An attempt to smear Mehdi Hasan from New Statesman


by Sunny
27th July, 2009 at 10:56 am    

Mehdi Hasan is a recently appointed senior editor covering politics at the New Statesman magazine. I mentioned a week go that a minor kerfuffle blew up last week when an article he wrote about biased coverage of terrorists in the media was questioned by Harry’s Place blog.

He gave a stinging response. Obviously not happy with the way he had come back at them – it looks like now HP is running a smear campaign against him. Over the weekend they ran a post titled: ‘Mehdi Hasan Exposed. Part I – Atheists and disbelievers are “cattle” and “of no intelligence‘.

It’s worth pointing out that I don’t know Mehdi Hasan and apparently I met him years ago but don’t recall the incident. But it’s worth while deconstructing the post itself for the absurd question it raises.

First: It looks obvious his comments are being taken out of context. Hasan is specifically relating what the Koran says. There’s a matter of what he believes in himself, and another matter of how he interprets the religious allegories. Anyone who spends even five minutes reading religious texts knows that they are full of analogies and allegorical references. This point is clearly missed by the anonymous ‘Channel 4 insider’.

People of all religions keep re-interpreting and arguing over religious texts as time goes on. To assume there is only one meaning to a paragraph taken from a religious text – and then to assume it should be taken literally is probably pretty idiotic too.

The full speech is actually more critical of Muslims than than the west – and uses the word ‘cattle’ of unthinking Muslims too. Here are some more key quotes:

We just follow the crowd, we are the cattle that Allah condemns in the Quran, and we can’t be. We can’t be. We have to acquire knowledge every day, night and day. And Rasoollah [the Holy Prophet] says…you have to go as far afield as China.

I watched this programme [“Science and Islam”, BBC4] and I really enjoyed it: a well-made programme, presenter very good…and yet I watched it with a sense of despair and a sense of sadness. Because this programme was pure history, every contribution was from the past, and the elephant in the room is the current Islamic contribution to knowledge and science and learning. Where was that in the series of programmes? It wasn’t there because fundamentally there isn’t one. That is the tragedy of our community today.

The Middle East, despite all its oil wealth…is an intellectually stagnant area of the world, where one in three Arabs, 65 million human beings, Muslims, are functionally illiterate, of which two thirds are women. 10 million children in the Middle East have never stepped foot inside a classroom, inside a school. That is the modern Muslim legacy. The Middle East…is now intellectually closed off to the outside world. … Closed off to the world – and let s not hear any of this nonsense about foreign literature, or foreign books, or foreign languages, being alien to Islam. It is the only way to learn, to open your minds to non-Muslims, to open your minds to other cultures, to learn foreign languages.

It is no surprise then that when you look at the Muslim world you see that we 1.2 billion Muslims have just 10 Nobel prizes to our name….and our Jewish brethren who we spend so much time fighting and arguing with, 12 million Jews in the world, they have 150 Nobel prizes to their name….We are not under-armed, we are under-educated. We have lost our ability to think, to acquire knowledge, to advance intellectually, and then we wonder why our community is in such decay, why globally wherever you find Muslims we have such problems. It’s not a secret, it’s not a conspiracy, its clear to anyone who looks at the numbers.

Do those words sound like that of an Islamist? That is not the kind of person Hizb ut-Tahrir would have in their camp.

Second: it’s about the kind of debate that HP has – which is basically ‘debate by condemnation and association’. Using a 45 second clip from a 45 minute speech to imply that the guy is an Islamist and all sorts (just read the comments) is precisely the kind of politics and smearing that Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch has done for years. The left is supposed to be about nuance – not the simple right-wing nuttery that paints the entire world as good guys V bad guys.

But this sort of tactic is designed to promote the racist notion that all Muslims, even the mainstream ones working at national titles, are closet Islamists. The word ‘taqqiya’, used to imply that a person is hiding their true beliefs, constantly pops up in the comments of that expose.

It’s the ‘Islamists under your bed’ narrative that unfortunately Harry’s Place has descended into over the last few years.

Third: There is a legitimate debate to be had about the choice of words that Mehdi Hasan uses. The word ‘kuffar’ is seen by many non-Muslims as derogatory like ‘golliwog’ (though you see an amazing number of right-wingers still defending those words) – and we should have a debate about whether it’s acceptable language even in wholly Muslim company.

But editors on HP and their friend Martin Bright are essentially saying that the New Statesman should not emply such a person, which is a deeply undemocratic and censorious position to take.

It’s also a character assassination to try and ruin someone’s career. This is especially odd since only a couple of months ago when a group of us challenged Nick Cohen’s attempts to malign the liberal-left, Martin Bright said we were trying to get him fired and said that was wrong. These are unequal standards being applied here.

Fourth: – I’ll take the general hatred of religious people in another article because that is a topic for another day. The killer argument here seems to be: well this is what the Qu’ran claims to say about non-religious people. And since this guy believes in religion he must believe in that and therefore he’s a nutjob! The HP hatchet-job feeds into the tendency among many atheists to automatically see religious people, and especially Muslims, in the worst possible light as if they’re all raging homophobes and misogynists if they’re slightly religious. But if you read the full speech – you see that his ire is reserved for Muslims, not non-Muslims.

Fifth: Possibly the worst thing about this ‘Islamists under your bed’ narrative is that it not only polarises people, but also allows the real nutjobs to get away with stuff while the likes of Harry’s Place are running their witch-hunts.

Last week I pointed out how the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir was trying to muscle in on the consultation around sex-education. This is the sort of work that Islamists are trying to do today – focusing on the cultural issues and promoting segregation. This kind of ‘gotcha’ politics aimed at mainstream figures doesn’t help – it actually plays into the hands of people like Hizb ut-Tahrir who say that the establishment will always find ways to malign and get rid of Muslims who get too uppity.

If the New Statesman editor gives in to this hatchet job then its feeds into a debasement of our political culture, where witch-hunts like the kind constantly seen on neo-con hubs like FrontpageMagazine.com become the way our politics is conducted.


