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  • The Islamist


    by Sunny
    9th May, 2007 at 9:48 am    

    Over at his blog, Yahya Birt has written an excellent review of the book The Islamist, by Ed Hussain, which looks vastly more informed than Melanie Phillips’ pisspoor Londonistan or Michael Gove’s Celsius 7/7. These bits are worth highlighting.

    The most important insights arise from Husain’s period of involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir at a time when it was under the leadership of Omar Bakri Mohammed. Riding on the back of anti-Saudi sentiment during the first Gulf War in 1990, Hizb ut-Tahrir began to have a serious impact. Its confrontational tabloid style excited Muslim students looking for easy answers to Western double standards and the new Salafi missionaries from Saudi Arabia. The control of Islamic student societies would oscillate between Islamists and apolitical Salafis, leaving few alternatives to a crude, despiritualised, angry and self-righteous take on Islam. Husain’s judgement that Hizb ut-Tahrir, under Bakri’s inspiration (who was later to found the splinter al-Muhajiroun), did more to inculcate the spirit of jihad, anti-West sentiment, anti-democractic politics, and passionate support for the cause of the umma, the Muslim supernation, than anyone else is essentially correct.

    This is a delicate and difficult debate. Husain makes the case for banning Hizb ut-Tahrir on the basis of his personal journey rather than considering the political implications as carefully as he should have done.

    The other serious point that Husain raises is about responsibility for rhetoric. To put it simply, the angry anti-West rhetoric of the period of colonial struggle (Mawdudi) or of postcolonial resistance (Qutb and Nabhani), without a controlling contextualisation, cannot be idly placed in the hands of young British Muslims.

    I hope to carry on this debate about what should be done with Hizb ut-Tahrir later this week. But Yahya’s essay is definitely worth reading.


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    Filed in: Current affairs,Muslim,Organisations






    47 Comments below   |  

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    1. sonia — on 9th May, 2007 at 1:13 pm  

      Interesting. i’m sure everyone will put their own ‘slant’ on this - for me having been to uni in the mid-90′s it’s quite revealing.

    2. ChrisC — on 9th May, 2007 at 1:17 pm  

      He ends the review by saying “the younger generation have (sic) absorbed the lessons of the excesses of the early Nineties in order to avoid them.”

      Has it?
      How old were the 7/7 bombers in the early nineties?
      And are the attitudes of the younger generation on average “harder” now?

      It’s a very articulate but not terribly convincing essay.

    3. Yahya Birt — on 9th May, 2007 at 1:49 pm  

      Dear Chris C,

      I should have been clearer in that final sentence. I’m talking about the mainstream Muslim activist scene. The radicalised fringe is still around, but has gone more underground since 9/11.

      The community voice is important here. Some of us spent years trying to stop Hizb ut-Tahrir spreading its influence in our communities in campuses and outside. At City Circle, a debating organisation that I help to run, we’ve had to put up with al-Muhajiroun (when they were still legal) and Hizb ut-Tahrir disrupting our meetings, particularly when we invited speakers who took their ideas head on.

      Unfortunately from a counter-terrorist perspective, while a radicial fringe may be small in relation to the rest of the Muslim community, you don’t need that many people in that fringe to have a huge political, policing and intelligence problem.

      Both propositions are true: we have a radical fringe and the mainstream of young Muslim activists have become increasingly innoculated from their arguments over a long period, even if political grievances may still be exploited by recruiters in the post-9/11 environment.

      Regards, Yahya Birt

    4. ChrisC — on 9th May, 2007 at 3:20 pm  

      Thanks for your response.

      What would you say the “mainstream of young Muslim activists” is now concerned with?

    5. Jagdeep — on 9th May, 2007 at 3:23 pm  

      Husain also reports of “off-duty” excursions to help out Muslim gangs in their turf wars with Sikh gangs in Slough and West London.

      Oooh, this book goes straight on my list of ‘to buy’.

      Glad that these dickwads are getting exposed by one of their own. Give him an award or something.

    6. Yahya Birt — on 9th May, 2007 at 3:29 pm  

      A lot of the usual cultural issues that play out in the community, defining a relevant British Islam, worries about some of the hostility towards them because of the terrorism issue, and many of the other normal issues young people have. A good place to start is muslimyouth.net which picks up a lot of the issues. Well worth checking out. Muslim Youth Helpline, which runs the site, offers a national service, but most of their clients hail from London and the SE.

