Counter-terrorism: What are our shared values?


by guest
25th March, 2009 at 3:32 pm    

This is a guest post by Dilwar Hussain of Policy Research Centre.

You have to pity local government and local delivery agencies. Just when everyone was beginning to get their heads around the last strategy for tackling violent extremism unveiled in 2007, along comes a revised version of Contest, the UK Strategy for Countering International Terrorism (or Contest 2).

Contest has four pillars to tackle terrorism: pursue, prevent, protect and prepare. The new strategy places greater emphasis on preventing terrorism and violent extremism and also quite crucially emphasises ‘shared values’. There seems to be stronger emphasis on community cohesion, community empowerment and race equality. So far, so good.

The major shift, as expected, seems to be a blurring of the differentiation between violent extremism and extremism more generally.

As Government, we will also continue to challenge views which fall short of supporting violence and are within the law, but which reject and undermine our shared values and jeopardise community cohesion… (p. 87)

The report goes on to mention what these shared values are:

The duty on all of us – Government, citizens and communities – is to challenge those who, for whatever reason or cause, reject the rights to which we are committed, scorn the institutions and values of our parliamentary democracy, dismiss the rule of law and promote intolerance and discrimination on the basis of race, faith, ethnicity, gender or sexuality. (p. 87)

It seems reasonable and very normal to ask that citizens subscribe to a basic set of values as generally stated above, but the risk is that these values will be specified much further in time to come, narrowed down and then potentially used as a yardstick to measure loyalty or legitimacy. The devil could be in the detail.

There is of course always legitimate room for debate and discussion around values but, in the liberal society that we cherish, is it the role of government to tell citizens what to think and how to think, in such potentially minute detail? It doesn’t sit well with our pragmatic and common sense approach to Britishness.

We will also have to see if the discourse of shared values is used across the board, for all citizens and communities, or to single out some Muslim communities. The government’s own research from the Citizenship Survey (April – June 2007) shows that feelings of belonging to the UK (answering ‘very strongly’ and ‘fairly strongly’) are high across ethnic minorities:

Bangladeshi (91%)
Indian (89%)
Pakistani (87%)
Black Caribbean (85%)
Black African (84%)
White (84%)
Chinese / other (72%)

If this is anything to go by, discussions around Britishness, belonging and also notions of shared values need to be national debates and not just aimed at Muslim communities.

In no way should government endorse extreme views. But the fear is that engagement with communities could be limited by non-compliance on the shared values checklist, potentially alienating the very people that need to be brought into conversation. As Sadiq Khan (now a Minister at CLG) wrote in his Fabian Society pamphlet Fairness not Favours (2008): “Engagement should not be confused with Endorsement”.

If we only talk to those that agree with us then not only do we risk having a futile, even if agreeable, conversation – we could also risk national security because we have left ourselves unable to challenge the evil of terrorism properly. Front line agencies such as the police know this only too well. As do local authorities, which understand the complex dynamics of their own patch, and realise how difficult it is to negotiate it.

Government cannot afford to get bogged down in the petty politics of any community and seen to be taking sides. Simply endorsing a narrow section of Muslim voices and expecting them to de-radicalise a completely different part of the theological spectrum is akin to asking Protestants in Northern Ireland to de-radicalise Catholic extremists – its more likely to increase sectarian tension than have the desired effect.

Instead, government needs to work with a wider range of groups – yes, looking for a clear rejection of violent extremism – but also for qualities such as track record, expertise, transparency, good governance, and crucially, how rooted these potential partners are in the communities they have to work with. There are many British Muslim organisations that have been talking about shared values, the importance of interfaith dialogue and community cohesion, and for a long time now.

Policy Research Centre


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  1. pickles

    New blog post: Counter-terrorism: What are our shared values? http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/3891




  1. Bo — on 25th March, 2009 at 5:10 pm  

    Indeed, what are shared values? What does it mean to be British? Who the hell are we anyway?

    This is the kind of relativist reductionism that led to 7/7.

    Although it is correct that we may not all have shared values – a sizeable minority view womenfolk as chattels, for example, to be married off according to their family’s whim – that does not mean British society does not traditionally stand for certain things, for example:

    - equality between the sexes
    - equality under a common law
    - parliamentary democracy
    - freedom of speech and confession, etc

    Other societies do not share these values, for example communist and (some) Islamic ones.

    So to be British does “mean” something, and I’m sure most Britons would agree with me that included are the things I mention above. Just because a minority may choose to believe something else, does not mean society must bend to their will, or indeed accomodate them – on the contrary.

