The parable of Joey Abdullah


by Sid (Faisal)
29th March, 2008 at 10:07 am    

Consider the parable of Joey Abdullah:

Joey Abdullah was a young, sensitive lad from the East End of London. His parents named him Yusuf (Arabic for Joseph) but he found this a difficult name to bear outside of his home, so he changed it to Joey. In his first year at university Joey fell into the orbit of a small organised group of young people known as the Istanja Tahrir (Ritual Purification of the Purified Private Parts Party – RPoPPPP). They dressed up as clowns and held regular meetings which bristled with other angry young clowns. They exchanged stories of their personal alienation and political theories mired in postmodern-postcolonial angst. They called people who chose not to dress up as clowns ‘Kuffar’ and hatched intricate plans to overthrow the goverment and establish a Clown State. Joey felt comfortable being a Yusuf again. For the next ten years, Joey Abdullah’s clown demeanour grew in malice and he rose to the position of SMC “Seriously Mental Clown”, a respected position of seniority in the party. Joey could speak in complete sentences so he was chosen to be the party spokesman. On more than one occassion, he was invited by Newsnight to speak on behalf of radical clowns. He was asked to contextualise terrorist atrocities committed in other parts of the world by other angry clowns. Joey Abdullah would do his best to come across as an articulate clown in response to Jeremy Paxman’s jabbing questions. But one day Joey Abdullah stopped seeing the world in terms of clown and unclown and he left the Istanja Tahrir and wrote a book about his experience as a member of the radical group. His book became a success and Joey became a minor celebrity, lauded by the great and the good. Melanie Phillips and Rod Liddle formed a blog with Joey called ‘Putting it Ultra Right’ with a strapline of a George Orwell quote. Martin Amis even wrote a novel containing a character based on Joey, which was discussed breathlessly by critics on Newsnight Review. Joey Abdullah was now asked to speak on TV panel shows, Radio 4 programmes on current affairs, even Jonathan Ross asked Joey to his show to discuss his conversion from ‘murderous clown’ to ‘normal person’. Some say the Foreign Office is receiving a lot of calls from Stockholm which means Joey might possibly be on the list for the Nobel Peace Prize. Nowadays Joey Abdullah makes the effort not to come across as a radical terrorist clown because now of course he has a lot more to lose. His lucrative publishing contract and an endorsement from XBox (they have created a game with a computer animated character based on Joey, who confronts terrorists in war scenarious and kills them in their thouands; the game is called Istanja Death Hole). His radical days are finally behind him and now he is an international spokesman for non-clowns. He now writes long polemical speeches, with accompanying Powerpoint presentations, calling for the banning of the Istanja Tahrir and it’s splinter group (al Dubur) which he will deliver to various think tanks and health spas dotted around the United Arab Emirates. Yusuf is happy being a Joey again.

If you have followed the media coverage of Hizbut Tahrir members who have left the “party”, the parable of Joey Abdullah will not be unfamiliar to you. The last few years have seen a number of high-profile defectors of the radical and criminal Islamist groups rise to the surface. They were held in adoration by first the rightwing and now the leftwing media. People such as Hasan Butt, Ed Hussain, Shiraz Maher are now household names. Last month there was one “Umm Mustafa” who published her story of coming back from the dark side of the Hizbut Tahrir in the New Stateman. And only last week came along the personable Rashad Ali who has also happily moved on from Hizbut Tahrir and is now the head of research and policy at the Quilliam Foundation.

In the short video interview on the TimesOnline site, Rashad is asked the crucial question, ‘Why did you leave Hizbut Tahrir?’. This was his answer:

The main thing that led me to leave was when I…kind of…the tension of my understanding of Islam as a diverse faith and Hizbut Tahrir’s monolithic ideology…eventually…the tension…I couldn’t keep both…kind of had to…I attempted to try and engage with the party and try and…you know…spread these ideas but it…kind of…wasn’t going to happen so I…kind of…separated from the party.

Whoa, excuse me?! You’re not going to be asked on Jonathan Ross with a tepid response like that, Rashad. You’ve just left a murderous, racist “political party” peopled with neanderthal religious supremacists who are making death threats to you on the internet and the only reason you can come up with for leaving is because of a “tension” with their monolithic ideology?

Sister Umm Mustafa’s article in the the New Statesman is just as pitifully lacking. In a 1300 word article about her ten year experience in Hizbut Tahir she cannot articulate the reason why she left other than to say this:

In 2006, however, my feelings began to change. I noticed that whenever I had concerns, I was told to raise them through “the structure”, but the answers to my questions and challenges were not satisfactory. The senior members seemed to be on autopilot, speaking only in party jargon, unable to participate in debate or look at the other side of an argument.

She goes on in that vein. Sister Umm Mustafa never makes clear what finally made the HT ideology so insufferable to her nor what made her change her mind. She does not say whether it was a sudden last straw or a gradual erosion of loyalties. Did she flee because of the hideous supremacism underlying the ideas of “the party”. Did she do it to reclaim the life that she had lost to a bunch of close minded bigots? She doesn’t say. All she admits to is an “enourmous relief” because she no longer felt compelled to wear the frumpy, party-approved jilbab.

Don’t get me wrong, I am always happy to hear about defectors from HT who have decided to rejoin the human race. But what I find extremely insulting is when such people, who a few months earlier were traitors to their country and to their co-religionsists are co-opted to “Official Spokesperson” status by certain sections of the media. We are told they are extraordinary because they happened to have left a radical muslim group! Chances are they are not particularly extraordinary at all. They are most certainly emotionally weak people with deep-seated feelings of low self esteem who made the choice of joining a group so that GroupThink would produce all their thoughts for them. These people tend to think in binary. So when they are de-programmed from ideas that made them willing to kill innocent people they cannot think in any other way but in extremes. This is why you will see many defectors speak about the banning of Hizbut Tahrir. Banning a group is hardly a liberal response. But then, be aware, an ex-Hizbut Tahrir member may not necessarily be a liberal muslim holding humanist ideas of freedom of speech.

