Writing about Muslims


by Rumbold
26th February, 2008 at 8:53 pm    

Some people worry that the media focuses far too much on Muslims. They argue that continual stories about Muslims help to reinforce a siege mentality amongst many of that faith. Pickled Politics is not immune from this charge; we often refer to Muslims, whether directly when talking about issues like sharia law or terrorism, or indirectly when talking about issues such as ‘honour’ killings. Whilst we never stereotype Muslims, it could still be argued that we contribute to the problem. Indeed, several far-right groups have linked gleefully to the news about a possible link between Sikh extremists and Al-Qaeda, viewing it as a chance to bash Muslims once again.

Muslims are individuals; their beliefs cannot be distilled down to soundbites, because they have so many different views, just like the rest of us. They worry about crime, jobs, housing, transport, taxes, foreign affairs, education and so on. And they will disagree with other Muslims on plenty of issues. If this sounds rather obvious to readers of Pickled Politics, then perhaps you should notify those who are happy to make sweeping statements about what Muslims believe. The one thing that separates Muslims from the rest of society though is the relentless media spotlight. This can only worsen any divisions that exist already, as even some perfectly normal, law-abiding Muslims begin to feel a people apart, and become withdrawn. Should Pickled Politics hardly ever mention Muslims then, even if we are only making the problem worse inadvertently? My answer would be no.

Our stance, even if done for pure reasons, would only have a negative effect on Muslims. Muslims are being constantly stereotyped and demonised by sections of the media, so they need their champions too in order so that more people realise that Muslims are not one homogenous mass. Should we only concentrate on Muslim ‘good news’ stories then? Again, my answer would be no. To pretend that all Muslims are good would be foolish, because there are bad Muslims, just as there are bad Christians or bad atheists. Non-extremist Muslims do not benefit from this stance as it once again forces all Muslims into a stereotype which brands them all the same. Some ‘community’ organisations pursue this line, and Pickled Politics has been a trenchant critic of such groups for years. As for the news stories which involve Muslims but have nothing really to do with their religion (like ‘honour’ killings), these just show that a Muslim does not have to be completely defined by his or her religious identity.

There are too many stories about Muslims in the media, but if those who care about this pressure exit the field, we leave unopposed those who view Muslims as an invading horde.


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  1. Leon — on 26th February, 2008 at 9:07 pm  

    You know this thread might make a 1000 comments…

    But seriously, I’m not sure we should limit the number of threads about Muslims or Islam arbitrarily but we should consider from time to time whether to widen our range of coverage (I think the small number of regular writers these days is probably the cause of this narrower outlook). There’s a big world out there and millions of things to cover.

    I try, as a writer on here, to not write about one topic or issue too many times in a row because frankly I get bored, I get bored reading the same ‘debates’ over and over again too.

    PP has started to feel a little like it’s treading water than moving forward in recent times (I’m not the only one that thinks this either), I’m not 100% it’s still quite as fresh (as in new not pendu!) now we have Liberal Conspiracy either.

  2. Avi Cohen — on 26th February, 2008 at 9:26 pm  

    Does not talking about Muslims or Muslim stories actually solve anything? Nope.

    The media is on a frenzy right now about Muslims – no doubt.

    But now is a good time for Muslims to open their doors and reach out.

    PP can be a force for good as it does allow Muslims to have a voice in replying unlike on other boards such as Harry’s Place or LGF.

    Often even here Muslims are shouted down and those that support them but at leats they can get their point over on the majority of occassions.

    Where PP fails, is to distinguish between what organisations do. Hence it often criticises Asian Organisations for their political involvement in a way it wouldn’t with European faith organisations. Hence PP will often criticise MCB or MAB etc. for pushing their viewpoint but won’t do the same for say European advocacy groups. The argument being that the board is aimed at mainly Asian politics and organisations.

    But there are issues there to be tackled and shying away from them does no good. Issues such as forced marriages, domestic abuse etc. are serious issues and need to be addressed.

    Where PP is lacking is good Muslim writers who can defend the viewpoint of the majority. Writers are often critics of Islam even if they consider themselves Muslims.

    Political debate is often about honesty and questiosn need to be asked but it is a two way thing and often the Muslim view is not heard or indeed ignored and used as a bashing point – case in point is HMD – few people dare to discuss why the suffering of the Palestinians cannot be ackowledged and why it can’t be an inclusive day or to have another inclusive day. Instead the issue is used to bash a decision without understanding the underlying reasons on both sides.

    Should PP leave the field – Nope because the Muslim issue is part of the central area of the board namely issues affecting the Asian Community.

    The balance would be to allow Muslims to also write articles from the Muslim viewpoint even if it is occassionally.

    Where PP does need to enforce things is to crack down on the sometimes hurtful comments which are made irrespective of religion. There are some quite nasty slurs hurled around which led to one vetran of PP going away for sometime. That needs to stop as it causes distress and no place for that.

  3. Leon — on 26th February, 2008 at 9:30 pm  

    We’ve had plenty of discussion openly and via the writers email list on moderation. I think we’ve struck a good balance on free speech and stopping trolls undermining the community of contributors here.

  4. Raul — on 26th February, 2008 at 10:21 pm  

    Rumbold, these ‘some people’ you refer to in the first 2 sentences are obviously doing a disservice by lumping muslims together with extremists and perpetrating the siege mentality.

    Most of the comment and news is about extremists, extremist ideology, criminal acts like honour killings and forced marriages. That’s where the relentless media spotlight is not ordinary muslims going about their daily lives like other citizens in which case the Muslim tag is unnecessary. Like everyone else we all have multiple identities in different contexts. Everyone who is not an extremist is concerned by extremist ideology.

    There is an element of how do I say this, do upper caste brahmins in India complain about siege mentality when other castes fight for their rights and highlight discrimination and abuse, that would be disingenuous because the struggle is against castist upper castes not all upper caste people. Similarly in an american context does talk, discussion, news and debate about racism create a siege mentality in the white population, the awareness & spotlight is on racism and white people who may be racist not against all white people.

    In modern societies this constant talk of muslim and non muslim doesn’t make much sense to me. There has be a discourse beyond narrow religious identity after all we are individuals here.

  5. douglas clark — on 26th February, 2008 at 11:24 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I may have mentioned this before, but I ‘found’ this site through Harrys’ Place.

    And I am glad I did.

    I am now on nodding terms with people I have a vast amount of time for.

    (Err, no, I’m not going to name names, ’cause it got me into hot water the last time I did it).

    Suffice to say that you, the management, run an open forum web site where someone like me is not shooed off, even when I do get it wrong. And you do deal with the wingnuts. Arguably, PP is a good model for the rest of society.

    Amongst your more regular contributors to threads there is also a very healthy give and take. And an acknowledgement that no-one has the whole truth.

    I would hate it if it became uncritical of Muslims, or the ABC, for instance. It has consistently maintained a balanced outlook on all religions and most politics.

    Where I agree with Avi – shock horror – is in this:

    Where PP is lacking is good Muslim writers who can defend the viewpoint of the majority. Writers are often critics of Islam even if they consider themselves Muslims.

    Saqib seemed to take on the role, but he is only an occasional poster on here.

    Not that they wouldn’t be challenged!

