'Atheist Muslim' says bigoted Donald Trump supporters have hijacked debate on Islam

'The left is wrong on Islam - the right is wrong on Muslims,' says author Ali Rizvi

Greg Wilford
Sunday 09 July 2017 18:58
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Ali Rizvi, author of The Atheist Muslim
Ali Rizvi, author of The Atheist Muslim

A self-styled “atheist Muslim” author says liberals have stifled criticism of Islam and allowed Donald Trump supporters to hijack debate about the religion from “a position of xenophobia and bigotry”.

Ali Rizvi claimed those on the left and right of the political spectrum are unable to distinguish between “Islamic ideology and Muslim identity”, preventing honest conversations about the link between religion and terrorism.

And he accused liberals of maintaining a “devastating double standard” by attacking the illiberal beliefs of Christian fundamentalists while branding people “Islamophobic” for condemning similar views held by Muslims.

The writer, who was born in Pakistan, suggested that the left’s “blind spot” about Islam had created an opportunity for the “Trumpian right” to descend into bigotry and demonise Muslims.

Trump urges Muslim leaders to fight Islamic extremism

In an interview about his new book The Atheist Muslim, he told Vox: “I think the left has a blind spot when it comes to Islam and the right has a blind spot when it comes to Muslims.

“When Christian fundamentalists like Pat Robertson say something that's homophobic or misogynistic, people on the left descend on them like a ton of bricks.

“They’re very comfortable with criticising and satirising fundamentalist Christianity.

“But when it comes to Islam, which has many of the same homophobic and misogynistic teachings, they throw their hands up, back off, and say, whoa, hold on, we must respect their religion and culture.”

Mr Rizvi grew up in a Muslim family, living in Libya and Saudi Arabia before he settled in Canada.

Although he is an atheist, he said he still enjoyed aspects of Islamic culture such as Eid and Ramadan.

He harshly criticised Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric and his repeated efforts to ban people from mainly Muslim countries from travelling to the US.

“Those on the right paint all Muslims with the same brush,” he told Vox.

“Blanket bans like that include many people like me, because we have Muslim names and come from Muslim-majority countries.”

Mr Rizvi agreed that political, economic and social factors have contributed to violence in the Muslim world, but added that the Quran contains some violent passages that “completely fit” the actions of Isis.

“Islam is neither a religion of war nor a religion of peace. It's just a religion, like any other religion,” he added.

“The hard truth is there is a lot of violence endorsed in the Quran, and there are other terrible things, as there are in the Old Testament."

Mr RIzvi has previously summed his views up by tweeting: “The left is wrong on Islam. The right is wrong on Muslims.”

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