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  • With liberals like these, who needs enemies


    by Sid (Faisal)
    19th April, 2009 at 11:02 pm    

    Shiraz Maher has cleared up his side of the story in his “involvement” in the long-running spat between Nick Cohen, journalist, and Sunder Katwala, director of the Fabian Society. I say Maher’s “involvement” but it really was no more than a mention by Cohen at the very end of his original piece attacking the governmmet’s indulgence of Islamist organisations.

    When I asked Shiraz Maher, the co-author of the Policy Exchange report, why he had not offered his work to the leftish Fabians or Institute for Public Policy Research, he guffawed. They would never print what he wrote. For this Muslin liberal, the left was no longer a home but an obstacle.

    As those who have followed this feud will know, Katwala then retaliated with a piece on NextLeft and a letter signed by a group of writers and activists to the Observer, as a rebuttal to Cohen.

    I can’t help thinking that Cohen superimposed his attack on the Fabian Society onto Maher’s injudicious “guffaw”.

    Why would Maher think that the Fabians would not have published his pamphlet? The answer to that is becasue his report makes a blindingly simple argument: that we should not extend a platform to those who fight against the basic values of our liberal society.

    The fact is the Fabians have chosen people like Mohammed Abdul Bari, Sir Iqbal Sacranie and Tariq Ramadan to speak at their events. It is this record of balancing space given to ‘reformers’ with those of ‘radicals’ which is directly at odds with Maher’s report. He is completely correct to think that the Fabians’ track record of interfacing with radicals and reformers would not chime with his uncompromising recommendations.

    Similarly Maher thinks IPPR would probably refuse his report too, given that Andy Hull and Ian Kearns, of the IPPR, have come out with this:

    “Non-violent Islamists are much more likely to come across Al Qaeda recruiters and recruits than moderates, who do not move in those circles. And unlike most mainstream Muslim leaders, Al Qaeda’s Islamist critics have the credentials to make their criticism bite. If, as seasoned former counter-terrorism officer, Bob Lambert, observes, ‘Al Qaeda values dozens of recruits over hundreds of supporters’, can the government really afford to do business only with moderates?”

    These seem like perfectly valid reasons why Maher would have thought that neither the Fabians nor IPPR would have published his report.

    By now this entire spat has taken on the spectacle of a drunken punchup at a wedding between the in-laws, with various other commenters getting a swing in, not least our very own Sunny, Richard Sambrook, Martin Bright and by far the most objective view by Stephen Glover.

    Maher is also correct to draw attention to the level of nastiness that was directed at him on a personal level, which he has had to endure throughout this entire episode. But by far nastiest of all was this opinion piece by Stephen Pritchard in the Observer. It is remarkable that someone who is supposedly the “president of the Organisation of News Ombudsmen” should employ this type of character assassination:

    It’s tempting to dismiss all this as just so much scrapping by a small clique, but let’s look a little closer at the detail. Shiraz Maher, Cohen’s “Muslim liberal”, is a former Islamist activist who associated with Glasgow bomber Bilal Abdulla, recently jailed for at least 32 years. Readers should have been told that.

    Really? Why should it be important for readers to know that Shiraz Maher was ex-HuT, or that he has been out of that organisation longer than he was in it, or that he had known the Glasgow bombers many years before as qualification of his criticism of the Fabian Society? Why exactly does Cohen’s omission make Maher’s opinion less acceptable to Observer readers?

    Pritchard then goes on to an “unrelated story of Hasan Butt” in a footnote to his hatchet job.

    However, at a recent trial of another man accused of terrorist offences, Butt said that he had made the whole thing up, telling journalists stories “the media wanted to hear” and admitting that he was “a professional liar”

    There is a big creaky insinuation at work here; Pritchard uses it to suggest that Maher and every ex-Islamist who is associated with Cohen should be viewed with suspicion, because Hasan Butt who claimed to be a former al-Qaeda operative, whom Cohen has written about previously, was proven to be a liar and a fantasist. Straw man? You betcha.