    Which is all about nothing, and just to say I think the site has the balance just about right. Though my friend Anas would probably like more I/P stuff ;-)

  6. Zak — on 26th February, 2008 at 11:40 pm  

    You’ll bankrupt an entire industry that has grown up since 9/11 ..the pseudo Muslim experts who were nobodies prior to 2001 would be reduced to poverty if other groups took PP’s line lol

  7. Sunny — on 27th February, 2008 at 12:28 am  

    Well said Rumbold – you’ve articulated well soemthing I’ve been saying for a while but not really put into a post properly.

  8. Sid — on 27th February, 2008 at 1:09 am  

    I agree, very well said Rumbold. A long needed clearing of the air.

    As a Muslim writer on PP who has lived and travelled extensively in “the Muslim world”, I think it is healthy to be critical of elements of Islamic doctrine and political Islam where it obviously leads to abuse or gross malpractice; not out of some desire to cause hurt but because if I don’t, then that space will be, before I know it, occupied by reactionary voieces who suddenly become my representatives. PP is roundly critical of rectionary, right-wing religious suprematists of all religions. This is what makes it so refreshing and, for some, so frustrating. There is no one single religion or politics that it is tilted towards.

    My problem with mainstream Muslim discourse is that it is way too beholden to narrow, parochial and sentimental interpretations (which are not even traditional but simply Salafi) which are reinforced by peer-pressure and accepted because that is the path of least (cultural) resistance. There is also the notion that Muslims who are critical of Islam (or other muslims) are giving in to some kind of “post 9/11″ pressures of anti-Muslim sentiment and to criticise is to give more ammunition to the army of detractors and anti-Muslim “churnalists”. This may be true in some cases. But I go by the belief that being self-critical makes a community far more adaptive to its environment. Not doing so will inevitably lead to communities of reactionary, thin-skinned communities huddled in ever-expanding ghettos. Unless we’re there already. :D

    PP is a good place for Muslims, who as Rumbold so brilliantly puts it, are not “completely defined by his or her religious identity.”

  9. Refresh — on 27th February, 2008 at 2:05 am  

    Rumbold, I can say without equivocation that I usually like your pieces. This one is sadly well below par. For the simple reason it says very little. It is either navel gazing or its trying to establish PP as the defenders of injustice in the media. It fails on both counts.

    It does however get in the M-word in every paragraph and now (if Leon is correct) in a 1000 posts.

    What you could have done, and I know you to be well-meaning, is actually do a bit of investigative stuff and get to the root of who is driving this vile and depressing material.

    Now as for pushing people into corners – you are correct. As for having more M-writers, well I am not convinced that PP can pull that off. Remember its early support and sustenance came from HP, and the smears have still to be wiped clean.

    The most positive thing about PP is/was the space it created for commenters to be weaned off their early intro to Islam and M&Ms via LGF and HP, through dialogue with fellow commenters. For that I am glad.

    But I have to say, emphatically, that it had very little to do with the blogs themselves.

    Unless PP shifts its interest and perhaps its readership, I would think its days are numbered in a post-Bush (or should I say post-Obama) era.

    By the way, I as a regular commenter, would say PP contributed very little to the general health or well-being of our communities. Though it always held out the hope that it could – a bit like Blair.

  10. Refresh — on 27th February, 2008 at 2:17 am  

    should have been

    ‘defenders against injustice’

  11. M. Khan — on 27th February, 2008 at 2:23 am  

    Sid Wrote “uslim discourse is that it is way too beholden to narrow, parochial and sentimental interpretations (which are not even traditional but simply Salafi) which are reinforced by peer-pressure and accepted because that is the path of least (cultural) resistance.”

    Once again Sid you choose to have your digs without presenting facts and write a gross distortion of facts and present it as a view of a moderate Muslim.

    Most people who adopt sentimental interpretations are not Salafi but in fact your beloved Sufi or Brailwee, the current lovers of the Government.

    These are mainly people from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. But as you are most likely a Sufi then of course you don’t look at your own faults but blame the Salafi’s. What nonsense you write.

    It is the true Salafi Scholars who have spoken out against Terrorism, Forced Marriages, adopting dogmatic schools of thought without evidence.

    It is your Sufi scholars and Brailwee scholars who adhere strictly to the schools of thought even whenthere is no basis.

    It is the Brailwee’s and Ikwhanee’s who promote Jihad against the West.

    Once again you offer a grossly distorted view based on what is simply a peddle of false accusations not borne out by reality.

    This is the reason many young Muslims read the works of notable Salafi Scholars like Bin Baz, Uthaymeen and Albanee and not of your Sufi, Brailwee types.

  12. Sukhi — on 27th February, 2008 at 2:33 am  

    I know this sounds wrong, but sometimes I feel glad that I’m not a Muslim. The amount of scrutiny Muslims in Britain are under is quite incredible, the amount of generalising is similarly massive. At the same time, there are elements amongst extremist Muslims that seem to be oblivious, or actually revel in making life difficult for the Muslim community as a whole. I just wonder what it would be like to even go a week without Muslims being under intense media pressure.

  13. Sunny — on 27th February, 2008 at 2:52 am  

    do a bit of investigative stuff and get to the root of who is driving this vile and depressing material.

    Not sure what this means.

    By the way, I as a regular commenter, would say PP contributed very little to the general health or well-being of our communities. Though it always held out the hope that it could – a bit like Blair.

    Mmm… I would disagree. PP helped develop the ideas for launching the NGN manifesto, which I think did a lot to broaden the discourse away from being dominated by ‘community leaders’ to a broad range of voices. That was always my point from day one – these community leaders do not represent everyone.

    Going forward, this place is a sounding board, a discussion place etc, and its also a place to push campaigns etc. I think our debate about the Archbishop’s remarks was way better than on most blogs, as a recent example. That is why this place exists.

  14. Desi Italiana — on 27th February, 2008 at 4:05 am  

    Namaste!

    “You know this thread might make a 1000 comments…”

    I don’t think so. Whenever there are threads that discuss people’s obsessions, they hardly get commented on. Remember the Mughal thread that Rumbold put up? On the previous threads, people brought up the Mughals as the evil for all. Then Rumbold goes and posts something on Mughals, and relatively few people comment.

    ***

    How about we pick on the “Hindu World?”

    Also, SUNNY, I sent you a post, jaanam!

  15. Sukhi — on 27th February, 2008 at 4:06 am  

    How about we pick on the “Hindu World?”

    Some people think it already is being picked on and shout very loudly about it.

  16. Desi Italiana — on 27th February, 2008 at 4:07 am  

    Avi:

    “Where PP is lacking is good Muslim writers who can defend the viewpoint of the majority. Writers are often critics of Islam even if they consider themselves Muslims.”

    It’s necessary to have GOOD WRITERS, not GOOD “MUSLIM” WRITERS.

    And which “majority” are you referring to, btw?

    Also, being critical of Islam doesn’t make anyone unIslamic, nor are criticism and self-identification mutually exclusive. To charge so is backwards, illogical, and frankly, stupid.

  17. Desi Italiana — on 27th February, 2008 at 4:27 am  

    “Some people think it already is being picked on and shout very loudly about it.”