Ed Hussain’s last article published in the Observer is called ‘It’s Arabs who are showing us how to tackle extremism‘. And what does he base this extraordinary claim upon?

I met a professor of Islamic studies from Qatar University. Dr Abdul Hameed al-Ansary, without my prodding, reiterated his public position of support for churches in Qatar. Meeting an Arab Muslim scholar from a conservative Gulf state who proudly tells me that Qatar’s first church building is nearly complete gives me a sense of hope that soon Saudi Arabia may follow where its neighbours lead.

No Ed, this is not an indication that Arabs are tackling extremism. This is an example of one of the more (relatively) liberal Gulf sultanates making a centuries late gesture of religious pluralism, by building a single church. If you wish to report on extremism in Arab states, I would like nothing less than you to enter Wahhabi mosques in the Nejd region of Saudi Arabia and lecture imams about secularism and women’s rights, and see what they have to say. Polite chit-chat with Arab academics in the foyers of five star Gulf hotels does not cut it.

Ed Husain was once foolish enough to pledge allegiance (bay’ah) to the disgusting figure of Omar Bakri Mohammed. I find his new found role as spokesman for liberal, anti-extremism to be just as lacking in intelligent, cogent analysis that provided him with the impulse to join the Hizbut Tahrir.

I can think of many muslim figures who have consistenly spoken against the obscurantist, nihilistic forces of Islamist extremism and have been brave enough to work, lecture, write on these issues whom I would regard as spokespeople for muslims. More often than not, these people have been exiled from their own countries for daring to speak out. But instead, thanks to the Observer and the New Statesman amongst others, we must do with dilettantes like Ed Husain to be our voice.

Not least of these public muslim intellectuals is the estimable Ali Eteraz, who has actually written a characteristically superb article on this very phenonmenon:

I do take umbrage in the fact that back when these easily duped figures like Butt and Hussain and Hamid were agitating for Global Caliphates, my friends and I would confront them at various Islamic conventions and call them traitors to the Islamic tradition and yet now the WSJ and Observer are parading these figures around as talking heads, while not acknowledging the existent discourse among Muslim communities that challenged them previously.

Not only that, but Muslim scholars worldwide are not just entering “new theological territory” they have already entered it, set up minarets and domes there, have been risking their lives to draw people in, and started to have actual political success. Besides the aforementioned An-Naim who after 30 years of exile is on his way back to Sudan, there is the Indonesian activist Susilo Bambang who has been able to do what most traditional Muslims cannot: destroy radical Muslims without becoming appropriated by the American right-wing. There is also the case of Islamic Jurist Javed Ahmed Ghamidi in Pakistan (comprehensive analysis of his work here), whose activism finally manifested in the successful passage of the Women’s Protection Bill in Pakistan (a repeal of the barbaric rape laws), and a flyer published by one of his students regarding terrorism has long been part of discussion among Muslims on how to use Islamic Law itself to challenge radical and nihilist readings of Islamic Law. Even ultra-orthodox Muslims who otherwise resemble the isolationist Orthodox Jews of days yore, have long before Hamid and Butt and Hussain put forward intellectually coherent, and authentically Islamic methods of challenging terrorism and radicalism.


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  1. Sajn — on 29th March, 2008 at 12:17 pm  

    “household names”????????

  2. marvin — on 29th March, 2008 at 12:24 pm  

    Who’s listening to the Muslim moderates? There was a distinct lack of interest when one of the world’s most senior Islamic clerics condemned extremists.

    Sid, great article. SMC. LMAO!

  3. douglas clark — on 29th March, 2008 at 12:38 pm  

    Sid,

    It is probably all down to this:

    “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7)

    Although the Bible is strangely silent on book deals, syndication rights, and indeed appearing on the telly.

    Excellent article, btw.

  4. Northerner — on 29th March, 2008 at 12:53 pm  

    Absolutely fascinating.

    You draw on the deep unease of feelings that no one wants to talk abt wrt to ‘former’ jihadis. Who can verify how senior these former ‘militants’ were in HT etc? I’ve heard from an ex HT person, that Ed was never one of the seniors he claims to be, but he can’t be publicly challenged about that.

    Also, If I was Ed, I’d be seriously uneasy having senior members of government like Hazel Blears always touting me as an example of a reformed terrorist wannabe. Where’s the sense of credibility? Imagine if Thatcher or Tebbit had once upon a time promoted the memoirs of Gerry Adams??

    As for “Umm Mustafa”, I think she’s just the ‘new’ face of the government’s shift in focusing on Muslim women being the new weapon in ‘fighting’ extremism. I’d watch out if I was Ed Husain et al, as the flavour of the month will change again…

    The whole thing stinks.

  5. marvin — on 29th March, 2008 at 12:54 pm  

    It’s a known psychological phenomenon where a person will rate another person as more likeable if they initially was indifferent or negative in their approach to them, and then over a period of time they become friendly or change to have a positive approach to them. This is in comparison to a person that has been kind or had a positive approach to them all along.

    Wouldn’t work on me of course, but that’s what I learnt in Psychology at uni!

  6. fugstar — on 29th March, 2008 at 1:16 pm  

    You are twisted and your rip off of the excellent and well humoured ‘Islamicist’ spoof of HT is terrible tacky and betrays a clear lacking in inspiration.

    Get back to suckling on your wage holders and try not to over stretch. You are a crime against literacy and amusingly irrelevant beyond the clueless brown puddle of bilge-water you bathe yourself in.

    Personable Rashad Ali?!? the classic ‘he’s a mate’ approach to discovering truth from you again.

    Truly you are inbred, ignorant and getting steadily worse.

  7. marvin — on 29th March, 2008 at 1:55 pm  

    Oh Fug off…

  8. Sid — on 29th March, 2008 at 2:30 pm  

    Fugoo, can always rely on you to miss the point. Besides, I thought you considered Ed an evil turncoat.