    If you are a Briton, and believe in British values, it would be racist of you to believe that some Britons are less equal than others, regardless of what they say they want.

    Indeed, given the fact that the majority of those who do so reject the British way of life (see above) then one has to wonder why they moved here, or continue to remain, in the first place.

  2. Imran Khan — on 25th March, 2009 at 5:20 pm  

    Oh this is such nonsense. The shared values are adjusted depending on which community you are talking to.

    Shared values is an initiative that applies only to Muslims thereby implying at the outset they have nothing to share and need to get on side.

    Its another pack of lies dreamed up by the vocal right wing whose own shared values include outright lies to go to war. Is that compatible with British Values and will Hazel Blears now stop talking to them?

    Will Hazel Blears cut contacts with organisations advocating war and bombing on Iran?

    This is a policy of hypocracy and lies dreamed up by a bunch of rigth wing war tanks whose aim is to silence the majority and dumb down opposition to their feudal plans.

    If Hazel Blears is so true to her own policy of shared values will she now stop talking to Think Tanks who are being indoctrinated by war mongering right wingers from the USA?

  3. Jai — on 25th March, 2009 at 5:59 pm  

    Bo,

    that does not mean British society does not traditionally stand for certain things, for example:

    Hmmm. Maybe “currently” would be a better term than “traditionally”. Several of the concepts listed after that quote are relatively recent developments in British society, especially the first one.

    Having said that, I do understand your basic point, so maybe this is just a matter of semantics.

    Indeed, given the fact that the majority of those who do so reject the British way of life (see above), then one has to wonder why they moved here,

    Well, regarding the South Asian contingent:

    1. Most of the older generation, from all regions of the subcontinent and of all religious backgrounds, moved here predominantly for financial reasons. Some also ended up here as refugees from Uganda and (to a lesser extent) Kenya due to certain events in East Africa during the 60s and 70s.

    As to the intransigence in some quarters of the older generation when it comes to sufficiently adapting to the norms and cultural mores of the local environment, in the case of Indians I think it’s an extrapolation of the way people back in India have often behaved when moving to a different part of the country; eg. If Punjabis and Gujaratis moved to Mumbai or Bangalore, culturally they still deliberately remained predominantly Punjabi or Gujarati. This is purely armchair psychology theorising, but I think the same mindset and rationalisation has often influenced older folk when they moved out here to the West.

    Regarding the Pakistani crew and Muslims in general, I’m not really qualified to comment on that beyond speculation, so I’ll let other commenters handle that. However, having said that, I do think that there is a considerable amount of paradoxical hypocrisy in the cases of the ‘preachers of hate’ from various parts of the Middle East who came here for one reason or another (refugees from political persecution ? financial motivations ?) but actually despise everything about Western life and have wreaked such havoc here, including being a toxic influence on some of the 2nd-gen South Asian Muslim crowd and their interpretation of Islam.

    or continue to remain,

    1. Parents (and, if applicable, grandparents): Higher standard of living, and generally more ‘efficiency’ in most matters compared to the subcontinent. If most of their closest relatives are also in the UK then there’s ‘nobody to go back to’ in the subcontinent, especially if they need their kids to look after them in their old age.

    2. Younger UK-born crowd: Bloody good point. Personally I think it’s a combination of laziness and ‘talk is cheap’, ie. a reluctance to put their money where their mouths are; some of the disillusioned Muslim contingent could always try moving to one of the Gulf states or even Saudi Arabia if they’re that pissed off with Western culture and still want a high standard of living, for example.

    In the case of people like Anjem Choudary, he’s on record as saying it’s because, as a Muslim, he thinks that the whole planet actually belongs to him and his co-religionists first and foremost, including the UK, which is why he thinks he has the ‘right’ to stay here and overturn the prevailing culture, rather than simply moving to an existing Islamic country elsewhere.

  4. Refresh — on 25th March, 2009 at 6:05 pm  

    DavidT I am not in the least bit convinced you have anything to offer with regards community cohesion. Not in the least.

    I am never sure whether your right hand knows what the left is doing, or maybe you are ambidextrous.

  5. Don — on 25th March, 2009 at 6:21 pm  

    Equality of the sexes? Not sure that counts as a traditional shared value, given that it has only been widely conceded in the last few decades and many people still pay only lip service to it.

    Freedom of speech? Well, I get grumpy when pressure groups (mostly religious) try to curb that, but it’s our elected representatives that make me seriously uncomfortable.

