How Islam got political


by Sunny
10th November, 2005 at 6:43 pm    

Aminul Hoque, a 28-year old journalist and PhD student, says that although support for violence is low, alienation has grown steadily in his Muslim neighbourhood in London’s East End. “This resentment, this level of anger aimed towards anybody who is a non-Muslim has been there for a long time.”

A bit of a ‘things-to-watch’ roundup today – plenty of food for thought.

1) Frank Gardner presents Koran and Country: How Islam got Political on BBC Radio Four, tonight at 8pm. Journalist Ehsan Masood, campaigner Asghar Bukhari, Cosh Omar, a former member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and Omar Faruk, a member of the Islamic Society of Britain. They describe how events like the war in Bosnia, The Satanic Verses affair and the Israel/Palestine situation have politicised British born Muslims.

The article illustrates how religious leaders use controversies to gain power. I’m sure we’ve seen recent examples from the Sikh and Hindu communities.

2) If you’re horrified by Radio 4 giving a platform to Hizb-ut-Tahrir, don’t worry. Ziauddin Sardar, who we love here on Pickled Politics, has written an article for New Statesman on the violence behind the facade. Via Mr T.

3) On a lighter note Morgan Spurlock, of Supersize Me fame, is presenting an edition of 30 Days tonight at 8pm on More 4.

Dave Stacey, a 33-year-old insurance salesman who loves pork will go and live with a Muslim family for 30 days. When asked what he pictures when he hears the word ‘Muslim’ he says: “I picture men with an AK47, and women with a sheet over their heads”.

Call it Religion-Swap if you will. I’m sure there’s a whole series in there just on that topic.


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Filed in: Current affairs,Race politics,Religion,The World






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  1. Siddharth — on 10th November, 2005 at 10:48 pm  

    What is the Islamic Society of Britain? I recall Omar Faruq, from back in the day, as being one of the seniors of that group of fuckwits, the HT. Has he jumped ship to lead his own org?

  2. rizwand — on 10th November, 2005 at 10:51 pm  

    Just saw the 30 days episode. It was brilliant. Spurlock has really done well since Fast Food Nation.

    I’m not feeling the handle-bar moustache though!

  3. Sunny — on 10th November, 2005 at 11:37 pm  

    That handle-bar moustache is excellent! He’s from pure redneck country but the guy is so clued up and creative – respeck’!

    btw, you mean Supersize me, not FFN. that was written by someone else. though a great book.

  4. rizwand — on 11th November, 2005 at 12:25 am  

    Oops … yes, supersize me!

  5. Siddharth — on 11th November, 2005 at 12:49 am  

    Speaking of rednecks, what about that guy in the 30days documentary when asked what he would do if he heard the Islamic call to prayer replied “Play Tom Petty and Duran Duran. Its my right as an American”.
    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!!!
    So that must also be the torture they’re using on those poor blighters in Montanamo?! Poor bastards.

  6. shihab — on 11th November, 2005 at 1:34 am  

    audio-torture method I think it’s called. They play metallica and sesame street to crush the insurgent’s spirits.

    Camp X-Ray ‘soldier’: Do you know where Osama Bin Laden is?

    Insurgent: No.

    Audio Torture tape: For whom the bell tolls, Time marches on, For whom the bell tolls

    Insurgent: I tell you I don’t know, please turn that infernal racket off

    Audio torture tape: You see, frogs are green, and I’m a frog. And that means I’m green, you see? It’s not easy being green…

    Insurgent: Okay, okay. He’s in peckham.

    Camp X-Ray soldier: Ha ha. Now I’m off to stare at some goats

  7. made in America — on 11th November, 2005 at 3:11 am  

    Good to see you have such a light hearted view of the war the world is engaged in. Hell, muslims only blew up 3 hotels in the name of islam yesterday. Lets make some jokes about America. I’m repeatedly convinced the only answer to terrorism is a massive reduction in the muslim population via nuclear bombs.

  8. shihab — on 11th November, 2005 at 3:22 am  

    the world wasn’t engaged in a war until america started involving the world in their war. but hey, since we’re talking funny, how ’bout that funny chemical smell in fallujah, eh?

