Thursday, September 17, 2009

Terror and British Islam

1. Jogo sent me an interesting e-mail with some observations about the reporting of the sentencing of the Lucozade plotters. He refers to the New York Times' report, although exactly the same could be said of the Guardian's, Independent's or the BBC's. The short ITN report does not even use the words "Muslim" or "Islam" once.
"Three Britons?" Three what? Leaving aside the headline, nowhere in this story is "Muslim" used as a description of the defendants; the word appears only one time, as "Muslim grievances." Really, one could almost say it's amazing that the Times was not deterred, out of "sensitivity," from printing the defendants' photographs. This is getting ridiculous. "Muslim" is an essential feature of "who" and "what" these men are. By their own standards, they're Muslims MORE than they are "Britons." And they ACTED as self-aware, self-defining Muslims in a cause they themselves define as a "Muslim" cause, and, in their thinking, done on behalf of Muslims. So why is the press reluctant to call them that?

If a man who is white raped a woman who is black -- and if that were all there was to the story -- then I think the the man should not be described in news stories as "white."

But what if the man -- let's just say -- told friends that he was going out that night to "rape a black bitch." And then found a black woman and raped her? And, prior to doing it, had made a video of himself saying the same thing, and justifying it as a deed that served justice?

Don't you think that news articles, somewhere deep in the paragraphs, even one time, should identify him as white?
2. One of the reasons for the excessive sensitivity of the liberal media about the use of the word “Muslim” here is presumably the lobbying of the likes of the Muslim Council of Britain. The MCB and its fellow travellers are among those who use what David Hirsh calls “the Livingstone Formulation”, that the so-called Israel lobby “cries antisemitism” in order to deflect criticism of Israel. But I find it hard not to conclude that the self-appointed representatives of British Islam (the Muslim lobby?) are rather quick to cry Islamophobia, often apprently to deflect criticism of Islamist violence.

The Muslim lobby website iEngage recently commented on Matthew Sinclair of the Taxpayers Alliance, writing at CiF, who noted that “The government have distanced themselves from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) after it boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day.” (Note: hosting this right-wing anti-Muslim crusader is surely evidence that CiF is not totally in the hands of Islamism’s fifth columnists, as some of my anti-anti-Zionist colleagues like to think.) iEngage clarify: “The MCB didn’t attend HMD this past year in protest of the war in Gaza and not for reasons of a boycott.” I hate to cry antisemtism, but... Whatever one thinks of the conflict in Gaza (and I for one was absolutely not a supporter of the way the Israeli state prosecuted that war), how does it make sense to respond to it by not taking part in a commemoration of the millions of Jews and others killed by the Nazis before the Israeli state was created? It only makes sense if you cannot distinguish Jews from Israelis, and blame all Jews, living or dead, for everything Israel does. Which is, er, antisemitic, no? (And I won’t bother to question “not for reasons of a boycott” means.)

3. Ed Husain’s response to the Taxpayers Alliance report is far better. However, I was disappointed to see Husain’s deployment, in his article on the Lucozade plotters, of the Eurabia/Londonistan discourse which I criticised here. While I agree with his conclusions, and am glad that message reaches the Daily Mail’s readers, I take issue with this: “Large parts of our cities have become Muslim ghettos, where you can wake up in the morning and go to bed at night without seeing a non-Muslim face.” I think this is simply untrue. I spend a lot of time in the most Muslim parts of London’s East End, and it is quite simply impossible (unless you don’t leave your front door) not to see a non-Muslim face. A quick check on the National Statistics website will reveal that in the most Muslim parts of Tower Hamlets the proportion is little more than a half. I don’t know the North so well, but I’ve spent enough time in Bradford, Keighley and Burnley to doubt that Husain’s claim is true of anywhere in Britain.

But, even if it was, I stand by my earlier point that everything we know about the two sets of July 2005 plotters and of the Lucozade plotters tells us that Jihadism is not bred in such enclaves but recruits from people on their margins and from wholly outside it. In other words, Husain’s claim is irrelevant to his argument, and strengthens the already prevelant prejudices of the Daily Mail readership. I’m afraid I have to agree, on this, with iEngage.

4. On the other hand, we need to take seriously this comment to my earlier post from Jogo: the “existence of a virtual Eurabia, or the looming threat of it (posited by your usual suspects) -- as it pertains to large communities, as sociological fact or trend -- is not incompatible with the genesis, growth and informal institutionalization of a bizarre cult that attracts Westernized, assimilated, multi-racial, educated, relatively privileged, terrorist individuals.” It is not the case that “the threat of the one (Eurabia) is disproven by the existence of the other (the Terror Cult). I think they're two different (or differentiatable) things. Both of these can exist simultaneously, sharing the same large space (Britain).” Jogo goes on to note, quite correctly, that “the Terror Cult (hermetic as it appears) needs a ‘soft infrastructure’”, a wider community in which to swim.

This is quite true. The apocalyptic scenarios portrayed by Melanie Phillips, Robert Spencer et al (and, in this sad instance, Ed Husain) are false and exaggerated, and feed into racist fears. But anyone who spends any time in the East End of London and knows what they’re looking for will feel the presence of a broad-based Islamist movement, not composed of terrorists or would-be terrorists, but certainly fellow travellers and soft supporters of Jihadi violence. Politically combating this movement is an essential task, which is why Ed Husain’s work is important, why the Prevent agenda needs to be critically supported, and why the work of iEngage in aiding and abetting the movement is so reprehensible.



Further reading from Asim Siddiqui and Yahya Birt, and further commentary from The Spittoon and Pickled Politics.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A Turkish religious leader and scholar with many followers worldwide... He is very supportive of dialogue and tolerance worldwide

http://fethullahgulenconference.org/dallas/read.php?p=islam-and-terror-from-perspective-of-fethullah-gulen