    I have my own set of values, a set of values which I believe are shared by pretty much all of the regulars at PP (otherwise why would I be here and not in a constant state of rage?) but looking at the state of the nation it seems clear that this set of values is far from commonly held.

    Obviously we all gravitate to social groups who share our core values, so we tend to come to see these values as generally shared. That may be an illusion. I’m sure most of us have been in situations where we are among casual associates at the pub or at work or wherever when somebody feels ‘safe’ enough to say something that brings you up short, thinking ‘Damn, where did that come from?’

  6. Don — on 25th March, 2009 at 6:24 pm  

    Jai,

    Several of the concepts listed after that quote are relatively recent developments in British society, especially the first one.

    Damn. Beat me to the line again. I should type faster.

  7. douglas clark — on 25th March, 2009 at 6:44 pm  

    Refresh,

    Is David T now sending thought messages and not even posting? Is there nothing these folk from Harry’s Place can’t do?

    ;-)

  8. Don — on 25th March, 2009 at 6:52 pm  

    I starting to think some people talk to David T in their sleep.

  9. David T — on 25th March, 2009 at 7:04 pm  

    I will post though if it helps.

    Shared values is the wrong phrase – if only because, as you point out, they’re not shared by, erm, those who don’t share them.

    I get the feeling that they were searching around for a good phrase and hit on “shared values”: because it implies cohesion and commonality.

    In other words, respect for equality, democracy, liberal values etc are the only ones on which a pluralist multicultural society can be based. Therefore they SHOULD be shared, even if in fact they’re not.

    I think I’d have preferred “foundational values”.

  10. David T — on 25th March, 2009 at 7:28 pm  

    I know some of you would disagree with that statement, because you’re not committed to anti-discrimination and equality, and so on – but are embarrassed to say so.

    Therefore feel free to obfuscate by accusing me of racism.
    ;)

  11. Imran Khan — on 25th March, 2009 at 7:41 pm  

    Dave T – You don’t get it do you – you really don’t.

    Like Blears you keep on and on about shared values – “respect for equality, democracy, liberal values etc”
    but that is the bleedin point that respect is also for other people’s cultures and ideals which will never fit 100% with your own.

    I mean for crying out loud whilst promoting cultural differences between English, Scots and Welsh the same government ministers are saying that ethnics and minorities shouldn’t have their own values.

    Sharing democracy means that the government needs to listen to the people which Blair and Blears aren’t doing which is fanning extremism and not just amongst Muslims.

    The whole point is that this whole thing is nonsense. Culture changes and adapts. I mean for crying out loud Richard The Lionheart is seen as the ideal image of an Englishman but he didn’t even consider himself British! He is buried in France, and regarded England as a domian in his empire and yet over time he has become a symbol of England!

    We are not robots we are people who have differences and that needs to be recognised and thats the whole point of a democracy is that it isn’t a dictatorship so you can’t impose ideas and identity on people.

    The great strength which has allowed communities to grow in being eroded in the march towards what Thatcher wanted whcih was simply a bunch of people who didn’t question the whim of right wing government and were busied in their own drive for wealth ownership.

    The very people you hold so dear are what is causing the problems and those ideals are bloody foreign coming from America and not British anyway!

  12. Imran Khan — on 25th March, 2009 at 7:44 pm  

    Further Dave T is the fact that many of the Right Wing War Tanks who push policy are influenced from abroad as much as the Mullahs they complain about.

    Why is it acceptable for right wing war tanks in America to radicalise the white yoof of this country and encourage their imperialistic ideas and its not ok for the Mullahs?

    You yourself are influenced by ideas which are American and not British – they are imported and in fact alien to your own community – The Jewish Community which traditionally is the polar opposite of that you advocate. So why do you find it acceptable for the American Taliban to indoctrinate us with supremacism?

    Especailly in light of the fact that idealism advocated by the right wing war machine was roundly rejected by Americans.

  13. Don — on 25th March, 2009 at 7:57 pm  

    Richard The Lionheart is seen as the ideal image of an Englishman

    I’m more a Viv Stanshall man myself.

  14. David T — on 25th March, 2009 at 8:05 pm  

    The bottom line is this.

    If (for example) you do not support full formal and substantive equality between men and women, then you do not share this country’s foundational values.

    It would betray those foundational values to fund, endorse, or assist any person or group that sought to undermine equality between persons in any way.

    Certainly, diversity and differences should be “recognised”. They should be recognised in the following ways.