  9. Bikhair — on 11th November, 2005 at 3:49 am  

    Made in America,

    You give us Americans a bad name. Thankfully British people are more savy than that.

    “I’m repeatedly convinced the only answer to terrorism is a massive reduction in the muslim population via nuclear bombs.”

    Considering that most terror attacks kill Muslims I think you should donate to Al Qaida.org FAST. In fact why not join thier organizations. They kill for evil and as it turns out so would you.

    sincerely, Born in the USA.

  10. made in America — on 11th November, 2005 at 4:00 am  

    So America started the war? It wasn’t 9/11, it wasn’t the iran hostages, it wasn’t the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, the 93 WTC bombing, the Marine barracks in beirut… Nope, it was America. And it’s also Americas fault that everywhere in the world where there are muslim majorities, the governments are undemocratic and the people are poor.

  11. made in America — on 11th November, 2005 at 4:09 am  

    No born, the english are still living in a politically correct fantasy world. Of course there are wonderful muslims, and of course it’s easy to condemn me as a racist or a hick. But the world needs to fave a serious reality. Muslims have bombed the UK, Spain, America, Russia, Jordan, Egypt, Bali, India, and then some. The whole world is at war with these people. And so called mainstream muslims are more pissed off at jews than they are at mass murder in the name of their religion. Islam has a major problem, and it’s doing nothing to defeat it.

  12. Ian — on 11th November, 2005 at 4:27 am  

    It’s not only for (diplomatic) political reasons that Islam gets political. ‘Moral’ ones, too, and the desire to deny other people their human rights and to control their private lives.

    Since the Tory Party and the Labour Party aren’t right-wing and authoritarian enough, lobby groups like the Muslim Council of Britain step up to try and exert pressure on the democratic process.

    If this country ever gets round to equality – which has been hindered by religious groups and bolstered by the prejudices instilled by religious education of all shades – it’s going to be ugly if, say, a gay marriage bill ever goes through parliament.

    I guess the MCB will then make strange bedfellows with other bigots like the (evangelical Christian) Conservative Family Campaign. This isn’t helped by the Labour Party’s love affair with what it calls “faith groups.” It means that Labour will listen to people’s prejudices and take them into account rather than telling them to piss off and crawl back under their rock, as it would surely do with BNP activists.

    As a sideshow, if you can rouse people’s hatred and prejudice, they’ll probably go along with what you say about other things they don’t really have an opinion about. So it’s a useful demagogic tool that religious groups can use just like the BNP. “I don’t know much about economics/international politics,” the unthinking listener might say, “but I like what they’re saying about these people, so they’re probably right about that, too.”

    And of course, decent Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and others don’t get onto these political faith groups that have the ear of government. It’s always the bigots, the race-baiters, the shysters…

  13. Ian — on 11th November, 2005 at 4:37 am  

    Of course, the government shouldn’t be listening to religious lobbies any more than it should be listening to atheist/agnostic/deist lobbies.

    If a religious group has particular expertise, by all means call on it. But religious groups of any stripe shouldn’t have preferential treatment in Whitehall just because they’re people who pray.

    So the government itself is fostering the politicisation of Islam, or the rise of political Islam, or whatever the programme called it, by saying they’ll listen to them as lobby-group Muslims but not as bog-standard constituents, when the fact they might be Muslim doesn’t count.

    Heck, maybe I too should invent a religion and form a council. Then the government will have to listen to my half-baked opinions on everything under the sun as well.

  14. Sunny — on 11th November, 2005 at 4:47 am  

    Heck, maybe I too should invent a religion and form a council. Then the government will have to listen to my half-baked opinions on everything under the sun as well.

    Heh, I’m with you on that one Ian. It is true, and we have said many times here, the govt’s obsession with faith groups is really backward looking.

  15. made in America — on 11th November, 2005 at 4:56 am  

    Don’t know how it is in the UK, but in America the zealots tend to be on the anti-religious side. I’ve never been religious, but I support the “far right” just because the left tends to be such assholes. We actually have people bringing lawsuits against schools because the valedictorian mentioned god in her graduation speech. That’s just too much.

