Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Scotland, Independence, and Islam...

We are now eight days from the September 18 final deadline for Scottish independence referendum ballots, which state "Should Scotland be an independent country?"  Voters are able to only mark 'Yeas' or 'No'.  All Scots over age 16 are permitted to vote, which translates out to over four million potential ballots to be cast in a contest that will be decided by simple majority.
Should the Highlanders become an independent nation, there will be many questions, from currency organization to trade agreements and treaties, that the new republic will be faced with.
One of the major issues facing Scotland is Islam and integration of Eastern immigrant populations within the wider society.  The track record in England regarding this issue has been problematic, to put it mildly.  A recent Vice News documentary from their UK desk profiled confrontations between so-called 'Sharia Enforcement Squads', groups of overly-zealous young men trying to assert control of commerce and social mores in their new community, and quasi-Fascists with names like 'Britain First'.  Just to add to the mix a bit more, the British National Party appears, that lovable conflagration of political operators, drunken soccer toughs, and the political philosophy akin to Oswald Mosley, a wartime Fascist in England who was held by the Crown between 1940 and 1943 for creating a para-military army of blackshirts bent on supporting the Nazis.  BNP has recently taken advantage of a sex scandal in Rotherham, a grisly story that lasted from 1997 to 2013 and has ensnared up to 1,400 youths in a web of child prostitution, rape, and abduction, turning a shameful episode involving a group of Pakistani men into a wider spectacle of anti-Islamic protests and picket lines.
The underlying dialogue that is behind this issue is one of sexuality, womanhood, and the British reaction to religious and cultural plurality in their country further assimilating into the country.
Here is a video produced for YouTube by a Scottish Muslim featuring a Scot, Maya Wallace, giving testimony to the process she went through in deciding to practice Islam.  There are several different levels of discussion to engage in regarding its place in dialogues about religious video programming, cultural mitosis, and the portrayal of the female body in media of this nature.
What also is quite interesting here is the dialogue Maya offers on topics like the hijab and niqab.  This is an educated adult woman who comes out of the post-colonial British education system, a curriculum that emphasizes lessons in post-colonial dialogues and thinking as an element of their social studies curriculum.  The topic of women's emancipation in regard to clothing in Islam and the notion of electing to accept the religion's dictates is especially worthwhile for discussion and reflection.  Oftentimes in contemporary circles, most noticeably the New Atheist writers and their fans, there is an overwhelmingly condescending and insulting barrage of prejudices expressed in print and on the internet.  The typical parameters of this bigotry is ignorance and blanket statements about the minority of Muslims who participate in jihadist activity, along with older nuances derived from classical Jim Crow and Orientalist drawings.  Muslims are gullible, their Prophet was illiterate, scheming, and a child predator with a taste for young girls.  They retard social development, prosthelytize, and undermine social and national security, a secret network of saboteurs that cover the globe and bring domestic strife in their wake.  Here are some typically chauvinist examples:

This is the level of animosity to confront when dealing with Western attitudes towards Islam today from alleged secular thinkers.  In terms of the questions surrounding the idea of Scot nationalism, consider this quote from a Marxist-Leninist group in Britain that opposes the motion and has focused cadre and activist training around persuading voters:
[T]he Scottish nationalist movement is a retrogressive and reactionary enterprise, whose success can only bring in its wake a catastrophic split in the unity of the historically-constituted British proletariat.
Earlier this year, various Communist parties related to this English branch were quite oppositional to American and British actions in Ukraine, Syria, and Palestine.  Likewise, they have also hosted the North Korean ambassador and stands in solidarity with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea against American and South Korean imperialism.  They also have hosted George Galloway MP and created a worthwhile video about the water situation in Gaza and the West Bank, it truly is a unique sense of nuance that one needs to take into account here.  In the broadest sense, it outlines the Leninist definition of the Nation and the notion of anti-imperialist struggle in comparison to the contemporary Scottish independence movement.  The uniquely cinematic dimension of this discussion also includes the popularization of Scottish independent nationalism in the past two decades and the role the film BRAVEHEART played in shaping the dialogue there.  In fact, the date of the vote is the anniversary of a major battle featured in that film, the famous clash at Bannockburn that included William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce.
The evolution of this dialogue and the voter referendum outcome remains to be seen, but the underlying dialogue that will emerge about social identity in the British Isles and Islam will continue to develop in a fashion which will impact both groups.

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