  9. marvin — on 29th March, 2008 at 3:39 pm  

    I haven’t read Ed Hussain’s book, but Azarmehr says it’s captivating.

  10. Leon — on 29th March, 2008 at 5:31 pm  

    We are told they are extraordinary because they happened to have left a radical muslim group!

    Yep, a easy path to fame and money; join an extremist group then leave claiming Road to Damascus like change and proclaim to the media you are no longer Evil….

  11. Boyo — on 29th March, 2008 at 8:01 pm  

    Joey Abdullah sounds like Tariq Ali to me…

  12. septicisle — on 29th March, 2008 at 9:09 pm  

    Excellent stuff, Sid.

  13. fugstar — on 29th March, 2008 at 9:13 pm  

    he is, and you dont have a coat. and your attempts to knit yourself one are misleading.

  14. Muhamad — on 29th March, 2008 at 9:53 pm  

    Personally, I find them all boring. Even more so when they claim to have become moderate Muslims. ‘Ed’ Husain is nauseating. Well, whatever the case, I just hope that nobody comes to the Southwest to build a mosque.

  15. sarah — on 30th March, 2008 at 2:10 am  

    The parable is hilarious. Well done.

  16. SalmanRush — on 30th March, 2008 at 2:33 am  

    Sid,

    You sound like you’re jealous that Ed Husain is published and you are not.

  17. Spurius — on 30th March, 2008 at 6:23 am  

    If there are unsung Muslims out there who believe they have the answer to what the rest of the world finds objectionable in Islam, then what are they doing about it?

    You can’t blame all of the media all of the time, for going unnoticed.

    Perhaps they have no resonance with the common man (Muslim) in the street, perhaps they are heavily outnumbered but the likes of the people we see at the MCB representing Muslims?

    Have a look at the responses to the Cranmer blog “Fitna now censored in the UK”, Saturday, March 29th. It is very worrying.
    http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com/

  18. billericaydicky — on 30th March, 2008 at 10:35 am  

    What no one seems to be asking is are these “penitenti” telling the truth and that should be all that any of us should be interested in. It is irrelevant if Ed Hussein has elevated his position in HT if what he says is true and I would expect current members of the organization to rubbish these books.

    An interesting little story about Mosques in East London.. I have been using a restaurent in Brick Lane for years and have got to know the owner well. He and his two sons don’t use the new East London Mosque and Muslim Centre on the Whitechapel Rd because he says it preaches hatred and he doesn’t want his two sons exposed to it. They go to the one in the converted Synagogue in Brick Lane.

    According to him the bookshop attached to the East London Mosque is a distribution centre for the most extreme kinds of material. Wonder why it hasn’t been raided.

  19. Sid — on 30th March, 2008 at 12:10 pm  

    Spurius,

    Perhaps they have no resonance with the common man (Muslim) in the street, perhaps they are heavily outnumbered but the likes of the people we see at the MCB representing Muslims?

    But that’s not the point. Even Ed Husain does not claim to be a representative voice of Muslims. He’s too busy riding a tide of media adulation and as a result has become a de-facto anti-Islamist “specialist”, without any other qualification other than to have belonged to a group of Islamists. Other far more qualified people with real experiences are passed over by the media, because Ed’s story is, I don’t know, sexier than that of, say, Abdullahi An-Naim for example.

    As for Cranmer, he tends towards racism and homophobia quite effortlessly, doesn’t he? To his credit, he does try his best on his blog to covert his tendencies but he’s not very successfull. The one and only difference between the Hizbut Tahrir and Cranmer (and people of his side), is that Cranmer is conscious of having to use language to disguise his ugly impulses. And what’s up with alll that “your grace” bollocks?

  20. Sid — on 30th March, 2008 at 12:14 pm  

    You sound like you’re jealous that Ed Husain is published and you are not.

    No I am jealous that Martin Amis is published and I am not.

  21. Spurius — on 30th March, 2008 at 1:02 pm  

    “Other far more qualified people with real experiences are passed over by the media, because Ed’s story is, I don’t know, sexier than that of, say, Abdullahi An-Naim for example.”

    Sid

    I am a layman in these matters, and something suitable might already exist, but it strikes me it would be useful if you (or this site) did a Dummies Guide on these “more qualified people” and what they were actually doing and achieving (or not).

    Why can’t it be made “sexier”? The consequences are really very important.

    Not exactly Martin Amis stuff but it could be helpful.

    You seem to know more about Cranmer than I. It seems to me he brings up valid issues whether you agree with him or not. It was the virulence of some of the comments on that paticular “Fitna” piece that struck me (though I have seen worse on CiF!)

  22. SalmanRush — on 30th March, 2008 at 2:03 pm  

    Updike wrote a novel about this kind of thing called, “The Terrorist.”

  23. Golam Murtaza — on 30th March, 2008 at 7:31 pm  

    Agree with what Muhammad wrote in post 14. The whole ‘Ed’ Husain phenomenon was mildly diverting for a few months but isn’t particularly interesting anymore. The Muslims who never fell for extremism in the first place are more worthy of credit than those who did fall for it and only later thought, ‘Whoops….shouldn’t have done that’.

  24. Sunny — on 30th March, 2008 at 10:55 pm  

    Oh, spare the crying going over at Cranmer’s. You can watch the film on Google video or YouTube if you want. This looks like a PR stunt from Liveleak.

  25. douglas clark — on 30th March, 2008 at 11:49 pm  

    And just to say I think Sid has something worthewhile to say. Thus, he ought to be published.

    Is there anyone here that could do that?

    And I like starting sentences with And. So there.

  26. Avi Cohen — on 31st March, 2008 at 1:43 am  

    Sid – You may find this interesting:

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/129237/page/1

    Christian Rage and Muslim Moderation.

    If anything whilst Muslims are learning lessons, Judeo-Christian Europe isn’t.