    When individuals like Shiraz Maher renounce their Islamist associations, they invariably become the subject of fierce animosity both from the Islamist camps and from professional anti-Muslim bigots, which includes such luminaries as Mark Steyn and Daniel Pipes. For Hizbut Tahrir or the Jamaatis, an ex-member who rejects and disavows radical Islam and goes onto embrace liberal values is, by their very existence, an embodiment of their failed agenda. On the other hand, for the Steyns and the Pipes who have based their careers on the notion that radical Islam is hard-wired into every Muslim personality, an ex-Islamist is a contradiction in terms. Which is why they would fear and attack someone like Maher.

    Likewise it is quite tragic when well-respected voices of the liberal intelligentsia, such as Stephen Pritchard, should see it necessary to indulge in personal attacks on Shiraz Maher, whose only fault is that he has been brave enough to stand up to Islamists and uphold liberal and pluralist values for Muslims in this country.

    I hope Shiraz makes it out of this surreal battle of liberal handbags with his standing and self-esteem intact. We need more people like him.

    [Cross-posted at FFM]


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    1. pickles

      New blog post: With liberals like these, who needs enemies http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4304


    2. Pages tagged "drunken"

      [...] bookmarks tagged drunken With liberals like these, who needs enemies saved by 8 others     ktetis bookmarked on 04/20/09 | [...]




    1. Naadir Jeewa — on 19th April, 2009 at 11:06 pm  

      I feel like I should get a job as another ex-HT member. Or is the market saturated?

    2. Sid — on 19th April, 2009 at 11:13 pm  

      Nowhere near enough.

    3. Naadir Jeewa — on 20th April, 2009 at 12:05 am  

      If you’ve ended up rejecting more than just radical islam (wink, wink), what’s the chances of being declared illegitimate to talk on issues of Islam in Britain?

    4. Amrit — on 20th April, 2009 at 12:16 am  

      That’s ‘WHOSE only fault’…

      When individuals like Shiraz Maher renounce their Islamist associations, they invariably become the subject of fierce animosity both from the Islamist camps and from professional anti-Muslim bigots, which includes such luminaries as Mark Steyn and Daniel Pipes. For Hizbut Tahrir or the Jamaatis, an ex-member who rejects and disavows radical Islam and goes onto embrace liberal values is, by their very existence, an embodiment of their failed agenda. On the other hand, for the Steyns and the Pipes who have based their careers on the notion that radical Islam is hard-wired into every Muslim personality, an ex-Islamist is a contradiction in terms. Which is why they would fear and attack someone like Maher.

      *wants to frame this and put it on the wall*

    5. qidniz — on 20th April, 2009 at 12:54 am  

      When individuals like Shiraz Maher renounce their Islamist associations, they invariably become the subject of fierce animosity both from the Islamist camps and from professional anti-Muslim bigots, which includes such luminaries as Mark Steyn and Daniel Pipes.

      You may want to find better examples.

    6. Sid — on 20th April, 2009 at 7:29 am  

      Thanks Amrit.

    7. munir — on 20th April, 2009 at 8:01 am  

      “Why should it be important for readers to know that Shiraz Maher was ex-HuT, or that he has been out of that organisation longer than he was in it, or that he had known the Glasgow bombers many years before as qualification of his criticism of the Fabian Society?”

      Given that Maher basis his whole credibility for discussing these matters on these facts its a bit silly to condemn others for bringing them up

      “When individuals like Shiraz Maher renounce their Islamist associations, they invariably become the subject of fierce animosity both from the Islamist camps and from professional anti-Muslim bigots, which includes such luminaries as Mark Steyn and Daniel Pipes.”

