Muslim organisations must also ‘take responsibility’


by Sunny
10th April, 2007 at 6:32 pm    

In the Telegraph yesterday, Zia Haider Rahman essentially wrote the other half to my article on Ruth Kelly’s announcement – the part that British Muslims also need to play in tackling religious extremism.

While the study identifies the perceived public disparagement of Muslims as one cause, any Muslim reading the report should focus on the observations about the Muslim community’s own failure: “The appeal of radical groups reflects, in part, the failure of traditional religious institutions and organisations to connect with young people and address their questions and concerns.”

This work can only be done if British Muslims take responsibility for what is going on in their midst rather than persisting in pointing the finger of blame at external causes. Radicalisation might well owe something to a perceived culture of criticism of Islam, but a Muslim culture of victimhood will obscure the need for Muslims to take responsibility for those things that they – and they alone – can actually change.

Not before time, the self-appointed leaders of the Muslim community (the Muslim Council of Britain, to name one), have come under fire, but it will be necessary for Muslims to organize under a leadership that has a mandate and therefore authority not only to voice the concerns of the community but also to lead the community in the direction of integration and of making Britain home.

This myopia and lack of leadership was made abundantly clear in my recent exchange with Inayat Bunglawala. The MCB is unpopular with Muslims not just because it’s been seen as a Labour lackey, but also because it contributes to this disconnect between the youth and ‘community elders’. And it’s funny that while organisations such as MPAC keep campaigning for Mosque leaders to open up and be more accountable, they never say a bad thing about the MCB (which represents them, is full of the same attitudes and is the only body that could currently push such change). Oh I forgot, Asghar Bukhari and Inayat Bunglawala have been mates for years.

Also read academic Tufyal Choudhury’s paper on The role of Muslim identity politics in radicalisation which Zia references above.


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  1. Avi Cohen — on 10th April, 2007 at 8:30 pm  

    Why are pro-Judeo-Christian sites always harping on about Muslims.

    Why not put your own house in order.

    Waging religious wars and talking of good vs evil is hardly just Islam’s domain.

    In your world Israel always good everyone else always bad. You won’t even push for a fair and just solution in all this and Israel is excused of all blame.

    Evangelicals have pushed for a neo-con war and it has cost so many lives and yet they say Christianity is a religion of love.

    The only love Christianity has had is for war against anyone and everyone.

    Telling everyone else what to do whilst pretending to be houlier than thou is hardly constructive.

    Good Christians lying and manipulating evidence so they can go to war is hardly a great example and idiots set-up websites to ash Muslims.

    Sort out your own problems first.

  2. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 10th April, 2007 at 8:34 pm  

    Why are Islamist sites always harping on about Christians?

    Why not put your own house in order.

    Waging religious wars and talking of good vs evil is hardly just Christainy’s domain.

    In your world Israel always bad everyone else always good. You won’t even push for a fair and just solution in all this and Israel is accused of all blame.

    Islamists have pushed for a Jihadist war and it has cost so many lives and yet they say Islam is a religion of peace.

    The only love Islam has had is for war against anyone and everyone.

    Telling everyone else what to do whilst pretending to be houlier than thou is hardly constructive.

    Good Muslims lying and manipulating evidence so they can go to war is hardly a great example and idiots set-up websites to ash Christains.

    Sort out your own problems first.

  3. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 10th April, 2007 at 8:36 pm  

    Avi, it swings both ways mate. As an athiest I don’t really give a toss about Muslims, Christains or Jews.

    Its nonsense like what you submitted is the cause of the issues in this world.

    There are no gods to divide us, we are all brothers.

    TFI

  4. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 10th April, 2007 at 8:48 pm  

    Good lord! is a full moon tonight or something? tho loop fruits are out in full tonight.

    TFI

  5. douglas clark — on 10th April, 2007 at 9:01 pm  

    Josh Arnold,

    “When did this website ever criticise Israel or America? It isn’t too hard to work out who is behind this website. Daniel Pipes would be proud.”

    See up on the right of your screen? You might have to scroll up a wee bit. There’s a thing called Archives. There are headings for both Israel and the USA. I suggest you read some of that before casting aspersions.

  6. leon — on 10th April, 2007 at 9:40 pm  

    When did this website ever criticise Israel or America?

    Yeah we never do that, ever. I’m totally a Neo Con me.

  7. El Cid — on 10th April, 2007 at 9:55 pm  

    Josh,
    My mum was in something akin to the francoist youth. They were summer camps — a lot of kids went. It’s cheap and its weak to use somepne’s childhood as proof of anything simister.
    Moreover, jews are white, moslems can be white, turks are white and were a pretty imperialistic bunch themselves, while the incas weren’t exactly nice to their neighbours.
    You sir have issues with race and are ignorant.

  8. ZinZin — on 10th April, 2007 at 10:13 pm  

    The SWP don’t you just love them?

    Now go away and don’t make me use that ice pick.

  9. El Cid — on 10th April, 2007 at 10:24 pm  

    OK, so the turks have a bit of Chinese too. I remember that from a recent exhibition at the Royal Academy, but they are mainly white. Whatever

  10. Sunny — on 10th April, 2007 at 10:27 pm  

    Erm ‘Avi Cohen’ and ‘Josh Arnold’ were the same person so I deleted ‘Josh’.

  11. Rumbold — on 10th April, 2007 at 10:54 pm  

    Zia Haider Rahman wrote “it will be necessary for Muslims to organize under a leadership that has a mandate”.

    Surely that will just sweep the problem under the carpet. The issue is not that the leadership is out of touch, but that Muslims feel there is need for such leadership at all. Muslims are not second-class citizens. They do not need their own lobby groups. They do not need ‘leaders’, any more than atheists need atheist ‘leaders’.

  12. douglas clark — on 10th April, 2007 at 11:29 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Interesting post. I’m an atheist, and I’ve never thought of myself as part of any ‘atheist community’. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would look like.

    Probably a lot of disagreeable people who shared one aspect of their lives in common and shouted at each other about everything else. Well, I’m not joining, so there :-)

  13. Rumbold — on 10th April, 2007 at 11:36 pm  

    Thanks Douglas Clark.

    Being an atheist is just one part of your identity. You do not need representation for it, since you have the right to act like an atheist under law.

  14. Sunny — on 11th April, 2007 at 12:02 am  

    They do not need their own lobby groups. They do not need ‘leaders’, any more than atheists need atheist ‘leaders’.

    Well yes and no. They do need lobbies to push their own point of view if there is specific legislation to be passed, issues to be debated, and if there is continued discrimination against Muslims (which there is). Those views have to be articulated.

    But my view is that they should be seen as lobbies with specific agendas rather than broad ‘representative’ bodies that claim to represent all shade of opinion.

    If atheists are being discriminated against for not believing (I suppose the NSS feel that) then they would start lobbying (as the NSS does). You see?

  15. Abu Jafar — on 11th April, 2007 at 12:17 am  

    You obviously didn’t see that MPAC docu on Channel 4 about women getting into the masjids- the bit where the MCB spokesman clearly admitted that they have no power in the mosques. Most mosque committees that joined MCB did so in the hope of getting government grants and funding, that hasn’t generally happened and all attempts by MCB to push changes in the Mosques have been fiercly resisted.

    The dynamics of Mosques are very complicated and largely tied in with village and caste alliegences from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Change will never come from the mosques, it will come from outside them.