    Yeah, but that’s mostly focused on India and the diaspora. Who gives a shit about them?! I’m talking about the Hindu world that is not India(n)-centric- Nepal and other places that have pockets of Hindus, like Oman, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Dubai, Bahrain, Bali, etc.

    Or how about the “Buddhist World?” Arguably, that could be done too.

    Bring it on!

    Or, we could be spot on and think of individuals in their context, rather than making large sweeping generalizations, labeling and boxing in people.

  18. Arif — on 27th February, 2008 at 9:26 am  

    People feeling under siege don’t want to open up to people who might be trying to open them up to an ambush.

    PP is a place for people who don’t mind being ambushed, so you will only get certain kinds of people posting. I started posting as a friend of Sunny’s, and still have good conversations with him. But I don’t think Pickled Politics is a good forum for discussing sensitive social and political issues and I hardly post here now.

    This forum is a place which is important, as it helps articulate a general vision of society, but I do not think there is space for my vision within it. I can’t put my finger exactly on what it is, but I think it is something to do with the fearmongering which is the currency in a lot of debates. Maybe people would be bored without being able to point to baddies, and maybe expressing fear and anger is more a more important function of this site, than trying to develop an understanding of opponents which might point to (what I would consider) more creative solutions.

    I am encouraged by douglas clark (#5) actually finding the opposite effect here.

  19. Desi Italiana — on 27th February, 2008 at 9:45 am  

    Arif, come back. I like your comments. I promise, I won’t ever ambush you, as long as you don’t say anything highly objectionable, but you never do, so post more often.

  20. Bikhair — on 27th February, 2008 at 9:53 am  

    The most pressing issue for Muslims in the UK is figuring out why Birmingham smells the way it does.

  21. Sid — on 27th February, 2008 at 11:02 am  

    The most pressing issue for Muslims in the UK is figuring out why Birmingham smells the way it does.

    It’s the smell of fear (mongering).

  22. Sukhi — on 27th February, 2008 at 12:50 pm  

    The most pressing issue for Muslims in the UK is figuring out why Birmingham smells the way it does.

    You got that wrong. Something in the air of the city of Matthew Boulton reacted with the molecules in your sinuses and made you smell your own stinky self for the first time ever. That was your own smelly stink.

  23. Avi Cohen — on 27th February, 2008 at 2:37 pm  

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    The forum is doing ok. Would be nice to have a wider range of community views.

    Arif – how do you expect to change people’s view if you as a Muslim won’t open up a bit and engage in debate? I’d say it is even more important that you post now to counter what is being said.

    Yes people may be setting you up but if the fear is stopping you replying then surely it just makes their job easier.

    Douglas – I have just recovered from us agreeing ;-)

    Desi – What you need to understand is that most Muslims agree on some core things e.g. they want places of worship. That is the majority I was talking about the overall view on some aspects. That applies to all communities.

    “Also, being critical of Islam doesn’t make anyone unIslamic,”

    I never said it did. I think most people understood what I meant.

  24. Random Guy — on 27th February, 2008 at 3:05 pm  

    Hmmm, so basically, no change.

    Well I would say that Rumbold slighlty misses the point here because its (a) the disproportionate amount of “muslim-issue” (don’t even get me started) stories that are posted on PP compared to general Pickling stories, and (b) the amount of inane response said stories receive.

    Granted, this may very well reflect a societal trend (e.g. muslims as pariahs and something for all non-muslims to collectively humph and hrrm at) that has been in effect since Tony’s heart was won over by George. But at the end of the day, say the word “Sharia” or “MuslimFanaticTerroristicIslamistAliDocius” and you are granted a tide of responses more often than not.

    Such pathological obsession and even narrow-mindedness is more reflective of the symptoms of the problem causing widespread Islamaphobia today than any other story could ever be. Muslims – under the guise of Radical Islam or some other bullsit term – have to replace Communism as a galvanising population-melding force. The only way to make people forget a problem of your own making is to make another problem that no one will forget.

    Oh, and I love you all by the way (well, nearly all of you) :)

  25. sonia — on 27th February, 2008 at 3:10 pm  

    “..Where PP is lacking is good Muslim writers who can defend the viewpoint of the majority.who can defend the viewpoint of the majority. ”

    why is there an assumption that there is A viewpoint of the MAjority? That can be ‘voiced’ per se. “This is the Voice of Muslims! Listen up everyone!”

    isn’t that going right against what rumbold was saying about “muslims” being like everyone else with “their” own opinions. What’s this majority view then Avi? I think you’ll find that there isn’t one. If there is, i’d like to know where ‘it’ goes when it comes to deciding to actually celebrate Eid on the same day, I really would. There’s absolutely no fun in this split eid business. So please, do get the “voice of the Ummah” to speak out about this.

    And the other thing is, i think its mostly south asian muslims who fancy themselves as the ‘muslims’ people refer to, backed up media portrayal. i.e. pakistanis and bangladeshis ( who definitely are not ‘one’ community that’s for sure) why one only has to look at the tasneem khalil thread to see the wonderful tribalisms exhibited! gOLLY.

  26. sonia — on 27th February, 2008 at 3:11 pm  

    i freely admit i am certainly voicing my own opinion and do not want anyone to think of me as voicing some ‘muslim’ opinion, i’m voicing my own very controversial opinions and have done all the way through!

  27. sonia — on 27th February, 2008 at 3:33 pm  

    and yes i am critical of islam and i reserve my right to be.

  28. Sunny — on 27th February, 2008 at 3:36 pm  

    Well I would say that Rumbold slighlty misses the point here because its (a) the disproportionate amount of “muslim-issue” (don’t even get me started) stories that are posted on PP compared to general Pickling stories, and (b) the amount of inane response said stories receive.

    Yes, but we all have that problem. I actively look for non-Muslim stories but this is a current affairs blog and the overwhelming number of stories in the press are about Muslims. In many cases (discussing Pakistan) it is just reporting on what’s going on i South Asia.. and in other cases (Archbishop) we took a different line.

    Its a mixture of things. On Muslim blogs there is a tendency to play the victim in everything. This is the only blog I know with a fairly level mix of Muslims and non-Muslims.

  29. sonia — on 27th February, 2008 at 3:37 pm  

    PP is a place for people who don’t mind being ambushed

    good one Arif! you’re one of the few people around here who aren’t ambushers :-)

  30. sonia — on 27th February, 2008 at 3:43 pm  

    good points sid in no. 8

  31. Avi Cohen — on 27th February, 2008 at 5:16 pm  

    Sonia – my dear lady you are a tad bitter towards the Muslims aren’t you.

    So you are saying that the religous communities can’t have some opinions which are of the majority?

    So all Muslims will never agree they need places to worship in eh? They will never agree that they need some form of education eh?

    Other communities have similar areas where most people agree. Hell Sonia even survey companies manage to find opinions which they say are of the majority but hey you don’t want to admit that.

    You are free to be critical of Islam no one said you couldn’t be. But equally you should also admit that you don’t subscribe to the belief, often that isn’t clear in your statements so your comments can be placed in perspective.

