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  • Will the Guardian now become a ‘liberal voice’?


    by Sunny
    14th March, 2007 at 3:31 am    

    The reigns of the Guardian’s comment section have finally been handed over from Seumas Milne to Georgina Henry, the Media Guardian reported yesterday. The question now is: how will this affect the paper? Will its editorial policy change because that has important implications.

    Last week the Guardian announced further integration of its resources in a move towards a ‘digital future’. The article quoted its own managing director Tim Brooks as saying the paper had “global ambitions” to become the “world’s leading liberal voice”.

    Hold on a second. Leading liberal voice? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fiercely loyal Guardian reader: one of those mythical regulars you have to take outside and shoot to stop them from buying the paper. But this is false advertising.

    Broadly speaking the comment editor of a newspaper has two ideal choices when commissioning articles.

    1) Only run op-ed articles that toe the official line. So the Guardian runs only liberal opinion while the Telegraph sticks to promoting conservative ideals.

    2) Run articles from a broad spectrum of political opinion so it can become the leading place for intelligent commentary of all shades.

    The problem is that the Guardian sits somewhere in the middle and, I believe, does so quite inconsistently.

    Let me put the problem in another way. I’m socially liberal, progressive, an environmentalist, believe in freedom of speech to offend, a feminist, a vegetarian and care strongly about animal rights. In short the Guardian should be my perfect paper (the Indy too but I don’t like its tabloidy approach nor its dearth of actual news as opposed to silly features).

    The paper’s comment section, which has limited space, runs largely progressive-liberal-left opinion articles with the occasional dissenting voice from neo-cons or more regularly from traditional conservatives such as Simon Jenkins. Some articles from people on the left and right make my blood boil but that’s fine. I don’t expect to agree with all the opinion and commentary. I feel the paper tries to host a broader spectrum of opinion compared to other broadsheets. Though this is subjective I guess.

    Comment is free, which has unlimited space, is much more balanced because it features liberal and conservative views on most issues. The only problem there is that more progressive voices get drowned out by the nutters or can’t be asked to write after getting constant abuse from Islamophobes / anti-semites (depending on whether you’re Muslim or Jewish) in the comments. Georgina Henry, CIF’s editor, can’t force people to write so it’s dependent on who feels like writing.

    But the paper is inconsistent in two ways.

    a) Firstly it barely represents progressive and/or liberal Muslim opinion. It is balanced on almost every single issue except terrorism, Muslims or the Middle East, where it mostly runs articles by right-wing conservative religious commentators. And that’s not just Jamaat or Muslim Brotherhood writers, but also regular op-eds by Azzam Tamimi despite his extremist views. Tariq Ali doesn’t count because he’s not in the same category.

    We are fed opinion by people such as Faisal Bodi, who as far back as 1999 told us that women’s refuges should be seen with “suspicion and mistrust” because they “tear apart our families” (blame a hospital for a woman’s wounds than the husband. Great logic!), to Azzam Tamimi again last week telling us last week the Shia-Sunni divide was a US creation. But they are only a fraction of a clique that includes Anas Altikriti, Inayat Bunglawala, Ismail Patel, Soumaya Ghannoushi and Salma Yaqoob (although the latter doesn’t alway see eye-to-eye with the rest). They are the most regular. Have I missed any out?

    Of course my blood also boils when I read apologists for Israel’s continued occupation of the West bank but they’re not so regular, nor are pro-war types. They should be balance but there isn’t in equal numbers.

    Other liberal publications don’t have that problem: the Indy has Yasmin A-B; New Statesman has Ziauddin Sardar; OpenDemocracy.net has Ehsan Masood. They may not be universally popular amongst Muslims but they’re progressive, that is undeniable. The Guardian / Observer used to feature Fareena Alam fairly regularly (although she’s more religiously orthodox progressive) but not anymore. Where is the balance here? Or does the paper believe all Muslims think like the MCB?

    The reason is that the ‘MCB clique’ are strongly allied with the communists from SWP/Stop the War Coalition people who believe religious extremism is a direct result of the war in Afghanistan/Iraq - completely ignoring the earlier antics of Abu Hamza, Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun. So they all get a say, ignoring more intelligent commentary that we see in the likes of Q-News, Eteraz.org, Alt.Muslim, MuslimWakeUp or even Aqoul. Hell, even Emel and Islamica!

    The MCB clique get their way because they’ve long realised that jumping in bed with the communists and atheists of the left is politically useful. They should be writing in the Telegraph because their social values are similar but the Telegraph would never stand for their anti-Zionism.

    b) If the Guardian is then committed to representing all shades of political opinion that they feel does not get a voice somewhere else, then why not get in hardliners who are white? They tolerated Hizb ut-Tahrir, so why not the BNP? If they print opinion by hardline religious clerical conservatives, then why not publish Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin? Why not get Melanie Phillips on more regularly? Why not go the whole hog and get Nick Griffin? It’s not like the BNP get a chance to put across their views regularly in other media.

