Gay belongs to the West
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By Oriana P.
additional research, expert advice and editing: Cherneyy Koshka
When selective outrage ensues in the face of atrocities the question is always, what is this selectivity based on and who is possibly manipulating it to further a certain agenda? Why is there more uproar when IS murders western people and hardly a squeak for their numerous brown muslim victims? Why can Palestinians count on more support when resisting occupation and genocide while Syrians doing the same is met with indifference or even hostility? And why can gay men, who are being persecuted in occupied Chechnya and thrown in concentration camps to be tortured, count on Western outrage while the fate of their straight counterparts, who have been subjected to exactly the same treatment for years - persecution and torture in filtration camps, never even stirred the slightest attention and was always met with deafening silence? The answer of course is a certain identification with the victims, which in and of itself demands closer examination, but another aspect to pay attention to is to where the focus is directed, by whom and for what purpose? In other words, who benefits by exploiting this identification process?
“The widespread argument one could often hear in Chechnya throughout the spring was that ‘the whole world only cares when gays are being persecuted, while everyone turns a blind eye if the same is happening to the rest of us.’”
~ Dominik K.Cagara
In April 2009 the second Russian-Chechen war, more correctly an imperialist move from the Russian Federation that encountered resistance, was officially declared over. In reality however it was never over, it simply became rebranded as an “anti-terrorist” operation by Putin. The Russian Federation - through its puppet dictator Ramzan Kadyrov, the illegitimate president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, together with Russian siloviki and federal “security” forces - has been engaged in forced disappearances with reports of torture and murder inside filtration camps that resemble 1940's nazi concentration camps and soviet gulags all in the name of the “war on terror”. These filtration camps already exist since 1994 and were set up by the Russians after their invasion of the Chechen Republic. As during the last official war Putin is still ordering cleansing operations resulting in the disappearance of thousands of people in the last 18 years.
"This regime works with only one goal: how to stay in power for the longest time possible. And to keep that power anything goes. It is terror in the name of anti-terror. The “fight against terrorism” must be continual because to stay in power and lead Kadyrov must keep people in a constant state of fear and for that he needs a repressive apparatus. This apparatus requires big financial support that he can only get from Moscow in exchange for the fight against terrorism. That’s why they are always finding “terrorists” and why people disappear. For each eliminated “terrorist” the Kadyrov fund receives 14,000 Euro. For these kinds of rewards they will keep killing."
~ Oleg Khabibrakhmanov, Joint Mobile Group connected to the Committee Against Torture in the documentary "Chechnya: War Without A Trace" by Manon Loizeau
If the Russian Federation would collapse and/or lift support for Kadyrov he wouldn’t last an hour. The Chechens would never forgive him for his crimes. They would pull a Gaddafi on him and literally rip him apart in the streets. Can anyone blame them? After all they have a blood feud to settle. In the meantime let’s not forget that it was precisely the promise of genocide on the Chechen peoples that handed Vladimir Putin the presidency and he made good on his promise. For its own survival the Russian Federation relies heavily on the natural resources they steal from the North Caucasus and for that the indigenous peoples, who are naturally claiming right to the land and its resources, must be wiped out.
"They (the Chechens) must be destroyed like vermin"
"We will hunt them down in every corner of the globe and whack* them even in the outhouse"
~ Vladimir Putin
* the original word translates to “wet”, which is a Russian mafia term that means “shoot to kill”. Putin is talking directly to his mafia family here.
On October 30th, 2017 the Chechen- Ukrainian combat medic Amina Okueva, a trained sniper and surgeon fighting with the Ukrainian resistance against the Russian occupation in Ukraine, was assassinated outside Kyiv. Her fighter skills had saved both her and her husband Adam Osmaev from a previous assassination attempt on June 1st of the same year. Over the years dozens were also killed on the streets in Turkey, Austria, and other parts of Europe by Russian FSB agent hired hitmen.
“We constantly hear about orders to kill us coming from the Russian special services, as well as Kadyrov’s groups. So naturally, we are always cautious and unable to relax, always equipped and trying to cover for one another.”
~ Amina Okueva
It is not like the West doesn’t know about the genocide executed on the Chechen peoples by both Putin and Kadyrov with Kadyrov doing the killings on the orders of Putin. On June 18th, 2011, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europea received Open Letter From "Peace and Human Rights" containing a detailed outline of the human rights violations from the Russian Federation..