    Also your article could easily apply to other faiths who have extremist minorities which largely go unchallanged.

    In light of your article do you still challange Ed Hussein on his current position?

  27. SalmanRush — on 31st March, 2008 at 3:06 am  

    The style, sort of primitive post modern, reminds me of Barthelme. Specifically, his first novel, “Snow White.”

  28. douglas clark — on 31st March, 2008 at 5:28 am  

    Avi Cohen,

    Has that, @26, not been what this web site has been saying for ages? Re most Muslims? Which I happen to agree with…

    If anything whilst Muslims are learning lessons…

    And what is this?

    Judeo-Christian Europe

    I am actually bored with telling you that Europe is unable, anymore, to support religiosity of any persuasion. We are not the USA.

    That, if you like, is your real enemy. Lack of religion. Quite obviously, I see that as a victory for common sense.

    Whilst folk listen to the Pope, they do not obey any more.

    Nor the ABC.

    We are a post religious community. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

    And don’t bring up the bloody Poles!

  29. douglas clark — on 31st March, 2008 at 5:59 am  

    Salman Rush,

    So, should Sid get published or not?

    All this ‘primitive post modernism’ is literary analysis too far. Do you do that with Martin Amis?

    ….Whom, it appears to me at least, to be a must in Islington, and not much read in the real world…

    I prefer William Boyd, personally.

    Publication seems to me to be more happenstance than merit. And certainly not about one persons idea of ‘primitive post modernism’. Did I mention that I disagreed with you? What an unreliable narrator I am.

    Sid talks a huge amount of sense, which is probably why he struggles to get published.

    So there.

  30. SalmanRush — on 31st March, 2008 at 7:20 am  

    #29

    “So, should Sid get published or not?”

    I don’t know, Douglas, since I have not read enough of his stuff. I liked the clown bit. Clowns in a story always seem to pose a nice double entendre.

    But in general, I think their might be a glut of South Asian fiction out there. Every South Asian guy/girl educated at Harvard/Princeton/liberal arts college wants to publish their curried version of the East/West/post-this-that experience. None of it seems to be contributing to literature.

  31. douglas clark — on 31st March, 2008 at 8:06 am  

    Salman Rush,

    Heh!

    Personally, I hate clowns.

    Viscerally.

    So Sid should not be published, according to my sensibilities :-)

    Still, he’s as good as that Martin Amis chap, and he gets published. What is English literature about, really, rather than putting about a public school educated, minority world view? What’s wrong with hearing other voices? You’d think that a daily subscription to The Mail would be enough for them, but apparently not.

    So Sid has a case, I think. Despite the f*****g clowns.

    Oops!

    Told you it was visceral.

  32. Avi Cohen — on 31st March, 2008 at 8:07 am  

    Douglas –

    “Has that, @26, not been what this web site has been saying for ages? Re most Muslims? Which I happen to agree with…”

    I simply posted a link to an article I thought Sid and other people may find interesting with a one sentance summary.

    “Judeo-Christian Europe” this was in reference to the title many Politicians and some commentators are giving Europe.

    Indeed many conservative and centre right commentators refer to Europe’s Judeo-Christian Heritage.

    Hence Douglas the reference. They may not obey but that is how many people see themselves and indeed many people who do not obey even the BNP identify themselves as Christian or Judeo-Christian.

    Indeed in Wilders film he refers to an eroding of Judeo-Christian Identity of Europe. So that’s where that came from!

    So whilst I am smoking my pipe you may also want to put that in your pipe and smoke it ;-)

  33. douglas clark — on 31st March, 2008 at 8:33 am  

    Avi,

    Touché.

    However, I do not care much for the analysis that you subscribe to. The evidence is that Church attendance – in the UK, at least – is at an all time low, and falling.

    That, even in so called Catholic France they are having to call Priests out of retirement to read Mass, as there are few young folk taking up the calling.

    So, I think the commentators are a bit like the courtiers in the Court of the naked King. “What a fine figure he cuts in his elegant clothes!” Etc, etc.

    I’d agree with Wilder that there is an erosion of Judeo-Christian identity in Europe – including the UK for clarity – it is just not being replaced with another religious identity. If anything it is being replaced with complete apathy. These are not Dawkins inspired Atheists, these are folk that ‘aren’t bovvered’ (to quote someone famous)

    Shoot me down if you can, but it seems to me that people hold onto their roots far beyond the (beliefs) ‘sell by’ date.

    Thanks for not mentioning the Poles :-)

  34. Sofi — on 31st March, 2008 at 9:44 am  

    Apparently, according to the metro anyway, Islam has beaten Catholicism as the most populous religion in the world. The media, partnered with the various terror isn’t camps, have obviously played a huge part in Spreading the Message..

  35. bananabrain — on 31st March, 2008 at 10:43 am  

    avi,

    i for one find the word “judeo-christian” to be absolutely bankrupt and totally misleading. quite apart from the fact that it is used by people like mel phillips to align jews with the european establishment (which is, imho, quite misguided) it has absolutely *no* jewish content. if you ask me, people just use it because they’re embarrassed to say “christian”. you might as well say “graeco-romano-nordic” for all the sense that makes.

    i mean, really, what’s “judeo” about european identity? give me a couple of examples.

    personally, i enjoyed “the islamist” – i didn’t find it particularly insightful, given that his solution is basically “do it like grandpa used to”, which i could see coming a mile off, but it is a good primer for people who are unfamiliar with the issues. in the same way, i’d recommend “londonistan” as a *critique* of many of the ways the UK has gone the wrong way about islamism. i just wouldn’t say it offered any solution, any practical ideas on how to move forward or any vision beyond a rather vague commitment to nebulous values. and i certainly wouldn’t give it to read to anyone who would simply find it a reason to harden their attitudes, like, say, my auntie.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  36. Avi Cohen — on 31st March, 2008 at 10:51 am  

    Douglas – “However, I do not care much for the analysis that you subscribe to. The evidence is that Church attendance – in the UK, at least – is at an all time low, and falling.”