      Now who’s brininging up straw men. There are plenty of ex-”Islamists” around - go to any Muslim group and youll find them. People like Maher, Ed Husain and Majid Nawaz arent liberals in any sense of the word- rather thay support illiberal measures against Muslims-Maher actually supported Israel in the Gaza slaughter! which is why they are promoted by Muslim haters like Cohen and why they are anathema even to Muslims who wouldnt give HT the time of day.

      “For Hizbut Tahrir or the Jamaatis, an ex-member who rejects and disavows radical Islam and goes onto embrace liberal values is, by their very existence, an embodiment of their failed agenda. ”

      Comparing HT and the Jamaat is simply stupid, like comparing al Qaeda and HT. Jamaat take part in elections while HT consider it to be idolatry to do so. Even for someone as unsubtle as you, you must be aware of the difference

    8. Sid — on 20th April, 2009 at 9:44 am  

      Given that Maher basis his whole credibility for discussing these matters on these facts its a bit silly to condemn others for bringing them up

      Not as silly as using his past associations to automatically condemn him or attempt to try and destroy his credibility because of said associations.

      People like Maher, Ed Husain and Majid Nawaz arent liberals in any sense of the word- rather thay support illiberal measures against Muslims-Maher actually supported Israel in the Gaza slaughter!

      This is hilarious coming from someone who can’t even bring himself to criticise the Taliban, because the radicals are always the “good guys”.

      Comparing HT and the Jamaat is simply stupid, like comparing al Qaeda and HT. Jamaat take part in elections while HT consider it to be idolatry to do so.

      On the matter of theological support of a transnational Islamic Caliphate, defence of “Muslim armies” on “Muslim waters”, the ideologies of the Jamaat, HT and certain Salafis in the MCB are pretty much indistinguishable.

    9. Anonymous — on 20th April, 2009 at 1:36 pm  

      “When individuals like Shiraz Maher renounce their Islamist associations, they invariably become the subject of fierce animosity … from professional anti-Muslim bigots, which includes such luminaries as Mark Steyn and Daniel Pipes…. for the Steyns and the Pipes who have based their careers on the notion that radical Islam is hard-wired into every Muslim personality, an ex-Islamist is a contradiction in terms. Which is why they would fear and attack someone like Maher.”

      This is just ignorant bollocks, at least as far as Pipes in concerned. Has Sid actually bothered to read Daniel Pipes? Pipes is not so stupid as to make the crude assertion that “radical Islam is hard-wired into every Muslim personality”. He is all in favour of Muslims, so long as they are prepared to denounce Islamism and support Zionism.

      Only last month Pipes was applauding a statement by Stephen Schwartz’s so-called Center for Islamic Pluralism endorsing the FBI’s decision to sever links with the Council on American-Islamic Relations. And he is a particular admirer of Irshad Manji, who of course has the great merit of holding a favourable view of Israel.

      Given his backing for Hazel Blears’ decision to suspend relations with the MCB, and his support for Israeli state terrorism, Shiraz Maher is the exactly sort of ex-Islamist who would receive Pipes’ wholehearted endorsement. Indeed, last September Shiraz Maher and Daniel Pipes were both featured speakers at the “World Summit on Counter-Terrorism” (pdf) in Israel.

    10. Sid — on 20th April, 2009 at 1:44 pm  

      Q. If Shiraz Maher were not able to make it to Israel because he was interned in a Muslim Internment Camp, would dear old Daniel Pipes remonstrate to get him out?

      A. http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/47920

    11. Anonymous — on 20th April, 2009 at 2:15 pm  

      Oh get a grip, Sid. What you’ve linked to isn’t by Daniel Pipes. It’s a reader comment by some nutter on Pipes’ blog.

    12. Sid — on 20th April, 2009 at 2:20 pm  

      yes.

    13. Sid — on 20th April, 2009 at 2:21 pm  

      comment #12 is the reponse to the question posed in #11 (now removed) “Do you think Daniel Pipes advocates the internment of the Muslim population of the US?”

