30 September 2013

Islam and Islamism: making the distinction.

From a letter to the editor of the AFR, 28 Sept 2013, by Michael Danby MP:

Dear Editor,

Your report ‘Labor MP takes aim at NSW party on Islam’ does not reflect my views on the Labor Party’s interest in maintaining good relations with the Islamic community.

Your reporter correctly quotes me as saying ‘I am sure the NSW Labor Party does not decide who its senators are on the basis of such instructions from Sheik Hilaly’s successors’ but the report extrapolates from that that I question NSW Labor’s connections with the Islamic community. I do not.

Indeed, I encourage engagement as part of Australia’s pluralist ethos, adherence which is worthy and consistent in and of itself.

Engagement with the Islamic community means making a strong distinction between an important monotheistic religion – Islam – and Islamism. Islamism can and must be understood at the same time as a political ideology which is misused as a cover for extremism. It is a difference I have always made in every speech, in every statement, and every utterance. Confusing Islam and Islamism is like confusing Germans with Nazis, or Russians with Soviet Communists.
I agree with the thrust of your report but words are bullets in this life and death struggle with Islamism, a new totalitarianism. We cannot avert our eyes from this new evil and false ideology which has recently struck down another innocent Australian, Ross Langdon, his brilliant wife, their unborn child, and some 60 or 70 other innocents in a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

Some of your readers may think my distinctions pedantic. Yet I think one can strongly repudiate the unwarranted interference in the internal workings of the Labor Opposition, and at the same time, practice and espouse respect for an important religious group, especially as a member of a party that venerates equal and fair treatment.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Danby MP