    Just because they’re not Muslim? Editorially that isn’t consistent. The Guardian doesn’t care for hardline Hindu groups like the RSS/VHP. If they want balance, why not have them represented and present their views on building a Hindu nation in India? If you’re going to get people explaining why 9/11 or 7/7 happened, then why not get Narendra Modi to write in and explain why the riots in Gujarat 2002 happened? Do you see where I’m going with this?

    The paper Guardian needs to be more consistent. It feels that hardline Muslim opinion isn’t represented elsewhere so it over-compensates without having anyone Muslim to criticise the ideas of the MCB clique. And it only seems to extend this courtesy to Muslims not other religious minorities. The print version is also inconsistent on challenging the old order of race politics. Sure I caused great alarm with my article but have you ever seen anything similar?

    The comment section should either go the whole hog or become the world’s biggest “liberal voice”. I would prefer the latter obviously - there are far too many right wing raving lunatics out there already. But this half-hearted muddle that we have now just doesn’t work for me.

    Update: David T piles in with further commentary and a funny picture.

    I think it’s worthwhile stating the obvious - while having Nick Griffin in the Guardian maybe a logical extension, I most certainly would not like to see that happen because, as many have pointed out, he would become an establishment figure.


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    Filed in: Media,Race politics






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    1. David T — on 14th March, 2007 at 7:56 am  

      I entirely agree, and I have suggested as much to Georgina Henry.

      I’ll be writing an article along these lines over the next few days.

    2. Sid — on 14th March, 2007 at 8:36 am  

      Authoritatively drawn line in the sand, amigo. Good stuff.

    3. Rumbold — on 14th March, 2007 at 8:55 am  

      “They [The MCB] should be writing in the Telegraph because their social values are similar”- I must have missed that piece where Charles Moore said that death was too good for Salman Rushdie.

      “Of course my blood also boils when I read apologists for Israel’s continued occupation of the West bank” -What, in the Guardian? Any links for that?

    4. Katy — on 14th March, 2007 at 8:56 am  

      Broadly, I agree. I stopped reading the Guardian regularly a long time ago. It pushes its agenda as aggressively as the Daily Mail. It thinks it’s liberal because much of the left assumes that left-wing and liberal are the same thing.

    5. Chairwoman — on 14th March, 2007 at 9:05 am  

      Sunny - How is the over-active imagination today?

      “Of course my blood also boils when I read apologists for Israel’s continued occupation of the West bank”

      In the Guardian? I assume you mean the Brooklyn Guardian.

    6. douglas clark — on 14th March, 2007 at 10:32 am  

      Don’t you think Inayat, at least, is something of a changed man? And for the better too.

    7. Kismet Hardy — on 14th March, 2007 at 10:54 am  

      Meanwhile, back on planet scum, I’ve been quoted in The Daily Star today…

      (proud)

    8. soru — on 14th March, 2007 at 11:13 am  

      kismet - I searched the star site for your name, and all I found was this Kismet bodysuit.

    9. Tim Worstall — on 14th March, 2007 at 11:14 am  

      A liberal newspaper would indeed be a good idea. You know, Mill, Smith, Ricardo, those guys. Should be The Guardian too: it was started by Cobden to push exactly those views.
      Not going to happen though, is it?

    10. Kismet Hardy — on 14th March, 2007 at 11:18 am  

      Um, soru, they kinda insisted on my real name… but that bodysuit shall be mine

    11. Conor Foley — on 14th March, 2007 at 11:31 am  

      Good piece Sunny, but let’s pull back from this ‘invite Nick Griffin’ idea, someone might take you seriously!

      I think the main problem is that the Guardian has been a little lazy in their attempts to find ‘balance’ because they have not looked hard enough at some issues. It had a set of people ‘representing’ a spectrum of opinion, but did not understand that within this there was far more nuance and internal disagreement.

      You successfully challenged an emerging consensus about race, racism and community leaders. I have had much less success in trying to prise the debate about humanitarian intervention away from the ‘muscular liberals’ v ‘anti-imperialists’.

      The only pieces that I have recently read which I think should not have been published were John Laughland’s article in which he said that Milosovic had been ‘exonerated’ on charges of genocide and Nick Cohen’s double-whammy on Darfur and torture. In both cases this was because they were harmful and misleading rather than because I disagreed with them.

    12. Osama Saeed — on 14th March, 2007 at 12:16 pm  

      “They tolerated Hizb ut-Tahrir, so why not the BNP? If they print opinion by hardline religious clerical conservatives, then why not publish Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin? Why not get Melanie Phillips on more regularly? Why not go the whole hog and get Nick Griffin?”