    My comment was to do with the reaction rather than going down a religous line. It was to highlight that despite the continued attempts by some in Europe to provoke there seems to be a reaction against this approach.

    As for this identity that you and Gert say is being eroded – what is it? Identity and especially European identity due to colonisation has been forged by many cutoms and beliefs from around the world. So I would say that it has never been there to be eroded.

    European identity has been put in place by contributions from the Americas, Asia, Australia, by Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and other religions from ancient greece, egypt etc. This is reflected by the spread of Europe and its colonies. So there isn’t this grand identity.

    Case in point Jewish Communitues identify with two areas that of Europe and that of the Islamic World. Yet both types of Jews live in Europe so how can the Judeo part alone say it is European – that is simply false.

  37. Avi Cohen — on 31st March, 2008 at 11:21 am  

    BB – I agree the phrase has no value but commentators from the right keep using it and hence my reference.

    As I outlined in my earlier post even the Jewish identity in Europe (Sephardi and Ashkenazi) are made up of great variety. So to lump just this in to a phrase is misleading.

    Londonistan is I am afraid a poor piece of work and is frankly a smear on a community which if the same was done to Mel and her ilk she would deem anti-semtic. I agree with Rabbi Julia Neuberger’s review of this piece of work:

    “Melanie Phillips writes beguilingly well, but she has gone over the top.

    Of course it is true that there are some, perhaps even significant numbers of, radicalised Muslims in the UK. It is right to be deeply shocked about the young lads from Bradford who were prepared to be suicide bombers (their parents also were shocked).

    Of course it is right to say that much of the antisemitic literature in Muslim bookshops is disgusting. But none of that adds up to the hotbed of horror she is portraying.

    Nor is it wise to use opposition to the Iraq war as an illustration of Islamist influence. Some of us have a reasoned objection to it. When she says, “Britons believe that they were lied to over his [Saddam Hussein’s] weapons of mass destruction,” having already said that “they do not believe Saddam Hussein was ever a threat to Britain and the West,” she forgets that we were right. We were lied to; Saddam was no threat to Britain. He was a threat to his own people, but that is not why we went to war.”

    Rabbi Neuberger is a much more estimed and impartial commentator in my opinion.

  38. thabet — on 31st March, 2008 at 12:06 pm  

    “Judeo-Christian” was formed in the American political and social experience over a century ago. Its re-emergence since around the 80s has been criticised by both Jewish (Arthur Cohen) and Christian (Martin Marty) writers.

    I think it is misapplied in Europe. Think about all those European Jewish intellectuals who savaged public religion (with good reason).

  39. Avi Cohen — on 31st March, 2008 at 12:41 pm  

    Agreed Judeo-Christian is a misleading term and as Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits writes that “Judaism is Judaism because it rejects Christianity, and Christianity is Christianity because it rejects Judaism”.

    BTW. When I say “Mel and her ilk” I am referring to her right whinge friends.

  40. Anas — on 31st March, 2008 at 1:21 pm  

    As far as I can tell the contemporary usage of the term “Judeo-Christian”, when applied to modern European culture to somehow describe its essential cultural/moral backbone, is in many instances a means of emphasising the difference between the civilised West (i.e., the US, Europe and Israel), and the Barbarians, i.e., the Muslim world.

  41. SalmanRush — on 31st March, 2008 at 1:28 pm  

    #31

    Touche, Douglas!

  42. Joolz — on 31st March, 2008 at 3:50 pm  

    This makes aboslutely no sense at all, and reeks of bitterness at the attention that the likes of Ed Husain and other former members of extremist groups are receiving. Criticise their ideas, but why criticise their profile? Small time factionalism for the sake of it.

  43. Joolz — on 31st March, 2008 at 3:55 pm  

    As far as I can tell the contemporary usage of the term “Judeo-Christian”, when applied to modern European culture to somehow describe its essential cultural/moral backbone, is in many instances a means of emphasising the difference between the civilised West (i.e., the US, Europe and Israel), and the Barbarians, i.e., the Muslim world

    What a load of paranoid victimhood-mongering nonsense. No wonder there are so many self-pitying stunted minds amongst Muslims when this is the kind of ahistorical effluent being spouted.

    Modern European civilisation is derived from a Judeo-Christian moral framework, even when it derives from the Enlightenment which took its impetus from the rejection of Christian and Jewish dogma.

    Nobody should be afraid of saying this, or be ashamed to say this, no matter how much the amateur and clueless bedroom ranters and conspiracy theorists and victimhood mongerer’s try to slander modern European civilisation, it’s roots and achievments as nothing more than an ‘anti Muslim’ confederacy.

  44. douglas clark — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:07 pm  

    Avi Cohen @ 36,

    I really am quite coming around to you.

    However, giving me an imaginary friend called Gert, is not how you become my best buddy ever. If you said my imaginary friend was Kate Moss, then you’d rock!

    Who is Gert, and WTF have they contributed to this thread?

    Anyways, Anas, as usual, brings us back to reality – it is quite clear, to me at least, that tossers see the world in the way that Anas describes. We are still at the gates of Vienna, fighting back the barbarian horde. I wonder whether we’ll win, or not?

    Oh, we did.

    Match report:

    “Despite desperate last minute attacks on the edge of the penalty box, the Saracens went home with their tails between their legs. Vienna now plays the rest of the World in the contest known as the First World War”

    Satire?

    Mibee aye, mibee naw. (copyright K Dalgleish)

  45. Sid — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:08 pm  

    This makes aboslutely no sense at all

    You should have put a full stop after that sentence Muzumdar. It’s all you needed to have said. :)

  46. Joolz — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:16 pm  

    I don’t know what you’re talking about Sid.

    Ed Husain and others like him should be seen as components in a debate, not as the debate itself. They will stand or fall on their contributions and insights. They have made good contributions in bringing an insight into the reality of this ideology to many people. All this sniping just reeks of petty jealousy.