"It is obvious that the leaders of CE and other international institutions forgot the most tragic lessons of the first half of the 20th century, when inaptness of the-then international community towards Stalin’s USSR and Hitler’s Germany, both leaders seized a “vertical” of limitless power, what put the entire mankind at the edge of self-extinction. The highest international organizations, including CE, who are responsible for preserving peace and the rule of laws, human rights and values should put an end to double standards and silencing the truth about the crimes of the century committed by Russia’s leadership and military."
~ Said-Emin Ibragimov, President of the international association “Peace and Human Rights”, Former Communications Minister of Chechenia”
On October 8th, 2012 An Open Letter to Citizen Putin V.V. was sent to "all government institutions in Russia, to all political parties, human rights and other non-government organizations, the media and all those citizens of Russia and the world who care". The letter describes and condemns the crimes, the propaganda and the corruption and accuses Putin of genocide and crimes against humanity. On July 5th, 2014 Said-Emin Ibragimov requests The International Criminal Court in The Hague to open a criminal case against Putin. And as of December 2017 The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) finally slapped Kadyrov with sanctions for gross violations of Human Rights:
“OFAC designated Ramzan Kadyrov for being responsible for extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals seeking to expose illegal activity carried out by officials of the Government of the Russian Federation, or to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms, such as the freedoms of religion, expression, association, and assembly, and the rights to a fair trial and democratic elections, in Russia. As the head of the Chechen Republic, Kadyrov oversees an administration involved in disappearances and extra-judicial killings. One of Kadyrov’s political opponents was believed to have been murdered at Kadyrov’s direction, after making allegations of torture and ill-treatment taking place in Chechnya, including alleged torture carried out by Kadyrov personally.”
The question here is, why did it take so long for the US to sanction Kadyrov when Kadyrov has murdered no less than 30,000 Chechens and thousands are fleeing their homeland because of the terror?
"Not that long ago, everyone was talking on radio and TV about the Holocaust and about Buchenwald. I am also against genocide. I feel genuine sympathy for those people. For their helplessness. But no one talks about the genocide of the Chechen people. No one mentions the concentration camps around Khankala and the Russian base at Lupoi...or around Kadayrov's castle at Khosi-Yurt where people are being dismembered"
~ Dokku Umarov, 1st Emir of the Caucasus Emirate and 5th President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria
Why has there been absolute silence from western commentators and grassroots movements in the face of this genocide however when the story of the “Gay Concentration Camps in Chechnya” emerges all of a sudden there’s international outrage and for weeks all eyes are on occupied Chechnya as if only gay victims matter? As if their “western feature” of gayness somehow made them victims more worthy of support. In January 2017 it was confirmed that at least 27 young men – some reports put the number as high as 50 – were murdered execution style by gunshots to their head and all in one night. They had been held in a secret prison since December 2016 after a raid by the Kadyrovsky, Russian FSB foot soldiers, in which 200 young Chechen men were detained. Hardly anyone reported about this in the West and thus no international outrage. In contrast, the execution of 2-3 gay men in February 2017 could count on mass coverage. There is nothing remotely unique about young gay Chechen men being detained, tortured and murdered because young Chechen men in general are being detained, tortured and murdered and have been for a very long time.
‘Following 17 December 2016, mass arrests began in Chechnya. In early January, special operations were carried out in Grozny and the Kurchaloy and Shali districts of Chechnya, during which mass arrests took place. The detainees, however, were not registered in any way, they were not charged, but instead were placed in the cellars and ancillary premises of police departments. The detentions lasted until the end of January. According to (our) newspaper’s information, about 200 people were detained’, Novaya Gazeta wrote.
When a western audience and western activists get confronted with facts-on-the-ground of the atrocities against the Chechen peoples, all of the Chechen peoples and not just the gay Chechens, the knee jerk reaction is not to express anger at the situation but to ask about the violent repression of homosexuals in the North Caucasus and explained in the context of traditional culture and Islamic religious background. The truth is that homophobia exists anywhere in the whole of the Caucasus as it exists anywhere in the world. The pre-dominantly Christian countries Georgia and Armenia are also dealing with homophobic issues but those are never brought up by Westerners. Why is that? Furthermore, even though homophobia existed before the occupation of Chechen land things weren’t as dangerous as they are now. An anonymous eyewitness going by the name ‘Umar’ in an interview states, "Gays in Chechnya had just started being persecuted; previously, you could walk about with long hair and eyeliner, even with painted nails, and there were no problems."The period Umar refers to is 2005, the same year Maskhadov was murdered and the same year Russia sealed their occupation of the Chechen Republic with the placement of the Kadyrov family and Russian agent Alu Alkhanov. In the same interview Umar also explains that it is not just gay people that are expected to stay in the closet. According to traditional culture unmarried straight people of the opposite gender are not supposed to display physical affection for each other in public either. In comparison the same holds true in many West Europeans countries depending on the areas and certainly gay people openly displaying affection is mainly tolerated in the big cities and even then it is often frowned upon or met with hostilities. In occupied Chechnya public display of affection is so not part of the culture that the majority of Chechens were never even aware of the existence of homosexuality in their communities. The persecutions have brought it to their attention. In the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Kadyrov is simply going after Chechens, gay or not, as he has always done on Putin’s orders and their accused gayness is just another excuse to murder as is their so called terrorism.
