On a recent blog post at Harry’s Place, one of the readers asked David T:
David, I know Sunny is a friend of yours but he is clearly losing the plot. Some of the recent stuff he wrote about the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Islam Expo was bizarre. There was a time when he was reliably hostile to the prumptions of Islamism but recently he seems to have become some kind of anti-anti-Islamist, preferring to focus his energy on attacking anyone who dares to point out the danger. Any insights into whatâ€™s going on?
To which David T replies:
No, I really donâ€™t know. All I can say is that this isn’t the perspective of all the Pickled Politics bloggers at all.
It is a bizarre response for two reasons. First, David is a regular reader and should have seen this post where I explained my reasons for a subtle change in my own editorial direction.
Maybe it says more about the critics of Islamism, many of whom see any attempt to argue a middle line or defending ordinary Muslims as somehow pandering to radical groups. The two are not the same; David T knows this so I have no idea why he’s confused as to what’s going on. This site’s mission statement remains the same – its just that now I see this government and various “critics of Islamism” as more of a threat to our social cohesion than the “community leaders”. As I said earlier, I don’t believe in flogging dead horses.
And here’s another rub. I suspect that some people are more interested in fighting a cultural war than in anti-terrorism. The Quilliam Foundation example is important here for several reasons.
1) Several commenters on Harry’s Place, when reading about Demos holding a discussion at IslamExpo, said (Demos director) Catherine Fieschi liked to have tea with Islamists and some even made downright suggestive comments. Its this idiotic mob mentality that gives blogs a bad name. Catherine actually attracted a fair amount of criticism for openly and loudly supporting Ed Husain in the run up to QF’s launch. She was one of the main reasons I supported them too. Its this sort of baseless accusation-making that leads me to ignore most blogs when they talk about the various groups involved in all this area. Ed hasn’t exactly done himself favours either. For example at the Fabian Society annual conference he accused Shami Chakrabarti (Liberty) of sharing a platform with Hizb ut-Tahrir and had to withdraw his statement after a furious rebuke by Shami.
Ed has a bad habit of essentially taking a similar line to Melanie Phillips’ accusation that the British liberal-left will bend over and let Osama Bin Laden screw them if they were offered the opportunity. That doesn’t win him many friends and for this reason Catherine took a bit of a gamble by supporting QF.
2) What purpose will the Qulliam Foundation serve? This is an important question because several people commenting here said they’d be happy to see Ed and Maajid Nawaz as a counterweight to the likes of Azzam Tamimi on Newsnight. Guys, I have news for you – fighting the media battle is very different to an anti-terrorism strategy.
The likes of the July 7th bombers and such hardcore nutters have little interest in what the MSM is saying and are only likely to ignore Ed’s editorials aimed at them. People who believe otherwise are too obsessed with the westminster political/media village. Thankfully, the intelligence services and police are not and will in all likelihood work with conservative Muslim groups, maybe even Muslim Brotherhood types, for the purposes of anti-terrorism. The intelligence services will care less for who is saying what on Newsnight or in the Telegraph and more on how many cells they can track and crack.
To the same extent, I’m more interested in how many violent jihadis QF can bring into the fold and develop something solid along these lines. If Ed just focuses on telling off Azzam Tamimi through the comment pages of various newspapers, then I’m afraid the govt is wasting its time and money funding them (if it is). Muslim groups looking to represent the “silent majority” are dime a dozen these days. That isn’t to say I disagree with Ed (I agree with the QF crew on issues more than I would with the likes of nutters like Azzam Tamimi or Yvonne Ridley or Anas Altkriti), but to me that wasn’t the reason I supported the Quilliam Foundation initially. The culture war isn’t as important as a solid anti-terrorism startegy.
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Filed in: Civil liberties,Religion,Terrorism,The World