      Wasn’t aware HT had a CiF space.

      Maybe CiF doesn’t have any of your favoured Muslims because they’re all in demand at other publications, unlike your disliked “clique”. If everyone spread around a bit, it may solve the problem.

    13. Jagdeep — on 14th March, 2007 at 12:27 pm  

      I used to like reading Faisal Bodi — but I always felt a little guilty enjoying reading him, as if I was poking fun at the afflicted.

    14. ChrisC — on 14th March, 2007 at 12:42 pm  

      “Good piece Sunny, but let’s pull back from this ‘invite Nick Griffin’ idea, someone might take you seriously!”

      What - you think the Guardianistas will read him and suddenly say, crikey, that’s where we’ve been getting it wrong all these years?!

      He would be roasted, as indeed are Bodi (where has he gone?) et al.

      Of course you could try and make it the “liberal voice” (i.e. bien-pensant left wing voice, not really liberal, but leave that point aside) as far as the original posts go…but the comments would still be a free for all!

      Good thing too, of course. Though it’s amazing how many commenters not only want the articles to reinforce their prejudices, but also want all the comments to do so too!
      “Get back to the Daily Mail” and so on - how truly pathetic.

    15. Sunny — on 14th March, 2007 at 1:39 pm  

      Wasn’t aware HT had a CiF space.

      I believe Imran Waheed does. But I was also referring to them tolerating Dilpazier Aslam before it became known he was HuT.

      I don’t have ‘favoured’ Muslim Osama. I’m listing the names of Muslims who are more progressive/liberal. Even you can’t deny that they are, whether you agree with them or not.

      I prefer people who are progressive, whether they be white, black, sikh, muslim or hindu. And likewise I despise religious bigots of all faiths and races. Surely such a concept isn’t too hard for to understand?

    16. Anna — on 14th March, 2007 at 1:40 pm  

      As a Balkanist, I have been pretty close to boycotting the Guardian completely for the way in which it has given a forum to genocidal apologists, in the name of some misguided “progressivism”. There’s nothing progressive about that sort of rhetoric, even if it’s being spouted by supposed communists. Reading some of the comment on the website has made my stomach turn so badly that I don’t visit it anymore, ever. I agree that they need to get their shit together and figure out what in the hell they want to represent.

    17. ChrisC — on 14th March, 2007 at 1:57 pm  

      Do they really need to “represent” anything, though?

      Some of the stuff is “stomach turning”, but better exposed than hidden, no?

      The comments of course are far “worse” than the articles!

    18. raz — on 14th March, 2007 at 2:00 pm  

      It’s pretty obvious (to me at least) that a large number of the ‘rabid’ comments on CiF are in fact the same sad person with multiple identities.

    19. Anna — on 14th March, 2007 at 2:03 pm  

      Do they really need to “represent” anything, though?

      Yes.

      Some of the stuff is “stomach turning”, but better exposed than hidden, no?

      Cool, let’s start publishing pro-pedophilia op/eds. Better exposed than hidden!

    20. Osama Saeed — on 14th March, 2007 at 2:07 pm  

      The Guardian terminated Aslam’s contract, so I don’t see what kind of case you’re trying to construct.

    21. Sunny — on 14th March, 2007 at 2:11 pm  

      The Guardian terminated Aslam’s contract, so I don’t see what kind of case you’re trying to construct.

      Only when it became clear, through blogs, and then picked up in the wider media, that he was HuT. But many people within knew he was HuT according to several sources but didn’t say anything about it.

      And what do you think of HuT having the space to write?

    22. bananabrain — on 14th March, 2007 at 2:41 pm  

      the actual problem is that comments on blogs and forums need quite active moderation particularly on controversial issues, otherwise the keyboard warriors take over. now here at PP things generally function OK, but there are sometimes occasions when ideology tends to overturn rational debate. recent discussions involving amir are a case in point where actually i have seen quite a lot of ad hominem attacks, naming no names, you know who you are, which were rather unpleasant considering that sometimes people failed to address the arguments he made, preferring rather to construct rather feeble straw men about people who might or might not be racists that write on websites that he links to. i’d have intervened but i’m really busy at work.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    23. ali hussian — on 14th March, 2007 at 2:42 pm  

      Sunny,

      Just tell me whats the problem with having someone who supports the views of HuT.
      HuT professionals are in hundredrs and working in very good positions. Are you propsoing a progrom for all Muslims who dont have similar views as yours?
      I mean its unbelievable how shaky you are in your views and how inconsistent. You go on talking about MCB and HuT just to impress people in believing that you are a liberal hahahaha - at the cost of Muslims of some sort or the ther.
      BNP, Please give Sunny honourary membership!