Going after gays is just the last wave of a sectarianization strategy that began with the “Chechenisation” policy in the early 2000’s when the Russian invaders included Chechen detachments within their security forces, the Kadyrovtsy, who operated according to their own culture. Once those had been separated from the rest of Chechen society it became easier to go after individuals within these detachments, as well as their families, who were suspected of being or actually were members of armed anti-Russian groups. After that they persecuted the Salafists. Within the Russian Federation itself any kind of opponent is called a “Wahhabi-Salafist”, whether they actually are Salafist or not, to the point that it has become ridiculous. When in need of an excuse to go after people just call them “Wahhabi-Salafists” and you don’t have to explain any further. Having a long beard would be enough to be called a "Wahhabi-Salafist". Human rights activists and principled journalists were next in the line up and then women became subjected to a “moral policy” that was enforceable through punishment in which they could no longer use cell phones and were required to wear headscarf. The next group to be stigmatized were the alcohol and drug addicts and finally the gays. When looking at Nazi Germany one can’t help but wonder if eventually also disabled people and mental health patients will become part of this cleansing operation.
“Many Chechens perceive this scandal as an addition to an age-old narrative going back to the conquest of the North Caucasus in the 19th century, propagated by Russian authorities. According to this narrative, the Chechens are a savage and uncivilised people, undeserving of international support in their aspirations for freedom, justice, and a place in the world community.”
~ Ali Gubashev
What we witness here is selective outrage that has been manipulated in two parts.
The first part is the silence or, when North Caucasus is actually covered, biased Western media in favor of the Russian empire on the continued occupation of the Chechen Republic Of Ichkeria by the Russian Federation. The reason for this should be clear. The West has a vested interest in the continuation of this occupation as it benefits from the theft of the natural resources from the region and the media plays along with branding the Chechen resistance as terrorists every time they resist against actual state terrorism. This is why there is no outrage against the forced disappearances, the murder and torture in the filtration camps, the executions, and the street assassinations in different countries because the victims have already been condemned as terrorists by both the Russian and Western propaganda machines. It is obviously also in the best interest of an occupying force to go around trying to connect any terrorist activity with the peoples that are trying to resist their occupation. The Russian empire desperately wants all terrorists to be called “Chechen” and the hilarious result of this propaganda effort was on shameful display on CNN when Michael D. Weiss made a hysterical attempt to turn the attacker from Uzbekistan, who killed eight people in NYC on October 31st 2017, into a Chechen while in the same breath not only connect these “Chechens” to IS but paint them as even more fearsome than IS.
Anderson Cooper: This person is from Uzbekistan, is there a long history of Uzbeks involved in terrorist attacks?
Michael D. Weiss: "There is and not just from Uzbekistan, from all the former Soviet Union Countries. I remember interviewing a former ISIS operative in Istanbul a few weeks before the Paris attacks and he told me these guys are referred to as 'the Chechens' which is kind of a grab bag encompassing term to mean everybody that speaks russian who is either from russia or dagestan or north caucasus or indeed central asian countries. He said these guys are the most respected and also feared among ISIS upper cadres that when they would come to Raqqa as sort of meetings with the central command, ISIS would post snipers on the rooftops in case these guys got out of hand or attempted a coup, that's how well battle trained they were and sort of feared."
The statement that Uzbeks are essentially Chechen is absurd. Uzbeks are Turkic peoples and Chechens are of Vainakh ethnicity. Uzbeks aren't ethnic peoples from The Chechen Republic, the North Caucasus or even from the Caucasus region. They are peoples from Central Asia. Even though some Uzbeks are fighting in Syria their main focus is on the events in Afghanistan instead of the Middle East because they have lived in certain regions of Afghanistan for many years and have claim to the land. Anderson Cooper, CNN and Michael D. Weiss are infinitely embarrassing themselves when spreading this disinformation, which amounts to nothing but propaganda. As a former employee of Mikhail Khodorkovsky Michael D. Weiss has an agenda of his own. The Russian oligarch and gangster capitalist Mikhail Khodorkovsky may be Putin’s political opponent but he is in favor of the Russian empire all the same and thus of the occupation of Chechen land without which there would be no Russian empire. With his contribution on CNN, where he essentially declared that Chechens are terrorists worse than IS, Weiss paid dutiful lip service to his ex-boss Khodorkovsky. .
