Dr Sabah A. Salih writes:
Islamism, which is markedly different from the way most practicing Muslims in Kurdistan understand the faith, as something spiritual rather than political, has never been a friend of the Kurds. Despite its noisy claims of universality and rejection of national boundaries, Islamism is sectarian through and through. In fact, its actions and programs are intended to put non-Arabs under the political and cultural hegemony of Arabs. Historically, Islamism has been just another name for Arab imperialism. To conceal that, Islamism has been relentless in insisting in its usual totalitarian fashion that its program comes straight from Allah.
This is how most people in Kurdistan view Islamism. There, clerics like Al-Jazeera Television’s wordmonger-in-chief Yusuf Qaradawi or Muslim Brotherhood’s point man in Europe Tariq Ramadan carry no weight. In Kurdistan, a person trading in dogma and medieval irrationality, as these men do, is not considered a person worth listening to. But outside Kurdistan, especially in the heart of Western democracies, as Paul Berman points out in this valuable new book, these are the very people a great many intellectuals embrace as moderate, mainstream, even authentic.
He also adds this most interesting point:
This is an important point for the people of Kurdistan to be aware of, important because the Western enablers of Islamism refuse to distinguish between Islamism and the faith; what’s more, they portray Islamism as mainstream rather than as the fringe it has always been and they portray all opposition to Islamism as an attack on Islam. As a consequence, today there is more willingness to criticize Islamism in Kurdistan and in Arab and Muslim countries than in the West. These days, if you happen to be a Muslim dissident living in the West, chances are you will be viewed by the mainstream media and the intellectual establishment as a traitor: traitor to your religion, traitor to your culture, and traitor to your past. And if you speak your mind freely and bravely, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali frequently does, you will be called a bomb thrower, a fanatic, a Muslim hater.
All-in-all the point is simply. There is a difference between Islam and Islamism. But that also means that criticising Islamism is NOT Islamophobia and certainly not racism.