  16. Tahir — on 11th April, 2007 at 12:18 am  

    Hmm . Do white people need one leadership? Does the UK need one leadership? Do Jewish people need one leadership? For the past 30 years academic research has told us not to push people into boxes – so a person can be male, Muslim and gay and not be forced to emphasise one identity over another. I haven’t read TC’s work but on the whole I would’ve thought he was in touch with academic work, too, being at Durham.

    Now why are we telling Muslims to find leadership? One rule for them (because Osma bin what’s his name did what he did ) and suddenly there is responsibility on all Muslims – to do what?

    This is the real issue. When Britain can’t deal with difference and diversity – it just wants to negotiate with one party/one voice.

    When white britian address white Britain they can be called Tories, animal rights activists blah .

    I am using white as a proxy here for others who are calling for the same type of banal responses from how diverse Muslims form diverse countries?

    Jee – you really expect Muslim from Turkey to agree with Muslims from Pakistan? Surely not – they are poles apart – literally speaking.

    I’m not calling for Muslim victimhood – but since 9/11 you will be in cloud cockoo land if you think jibes, attackes, and discriminations against Muslims has not increased as a result of f***** Osma’s work.

    However, we must all take responsibility for what happens in society, but we mustn’t expect one group to take more responsibility just because the perpertrators of this crime came from its broad church.

    After all, when in the 1970s young black british men were disporpotionately represented in rape crimes we did not more black men to take more responsibility for these crime trends. Some folks did but then society at large was enlightened. Perhaps we can do the same for Muslims and terrorism committted by individuals.

  17. Tahir — on 11th April, 2007 at 12:32 am  

    I have stopped listening to capital radio because I can’t stand the adverts where they are advertising what to do when you can’t tell the difference between someone loitering around and someone loitering around suspitiously. Answer is you don’t need to be certain, just call the anti-terrorism police.

    Is this what it means to take more responsibility? Everytime I see a young kid loitering around, with vague Asian identity, I can just call the anti-terrorism police? They do this in the States so it must be having great results on race relations in a country bruised by x hundred years of enslavement history.

  18. Tahir — on 11th April, 2007 at 12:36 am  

    Without being personal.. Zia Haider Rahman is a human rights lawyer by day – as was TC before he started being an academic I suppose.

    Maybe I am stupid but I thought human rights lawyers worked to increase the space for civil liberties?

  19. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 12:43 am  

    yes and the thing is that traditional religious institutions don’t give a ***t about young people..

  20. Tahir — on 11th April, 2007 at 12:52 am  

    Neither did the Daily Telegraph last time I looked at its profile – isn’t it mostly read by bored middle class Tory housewifes, the one’s that will vote for Dave once they have finsihed watching the Diet Coke Ad?

    So er – these so-called career Asians aren’t really pushing the boat out, are they? Don’t bite the hand that feeds your mouth…

  21. Hyder Abbasi — on 11th April, 2007 at 12:58 am  

    It’s true that the MCB are clearly out of touch with grass roots issues.

    On the theme of terrorism/jihad/British Muslims, I highly recommend ‘The State We Are In: Identity, Terror, and the Law of Jihad’, edited by Aftab Ahmad Malik.

    ‘The book is an impassioned plea for the reassertion of the mainstream values of traditional Islam to prevail against extremism, placing such values in the context of British multiculturalism and democracy’.

    -Professor Ron Greaves, author of ‘Aspects of Islam’

    Available from http://www.amalpress.com for only £7.95.

  22. douglas clark — on 11th April, 2007 at 1:37 am  

    Sunny,

    You are right to say that in our current society, there is a need for lobbyists. And NGN was quite right to say that their influence should be quite clearly seen as just that, lobbyists for a viewpoint. I agree with all of that.

    I can also understand how Muslims, in particular, feel the need to circle the wagons right now. If it was atheists that were under seige, in the way that Muslims are now, even I might be looking for group support. I remember when the Press went after ‘loony left councils’. They left not a stone unturned. Which is what is happening now.

    Your one on one with Inayat left me, frankly, bereft of sympathy for his advocacy skills. He had an opportunity to speak to liberals like me, and there are lots of us, who think that the Government is merely playing politics with a vulnerable group. It is of the utmost importance, I think, that the MCB starts aligning itself with folk outside the Muslim community rather than protecting those that it see as ‘young hotheads’, and I’ll put it no more strongly than that. These folk need allies, and Respect is not the answer.

    Maybe Ruth Kelly’s reaction to the MCB will shake them up a bit. Maybe they will see some merit in a Liberty approach to issues. It is with groups like Liberty that they ought to be forging alliances. And I’m an Amnesty guy, never given a cent to Liberty. Hmmm…

  23. douglas clark — on 11th April, 2007 at 2:11 am  

    Just fooling around at the end of a thread:

    So, when Pickled Politics stands as a party for government, and obviously wins by a landslide, who are the ministers? Here’s my suggestions:

    Prime: Sunny, to take the flak, obviously

    Deputy: Clairwill, as she could keep him up above sensible. Whilst appearing on the cover of the Rolling Stone.

    Chancellor: Soru, ’cause it is important in that role that people have to really think about what you say before it’s understood, and then they agree with you.

    Foreign: El Cid, just because of his name and exotic background. Think he’d get asylum right too.

    Home: Sonia, as she could put out a fire just by smiling at it.

    Health: Who was that doctor that used to post here? He’ll do. Couldn’t make a bigger mess of it than….

    Constitutional Affairs: K Newton, sex bomb and legal expert extraordinaire.

    Defence: Joint Ministers, Pert Breast in charge of aggression, me in charge of defence and dodgy contracts. Well, every government has to have someone sleazy. And I need the dosh.

    We need more candidates

  24. Mustafa Arif — on 11th April, 2007 at 3:00 am  

    ” And it’s funny that while organisations such as MPAC keep campaigning for Mosque leaders to open up and be more accountable, they never say a bad thing about the MCB (which represents them, is full of the same attitudes and is the only body that could currently push such change). Oh I forgot, Asghar Bukhari and Inayat Bunglawala have been mates for years.”

    I have no affiliation to either organisation. Nor do I know either personality. Having said that I doubt the MCB is in a position to do anything since it’s constituted as a representative body of affiliate organisations. It is probably representative of them, and powerless over them. Your comment a bit like asking the TUC to slag off all the trades’ unions… If the affiliates were sorted out then, by definition, so would the MCB.

  25. douglas clark — on 11th April, 2007 at 3:06 am  

    Mustafa Arif,

    Sadly, you are probably right. So, the answer is to go after the affiliates, is it?

  26. Sunny — on 11th April, 2007 at 4:01 am  

    Tahir: So er – these so-called career Asians aren’t really pushing the boat out, are they? Don’t bite the hand that feeds your mouth…

    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make Tahir. Is it that Muslims shouldn’t have leadership? Or they should? One… or many? Or is that just a general rant?
    On your point above – well I recall that you’re in medicine, right? Now what if you saw an increased number of British Asians coming through with high heart disease and diabetes and wanted to raise the issue. Would you not want to challenge people’s eating habits? And what if someone then accuses you of being a ‘career-Asian’ who should mind their own business?

    Let’s debate the arguments than the people, shall we?

    Hyder – will def check it out, thanks.

    Abu and Mustafa – cheers for your comments. I won’t deny there is a strong element to this, that the MCB is essentially useless on this issue, but I also think this is being simplistic.