    – a person should only be penalised if they *engage* in acts of unlawful discrimination

    – a person should not be subject to criminal penalties simply because they advocate discrimination.

    That’s it.

    Simple, really.

  15. Refresh — on 25th March, 2009 at 8:19 pm  

    ‘Is David T now sending thought messages and not even posting? Is there nothing these folk from Harry’s Place can’t do?’

    I posted in anticipation. et voila. LOL

    Not only is he ambidextrous, but telepathic too. And RSS’d.

  16. douglas clark — on 25th March, 2009 at 8:26 pm  

    David T,

    I’d like to believe that men and women are equal. I conduct myself so, I think. However it is far from the truth to say that it is a foundational value. I cannot be arsed looking it up, but is it not the case that, on average, women earn less than men, that women are beaten up more often than men, etc, etc..?

    It cannot therefore be seen as foundational, to a concept of Britishness, except amongst those of us that think it ought to be erradicated, as opposed to the idiotic folk that see it is as allowable. And they, the sexists, can be found in any race, creed or colour, can they not? Yet they describe themselves as British, also?

    Not so simple really.

  17. Refresh — on 25th March, 2009 at 8:31 pm  

    Didn’t Richard Coeur de Lion offer his sister in matrimony to Saladin’s brother, al-Adhel?

  18. David T — on 25th March, 2009 at 8:36 pm  

    It isn’t a British value.

    In the UK is a product of, and an expression of the European and domestic legal order: we have anti-discrimination legislation that is a product of EU law, and domestic law. Domestic law often goes further than EU law: for example, they’re much hotter on workplace equality in Norway than we are in the UK.

    And it isn’t only European countries which have legislated to enshrine equality in their legal codes.

    That doesn’t mean that there aren’t sexists, or that violence against women doesn’t happen. The criminal law punishes certain transgressions, but not all of them.

    None of this means that our foundational values do not include equality between the sexes.

    By contrast, there are some countries in which inequality between the sexes is enshrined in law. There are some people who think that a legal system which promotes gender inequality is natural, proper, and divinely ordained.

    Those people who actively campaign for formalised legal gender inequality do not share our foundational values. We shouldn’t lock them up. We shouldn’t penalise them, unless they discriminate unlawfully.

    However, we shouldn’t encourage them, either.

  19. douglas clark — on 25th March, 2009 at 9:03 pm  

    Refresh,

    LOL to you too. It was fairly inevitable that Mr T would use his psychic powers and join the thread.

    OK, I admit it, I remember the A Team.

    So far his comment consists of a very interesting statement about foundational values as he sees them which, sadly I’d see as aspirational rather than a reality.

    I have no idea who is stopping us achieve the equality he seeks, it certainly isn’t you, nor me, nor David T. So who is it?

    But somebody sure as heck is…

  20. David T — on 25th March, 2009 at 9:06 pm  

    Sorry – I should have added that these values are freely chosen by our societies. We vote for these laws, our government chose to enter the EU, we could repeal them if we wanted to.

    I don’t want to.

  21. Refresh — on 25th March, 2009 at 9:13 pm  

    The term ‘foundational values’ is revisionary in essence. To understand that you only need to go back to see when these laws came into effect, and to see when the campaigns that elicited these changes in law were launched.

    I would go back to the Tolpuddle martyrs, take in the Sufragettes, equal pay for equal work and so on and so forth. And even then we had to wait until the late 70′s before we could consider women take on mortgages in their own right.

    No so foundational, really.

  22. David T — on 25th March, 2009 at 9:21 pm  

    I take it, however, that whatever we called those values, we’d oppose those who wanted to deprive women of the vote, repeal equal pay legislation, outlaw trade unions, and so on and so forth.

    You and I (I hope) would regard the values which are embodied and expressed by this legislation as foundational to us, and to the society that we support.

  23. douglas clark — on 25th March, 2009 at 9:26 pm  

    David T @ 18,

    I know you know the law. And I admire the laws that we have. They are far better that we had, say one hundred and fifty years ago. But it is important, as you nearly say to challenge the ones we have now, in a sort of progressive way.

    You said this:

    That doesn’t mean that there aren’t sexists, or that violence against women doesn’t happen. The criminal law punishes certain transgressions, but not all of them.

    It was the case, was it not, that until not so long ago that landlords could refuse ‘blacks’, ‘Irish’ and ‘dogs’ without explanation, fear or favour?

    It is time, I would suggest to you, that the law changed further, that – your phrase- certain transgressions should be treated as criminalised.

    As long as we are on the same page, right enough.

