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Hating Islam Is Not Similar to Racism, Andrew Brown

07/11/2014 12:25 GMT | Updated 06/01/2015 10:59 GMT

The Guardian's Andrew Brown should apologise for equating hatred of Islam with hatred of "black people".

He wrote on Wednesday: "The position of people who claim that hatred of Islam is somehow superior to hatred of black people is pretty much like Alan Partridge boasting that at least he's not David Brent".

This is not a minuscule quote taken out of context in order to do injustice to a broader thought experiment. It is the last paragraph of his piece omitting the words that begin it ("In the end,").

"New atheists" have been defamed like this for years. Richard Dawkins's criticism of the repugnant Old Testament god was branded anti-Semitic. Sam Harris was accused of being "gross" and "racist" a few weeks ago by a belligerent Ben Affleck. And Christopher Hitchens was persistently charged with "Islamophobia" despite forming his opinions on Islam after studying it - the very opposite of prejudicial behaviour.

Brown's piece begins by conflating two issues: hatred of Islam and hatred of Muslims. It says hatred of Islam is considered by its advocates be non-racist because Islam is not a race. He says this leads to the belief that hating Muslims is rational whereas hating black people is irrational.

I cannot speak for all who hate, oppose or take a mildly dim view of Islam. So I'll refrain from using "we" and hope not to appear too self-centred in the process.

I would hate to see the Scanners-like head explosion Brown would undergo if he ever met me: I hate Islam. I do not hate everybody who identifies as a Muslim. I also hate the Conservative party yet count a Tory among my closest friends. I loathe Christianity and yet the woman I respect most in the world - my mother - identifies as a Christian. This demonstrates at least one exception to Brown's obscene conflation, so let's see if my hatred of Islam is as evil as racism.

I studied Judaism and Christianity at Durham University for three years and then attended the University of Manchester for an MA as part of which I studied Islam.

I found all three promoted total authority from a divine dictator. I found the god I was meant to praise to be, in varying degrees across various texts, vain, homophobic, sexist and racist. Call me a loony of the left but I'm against these traits. I feel so strongly about this character that for me it is not a question of his existence as to whether or not I worship him. And were this God to appear to me, I hope I'd keep my nerve and refuse to submit.

I simply won't have it that after careful consideration that I was engaged in even before these university studies, I am to be put in with the same stock as harmful bigots who form opinions that not only have no evidence but are contradicted by evidence.

In accusing me of a crime akin to racism, Brown degrades not only me but people who have been subjected to racism. By virtue of birth people have been degraded beyond my comprehension and Brown compares the motivation for this putrid behaviour to the hatred of an idea.

He should apologise, as publicly as possible, to victims of racism as well as to those who hate Islam on grounds that are in no way prejudiced.

Further, the logical conclusion of prohibiting the hatred of ideas is undemocratic and is the first step towards totalitarianism. This is yet another Guardian comment piece that has, in an attempt to champion the oppressed, placed the whip in its own hand.

I will not, and neither should you, be bullied into silence by a bumbling demagogue for fear of being branded a bigot or racist.

Demand Brown apologises and reject his misrepresentation of an opinion that in my case is motivated by revulsion at tyranny.