    When I was at the talk with Ehsan Masood and Dr Brian Klug at City Circle only a few weeks ago, one man put his hand up and said what could be done about people who try and take over mosques or engage with the youth.

    1) For a start there is the problem of importing preachers from abroad – something that is a problem with Muslim, Sikh and Hindu institutions (they all want to save their money and avoid paying normal wages). All these orgs could stop campaigning for that.

    2) Providing alternative ways for youths to have a say in mosque politics.

    3) Develop coordinated strategies on what to do when mosques get ‘hijacked’. This may involve using the Muslim media in the UK.

    4) Make themselves more transparent and try and establish a more transparent conduct for their affiliates.

    there are plenty of other ways I can cite. It seems to me that the MCB like to pretend they can’t do anything to influence their own affiliates. Why is it possible in other countries then?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6433265.stm

    A more visionary person could sell these ideas back to the community to re-invigorate it.. and yet they just keep making excuses.

    To be fair, this is also a problem with Sikhs.. probably a bigger problem since there is no official body that unites all the Gurudwaras.

    but as I remarked to a friend the other day, it is funny that both Sikh and Muslim elders seem almost afraid of their youths…. while the Hindus actively try to envelop them in everything.

    Douglas: I can also understand how Muslims, in particular, feel the need to circle the wagons right now. If it was atheists that were under seige, in the way that Muslims are now, even I might be looking for group support. I remember when the Press went after ‘loony left councils’. They left not a stone unturned. Which is what is happening now.

    Yup, pretty much. I’m just waiting for some of their ‘leaders’ to realise however that the way out of this is not to become friends with the likes of Respect and Galloway, but engage with mainstream organisations on a consistent anti-racist platform… But Bunglawala keeps making excuses for HuT, what can you do?

  27. Josh Arnold — on 11th April, 2007 at 8:37 am  

    tfi – when being selective with evidence then history hardly backs you up and instead you just look foolish.

    All other religions combined have not committed the attrocities and massacres that Christianity and Europeans have. Did the Muslims destroy the Incas – Nope it was the freindly Christians who loved them to extinction. The Red Indian – No boy it was the Christians, The Aborigines, The Marosi yep all Chrisian massacred. Recent history the holocaust unless you want to rewrite history yeeeeeeeesssssssssssssss it was a European thing. Then we have the Balkans.

    Blame Muslims as much as you want but your house is out of order and it is a fact that most people in Europe think so.

    Also if you knew anythign about opinions of people you would know that most Europeans regard Israel and Iran as the biggest threats and many hate the USA.

    Yes the Muslims need to put their house in order but that doesn’t mean your glass house is so good.

    The media twist things and always you people harp on about Muslims not speaking out – well they do but the media don’t cover it.

    If you knew about world events you would know that after 9/11 the worlds top Islamic scholars condemmed terrorism. If you knew anythign about world events you would know that Sheikh Bin Baz – Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia condemned Bin Laden and warned the West not to support him over 10 years before 9/11.

    So I suggest you look at the facts.

    As regards Israel – yes it is an issue to Muslims, and you people always portray Muslims as in the wrong. Europe committed the holocaust but land was taken not from Europe but from the Middle East. Why were holocaust victims not given land in Germany?? Why not is because the White man wanted to export the Jews and this was an opportunity. Historically Jews have thrived in Muslim lands more so than Europe. Simple historical evidence is clear about this and Jews are themselves proud of this. In fact most Jews distrust Christians because they feel their aim is to convert them.

    I suggest before you put your own stinking house in order a house which every one hundred years has committed attrocities against humanity.

  28. Chairwoman — on 11th April, 2007 at 9:00 am  

    Josh Arnold/Avi Cohen – Your ignorance of Jews and Israel is monumental. As I have said many times on this site, we have always yearned to return to Israel, not Uganda, Canada or Germany. We were not exported, we couldn’t get there quickly enough.

    Yes, Jews ‘thrived’ in Arab lands as second class citizens, and as soon as the State of Israel was declared were booted out unceremoniously in most cases, and forbidden to leave in others. Today the wonderful Islamic republic of Iran wheels out its tame Jews to jump up and down and praise the very regime which discriminates against it.

    And stop hiding behind Jewish names, you are not the sort of person I wish to be ethnically associated with.

  29. El Cid — on 11th April, 2007 at 9:05 am  

    Douglas, you’d trust me with foreign policy?
    Hmmm, maybe the responsibility and checks and briefings might discipline me, but maybe I’m also a little volatile.

  30. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 10:27 am  

    i agree with rumbold in no. 11.

  31. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 10:34 am  

    14- thanks for that point sunny it makes things clearer.

    so what you’re saying makes sense – which surely applies to everyone in the general public though – not just ‘muslims’ – i think that needs to be made crystal clear, otherwise people seem to think that being ‘muslim’ is somehow special to need a lobby group even if there is nothing specific to lobby for. anyone – whether they fall into what are considered ‘traditional’ minority groups or not – can set up a lobby group if they feel they have something to say and lobby for e.g. the environment, safety of pigeons, whatever.

    That = however – is not what the tone of zia’s article sounds like to me. it sounds like he subscribes to the idea that ‘muslims’ automatically need ‘leadership’. which can be interpreted as a point of view which sees ‘muslims’ as a monolithic group.

    it would be good if when people are writing these things they were clearer about these sorts of things.

  32. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 10:36 am  

    and there seems to be a general conflation of ‘muslim organisations’ and muslims.

  33. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 10:37 am  

    it’s these sorts of things that complicate different people’s perspectives on something like the NGN manifesto.

  34. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 10:44 am  

    I think generally what Zia is saying is positive and the stuff about ‘home being here’ and not some ‘imaginary homeland’ makes sense.

    but this bit –

    “but it will be necessary for Muslims to organize under a leadership that has a mandate and therefore authority not only to voice the concerns of the community but also to lead the community in the direction of integration and of making Britain home”

    again i see what he’s trying to get at – the bit about making Britain home – but i don’t know that i like the connotations of what he is saying about ‘organise’ and ‘leadership’ and ‘community’ and of course ‘authority’.

    seems like a backwards way of trying to do something positive. well its not one that appeals to me anyway. ive never been a fan of top-down concepts of community and leadership.

    if this is what NGN is going to sneak up on us then i would be rather wary.

  35. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 10:46 am  

    douglas clark 23 – you are funny you. :-) i wonder if bert preast has read it.. he’d have a laugh i’m sure..!

  36. Rumbold — on 11th April, 2007 at 10:54 am  

    Thanks Sonia. You make a good point in no.32 about the automatic equalling of Muslim with Muslim organization. Can non-Muslims lobby for Muslims on their behalf? How much legislation specifically affects Muslims up to the point that they need to press for a change in the law?
    Perhaps a good example would be the recent argument over open-air cremations for Hindus.

    Maybe Sunny is right about single-issue lobby groups. A permanent body is still a bad idea however.

  37. Arif — on 11th April, 2007 at 10:56 am  

    I am happy enough to support confident, articulate people who promote the principles and actions I also want to promote. I’ll make them my leader if that seems like it would help to organise to get things done effectively, so they will thereby get some authority for what its worth. Whether that means they have a “mandate” or “legitimacy” is something others will decide by their own values.

    The cynic in me thinks mainstream commentators will probably decide Arif’s leader is a nutter and they will continue calling for Muslim leaders with a mandate and authority to integrate Muslims in Britain on different terms. And I don’t think I’m as alienated as a lot of other Muslims.

