A reply to Inayat Bunglawala


by Sunny
23rd March, 2007 at 3:25 pm    

Inayat Bunglawala and I had been exchanging emails all this week on the subject of ‘How can we defeat violent extremism?‘. Comment is Free has just posted the exchange here. But there’s a final reply I wanted to post (I forgot we initially agreed on 5 responses each).

***************
Hi Inayat,
I asked you for your theory and your views on a particular topic, not anyone else’s. I wanted to know your views on whether extremist literature and propaganda by certain groups plays a part but you have not only refused to answer my questions but, hilariously, accused me of closing my ears.

I already pointed out earlier there are several factors so for you to accuse me of not having a “simple minded approach” is bizarre. It’s just that you haven’t actually expanded on your own nuanced approach except keep parroting the belief that the war in Iraq caused and exacerbated violent extremism.

You admit propaganda literature may play a part but refuse to expand on this or talk about it. This all rather amusing since the MCB constantly complains about racism and Islamophobia (a problem, I accept) in the media and how it is leading to increased attacks on Muslims. Why not apply that same logic with regards to propaganda disseminated by extremist groups and extremist imams?

A brilliant example of your dishonest approach is done by contrasting the MCB press release issued prior to the recent Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, followed by your contradictory piece on CIF where you admitted Saudi funding may be a problem. I can only assume the government has ditched working with the MCB because you haven’t demonstrated an honest understanding of all the problems.

The only positive note I can end on is be glad of the fact that the government is now engaging with many more Muslim groups than simply the MCB.
kind regards
******************

Update: Lastly, Inayat Bunglawala says, “Yes, I have to admit it was a bit tedious [debating with Sunny]…“, in the comments below the CIF article, which is amusing given he came over to talk to me when we recently attended an event and wanted to invite me on his show on the Islam Channel. Heh.


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  1. Leon — on 23rd March, 2007 at 3:35 pm  

    That exchange was like watching Paxman Vs Howard all over again…

  2. Sahil — on 23rd March, 2007 at 3:42 pm  

    Leon are you LGredux on CIF

  3. Leon — on 23rd March, 2007 at 3:45 pm  

    Yep, I posted this here because it didn’t appear over there initially…

  4. lithcol — on 23rd March, 2007 at 6:30 pm  

    An interesting exchange, and of course predictable given the past behaviour of the MCB and its spokespersons.

  5. ZinZin — on 23rd March, 2007 at 7:28 pm  

    Lithcol
    Inayat is a media savvy muslim its just unfortunate that he looks like Mr Bean and smears his critics as Mossad agents, Israel worshippers or IDF clones. He seems a nice fellow despite his vile politics.

    He is my guilty pleasure because unlike other fundis that post on Cif he is quite bright. Until you ask him about the Israel test then the mask slips.

  6. Twining or Black in Blue — on 23rd March, 2007 at 8:07 pm  

    I am sure people might accuse Sunny of closing his ears, and this is making me laugh now, but I see Sunny with rabbit ears, I don’t know why but I am being honest. Now, Sunny is not the type of person to close his ears, just look at the links on this site. He is on the ball and probably plays good football too.

    I guess what Inayat might be saying is that if Britain is fighting a Muslim country then disaffected Muslim youth/men in this country see this as a personal attack on Islam.

    I have to say that the MCB, very much like the HFB are rather too insular, and perhaps the Government had an agenda in dealing with the MCB. All of a sudden as time progresses up pops the HFB. Sunny keep up the good work. How many links do you have on this pickled politics old bean?

  7. . — on 23rd March, 2007 at 9:27 pm  

    A very poor performance from my Bunglawala, it has to be said.

  8. . — on 23rd March, 2007 at 9:28 pm  

    Err, I meant Mr.

  9. Rakhee — on 23rd March, 2007 at 9:48 pm  

    Have just read the thread and have come to the conclusion that Inayat has learnt the skill most successful politicians have today – how to avoid the bloody question!

  10. lithcol — on 23rd March, 2007 at 10:42 pm  

    Can’t be that bright ZinZin if he believes in the literal truth of the Qur’an. Wasn’t Goebbels the ultimate savvy media spokesperson. He was the forerunner of Mr. Bean. He had a certain anti-Semitic agenda.

    Never been impressed by media savvy ideologues. Push the right buttons and their contempt for ordinary mortals is exposed. God we’ve had enough exposure to such individuals selling the current government. Why is it that people are impressed by style over content?

  11. lithcol — on 23rd March, 2007 at 10:45 pm  

    Personally I think Sunny could have been tougher. Perhaps he is still honing his media savvy persona. Hope no, I prefer his content over style.

  12. leon — on 24th March, 2007 at 6:39 pm  

    Have just read the thread and have come to the conclusion that Inayat has learnt the skill most successful politicians have today – how to avoid the bloody question!

    Yep, hence my comment about Paxman vs Howard…

  13. ZinZin — on 24th March, 2007 at 6:57 pm  

    Leon he has being doing it for years your not the first to notice.

  14. Kobayashi Khan — on 25th March, 2007 at 8:47 am  

    You’ll never these clowns to give you straight answers. I can’t stand the guy personally.

  15. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 26th March, 2007 at 10:33 am  

    LOL, nice one Sunny.

    TFI

  16. soru — on 26th March, 2007 at 11:33 am  

    There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for the actions of the MCB in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of an Islamophobic agenda. Orr was unquestionably non-Islamophobic and so could be listened to. All he had to do was ask a question; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be rational and would have to be outed as an Islamophobic bigot.

    Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.”
    “That’s some catch, that catch-22,” he observed.
    “It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.