  24. David T — on 25th March, 2009 at 9:49 pm  

    I guess what I’m saying is this. I believe in forward and backward.

    I think that this society has moved forward when (say) it decriminalised homosexuality, and forward when it legislation for civil partnerships. I think that people and political movements that want to strip away those gains, because they fundamentally oppose equality, as a matter of deep belief and principle, want to move society backwards.

    The important thing is this. The reason that we have legislated for gender equality, gay partnerships, and to make it illegal to refuse goods and services to people on the basis of their ethnicity, and why we shun racists, is because our foundational values include a fundamental commitment to equality between person.

    However, not everybody does have that fundamental commitment to equality.

    Bringing this back to the issue at hand: effectively, the argument is that we should sacrifice some of our commitment to equality, in the interests of security. Perhaps not deeply: but by (for example) giving grants to organisations that we think might discourage suicide bombing but which will also teach people to oppose equality between persons.

    I don’t think that we should make that trade off, if we possibly can help it. It think we usually don’t need to. If we do, we should:

    - do so grudgingly
    - openly acknowledge that we’re sacrificing our commitment to equality for our own security

    The Contest 2 rationale is that by undermining these foundational values, we are in danger of emboldening those who oppose equality, who will quickly appreciate that they can use the fear of terrorism to advance an anti-egalitarian political agenda. We look as if we have only a contingent attachment to these important foundational values. We look as if we are weak, and quick to compromise and retreat.

    That’s a bad thing.

  25. Refresh — on 25th March, 2009 at 10:11 pm  

    I wish you would stop using that term, its deceptive.

    I think what you are talking about is progressive values, which would then raise the hackles of the Daily Mail reader.

    Development of values is interesting in as much that societies progress through ebb and flow of ideas; and progress is hindered or accelerated by the state of the economy and that in turn invariably means trade beyond ones borders.

    It would be interesting to see how the equality agenda is progressed during a serious downturn.

  26. Refresh — on 25th March, 2009 at 10:15 pm  

    In terms of government grants, we should give plenty to all those NGOs that would go around unearthing war crimes. Killing defenceless men women and children is an extreme form of inequality.

    That is a foundational value, thou shalt not kill thy neighbour.

  27. Bo — on 25th March, 2009 at 10:24 pm  

    It’s funny – foundational values, traditional values… it’s true these things evolve. Equally however one could argue that they have evolved out of a Christian society 1500 years old. So one could say British values have a specifically Christian characteristic, and why not? Pakistan is a Muslim country is it not?

    The point i am trying to make is – fuck this shit about Britain not being anything. It certainly is something, that has evolved to be its own unique thing. Another thing is – push the British and they will inevitably give way. Push them far enough, and they will push bloody hard back.

  28. Refresh — on 25th March, 2009 at 10:28 pm  

    ‘Push them far enough, and they will push bloody hard back.’

    Absolutely. Now that is a shared value!

  29. persephone — on 25th March, 2009 at 10:42 pm  

    This promotion of shared values is starting to create an identity of a British person and Brand Britain.

    Its the language of those who are seeking to create a brand in the aim of creating a unifying identity that will pull together & in the same direction. But so much comes across as identity politics.

    Any minute now I expect them to also launch an allied mission statement for Britain. Some may well ask but don’t we have the National Anthem? A vast majority will answer whats a national anthem? Or that no one knows the words because it may no longer be relevant/of interest.

    And thats the problem. Trying to pin down a diverse country like Britain which has evolved so much and become such a melting pot since the last 50 years is hard to encapsulate in some pre-selected ‘shared values’ which become defunct over time.

    I’m minded to think that any values should be enshrined and inherent via our legislation and nothing more. Naturally with opportunities to review the law to ensure it evolves with the nation.

  30. dave bones — on 25th March, 2009 at 11:57 pm  

    How does any of this prevent violent extremism? It is just words on pieces of paper. As Imran says the central thesis of all this is hypocrisy. This is really really sad in the 21st century.

    We have govenment ministers saying we can encourage kids to have an ambition to fight Muslims in their own country without even finding out if they are responsible for Sept 11th in New York or 7/7 in London.

    I spoke to a ten year old who had that ambition. We aren’t preventing extremism we are breeding it.

  31. Dilwar — on 26th March, 2009 at 1:08 am  

    I think this is a fruitful discussion. Here’s my two rupees worth, in addition to the initial posting:

    I’m not against shared values per se…as I hope is clear in the initial posting.