    It will take quite a visionary, charismatic person to pull off the task Zia Haider Rahman is calling for. I can’t think of anyone on the UK political scene with that much skill and charisma in any community at the moment. But it would be nice.

    Just as it would be nice to have mainstream leaders with political mandates who I could really believe care about basic human rights. I can try to do my bit, but I can’t make it happen.

    I can spend plenty of energy doing my bit, but it is invisible in comparison to the bomb scare down the road or the media news story of the week. A leader who got access to the airwaves and the rhetorical skills to make more alienated Muslims feel comfortable integrating, without frightening the already (hyper)sensitive mainstream might be able to change the dynamic. But until then we all have to work invisibly while those with institutional positions react to atrocities with bland, diplomatic statements and efforts to undermine the supposed mandate of other parties to make their own bland statements. It’s the best we can do.

  38. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 11:06 am  

    36. rumbold – thanks – and good points. when you ask ‘Can non-Muslims lobby for Muslims on their behalf?’ that’s a good question. if the focus is on issue – rather than centring on a fixed bounded group – why shouldn’t it be?

    the analogy that comes to my mind is people supporting the right to freedom of sexual orientation. you don’t have to be gay to support that obviously – though they could be seen to form a group that is the most affected.

    surely this is just like any human rights issue? some are the core people who are affected – but they are not the only ones who may have an interest. Right? Otherwise the whole thing is a bit narrow and group-y group-y for my liking.

  39. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 11:06 am  

    if the focus is on an issue – i meant to say

  40. Rumbold — on 11th April, 2007 at 11:10 am  

    Exactly Sonia. After all, if groups had to be made up of the people they purported to represent, then it would be much more difficult to lobby on issues like Darfur (not that the present system is any good in that particular case).

  41. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 11:18 am  

    “I am happy enough to support confident, articulate people who promote the principles and actions I also want to promote. ”

    yeah that’s a good way of putting it

  42. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 11:20 am  

    40 – rumbold – yep!

  43. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 11:25 am  

    arif makes good points.

    though personally i am not at all sure about the whole ‘leader’ thing. i think the one strong leader idea is very conventional and very traditional and a big part of the problems to date – it goes wrong oh so easily. again a quick look through history shows this. power and authority just seems to go to people’s heads especially if they’re seen to be the one strong leader without whom nothing would have happened. which is always so rubbishy- change doesn’t happen because there is a charismatic figurehead. we seem to have socially conditioned ourselves through centuries of having ‘strong leaders’ to feel that a) we need a leader and b) that the leader does everything – gets all the credit. social change is made up of lots of different actions from lots of different individuals and institutions. but we seem to be really keen on the whole leadership idea – feed their ego, feed their wallets ( look at fat cat pay) etc. Perhaps i’ve been reading too much about anarcho syndicalism but..

  44. douglas clark — on 11th April, 2007 at 12:03 pm  

    Sonia,

    Your post 38 seems to me to be the way forward for society as a whole. It is completely wrong to think that there cannot be goodwill between people of different backgrounds and experiences. You do not have to have experienced torture yourself to think that sending off a fiver a month to Amnesty International is a good thing. I don’t know what their membership profile is like, but I’d imagine it’s a cross section of our society.

    I think too that talking up conflict with ‘the other’, is a far simpler tactic for gaining attention, money, status, what have you, than trying to actually solve problems.

  45. sonia — on 11th April, 2007 at 12:25 pm  

    yep douglas clark, good point about supporting Amnesty – and thanks – that’s very kind of you!

    the political representation thing seems to have somehow become mixed up with all this. i think representation itself is highly complex in that context – we’re working with a type of representation now which is clearly problematic – going to proportional representation would be an improvement, but i think generally we need an ‘overhaul’ – a re-examination of what we are about.


    about the goodwill thing. yeah i agree with you. one of the problems we seem to have a lot of now is this competition of who suffers most and people being annoyed if someone says something and they haven’t experienced it themselves.

    claiming victimhood seems to have become some kind of competitive sport nowadays.

  46. Katy Newton — on 11th April, 2007 at 12:28 pm  

    Douglas says I’m a sex bomb.

    He is without doubt one of the most sensitive, perceptive, insightful commenters on this site.

    I salute you, Douglas.

  47. Sunny — on 11th April, 2007 at 2:17 pm  

    The cynic in me thinks mainstream commentators will probably decide Arif’s leader is a nutter and they will continue calling for Muslim leaders with a mandate and authority to integrate Muslims in Britain on different terms.

    Well not really. The MCB was treated fine for years until people got sick of their silly remarks and the lack of any engagement outside saying ‘this is about Iraq only’ and then the govt realised that engaging with the MCB was actually a vote loser than a gainer. From 9/11 until about late 2005 the attitude towards the MCB had been remarkably sanguine.

  48. Arif — on 11th April, 2007 at 2:43 pm  

    Sunny, this illustrates my point. The MCB are fine while they fall into the bland and diplomatic category. When they say anything non-mainstream, they are labelled nutters.

    The MCB are, in any case, not who I would choose for my leadership. I would engage with them, just as I’d engage with you. But neither of you meet the rigorous demands of Arifitude, to represent the vision I yearn for. Or to be able to bridge the divides between social groups who feel threatened by one another by force of argument alone. Though you both try. And make an impact more effectively than me.

    What Zia is calling for is some sort of Martin Luther King type character. There aren’t many around. I certainly am not one. So you lot’ll do while I wait.

  49. Zia Haider Rahman — on 11th April, 2007 at 4:07 pm  

    I don’t know if a Martin Luther King is what British Muslims need but I do perceive a need (on the part of all of us as well as that of British Muslims) to accelerate in the direction of integration, and I see that agents for change are apparently thin on the ground. The sociology of cultural change in communities does not rely on great leaders, one supposes, but there is some evidence – and, at any rate, one must hope – that communities can be moved by good leadership. (There is, you’ll recall, that rather hackneyed phrase, ‘leading from the front’, which I always took to contain, among other meanings, a sense that leaders not only act as mouthpieces but can also serve the interests of a group by encouraging members of the group to entertain new ideas which they may, naturally as conservative human beings, approach with trepidation).

    The leadership I am advocating has less to do with authority to plead and represent and more to do with inspiration to bridge differences, internally and intercommunally, and motivate its own constituency.

  50. Avi Cohen — on 11th April, 2007 at 4:14 pm  

    Chairwoman – you are ignorant of the facts. Instead you throw around distortions and accusations to try and slur fact.

    I suppose Arabs/Muslims/Christians are not being treated as second class citizens in Israel. So the Shin Bet report must be wrong as of course you know better.

    What utter rubbish.

    It is a fact that some Jews wanted to go to Israel and some didn’t. In fact some of the more wealthy Jews in for example Iraq wanted to stay but were coerced by the Zionists to leave.

    As regards Germany – I don’t argure about the fact that some Jews wanted to go back – read what I said and get past your hatred. Why wasn’t Germany made to pay a price in land for it’s evil deeds. Part of Germany should have been handed over as compensation to the Jews who suffered instead they didn’t get anythign and had to fight for compensation which many never got as they passed away. Germany didn’t pay a high enough price for it’s brutality.

    BTW I am not hiding behind any name. It just makes you feel better to think that I do.

    It is a fact that Jewish history in the Muslim world is much richer than in the Christian and the fact that so many artefacts are preserved ina clear indicatuion that Jews flourished. Your political agenda means you just don’t want to accept this fact.