    14. Chris Baldwin — on 20th April, 2009 at 2:48 pm  

      “his report makes a blindingly simple argument: that we should not extend a platform to those who fight against the basic values of our liberal society.”

      That’s silly. We shouldn’t extend a platform to fascists who want to use it to stir up hatred, but I’d be perfectly happy to debate with Stalinists.

    15. damon — on 20th April, 2009 at 2:57 pm  

      Are all non Pickled Politics anti-racists expected to get every twist and turn of this story?

      I know of at least one militantly anti-racist leftist website that would have flagged this up a ”tedious and boring”.

      The MCB and their like are reactiony - and so is Mark Steyn and his type.

      And I just wished we could pick our way about this debris, without having to resort to pyrotechnics - which is what I think commonly happens.

      For example - when Mark Steyn lampooned the outcome of the 2002 Miss World contest in Nigeria …
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/2504699.stm
      …. Maybe liberals had to take some ‘clever flack’ on the chin. (It’s easily googled)
      As there were very public displays of primitave communalism that broke out in Nigeria.
      Yes I’m sure we could intelectually ratanolalise it all, but it would be hard to convince a conservative audience (and in the UK - the BNP commented I’m sure.)
      But just ignoring the likes of Steyn and Rod Liddle is quite frustrating too (for me) as I like to see their articles trasshed by the left.
      ”Eurabia” being just one example that I picked up form the tabloid magazine weekly’s.

    16. Anonymous — on 20th April, 2009 at 2:58 pm  

      It’s true that some people - Juan Cole for example - took Pipes to mean that he was calling for the introduction of internment camps for Muslims. However, Pipes denied this. And if you read his article you’ll see that the lesson he draws is not that the entire Muslim population of the US should be locked up, as the nutter in the comment on his blog does. Pipes was in fact arguing in favour of racial profiling.

      Pipes is a horrific right-wing anti-Islamist, of that there’s no question. But he’d fit in quite well ideologically with, say, the Centre for Social Cohesion here in the UK. And he’d undoubtedly be a firm supporter of Shiraz Maher.

    17. Shafiq — on 20th April, 2009 at 6:31 pm  

      Shiraz Maher, Ed Hussain and Majid Nawaz have little if any credibility in the Muslim community. The vast majority of us get on fine without having ever been members of the nut-job organisation that is HuT. The fact that he uses his experience as an ‘ex-Islamist’ to justify his role, he loses all credibility.

      They’ve gone from one extreme to another, and surprisingly enough, there aren’t many differences between their views and the views of Daniel Pipes and Co.

      And just to top it off, Maher made the comment that Muslims ‘should get over Gaza’. Now, I’m not a Muslim that gets worked up about things, or does all the book/flag burning / chanting / protesting etc., but that single comment infuriated me.

    18. Imran Khan — on 21st April, 2009 at 7:39 pm  

      I’d quite like to know who is paying for all these ex-Islamists in neocon and right wing think tanks?

      Where do these think tanks get their money from. Their ideology is from abroad and their main passion is defence of and in the interests of countries abroad hidden behind the argument that they are natural allies.

      However the murky world of think tanks and their funding remains unclear and government and opposition are in effect taking ideology and thus input from foreign and unelected individuals.

      Also Sid you calling Maher a Muslim Liberal is streching things quite a bit when he is linked to at best conservative and at worst neocon think tanks then that is hardly liberal.

      QF has its own neocon in Gove about whom the least is said the better.

      Whilst you highlight the excesses of the Islamists and Political Islamists you don’t do the same for the neocons and Muslism who work with them. Why not?

      Come on why is it acceptable for American Neoconservative thought to fester its bloody ideals here? Look at their track record and manipulation of the Bush Administration and their thirst for war at any cost? Is that acceptable political thought for this country now?

      If Maher, Hussein and co. wanted to prove their credentials then why not do it independantly to show they mean what they say. Why the links with the neocon elements in the USA and UK?

      These are fundemental questions that remain unasnwered.

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