is certainly true when considering that the SNC consists of Western-educated elites that haven’t set foot in Syria for years – possibly decades.

In reality war is being waged on Syria for refusing to give up its sovereignty to the forces of globalisation, just as Libya was destroyed by NATO for it’s self-determination. Syria is one of the world’s remaining nations to have a state-run banking system and gold reserves which fall outside of the global private central banking syndicate; Iran is another, and Libya was pre-2011. The use of these twentieth century flags by the proxy armies are a sinister symbol of the fate that awaits those nations whom attempt to follow an independent path.

Iran be warned.

References:

Syrian rebels raise a flag from the past
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6c332676-32f4-11e1-8e0d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3UFIkUyFD

Ayatollah Khamenei has a ‘#LETTER4U’

Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, Iran’s Supreme Leader wrote an open letter to the ‘youth in Europe and North America’, commenting on the way Islam is portrayed in the Western media. Every time a violent act is carried out by Muslims, the press and politicians make a huge fuss about the need for other Muslims to speak out and condemn such atrocities, and all Muslims are blamed by association. Despite Islamic leaders’ continuous denouncement of groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS, their statements are largely ignored by those who demand them, clearly demonstrating the presence of an anti-Muslim agenda.

So naturally, Khamenei’s letter was largely ignored. Although it was published over a month ago, I thought I should still post the text here, as it is an excellent assessment of the distorted and simplistic picture of “Islam” that is presented to us here in the West. I have put Islam in scare quotes here because of the media’s tendency to reduce the 1.7 billion people who live within numerous countries, cultures, languages, religious denominations etc, down to one blanket description: “Islam.”

To learn more about what Khamenei addresses in his letter, I recommend reading the postcolonial literary theorist Edward Said’s text Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine how we see the rest of the World. Astonishingly, the book was first published in 1981, before being updated in 1997. Said passed away in November 2003…I wonder what he would have thought of the West’s hysteria over “Islam” today?

 

To the Youth in Europe and North America

In the name of God, the Beneficent the Merciful

The recent events in France and similar ones in some other Western countries have convinced me to directly talk to you about them. I am addressing you, [the youth], not because I overlook your parents, rather it is because the future of your nations and countries will be in your hands; and also I find that the sense of quest for truth is more vigorous and attentive in your hearts.

I don’t address your politicians and statesmen either in this writing because I believe that they have consciously separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth.

I would like to talk to you about Islam, particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam. Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great religion in the seat of a horrifying enemy. The provocation of a feeling of horror and hatred and its utilization has unfortunately a long record in the political history of the West.

Here, I don’t want to deal with the different phobias with which the Western nations have thus far been indoctrinated. A cursory review of recent critical studies of history would bring home to you the fact that the Western governments’ insincere and hypocritical treatment of other nations and cultures has been censured in new historiographies.

The histories of the United States and Europe are ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and chagrined at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians. Your researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodsheds wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars. This approach is admirable.

 

By mentioning a fraction of this long list, I don’t want to reproach history; rather I would like you to ask your intellectuals as to why the public conscience in the West awakens and comes to its senses after a delay of several decades or centuries. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past and not to the current problems? Why is it that attempts are made to prevent public awareness regarding an important issue such as the treatment of Islamic culture and thought?

You know well that humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common base of all those oppressive profiteers. Now, I would like you to ask yourself why the old policy of spreading “phobia” and hatred has targeted Islam and Muslims with an unprecedented intensity. Why does the power structure in the world want Islamic thought to be marginalized and remain latent? What concepts and values in Islam disturb the programs of the super powers and what interests are safeguarded in the shadow of distorting the image of Islam? Hence, my first request is: Study and research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam.

My second request is that in reaction to the flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns, try to gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of this religion. The right logic requires that you understand the nature and essence of what they are frightening you about and want you to keep away from.

I don’t insist that you accept my reading or any other reading of Islam. What I want to say is: Don’t allow this dynamic and effective reality in today’s world to be introduced to you through resentments and prejudices. Don’t allow them to hypocritically introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam.

Receive knowledge of Islam from its primary and original sources. Gain information about Islam through the Qur’an and the life of its great Prophet. I would like to ask you whether you have directly read the Qur’an of the Muslims. Have you studied the teachings of the Prophet of Islam and his humane, ethical doctrines? Have you ever received the message of Islam from any sources other than the media?

 

 

Have you ever asked yourself how and on the basis of which values has Islam established the greatest scientific and intellectual civilization of the world and raised the most distinguished scientists and intellectuals throughout several centuries?

I would like you not to allow the derogatory and offensive image-buildings to create an emotional gulf between you and the reality, taking away the possibility of an impartial judgment from you. Today, the communication media have removed the geographical borders. Hence, don’t allow them to besiege you within fabricated and mental borders.

Although no one can individually fill the created gaps, each one of you can construct a bridge of thought and fairness over the gaps to illuminate yourself and your surrounding environment. While this preplanned challenge between Islam and you, the youth, is undesirable, it can raise new questions in your curious and inquiring minds. Attempts to find answers to these questions will provide you with an appropriate opportunity to discover new truths.

Therefore, don’t miss the opportunity to gain proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam so that hopefully, due to your sense of responsibility toward the truth, future generations would write the history of this current interaction between Islam and the West with a clearer conscience and lesser resentment.

Seyyed Ali Khamenei
21st Jan. 2015

Additional references and sources on LETTER4U and its contents can be found at: www.letter4u.co.