"This is our land, we have won it... we have conquered the North Caucasus. If the question is separation of the North Caucasus and war – then it’s war"
~ Mikhail Khodorkovsky .
One of the writers that helped spread the sensationalist Gay-Concentration-Camps-In-Chechnya story is Paul Goble. He usually writes for The Interpreter, a magazine launched by “The Institute for Modern Russia”, which is a special project from Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s non-profit charity and think tank “Open Russia” based in NY. “The Institute for Modern Russia” is run by his son Pavel Khodorkovsky and through The Interpreter the interests of Khodorkovsky as well as the interests of the West in the Russian Federation and the North Caucasus are promoted. It is no coincidence its editor-in-chief used to be the aforementioned Michael D. Weiss, who now landed a job with CNN as a correspondent and “terrorist specialist”. He is still listed on the website of The Interpreter as editor-in-chief as of the writing of this article.
Paul Goble worked at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was the director of research and director of communications and technology at Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. RFE/RL received funds from the Central Intelligence Agency until 1972. During the earliest years of Radio Free Europe's existence, the CIA and the U.S. Department of State issued broad policy directives in which broadcast would be determined through negotiation among the CIA, the U.S. State Department, and RFE staff. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace can count on generous funding from Khodorkovksy.
Paul Goble’s biased reporting and racist tendencies could already be suffered in articles such as Dagestan Now ‘Northern Front of Islamic State’, in which he tried to make a case that the Dagestan Muslim wing of the resistance fighters are terrorists who have joined IS. Only ignorant people and people already pre-disposed to be Islamophobic believe his lies. In his “Kadyrov opens first concentration camp for gays since Hitler’s times” article on his blog “Windows on Eurasia" he happily quotes Kadyrov when Kadyrov claims “if there were homosexuals in Chechnya" and then continues with "the authorities wouldn’t need to deal with them because their relatives would". The last part of this claim doesn't seem to come from Kadyrov himself actually because it is not mentioned as a quote and nowhere in his article is it source linked. It looks like Paul Goble is purposely, on his own initiative, trying to help shape the Islamophobic anti-Chechen discourse that is the goal of this whole ridiculous “unfolding” story. This of course doesn't mean in no way shape or form Kadyrov hasn't been trying to make a case for these imaginary "honor killings". He has. The Interpreter is currently struggling to find funding. Maybe bias and propaganda are not so profitable after all.
The second part of the selective outrage is the modernist identification process in full power when the whole focus is only on the gay victims and whereby these gay victims are somehow seen as “us”, as part of the West and this identification process is also being manipulated.
With the story of the Gay-Concentration-Camps-In-Chechnya several goals are being accomplished.
1. It fits into an overall western Islamophobic discourse that is based on a western chauvinist identity of modernism and one that is useful for dictators in the region
This modern western identity or modernism is a normative ideal that intersects with the values of the Enlightenment and bases its identity on a certain set of characteristics such as the emphasis on reason, women’s rights and equality, freedom of speech, a glorification of individualism, secularization, the rejection of tradition, industrialization, and yes also LGBTQ rights. Many of these characteristics are only perceived however and serve a decorative function. It is a fake identity.
Whereas it is true women have received more and more rights over the course of hundreds of years, in socio-economic status they are not equal to men in the West. Not by a long shot. The whole #MeToo movement also exposed how deeply entrenched cisgender male and white privilege and power is with sexual harassment of the predominantly cisgender female victims not to mention the sexist attitude towards cisgender female sexuality, which only exists in service to toxic cisgender male sexuality in the patriarchal society that is still the West.