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Filed in: Current affairs,Islamists,Media,Middle East,Religion






176 Comments below   |  

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  1. GuyAitchison

    well done @pickledpolitics what a worthless shithole "Harry’s Place" is…surprised it’s still going… http://bit.ly/11TpxH


  2. sunny hundal

    @ianrmcallister See this in response: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5296 @BevaniteEllie


  3. Cory Hazlehurst

    @Kata_basis OK, how about this, on how the comments have been taken out of context? http://bit.ly/11TpxH


  4. Gareth Nicholas

    @DavidHolderness PS if you have been fooled by Harry's Place's smear of Mehdi, Sunny Hundal http://bit.ly/11TpxH shows his overall point


  5. RepStones

    @tmcarew typical propaganda effort http://t.co/UB2w6JjI @Kilsally #MehdiHasan


  6. Alex ?

    @PeterRisdon @ns_mehdihasan http://t.co/RP6hYach


  7. Mehdi Hasan

    @DCRegan106 @frasernelson http://t.co/xjWyLqc0


  8. Mehdi Hasan

    @JRyan86 http://t.co/xjWyLqc0


  9. sarah gregory

    @JRyan86 http://t.co/xjWyLqc0


  10. Mehdi Hasan

    @David_McMullan http://t.co/xjWyLqc0


  11. Mehdi Hasan

    @UKIPRomsey No and : http://t.co/xjWyLqc0




  1. Jonn — on 27th July, 2009 at 11:02 am  

    Hasn’t Hassan effectively replaced Bright?

    Just a thought.

  2. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 11:07 am  

    Morning

    Very interesting post. The HP post did indeed give the impression that the man is a particularly nasty islamist.

    Now, clearly it looks like there is more to this then that. I will revisit the HP stroy again and review tonight – can’t at work.

    Anyway:

    “Third: There is a legitimate debate to be had about the choice of words that Mehdi Hasan uses. The word ‘kuffar’ is seen by many non-Muslims as derogatory like ‘golliwog’ (though you see an amazing number of right-wingers still defending those words) – and we should have a debate about whether it’s acceptable language even in wholly Muslim company”

    Kuffar is seen by many people, myself included, as the equivalent of n8gger or p8ki (those are not words I would to type at all but it is necessary to illustrate the point, apologies for their use though). I appreciate it has a different origin being religious as opposed to racial but the insult is of the same magnitude. Consequently people using it, such as Munir, as a nasty and deliberate insult at myself in the HuT sex education thread should not be surprised when non-muslims react in a similar fashion to a black or asian person insulted with the n or p word respectively.

    Thanks

    TCH

  3. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 11:24 am  

    TCH – yes, so let’s have a debate about that, and I think many Muslims are unaware that its seen as a derogatory word.

    But to then move into character assassination as a result of that – it’s just ‘Isamists under your bed’ sort of rhetoric.

    Jonn – pretty much.

  4. London Muslim — on 27th July, 2009 at 11:36 am  

    Sunny

    On the Money, this is the usual HP hatchet job.

    London Muslim

  5. Byron's aunt — on 27th July, 2009 at 11:44 am  

    Sunny.

    Can you point me to the exact place in the Harry’s Place article where Mehdi Hasan is accused of being an “Islamist”?

    Not all Islamists are nutters. Not all nutters are Islamists.

  6. 2yyiam — on 27th July, 2009 at 11:57 am  

    Glad to see this post, having tried to offer a balanced arguement myself over at HP.

    What they are trying to do in an attempt to defame Hasan is frankly disgraceful. I hope this alerts more and more people about the double standards, hypocracy and exploitations by the likes of HP and Brifht.

    Hasan should look at his legal options and hopefuly continue to develop his career at NS. Seeing off the neo-con right wing is a step in the right direction.

  7. chairwoman — on 27th July, 2009 at 12:23 pm  

    “TCH – yes, so let’s have a debate about that, and I think many Muslims are unaware that its seen as a derogatory word.”

    Can I just point out that a similar word (Kaffir) was used by Afrikaans, in a derogatory fashion, to describe black South Africans during Apartheid.

    It has, therefore, for me, and many who lived most of their lives during that era, extremely nasty connotations.

  8. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 12:28 pm  

    Yes but we’re not South African chairwoman.

    Byron’s aunt – so what are they “exposing” him as? The fiddler on the roof? It would be more accurate to say that Hasan calls Muslims ‘cattle’ for ignoring knowledge from around the world

    but perhaps the people at Harry’s Place don’t get exercised so much if he calls Muslims cattle. It’s when he quotes the Koran that it’s a problem because apparently he’s using that for all no-Muslims. Even though anyone who goes through that speech would be able to tell it’s a blatant misrepresentation of what was said.

    It seems to be a regular occurrence at HP these days.

  9. Imran Khan — on 27th July, 2009 at 12:36 pm  

    Here lies the danger of blogs like HP when they dislike someone they wield disproportionate influence and can adversely affect the reputation of people.

    I have been warning against this and many members of the Jewish Community here have taken all this lightly and said that HP and its owner are a cuddly little outfit.

    This is again an example of the type of disgusting tactics used to smear people and bully an entire community into following its lead.

    This must be condemned and indeed I wonder if the editor of the JC who is very fond of HP will now show true leadership in condemning this appalling episode.

    I certainly hope that the defenders here of HP and its owner now see the site for what it is.

  10. chairwoman — on 27th July, 2009 at 12:36 pm  

    “Yes but we’re not South African chairwoman.”

    Stop being so parochial. It has extremely offensive connotations when used in mixed ethnic company, regardless of the original meaning(s).

    Language changes and we have to go with the current usage.

  11. Imran Khan — on 27th July, 2009 at 12:38 pm  

    It is worrying that a piece about a Jewish Community blog is now being sidelined into a discussion about a Muslim word.

    The focus needs to remain firmly on the disgraceful behaviour of HP.

  12. cjcjc — on 27th July, 2009 at 12:43 pm  

    we should have a debate about whether it’s acceptable language even in wholly Muslim company

    What a bizarre thing to say.
    Is nigger acceptable in wholly white company?

    On the topic as posted also at LC:

    They should have asked him to comment first.
    And there is now a second post on the topic (not Part 2 of the “expose”) somewhat disagreeing with the first.

    Hasan’s whole speech seems to be saying something like:
    Hey guys, we have allah while the kuffar are ignorant cattle; so how come they’re so far ahead?
    (The word kuffar is uttered in, shall we say, a slightly contemptuous manner. He’s not just quoting.)

