“Anger about excessive powers supposedly wielded by Strasbourg judges, Scottish MPs or the European Union is not really about institutional arrangements. It is instead the outlet for a much more visceral rage, the furious sense that the world is not as it should be – and that someone faraway must be to blame.
This is the pool of fury Ukip drinks from, and which the Tories want to channel their way. It imagines a utopia where everything would be well if only we could make our own rules without outsiders’ interference. Some of that sentiment was alive in the yes campaign in Scotland; much of it animates anti-EU feeling, both here and on the continent.
But it feels misplaced, an incoherent lashing-out that frequently hits the wrong target. People have good reason to feel impotent, too powerless to shape their own lives. But that’s not the fault of judges in Strasbourg or bureaucrats in Brussels. It owes more to the vast, borderless forces of globalisation that have upended economic life everywhere. Yet those forces are so much harder to see and harder to blame. So we train our fire on an easier, more visible enemy, like a European court that actually protects us far more than it hurts us.”
Of course there are discrepancies in how religion is promulgated and enforced across the world because religion is man-made (and masculine-made). A woman can legally vote in Iran, but not even drive in Saudi Arabia. But this relative diversity does not negate the fact that traditional ideas in Islam about martyrdom, jihad, blasphemy, apostasy, and the status of women and so on are there, plain to see, in scripture for any Muslim to exploit. Any fair-minded Muslim can denounce literalist creeds of these ideas on whatever basis (usually secular), but one thing they cannot say is that fundamentalists are not “true” Muslims or, what Obama has said, that “no faith teaches” what ISIS does. Aslan is an apologist in this regard. He preaches non-judgment when it is a matter of empirical fact that literalist interpretations of scripture are more prevalent and politicised in Islam at present than any other monotheism. Is it bigotry to point that out? No. Intolerance of religious dogma is important whenever it arises, whether in Islam, Christianity or whatever. If 500 years ago during the colonisation of the Americas, a larger proportion churches and its Christians had said as Columbus did – “let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold” (drawing on mandates for slavery in the Bible – Leviticus 44-46; Parabols, Luke 12:47), then we’d be saying, rightly, that Christianity promotes violence.