      Rgds Yahya

    7. Jagdeep — on 9th May, 2007 at 3:33 pm  

      Everyone goes through shit, it’s not like Sikhs or Hindus or Black youth don’t get racism, identity issues, the key is to keep the self pity and victimhood complex to a minimum so that the right wing dickwads don’t groom them and fill them with hate and blame. Go and watch ‘This is England’ it tells you alot.

    8. Kismet Hardy — on 9th May, 2007 at 3:57 pm  

      I tried to get into a radicalised fringe, but I got sacked. Apparently angry plotting Muslim kids don’t want the Flock of Seagulls look when they go for a haircut

    9. Jagdeep — on 9th May, 2007 at 4:01 pm  

      hahaha

    10. sid — on 9th May, 2007 at 4:57 pm  

      Fascinating stuff Yahya. A superb review of a must-read book. I remember those heady days of head on scraps with the Hizbut deadheads in the courtyards of various university buildings in the early 90s. Often with Yahya himself.

    11. William — on 9th May, 2007 at 8:36 pm  

      “The control of Islamic student societies would oscillate between Islamists and apolitical Salafis, leaving”

      I must admit that I am surprised at this because I attended weekly Islamic Society meetings at University for a semester during about 2002 and if anything they were all a bit too shy. This is not that I don’t believe Jagdeeps accounts of encounters with some more militant Muslims at University or some of the stuff that’s been shown on TV about infiltration into Islamic Socities by certain groups.

    12. Jagdeep — on 9th May, 2007 at 11:01 pm  

      Anyone feeling happy and want to feel depressed? Anyone feeling optimistic and want to be frightened and saddened? Watch this week’s Panorama about the divide between Muslims and Whites in Blackburn. Just finished watching it and feel miserable now. The link only works for the next 5 days.

      Panorama - Blackburn

    13. William — on 9th May, 2007 at 11:08 pm  

      Saw it the other night and yup! it was depressing. Disappointing that few whites were interested in the new housing development because of the area.

    14. Bert Preast — on 9th May, 2007 at 11:10 pm  

      I watched that last night. The thing that really got my goat was why with all their bottomless pit of money the BBC cannot stream anything in larger than a 2 inch window, ffs?

      For what it’s worth, I came away from the viewing feeling that if only muslims popped to the pub or down the working men’s club once in a while, all this might have been avoided. Now we are going to end up with muslim towns and non muslim towns, and that’ll do no one any good. It’s only going to get owrse, isn’t it?

    15. Jagdeep — on 9th May, 2007 at 11:13 pm  

      It is going to get worse Bert. To be honest, it really does seem much more grim oop north. There just doesnt seem to be this many problems down south, on the same apartheid scale, at least with Indians and whites. There might be tension, but ooop north seems to be almost intractable. That’s why it is a revelation to me to see this.

      I’ll tell you what, after watching this show, I believe that Jack Straw was 100% right in his comments about the veil in his town.

    16. Jagdeep — on 9th May, 2007 at 11:16 pm  

      Imagine in twenty or thirty years, when my kids are my age, that there will be 100% Muslim towns and cities in some parts of the country, with little or no mixing, a de facto self imposed apartheid society. What a depressing, frightening thought.

      Also notable — younger Muslim generation in their towns are more separatist than their parents and grandparents in many ways.

    17. Bert Preast — on 9th May, 2007 at 11:46 pm  

      Notable also was the priest who’d worked in apartheid Capetown - and said he’d never seen segregation like this.

    18. Bert Preast — on 9th May, 2007 at 11:56 pm  

      Here we have the locals discussing the program:

      http://www.thisislancashire.co.uk/news/localnews/display.var.1381449.0.tv_portrays_a_divided_town.php

      Well to be fair there we have the white locals discussing it. The muslim locals seem to discuss things somewhere else for the most part - if they can’t argue with each other because they don’t even read the same news or watch the same telly there is indeed little hope for a simple solution.

      Only place I found muslims discussing the program was, predictably, MPAC:

      http://forum.mpacuk.org/showthread.php?t=26836

      But to be fair there are more than a few voices of reason there for a change. Is there a glimmer of hope after all?