    It’s hardly Qaradawi territory.
    But it doesn’t reflect well on the New Statesman either.
    Still I suspect I would prefer Hasan to Pilger…

  13. getalife — on 27th July, 2009 at 12:47 pm  

    Finally, some words of reason! The fact is that words like kuffar and jihad are used in the Koran, and Hasan is a believing Muslim quoting from the book to fellow believers. Majority of Muslims translate Kafir to mean a disbeliever, and nothing more or less. Had Hasan been delivering his speech in Arabic, this would not even be an issue!

    Ridiculous analogy to compare the word Kafir to N***a or P**ki, as the nutcases on HP do, as those derogatory names are not quoted from any religious texts. How arrogant for non-Muslims to dictate what words and phrases of Arabic can be quoted from the Koran, to redefine and then ban terms and concepts, all the while creating their own derogatory labels (jihadist, islamist).

    If the argument is Kafir is an offensive term, and should not be used even in an all Muslim gathering…then why stop there? Why not demand that Muslims re-write the Koran and remove all mention of the work Kafir, so that it cannot be recited even in Arabic. Even better, why not ask Muslims to reject the Koran all together? Sounds dramatic, but that’s what is being asked of Hasan…to reject the Koran, thereby rejecting his faith. Otherwise give up his career. What a lesson for young impressionable Muslims that even a moderate like Hasan is being bullied to pay the price of his success.

  14. Imran Khan — on 27th July, 2009 at 1:08 pm  

    What about the behaviour of HP?????

    Why is the debate being shifted again :-(

  15. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 1:10 pm  

    getalife

    “”Ridiculous analogy to compare the word Kafir to N***a or P**ki, as the nutcases on HP do, as those derogatory names are not quoted from any religious texts”"

    I am doing that and I am far from a nutter or a contributor to HP. It is a deeply deeply offensive word to non-muslims. Are you suggesting that muslims being exempt from civil discourse? All I am asking is that muslims refrain from using a word that to me and an awful lot of people is the equivalent of n*gger and p8ki. Why is that so hard? Most white people would never use those words (racist arseholes aside)
    and I fail to see why non muslims shouldn’t be afforded that same level of civility.

  16. Shamit — on 27th July, 2009 at 1:18 pm  

    This guy is no Islamist and this was a stupid post as they did not expose anything but some bigotry and a lot of stupidity on part of HP.

    You could probably question Mehdi Hasan’s presentation and choice of some words but not his motives and the post should have never been published with that headline.

    Seems like some in HP have come to their senses and a recent post tries to make ammends on that.

  17. chairwoman — on 27th July, 2009 at 2:02 pm  

    “It is worrying that a piece about a Jewish Community blog is now being sidelined into a discussion about a Muslim word.”

    Firstly although Harry’s Place’s ‘blogmeister’ is Jewish, it does not deal with any Jewish community issues what-so-ever. I have never heard anybody else, not even its arch-nemesis, Sunny (who incidentally, still has it as a comrade on his sidebar), describe it as such.

    Secondly, whereas I accept that Kuffar is a perfectly acceptable word to use amongst Muslims, because they all know what the word’s meaning is, pretty much like Goy or Goyim, used amongst Jews, it’s fne, we all know what’s meant. Non-Jews often find it offensive.

    Thirdly, although I doubt that the use of it is a sacking offence, I am not sure that I’m not offended by it.

  18. Paul Moloney — on 27th July, 2009 at 2:12 pm  

    “Do those words sound like that of an Islamist?”

    I’m not sure what the point of this is – self-criticism of lack of success of Muslim world = all-round good egg? Ex-Malaysian prime minister Mahathir bin Mohamad has also lamented the Muslim world’s lack of success and compared it using the same metric of Nobel prizes. But he’s also come out with the lines “The Jews for example are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively” and “[The Jews] invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong so they may enjoy equal rights with others.”

    Honestly, Sunny, this blog is starting to look like it suffers from HP Derangement Syndrome. Next thing you’ll be having mass tea parties where you ask David Toube to produce his birth cert.

    P.

  19. Rumbold — on 27th July, 2009 at 2:20 pm  

    Chairwoman, TCH and others are right. The modern usage of ‘kaffir’ is offensive. Language is fluid- words can change their meanings. ‘Kaffir’ in South Africa was orignally applied to just one particular tribe (or a handful of them), and so wasn’t perjorative. Then it became a general term of abuse. Interestingly enough, the South African ‘kaffir’ is a derivation of the word from the Arabic, though it got to Southern Africa via the Portuguese (who used it in an unoffensive way, as the Arabs had called the tribes ‘kaffirs’ beforehand, and the Portuguese didn’t understand that the word had negative connotations).

    Most times one hears it now in the Arabic sense is when it is used to attack non-Muslims, or Muslims who do not fit into the speaker’s definition of ‘Islam’.

  20. anobody — on 27th July, 2009 at 2:22 pm  

    Some of the comments on that site are vile. How can they be taken seriously? Pure filth, written by Nazis.

  21. Boyo — on 27th July, 2009 at 2:23 pm  

    It’s somewhat disingenuous for people to claim the k-word is harmless – it is increasingly viewed as a term of abuse, just as the p and n-words are. Mehdi’s a modern man, he should recognise this. My bet is he was just trying to get on the side of his audience. Did he know this 45 sec aside would come back to haunt him? Probably not.

    However, there is his second employment of the word “cattle” which is spit pretty unambiguously on audio. He may want Islam to modernise and all the rest, but it certainly sounds like he holds non-Muslims in a fair degree of contempt. And i think it is that contempt that makes it newsworthy for HP in so much as he is an NS writer. If he was an islamic commentator or a Christian fundamentalist then people would hardly bat an eyelid, but it is because of his role on a progressive leftist mag that this is of note.

    If the NS wants to employ people like this, then it is a matter for them, but it’s not unreasonable for it to come out. In a way I think he is another victim of the internal war on the left, with which we are all familiar. In that regard i feel sorry for him, whether he regards me as a bovine kuffar or not, but equally he said those words, not i.

  22. Bert Preast — on 27th July, 2009 at 2:30 pm  

    “The word ‘taqqiya’, used to imply that a person is hiding their true beliefs, constantly pops up in the comments of that expose.”

    Well, it pops up twice. In 381 comments.