  32. Avi Cohen — on 27th February, 2008 at 5:31 pm  

    Hey Sonia – I guess this is false:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7267100.stm

    “Most Muslims ‘desire democracy’

    Some 93% of those polled called themselves “moderate” Muslims
    The largest survey to date of Muslims worldwide suggests the vast majority want Western democracy and freedoms, but do not want them to be imposed.”

    Please contact the BBC and the Polling Organisation and say Muslims can never agree on anything thus the story is pure fanatasy and has no place on a news website! Go on hurry up before too many people see.

  33. Arif — on 27th February, 2008 at 6:21 pm  

    I feel Muslims are under a lot of scrutiny if they step into political discussion with non-Muslims in western countries. This scrutiny is uncomfortable for someone who does not want to make a particular point about fitting in or not fitting in to the categories people have in their heads. I can spend my time explaining in so many ways that I do not support terrorism, but I don’t think people will ever believe it unless I use a form of words and take on a set of opinions which they thinks fits a “moderate” or “pro-western” or “secular” or “progressive” or other acceptable type of Muslim.

    I don’t think if I were not Muslim people would necessarily get into a serious and less defensive discussion of human rights or social justice with me. There may be other barriers. On PP maybe the barrier is a kind of emotional correctness – to express outrage on the right things in the right way to show you qualify as a member of the human race or as a liberal or whatever.

  34. Avi Cohen — on 27th February, 2008 at 7:35 pm  

    “On Muslim blogs there is a tendency to play the victim in everything.”

    If it is a Muslim Blog then surely they want to discuss Muslim Issues. That is the purpose of the blog. They aren’t claiming it is general like yours so why force the generality on them?

    The tendency to play the victim is there in all religions and community groups. Even Thatcher when ousted played the victim even though she had lost the support of the country it wasn’t her fault!

    The need to be heard and play the victim is an outcoime of the way politics works and to get heard one has to say one is in a dire situation. This is a problem with politics and politicians.

    Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus are fighting their corner and you are criticising a select few and absolving the rest when they do the same.

    If you want to change this then Politicians need to work for all communities not those that just shout. Goverance should be for the good of the people not for the good of re-election. That is what is missing and why people have lost faith in politicians.

    Did you see Portillo’s piece on the Beeb about the Thatcher Years – though he was an ardent supporter even he when in Govt had realised that she had lost the support of the people because she wasn’t listening to the people. The only time she heard was when the people were victims and rioted and by then she was finished.

    Lobby Politics is a dangerous game and you are chastising Muslims for playing it but that is what all the others do. It is the only show in town so change Westminister to benefit all and not some.

    At least see the root of the problem rather than complaining about the outcome.

  35. sonia — on 27th February, 2008 at 8:12 pm  

    heh avi ( or should i say muzumdar in disguise) you are funny you. do you actually live in this world? perhaps you should point to “the poll” the next time the moon-sighting hooha comes up ( do you even know anything about eid etc.) so a ‘poll’ counts as ‘muslims’ agreeing, and there’s you saying the media is the one doing the generalising! if you want to get worked up about some 100 random people phoned up agreed on or didn’t, you go right ahead.

    ( by that definition, based on any given random MORI polls of say, homo sapiens who think mars should join the imperial galaxy, and 63% of those homo sapiens polled agreed, why one could then say! “look! and you lot say all those homo sapiens didn’t have ONE viewpoint/fought all the time/etc? and this is clearly what the ‘majority’ of them obviously thought..so there IS agreement” ) Oh look, there’s a survey of ‘Muslims’ – this must be what ‘they’ think then! what about the ‘counter-surveys’ that said all the muslims support terrorism? are they the same muslims – all of them? what a lot of numpties there are in the world..

    i suppose in future when the voice of the Ummah is needed on the date for eid, we should ignore the Moon-sighting committee and head to BBC or Mori or something and ask them!

    *chortles*

    sure most ‘muslims’ want democracy, most people – you know – homo sapiens?- want democracy you silly goose, why are YOU differentiating’ muslims’ here from other people? most ‘Muslims’ go to bed every night and like to eat 3 meals and have a body that aches and pains – oh what a suprise there!! if you polled ‘them’ and asked them that why you might get a 100% response rate! you’re the one who seems to think ‘muslims’ have fallen out of the sky/and are aliens or something.. what a weird set of ideas to come forth and talk about, when the whole problem is one of ‘Othering’. Goodness!

  36. Avi Cohen — on 27th February, 2008 at 9:52 pm  

    Sonia – do you live in the real world? What is this we when talking about Moon Sighting when you don’t even accept the beliefs of Muslims? How can you be part of the we?

    Are you Muslim or not? You said in a previous thread you didn’t believe in the concepts of Islam. Thus why would you care about moon sighting?

    Also as to your accusation about me being muzumdar – who the hell is he? I keep seeing this name mentioned but never quite understood who the hell he is. Please enlighten? I thought he was your brother in bashing Muslims – judging by your blog. You both have a shared passtime

    Anyway back to the discussion – the point you cannot seem to grasp in your mind is that there is some commonality of view by which a majority of people subscribe to being Muslims. Thus on some viewpoints the majority of Muslims will agree.

    Why you can’t grasp this is beyond me.

    For example a majority of Muslims will back the Palestinian cause, a majority of Jewish people will back the Israeli cause. A majority of Muslims and Jews will back halal and kosher meat being legal. A majority of Muslims will back contruction of mosques.

    Get it – in some areas, which is what I said there is a majority of opinion. Not in all as you are implying but in some.

    In others there is a variety of Muslims views as there is a variety of Jewish and Christian views.

    Most Chrisitians will support the view that the Chrisitan Heritage and viewpoint of the country should be maintained.

    So in some areas there is a majority opinion.

    Thus are you denying that religous or community groups won’t have a majority opinion on certain items?

    The othering issue to which you refer well if it didn’t exist then why the hell do people keep calling themselves Muslim? They must have some views in common with each other?

  37. Refresh — on 27th February, 2008 at 11:13 pm  

    Mazumadar appears on this site from time to time under different guises, a bit like the scarlet pimpernel. He is well known for his policy of ethnic cleansing muslims, a la zionism to create a homeland for the sikhs.

    On the whole he tends to be quite a good rhetorical device. Very entertaining.

    He is banned on PP as he tends to bait – but when he does make an entrance the place lights up.

  38. douglas clark — on 27th February, 2008 at 11:16 pm  

    Avi,

    There does seem to be something of a debate in your religion about the ‘sighting of the moon’, which is frankly an incredibly poetic notion.

    http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2006-10/2006-10-20-voa63.cfm?CFID=202651012&CFTOKEN=20420186

    There are scientific ways of determining this, do you reject them?

    Anyway, your ‘claim to speak’ as it were, for most Muslims, is likely to fall on deaf ears here.

    You said, and I quote:

    Anyway back to the discussion – the point you cannot seem to grasp in your mind is that there is some commonality of view by which a majority of people subscribe to being Muslims. Thus on some viewpoints the majority of Muslims will agree.

    When it is pretty clear, is it not, that there is no such consensus?

    I don’t know about Sonia, but I will tell you this:

    Thus are you denying that religous or community groups won’t have a majority opinion on certain items?

    No you shouldn’t, and I’d be first to the barricades if you won that arguement. This is not a majoritarian state, it is a frigging Liberal Democracy. Please try to understand that. And try applying it to your own community, y’know, equal debate and shit like that..