  17. Arif — on 26th March, 2007 at 11:58 am  

    There was a second catch, and that was Catch-36b, which was that uncertainty about complex social phenomena in the face of dangers that are real and immediate was apologetics for a terrorist agenda. Bingo was unquestionably anti-terrorism and so could be listened to. All he had to do was express a willingness to look into the causes of terrorism; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be rational and would be outed as a supporter of terrorism.

    Heller was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this Clause-36b and let out a respectful chuckle.

    “That’s some catch, that catch-36b,” he observed.
    “It’s one of millions, everyone’s at it,” an anonymous blogger decreed.

  18. douglas clark — on 26th March, 2007 at 12:02 pm  

    Soru,

    That’s a pretty profound reworking. Excellent stuff.

  19. soru — on 26th March, 2007 at 1:17 pm  

    arif: yes, that kind of thing sucks too.

    Obviously, some people actually are supporters of terrorism, or at least of some of the ends sought by terrorist groups, and so can’t be expected to make honest contributions to a discussion of how to minimise it. (I don’t think that applies to the Bunglawalla, but it certainly does to some of the other people writing Guardian columns).

    Similarly, some people actually are various forms of bigot (racist, but also anti-religious in general, and anti-Islam is particular), and so, by definition, can’t be expected to contribute to a rational discussion on any topic relevant to their bigotry. The parts of their brain that, for them, govern discussion of that topic probably have more in common with that parts that govern addiction or overeating than the bit that does sums.

    The point is, any effective, persuasive and sometimes-true argument will get used. The more persuasive it is, the more it will get used, at least until such time as it finally expires from over-use. And there is no regulatory authority that prevents people using that good argument for ungood ends.

    So, when you see someone making a particular argument, you have to ask yourself not just ‘is it the kind of argument I like’ but also ‘how well does it apply in this particular case’?

  20. lithcol — on 27th March, 2007 at 12:14 am  

    So Soru,
    You appear to be saying that being anti something automatically makes you a bigot. I am anti racism. Does that make a bigot? Of course not.

    You appear in your phrenological allusions of how the brain operates to have a part missing. If you want a rational debate as to why I do not have a belief in a supreme being that has mapped out how we are to live I am happy to oblige.

    Just because I am an atheist does not make me a bigot. As for Islam, its like all religions, bigoted. If you are not a believer you are a heathen, infidel etc. QED.

  21. soru — on 27th March, 2007 at 12:58 am  

    You appear to be saying that being anti something automatically makes you a bigot

    Not at all.

    Lets take this step by step:

    Step 1: do you agree that people it is fair to call bigoted exist? People who will simply ignore any evidence, persuasion or remotely complicated logic that goes against ideas they have a strong emotional tie, even an identification, with?

    Step 2: do you think all such people agree with each other on everything?

    Step 3: can you understand that someone can be bigoted, and still be on the same nominal ‘side’ as you on some big issue?

    Just because I am an atheist does not make me a bigot.

    Obviously not.

    As for Islam, its like all religions, bigoted.

    Thing is, that would seem to me to be a clear example of a bigoted statement: it simply isn’t remotely credible as any kind of description of the world. In a world that contains Buddhists, Anglicans, Sufis, wiccans, and so on, it’s not something that anyone could accidentally fall into believing by mistake. It is hard to believe there is not some level of hatred of religion involved in anyone who says that seriously (and I acknowledge you may just have been speaking without thinking).

    When hatred causes someome to state things that are not true, about which they cannot plausibly be honestly mistaken, that, to me, is the essence of bigotry.

  22. douglas clark — on 27th March, 2007 at 4:34 am  

    Soru,

    Point. I am an atheist. But I agree with BB, and his religion, in the sense that I feel no need to convert you, or anyone else for that matter, to my beliefs. Why should I? You and others are as entitled to your beliefs as I am to my non belief. Assuming the usual caveats.

    Obviously, I think that over time, everyone will think like me, but unless deliberately, or better still, amusingly, challenged, I say, live and let live. Lithcol would probably see that as a pacifist position. He would be right.

    I think too many atheists are taking a fundamentalist approach to their beliefs, correct as they undoubtedly are. We are unlikely to get any converts on the basis of describing religious folk as the dimmest lights in the chandelier. It just raises folks hackles and makes them defend the most ridiculous beliefs. Better, I say, to live the life of an atheist, and people can judge whether you are admirable or foolish for themselves. Most folk that really know me would probably put me in the latter category, btw! You could substitute the faith of your choice into the sentence before last and it would still make sense.

    Live and let live is my new, for me, philosophy.

    I’m fed up with applying logic to humans. As the joke goes:

    Them: “douglas, as an outsider, what do you think of the human race?”

    Me: “Not a lot.”

    I expect this revision of my ideas will get me a lot more chicks, help me win the lottery and live to be a thousand. Not.

    But tolerance for others beliefs is probably a good idea on its own account. Now there’s something that there might be a consensus around.

  23. bananabrain — on 27th March, 2007 at 1:16 pm  

    douglas,

    thank you for expounding your position so clearly. as we both obviously realise, the contents of your head make far less of a difference than your actions in the real world. if we treat people with respect and do not discriminate on the basis of actual or perceived ideological differences, there is no reason for mutual respect and co-existence.

    the price of course is steep: give up evangelism. give up missionary work. only by removing this perverse incentive can a free exchange of ideas be achieved. if the object is to impose conformity, free speech will be the casualty as we drown in a sea of bureaucratic “speech codes” and “respect agendas”. let your arguments be their own best defence. if your belief system can stand the heat, it should be able to use the kitchen without problems – it is the ones who demand protection from reasonable challenge that cannot cut the mustard.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

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