Similarly, transgenderism is becoming a western modernist identity without unconditionally acknowledging transgenders as full and equal members of society. When old school feminists and misogynists argue that trans women aren’t real women they are actually defending patriarchal views on what it means to be a woman. According to them if you cannot become pregnant you aren’t a “real” woman. In other words, women become reduced to traditional roles of producing babies and care for them because it is in their “nature”. This is sexism, which is different from misogyny. Sexist ideology assigns roles to women based on their gender. These assignments are “logic” because women are “inherently more nurturing, caring and capable of empathy”. If you don’t possess these qualities you aren’t a real woman. Misogyny, the enforcement of sexist culture, rears its ugly head when these sexist attitudes are challenged and obviously when binary gender is under attack male privilege will fight back. These gender normative roles, in the illusion that is a binary gender society, only bolster the oppression of women and want to keep women at home in servitude to men. The argument that only “real” women can become pregnant would also mean that menopausal women cease to be women and indeed, in sexist culture menopausal women don’t “count” anymore. Only fertile women that can produce heirs for men count. Correspondingly, a woman being defined by her genitals and perceived female attributes such as breasts means that trans women with a “male” body aren’t “real women”. Following this logic it also means that women with amputated breasts can no longer be considered women. The psychological ramifications of this sexist attitude are obviously enormous for cis- as well as transgender female cancer survivors.
It is clear that cisgender sexist views on transgenderism are essentially anti-feminist and as long as patriarchy exists – and in Western society it does - no amount of posturing or flaunting certain rights in the interest of a modernist identity really help women or LGBTQ of all color. These discriminated groups still have a lot of catching up to do to the norm when it comes to rights and mentalities and despite a big gay rights movement homophobia is still ubiquitous in the west. As a matter of fact even within the LGBTQ community a lot of cisgender sexism against transgenders exists amongst cisgender gays. It is a testimony to the hierarchy of privilege and closeness to power all the more ironic since it was actually transgender people of color that started the whole LGBTQ movement, which lead to powerful LGBTQ lobby groups and huge parades such as Pride.
The issue here is that “gay and transgender rights” and “equality for women” narratives - used deceivingly as established fact instead of ideals still in the middle of process - help define modernism, which is how the white West currently identifies itself. Make no mistake though, the white supremacist patriarchal West will never allow the categories of women, people of color, transgenders or homosexuals to have any real power. We only have to look at the uproar amongst TERF’s – TransExclusionary Radical Feminists - the quote from Angela Davis caused.
“Who are we talking about when we say women? It seems to me that we will finally have made some progress if women who have always been marginalised from the general category “women”—which has always been about white middle class women—those who have had to struggle can become the sign of that category. And what would it be like to have say, a black trans woman who has been involved in struggles against violence, struggles against the prison industrial complex, to stand as the sign of that category, women? Why can’t we assume that those who have had to struggle to be recognised, to struggle for survival, to struggle for freedom, why cannot they become the sign of what we should strive for?”
~ Angela Davis
The TERF’s argued that if trans women of color take up leadership roles in feminism it would lead to the situation that women who are born with vaginas will no longer be recognized as women. This absurd conclusion is a testimony to the fear amongst privileged groups of losing dominance in favor of oppressed groups in the areas of both race and gender.
No matter what women do in patriarchal society they will lose. They are equally being criticized for not covering up enough as they are for covering up too much. They are condemned for expressing interest in sex as well as disinterest in sex. Sexism means that men want to control women in all areas and women will always be wrong. In the chauvinist “us vs them” game women are shamelessly used by racists with complete disregard of their agency. Modernist islamophobes will often use the argument that they want to defend “our women” against the “inherently sexist culture of Islam that is taking over our norms and values.” Of course it flies completely over their head that the very notion of “our women” is sexist in and of itself because it views women as property, never mind the insulting fact they are using women’s rights and feminism as an excuse for their racism and Westcentric white supremacy.
Kadyrov himself in his propaganda fuels this Islamophobic Western discourse by deciding what is “Chechen” and by declaring that both Islam and Chechen culture are essentially homophobic and honor killings are simply part of it. In an attempt to deny accusations of the murders by state authorities Kadyrov suggested that the 25 year old Chechen singer Zelimkhan Bakayev, who has been missing since August 8th 2017, was probably killed by his family members because of his sexual orientation and denied any involvement in the case by his security forces.
"His relatives, who didn't keep an eye on him and were ashamed that he was one of them, now say that Kadyrov took him"
"His family couldn't stop him, and then called him back home, and his brothers, it seems, accused him of being one of those"
"Isn't there anyone in the village, any man in the family, who can admit: 'We did this'? They know full well who their relative was."
The father of the victim, Khussein Bakayev, denied the accusations of the family’s involvement of his son’s dissappearance:
"None of his relatives laid a finger on him, and there was no reason to lay a finger on him"
In an interview with HBO Kadyrov has said:
“We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays… If there are any, take them to Canada…. Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”
The Independent writes:
When he was asked about reports of honour killings, which are illegal in Russia and the republic of Chechnya, Mr Kadyrov said:
“If we have [gay] people here, I’m telling you officially their relatives won’t let them be because of our faith, our mentality, customs, traditions.