  39. thabet — on 28th February, 2008 at 5:01 am  

    On Muslim blogs there is a tendency to play the victim in everything.

    Think that’s a tad unfair, Sunny.

  40. Avi Cohen — on 28th February, 2008 at 9:39 am  

    Douglas – with respect you’ve jumped in again just to side with Sonia without understanding what I said.

    I made no claim that I speak for Muslims, kindly show me where I did. I said that in some – some – issues Muslims will have a majority opinion like other communities.

    Also Douglas the discussion is nothing about the state it is about representation and how views are represented.

    It is fair for example to say that most Jewish people support the state of Israel. That is a majority view of a religous community. That is what I am referring to. Nothing to do with state or anything else. Not saying other views cannot be heard.

    As an example Sid said in comment 8: “My problem with mainstream Muslim discourse is that it is way too beholden to narrow, parochial and sentimental interpretations (which are not even traditional but simply Salafi) which are reinforced by peer-pressure and accepted because that is the path of least (cultural) resistance.”

    Sonia in Comment 30 said: “good points sid in no. 8″

    In MS Word when looking at the word mainstream – Majority is a substitute word.

    Thus when it comes to bashing Muslims then it is acceptabel for you and Sonia to say there is a majority viewpoint.

    When I say that some and only some issues, probably small in number can represent a Muslim Majority viewpoint then you say this isn’t possible.

    So if you want to bash Muslims then you can use a majority viewpoint as you say and agree that Muslims have that view as we have seen in the example above. If you weant to listen to their views then they can’t. Great logic.

    BTW Douglas I don’t have a community I try to stick up for everyone. At the moment the old religous community is getting an unfair bashing so I will stick up for them.

    As usual Dougals I think you have interpretted what I said incorrectly and then use that to bash me. Equal debate is fine but Muslims will have a consensus on some issues that is all I said.

    I can see what Arif means now, any issue is used for ambush. Sonia has her own issues and agendas and is simply bashing anyone who puts forth anythign positive from a Muslim point of view.

    I never said I spoke for anyone and neither did anyone else. At least read what is said before charging in – p-lease. I know you feel a desperate need to defend your friend Sonia but at leats try and be fair to me and read what I actually said rather than twisting my words.

  41. Random Guy — on 28th February, 2008 at 9:59 am  

    Sunny @ 28: “this is a current affairs blog and the overwhelming number of stories in the press are about Muslims.”

    That is a very interesting comment Sunny. In that case, in response to the slightly rhetorical question posed by Rumbold’s post, this site is more a part of the problem than part of the solution. Which is a damn shame.

  42. fugstar — on 28th February, 2008 at 10:27 am  

    PP
    attracts skin deep muslims and ex-muslims who don’t have anything practical to offer but their bile and some form of superficial cultural legitimacy to this vitual mental ghetto.

    But that ok because its really an irrelevance, more a self promotion tool. It is nothing on the collective wisdom of south asians in the UK. You do however score highly on nepotism, with ‘he’s a mate’ often used to ignore stupidity and thickness.

    When a decent muslim did once post you lot went all randy on her, which was very telling and explains the motivator for blogherding mentality here. its got something to do with that martin amis…

  43. Refresh — on 28th February, 2008 at 10:46 am  

    Love your style fugstar :)

    Have a very rare smiley from me.

  44. douglas clark — on 28th February, 2008 at 11:00 am  

    Avi,

    I am fed up with being accused of a lack of comprehension. It is, quite obviously the case that if you are a pious Muslim then you’d likely be in favour of building more Mosques. That much is glaringly obvious.

    Where the debate – it seems to me – actually centres around, is the cultural baggage that, for better or worse, seems to be attached to the faith. The most obvious example being the cultural ideas about the status of women. And I don’t need a lecture on what the Koran actually says, it is the realpolitic on the ground that concerns me.

    Avi, I quite like you. But you have determined that your on line persona is as a ‘defender of the faith’. My on line persona is the exact opposite. :-)

    And, just in case you get the wrong idea, I’m an atheist, so a plague on all your houses.

    It is not an ambush, honest. It is supposed to be reasonable debate.

    BTW, where have I ever said that Muslims are not being bashed? I think they are. And I think it is victimisation. But it doesn’t get Muslims a free pass re some aspects of their social organisation or goals. Now that would be cutting off discussion.

  45. Sofia — on 28th February, 2008 at 11:03 am  

    But it doesn’t get Muslims a free pass re some aspects of their social organisation or goals.

    Douglas, would you maybe put “some muslims a free pass”…?

    There are some of us out there who are trying our “bestest” to work towards a cohesive society.

  46. Saqib — on 28th February, 2008 at 11:24 am  

    I think PP has allowed some very good discussions on things pertaining to Islam and Muslims. That is a real credit to Sunny and his team.

    Ultimately it is a forum for people to contribute and expand their ideas and arguments, hence the discussions can only be as good as we all make them. I don’t necessarily share all the negativity toward community leadership in the Muslim community (though I do share the general problems associated with such a concept), however that is for me argue and discuss further with others.

    I have no problem with further discussions on these issues, for they are in the public domain. What I do find problematic, and it is a point picked up by Sid on his thread about the ABC, is that, increasingly, Muslims are being used as almost the ‘bait’ for people to kick of public discussions about their own particular ideas and goals. It is almost as if the proliferation of Islam and Muslims is subconsciously identified as the product of some failure of police, through either act or omission, or as in the case of Nazir Ali, a symptom of society’s continuing estrangement from Christianity.

    However, as Sid did demonstrate, you can uncover the underlying issues on PP – once we have gone past the hysteria.

  47. douglas clark — on 28th February, 2008 at 11:29 am  

    Avi,

    Fugstar has an interesting blog. Via which I found:

    http://www.yahyabirt.com/?p=64

    You might like to read it. I think, largely, I agree with it.

  48. douglas clark — on 28th February, 2008 at 11:30 am  

    Sofia @ 45,

    Point taken.

  49. bananabrain — on 28th February, 2008 at 11:57 am  

    at the risk of mentioning I/P and thus causing a thread hijack, this is yet again one of those “avi cohen” moments which make one wonder precisely what his agenda really is…

    It is fair for example to say that most Jewish people support the state of Israel. That is a majority view of a religous community. That is what I am referring to.

    yes, but what exactly does that statement *mean*? to many, it appears to mean being a zionazi-apartheid warmongering imperialist baby-eater and to others, it appears to mean “oom-schmoom” (see my explanation for that here: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/995 ) whereas i would say, yes, i do support the state of israel. i also support the UK, the US, kosovo, pakistan, kurdistan, iraq, tibet and even france (albeit not without misgivings) – however, a glib statement of “support” without saying what you mean by it is the very worst of worlds. so, for example:

    do i want israel to be destroyed? no.
    do i want israel to be censured in diplomatic forums? only if the government deserves to be.
    do i want israel to be able to defend itself? absolutely.
    do i want israel to feel it has carte blanche to behave however it likes? absolutely not.
    do i have special affection and attachment for it? yes, absolutely – and this is precisely what makes me so sad when it behaves badly, or when it is demonised.
    do i want israel to stay the same? no.
    do i want israel to continue to offer refuge to jews around the world? yes.
    do i want the situation of the palestinian refugees to be resolved to their satisfaction? yes.
    do i worry about jewish-israeli fundamentalists and nutters? yes.
    do i worry about my auntie being hit by rockets or blown up on a bus? yes (and she’s an “oom-schmoomnik”, so i absolutely disagree with her on most political matters)
    am i proud of israeli scientific, technological and academic achievements? yes.
    am i critical of israel’s faults? yes.

    so if that’s support by you, fine – and i suspect most people here would say the same about the UK, or pakistan, india, bangladesh etc – and, to really tie this into the thread, *muslims*! however, the word “support” is the first one to get misused by people with agendas on their own little power trips.

    incidentally, a news item i heard when i was in israel last week – the 400th rocket from gaza THIS YEAR (it’s only february, remember) hit the town of sderot. i mean, what would you do? i’m not really asking for suggestions, i don’t want a hijack, i just boggle at how exactly a sovereign state is supposed to respond “proportionately”….