  16. Ian — on 11th November, 2005 at 5:02 am  

    Heh, Sunny…


    UK faith groups have much to offer in helping to deliver sustainable development. Rooted in their locality over generations [?!], defined by a strong, shared set of non-materialistic values, and experienced in working together with trust and respect, faith groups are well-placed, both in outlook and practice, to influence and deliver sustainable development at all levels.

    From the Sustainable Development Commission.

    Is there no half-assed government initiative that the government won’t use to have a tryst with its beloved ‘faith groups’?

  17. Sunny — on 11th November, 2005 at 5:07 am  

    shared set of non-materialistic values
    Heh, they clearly don’t know about the Asian community and their competitions to dress the best or buy the latest BMWs.

    I’ve never been religious, but I support the “far right” just because the left tends to be such assholes

    Sounds like an excuse to me mr made in america. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the left, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to join the nazi groups. Try being an individual maybe?

  18. shihab — on 11th November, 2005 at 8:42 am  

    Made in America: ‘So America started the war? It wasn’t 9/11, it wasn’t the iran hostages, it wasn’t the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, the 93 WTC bombing, the Marine barracks in beirut… Nope, it was America.’

    I know more politically savvy could trounce you far better, but I’d just like to point out:

    If I were to rob your family and push you around for years on end, only for you to snap one day and throw a petrol bomb through my window, only for me to retaliate by killing your family and their families, it’d still be my fault.

    And what would a far right guy like you do? Lie back and take it? No, you’d make bigger petrol bombs.

    If you’re so proud of America, why the fuck can’t you people just stay there and not go pissing on other people’s territories time and time and time again?

  19. Don — on 11th November, 2005 at 10:50 am  

    Made in America: ‘So America started the war? It wasn’t 9/11, it wasn’t the iran hostages, it wasn’t the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, the 93 WTC bombing, the Marine barracks in beirut…’

    What has any of that got to do with Iraq?

  20. blue mountain — on 11th November, 2005 at 2:26 pm  

    Post No. 18 ..Shihab

    “Made in America: ‘So America started the war? It wasn’t 9/11, it wasn’t the iran hostages, it wasn’t the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, the 93 WTC bombing, the Marine barracks in beirut… Nope, it was America.’

    I know more politically savvy could trounce you far better, but I’d just like to point out…:”

    I do not think blaming America for ills is a cure. Muslims should start jihad against their rulers and outdated cultural and religious practices. The world should learn from China and India.

    Hindus have learnt this so have the chinese.These two countries were long oppressed by invaders. Now united after centuries the furure indeed looks bright for India and China.

    America is doing what suits it’s interests and it’s record is much better than any imperial power.(Japanese are America’s best friend even after Hiroshima and Nagasaki—for those who shed crocodile’s tear over nuclear holocaust)

    Prof Amar Bose of Bose Corporation points out as far as recognising talent for as it is regardless of colour and class there is no country like the US. Indian sillicon valley entrepreneurs all agree to this fact.

  21. Col. Mustafa — on 11th November, 2005 at 2:30 pm  

    hehehe.
    If hes a bin laden wannabe your Bush wannabe, i dunno which is worse.
    I think you should answer Dons question.

    And for the record do you understand that theres always 2 sides of the story maybe even 17 given the amount of spinning that goes on in the world.
    So just saying look at 9/11 or the iran hostage situation doesn’t really reflect what actually happened in those situations nor why they came about in the first place.

    You do understand also that idiots like you are among muslims also, and they will just repeat stuff like look at the iraq war, or palestine, or Guantanmo bay to justify there arguments in the same way you are.
    So it doesn’t help the situation.

  22. made in America — on 11th November, 2005 at 5:40 pm  

    First of all, the fact that you equate Bush to bin laden makes it clear that you’re irrational. There’s little point in arguing with someone so brainwashed as to actually believe that.