“Even if it’s punishable under the law, we would still condone it.”
What Kadyrov fails to mention in his eagerness of claiming the existence of these so called “honor killings” is that he gives families the “choice” of either the state killing their gay son or they themselves kill them to save the family’s “honor”. This is the very definition of state sponsored homophobia.
“Others were returned to their relatives after a certain period of detention and the relatives were shamed for having homosexuals in their families and effectively encouraged by Chechen officials to carry out honor killings.”
~ Tanya Lokshina, Russia Program Director, Human Rights Watch
What loving family faced with this horrible “choice” wouldn’t prefer to have the chance to say their last goodbyes? To once more hold their beloved family member even when they are later forced to let them go ordered by a monstrous regime that will use their heartbreaking fate as “proof” that the culture and the religion are inherently barbaric and homophobic? And a Western audience, already bent on hating Muslims as the “other”, happily gobbles up the sensationalism and the lies.
“It’s worth noting that killings without trial are prohibited by Islam, and that Chechen traditions align with Sharia law. There is also no honour court in Chechnya — as had been stated by Novaya Gazeta — nor any institutions, nor prescribed procedures for such situations. Allusions in the press suggesting as much have turned out to be fabrications. Furthermore, the death of the perpetrator does not cleanse a family’s honour. On the contrary: it becomes the topic of rumours and gossip. Killing a family member is not a law in some behavioural code, or some non-existent honour court; domestic violence, too, also exists in other countries considered ‘civilised’.”
~ Ali Gubashev
Many of the relatives of the supposedly gay men in detention - who knows if they are actually gay when they are forced to “admit” it under torture? - are doing everything to free their family members including selling their houses to pay for the demanded ransom. Would they want to free them only to kill them later? The story doesn’t add up.
"There were also those who were illegally detained, beaten, tortured with electric shock and, at best, released for a huge ransom. We are aware of situations of relatives being forced to urgently sell their apartments and property to save their loved ones."
With their homophobic anti-Chechen anti-Muslim propaganda Kadyrov and Putin are playing the inherent Islamophobia of Western modernism. Even though this modernism emerged as “the age of ideology” to provide philosophical underpinnings for the secularization movement, at its core this identity of modernism exists in the context of a white European chauvinist Christian identity. As such it becomes reduced to an “us versus them” identity with “them” being Islam, whereby Islam becomes rejected as the antithesis of modernism with its emphasis on tradition and community and therefore dismissed as backwards or anti-modernism. This Islamophobic modernist position has served dictators such as Bashar Al-Assad. In his book “Impossible Revolution. Making Sense of the Syrian Tragedy” Yassin Al-Haj Saleh writes:
“...the features of modernity that surfaced during the reign of Bashar Al-Assad were shaped by a modernist ideology that spread regionally and globally after the fall of the Soviet Union. This variant of ‘modernism’ refers to supposedly modern lifestyles, behaviours, and mindsets by means of contrast with older and apparently outmoded lifestyles and mindsets.”
It is exactly this modernist ideology that Assad used to his advantage by branding the opposition as backwards Muslims standing in the way of his modernism and modernity, meaning capitalism, and what lead to the Islamophobic demonization of the Syrian Revolution by Western activists. After all, Assad looked and talked like them. He was something they could identify with, which was virtually impossible with those Syrian revolutionaries who wear beards or hijab and read the Q’uran.Ironically, these Western “leftist” activists claim their position in support of the Syrian regime is anti-imperialist, meaning anti-USA and by extension “Israel”, and anti-capitalist. This discourse was adopted from Russian propaganda whose current ideology is indeed anti-US – only because any authoritarian regime needs a powerful enemy - but also anti-modernist and most definitely capitalist. Love - in this case for ideology - indeed is blind.
Authoritarian ethno-nationalist Kurdish militias like the PKK connected YPG are also making use of the chauvinism of the modernist identity of westerners, which in the context of support for these militias amounts to nothing more than imperialism, colonialism and Orientalism. Propagandizing some sort of modernist utopia that is sure to mesmerize and attract progressive westerners the militias are able to recruit young western idealists disillusioned with capitalist society for which there is no place for them and use them as war meat. In their recruitment efforts they fetishize female soldiers and calling it feminism and women’s liberation. It’s like using sexy women to sell cars and calling that feminism only in this case they are trying to sell their ethno chauvinist nationalist military project. Obviously this “feminist” project of the distinctly anti-Arab and anti-Muslim Kurdish militias is supposed to juxtapose the stereotypical misogynist image of the Muslims in the region. In that sense the western fighters, who want to help erect this so called democratic and anarchist utopia, see themselves as the noble white saviors bringing the blessings of modernism to the region and saving the poor oppressed Muslim women from their sexist men.