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  50. Avi Cohen — on 28th February, 2008 at 12:02 pm  

    Douglas – Kindly answer the point where I said I speak for all Muslims, show it to me?

    all I said was that on some issues e.g. some political issues Muslims have a majority viewpoint and you’ve gone bananas.

    I’d say most Asian’s support Labour because they view them as better for Asian causes.

    Also you claim tyou comprehend what I said well if you actually read what I said it was that Sonia was bashing anyone who sticks up for Muslims.

    The words Sonia is not the same as Douglas. I stated Sonia not you. So if you had read what I said then you’d know that instead of writing and saying I had said that about you.

    I am not defender of the faith or any faith everyone has their own belief and I accept taht and support that. I am simply saying people shouldn’t keep reacting wildly when issues of religion and faith crop up.

    Equally Douglas I have no problem with you not having a faith and respect your views on this. That is your right to not have a religous belief.

    You keep diverting the debate to points I haven’t made. I haven’t discussed the Koran in this thread all I have said is that a majority of Muslims have some views just like a majority of other communities have views.

    Your saying this is impossible.

  51. Avi Cohen — on 28th February, 2008 at 12:09 pm  

    Bananabrain – it was an example – for crying out loud you are overreacting. Sheesh.

    The claim being made is that religous groups cannot have a majority opinion. I gave a number of examples, mainly Muslim but another one is that a majority of Jews support the state of Israel and the majority of Muslims support Palestinains.

    It was a simple statement with no other intent than to show that a religous group can have a majority opinion and you go off on one at me.

  52. Rumbold — on 28th February, 2008 at 1:16 pm  

    Raul:

    “In modern societies this constant talk of muslim and non muslim doesn’t make much sense to me. There has be a discourse beyond narrow religious identity after all we are individuals here.”

    Hopefully that will one day be the case. I doubt it though.

    Douglas:

    “I am now on nodding terms with people I have a vast amount of time for.

    (Err, no, I’m not going to name names, ’cause it got me into hot water the last time I did it).”

    Heh. I agree.

    Refresh:

    “Rumbold, I can say without equivocation that I usually like your pieces. This one is sadly well below par. For the simple reason it says very little. It is either navel gazing or its trying to establish PP as the defenders of injustice in the media. It fails on both counts.”

    Well it is supposed to be a bit of naval gazing. I think that there is a real debate to be had about what should be covered, and how often it should be covered.

    “What you could have done, and I know you to be well-meaning, is actually do a bit of investigative stuff and get to the root of who is driving this vile and depressing material.”

    I am not sure what an investigation will reveal. We already know that stereotyping Muslims derives from a combination of a lack of understadning as well as sensationalism. I suspect that there are not dark forces controlling this discourse.

    Sonia:

    “isn’t that going right against what rumbold was saying about “muslims” being like everyone else with “their” own opinions.”

    Exactly. Certain views on certain topics will be the ‘majority view’, but that does not mean we can generalise.

    Saqib:

    “Ultimately it is a forum for people to contribute and expand their ideas and arguments, hence the discussions can only be as good as we all make them.”

    Brilliant summary actually. It really hits the nail on the head.

  53. Refresh — on 28th February, 2008 at 1:26 pm  

    Rumbold

    ‘ I suspect that there are not dark forces controlling this discourse.’

    Not even a little bit? There might also be a question of what each one of us sees as dark forces.

  54. Rumbold — on 28th February, 2008 at 1:36 pm  

    Refresh:

    “Not even a little bit? There might also be a question of what each one of us sees as dark forces.”

    There are some who use the present anti-Muslim climate to benefit from it (selling papers, passing laws), which fuels it, but I don’t see this as some sort of giant anti-Muslim conspiracy. There are a few people who actually hate Muslims, while most are just jumping on the bandwagon.

  55. bananabrain — on 28th February, 2008 at 1:56 pm  

    avi:

    i’m not actually having a go. what i was pointing out was that this “majority opinion” is very nearly meaningless except insofar as it enables someone like myself to be put in the same group as, say, melanie phillips, in that we both “support israel”, whereas in fact we disagree on nearly everything about what that means – and the desire to show an ethnic group is sticking together is in itself somewhat tendentious, as you yourself are saying with regard to the way people talk about muslims.

    the trouble is that you go to so much trouble to bring up jews and israel no matter what subject, yet despite your moniker you never seem to be keen to enlarge upon any aspect of your own overt display of jewish identity. you appear to go out of your way to criticise any apparent islamophobia or double standards as regards jews and israel, whilst being curiously reticent about your own stances about judaism and the community, which comes across as somewhat odd for someone who appears to be going out of their way to emphasise their overtly jewish name. i’m curious. are you a shul-goer? where are your family from originally? do you have any jewish education? which jewish organisations do you [dis]approve of? you’ll understand i am not requesting personal information here, but i think some of us wonder sometimes if you’re not just someone who pretends to be jewish for effect using the information they can pick up in the community press.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  56. sonia — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:15 pm  

    good points b’brain

  57. Sunny — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:16 pm  

    Think that’s a tad unfair, Sunny.

    Ok, admittedly its an unfair generalisation. I think you don’t blog (with extensive pieces) as much as you used to, which is a real shame. And since eteraz.org died there’s little space for that kind of analysis I liked.

    I’m speaking here about British Muslim blogs mostly. I think Spirit21 is also quite good. Yusuf was quite good but I think more recently he’s become a bit scared off from being critical by the MPAC crew.

    fugstar, why not just say “you’re all sellouts because you don’t agree with me” and spare us the extensive attempt at analysis?

  58. Sunny — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:17 pm  

    Oh and Yahya Birt is great of course.

  59. Avi Cohen — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:20 pm  

    Bananabrain – as I have explained in the past the reason I go out of my way regarding Muslims is because they have a tough time. Where the same applies for Jews then I stick up for them as well. I also stick up for other communities such as Sikh and Hindu when they are being unfairly pickled on.

    As regards you and Melanie I think you are incorrect. I’d say quite confidently that most Jewish people including your good self support Israel but also support a peaceful resolution with the Palestinains. Thus Melanie is an exception and in the minority of opinion hence her approach to try and bring people to her view.