    I am a strong advocate of democracy, equality and certainly, human rights, and I think this is a good starting point for a discussion around values in a globalised world. And I also agree that Britain has a distinct identity. My contention is that spelling this out in minute detail and making it into a yardstick is very unbritish…its quite French!

    I know there are Muslims out there that do have crazy ideas when it comes to womens rights, authoritarianism, homophobia, etc. And yes, these ideas could be challenged. The questions in my mind are whether a) that challenge should be led by government, and b) whether this really has anything to do with terrorism? My gut feeling is that the answer is ‘no’ in both cases. The ‘nice and cuddly’ partners that government does like working with, have some serious issues when it comes to gender equality, liberal values, etc.

    There are equally problematic views among some Jews, Christians and others who have no faith. The moment we relate all this to terrorism, we unnecessarily stigmatise the discussion, charge it politically and, I think, undermine it. The development of a liberal ethos (among minorities or majorities) is an organic (and ongoing) process, that will occur through a much broader educational / cultural prism.

  32. douglas clark — on 26th March, 2009 at 1:25 am  

    David T @ 24,

    You are very persuasive. I am not entirely sure whether or not a younger, and more naive version of me was convinced, by you, to sign the Euston Manifesto, or not.

    I hope I wasn’t.

    However, given that that project is, in fact, a dead parrot, see here if you want grief:

    http://eustonmanifesto.org/

    Where, if it weren’t for Damian, who hates me for saying that it ought to be open to ammendement, it wouldn’t exist outside of a Google cache.

    Such was the failure of the Eustonistas, to influence or change anyone else’s moral philosophy.

    A big fat failure.

    Which is why I cannot take you seriously on anything other than the hard left, on which you appear to be a somewhat, child of knowledge, expert. Forgive me, if I think that that is a waste of your time. Knowledge of them is a bit like trainspotting. I happen to know what this is, but I do not base my life around it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNER_Class_A4_4468_Mallard

    Neither should you base your undoubted knowledge around miniscule groupiscules. They do not matter.

    Try to join in here. Without a preconception of what ‘foundational values’ actually are.

    Me?

    I’d have thought anarchy was a good starting point for any set of foundational values, but then, that’s just me!

  33. Refresh — on 26th March, 2009 at 1:33 am  

    I think I can now reveal real, shared and foundational values:

    Seumas Milne

    ‘This counter-terror plan is in ruins. Try one that works: Ministers want Muslims to accept shared values. Luckily they already do, including opposition to wars of aggression’

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/26/counter-terrorism-strategy-muslims

    ‘Both Muslims and non-Muslims oppose wars of aggression and want British troops brought home from Iraq and Afghanistan; they both accept people’s right to defend themselves against invasion and occupation; and both mostly sympathise with the Palestinian cause.’

  34. qidniz — on 26th March, 2009 at 1:37 am  

    I know there are Muslims out there that do have crazy ideas when it comes to womens rights, authoritarianism, homophobia, etc.

    “Out there”!? Excuse me, they are “right here”, bang four-square in the dead center of your conservative mullocratic establishment.

    And yes, these ideas could be challenged.

    But, of course, they will not be. Who is going to take on the mullahs, the imams, the muftis, the fuqaha?

    You are whistling in the dark, probably knowing all too well that only non-Muslims can hear you.

    The funny thing is that it’s actually quite easy if only you’re willing to think outside the box. The mullocracy can be challenged quite effectively by simply not listening to them.

    Stop attending Juma prayers on Friday. Just don’t give them a congregation to preach to.

    (Cue howls of protest, especially from those who are too scared to admit the power that a pulpit has over them.)

  35. Refresh — on 26th March, 2009 at 1:43 am  

    As I said elsewhere the government has entered its idiocy phase, a state well seeded by DavidT and co.

  36. douglas clark — on 26th March, 2009 at 7:52 am  

    Refresh,

    Hmm.. You say at 33 what I’d imagine you have got from an opinion poll or some such. And I’d imagine I’m about to get a lot of flack. But it seems to me that the West, for want of a better word, has completely failed the Afghan people. They are entitled to expect better from us, money perhaps, usage of their main crop, heroin in medicinal derivatives, genuine security…

    Stuff like that.

    It is completely ridiculous for people like David T to come on here and talk about ‘foundational values’ when girls are affreared of going to school in Afghanistan. If we don’t stand for that, then we stand for nowt.

    It is that sort of schism that separates the regular PP commentator – as Don identified elsewhere – from the casual, drive by, acid thrown in the face of kids lunatic, who now appears to have as much right to post and be taken seriously.

