|Inventing "The Other"|
|Fear And Loathing|
Islamophobia Watch is a silly blog that claims to be "documenting anti-Muslim bigotry", but is clearly just badmouthing anybody who criticises any aspect of the Islamic world. It is apparently run by Bob Pitt, and has a contributor named Martin Sullivan (who is a sock puppet operated by Pitt). According to Pitt the blog was set up by Eddie Truman. As of 2016-11-24 the site has died and been replaced with a domain-squatting Japanese ad for trips to Taiwan.
Targets and criticism
One of the blog's frequently targeted 'Islamophobes' is Richard Dawkins, who referred to Islam as an "unmitigated evil" as recently as May of 2011. In 2008, Dawkins complained that British teachers are tolerating creationist views in Muslim pupils. "[T]here 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", said Martin Sullivan.
Islamophobia Watch has been involved in a lengthy spat with another blog, Harry's Place. Harry's Place made a post in 2005 deconstructing Pitt's definition of "Islamophobia", resulting in a squabble between the two, with Pitt focusing largely on Harry's support for the Iraq war. Sullivan later described Harry's Place as "notoriously Islamophobic".
Other people apparently deemed "anti Muslim bigots" by the blog include Bill Maher, anti-burqa feminist Elizabeth Farrelley, Booker prize-winner Ian McEwan, British comedian Ben Elton, Martin Amis, gay website Pink News, Christopher Hitchens, Philip Pullman, Monica Ali, Philip Hensher, Salman Rushdie, the Norfolk branch of Hope not Hate and Polly Toynbee.
Brett Lock, a member of the gay rights group OutRage!, took objection to that group being lumped in with the BNP by Islamophobia Watch for its anti-Sharia views. He e-mailed Pitt about Islamic laws on homosexuality and was allegedly told that "it's not homosexuality as such that's an offence but the sexual act itself. And you need four independent witnesses for a conviction." "That’s a great comfort, Bob", replied Lock. "Can you imagine if every heterosexual on the planet were forced under pain of death to be celibate? How would that work? It doesn’t even appear to work for those few (like Catholic clergy) who choose to give it a go. Why does Pitt appear to think that gays and lesbians can live under those conditions?"
The Leicester Secularist blog described Islamophobia Watch's contributors as "homophobic and antisemetic".
One of the blog's favourite targets is gay activist Peter Tatchell. In September 2011 Tatchell attended an anti-EDL rally in Tower Hamlets, carrying a placard reading "Gays & Muslims UNITE! Stop the EDL". Tatchell reported that he received criticism from certain left-wing protestors, "some of whom said explicitly that our placards were 'insensitive…provocative…inappropriate…divisive” and that I am “racist…fascist…anti-Muslim.'" Tatchell added that "There was also hostility from a minority of Muslims who were part of the anti-EDL demonstration, including attempts to snatch and rip my placard... I was surrounded several times throughout the day by angry Muslim youths who ordered me: 'You must remove this placard…You can’t walk here with these words…We don’t allow gays in this area…Gays are not permitted here…We don’t have gays in Tower Hamlets.'"
Islamophobia Watch responded to this account by labeling Tatchell's actions as a "predictably divisive and disruptive... publicity stunt by an attention-seeking narcissist" and pointing out that someone from the EDL asked Tatchell to join them. The fact that Tatchell was attending an anti-EDL rally and carrying an anti-EDL sign and is therefore clearly not an EDL supporter was apparently lost in the confusion.
British journalist Johann Hari criticised Islamophobia Watch for its reference to Peter Tatchell as "pro-Nazi" and its defence of Muslim homophobe Sir Iqbal Sacranie. "If I write a book calling Sacranie a homophobe and claim it was dictated to me by the Archangel Gabriel, will Pitt defend it as my religious view, and damn everyone who disagrees as 'Johann-phobic'?" he asks. "Islamophobia Watch – and the dense chunk of the hard left that adopts a similar approach – is trying to redefine consistent atheism as a form of racism."
Islamophobia Watch put up a rather feeble response to this, clarifying that its identification of Tatchell as "pro-Nazi" was because he called for the Muslim Council of Britain to be excluded from a Unite Against Fascism conference. Er, that's what qualifies as "pro-Nazi" now?
Later, the blog took Hari to task for describing Dutch Labour Party council member Ehsan Jami as "an intelligent, softly-spoken 22-year-old [who] believes there should be no compromise, ever, on the rights of women and gay people and novelists and cartoonists", Sullivan's objection to this statement being that Jami once co-wrote an anti-Islamic article with Geert Wilders. The same post criticises Hari for being friends with Maryam Namazie, whom it identifies as a "nutter" who accused the Muslim Council of Britain of wanting to execute gays.
"They shamefully call Maryam 'a nutter' for opposing Islamic fundamentalist homophobia, when she has witnessed it first hand in Iran", said Hari in an article about the blog's post. "They then smear Eshan as aligned with Geert Wilders, without pointing out he has in fact condemned Wilders' disgraceful calls for the Koran to be banned, saying instead that 'everyone should read it.' They should be deeply ashamed of their attack on these brave ex-Muslims."
The blog has also stated that "Johann Hari has always been one of our favourite Islamophobes", but acknowledged that "to be fair, he does take a stand against the more egregious examples of anti-Muslim bigotry."