    24. Kismet Hardy — on 14th March, 2007 at 2:44 pm  

      For one, their pizzas aren’t as good as Pizza Express

    25. bananabrain — on 14th March, 2007 at 2:46 pm  

      this is how haaretz handle it on their “talkback” feature:

      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/objects/pages/GuidelinesResp.html

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    26. Shachtman — on 14th March, 2007 at 2:57 pm  

      ““Of course my blood also boils when I read apologists for Israel’s continued occupation of the West bank”

      Sunny. Your blood does seem to boil a lot on this subject. If you’re talking about people posting comments then you have a point. However if you’re talking about actual pieces on CIF apologising for Israel’s continued occupation then i think you’re vivid imagination and lack of perspective on this subject shines through yet again.

      I don’t think Griffin should be given space on CIF - just because other reactionaries are given space does not justify given space to Griffin who is an outright fascist (and proud of it)

    27. bananabrain — on 14th March, 2007 at 2:59 pm  

      oh, and:

      “much of the left assumes that left-wing and liberal are the same thing.”

      zigackly, as obelix would put it. or, as i would put it, harrumph.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    28. Kismet Hardy — on 14th March, 2007 at 3:15 pm  

      get a fix BB ;-)

    29. Sunny — on 14th March, 2007 at 3:39 pm  

      i think you’re vivid imagination and lack of perspective on this subject shines through yet again.

      meaning?

    30. ChrisC — on 14th March, 2007 at 4:19 pm  

      The most bizarre / worrying / annoying feature of CiF is indeed their deletion policy, which surely does not only delete “abusive” comments.

      “Cool, let’s start publishing pro-pedophilia op/eds. Better exposed than hidden!”

      Er, well, if there was a pro-paedophilia political party winning an increasing amount of support I might want them to (as it were) expose themselves to public gaze / ridicule!

      I want a variety of views (though can do without the pieces about mobile phones, or people telling us what they read last week.) I don’t want a “line” - even if it was my line.
      Indeed I positively don’t want that - what would be the point (for me) to have my prejudices continually reinforced - pleasant though that might *sound*?
      Though of course Sunny is right - the obvious bias towards the Islamist-Communist axis of idiocy is simply dumb, and becoming tedious.

      CiF has certainly, on the one hand, reinforced what the blogging revolution has in any event exposed, i.e. that the old dead tree columnists (Toynbee etc) generally don’t have a bloody clue what they’re talking about.
      On the other hand it has given us access to often quite interesting stuff from people with more specialist knowledge.

      Finally - why do only a handful of authors bother to respond.
      In that sense, CiF can only perhaps ever really be an extended newspaper with an extended letters page attached.

    31. Bert Preast — on 14th March, 2007 at 4:47 pm  

      I’d be happy to see Griffin or indeed anyone writing on CiF, as long as they stick around to respond to the comments worth responding to. It can only be a good thing for those such as him or Bunglawala to find that a lot of intelligent people disagree with them, and it forces them to think over what they’ve written.

      Except Faisal Bodi, of course. OH, how I HATE Faisal Bodi.

    32. ZinZin — on 14th March, 2007 at 5:33 pm  

      “’d be happy to see Griffin or indeed anyone writing on CiF, as long as they stick around to respond to the comments worth responding to. It can only be a good thing for those such as him or Bunglawala to find that a lot of intelligent people disagree with them, and it forces them to think over what they’ve written.”

      Bert you obviously have not participated in a thread to a Inayat Bunglawala article. His stock responses to his critics are mossad agent, Israel worshipper and IDF clone and Mr Hundal can probably add more to that list.

      I have asked him if he has passed his Israel test as that was the MCB response to the Observer/Panaroma investigation into the said organisation. Sad to say he hasn’t passed it yet.

    33. Bert Preast — on 14th March, 2007 at 5:36 pm  

      ZinZin - I didn’t say he was a reformed and lovely man. Just that it’s a good thing not a bad thing for them to have to read and respond to reasoned criticism of what they right.

    34. Mikey — on 14th March, 2007 at 6:05 pm  

      I do not read this blog as often as I would like to, but I was directed over here from David T’s article at Harry’s Place. I can certainly say, I agree with the sentiment expressed.

      Have someone from the BNP - why not? And I hope in the comments section underneath, the article gets a right “fisking.”

      In fact open up another blog for someone from say the anti fascist magazine “Searchlight” to also have a column.

      I think CiF is a great idea - but it could be better!

      Sunny - I think you have hit on a great idea - Well done.

    35. ZinZin — on 14th March, 2007 at 6:07 pm  

      Bert
      Bunglawala participates but learns nothing except that there is a lot of Islamophobia in the blogosphere, which is why he uses ad hominem attacks. In short if that is his only response to his critics why bother?

    36. Amrit — on 14th March, 2007 at 6:11 pm  

      Hmm… I never paid that much attention to The Guardian’s agenda, although I hardly read it regularly, and mostly only to improve my vocabulary *blushes*.