  47. douglas clark — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:19 pm  

    Joolz

    Clearly not in Holland?

    Anas is one of the most clear thinking folk you will ever find.

    Modern European civilisation is derived from a Judeo-Christian moral framework, even when it derives from the Enlightenment which took its impetus from the rejection of Christian and Jewish dogma.

    Nobody should be afraid of saying this, or be ashamed to say this, no matter how much the amateur and clueless bedroom ranters and conspiracy theorists and victimhood mongerer’s try to slander modern European civilisation, it’s roots and achievments as nothing more than an ‘anti Muslim’ confederacy.

    How does that waffle contradict what Anas said? Admittedly, the last sentence has a contradiction within a contradiction to all you said ‘up front’ as it were, but, oh, why am I bothering?

    Go away, you retard.

    (question for the editors here, had I replaced ‘Go away’ with ‘Fuck off’ rather than vice versa, would you have puckered your no doubt fine lips and censoring me? Just so’s I know for the future :-) )

  48. Sid — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:22 pm  

    Idiots federate with other idiots. Omar Bakri and Geert Wilders are mutual back scrubbers. People who can only see things in binary, such as you Muzumdar, will see this is as an mimsy, personal attack of “petty jealousy”.

  49. Joolz — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:23 pm  

    Go away, you retard.

    Well done, great way to debate. Classy.

    ——

    Do you believe that describing European culture, civilisation and institutions as ‘Judeo Christian’ in origin is part of a conspiracy to slander the ‘barbarians’ of Islam? That’s what Anas reckons.

  50. Sid — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:32 pm  

    I don’t know what you’re talking about Sid.

    *sigh* I know, Muzumdar, I know.

  51. douglas clark — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:39 pm  

    Yup.

    You actually don’t deserve that degree of debate.
    Here’s what you said that pulled that reaction out of me:

    What a load of paranoid victimhood-mongering nonsense. No wonder there are so many self-pitying stunted minds amongst Muslims when this is the kind of ahistorical effluent being spouted.

    Yup, pulled it out. You are a complete, utter, troll….

    Fuck off with your victimhood shit. You are the one that suggests the majority of Muslims are fools, not me. And when you get called on it, you tell me I can’t debate? What’s to debate with? There are better comments at the tail end of threads here, and these are produced by robots. Fact is, they talk more sense than you do…..

  52. Avi Cohen — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:43 pm  

    Douglas – Geert is none other than Mr. Fitna himself who also says that Judeo-Christian identity is being eroded but the poor proxide blonde with poor highlights can’t define what it is.

    Sid – “Idiots federate with other idiots. Omar Bakri and Geert Wilders are mutual back scrubbers.”

    Perfectly illustrated but Muzie won’t get it as he can’t see with such clarity.

  53. Avi Cohen — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:48 pm  

    Sid – As I see it the problem is that HT and Bakri etc. target individuals who by their accounts don’t know much about the religion itself. Thus they can be moulded to the set way of thinking.

    As they begin to explore issues which these orgs and people can’t answer they begin asking questions and it may be any combination of things that takes them away from these people.

    Thus the problem stems from vunerability and lack of knowledge in some cases of fundementals.

    Thus they may not actually be able to articulate exactly at what point they suspected what they were being told was not correct, it may be a combination of events.

  54. Sid — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:48 pm  

    That’s coz he’s part of the Khalistani chapter of the Istanja Tahrir.

  55. Sid — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:52 pm  

    Avi #53 – that’s precisely it.

    But they’re then hoisted to the status of cause-celebre of the anti-Islamist Muslims. It is this that is problematic, if not pitifully ignorant. And the blame for it goes to the Celebrity Industry, ie the media.

  56. Don — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:55 pm  

    Douglas,

    I did pucker slightly at ‘retard’.

    Joolz,

    As has been pointed out, the term ‘judeo-christian’ in this context is a recent import from the US. The OED tells that the term was not even coined until 1899 and for most of the twentieth century was used only in discussions about the development of religious belief.

    It’s current usage is political rhetoric, used by people who would be hard pressed to define it in any but the wooliest way. Can you come up with a significant example of the use of the term in the last decade or so which was not in the context of ‘Not-Islam’?

    In terms of belief and value systems, I don’t see how Islam differs from Judaism and Christianity any more than they differ from each other. They may be mutually hostile, but the core beliefs and values have the same root and have diverged no further from that common ancestor than have, say, the weasel and the stoat.

    Of course, many of these beliefs values are… not to my taste.

  57. Don — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:57 pm  

    Oh, is Joolz Muzzumdar? That was two minutes wasted, then.

  58. Avi Cohen — on 31st March, 2008 at 4:59 pm  

    Sid – True but here society itself should be questioning the role and behaviour of the media.

    By giving a platform to such people and people like Bakri then the media is simply hyping these people.

    Any person can see that Bakri doesn’t practise what he preaches. It is all macho bull comign from someone whose knowledge of religion let alone his own is limited.

    However he says statements that allow the media to hype up a threat that isn’t there. The two need each other. Sky needs Bakri for news and Bakri needs Sky for publicity and Murdoch needs them both to keep his empire profitable.

    I wonder if old Omar would debate with someone who knows more than him in religion and can refute him. I saw him once get trounched on Channel 4 by a Rabbi who knew more about Islam than he did!

  59. Avi Cohen — on 31st March, 2008 at 5:02 pm  

    Sid – But the underlying problem is the inactivity of the mosques in this area. Thus the young when they go away to University are vunerable to conartists like these.

    So the issue must be addressed ata local level by local communities. That would be a good start.

    As for Ed he is hyping himself for his media image and has little interest in actually addressing the issue as you did when you confronted him.

  60. Sid — on 31st March, 2008 at 5:04 pm  

    Sid – True but here society itself should be questioning the role and behaviour of the media.

    That was the whole point of this article. That’s what the parable of Joey Abdullah is all about. That and XBox 360.