    I’m quite happy to take this new idiocracy on. But, if I am to do so, the gloves would have to be off and the sweary bits allowed. Which is not what happens when I get really angry. Sunny pm’s me and tells me to cool the beans.

    There is a fundamental failure to see the right of reply to lunatic ideas of free speech as somehow, of themselves, a breach of reasonable guidelines. It, you will be unsurprised to read, seems to me to being putting the cart before the horse.

  37. douglas clark — on 26th March, 2009 at 8:18 am  
  38. Sid — on 26th March, 2009 at 9:13 am  

    Refresh,

    I haven’t read Seumas Milne’s article. But since he has criticised the government anti-extremist strategies so effectively, does he at all recognise that there is a problem? And if so, does he come with any solutions?

    Look forward to hearing what they are. But if I know anything of the far-left, I won’t be holding my breath.

  39. Refresh — on 26th March, 2009 at 10:14 am  

    Sid, of course there is a problem. The whole world knows there is a problem. The government, like heroin addicts, has to admit to itself their own role in creating the problem before it can go about resolving it.

    Is it only far-left thinking to say what Milne has said?

    Everybody I know, who isn’t virtual, thinks that.

    Read the article.

  40. Sid — on 26th March, 2009 at 10:36 am  

    I mean – does he recognise that the problem of Islamist extremism exists and is in danger of being regarded by a large minority as being ethically justifiable in the light of the actions by the “western hegemony”?

    What solutions is he proposing Refresh to tackle Islamist extremism in the UK Refresh? Could you compound into a couple of sentences?

  41. Jai — on 26th March, 2009 at 10:39 am  

    We have govenment ministers saying we can encourage kids to have an ambition to fight Muslims in their own country without even finding out if they are responsible for Sept 11th in New York or 7/7 in London.

    Osama bin Laden confessed to being responsible for 9/11 in one of his periodic “statements”, and (for example) one of the 7/7 bombers filmed a “martyrdom video” declaring his intentions too.

    How does any of this prevent violent extremism?

    An effective option would be to pursue those who are involved in promoting extremism — Al-Muj and HuT being the most obvious examples — and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. Including treason, sedition etc.

    One of the problems, as several people have identified (I think Sayeeda Warsi mentioned this as well during her recent appearance on Question Time) is that the laws to deal with this are already in place but are frequently not utilised.

    And when you have people like Anjem Choudary shooting their mouths off and making all kinds of false claims about Islam — he was on Sky News last night insisting that his interpretation of the religion is “the right one” despite the protests of Ziauddin Sardar who was also present, along with stating that he wants Shariah law imposed throughout the subcontinent including India because “India is a Muslim land” (sorry Anjem, population-wise the majority aren’t, and politically it hasn’t been a “Muslim country” for about 300 years) — then other respected Muslim figures need to loudly shout him down, out-argue him, and discredit him, and he also really does need to be comprehensively prosecuted once and for all.

  42. Dilwar — on 26th March, 2009 at 12:23 pm  

    qidniz,

    I hear what you say…but i don’t quite agree. People do challenge…and not just in the dark.

    I hope you will take the time to quickly browse through some of the stuff I’ve been writing, for emel magazine (that has a mainly Muslim audience). You can find some of my comment pieces here:

    http://www.policyresearch.org.uk/publications_comment.php

    I’ve also written other academic pieces too, as have many other Muslim critics of our own communities’ practice – yes even my own institution.

    The bottom line is, I want to bring about real change, that real people will follow. In a dignified and respectful way, not just grandstand in the media about how bad Muslims are and then alienate the very people that I have to talk to. The people that do that are now just talking to themselves and their right-wing friends.

  43. damon — on 26th March, 2009 at 8:21 pm  

    It will take ages to go through all those 42 comments above properly.
    But have people heard of this idea of ”thereputic aleniation” that was (I think) coined by the black American commentator John McWhorter?
    http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&ei=At3LSbXdLceMjAfZ-eDgCQ&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=threaputic+alienation+mcwhorter&spell=1

    I’m sure that it is one of the factors that leads British Muslim youngsters to get into some of this Islamist carry on. They are young and impressionable, and (a few years ago) hanging out on the street corner in Wallsall with your mates, and showing a reporter like Darcus Howe (who has turned up with a film crew) how you have Osama Bin Laden’s picture on your phone, and saying that you download beheading videos, is just youthful testosterone looking for an outlet.
    But also with the baggage of looking for an identity in a society where they are a minority (and suffer from racism too).

