The award-winning novelist Ian McEwan has launched an outspoken attack on militant Islam, accusing it of “wanting to create a society that I detest”. The author said he “despises Islamism” because of its views on women and homosexuality. The writer of Atonement and Enduring Love condemned religious hardliners as he defended his friend, the writer Martin Amis, against charges of racism.
Amis was accused last year of being Islamaphobic after he said that “the Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order”. In an essay written the day before the fifth anniversary of the bombing of New York’s Twin Towers [it was in fact in an interview with the Times], the novelist suggested “strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan”, preventing Muslims from travelling, and further down the road, deportation.
McEwan, 60, said it was “logically absurd and morally unacceptable” that writers who speak out against militant Islam are immediately branded racist. “As soon as a writer expresses an opinion against Islamism, immediately someone on the left leaps to his feet and claims that because the majority of Muslims are dark-skinned, he who criticises it is racist,” he said in an interview in Corriere della Sera.
Inayat Bunglawala, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, criticised McEwan’s defence of Amis.
“Mr McEwan is being rather disingenuous about his friend, Martin Amis’s remarks. Of course you should be allowed to criticise the tenets of any religion. However, Amis went much further than that,” he said. “He was advocating that the Muslim community be made to suffer ‘until it gets its own house in order’. And what sort of suffering did Amis have in mind? In his own words, ‘Not letting them travel. Deportation – further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan … Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children.'”
He added: “Those were clearly very bigoted remarks and the fact that McEwan prefers to whitewash them tells us much about his own views too.”
See also “‘I despise Islamism’: Ian McEwan faces backlash over press interview”, Independent On Sunday, 22 June 2008