    I wish blogs were around when Omar Bakri was busting his arse cheeks around the university colleges in London in the 90s. Young muslims who weren’t taken in by his angry bravado gobbledegook could have rinsed his arse with Istanja Tahrir.

    We had to wait 10 years for the Daily Mail to do it. And for his ersthwile sycophant, Ed Husain. harrrrumph!

  61. douglas clark — on 31st March, 2008 at 5:18 pm  

    Avi,

    Just joking with you, don’t take me too seriously, I certainly don’t…

    Oh, the guy that produced ‘Fitna’? Okay…

    Still mas.. sorry, fantasising about Kate Moss though. You’ll have to excuse me, I’ve just read two Bukowski books back to back and that is enough to send any mortal mental.

    Your comment:

    Christian identity is being eroded but the poor proxide blonde with poor highlights can’t define what it is.

    is either a dab hand at taking on my apathy arguement, or something more profound altogether. (Err, I have found this in Unity’s stuff too, so it is probably evidence of a great mind, and mine is soooo small that I have to point out that it is Peroxide, Why do I do that? People hate it and it makes me no chums whatsoever.)

    So, you’ve decamped to the Sid side, have you? Only sensible place to be. Apart, obviously, from the Sunny side or the alliterative Dougies’ Dump.

    Err, the Dougies Dump is nowhere you’d really want to be. It smells.

  62. sonia — on 31st March, 2008 at 8:55 pm  

    i feel for ed husain actually

  63. sonia — on 31st March, 2008 at 8:56 pm  

    it takes a lot of courage you know, same for this mustafa woman. it’s not an easy situation to be in, admit you were wrong. walk a mile in their shoes and all that sort of stuff.

  64. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 31st March, 2008 at 10:29 pm  

    I read Ed’s book and I thought it was good. I like the guys, although as Sid quotes above he is prone to grab at straws to make an argument.

    My biggest pet peeve with bloggers is show in Ali Etc above. How many hyper links can you put in an opinion piece? It so tedious, like we are expected to read their 100 words and then read 10 articles to understand their point!

    Got an opinion, voice it. Got a stance, stand it. Got a view, show us. But don’t write like an aggregation point to all the things you’ve read this week.

    TFI

  65. Refresh — on 31st March, 2008 at 11:33 pm  

    The first time I heard the term Judeo-Christian mentioned it was from the mouth of Norman Tebbit. It was enough to set the alarm bells ringing.

  66. Avi Cohen — on 1st April, 2008 at 7:50 am  

    Sid – Newsnight yesterday had a feature on this very subject and a debate afterwards about what should be done to people who leave extremist groups. If you get a chance it is worth wtaching. The Conservative Party Member felt they should get publicity but a lady injured during 7/7 said where they can turn people away from extremism they should.

    Douglas – On this issue I agree with Sid’s analysis that people who come out of extremist groups are getting too much publicity. I try and look at each issue and it isn’t about sides.

    Having listened to Newsnight yesterday one can see both sides of the argument. However there are a number of underlying issues which need to be resolved – number one is the need for religous institutions to do more outreach.

    I have more respect for Sid now as he confronted the issue even though he wasn’t involved in such things than Ed Hussein who is hiding behind his own publicity and isn’t really helping the situation much other than to further his own agenda and media career and profile. So appalause for Sid for trying his best quietly.

  67. bananabrain — on 1st April, 2008 at 10:36 am  

    Case in point Jewish Communitues identify with two areas that of Europe and that of the Islamic World. Yet both types of Jews live in Europe so how can the Judeo part alone say it is European – that is simply false.

    you lot probably going to jump all over me for quoting bernard lewis, but he identifies a distinct social struggle (particularly obvious in israeli society) between the “jews of christendom” and the “jews of islam” – of course the sort of people who are intellectually lazy enough to use the phrase “judeo-christian” have probably never met a sephardi, iraqi or yemeni in their life.

    In terms of belief and value systems, I don’t see how Islam differs from Judaism and Christianity any more than they differ from each other. They may be mutually hostile, but the core beliefs and values have the same root and have diverged no further from that common ancestor than have, say, the weasel and the stoat.

    in point of fact judaism has far more in common with islam than it does with christianity, both being legal paradigms rather than based on a systematic theology – but i digress. and, moreover, judaism is not hostile to either christianity or islam except insofar as they believe they are right and we are wrong and therefore we must convert (or die, sometimes) – we are *not* an evangelist religion and they both are, which is a particularly important distinction. actually, i was about to do was agree 100% with *anas* for what must be the first time ever.

    As far as I can tell the contemporary usage of the term “Judeo-Christian”, when applied to modern European culture to somehow describe its essential cultural/moral backbone, is in many instances a means of emphasising the difference between the civilised West (i.e., the US, Europe and Israel), and the Barbarians, i.e., the Muslim world.

    how true this is – with of course the natural concomitant that left-wingers automatically assume that jews must be right-wing, aligned with europe, etc, etc. it would be amusing if it wasn’t for the fact that right-wing and muslim anti-semites are often prone to describe us as “internationalist”, “cosmopolitan” and “multiculturalist”, all of which, needless to say, are bad things. of course, we control both the international banking system and world communism, so i dare say we have all the angles covered. either way, it tends to annoy left-wing jews like julia neuberger who would consider herself more of a product of the european enlightenment, as avi points out. however, avi, “esteemed and impartial”? i consider her almost as much of a feeble soppy wet liberal as i consider mel phillips an alarmist rabble-rouser. i wouldn’t want either of them representing me, particularly given the pasting the former got from dawkins and hitchens in the recent debate for lacking the courage of her convictions, which is at least not something you can accuse mel phillips of.