    Judaism as a whole though is making more of an effort to re-engage with the Muslim world. Many leading Jews acknowledge the fact they lived well under Muslims. For you to try and bring your twisted Pipes-Like politics brings shame upon history.

    I am more than happy to debate this directly with you, but simply listening to a twisting of history isn’t helpful and that is exactly what the neo-cons are doing.

  51. Avi Cohen — on 11th April, 2007 at 4:16 pm  

    BTW Chairwoman – no doubt you would label me as a self-hating Jew I would say I am a socially concious Jew who wishes good for everyone.

    I wish for contructive and honest dialogue and not based upon distorting history to impose a solution.

  52. Avi Cohen — on 11th April, 2007 at 4:28 pm  

    One question I have Chairwoman – if I am so misguided about Jews and Israel then please kindly explain why leading Reform Rabbi’s in the UK openly state that the state of Israel and it’s establishment is not central to Jewish belief?

    Further they state that the temples do not need to be rebuilt. They also state that this change in Judaism occurred at the same time as capital punishment was made exteremely difficult in Judaism.

    Further if you bothered to read all of what I said then I said that the policies of Israel should be debated, even the most ardent right wing supporters of Israel agree with this.

    Further as to the creation of Israel I didn’t question that I asked why Germany didn’t pay a price in terms of land.

    The creation of Israel is a fact before us – so please don’t try and distort issues by saying I question it’s existence. I question some policies which is my right.

    To my mind it doesn’t matter who does somethign wrong it is still wrong and at a human level we need to say so.

    You brought up Iran – and I say yes they are wrong too.

    Your arguments are similar to the neo-con artists who took people to war in Iraq. Now they say things are bad but not as bad as under Saddam. But thinsg are still bad. So the argument is stupid.

  53. bananabrain — on 11th April, 2007 at 4:57 pm  

    chairwoman auntie, i think you fed the troll.

    “avi cohen” (why not “moishe pupick” while you’re at it?) it’s amazing how your argument thread comes straight from the “Big Book Of How To Criticise Zionism Using Jewish-Sounding Arguments So It Sounds Less Prejudiced” as published by netureikartabooks, inc (pub. mr a.h. medinejad).

    why leading Reform Rabbi’s [sic] in the UK openly state that the state of Israel and it’s [sic] establishment is not central to Jewish belief?

    hehe. who would that be exactly? most of them are mates of mine, as it happens. if you’d had a decent education in the reform movement (as i did, incidentally) you’d know, of course, that while the early reform movement was anti-zionist (because finally, you see, the germans had learned to love us and we should just try and be good europeans!) one could hardly argue that the reform movement remained so for very long, albeit this has left them with profound disadvantages in the modern state as it is an orthodox monopoly. as a graduate of the reform zionist (yes, that’s right) youth movement rsy-netzer, i can tell you that the state of israel is affirmed both practically and ideologically as a good thing, despite the many criticisms that the reform movement makes of it. you can read about their approach here: http://www.reformjudaism.org.uk/about-us.html if you’re interested.

    as i can see i’m going to have to give you a lesson in reform judaism 101, whilst the *state* itself is not “central”, insofar as one can be fully jewish and have a fulfilled jewish life outside israel, it is correct to maintain that the establishment of a *nation-state* is not central to jewish *belief*. that is true – there is nothing in the Torah that says we should set up a *nation-state* in that area, but there is plenty of support for doing something a lot more “right-wing”, as it were. if you were to be looking, that is. but if you want to know if wishing the nation-state well and hoping it can come to peace, social justice and equality for all its citizens and its neighbours, then that is very much a part of reform judaism. but then, obviously you know all that, because that’s exactly what you meant.

    isn’t it?

    or did you actually mean “jews should leave israel, go back to germany and poland and ask them for their stuff back”? because that’s how the president of iran understands the point you seem to be trying to make.* and if you’re trying to sound jewish, it’s the worst impression i’ve ever seen. and trying to post “me too” posts with other jewish-sounding names is hardly the act of someone who is trying to argue the point.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

    * incidentally, of course, this ignores the jews from iran, syria, iraq and elsewhere in the ‘islamic’ world who were simply booted out in 1948 and lost every bit as much as the palestinians; i don’t see anyone in the middle east offering to host them when they return the land of israel to the “dar al-islam”.

  54. bananabrain — on 11th April, 2007 at 4:58 pm  

    and here’s an FAQ for anyone else who’s interested:

    http://www.reformjudaism.org.uk/faqs/reform-judaism/what-is-the-reform-position-on-israel.html

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  55. Sunny — on 11th April, 2007 at 5:03 pm  

    I’m sure this is an interesting discussion for you Avi, but frankly the validity (or not) of Israel and the history is irrelevant to the topic being discussed here. End of story. Any more posts on that off-topic discussion will simply be deleted after BB’s post at #54.

    I’d prefer a discussion stick to the points Zia and Arif have made above.

  56. Chairwoman — on 11th April, 2007 at 5:04 pm  

    Avi Cohen – At no time did I say that the Temple should be re-built. Are you truly going to pretend that there hasn’t been a 2000 year old desire by Jews to return to Israel?

    To the best of my knowledge Israel doesn’t do capital punishment, the exception being Eichman. I doubt very much that Christians are treated as second class citizens in Israel, equally I suspect that Arab Israelis don’t always get a fair crack of the whip.

    If you knew anything about my politics, you would know that I am in favour of a fair and negotiated 2 state solution. I am always amused when people equate support of Israel to neo-con or Daniel Pipes philosophies.

    Of course not all Jews wanted to go to Israel. Not all anythings want to go to the same place. That was just silly.

    What hatred am I supposed to get past by the way? As for you telling me that I am historically,wrong, I think that you are mistaken. I am old enough to actually remember more than a little of it.

    And as for you being a self-hating Jew, the one thing that you certainly don’t hate is yourself.

  57. Chairwoman — on 11th April, 2007 at 5:06 pm  

    Sunny – please don’t delete me, I cross posted but wanted to answer his points.

  58. bananabrain — on 11th April, 2007 at 5:12 pm  

    hurrah for zia and arif, it’s a jolly interesting discussion, let’s have more of it.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  59. Sid Love — on 11th April, 2007 at 5:49 pm  

    arifitude? like it

  60. Avi Cohen — on 11th April, 2007 at 7:41 pm  

    Sunny – You claim in About Us “Pickled Politics is here to provide a new range of progressive voices that previously, we feel, were not being represented.

    We want to influence and contribute towards change and building a more tolerant and pluralistic society. For that reason we are unafraid to criticise the establishment.”

    Yet if I say something you want to censor it and if Chairwoman or Bananabrain who may be one in the same person as they post so quickly after each other say something about me that is fair game and you allow it happily. Double standard!

    Is that tolerant?

    I don’t question the right of Israel to exist. It already does therefore it cannot be questioned.

    I simply raised the issue of the continuing media attacks and lopsided debates about Muslims with the lack of debate on Israel.

    I suppose as your website is also lopsided in its debates on Muslims then you don’t care as that is progessive voices that you want.

    If your site/blog was as progressive and tolerant as you claim to be then discussions about this issue should be fair game. In a time when Journalists such as Melanie Phillips write books such as Londonistan then questioning the amount of debate on issues should be valid.

    This suppression of debate and the hysteria you allow is similar to the approach taken when Jimmy Carters book was published and also when John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published their paper.

    If you say anything negative then you are automatically attacked and compared to reprehensible leaders.