    Secondly, stick your reasons and motivations, and America did this 20 years ago and that 5 years ago, where the sun don’t shine. That’s all about your desire to make excuses for the inexcusable. Muslims were murdering in the name of islam long before Bush and long before Iraq. The bottom line is simple; Islam has fostered a culture of backwards thinking where muslims put the laws of their religion above the laws of man. It has to stop. And as long as muslims continue to blow up innocents, the world needs to treat this scourge as a war. It IS a war. They were real bombs in those hotels, and real dead people. You don’t fight that with words or understanding.

  23. The Don — on 11th November, 2005 at 6:31 pm  

    Made in America

    Nobody equated Bush with Bin Laden. You equated Shihab with Bin Laden. The Col. equated you with Bush. Surely you’re not offended?

    Your concern about the bombed hotels is puzzling. Yes, they were real people; real moslem people. Isn’t your main policy to reduce the moslem population using nukes? So why the crocodile tears?

    If you could calm down for a moment you might realise that there is a real debate to be had, but not when you insist that words, understanding, reasons and motivations are somehow morally repellent, and that the only answer is ‘They’re animals, kill them.’ Especially when you apply that solution, not to guilty individuals – which might be a defensible position – but to entire religious and ethnic groups.

    But at least your prose style is improving.

  24. Sunny — on 11th November, 2005 at 7:41 pm  

    Secondly, stick your reasons and motivations, and America did this 20 years ago and that 5 years ago, where the sun don’t shine.

    funny that, I’m sure you were the one to first delve into history MIA

  25. susano — on 11th November, 2005 at 8:55 pm  

    Oh my GOD, made in america, what the fuck are you saying? I’m an American, I don’t have any use for radical Islam, and I find the nuke comments abosultely sickening. I agree with whoever said that about your crying over the victims in Jordan, while talking about anhilating people, animals and the evironment with thermonuclear weapons. Surely, you can come up with some more creative solutions?

    I think it’s time to add the conspiracy angle in here but I need time to compose my thoughts ;-)

  26. Sunny — on 11th November, 2005 at 9:43 pm  

    I think it’s time to add the conspiracy angle in here but I need time to compose my thoughts Heh Susano!

    made in america – just a point. If you’ve come here only to troll and throw in some stupid comments to ellicit a response – then please feel free to fuck off. Or I can arrange that for you.

    You need to engage in a proper debate here to stay, rather than come up with bullshit comments like “go kill a jew or something”. You may come here with delusions of grandeur and think your history lesson from Fox news is good enough to allow you to engage in a intellectual debate. It’s not.

    Make points by all means, even those others may not like to hear or find offensive. Cross the boundary however and I will ban your ass happily :)

  27. Bikhair — on 12th November, 2005 at 12:20 am  

    Shihab,

    “If I were to rob your family and push you around for years on end, only for you to snap one day and throw a petrol bomb through my window, only for me to retaliate by killing your family and their families, it’d still be my fault.”

    I find this attitude so common with Muslims and it really gets my goat. First, please dont provide excuses for Muslims to exceed the sharia even if they suffer tremendously. We will be held to account and blaming the Yankees or the Isrealis, or the Saudi Royal family, and occupation etc, aint cool.

    The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whenever Allaah intends to do good to a servant, He hastens to punish him in this world. And whenever Allaah intends evil for a servant, He postpones the punishment until the Day of Judgement.”

    Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said, “The occurrence of afflictions are actually a form of blessing, since they are an expiation for sins committed and they call for a person to have sabr – for which he is duly rewarded. Likewise they cause the person to turn to Allaah in repentance, being humble and submissive before Him, whilst at the same time turning away from hoping in any of the creation. There are – besides these – other great advantages.

    If you love Muslims, dont take this mercy away from them. Please encourage goodness and repentence.

  28. Bikhair — on 12th November, 2005 at 12:23 am  

    Susano,

    You are an American, me too. If you dont mind where are you from, I am from California.

    Wesiiiiiiide!

    Throwin up the W!

    West coast is the best coast!

    LOL!

  29. susano — on 12th November, 2005 at 1:10 am  

    I am in Michigan, though I resided in Los Angeles for many years.