    Answers to your questions:

    1. Very rarely
    2. North Africa
    3. Yes
    4. I disapprove of right wing organisations that want no settlement and distort history to prove their claims. On the whole Muslims and Jews have a long history – some bad things happened but on the whole they are close.

    I don’t do things for effect these are my opinions, I want to see good for everyone and am disturbed at the way communities are developing a sense of us and them. Thus we need to stick up for each other.

    Hope that answers your questions.

    As regards name pick something else and I may use that ;-)

    Community press – I see so if I pick up from there how come I mention things before the press report it? Hmmm strange eh! How come I know alot about the faith work which isn’t mentioned in the community press – Hmmm strange huh!

    As regards the I/P conflict I think people need to look at both sides, the debate is one sided they did this and they did that. The issue is solvable but the will isn’t there.

    Yes there are 400 rocket attacks but what about the other side suffering? I rarely ever see you mention their suffering. People do irrational things from frustration and even now the Israeli public is saying lets talk and stop this. But with an attitude of its always them then people won’t let peace progress. But that is a different topic.

  60. sonia — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:39 pm  

    now that’s a good mention, sunny. Ali Eteraz – seriously good stuff there. someone i can really respect

  61. Sofia — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:41 pm  

    eteraz.org died??

  62. fugstar — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:47 pm  

    Sunny Bunny.

    because theres plenty of ways of not being a sellout and disagreeing with me.

    but then again being a sellout normally implies having something to sell. Principles are different from mouthing other agents slogans.

  63. Sunny — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:48 pm  

    Sofia – well AE has gone back to his own blog, but the extensive project he was running at eteraz.org has been shelved. Its replaced by a lame blog.

  64. sonia — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:48 pm  

    well it sort of did, and then it was revived, and as far as i can see its not just ‘states of islam’ anymore..wider subject matter, i think. but eteraz also keeps writing at eteraz.wordpress.org

  65. sonia — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:51 pm  

    and he’s written this on cif yesterday, so i guess he’s a busy man..

  66. bananabrain — on 28th February, 2008 at 3:32 pm  

    avi:

    2. north africa, eh? first time i met a maghrebi that didn’t think melanie phillips was a bleeding-heart liberal, “you don’t understand the arabs, you haven’t lived with them like us, they’re a bunch of bastards”, but speaking as an exception to that myself on the bombay-iraqi front, i suppose i shouldn’t be surprised that there are more of us around the place. is your judeo-arabic any good? i need some moroccan lyrics transcribed and translated.

    3. what sort?

    4. i disagree of “progressive” organisations that would rather israel disappeared entirely and do the same sort of things to history. i think, though, that “some bad things happened but on the whole they are close” is actually far more true of the maghreb (and turkey) than it is of syria, iraq, iran or egypt or anywhere that jews lived under the threat of the pact of ‘umar.

    I want to see good for everyone and am disturbed at the way communities are developing a sense of us and them. Thus we need to stick up for each other.

    i didn’t think communities needed to develop that any more than it already existed. i presume you therefore support initiatives like muju, alif-aleph, the universities peace-twinning campaign and suchlike things, rather than, say “jews for justice for palestinians”.

    As regards name pick something else and I may use that

    oooh, a challenge. we should throw that open to the general pickle barrel.

    Community press – I see so if I pick up from there how come I mention things before the press report it? Hmmm strange eh! How come I know alot about the faith work which isn’t mentioned in the community press – Hmmm strange huh!

    what sort of initiatives are you involved in, then?

    Yes there are 400 rocket attacks but what about the other side suffering? I rarely ever see you mention their suffering.

    that’s because i hardly have to in this sort of environment where there are plenty of other people around to bring it up; i only really get involved in that sort of thing if balance is required – but believe me, it’s an entirely different thing in the other circles i move in where people can be both ignorant and dismissive of palestinian suffering, or regard it as propaganda. in such contexts, the fact that i am an overtly religious jew with a strong commitment to the future of israel makes my credibility as a critic not open to accusations of being a naive-lefty-liberal type; people expect me to be another mel phillips clone, not someone who holds the sort of opinions that i have.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  67. Avi Cohen — on 28th February, 2008 at 4:11 pm  

    BB – I am shocked at your comment in 2 as most of the people I meet always speak of the good community relations. There was an interesting article on Arab speaking Jews on the BBC News website which was completely contrary to what you say regarding Iran, Iraq and Egypt. In fact most of the people I meet talk of good relations.

    I think alif-Aleph have done some outstanding work. The university twinning project is another good one. But basically anything that brings people together to talk is a good idea. Again the inter-faith programme is very important to my mind.

    I wouldn’t say I am involved but more like to attend inter-faith and peace events. I need to do more but time doesn’t permit.

    Out of curiosity have you ever been to a mosque event to find out about Islam?

  68. Avi Cohen — on 28th February, 2008 at 4:13 pm  

    Oh yes and I am very impressed so far by the Cambridge University project which started recently to bring together Muslims and Jews. So far so good.

  69. bananabrain — on 28th February, 2008 at 4:34 pm  

    BB – I am shocked at your comment in 2 as most of the people I meet always speak of the good community relations.

    i’m not saying there weren’t good community relations, i’m just saying it wasn’t on a basis of equality and real mutual respect as we would expect in a liberal democracy, but more in a vein of (usually) good-natured contempt. basically, it all went to shite in the 1920s and 30s when the arab nationalists started admiring fascism, which led directly to the baghdad farhud among many other persecutions and, since 1948, it’s all been completely tits. it was rarely complete roses in any event – take the laws about ritual impurity that the iranian shi’a used to observe as regards contact with jews, for one thing. you should hear the way some of the arabic-speaking old guard talk about arabs, sheesh.

    There was an interesting article on Arab speaking Jews on the BBC News website which was completely contrary to what you say regarding Iran, Iraq and Egypt.

    well, i don’t mean to be cynical, but i’d take that with a bit of a pinch of salt, i dare say it suits the bbc to maintain that the jews of arab lands weren’t ever oppressed, but historians are a bit more balanced about it.

    anyway, i like to emphasise the positive, i just don’t believe in rose-coloured glasses where it comes to the jews of islam – the best you can say is that they were better off there than they were under christianity at least until the enlightenment. after that it was a different story.

    mosque events for islam, no, i’ve never needed to, i have pretty high-powered muslim friends in both theological and educational senses and i read quite extensively, but i’ve been to mosques to take part in sufi zhikrs and attended salat prayers and other educational events at conferences.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  70. Avi Cohen — on 28th February, 2008 at 5:12 pm  

    BB – Fair point about nationalism and the effects it caused. Although most of the people even in Jerusalem I speak to still say that they have Arab friends and they just want to get back to normality where they can go back to having coffee with their arab friends and relaxing.

    Having studied history a bit as well I’d say the Jewish people in Muslim lands were until about 100 years ago much better off in Muslim areas that even Europe. I still think Israel has much more to gain from peace than it does war, in trade alone it would do so well.

  71. Refresh — on 29th February, 2008 at 12:37 am  

    Rumbold,

    ‘while most are just jumping on the bandwagon.’

    Isn’t that how propaganda and demonisation works?

    Come on Rumbold you are in danger of rationalise this away.