    Obviously the aim of the website/blog and what happens in reality are two different things.

  61. Tahir — on 11th April, 2007 at 11:03 pm  

    Sunny

    I was making the point that no-group should be asked to show united leadership or single leadership.

    Muslims in particular can have diff alliegences; I wasn’t ranting, more like pointing out to the reactionary lines of arguments we are making if we insist on asking Muslims to show leadership as though they are somehow confused, misguided, or simply shouldn’t show heteregenity of voices. That goes against pluralist liberal values.

    I don’t understand medical analagies – it’s what charasmatic leaders use, and it doesn’t work on me.

    But point taken about talk about politics, not people, that was a cheap go at well – me trying to undestand why a human right advocate might preach to close civic liberties for Muslims.

  62. Sunny — on 11th April, 2007 at 11:30 pm  

    I was making the point that no-group should be asked to show united leadership or single leadership.

    Well, then you endorse my New generation network manifesto, which asks why minority groups are treated as being ‘represented’ by one or two groups chosen by the govt, right?

    I think some sort of organisations are needed, and I’ve explained why on #14. Then it’s down to those orgs not to get caught up in the govt’s agenda and stay merely as specifically lobbying bodies on specific issues, rather than trying to dictate how Muslims should be treated or represented (the MCB’s recent ‘guidance’ for teachers to deal with Muslim kids is an example of the MCB forcing the view that Muslims are different and need to be treated differently in all walks of life).

    Arif: The MCB are fine while they fall into the bland and diplomatic category. When they say anything non-mainstream, they are labelled nutters.

    I think it’s more than that because the MCB hasn’t changed its tone or views, and has in fact softened them over the past decade. Instead it was dropped because I presume the govt found it impossible to work with.

    If I’m Ruth Kelly and I keep asking the MCB how to defeat violent extremism, and the only answer they keep coming back with is saying – ‘change your foreign policy’, then neither is a good understanding of what is going on and neither is it positive engagement. That doesn’t mean completely ignore FP is an issue, but that there are other factors also at play here. The MCB doesn’t seem to know much all about that, or certainly does not see them as relevant issues.

    After all, the govt will work with someone it can work with, right? The MCB can still state its views – it has not been forcibly disbanded. But one cannot propose to work with the govt if one has nothing to offer in way of a constructive engagement. The govt has stopped working with the MCB presumably because they couldn’t actually engage with the MCB.

    This is also presumably why the Sikh and Hindu groups don’t get any funding even though they keep begging for it. Why would anyone want to fund Sikh and Hindu groups when there’s no need? Give them money for what? A car to drive around in?

  63. Tahir — on 11th April, 2007 at 11:49 pm  

    Sunny

    yes, mostly endorse what you say.

    The point about career asian is this. what do human rights advocates normally pledge to do? argue for more minority spaces, and usually less integration. You see my point? So it’s not the same as Asian person raising alarm bell on diebetes rates in south asian communities.

    It’s also about some MPs rising up the ladder on a Muslim ticket because they represent certain core Muslim constituency and suddenly given half a chance to become a blair babe/stud , they bash the very constituencies they seek to represent. That woud be an apt career Asian.

  64. Zia Haider Rahman — on 12th April, 2007 at 3:14 pm  

    Dear Tahir

    Thank you for your challenging contributions. There is much to consider but I will address one point raised repeatedly in certain passages, which I take the liberty of quoting here:

    “The point about career asian is this. what do human rights advocates normally pledge to do? argue for more minority spaces, and usually less integration”

    “But point taken about talk about politics, not people, that was a cheap go at well – me trying to undestand why a human right advocate might preach to close civic liberties for Muslims”

    “Maybe I am stupid but I thought human rights lawyers worked to increase the space for civil liberties?”

    I think you raise a very important point that goes to a deep tension and region of disquiet within the Western liberal tradition.

    The evolution of ideas of legal human rights (and I will simply state rather baldly here that any other notion of human rights is empty) has been a story of oppressed groups demanding fairer treatment at the hands of ruling elites: the new Americans against George III (although the Bill of Rights came later); John Stuart Mill for women’s emancipation; the black civil rights movement in the US leading to the Civil Rights Act and so on. The point I want to make is that legal human rights instruments have been an answer to particular historical conditions; they have been a response where pressure has been brought in light of compelling evidence of the suffering of individuals and groups of individuals by virtue of their group membership.

    But no one, not even the most ardent libertarian, would argue that a human rights framework is the beginning and end of what we need in order to bring about the good society that we all hope for, however we might conceive such a society. Social contract theorists would have something to say, for instance. At best, the human rights language is only a part of the vocabulary we need to describe and discuss how a society coheres, how a majority can come to feel under threat from a minority, what the constitutive elements are of a socially cohesive society, and so on.

    In recent years, particularly in light of Islamist atrocities, many western left-leaning liberals, social democrats, and others, who have long championed the cause of human rights, have come to focus on the obligations, rather than the rights, of individuals and minority groups (Christopher Hitchens famously). This tendency has had two dimensions. One is in the direction of formalizing obligations as law (or otherwise legally limiting existing freedoms – not only through legislation but also through budgetary policy instruments, for example) and the other lies in the direction of seeking to bring about cultural changes by mobilizing people and activating voices. To put it crudely, the latter aspires, among other things, to bring about a recognition of the civic non-legal obligations of immigrant communities, within those communities.

    It is important not to mistake an argument advocating greater personal and collective responsibility for one that would have government place limits on the space occupied by civil liberties. My own rather limited ambition, for instance, is merely to contribute to a discussion of cultural changes that I believe are necessary in order, some might say, to avert the day when Britons tear each others’ throats out, while the authors of human rights legislation stand by mocked. Atrocities are never far away.

  65. Azad — on 12th April, 2007 at 4:00 pm  

    Interesting article by Zia.
    Sunny – I tried to keep abreast of you spat with Inayat in the Guardian CiF blog in particular, but I suggest you concentrate on developing practical solutions and not aim at non-targets.

    I can’t help feeling that a lot of the above writers completely lack context – how many of you are regular mosque goers? or have had madrasa teaching? or know of people who do/have? There is a huge theological issue in Islam about moving away from literalism/dogma to a more fluid situationist ethic and this is, in my view, the differentiating factor between a Muslim who participates in a riot in Burnley/Oldham etc. (with no obvious religious motivation or difference with a white rioter in East London and so on) and a Muslim who sees it as his obligation to take up arms against enemies that are perceived to slaughter other Muslims.

    However, and quite helpfully, we can all appeal to the pragmatic nature of most Muslims and transcend theological debate for now, or at least not rock the boat (after all, we can’t wait several generations for change, we need action now) – ideas of how to reform mosques are welcome – we have several hundred mosques in the UK mostly served by a certain type of mullah that was educated by a system developed/influenced by the Deobandi and similar types of madrasa in the subcontinent. Where parents are hiring mullahs to teach their kids at home, it’s still the same type of mullah. Govts can offer various incentives/funding conditioned on the curricula/governance of mosques – for example, if scripture was provided in English translation, and lessons were in English and varied, and if women were involved in mosque governance, then govt could assist (there are a myriad of other practical solutions). At the moment, govt is constrained by naive, ill-informed sensitivity towards ethnic minorities (which is I believe the source of consternation for dogmatic anti-multiculturalists), and it is here where Muslims can and should speak up. Unfortunately, most Muslims are not bothered about Islamic education (as opposed to didactic teaching) and would not bother with reforming established institutions (probably would be seen as subversion). So how do we make Muslims aware and accept that this is a problem – this is the biggest hurdle – and I am afraid that the MCB and their like do not accept that that is a fundamental problem. We can’t wait for leadership, government has the locus, resources and duty to take a stand and make changes.