In the spirit of recruiting and to attract western modernist support the side-wing of the YPG, the IRPGF a battalion specifically for foreigners, announced the formation of a Queer battalion called TQILA for “LGBTQI comrades and others who seek to smash the gender binary”.
Razzan Ghazzawi had this to say about it:
"To suggest that 'gender and sexual revolutions' are being accomplished by joining an authoritarian party participating in the imperial 'war on terror' not only functions as an erasure of other struggles but also as a colonial rewriting of what the struggle is in Syria..
As a result of the Western leftist ethno-orientalist fascination with Kurdish Rojava's "feminist" militarisation model which supposedly leads to "women's emancipation", feminism and broader social justice movements replace and silence local communities' struggles, including women's and queers."
~ Razzan Ghazzawi, Syrian Palestinian scholar and activist.
Not coincidently “Israel”, the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim occupation project in the region, uses similar PR strategies to gain support for the IDF and pink wash its crimes against Palestinians. The intent is clear, by using images of Israeli female soldiers and boasting about transgenders serving in the IDF “Israel” wants to “transform public perception of Israel from an Apartheid settler state to a harmless, liberal, gay-friendly playground by juxtaposing this false image with a portrayal of Palestinian and Arab societies as backwards, repressive and intolerant.”
“The disingenuous invocation of “LGBT rights” by Israel and its supporters to divert attention away from its atrocities against the Palestinians is increasingly becoming part of the public debate around Israel and Palestine. By falsely juxtaposing “oppressed gay Palestinians” with “liberated gay Israelis”, and by flattening out relations of power and the political realities of occupation and the Apartheid wall, pinkwashers aim to harness the global LGBT movement into supporting Israel at the expense of the Palestinians.”
~ Pinkwatching Israel
A good example of the appropriation of “feminism” in the interest of oppression is the actress who played Wonder Woman Gal Gadot, a former IDF soldier who endorsed the 2014 massacre in Gaza by the Israeli army. This is chauvinist modernist identity used to justify imperialism, occupation and genocide.
2. It feeds the internal homophobic propaganda machine of the Russian Federation
After the fall of the Soviet Union homosexuality had been decriminalized in Russia but in June 2013 the Russian Parliament made steps to reverse this by passing a bill that would make it illegal to discuss homosexuality in public. The underlying ideology that pushes for the persecution of gays is the Eurasianism and Russian exceptionalism of Alexander Dugin, the head of the Department of Sociology of International Relations of Moscow State University and an advisor to a key member of the United Russia party of Putin, Sergei Naryshkin. Since an article by Foreign Affairs in 2014 Dugin is also known as Putin’s Brain. He drew inspiration for his Eurasian ideology from European nazis such as the SS and the occult Ahnenerbe group, which was the group that ordered and executed the human experiments in the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps. His specific brand of fascism is a mix of Stalinism, anti-West with the US as explicit enemy, conservative and anti-liberal with a special distaste for gay rights such as gay marriage, totalitarian, militaristic, mystical and spiritual and it is closely connected to the FSB controlled ultra-conservative Russian Orthodox Church. Exactly how conservative and sexist the Russian Orthodox Church aka the Moscow Patriarchate is could be witnessed in a BBC report in which a member of the Church explains why women should be submissive to men and how beating them is normal and natural.
It is mind boggling that many western alt-right and “leftist” activists consider Islam as inherently sexist but then give a free pass and even unbridled support to the misogynism of the current ideology that is permeating the Russian Federation. This however demonstrates that their so called championing for women’s rights is only performative and serves the modernist Islamophobic agenda.