    19. jamal — on 10th May, 2007 at 1:36 am  

      My one question is whether he’s still a Muslim?

      If he is ill read it, if he’s not Im not interested, as I said here;

      http://desicritics.org/2007/05/07/002331.php

    20. Anas — on 10th May, 2007 at 1:41 am  

      The daily islamist would be a good name for a newspaper.

    21. douglas clark — on 10th May, 2007 at 1:50 am  

      Anas,

      Do you not find it just as depressing as I do?

    22. Anas — on 10th May, 2007 at 1:59 am  

      Now we are going to end up with muslim towns and non muslim towns, and that’ll do no one any good. It’s only going to get owrse, isn’t it?

      Yeah, we know which ones are gonna be the party towns and which aren’t.

    23. Anas — on 10th May, 2007 at 2:00 am  

      Yeah Douglas, but then a lot depresses me.

    24. Anas — on 10th May, 2007 at 2:02 am  

      Like for example, anyone see that program on Roy Chubby Brown the other day? What a piece of slime.

    25. douglas clark — on 10th May, 2007 at 2:15 am  

      Anas,

      post 24,

      I was disgusted. It still depresses me that people cannot get along together.

      The Roy Chubby Browns of this world are preacher boys for racist scum.

    26. Sunny — on 10th May, 2007 at 4:27 am  

      It is going to get worse Bert. To be honest, it really does seem much more grim oop north. There just doesnt seem to be this many problems down south, on the same apartheid scale, at least with Indians and whites.

      Mmmmm…. I’m not exactly convinced. Segregation is only a problem if it leads to further lack of trust between communities. I think there are plenty of efforts afoot to change this.

      The social pendelum always swings the other way eventually.

    27. soru — on 10th May, 2007 at 10:13 am  

      Yeah, we know which ones are gonna be the party towns and which aren’t.

      Depends on how wild you like your parties.

    28. Bert Preast — on 10th May, 2007 at 10:49 am  

      Sunny, there are indeed plenty of efforts afoot to change the lack of trust. But they all just seem to be exacerbating it.

    29. sonia — on 10th May, 2007 at 10:54 am  

      ha that was a good post - having lived in Dhaka i know just what the bloke meant!

    30. Jagdeep — on 10th May, 2007 at 12:05 pm  

      Sunny, the level of acute segregation in the mill towns is greater in impact than it is in London or the Midland cities, which at least have the size and populace to dilute (at the present moment) the intensity of the apartheid situation arising.
      Either way, it depends on whether you’re a glass half full or half empty kind of guy. A dose of Blackburn makes you feel like it’s half empty, other things half full.

    31. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 14th May, 2007 at 11:42 am  

      Much respect to Yahya Birt’s sober review of this book and his handling of the comments posted. I look forward to reading this book and it helping me understand the mindset that drove the 7/7 bombers into doing what they thought was right.

      Meanwhile I’m disappointed to note that our Islamic apologists on this board have not come forward to to Bush and “Bliar” on this thread. At the very least I would have thought that we would have heard the chorus of:

      Scab!
      Uncle Tom!
      Sell out!
      Opportunist!

      .. just like what happened on Cif. Shoot the messenger.

      But no I guess we’ll have to wait until we hit a populist Muslim hot button issue like Iraq / Israel / cartoons / failed terror raid / hijab ban before the faithful step forward again, because Islamism and its links to terrorism is appears to be only of interest to us 4.5 billion non-Muslims. To Muslims it causes acute sense embarrassment and an urge to focus on problems outside the community.

      I would really like to believe that there is a discussion somewhere about this within the Muslim community, if so it isn’t happening here.

      Still I’m sure the MCB and their friends in HuT are on the case trying to discredit and bury this all right now.

      TFI

    32. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 14th May, 2007 at 11:51 am  

      The social pendelum always swings the other way eventually.

      Does it? I suggest reading the chapter “Colonization of Culture” in the excellent book “Critical Mass” by Philip Ball about the mathamatical models that result in the formation of ghettos.

      Basically it says that integration fails where there is a low intersection of values, even when individuals are quite happy to live in a multicultural society they naturally start to clump together.

      The simplistic model he describes may well be wrong but it produces the results that we are seeing in the real world. A belief that it will swing back the other way is just that, a belief.