  66. Tahir — on 12th April, 2007 at 10:01 pm  

    Dear Zia

    Thanks for taking the time to respond – I am unable to write a considered response which I owe you as you have very kindly responded. I will respond later (I have to sadly prepare a paper for delivery tomorrow at a conference on Muslims this evening with little prep time..)If this is Ok with you – subject of human rights is very dear to me.

    For the moment I want to leave you with a thought to bear in mind.. Here are your closening lines:

    ” My own rather limited ambition, for instance, is merely to contribute to a discussion of cultural changes that I believe are necessary in order, some might say, to avert the day when Britons tear each others’ throats out, while the authors of human rights legislation stand by mocked. Atrocities are never far away.”

    Please compare this with another famous few words which were used against the idea of legal freedoms for black/minoirites in this country. There is a dangerous similarity to your words and his..

    “Here is the means of showing that the immigrant communities can organise to consolidate their members, to agitate and campaign against their fellow citizens, and to overawe and dominate the rest with the legal weapons which the ignorant and the ill-informed have provided. As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”

    T

  67. douglas clark — on 12th April, 2007 at 10:32 pm  

    Tahir,

    There is no similarity in the words.

    Enoch Powell said them in a confrontational way, Zia Haider Raman said them in the context of averting such a confrontation. There is a considerable difference, whether you can discriminate it or not.

  68. Tahir — on 12th April, 2007 at 10:57 pm  

    My point of comparison was on the status of legal freedoms in both these quotes so I am still going back to my original point about human rights advocate defending human rights.

    But Zia I am still intending to come back to your finer legal points.

    T

  69. douglas clark — on 12th April, 2007 at 11:06 pm  

    Tahir,

    My point is that there is a clear distinction between the legal status of these quotes. Perhaps you could get back to me too?

  70. douglas clark — on 12th April, 2007 at 11:13 pm  

    Tahir,

    To explain:

    That one is intended to incite, and that the other is intended to not incite. I shall be interested to read a fine legal distinction.

  71. Ms_XtReMe — on 12th April, 2007 at 11:41 pm  

    Basic did a great post about this on Current Affairs on Barficulture.

    I didn’t like the leadership of a Pakistani mosque I used to attend, to I just switched mosques and am attending a primarily African mosque.

    Leadership is crucial in religious matters. However, I bloody hell will not take responsibility for the extremists in my religious, culture, or race. People are responsible for their own actions. Guidance should be provided to groups of people, yes, but take responsibility for their actions.. no sir.

  72. Tahir — on 13th April, 2007 at 12:40 am  

    Douglas

    yes, you are quite right, one is intended to incite and the other not to incite and this is the basis of inciting racial discrimination in this country. However, Enoch Powell might argue that he wasn’t inciting racial hatred so difficult to know these days whether intention are relevant, too, as Big Brother is likely to argue, i didn’t know I was racist, so not inciting racial hatred.

    The point about Enoch Powell is that he was arguing against the Race Relations Act – not inciting racial hatred, as he would argue. To be fair, I am not a fan of his.

  73. Refresh — on 13th April, 2007 at 1:49 am  

    Well said Ms X.

    I notice that Mr Blair is now telling the ‘Black’ community that they are responsible for whatever it is they are responsible for.

    Ms Ruth Kelly will be coming along shortly, looking for alternative community groups to hook up. The current ones will have failed.

    Meanwhile the country is looking around for a sensible government to hook up to.

  74. Rowshan — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:01 am  

    Gun crimes I think it was. Tony Blair is telling black community to take responsibility for gun crime. Zia H is telling Muslims to take responsibility for Islamic atrocities.

    Hmmmm.

  75. Rowshan — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:04 am  

    Oh sorry forgot to say and we must ask all Jewish people to take responsibility for Zionism and Israeli atrocities.

    Actually New Labour isn’t saying this about Jewish people so the govt is capable of some distinction in these matters – not all minorities are equally mis-treated by the govt it seems. Perhaps it’s because my Jewish friends are so damn smart that New Labour dare not run the risk of upsetting clever folks.

    These Muslims and Blacks on the other hand – well, it’s the season for , as someone said on PP a long time ago.

  76. Kulvinder — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:23 am  

    I notice that Mr Blair is now telling the ‘Black’ community that they are responsible for whatever it is they are responsible for.

    Thread detraction, but he actually didn’t say that, and you can pretty much judge the quality of journalists/newspapers by those who put in the word ‘responsible’ or ‘responsibility’ wrt ‘community’

    His actual speech

  77. Chairwoman — on 13th April, 2007 at 8:31 am  

    ‘Oh sorry forgot to say and we must ask all Jewish people to take responsibility for Zionism and Israeli atrocities.

    Actually New Labour isn’t saying this about Jewish people so the govt is capable of some distinction in these matters – not all minorities are equally mis-treated by the govt it seems. Perhaps it’s because my Jewish friends are so damn smart that New Labour dare not run the risk of upsetting clever folks.’

    Are the ‘Israeli atrocities’ being committed in the UK by British citizens? NO. Perhaps that’s why Tony Blair isn’t telling us to take responsibility.

    I assure you that the day religious Jewish suicide bombers explode themselves in Central London taking 50 or so of their fellow citizens with them, and young Jews form gangs that go round demanding ‘respect’ at the end of a gun from each other, the world and his wife will start telling us to take responsibility.

    Not only did I consider that comment to be extremely silly, it was also pretty offensive. One of those occasions where being clever somehow manages to appear one of those distasteful attributes we Jews have, as in ‘You Jewish people are so clever. So good with money and stuff, whereas I…..ha ha ha’.

  78. Arif — on 13th April, 2007 at 10:30 am  

    In my mind, responsibility and power are related. Who has the power to make me the kind of Muslim Zia Haider Rahman would approve of?

    In the article he suggests that family elders can do so by emphasising that Britain is my home, not Pakistan. Personally I would find the insistence on a singular identity cut off from the rest of my family more alienating than liberating. But it may work for others.

    He suggests that “British Muslims” can do so by being self-critical rather than focusing on a perception of victimisation. I think we can say this about all of us as human beings. I do not see Muslims as more or less self-critical than other social groups – all of whom have their more arrogant and more humble members.

    He also says he wants a leadership with a mandate and authority to integrate me as well as voice my concerns. Which sounds a little woolly to me, as I don’t know who gives such a mandate in his eyes and because people currently voicing my concerns are usually considered dangerous nutters, one way or another, so they serve as a symbol of the impossibility of integration. They don’t have much power over how they are perceived, yet they are made wholly responsible for it. So to be successful in Zia’s terms they would need a degree of skill and charisma which is unfortunately rare.

    I agree that there are some things only we (as Muslims) have the power to do, and so the responsibility to do it. There are also some things we do not have the power to do, so let us accept we do not have responsibility for that. Neither is easy.

    It is tempting to go on about massive global injustices over which we are powerless and to shelter in the solidarity of fellow-believers, bolstering our self-confidence by idealising our own ways as somehow superior. It is a temptation for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. But Muslims are more likely to point out how problematic it is when non-Muslims engage in this rather than when they do it themselves, and vice versa.

