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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Is Bob Pitt a new McCarthy?

Editorial by Terry Sanderson

Richard Dawkins made headlines this week when he accused British schools of allowing creationism to flourish in schools’ science lessons if it was being promoted as part of Islam. He told the press: “Most devout Muslims are creationists – so when you go to schools, there are a large number of children of Islamic parents who trot out what they have been taught. Teachers are bending over backwards to respect home prejudices that children have been brought up with. The Government could do more but it doesn't want to because it is fanatical about multiculturalism and the need to respect the different traditions from which these children come.

“The Government — particularly under Tony Blair — thinks it is wonderful to have children brought up with their traditional religions. I call it brainwashing. It seems as though teachers are terribly frightened of being thought racist. It’s almost impossible to say anything against Islam in this country because if you do you are accused of being racist or Islamophobic.”

Indeed, right on cue, Professor Dawkins was immediately denounced as an “Islamophobe” on the website Islamophobia Watch by “Martin Sullivan”, the site’s leading light. Mr Sullivan wrote: “On the other hand, there are those of us who would argue that paranoid delusions about the impact on educational policy of a minority faith community who comprise less than 3% of the population of the UK are quite accurately categorisable as Islamophobia.”

According to Johann Hari of the Independent, and several other reliable sources, Martin Sullivan is an alias. The site is almost certainly a one-man band run by a bloke called Bob Pitt, a radical left-winger who imagines he is protecting Muslims by siding with their most reactionary leaders and spokespeople.

Bob Pitt sees “Islamophobia” everywhere. His website is packed with “examples” of how “Islamophobia” is spreading through Europe. Such is his obsession that just about all public utterances that are not completely fawning about Islam are recorded and denounced by Mr Pitt as ‘Islamophobic’. Needless to say, the NSS and its honorary associates figure prominently.

Could one go so far as to say that Islamophobia Watch contravenes the incitement to religious hatred laws? Could it not be argued that Islamophobia Watch is, in fact, a place where Islamic fanatics could go to find the names of people they can then identify as their enemies? Certainly I have seen people who have been named on the site (often complete with their pictures, for easier identification) expressing alarm at what the consequences might be, and at least one has received hate mail following being named. Indeed, I am not happy about my own picture being repeatedly featured with the implication that I an incorrigible ‘Islamophobe’. (According to the site, being critical of any element of Islam the religion is the equivalent of being anti-Muslim people).
I wonder if Mr Pitt’s conscience is at all pricked by the fear his site inspires in those it brands, McCarthy-style, as “Islamophobic” simply because they wanted to contribute to the debate on Islam and religion generally? I wonder if he ever imagines that some of the things that are criticised by his so-called “Islamophobes” (stoning women to death, hanging dissidents, assassinating critics) might be worthy of harsh criticism?

See also:
Johann Hari on Islamophobia Watch
Leicester Secularist blog
Why Islamophobia Watch doesn’t like Maryam Namazie
Bob Pitt’s web of lies (spun at tax-payers expense)
Britain is letting sharia sneak in

8 August 2008

Published Fri, 08 Aug 2008