    I would add: I am not a Muslim, nor am I religious. I am an initiate of a Saint from India, and I don’t go in for that judgment and wrath shit.

    “Evidence of evil in the world appears to our senses in order to let us know the consequences of the beliefs we hold”
    - Seth, form The Nature of Personal Reality

    Think about it.

  30. Sunny — on 12th November, 2005 at 2:49 am  

    First, please dont provide excuses for Muslims to exceed the sharia
    Heh – well said Bikhair. It gets my goat too when Muslims try to justify suicide attacks and other shit as part of revenge. Revenge only brings you down to the level of the enemy.

    Susano: I am an initiate of a Saint from India, what does this mean?

  31. susano — on 12th November, 2005 at 4:02 am  

    I just threw that in, Sunny, because religion, or lack of it, seems to inform the discussions here. Just trying to reveal a little of where I’m coming from.

    For the record, I’m a Jeffersonian, vegetarian, radical animal rights activist, GOD believing, heathen. :D

  32. susano — on 12th November, 2005 at 4:04 am  

    And an initiate of Sant Darshan Singh

  33. Jai Singh — on 12th November, 2005 at 12:12 pm  

    Bikhair buddy, it’s truly a tragedy that there are not more people like you around, certainly such individuals sufficiently outspoken within the global (and Western) Muslim community.

    The world really needs genuinely decent and spiritually-inclined people like you to stand up against the armchair jihadists who believe in condoning “exceeding Shariah” (or twisting Islam) in order to fit their psychopathic tendencies. Even more so when it comes to those who actually put these insane ideas into practice.

    Good for you — I really wish you all the best in life ;)

  34. Sunny — on 12th November, 2005 at 3:16 pm  

    I’m a Jeffersonian, vegetarian, radical animal rights activist, GOD believing, heathen

    Heh! the same applies to me! :D Although I’m not exactly sure what being Jeffersonian implies.

  35. susano — on 12th November, 2005 at 4:41 pm  

    As in Thomas Jefferson, reprensentative republic, Bill of Rights, etc. Cool, Sunny!

  36. Sajn — on 13th November, 2005 at 1:02 pm  

    “So America started the war? It wasn’t 9/11, it wasn’t the iran hostages, it wasn’t the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, the 93 WTC bombing, the Marine barracks in beirut… Nope, it was America. And it’s also Americas fault that everywhere in the world where there are muslim majorities, the governments are undemocratic and the people are poor.”

    Do you realise that if America had not forced the removal of the Iranian PM Mossadeq in the 50′s in favour of teh brutal and autocratic Shah the Iranians would not have been so anti American? Not forgetting how the Americans attempted to stop the Iranian Revolution and continued to support the Shah till the end.

  37. Sajn — on 13th November, 2005 at 1:06 pm  

    “The article illustrates how religious leaders use controversies to gain power. I’m sure we’ve seen recent examples from the Sikh and Hindu communities.”

    With the exception of Dr Zaki Badawi, I cannot think of any other “religious” leaders that have attempted to gain power (as you say). Then again I suppose that may be because you see people such as Iqbal Sacranie as religious leaders whereas I (and I daresay most other Muslims in the UK) see them as aspiring politicians using religion as a means for gaining power.

  38. Chris Stiles — on 14th November, 2005 at 8:44 pm  

    The Gardner programme was funny – if unintentionally so.

    On the one hand there was a definite ‘Peoples Front of Judea/Judean People’s Front” vibe about the whole program, complete with the odd cry of “Kaffir!”.

    Then there were the Muslim university students who could only trot out tired tropes about conspiritorial reporting vis a vis Iraq. Look guys, just because there is a slight media bias, doesn’t mean that everything they report isn’t true. They reminded me of that idiot from Ligali, and this the cream of their generation. Dear God, my stomach hurts.

  39. Sunny — on 14th November, 2005 at 9:39 pm  

    With the exception of Dr Zaki Badawi, I cannot think of any other “religious” leaders that have attempted to gain power (as you say).

    Sajn – please have a read of my linked article regarding the Behzti controversy.
    But I see your point about him being a political leader using religion as a cover.

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