      TFI

    33. Jagdeep — on 14th May, 2007 at 12:11 pm  

      Hi Amir :-)

    34. sonia — on 14th May, 2007 at 12:25 pm  

      haha tfi - yes where is the chorus? bit boring that they haven’t showed up. i dont think there is much discussion really apart from denial and some vague acknowledgement that they ( potential bombers etc.) have some funny ideas from somewhere… Where exactly not too many people really want to know because that might challenge their own beliefs and they might find unpalatable facets to their religion.

    35. Jagdeep — on 14th May, 2007 at 12:32 pm  

      Well this isnt really a place where that kind of person who would rant at Ed Hussain comes Sonia. They might be intimidated or something. So the expectation is not fulfilled.

    36. Refresh — on 14th May, 2007 at 1:28 pm  

      What facets do you have in mind?

    37. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 14th May, 2007 at 1:31 pm  

      It would restore ones faith in human nature and the Islamic mindset if some of them stepped forward to talk about the book in a positive light. The complete absence of this sort of dialoge to be found anywhere on the internet, the papers, on the street, in the corridors of power is utterly shameful.

      Oh I forgot … its the MEDIA that makes them look bad with a COMPAIGN of BIAS driven by a ZIONIST agenda.

      I wonder if Ed Hussain has to live in hiding now?

      TFI

    38. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 14th May, 2007 at 1:33 pm  

      Refresh, my old chum!

      What do you think of this book and its message? Have you read it? Do you intend to do so?

      TFI

    39. Refresh — on 14th May, 2007 at 1:38 pm  

      Hello TFI

      Not sure. Have you read it? And what do you make of it?

    40. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 14th May, 2007 at 4:42 pm  

      I’ve my copy on order. I’m certainly enjoying the fall out about it that is happening all over the web and Sunny’s link to the review above made it sound very interesting.

      Broadly anything like this is good, it isn’t pleasent having your dirty washing laundered in public, no body likes a whistle blower but if there is one Western Value that must be upheld, this is the protection of the whistle blower and their right to speak against the majority within any group.

      I suspect now that one person has stepped forwards with his personal account there will be plenty more. Perphaps with these accounts it might help suck the poison and the fear from both sides of the debate.

      TFI

    41. Sunny — on 14th May, 2007 at 5:55 pm  

      Does it? I suggest reading the chapter “Colonization of Culture” in the excellent book “Critical Mass” by Philip Ball about the mathamatical models that result in the formation of ghettos.

      There are plenty of good books that disagree with each other on the basis of statistics and ‘models’. And I’d also say, the human experience is not so easy to put into models when there are so many diff variables.

      If the Panorama doc showed one thing, it was that whites were as willing to ‘integrate’ as the Muslims Asians were. Times will hopefully heal that, and better dialogue :)

    42. soru — on 14th May, 2007 at 9:45 pm  

      The Guardian’s Racial Holy War agenda really comes through strongly in the coverage of this book. 3 articles covering it, 3 hack jobs without a single sentence between them acknowledging there could perhaps be a word of truth said in criticism of AlMuh or HuT.

      Someone should tell them that there is a point where increased hatred and violence stop generating paper sales and start compromising your ability to sell to both sides of the war you stirred up.

    43. jamal — on 15th May, 2007 at 1:23 am  

      http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/islamophobia-watch/2007/5/14/the-islamist-bogeyman.html

      http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/taji_mustafa/2007/05/the_islamist_bogeyman.html

    44. Sunny — on 15th May, 2007 at 1:30 am  

      Well, taking the word of Taji Mustafa, a pseudo-intellectual HuT activist is hardly going to be easy.

      Yahya has still done the best job. This week’s New Statesman have an edited-down version published.

      either way, the consensus seems to be that the book has caused many people to get worried about HuT, especially in govt. Mustafa’s pathetic bleatings on CIf aren’t gonna save his ass.

    45. jamal — on 15th May, 2007 at 1:38 am  

      ok. i dont know too much about, mustafa, so il take your word for it. he makes intresting points though.

    46. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 15th May, 2007 at 9:04 am  

      Times will hopefully heal that, and better dialogue

      Lets hope so, but don’t you think that are expecting a lot from just one newspaper? ;-)

      TFI

    47. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 15th May, 2007 at 9:05 am  

      Jamal, thanks for the link that was the comedy I was looking for. Laugh? I nearly cried …

      TFI

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