  23. Paul Moloney — on 27th July, 2009 at 2:31 pm  

    “However, there is his second employment of the word “cattle” which is spit pretty unambiguously on audio.”

    If there’s anyone judging this saga only from the transcript, I would advise them to listen to the audio before making a final judgement. There’s quite a difference to reading the transcript to yourself in your own voice in a casual manner, and heared the way Mehdi says it.

  24. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 2:58 pm  

    The question is – was his intention racist when using that word or was he quoting the Koran? I start singing a rap song, does that mean I’m a racist?

    I know ppl discussing stuff on the internet hate that word – ‘context’. But it’s important here because he is quoting something.

    Now – lets come back to the main issue here. Silly accusations of ‘HP derangement syndrome’ are irrelevant here unless you’re going to accuse HP of Muslim obsession syndrome. I’m merely pointing out quite a vicious smear campaign. Take it or leave it.

    In fact I have more on this that I will publish in a few days to illustrate how deranged these ‘islamists under your bed’ people are

  25. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 3:08 pm  

    Yeah Paul – lets not look at the transcript where he says Muslims behave like cattle. Lets focus on how angry he sounds! Terrorist!!

  26. getalife — on 27th July, 2009 at 3:10 pm  

    Common Humanist, Rumbold – Muslims can only sympathise that the term Kafir is offensive to some, not apologise for its use in the Koran.

    As far as Hasan’s tone, it is consistent throughout his speech…he does not especially start “spitting” during these 45 seconds.

    As Sunny points out, Hasan refers to both Muslims and non-Muslims as cattle. Anyone with half a brain would understand the analogy behind this, not take it literally to mean a milk-producing, grass grazing animal. And if you do understand the analogy, then why be offended? Obviously, a Muslim will believe atheists are missing something and are wrong about their beliefs, and vice versa. What’s the shock in that? And don’t forget, Muslims are referred to as cattle as well for following the crowd. But, if you have an agenda to smear, then it is easy to ignore this point and quote out of context.

  27. chimurenga — on 27th July, 2009 at 3:25 pm  

    Just a brief note to point that ‘ka…’ is a very very offensive word.And not just to South Africans,mind.
    Sunny you really should know better.

  28. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 3:33 pm  

    getalife

    “Common Humanist, Rumbold – Muslims can only sympathise that the term Kafir is offensive to some, not apologise for its use in the Koran”

    So just don’t use it. Simple. Civility reigns.

  29. Ravi Naik — on 27th July, 2009 at 3:34 pm  

    I know ppl discussing stuff on the internet hate that word – ‘context’. But it’s important here because he is quoting something.

    So what is the context here? What point is he making, other than the obvious?

    In my view, he is making the point that people who do not accept the teachings of Islam and the “rational” message of the Quran, – are people of no intelligence. Yes, he quotes the Quran, but he uses it to back his assertion.

    The kaffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, the rational message of the Quran; they are described in the Quran as, quote, “a people of no intelligence”

  30. Ravi Naik — on 27th July, 2009 at 3:36 pm  

    Quite frankly, if a Christian said that people who do not believe in the teachings of Jesus were deaf, stubborn, cattle and not intelligent by quoting the Bible, I would call him a fundamentalist.

  31. Paul Moloney — on 27th July, 2009 at 3:40 pm  

    “Silly accusations of ‘HP derangement syndrome’ are irrelevant here unless you’re going to accuse HP of Muslim obsession syndrome.”

    Well, I’ve recently commented “It’s just a pity that the HP comments threads have become to resemble [Little Green Footballs] even more these days” so I hope that’s balanced enough for ya.

    If there is actualy another blog in existence whose content you discuss more than HP, I apologise.

    P.

  32. Rumbold — on 27th July, 2009 at 3:43 pm  

    Getalife:

    I agree that some Muslims will use it in a non-racist way. But too many now use it as a term of abuse.

    Sunny:

    Well, the context is that he didn’t contextualise it. If I quote a BNP spokesman saying things about ‘niggers and Pakis’ without comment, then one might reasonably infer that I supported the comments, or at least were not opposed to them. When Boris Johnson fired James McGrath, you supported it, because he used what you considered to be racist language:

    http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/06/23/two-reasons-why-firing-james-mcgrath-was-right/

  33. Rachel S — on 27th July, 2009 at 3:45 pm  

    Really good post by Sunny and very welcome after such a blatant attempt at character assassination by HP. After all, it was purely that because any person of sound mind would agree that Hasan was simply delivering a speech to fellow muslims on the importance of education and while doing so he quoted a line from the Koran for both Muslims and non-Muslims which emphasised the need for education. I am disgusted that a group of people are willing to spend so much time and energy into defaming someone who appears to be an intelligent, educated and moderate muslim. Do those people not have real matters to discuss?

  34. Edna Welthorpe — on 27th July, 2009 at 3:45 pm  

    In these times of craven dhimmitude on the part of One-Eyed McBroon and his cronies, Mehdi Hasan obviously deserves a seat in the Commons or maybe – perhaps later – the Lords.

    Labour could even run him against Galloway in Tower Hamlets.

    The South African Afrikaaner term kaffir came from Arabic via the Portuguese. Arab merchants traded slaves up and down the East African coast, which is how the ‘Somali’ Bantu from what is now Mozambique ended up in Somalia and how the Tihama plain of Arabia is visibly more Sudani than Arab.

  35. Rumbold — on 27th July, 2009 at 3:49 pm  

    Oh, and I am not saying that Harry’s Place got everything right, just that people shouldn’t defend the use of ‘kafir’, unless they are quoting it in order to

    (a) condemn someone who has used it

    OR

    (b) using it in a purely historical context (e.g. the term ‘kafir’ became standard usage in 4th century Arabia).

  36. anobody — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:00 pm  

    Quite amusing how people are not typing the word ‘kafir’ and instead calling it the ‘k’ word. I can see this catching on.

    The fajirs, munafiqs, and jahils will want the same treatment.

  37. Edna Welthorpe — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:00 pm  

    Insult words lose their power to hurt if adopted by the supposedly-insulted.

    “Queer” is the best example but there are others. Dykes seem cool about using a former tabooword, too.

    There’s even a group of musical performers who cheerfully call themselves NIGGAZ WITH ATTITUDE, as all know.

    Anyone here sing in a choir?