      From what I remember though, I have to agree - you have hit the nail on the head.

      I guess The Grauniad, sorry Guardian, had better make up its mind what exactly it means when it says it’s ‘liberal.’

    37. fugstar — on 14th March, 2007 at 6:20 pm  

      folks, whats with the poison? Sunny Bhai, im reading the PP and it would be a lot more nourishing if you didnt use every opp to slag someone off. Must we be bitchy asians?

      if you want interesting people to read or listen to, go into society, thats where things happen and ideas are forged. the publications pick what they can stomach and platform.

    38. Don — on 14th March, 2007 at 6:31 pm  

      I’m another die-hard Guardian/Observer reader who increasingly flings it across the room in disgust (which is a bit pointless, as I then just have to sheepishly pick it up again). With one or two honourable exceptions (notably the splendid Ben Goldacre) it shows a growing obsequiousness to any kind of faith based position.

      Good wall-charts, though.

    39. El Shattered — on 14th March, 2007 at 6:43 pm  

      It thinks it’s liberal because much of the left assumes that left-wing and liberal are the same thing

      I love you Katy

    40. soru — on 14th March, 2007 at 7:26 pm  

      I have a suggestion for CiF, and perhaps PP:

      Every commentator should have, in their profile, a link to one of these things that sums up their political persepective.

    41. Sid — on 14th March, 2007 at 9:46 pm  

      soru, what a find! hours of fun

      here’s one of my efforts.

    42. justforfun — on 14th March, 2007 at 9:50 pm  

      Am I the only one who doesn’t read the articles and just goes straight to the comments?

      Another question - are these articles meant to be be ready made opinions that we can learn by rote or are they meant to be thought provoking essays?

      When I eventually go back to reading the actual article, its in the hope that they are the latter, but usually, by the end, get the feally they are mainly the former.

      Justforfun

    43. Mike Riddle — on 14th March, 2007 at 11:10 pm  

      Dear Sunny,
      You seem to be influenced by “Protocols of Elder Muslims” by Daniel Pipes. Why don’t you write about something other than “MCB cliques” dominating us. Your not a liberal by just saying you are one, I think you have a long way to go. To begin with it may help to ditch your obsessions.

    44. Mike Riddle — on 14th March, 2007 at 11:31 pm  

      “It’s not like the BNP get a chance to put across their views regularly in other media.”
      Sunny you really are a jerk : Sun, Star, Mail, Express, Telegraph, the Times, these dominate our minds and carry the same basic hate messages centered around Muslim, terrorists and refugees.
      Now even those who call themselves progressives, such as Nick Cohen, Martin Bright and a whole coterie upstart student journalists, are infecting liberal space with the idea that the sole concern of the left should be about ensuring we condemn Muslims who don’t toe the right wing line on Israel. And sorry but I think you are parasitical to the “new left who are really on the right”.

    45. Mikey — on 15th March, 2007 at 12:03 am  

      Mike Riddle, I have no idea who you are, but you are clearly not in reality. To argue a newspaper such as The Times or even a paper such as the Daily Mail carries messages of hate is clearly false.

      As far as you are concerned it may well be that anyone who is not a member of the Socialist Workers Party or one of their front organisations such as the STWC/Respect is on the right but in reality you are in cloud cukoo land. Nick Cohen et al do not believe that the Muslims who “don’t toe the right wing line on Israel” should be condemned nor is it their “sole concern.”

    46. ZinZin — on 15th March, 2007 at 12:03 am  

      Mike
      When you leave the vanguard you can join the adults in a proper debate.

    47. soru — on 15th March, 2007 at 12:13 am  

      Mike, to save you time explaining things, I have summarised your position here

    48. David T — on 15th March, 2007 at 12:20 am  

      Bunglawala participates but learns nothing except that there is a lot of Islamophobia in the blogosphere, which is why he uses ad hominem attacks. In short if that is his only response to his critics why bother?

      No, that’s not true. He and I have agreed to form a band to cover the hits of Cat Stevens. We need a singer, though.

      Well, we sort of have. He said “no” but he’ll come round to it…

    49. Sunny — on 15th March, 2007 at 12:34 am  

      Fugstar bhai - what lovely things would you like me to write about?

      We live in a world where everybody is busy painting themselves as the victim. People are fighting, blowing each other up, dropping bombs etc. It’s difficult to pretend everything is hunky dory.

      I think the difference in my condeming is that I have an attitude of ‘a plague on both your houses’ because I don’t believe issues are as cleancut as they are made out to be by politicians, ‘community leaders’ or the media really. In this environment I can only point out the stupid way in which people conduct themselves, and hope people see through the hype. No?

