Martin Breum: Welcome Maryam Namazie. We are in the middle of this cartoon crisis and then your manifesto calls for hard resistance against Islamism, why is that?

Maryam Namazie: The reality is that Islamism is one of the great dangers in the world today and the reaction we have been witnessing around the cartoons is just the tip of the iceberg. The people of the Middle East have been faced with this reactionary movement for over two decades now. It decapitates people, it still stones women to death in the 21st century, and it imposes sexual apartheid wherever it has power and is ruling. The cartoon crisis is just another wake-up call really for the people of Europe about the situation and the need to stand up firmly to this movement.

Martin Breum: But your manifesto talks of preachers of hate, forming battalions and it goes on to tell us how they want to impose themselves on the entire world. Is that really a fair description of all Islamist movements?

Maryam Namazie: I think we have to recognise the fact that the political Islam movement is a reactionary right-wing movement; it is vying for political power. There is also another pole of terrorism in the world today, which is US state terrorism - an example of which can be seen by looking at the situation in Iraq. These two poles are vying for a larger share of power. With regards to the political Islamic pole - its track record is very clear. If anybody knows what it has done in Iran for example, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, there is no question that it is trying to impose the will of god, the rule of god on earth itself and that anywhere it has been able to do this it is very clear that it has meant nothing but destruction and death and misery for millions of people.

Martin Breum: You personally have reprinted some of the cartoons from the Danish newspaper on your website. This strategy of confrontation, how can it be constructive?

Maryam Namazie: Well it's not a strategy of confrontation in that sense. It's very constructive. What is important to realise is the fact that this movement is dangerous for civilised humanity and we should not be appeasing it, we should not be excusing it, we should not be justifying it, we should not be supporting it and encouraging it in any way, shape or form, which a lot of western governments are doing. We need to stand up to it and confront it because that's how, throughout history, reactionary movements that were dangerous to humanity had to be confronted in order to be pushed back.

What we are saying is that this movement does not need any form of provocation. What provocation, for example, did Maryam Ayoobi, who was stoned to death by the Islamic Republic of Iran give the Islamic regime of Iran to do that? What provocation did Atefeh Rajabi, a 16 year old girl who was hung in a city square for 'acts incompatible with chastity' give?

So this movement does need any sort of provocation and I think that's very clear because its track record is very clear. What we are saying is that we are faced with such an immense danger. We need to stand up against it firmly. We need to push it back for civilised humanity - not just for the people of Europe but for the people of the Middle East who have incidentally been fighting it for years. We need to take particular note of the fight that is going on against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is a pillar of political Islam in the world by the people there...

Martin Breum: I just want to ask you one last question. The manifesto is also very hard on those who do not stand up as firmly as you do? Why is that necessary?

Maryam Namazie: Well because I think that when you see a lot of left and progressive groups apologising for the political Islamic movement and trying to silence any form of criticism of Islam and the political Islamic movement as "racism" or "Islamophobic" - which is not the case - we need to say that they have a duty, that everybody has a duty to stand up to this movement. Civilized humanity demands it and deserves it. The people in the Middle East, just like people in Europe, deserve to live according to universal standards, to the highest standards that have been fought for in the 21st century. They deserve it everywhere.

Transcribed by Arash Sorx.

Worker-communist Party of Iran March 11, 2006

  • On the Manifesto against Islamism

Interview with Maryam Namazie by Javanan weekly

Javanan: You are one of the signatories to the Manifesto against Islamism; were you involved in drafting it?

Maryam Namazie: I wasn't involved in drafting the manifesto. I had initially refused to sign the manifesto because it mentioned the 'excesses of communism' as an example of past totalitarianisms and put it on par with Nazism and fascism. I was then told that it was a mistranslation - since the original was written in French - and that it was in fact 'Stalinism'. I then decided to sign on to it. Of course I would have written the manifesto differently had I been involved in its drafting but I believed it to be too important to pass up on.

Javanan: How widely has this manifesto been published?

Maryam Namazie: The manifesto has been widely received and publicised in the media. It has been published in newspapers across Europe. In France it has been published in Charlie Hebdo, Agence France Presse, L'Express, RTL, Proche-orient info, RMC, France Info, France 2.fr, Europe 1, RFI, TOC. In Denmark it has been published in Jyllands-Posten, the paper where the Mohammad caricatures were first published (there is also an interview with me on the issue), Politiken, Berlingske Tidende, and Kristeligt Dagblad, In Switzerland, Radio Suisse Romande, Le Temps; in Belgium BELGIQUE RTL, De Morgen, The Brussels Journal; in Germany, DIE WELT; in Italy, Sky news, Libero; in Canada, Radio Canada and the Toronto Star. The Middle East Times, Al Jazeera, BBC and some Iranian sites like rowzane have also published it.

I have also been interviewed by several Danish papers, including the Jyllands-Posten, and most recently by Danish TV. Many of them reprinted the entire Manifesto but of course not in the UK, which is a strong centre of political Islam in Europe.

The response by the public too has been overwhelming. Many feel such a manifesto is extremely timely whilst of course there is the usual hate mail from Islamists.

Javanan: You are the only one to give a party affiliation - usually writers don't do that. Is this a break with this sort of tradition?

Maryam Namazie: I was asked to write my own introduction as were others. I was the only one who gave a party affiliation (though I signed on to it personally and not on behalf of the party) - because I cannot introduce myself without mentioning the Worker-communist Party of Iran - given that the party and movement and of course Mansoor Hekmat have been so instrumental in giving me the tools and analysis to confront political Islam and also because I really believe that it is worker-communism that has and can respond to the vile political Islamic movement and much more.

Furthermore, it is part of our political culture in this movement to be radical and popular at the same time. The email I received from a Dane after he watched the interview and read some of my blogs says it all: 'People like you will one day be a principal cause of freedom and justice for all people in the world no matter their gender, sexual preference, religious or political conviction.' I believe he is referring to worker-communism.

Javanan: Some of the text is really very good and it has an overall positive effect but in my opinion some parts of it uses Cold War expressions; what do you think?

Maryam Namazie: I think much of the content is brilliant and is what we have been saying for many years - on universal values and rights, on cultural relativism, on Islamophobia, on freedom of expression, and the need for an age of enlightenment. What I found interesting about this Manifesto is that our stance is evident throughout and reveals our influence and impact. But as I said before, if I had written it I would definitely do some things differently. The role of western governments in creating and supporting totalitarian states is absent. Whilst I agree that Stalin's regime was totalitarian, mentioning his rule and not the many western backed totalitarian regimes conjures up images of the Cold War and gives an incomplete picture. What about the US backed Shah's regime or many of the US backed totalitarian governments in Latin America? Also, the West's role in encouraging political Islam vis-à-vis the Eastern bloc and their current power struggle is absent. Nonetheless, though, I felt it important to sign on to this manifesto as I mentioned before.

The above was from an interview in Persian in the weekly publication of the Young Communists' Organisation.