  72. Rumbold — on 29th February, 2008 at 1:44 pm  

    Refresh:

    “Isn’t that how propaganda and demonisation works?

    Come on Rumbold you are in danger of rationalise this away.”

    My point is that it is not some huge conspiracy to demonise Muslims. Rather, people see an opportunity to bash a disliked minority and take it. I am not trying to defend it or rationalise, but merely state what I think the situation to be.

  73. Refresh — on 1st March, 2008 at 12:04 am  

    Rumbold
    I don’t think you need a huge conspiracy, just the levers of power, and a compliant media.

    There are so many issues around what seems to be a very narrow topic:

    ‘an opportunity to bash a disliked minority and take it.’

    Was it always disliked? And have people sat back and allowed the bandwagon to gather speed to near terminal velocity?

    If it was always disliked does that make it an irrational fear or hatred – is there inherent islamophobia in the west, in the UK?

    What would that say about the country? What does it say about you and me?

    You can consider these questions rhetorical, as on the whole I am so deeply disappointed with it all.

  74. soru — on 1st March, 2008 at 1:02 am  

    Was it always disliked?

    Not so much before 9/11 and 7/7.

    Is there some kind of imaginable world you can describe where those events had a radically different consequence than in this one?

    If anything, I would say the potential for things having been worse is rather larger than that for better.

  75. Refresh — on 2nd March, 2008 at 12:16 am  

    Here’s somebody who gets it:

    ‘Naomi Klein The Guardian, Saturday March 1 2008

    It’s no slur to be called a Muslim
    The turban photos affair was a missed chance for Obama. If he really is to repair the world, he must tackle this Islamophobia

    The orgy of hate that is the “Muslim smear” is unfolding in real time, and it promises to greatly intensify in a general election.’

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/01/religion.islam

  76. douglas clark — on 2nd March, 2008 at 12:46 am  

    Perhaps, yes, perhaps no. I do not go along with the ‘orgy of hate’ arguement, at least as far as it applies to Barak Hussein Obama.

    Would it be too difficult to point out that the King of Jordan, who was an ally in Gulf War One, is, in fact, King Hussein of Jordan. Or is that still too much?

    I do not understand Americans.

  77. Refresh — on 2nd March, 2008 at 12:54 am  

    Douglas, I am fast coming to the conclusion this blog thing is a useless way of communicating.

    The orgy of hate is to do with muslims, not Obama. That hate in turn will turn people against Obama. This what I think the article is saying.

    It makes a more fundamental point – and that is an appeal to Obama (and presumably others in a position) to tackle Islamophobia head on.

    Unless I am mistaken of course.

  78. douglas clark — on 2nd March, 2008 at 1:19 am  

    Refresh,

    OK.

    But you have to see the ‘orgy of hate’ as a political tool aimed at someone who is not, actually, a Muslim.

    This is wheels within wheels. If Obama comes out and says what you, and Naomi want him to say, where will his electability be?

    And why are you asking Obama? Why are you not asking McCain and Clinton?

    So, I do think you are mistaken, or relativist at least.

    Bed-time.

  79. Refresh — on 2nd March, 2008 at 1:43 am  

    The orgy of hate is against muslims, not Obama. That is what Naomi Klein is talking about.

    I agree in the current climate it would jeopardise Obama’s electability. And it should be a call on all the candidates and not just Obama. My point is much much deeper.

    I would be very disappointed if Obama does not get elected. Only if he is elected will we see a reversal of policy which drives this hate.

    Clinton will not and is not capable; McCain’s policies will require deepening of the hate.

  80. fugstar — on 2nd March, 2008 at 11:59 am  

    even if obama gets in, he wont be able to do so much. Ok they, as a nation, might go a little greener and kinder to people who suck up.

    hes quite inspiring and i really hope he gets the candidacy and the presidency, (but dont beleive its going to happen). Remember this is the same country that allowed that starved iraq for most of the 90s and destroyed 2 countries recently.

  81. Rumbold — on 2nd March, 2008 at 12:47 pm  

    Refresh:

    “I don’t think you need a huge conspiracy, just the levers of power, and a compliant media.”

    I agree. As for your (rhetorical) question about whether Muslims were always so dislked, I would say that the current situation is a product of September 11th. However, since Muslims (as well as Jews and Catholics) have been part of British history for a while, there was some Islamaphobia before.

  82. Raul — on 2nd March, 2008 at 1:16 pm  

    I don’t understand why some individuals are so fast to play the victimhood card. The orgy of hate is against extremists who in this case happens to be muslims, not muslims. But I guess for some people carefully constructed worlds of global conspiracy and victimhood this makes their existence much more interesting.

    All societies have racists and bigots within them, it will be mistake to presume this minority’s hatred is representative of the how the vast majority feel or to classify the majority’s response to extremists as illegimate or bigotry. So don’t mix them up.

    This is kindergarten politics, if extremists can get muslims on their side by manufacturing this global conspiracy against them then they can create and environment of distrust, shift the basis of discussion as us against them and generate hatred against all non muslims to forward their bigoted cause.

  83. Refresh — on 2nd March, 2008 at 2:58 pm  

    Raul,

    I am truly fed up of people rationalising it away.

    Do you really think the Obama in the dress was leaked because it made him look extremist, or was it because it gave just enough of a hint?

    Do you think Naomi Klein is playing kindergarten politics? Is she a closet-muslim?

    And should muslims have to rely on non-muslims to speak out on their behalf?

    And explain to me what victimhood is? No really..

  84. Raul — on 2nd March, 2008 at 3:29 pm  

    And I am fed up of people clinging on to this victimhood myth that demonizes other people with absolutely no basis or logic. There is no global consipracy against muslims, there is a response to extremism.

    I don’t know or particularly care what Naomi Klein thinks or does, since when is she an authority on anything, if she wants to perpetuate this myth and make lots of conspiracy theorists happy then that’s her call.

    Everyone should speak for themselves, as I said be fore in modern societies this constant talk of muslim and non muslim doesn’t make much sense to me. There has be a discourse beyond narrow religious identity after all we are individuals here.

  85. Raul — on 2nd March, 2008 at 3:40 pm  

    “The orgy of hate is against muslims, not Obama. That is what Naomi Klein is talking about”

    This is a classic example of victimhood mentality, that statement you made so casually oozes of the stuff. There is no ‘orgy of hate’ against ‘muslims’, there is ‘concern’ about extremists. There is a huge difference there but some people would just love to mix that up.

    Can anyone seriously say Obama’s chances of getting elected are dented by this picture, no seriously? in the slightest? I certainly don’t feel that, the media doesn’t feel or communicate that, only you and Naomi Klein forever creating special interest groups would like to believe this.

  86. Refresh — on 2nd March, 2008 at 5:47 pm  

    That’s both of us fed-up then.

  87. Edsa — on 2nd March, 2008 at 6:56 pm  

    It’s amazing that there is so much talk about Muslims and Obama when attention should be focused on Israel’s atrocities in Gaza; these have reached an intolerable peak with wanton killings including children.

    Yet no EU state will utter a word of condemnation against fellow Europeans like the Israelis and most websites and blogs are terrified to criticise.

    Will the organisers of this blog bring up this very human issue for a calm discussion? Let them demonstrate some moral courage.

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