    50. H. Patrick — on 15th March, 2007 at 2:30 am  

      You must be joking Sunny. Under Milne, the Guardian has published pieces on Muslims in Britain by Hanif Kureishi, Maleiha Malik, Munira Mirza, Sarfraz Manzoor, Ziauddin Sardar, Sarah Joseph, as well as the lot you speak about above. Find me another paper in the whole world that has done that.

    51. Sunny — on 15th March, 2007 at 4:16 am  

      the Guardian has published pieces on Muslims in Britain by Hanif Kureishi, Maleiha Malik, Munira Mirza, Sarfraz Manzoor, Ziauddin Sardar, Sarah Joseph, as well as the lot you speak about above. Find me another paper in the whole world that has done that.

      I’m talking about frequency here H. Patrick - not the odd appearance. Compare them to how often the ‘MCB clique’ appear above.
      And I’ve not said any other newspaper is better on the issue.

    52. ChrisC — on 15th March, 2007 at 8:26 am  

      The movie subtitle game is *brilliant*.

      H.Patrick - Sunny beat me to it.
      “Find me another paper in the whole world…”
      Are you a CiF sub?

      Sunny - what are you doing up at 4.16am??

    53. Fugstar — on 15th March, 2007 at 9:25 am  

      Ref 49.

      Mercutio was a good laugh and a loyal fighter until just before his ending at least.

      I dont really know you dude, so telling you what to write is difficult. Perhaps you could read some decent books? Try the recent ‘A postcolonial People’ or franz fanon’a ‘black face white masks’ or abul kalam azad’s ‘india wins freedom’.

      There are plenty of intellectual and activist cliques in the muslim community, from one point of view we have a great big space, even a growing one, however much nasty forces are trying to shrink it. If you want to hear more read their papers and books… email them.. whatever.

      I think muslims who do stuff have less angst towards the mcb than non muslim moaners, we see it as a small voluntary organisation that does some nice stuff and has some limitations. Expectations arent so ….Caliphatelike, and its better to focus on what you do, make it good demonstrate what you mean then folks will twig.

      Trying to punch above your weight is wrong.

    54. Jagdeep — on 15th March, 2007 at 12:00 pm  

      Perhaps you could read some decent books?

      Don’t bother reading the Franz Fanon, Sunny, or you’ll end up like fugstar. And don’t listen to the advice of people who patronise you.

    55. bill — on 15th March, 2007 at 12:01 pm  

      Sunny,
      you don’t seem to have made a case for “explaining” why we should agree with you that he MCB should be treated in the same manner as the BNP (the same goes for David Cameron). You just seem to be relying on the consenting views of a “clique” of pro-zionist web activists who feel MCB do not pass the Israel test to carry you through. I think you will find the vast majority of people of whatever religion, race or creed who have an understanding of the middle east also will not pass the israel test.
      If you are so liberal why don’t we see you writing on a more pressing subject than how you don’t like/agree with the MCB. I know how easy it is to get recognition by taking the anti-MCB line, but then that rather does compromise your stance as a liberal no?

    56. Sid Love — on 15th March, 2007 at 12:08 pm  

      Fugsy, open your eyes, roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and start dealing with the problem at hand. Do yourself a favour by using your powers of discernment by distinguishing between Islamic ideology, Ummah politics and the real religion, per se. Instead of patronising others with reading lists and apologising for obscurantism.

      Otherwise, you can make a sentence out of the words Head, Get, Arse, Your, Out and Your.

    57. bananabrain — on 15th March, 2007 at 1:10 pm  

      what’s the “israel test”? do i pass it?

      the thing to realise about the mcb is that it is *not*, however much it thinks it is, the equivalent of the jewish BOD, which to the latter’s credit, they have realised. it is the equivalent of the united synagogue or, to give a suitable christian equivalent, the catholic church at least as represented by the local archbishop, cormac murphy o’connor. these are what you might call religious organisations, as opposed to the BOD which is an *umbrella representative* body.

      other equivalents might be IJV as compared to MPAC-UK, or the “evangelical alliance”, or likud-herut UK or the “british friends of peace now”. these are lobby groups.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    58. KB Player — on 15th March, 2007 at 2:03 pm  

      Just for fun
      “Am I the only one who doesn’t read the articles and just goes straight to the comments?”

      Can’t answer if you are the only one though if I was a commenter at CIF I would make the assertion that you are without evidence or any shame of lack of evidence.

      But you are right in saying that the articles there seem to be auto-opinion and that they don’t provoke thought so much as reflex action.

      What I would like would be a sheep from goats system to the comments as they have at http://www.salon.com. The editor selects the twenty or so comments that are thoughtful or well-informed or even, amazingly, come from first hand experience and you have a choice of looking at them or looking at the general ruck.

    59. ChrisC — on 15th March, 2007 at 2:34 pm  

      bill - you’re not telling us that the MCB is a “liberal” organisation, are you?

