>“The way things are happening in Respect is pure opportunism. Obviously I am in favour of working with Muslim groups, but for socialists the goal must be to win followers of religion to our own point of view, not to leave them in their entrenched positions.”
An AWL speaker? No, the words of Tariq Ali, the leftist commentator who Solidarity has more than once criticised for his reflex, negative “anti-imperialism”, not least his support for the“resistance” militias in Iraq.
In an interview published in the March-April edition of Grenzeloos, the journal of the Dutch Trotskyist organisation SAP, Ali puts forward an analysis of the left’s relationship with Muslims quite different from what you might have expected — and certainly from the crude opportunism of the SWP .
Ali’s clarity about the Respect project is highly refreshing: “The way Respect is doing it won’t lead to anything. We have to find a neutral terrain which can offer a space for discussion. We must not conceal our own point of view by hiding it under the table. Many of the [Muslim] groups with which Respect has developed collaboration have very conservative and reactionary roots. In the countries from which they come, like for example Egypt or Indonesia, they have always been the enemies of the Left.”
The interview (only a small part of which is about Respect) should be required reading for every SWP member.
• See zmag for the full text