    Try this to the tune of “Clockwork Orange” Ludwig Beethoven’s all-too-familiar Euro-Anthem ‘Ode to Joy’:

    All join hands in joyful union
    hymies, huns and spicks and frogs
    ragheads, Pakkies, Kurds and dagoes
    Hindoos, Japs and golliwogs …

    There! That feels better already, dunnit?

  38. Pessoa — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:02 pm  

    “”Ridiculous analogy to compare the word Kafir to N***a or P**ki, as the nutcases on HP do, as those derogatory names are not quoted from any religious texts””

    If you deny that Kaffir is used pejoratively and as a hate-word by many Muslims you are either a liar, or you are in denial. Either way, you cannot be taken seriously on this matter.

  39. Pessoa — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:06 pm  

    It is a deeply deeply offensive word to non-muslims. Are you suggesting that muslims being exempt from civil discourse? All I am asking is that muslims refrain from using a word that to me and an awful lot of people is the equivalent of n*gger and p8ki. Why is that so hard? Most white people would never use those words (racist arseholes aside)
    and I fail to see why non muslims shouldn’t be afforded that same level of civility.

    Bang on the money.

  40. Edna Welthorpe — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:07 pm  

    NOSOTROS LOS GRINGOS UNIDOS
    JAMAS
    SERAMOS VENCIDOS

    There, that is the ‘g-word’ stood neatly on its head and using the wetbacks’ united-in-victimhood gimmie-gimmie-gimmie slogan, too!

  41. Murgatroyd — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:12 pm  

    Part II now up – I think Mehdi is awfully confused about something, as are some of the posters here.

  42. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:13 pm  

    Pessoa:
    Thanks.

    I suspect the apology I am missing from Munir (comment 18 in the HuT sex ed thread) when he deliberately uses it as an insult is going to be a long time coming. Imagine the reaction if a white commentor had called a fellow commentator who was an ethnic minority something equivalent?

    With regards to Hasan am going to re-listen at home to the HP stuff to come to a proper conclusion.

    Cheers

    TCH

  43. Suzy — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:23 pm  

    TCH

    I think that Munir is just an example of a spittle-flecked hate mongering machine. He seems to be full of gas and hatred of Sikhs on the other thread below. There is absolutely no doubt at all that he is a racist, and the language he used to insult you was racist too.

  44. Roger — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:24 pm  

    “The question is – was his intention racist when using that word or was he quoting the Koran?”
    His intention probably wasn’t racist, Sunny- muslims believe their superiority is religious and derives from their submission to god. “Kafir” presupposes the superiority of muslims regardless of any racial implications. The implications of the uses of cattle as a comparison are that kafir are like cattle, but you’d expect no more of them, and muslims are like cattle too- even worse than kafirs because they are more ignorant than kafirs and they shouldn’t be.

    Christians come up with equally contemptuous and contemptible remarks. The important question is whether someone with opinions like that should hold a senior post on a “progressive” and radical magazine. On the other hand, the Naggers has a long history of employing Stalinists, trotskyists, Maoists and sympathisers with totalitarianism, so Mr Hasan is comparatively decent compared with some of his preecessors.

  45. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:29 pm  

    Suzy

    You may well be right but I live in hope (better angels etc)

    TCH

  46. Boyo — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:29 pm  

    Just to reiterate my point it’s not so much what was said but who said it. Let’s use YOU as a comparison Sunny, as a left-of-centre writer with an Asian heritage and non-mainstream religious background.

    Say you got a job on the NS and someone dredged up some comment you’d made a while ago referring to non-Sikhs as “concealers” (a charitable interpretation of the k-word), unintelligent and cattle, would it not be unreasonable for us to question your suitability to write for a progressive left publication and wonder where the left was going?

    I think there is plainly a smear going on cos of the previous row with Brett, however were Medhi a Christian fundamentalist and on-record for saying the same things, i suspect HP would retaliate in a similar way and these are not unreasonable questions to ask.

  47. Boyo — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:32 pm  

    Oh, i should have just said what Roger said at 45.

  48. Edna Welthorpe — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:34 pm  

    Is Pessoa related to descendents of that Pessoa who blew up his ship in Nagasaki Bay rather than surrender?

  49. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:35 pm  

    Oh, and I am not saying that Harry’s Place got everything right, just that people shouldn’t defend the use of ‘kafir’, unless they are quoting it in order to

    (a) condemn someone who has used it

    For a start the HP line is wrong and misleading because if a kaffir is cattle and then he uses that for Muslims – then he’s cussing Muslims more than he’s cussing ‘westerners’ or atheists.

    the context is that he’s quoting the Koran.

    Now if I repeat a Rehatnama that says Sikhs should not marry non-Sikhs – will you also accuse me of racism or will you say well sunny is repeating what someone else says, now let’s hear what is thinking is on the matter’?

  50. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:38 pm  

    chairwoman two things.

    Firstly, the south african context here so immediately doesn’t make much sense unless you’re going to start taking contexts from all across the world. Bush used the word ‘Paki’ once not knowing its British connotations. I laughed but I didn’t say the guy was a BNP supporter.

    Secondly, it looks to me that Kaffir is very much like ‘Gentiles’ in that it signifies the non-believers. Now non-believers have all sorts of connotations attached to them in religious scriptures. Would you then agree that Gentile is also a racist term?

  51. Pete — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:40 pm  

    For those who don’t have time to listen to the full talk by Mehdi Hasan, the context in which he uses the quote from the Koran is that he is arguing that Muslims should embrace non-Muslim learning. Although the quote itself may be offensive to some (me included), it is the fact that the Koran is disparaging ignorance that Mehdi is highlighting, not the fact that it disparages unbelievers. The quote is being used to back a call for wider muslim learning, not to despise non-Muslims.

  52. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:42 pm  

    Sunny

    So where do you stand on the use of Kafir?

    My view is clear from my comments.

  53. Boyo — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:43 pm  

    “Would you then agree that Gentile is also a racist term?”

    Hm. Full marks for sophistry… look, the remake of the Dambusters is on the way (and to which i’m very much looking forward incidentally) but it looks like they’ll have to rename Guy Gibson’s black labrador because what was seen as perfectly acceptable then is not now, not least because black people took offense. The same applies to the k-word and non-Muslims as Medhi must have known full well – he’s a sophisticated fellow.