    Remember the programme?
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/aug/07/race.immigrationandpublicservices
    Those lads then told Darcus Howe to get out of the area before they gave him a kicking.

    I think it was this ”thereputic alieniation” that they were showing.

  44. qidniz — on 27th March, 2009 at 3:02 am  

    I hope you will take the time to quickly browse through some of the stuff I’ve been writing, for emel magazine (that has a mainly Muslim audience). You can find some of my comment pieces here:

    http://www.policyresearch.org.uk/publications_comment.php

    This is not the best place for commenting in depth on these pieces. So I’ll just say: sorry, I am not impressed, although I can see quite easily why the Left would happily slurp up your pabulum by the bucketload.

    One example of what I mean (from this):

    Likewise we could address issues of Human Rights, as human beings. That was surely the intention behind the UDHR (60 years old last month) – what aspirations and needs do we all share by virtue of our common, universal humanity?

    Seriously, did you write this to “address” or “engage” your Muslim audience in that magazine, or did you write this to show your non-Muslim audience what you know will press their buttons just right?

    Really, of all things, the UDHR? Presumably your Muslim audience, assuming they are even minimally aware of current events, will not be taken in. But perhaps your real audience, such as this blog of the oh so liberal progressive left, can be relied upon to be ignorant of things such as the UIDHR. Yes, the UIHDR.

    Puhleeeze. You are whistling in the dark and you know it.

  45. Dilwar — on 27th March, 2009 at 11:21 am  

    Thanks qidniz.

    I don’t agree with the ‘Islamic’ Declaration of HR (UIDHR) – that’s my whole point in that paragraph you quote.

    I think the UNIVERSAL Decl of HR genuinely needs to be owned by humanity (and that should be the proper Islamic position). Countries like Saudi Arabia promote Islamic declarations to mask their own political hypocrisies and ill-treatment of citizens (well subjects).

    But if you wont believe what I say and try to read other things into it, there’s not much more I can say or do.

    Sorry if I don’t fit nicely into your stereotypes.

    Live long and prosper.

  46. fug — on 27th March, 2009 at 11:31 am  

    Saudi does what saudi does, but the ‘universal’ one was a european act of creation and is not so universal. African leaders got together and found two values inp articular were missing: the right of a parent to be looked after by their child; and the right of a country not to have its resources plundered.

    and practically you have to be cognisant that in the field a lot of the human rights wallah ‘yaar would you like some beer’ activity that goes are by secularist grouping too aloof from their own traditions of virtue to do anything dynamic with them.

  47. Fluffy — on 27th March, 2009 at 8:23 pm  

    qidniz,

    Sadly it looks like you’ve allowed yourself to be ruffled into a bit of a ‘paranoid state’.

    Of course there are bitter, angry and somewhat aggressive Muslims out there. I honestly think, with the successful impact of the drip-drip anti-Muslim hysteria that a lot of our public has been infused in the past few years, there are equally bitter and angry native Brits around now.

    But just as there are plenty of level-headed, fair-minded native Brits around still as well, there are a very healthy number of Muslims with a similarly decent, balanced disposition. I’m a Muslim and most of the Muslims I hang around with would utterly confound your frenzied imaginations, thankfully. Problem is, we’re too ‘normal’ to hit the headlines and thus challenge your stereotypes.

    I subscribe to EMEL, and when I read Dilwar’s pieces, I see them as an attempt by him to broaden our minds a little further. Do you really believe everything Dilwar writes is part of some cunning conspiracy? Seriously! LOL

  48. qidniz — on 28th March, 2009 at 4:43 am  

    I subscribe to EMEL, and when I read Dilwar’s pieces, I see them as an attempt by him to broaden our minds a little further.

    Perhaps the broadness of your minds before you read him needs no further comment.

    Do you really believe everything Dilwar writes is part of some cunning conspiracy?

    So far, I’ve seen nothing of what he has written that isn’t just the kind of pabulum that will get him lots of pats on the head from the usual run of leftish chatterati.

    Nothing unusual in that. Nothing wrong, either.

    And nothing to write home about.

    In a word: Yawn.

  49. qidniz — on 28th March, 2009 at 4:46 am  

    I don’t agree with the ‘Islamic’ Declaration of HR (UIDHR) – that’s my whole point in that paragraph you quote.

    Fascinating. A whole point in two sentences that make no mention at all of the UIDHR.

    And how many more comprehensive refutations by complete silence do you have for us?

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