    60. Sunny — on 15th March, 2007 at 2:39 pm  

      bill, a more pressing subject as….. Israel/Palestine? As if there aren’t enough dimwits writing about that already?

      you don’t seem to have made a case for “explaining” why we should agree with you that he MCB should be treated in the same manner as the BNP

      Be a good boy and read my article again. I haven’t equated the two. I’m saying that this policy, taken to its logical conclusion means Nick Griffin would be invited. At least the BNP doesn’t publicly call for or carry out the killing of innocent people, unlike Hamas.

      Fugstar: I think muslims who do stuff have less angst towards the mcb than non muslim moaners, we see it as a small voluntary organisation that does some nice stuff and has some limitations.

      True, but you underestimate that the MCB and its chums are the public face of British Muslims in the media and politics world, and they end up doing some serious damage to community cohesion by virtue of opening their mouths.
      Besides, Inayat and his friends are quick to criticise others about world events, why shouldn’t they be open to criticism too then? I open myself up to criticism every day on here.

    61. James O — on 15th March, 2007 at 10:29 pm  

      ‘Be a good boy and read my article again’

      This is the traditional tactic of Sunny: insult and evasion. Learn to answer the questions will you Sunny?

      ‘At least the BNP doesn’t publicly call for or carry out the killing of innocent people, unlike Hamas.’

      The distinctions between the two organisations should not need emphasising. Hamas is directed on ending the occupation and oppression of Palestine, which following Israel’s equation of itself with the Jewish people worldwide, can spill over into anti-semitism. The BNP are an organisation founded on attacking already disempowered, oppressed and persecuted minorities. You insult the black and asian communities of Britain by pretending to yourself that they are the equivalent of Israeli colonialism. If you truly believe they are equivalent to Hamas, then you know nothing about either fascism or Imperialism.

    62. soru — on 15th March, 2007 at 11:00 pm  

      The words you don’t know the meaning of are rather simpler: right and wrong.

    63. Fugstar — on 16th March, 2007 at 12:26 am  

      sigh. i think ‘black face, white masks’ is important for those who identify with generations of anti colonial resistance. african, asian or whatever.

      #56
      ‘problem at hand’, hmm indeed, not sure who’s problems you are referring to but good luck to you!

      #60
      I think you over estimate the real power of mcb on politics and media in this country. Personally im, and probably many other muslims, are more interested in reform dynamics within the noah’s ark of muslim communities in the uk.

      It’s not your right to criticize that i’m disputing, I just feel youve got some wires crossed, though not as many crossed as many of the commentators here. The face of the muslims of britain is worn by the believers, a scarey thought maybe, but true.

      Lots of funky people contribute towards the betterment of the mcb not out of power trippery, but because it is a collective muslim institution. Do you have a problem with clumps of muslim organisations organising at a greater level or something? Dont we have sovereignty over

      The media’s shortcoming is that it somehow ends up simplifying everything for the sake of simplicity. MCB itself could do a lot better, but i find it hard to see them as tyrants, as many here are suggesting. Different information i guess. Theres a myriad of projects and initiatives theat they are pursuing that are having real affects throughout the country. Its not the A-Team, no ones saying it is.

      I don’t hang on every word of every press release, though it seems that you do. Whats the problem between you and inayat, why so personal?

      #61 I agree with James O. PP is a playground. theres no gandalf here.

      The guardian is generally less idiotic than most papers in the UK. I dont know how that related to whatever you define liberalism to be here, but islamaphonic was a good idea, though appropriated from the q-news folks. Put’s a smile on my face, good for non muslims who must be quite bewildered by muslim messes.

      CiF however is too blogy and ranty.

    64. Sunny — on 16th March, 2007 at 12:31 am  

      Hamas is directed on ending the occupation and oppression of Palestine,

      It is intent on the destruction of Israel - that is in the charter. I don’t support any terrorist body that wants to destroy a whole state (and presumably the people in it since they don’t intend to go anywhere).

      The BNP are an organisation founded on attacking already disempowered, oppressed and persecuted minorities.

      What is your definition of ‘disempowered’? Are all minorities by definition opressed or is there some measure you’re using here?

      You insult the black and asian communities of Britain by pretending to yourself that they are the equivalent of Israeli colonialism.

      Don’t patronise by trying to be the brown/black man’s saviour. Stick to answering the question - are you in support of people blowing up innocent people or not? Because the kids who did so in 7/7 undoubtedly took their cue from Hamas/Hizbullah. Were they poor little persecuted minorities too?

    65. Sunny — on 16th March, 2007 at 12:45 am  

      The media’s shortcoming is that it somehow ends up simplifying everything for the sake of simplicity. MCB itself could do a lot better, but i find it hard to see them as tyrants, as many here are suggesting. Different information i guess. Theres a myriad of projects and initiatives theat they are pursuing that are having real affects throughout the country. Its not the A-Team, no ones saying it is.