    Pointing this out – this common imperfect humanity we share – is my miniscule contribution to integration. As such, people who point fingers unsympathetically are undermining my model of integration, in order to promote their own sincerely held models. As we all discharge our responsibilities in our ineffective ways, those with real power continue to throw people off their lands to build dams, frame trade agreements and debt repayment schedules that squeeze the poor, sell arms and credit to repressive regimes, practice or turn a blind eye to torture that they have the power to stop. Etc etc.

    But in the eyes of others my place is just to tell British Muslims to co-operate with the authorities because we are British. And although the MCB repeatedly says I should do this, they are no longer credible because they also talk about foreign policy and have not solved the problem of Islamic radicalism. So I need a new leader to make me integrate in a way non-Muslims will appreciate. Ho hum.

  79. Rowshan — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:36 pm  

    Chairwoman

    Tony Blair and others made lots of comments about Muslims in Britain taking more responsibility after 9/11. As I recall Osma Bin Laden wasn’t British.

    Point about Jewish analogy was not to cause offence but to show that all minorities are under risks of attacks but those better organised are able to pre-empt attacks form the state. You shouldn’t be so sensitive about calling Jewish people clever – you/they are. Historically speaking Jewish people are over-represented in intellegentsia of most countries.

    Muslims are taking rsponsibility – bt as i keep saying all Muslims shouldn’t tale more responsibility because because terrirists come from their midsts – sure you can take more responsibility fr your family as you might be joint-head of household – but there is no such thing as the Muslim family.

    It is very offence to keep being told Muslims must take MORE responsibility.

  80. Rowshan — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:42 pm  

    If Tony Blair did ask all Jewish people to take responsibility for terrorism committed by a fw Jewish individuals – again this wuld be offence so I suppose we take offence to different things?

    Me because I don’t like all minorities to be tained with brush of repsonsibility for crimes committed by individuals.

  81. Chairwoman — on 13th April, 2007 at 4:06 pm  

    Rowshan – If terrorism was committed here by Jews, not only would we expect to be told to take responsibility, but if I know our leadership and press, they’d be ready with the mea culpas before Tony Blair could open his mouth.

    And no, I wouldn’t take offence. Admittedly I wouldn’t have a clue what I personally could do to stop it, but I wouldn’t be offended.

  82. Rowshan — on 13th April, 2007 at 4:29 pm  

    That’s you as an individual perhaps who wouldn’t be offended which is OK. There may be other Jewish folks who will be offended. We’re all inviduals before Jewish, Muslim, Seikh and how we react to being tained by a brush of criminality because an indivual committed a crime is a subjective matter – not a matter of being Muslim or Jewish or Hindi group identity.

  83. Tahir — on 13th April, 2007 at 9:49 pm  

    Zia

    Thanks for bearing with me.

    Point taken that the evolution of legal human rights has come about as a result of minorities under pressure and have sought redress through legal channels.

    Accept that legislatin and legal form is only one part of the answer. The other is around people creating a common sense of belonging and wanting to cohere around a settlement – the welfaree state here is a good example of a social contract where rights and entitlements have translated into a reasonable set of welfare state rights.

    However, where I am likely to part with you is this. I think legal freedoms and human rights is the fundamental bedrock of any society that alleges to give minorities a stake – you will know that western traditions usually highlight individual rights relative to communitarian rights and this is one of the reasons why we constantly fall foul of bashing human rights in China/Singapore and Easter socieities. I am sticking to this narrow individual sense of rights against other traditoins for the moment.

    Now to put this in plain English analagy. Personally I don’t really care if members of the BNP cohere or want to cohere around a common set of values with me – what matters more to me is that there is an explcit legal guarentee of my rights. This is what makes me feel safe from racists in this country. They can have their opinions of pakis, blacks, or jews but the bottom line is that legal redress is available – though less so to certain faith groups perhaps.

    This is why in the work place for example there are colleagues who I would say resent the fact that upstarts and ‘brown’ folks like myself are jumping the queue of entitlement and meritocracy. Implicit in their attitudes is a pecking order or equal and more equal rghts. This isn’t written into law but is common in social attitudes. For example we might say all citizens of the UK have equal access to housing based on need but when non-white people are given housing according to need and some white workng class folks are still in the quueue then the idea of equality is suspended or revoked. These groups are coming in and taking services that we fought for in the War etc. So I would much rather prefer explicit gurantees to my freedom than look for coherence – which any case is not an achievable ideal. The idea that once Britain was cohesive and now it isn’t because of the foreigners is problematic and the onus on minorities to ‘integrate’ which is the crux of your argument I think is troubling.

    If this makes me a libertarian I am happy with that – libertarians would seem to offer me a staunchier defence of rights than New Labour does at the moment – which is what your arguments boil down to.

    What more do minorities need to do? They already don’t speak their mother tongues. They practice their religion in limited ways to avoid being stared at in public spaces – they do their best not to stand out etc. The question we might want to be asking is to the stronger party in the equation – what more can the majority do to be comfortable with difference – the history of empire has contributed to the right to welfare states here and so to ask new comers to stand in queue somehow loses sight of this important reality.

    Integration used to be terribly unfashionable after the Jenkins speech – and suddenly, post-9/11, it’s become fasionable. It’s noticable that human rights bodies such as liberty would distance themselves from such goals.

    Finally you allude that the majority is under threat or at risk…. I don’t recall many situations where the rights of majority are threatened by a weaker minority. Yes, there is 9/11 and 7/7 here but these are not the acts of minoritiers per se – but wacky individuals in the name of one religion. I would loathe to call something Islamic atrocities as again it implies an essentialist relation to the faith.

    My own limited understanding of human rights was that it evolved to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority which is what I see happening now and would’ve though human rights advocates of whatever persuation would suscribe to a mininum standard of universal human rights at least. Not push more onus and responsibility onto the very groups are are not capable of addressing the actions of terrorist indivuiduals or the actions of states and problematic foreign policy instruments. I wish I could feel that powerful but i am a drop in the ocean and this is why legal freedoms are so dear to me.

    The leading lights you mention Mill, Bentham, and others wouldn’t endorse much of your views and I guess I was trying to figure out where you are therefore coming from – if not from this camp. Christipher Hitchens is not a good example of western liberal theorists – last I heard he was politically and intellectually discredited, uncredible, coke snorting drunk these days – so not a good ally for your arguments.

    As to what is a good society … we are still looking for it so difficult to immortalise of idealise one just yet at the expense of asking one group or another. It reminded me of what Ghandi once said – British civilisation – that would be a fine thing to see. In its absense we mustn’t start asking other groups to fit into a mythical view of what that society or civilisation might be.

  84. Refresh — on 13th April, 2007 at 10:53 pm  

    Kulvinder

    “Thread detraction, but he actually didn’t say that, and you can pretty much judge the quality of journalists/newspapers by those who put in the word ‘responsible’ or ‘responsibility’ wrt ‘community’”

    I presume you meant distraction, which it is not.

    There is a double story to everything the spin machine puts out. There is the actual speech and then there is the guidance on how it should or could be interpreted by the media. Briefings.

    What the Black community sees and hears from this message is what the message is – unless Blair would claim to be misrepresented – which is the message I heard.

    The point I was trying to get across is the hapless way the Blair machine always picks on those weakest – and does not take responsibility for anything.

    You may not see it that way – but believe me there are plenty of people out there who have seen through him.

    See also the Clairwil thread on the working-class.

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