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Submitted by stuartjordan on Tue, 09/11/2010 - 17:28

Even if we reject all the right-wing hysteria about the IFE spread by Andrew Gilligan et al, we still oppose their involvement in politics simply because we are secularists. Even if we reject the claims of Bengali leftists that IFE thugs beat up a young Bengali for smoking during Ramadan, then we must admit that their preachers spread messages that pose a threat to women, gays and apostates. Even if we accept that there are no formal links between the IFE and clerical fascists in Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh, then their tacit, informal support should ring alarm bells.

The IFE wants to suggest that the entire Bengali community is muslim and they represent the entire community. They claim that the division in the community is between people who think getting involved in politics is haraam (forbidden by Islamic law) and those, like the IFE, who think it is important that Muslims get involved in politics. However, the real division in Bangladeshi politics is between secularism and political Islam. This goes back to 1971 War of Independence when secular nationalist forces fought fascistic Bengali Islamists who lined up behind the genocidal West Pakistan military. This division is still present both within and outside the Muslim community. For example, the Brick Lane Mosque is secular in that it does not organise Muslims to enter politics as Muslims. This is not because its clerics believe that it is haraam for muslims to get involved in politics; many members of the Brick Lane mosque are involved in politics. The difference is that they are involved as citizens of a secular state, not as muslims with a religious-political agenda.

By refusing to acknowledge these real dynamics, the would-be-left becomes cheerleaders and subordinate partners for political Islam backed by the local bourgeoisie whilst alienating secular, working-class Bengalis.

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