      Who says I have a problem with the MCB in itself? I criticise them, as I criticise other organisations such as the Hindu Forum, Hindu Council, Sikh Federation, etc etc because if they make mistakes or do silly things they should be accountable to the people they claim to ‘represent’.

      I wrote a big article on how these groups, by virtue of the games they play in media/politics circles, and their claims to represent minority groups, do more harm than good. On the ground these organisations do squat all. Maybe the local mosque does…. or people get on with their lives. If 6% of Muslims think the MCB represents their voices, they’re not exactly having much impact on the ground are they?

      But you’re underestimating their impact in two ways. Firstly, in forming or trying to enforce govt policy. A good example:
      http://dalnunstrong.blogspot.com/2007/02/mcb-guidance-for-schools-mustnt-censor.html
      and
      http://www.eteraz.org/story/2007/2/23/32343/7719

      Secondly, it tries to censor and shut down debate with the community, on the nature of its origins
      http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/62
      and
      http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/415

    66. KB Player — on 16th March, 2007 at 10:11 am  

      “The reigns of the Guardian’s comment section have finally been handed over from Seumas Milne to Georgina Henry”

      “The reigns” - is this a deliberate pun on your part?

    67. douglas clark — on 16th March, 2007 at 6:06 pm  

      Apropos Georgina. The lady emailed me when I decided to take up a one man, one morning, campaign, against bloggers who didn’t respond to comments. After an exchange of words she did say that she tries to encourage bloggers to engage with the debate in the comments. Maybe with her new position, she could try insisting.

      I think she’s going to make a difference.

    68. douglas clark — on 16th March, 2007 at 6:36 pm  

      Sunny,

      I posted this on CiF, because I suspect it is true: only you and Inayat can prove me wrong:

      “Inayat,

      Do you think you are a changed man since you started posting here? I think you are, but it is for you to say.

      Could you and Sunny not just have a cup of tea together? Your recent stuff is not far away from the bearded ones views. Nor vice versa.

      I quite admire the both of you, and this, is frankly going nowhere….”

      Think about it please?

    69. Don — on 16th March, 2007 at 6:42 pm  

      BB,

      ‘what’s the “israel test”? do i pass it?’

      Oh, I think so. As far as I can gather the ‘Israel Test’ is proposes that a moslem can support (or at least recognise) Israel’s right to existence, but an Islamicist can’t.

      The MCB, however, seem to regard boycotting Holocaust memorial day as an extension of this putative test. Couldn’t work out the logic.

      I suspect it is less an actual ‘test’ than a rhetorical device of little real value.

    70. davetheslave — on 16th March, 2007 at 7:15 pm  

      Sunny, I may be mistaken, but do you not turn up regularly on CiF? Did they not devote an entire week to your (excellent) NGN manifesto? I disagree with your analysis.

    71. ZinZin — on 16th March, 2007 at 8:18 pm  

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,1553479,00.html

      The origins of the Israel test are given in the link above. I ask Inayat Bunglawala has he passed his Israel test and everytime he says no and he is happy with failing this test.

    72. Amir — on 16th March, 2007 at 10:02 pm  

      Fugstar,

      “The guardian is generally less idiotic than most papers in the UK.”

      Ha ha ha! You’re killing me! [*bursts out into fits of hysterical laughter*]

      Good joke!

    73. Sunny — on 16th March, 2007 at 11:44 pm  

      Sunny, I may be mistaken, but do you not turn up regularly on CiF?

      davetheslave: I’m talking about liberal Muslim voices being heard more. I’m not Muslim.

    74. Fugstar — on 17th March, 2007 at 1:14 am  

      Amir,

      how was i supposed to know that existed! (not in the print edition)

      im talking in terms of neoimperialism.

    75. sonia — on 17th March, 2007 at 4:18 pm  

      i disagree. the most interest i derive from cif is from the comments. im sure the jewels among them would obscured by some over-zealous editor. plus they all pertain to each other

    76. ZinZin — on 19th March, 2007 at 7:11 pm  

      Sunny
      Have you become the new comments editor?
      I only ask as there are two articles by secular muslims.

    77. DishDash — on 22nd March, 2007 at 2:49 pm  

      Why don’t you spell it out SunnyBoy? You’re a proponent for censorship. In an ideal world, we’d all be like the New Statesman or OpenDemocracy who favours your clique over the one you characterise as the ‘MCB clique’. People whom you’ve decided to describe as anti-progressive, communist and generally, the bad guys. You’ve consistenltly sounded like a cry-baby, stamping your feet “Why do you listen to him when I’ve got something better too say!!” Well boo-hoo sour grapes man. Your only currency seems to be one of vilifying others without really having anything new or interesting to say.

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