The Muhammad cartoons

Submitted by AWL on 7 May, 2006 - 10:14

Motions passed at AWL conference 29-30 April 2006.

Religious conservatives are on the march against free speech and secularism. The violent demonstrations that stopped the play by Gurpeet Kaur Bhatti in Birmingham, the Christian drive against Jerry Springer The Opera, and the support of most religious groups for gagging free speech in the Religious Hatred Legislation, are all part of this reactionary religious offensive.

The international Islamist campaign against the cartoons in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten has reinforced the urgent need to oppose religious reactionaries and the widespread influence of cultural relativism. Britain among the European countries is most strongly in the grip of cultural relativism, the liberal establishment, the press, the leadership of the labour movement, and the left have totally failed the test presented by religious revanchism and in particular the systematic Islamist campaign against freedom of speech. We said in Solidarity: "On 1st or 2nd February, 22 papers in 13 European countries published some or all of the cartoons.

Papers in the Czech Republic and Poland followed on 4 February". None of the British press, none of the left press other than our web site joined this act of protest against an Islamist attempt to crush freedom of expression. Britain had a soft ban on the cartoons imposed by everyone from the Government, the right wing press barons, through the liberal press and to the so-called revolutionary left. In these circumstances, we were right to put the cartoons on our website.

While the liberal establishment are just proving once again their unwillingness to defend basic democratic liberties the left has plumbed new depths by repeating its tragic support for Stalinism or third world nationalism in farcical backing of religious backwardness.

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This AGM believes that the AWL was correct to react to the campaign against the Danish cartoons depicting Muhammed by a demonstrative assertion of our opposition to religious censorship and of our solidarity with those who suffered as a result of having taken a stand on the issue. We recognise that some of the Danish cartoons could have been interpreted as identifying all Muslims as terrorists. The AWL will continue to campaign against religious censorship, for secularism and against laws and institutions that give a privileged position to religion (e.g. faith schools, the law against religious hatred).