  54. Boyo — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:45 pm  

    Oh, and incidentally this thing about him calling Muslims cattle too so it is alright – it is within the context of those that aren’t being “proper” Muslims, and being like the rest of us!

    MOO.

  55. anobody — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:50 pm  

    Rumbold:

    The word kafir relates to disbelievers/non-muslims, who come in all colours. It is not a racist term.

    I understand that some people may be offended as it is used by some as a pejorative. I suppose using a foreign sounding word in a sentence in English, does make it sound a lot more sinister. However, it really does depend on the context and the tone in which it is said, like most words which describe the other. You have to look at the context in which this bloke has used it, and to who he is addressing.

    Most non-muslims (see how I am being civil) in the UK did not know the word kafir (in the Islamic sense) never mind it’s meaning. I am saddened that the language of the Quran has been hijacked by neo-cons and islamophobes, and translated into a much more loaded word, so much so that whenever it is used, it is jumped upon and those using the word are automatically put into the same bracket as those really seeking to offend.

  56. Rumbold — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:53 pm  

    Sunny:

    Well, if you quoted a Sikh ruling that Sikhs shouldn’t marry non-Sikhs, and said nothing else, then I would call you a bigot.

    Mehdi Hasan knows the negative connotations of ‘kafir’.

  57. chairwoman — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:55 pm  

    “Some of the comments on that site are vile. How can they be taken seriously? Pure filth, written by Nazis.”

    Vile – Yes

    Filth – Yes

    Nazis – No.

    Nazis killed people for their ethnicity, they didn’t just slag them off.

    Get a grip.

  58. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 4:58 pm  

    Anobody

    How about just not using it?

    “”I am saddened that the language of the Quran has been hijacked by neo-cons and islamophobes, and translated into a much more loaded word, so much so that whenever it is used, it is jumped upon and those using the word are automatically put into the same bracket as those really seeking to offend”"

    Hang on, it is Islamists, Islamic chauvanists and Jihadists types who have used this word as a perjorative term. Non Muslim People, I am far from a neo-con or islamophobe, have realised how the word can and is being used and it is a gross, deep insult.

    Like I said, so why not just not use the word and there won’t be any offence?

    Language changes and the evolves. Kafir has become an insult because it has been used in that manner, not because of some plot by islamaphobes!

    TCH

  59. Rumbold — on 27th July, 2009 at 5:02 pm  

    Anobody:

    I suppose there is a point when ‘kafir’ becomes offensive enough that it can only be used in the context described in #35.

  60. Roger — on 27th July, 2009 at 5:15 pm  

    The word kafir relates to disbelievers/non-muslims, who come in all colours. It is not a racist term.”

    It still supposes the superiority of muslims because they are muslims. In one respect it is probably better if muslims use the term because it makes it plain exactly what the underlying assumptions they rely on are. Just about any substitute would have the same presuppositions- people can’t be muslims unless they believe muslims are, or ought to be, the best of mankind. They’re in the same position as a Trotskyist I knew who announced: “We’re not arrogant. We’re right.”

  61. Boyo — on 27th July, 2009 at 5:17 pm  

    “I am saddened that the language of the Quran has been hijacked by neo-cons and islamophobe”

    Oh please.

    “In a letter to his future wife, Mr Saleem hoped that they would have many children who could kill the “filthy kafir” (non-Muslims).”

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6188667.ece

    “The Kafirs are jealous, and they are panicking. Why are they panicking? Because Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world today…”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7465201.stm

    Google, page one.

  62. anobody — on 27th July, 2009 at 5:19 pm  

    Chairwoman:

    “Nazis killed people for their ethnicity, they didn’t just slag them off.”

    I agree 100%. They also killed people for being disabled, holding alternate political views, and many other reasons. They are still Nazis.

    I am accusing them of being Nazi for the ‘slagging them off’ bit as you have said, this is also a Nazi characteristic.

  63. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 5:21 pm  

    Anobody
    Who exactly are you accusing of being a nazi on this thread?

    Seems more then a little over the top?

  64. Paul Moloney — on 27th July, 2009 at 5:36 pm  

    Sunny: “The killer argument here seems to be: well this is what the Qu’ran claims to say about non-religious people. And since this guy believes in religion he must believe in that and therefore he’s a nutjob! ”

    I don’t ascribe to the view expressed by some hysterics in HP’s comment threads that all adherents of a particular religion ascribe to all views of that religion or its holy texts. (I’m pretty sure that my Catholic wife, for example, has worn clothes made of two or more materials.)

    In this case, Hasan himself brought up the quote: “In this respect, the Quran describes the atheists as “cattle”, as cattle of those who grow the crops and do not stop and wonder about this world.” He doesn’t give any indication he disagrees with this quote from the Quran.

    Your defence of him is that he then “uses the word ‘cattle’ of unthinking Muslims too.”

    But that leaves us with that case that Muslims who start thinking are no longer considered cattle, while unfortunately, us atheists are always cattle, whether we think or not.

    Do I have this summary correct?

    P.

  65. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 5:57 pm  

    Well, if you quoted a Sikh ruling that Sikhs shouldn’t marry non-Sikhs, and said nothing else, then I would call you a bigot.

    Mehdi Hasan knows the negative connotations of ‘kafir’.

    Why not ask him rather than assuming he’s calling you sub-human?

    Presumably, he’s then doing the same with Muslims. Hey, I call someone of my mates TPs (Typical Pakis) and they do the same in response to me. If someone else used that word in a specific fashion then it has a different context.

    I actually said that while I was being interviewed over Prince Harry using the word ‘Paki’ with his mate.

    Perhaps if someone started a campaign to get rid of Prince Harry then I’d believe there were equal standards being applied here. Yes, Boyo?

  66. Don — on 27th July, 2009 at 5:59 pm  

    Of course it is an offensive term. So don’t use it unless you are actively seeking to cause offense. The fact that it originated in a religious text is irrelevant, use it to my face and you will have one seriously annoyed kafir.

    Its use in South Africa derives from the Arab trade in black Africans. It was always contemptuous.

    I checked out a couple of fatwa sites, y’know Islamonline etc., and they seem pretty much in agreement that the term should be avoided as offensive. Which makes getalife’s claim at #13 that avoiding the term is equal to rejecting the Qu’ran somewhat dubious.