    Modern European civilisation is derived from a Judeo-Christian moral framework, even when it derives from the Enlightenment which took its impetus from the rejection of Christian and Jewish dogma.

    look, i’m not disagreeing with the fact that some of these ideas were first raised in the jewish tradition, what i am disagreeing with is the idea that there is anything particularly or identifiably jewish about the contemporary moral framework – i agree that it speaks to our universalist inclinations, but not at all to our particularism, which is just as important.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  68. Avi Cohen — on 1st April, 2008 at 12:03 pm  

    http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,2269569,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=uknews

    Again the lack of education amongst Muslims needs to be reversed to stop alienation and extremism.

    Not to say that educated people don’t get involved but well educated people can act as a counter.

  69. Anas — on 1st April, 2008 at 12:49 pm  

    What a load of paranoid victimhood-mongering nonsense. No wonder there are so many self-pitying stunted minds amongst Muslims when this is the kind of ahistorical effluent being spouted.
    Modern European civilisation is derived from a Judeo-Christian moral framework, even when it derives from the Enlightenment which took its impetus from the rejection of Christian and Jewish dogma.
    Nobody should be afraid of saying this, or be ashamed to say this, no matter how much the amateur and clueless bedroom ranters and conspiracy theorists and victimhood mongerer’s try to slander modern European civilisation, it’s roots and achievments as nothing more than an ‘anti Muslim’ confederacy.

    Actually, I don’t deny that there is a strong underlying Judeo-Christian cultural/ moral framework upon which Modern European Civilisation is built. My point is that to focus almost exclusively on this Judeo-Xtian heritage, effectively excluding other important influences which have shaped Europe and which are shaping Europe, does tend to conform to anti-Islamic tendencies among many commentators. And not only that it is pretty inaccurate. I mean, like it or not, Islam is a major force in contemporary Europe — but it has also played an important role in shaping European civilisation, for example both intellectually, and artistically. Something which bigots tend to easily forget.

  70. Muhamad {peace be upon me} — on 1st April, 2008 at 8:20 pm  

    Sid @ 20
    No I am jealous that Martin Amis is published and I am not.

    Same here. :-)

    SalmanRush @ 30
    Yeah, they are an ambitious lot.

    sonia @ 63
    oh, you’re such a gedankenexperimentalist. Next thing, you’ll be asking us to walk in Mohammed’s shoes. The likes of Ed Husain can write whatever bilge they like. In East London, they say “don’t want your business!”, and that’s what I’d say to a charlatan like Ed.

  71. taran — on 2nd April, 2008 at 6:59 pm  

    great article! got the point across very well.

  72. thabet — on 4th April, 2008 at 6:59 am  

    Of four celebrity ex-jihadist/hizbi types, Nawaz seems to be the better writer. Maher and Husain seem average fillers while The Islamist Threat remains important. Butt, however, sounds like a joke (of course we will have to see what comes out of his Little Black Book).

  73. SalmanRush — on 4th April, 2008 at 7:53 am  

    One thing that Sid and people on this board have not considered is the very real possibility that these “celebrity ex-jihadists” could be, in fact, being paid and used by the American and British governments to be a very deliberate pyschological information campaign to deter potential future home grown jihadists and wage war against AQ globally.

  74. Saqib — on 24th April, 2008 at 12:39 pm  

    Eteraz:

    ‘I do take umbrage in the fact that back when these easily duped figures like Butt and Hussain and Hamid were agitating for Global Caliphates, my friends and I would confront them at various Islamic conventions and call them traitors to the Islamic tradition…’

    So it was okay for Eteraz and co to accuse other Muslims of treachery to the religion, but of course, if others accused them of that very thing, well of course they would be met with a chorus of disapproval.

    It actually sums these people up, lacking in any principle and systematic approach to scripture, rather their own arbitrary reading coupled with vague references to abstract concepts. This is the problem with the likes of Al-Qaeeda, and is a severe problem with the anachronistic modernists.

  75. Sid — on 24th April, 2008 at 5:08 pm  

    The difference between Eteraz’s complaint of the Ed Husain ex-Jihadist media circus and yours is fundamental:

    People like Eteraz have been critical of Hizbut Tahrir and these jihadist clowns from the very beginning. He has always been saying that they were idiots then and they are the still now. These people were traitorous to their counties of birth and traitors to their co-religionists. But now, as ex-Jihadists, they are the darling buds of May and are the veritable symbols of “Moderate Muslims”.

    You and the Quiliam Foundation haters like you, on the other hand have always been complacently tolerant perhaps even supportive of the extremist, radical groupuscules like the Hizbut Tahrir. You probably never challenged their appropriation of religion to fire up their juvenile, cartoonish radicalism. You’re problem with Ed Husain is that now you regard him as a turncoat.

    To you his is a traitor to your principles *now* but not when he was a radical ragamuffin in the HT.

    That, my friend, is the diff.

  76. Saqib — on 24th April, 2008 at 5:27 pm  

    Sid:

    “You and the Quiliam Foundation haters like you, on the other hand have always been complacently tolerant perhaps even supportive of the extremist, radical groupuscules like the Hizbut Tahrir. You probably never challenged their appropriation of religion to fire up their juvenile, cartoonish radicalism. You’re problem with Ed Husain is that now you regard him as a turncoat.”

    lol…Oh Sid…you are so blissfully ignorant! Many of the traditional scholars have criticised HT for their false methodology. In Britain, since the 90s, Islamic Societies fought to give HT no platform.

    What really irks secularists like you is that Muslims, such as myself will not take lying down the actual lie, that traditional Islam, however defined did not consider Khilafah as a heresy, and more importantly, that Islam is a way of life which guides spiritual and societal life.

  77. Sid — on 24th April, 2008 at 5:43 pm  

    hmmm yeah, it’s one thing when non-radicals who are interested in enquiring into what the “traditional scholars” have said in the abstraction. It’s another thing to actually *pronounce* “Khilafah” is false methodology (althouh to what end, I don’t know). They don’t *denounce* it either, a fortiori.

    Have these anachronistic scholars who purport to uphold traditionalism, when what they actually are are customary scholars, issued a fatwa against the Hizbis?

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