The whole neo-Eurasian ideology is specifically anti-modern in its identity and aims to undermine the liberal democracies of the West, who are said to be decadent and despicable. Russia, Dugin says, will step up as the savior of the European culture that suffers under its own modernity with its acceptance of things such as gay marriage. Of course this is the official discourse within the Russian Federation, which has abolished all independent media and feeds its audience a steady stream of chauvinist nationalist and homophobic propaganda. Gay sexuality is seen as a specific western feature and Russia is promoting a renewed Russian pride with a nostalgia for its “glorious” past - never mind the gulags – through a “rescuing” antidote against the liberal “other” West, the external enemy. It follows then that persecution of gays and severe punishment are the measures of a strong state that instills confidence and maintains order. In other words, authoritarian rule becomes justified through fighting the features and symbols of the enemy. Make no mistake, both Western modernism as well as Russian anti-modernism are simply manufactured identities that are used to mobilize and unite and that enable to provide an enemy. Anything what is not us is them and this is the whole goal of such identities that are based on vague values and ideas that amount to nothing but illusions. Even though in a bid for power modernism and anti-modernism are seemingly opposites at the root they are both still white supremacist chauvinist Christian identities and as such they share a common enemy, brown Muslims.
However, no matter how much the Russian state tries to impose this society of “traditional values” narrative and insists on a chauvinist nationalist identity that uses homophobia as its hallmark it recently became abundantly clear not everyone is sold to this idea when a string of homo-erotic video’s set to the tune of the 2002 track “Satisfaction” from Italian d.j. Benny Benassi became viral as a gigantic middle finger to the homophobic measures of the fascist Eurasian regime of Putin and Dugin. Nonetheless a majority of Russians are loyal to the chauvinist Christian religion of the Russian Orthodox Church and its virulent anti-gay doctrine because fear proves a very convincing advisor.
What Western commentators fail to grasp time after time is that both in the Russian Federation as in occupied Chechnya homophobia is state sponsored and not a matter of culture or Islamic religion. Homophobia is a political tool that serves an agenda, in this case Russian colonization and imperialism..
"Ramzan Kadyrov’s government is a Russian government. Ramzan Kadyrov is not an independent person, he is just a Russian clerk. And also now Ramzan Kadyrov is very convenient for everybody. For example, if we take the West, whatever happens in Chechnya, they only speak about Kadyrov and just criticize him. Because of Ramzan Kadyrov’s existence, the West has a good reason not to directly criticize Moscow, the Kremlin’s policy or Russian war crimes in Chechnya. But on the other hand, Ramzan Kadyrov is one of the best tools for the Russian colonial policy in the North Caucasus and especially in Chechnya. Today, the Chechen people have no rights in Chechnya. The Chechen population has only one right, which is to be killed without any justice. Also, I believe that the (pro-) Russian government in Chechnya has destroyed the Chechen mentality and Chechen traditions."
~ Ilyas Akhmadov (Feb 2011)
It would be naive to think that these reports from the West, with its selective outrage over the persecution of gays in occupied Chechnya and with its Islamophobic undertones, are coming from a place of ignorance and don’t serve an agenda all the same. As mentioned before the West supports the continued occupation of Chechen land because it profits from the theft of its resources but in addition to that Islamophobia is a very useful tool for the West to establish “special” militarized measures at home and to justify imperialism abroad all in the name of the “war on terror”. Furthermore, commenting on a situation without putting it in context and explaining it through the foggy glasses of Western modernist values is called Westsplaining and it is racist. You take up a cause that is not your own because of your humanity but when you fail to see the actual people behind the cause you are rallying for and you fail to listen to them, you lose your humanity and you are basically rallying for yourself. It also makes you look dumb.
The very minimum what people living under occupation and genocide deserve is that their fate has a witness. Everybody in the world wants a witness to their lives. We want to have an acknowledgment of our lived experience under the constant cloud of death that is hanging over us all. Without a witness do we really exist? When oppressors are doing everything possible to wipe away a peoples from the face of the earth for their own greedy purposes and attachment to power, when they engage in mass murder, try to erase the identity of their victims by lying about their culture and changing their history, when they displace them and generally work to making the whole world only see them as gruesome and depraved terrorists then it doesn’t take much to figure out that the very least we can do is to be a principled witness for these victims of terror who can recognize them for who they are, a peoples proud of their rich and ancient culture bravely standing up against injustice.
“We didn't ask for money or weapons, we only asked for an adequate assessment of what was happening and we never got that."
~ Ilyas Akhmadov, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria living in exile
After all these years, and with the false narrative of the Gay-Concentrationcamps-in-Chechnya, the Chechens are still denied an adequate assessment of what’s been happening. We are witnessing an ancient European peoples becoming erased right in front of us and we only care about “our own kind”. When Westerners are defining a culture through their own norms and values they are just as guilty of erasing that culture as the violent Russian invaders and their state terrorism. Only focusing on the gay victims is therefore morally indefensible and racist. Basically, there's Muslim concentration camps in Europe. And nobody cares.