    Since the 70′s we have more or less established that when it comes to deciding whether or not a term describing a perceived group is offensive is a matter for those on the receiving end to decide. I’m on the receiving end of this one and I find it offensive.

    As for Hasan, in the wider context he may well have been chiding moslems for devaluing education and rejecting knowledge from outside their religion/culture and thereby losing out in the world. Fine. But the comments on atheists were offensive and the context since given does not indicate that he was merely citing text. If you cite a religious text to characterise an out-group you should make it clear whether or not you adhere to this belief. He sounded on board with it to me.

    I’m not outraged by it, because it is no more that we expect from some christian prelates – that the out-group is not fully human. The religious context doesn’t make it ok.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xbrfz1DIq9Q

  67. Imran Khan — on 27th July, 2009 at 6:03 pm  

    Chairwoman – “Firstly although Harry’s Place’s ‘blogmeister’ is Jewish, it does not deal with any Jewish community issues what-so-ever. I have never heard anybody else, not even its arch-nemesis, Sunny (who incidentally, still has it as a comrade on his sidebar), describe it as such.”

    Got to disagree on this one. HP deals and gets hysterical about all issues to do with Israel and then less so the Jewish Community. HP subscribes to the Phillips and Pipes doctrines.

    Harry’s Post is referred to by the Jewish Chronicle and its editor, its referred to by Jewish writers in the UK and recently despite your assertion they don’t deal with jewish Community issues they had a guest post by The CST which is a community organisation.

    If you follow the blog then it does deal with community issues – less so that its Pro-Israel agenda but it does do it.

    Thus I would say that the methods used by HP have a impact on Jewish Community relations with at leats the Muslim Community. I’ve said it before that there is not enough criticism of individuals who go beyond the bounds within the Jewish Community. as ever the excellent Simon Rocker has started doing this.

    But the bottom line is that HP’s is a very influential voice in the Jewish Community and its actions are a disgrace. It does the Jewish Community no good to stand by and allow HP and similar to do what they do.

  68. Imran Khan — on 27th July, 2009 at 6:06 pm  

    Kaffir can be offensive and can be inoffensive. Like many other words it depends on the context its used in.

    Today many ignorant Muslims use the word and in an offensive way and there can be no excuses for this.

    But again a critical thread is being diverted away from its core discussion.

  69. damon — on 27th July, 2009 at 6:14 pm  

    I don’t mind being called a kafir, as it seems like an accurate discription (if it just means ‘unbeliever’).
    The words ‘atheist’ or ‘unbeliever’ could be spat out as equally as insultingly .. if you wanted to be insulting.

    With this changing of language and always having to stay on top of how words might evolve or be misunderstood in a different context (or mixed company as I think Chairwoman spoke of the South African insult that sounds like the Qur’anic word Kafir), I don’t agree. The words have totally seperate meanings, and if someone misunderstands it, then that’s their problem.
    I remember a New Zealand guy telling me once that wearing his ”All Blacks” rugby jersy in the USA had led to some black people questioning him about it. And some were suspicious about what it was. What it meant.

    Same with the aide to the mayor of Washington DC who got fired for using the word ‘niggardly’.

    Why did The Spasticss Society feel they had to change their name to SCOPE?

    Now I have to go and find Mehdi Hasan’s response to the Harry’s Place onslaught against him.
    It does seem overly harsh at first reading.

  70. anobody — on 27th July, 2009 at 6:17 pm  

    Rumbold:

    I want to agree with you, but you can’t ban a word, or stop people from using a word that is still currently used in a non-pejorative way. I feel like the old dear who lived next door, when I was a nipper back in 1990′s. She used the word ‘queer’ quite innocently and I giggled like a girl [can I say that?] and was left quite shocked, and she couldn’t understand why.

    I do not think it is right to use the word kafir, when speaking to non-muslims, as it is offensive when used in the wrong context and also it can be misconstrued. However, like chairwoman said I don’t see why as a Muslim I can’t use the word kafir amongst my fellow Muslim, when I am not seeking to offend anyone [I've never heard of the word GOYIM before, maybe we should call it the G' word?]. I doubt it’s used once a year by many Muslims in anycase.

    I don’t see why so many people are getting so defensive. I’ve used the word here a few times, and not once can you say I have done it to offend or belittle anyone.

    The ‘k’ word thing is actually hilarious. Peddling gone mad. I doubt any of you would go on television using the ‘k’ word, because you’d get laughed at. Maybe in a few years time it will be acceptable, when you’ve managed to smear Islam further to the drones out there.

  71. Boyo — on 27th July, 2009 at 6:38 pm  

    Sunny, I don’t really want to keep arguing the toss but

    “Perhaps if someone started a campaign to get rid of Prince Harry then I’d believe there were equal standards being applied here.”

    There was a huge outcry when Harry used that term – which i feel was used in a considerably less affectionate way than the k-word here – but well done for supporting the dunderhead.

  72. Shamit — on 27th July, 2009 at 6:53 pm  

    “But again a critical thread is being diverted away from its core discussion.”

    Imran’s got a point.

    HP did over react and the headline was not appropriate especially when the context is considered.

    Hasan’s words may have been ill chosen but that do not make him an Islamist. He is no Anjem – and from the quotes that Sunny provided – it is clear he has strong progressive values. Not something one would associate with an Islamist.

    Why is this debate then centred around a word? Doesn’t this sort of hyper headlines and utterly flawed logic play into the hands of the BNP and their likes. I find that far more dangerous than those ill chosen phrases.

  73. getalife — on 27th July, 2009 at 6:55 pm  

    Looks like Mehdi Hasan will be responding to HP’s smear campaign tomorrow: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/dissident-voice/2009/07/mehdi-hasan-career-life-news

  74. Rumbold — on 27th July, 2009 at 7:10 pm  

    Sunny and Anobody:

    I didn’t say that Medhi Hasan should be sacked (he shouldn’t), just that using ‘kafir’ is wrong. People shouldn’t lose their jobs for using offensive words, but we should challenge the day to day use of them, otherwise we go back to the days when ‘Paki’ was common. As Shamit said, HP did go over the top, but that doesn’t invalidate everything they said. Yes, we can make allowances for context on occassion (see #35), but not most of the time.

    Simply put: he was wrong to use ‘kafir’ and should say so. Case closed.

  75. Don — on 27th July, 2009 at 7:15 pm  

    Damon,
    Why did The Spasticss Society feel they had to change their name to SCOPE?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3S0MGl-uS4

  76. Edna Welthorpe — on 27th July, 2009 at 7:30 pm  

    ALL KIDDING ASIDE …

    This discussion, and those on HP, has rather lost sight of the fact that well within living memory someone with the views of Mehdi Hasan would not have been appointed to any sort of position on the NS, except as a condescending act of self-congratulatory charity.

    Of course, that was back in the days before the craven self-hating white-masochist Left felt – for a variety of reasons far too numerous and complex to discuss here – to snuggle up with the I.R.A. and its front organisations.

    From THAT, squealing with joy about the advent of the Ayatollahs’ vile regime – as some Noted Leftist Thinkers did – and fawning over the likes of Arafat was a short step.

    The reductio ad absurdum of this process can be seen in the position now occupied by a man who considers it appropriate to use deliberately insulting language in public about the majority population of the country in which he has chosen to live rather than the benighted Third World hellhole where he’d be surrounded by his co-religionists.

  77. Edna Welthorpe — on 27th July, 2009 at 7:48 pm  

    I just this second watched Anjem Choudhury being interviewed on the Russia Today TV channel [in English] by Laura Emmet.

    Mehdi Hasan is up against serious competition.

    And where is Munir, now that we come to mention the opinionated and obsessed?

    A victim of alien abduction or booted off or simply ‘retired hurt,’ as they say in cricket?

  78. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 7:50 pm  

    Simply put: he was wrong to use ‘kafir’ and should say so. Case closed.

    Oh no – the case isn’t closed. You’re thinking of a different case.

    See, I’m thinking and writing about the case where Harry’s Place tries to do an expose of a bullshit story to make out the guy is some Islamist nutjob – with the express aim of smearing his name. Who’s going to deal with that?

    That case is still ongoing, see.

  79. Soso — on 27th July, 2009 at 7:51 pm  

    Hasan’s use of the term “kuffur” is disgraceful and his allusions to non-Muslims as cattle…context be damned… is unacceptable.

    If I were to use the “N” word in a repeated manner to refer to Blacks would there be any discussion of context?

  80. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 8:31 pm  

    I cannot believe there are people defending or justifying or whatabouting the use of Kafir.

    Would we be having this discussion over N8gger or P8ki? No, of course not.

  81. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 8:40 pm  

    Having watched the clips on HP a couple of times each Hasan does seem a very angry man – angry at other muslims, angry at non-muslims and it is hard not to form the opinion that he looks at non-muslims in a far less then complementary manner.

  82. Sofia — on 27th July, 2009 at 8:50 pm  

    The muslims that call any one non muslim ‘Kaffir’ are using it out of context in exactly the same way some of you lot are…it’s not supposed to be used by us to put other ppl down, nor is it supposed to be an insult…if Roger thinks Muslim scriptures encourage arrogance well depends what you define by arrogance..I believe Islam is the truth, but I don’t ram it down anyone else’s throat..nor do I think that just becaues i’m a muslim i have a free ticket into heaven….i’m not on earth to judge other ppl’s piety, i’m here to focus on my own.

  83. Don — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:07 pm  

    i’m not on earth to judge other ppl’s piety, i’m here to focus on my own.

    But the fun stuff too, right?

  84. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:16 pm  

    “it’s not supposed to be used by us to put other ppl down, nor is it supposed to be an insult”

    Well quite, but it is and its use is increasing.

  85. Shatterface — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:16 pm  

    Sunny: ‘The question is – was his intention racist when using that word or was he quoting the Koran? I start singing a rap song, does that mean I’m a racist?’

    Eminem is friendly with many black hip hop artists but he doesn’t use the word ‘nigger’ in his songs.

    I wouldn’t ban Mehdi from using the word ‘kaffirr’ – if he’s a bigot I’d prefer him to be open about it – but he does forfeit the right to be spokesperson for progressive causes and he brings the New Statesman into disrepute.

  86. Shatterface — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:31 pm  

    ‘I feel like the old dear who lived next door, when I was a nipper back in 1990’s. She used the word ‘queer’ quite innocently and I giggled like a girl [can I say that?] and was left quite shocked, and she couldn’t understand why.’

    Language changes over time. I used to work with with an older woman who overheard a customer being rude to me. Later she told me ‘I don’t know how you put up with that – in my day we’d have given him a good fisting’.

  87. Shatterface — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:36 pm  

    “Perhaps if someone started a campaign to get rid of Prince Harry then I’d believe there were equal standards being applied here.”

    We call ourselves ‘republicans’ and we’ve been around a while.

  88. marvin — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:39 pm  

    #80 spot on

    Anyone who calls me kaffir or infidel is a c*nt. I don’t care if it’s in the Quran – so is smiting at the necks of the unbelievers, amputations for theft, and stoning to death for ‘adultery’ – should we respect that too?

  89. anobody — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:40 pm  

    The Common Humanist:

    I cannot believe there are people defending or justifying or whatabouting the use of Kafir.

    Would we be having this discussion over N8gger or P8ki? No, of course not.

    Explain to me what Arabs should do about substituting the word kafir? Maybe we should start calling it the kaaf word.

  90. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:01 pm  

    Anobody

    Like I keep having to suggest – how about simply not using it?

    It is a nasty, base insult. Why is this so dfficult to grasp?

    Would you use the word N8gger infront of or about people who are black? No, neither would I.

    How about you extend that same simple civilised principle to me and other non-muslims?

  91. anobody — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:13 pm  

    Shatterface:

    Language changes over time. I used to work with with an older woman who overheard a customer being rude to me. Later she told me ‘I don’t know how you put up with that – in my day we’d have given him a good fisting’.

    I agree the meaning of words and language do change. However, we’ve got people here censoring a word not even registered yet in the English Language dictionary – maybe because it’s an Arab word – just because a tiny tiny tiny minority use it as an insult. This is ridiculous, even more so when we are debating on when when it can, and when it cannot be used.

    I doubt any of you know how it’s pronounced. Maybe because you’ve never heard the word, but read it on a newspaper, or on a blog site. Maybe because it’s not commonly used both as a pejorative or any other way. I doubt your man in the pub knows how it is pronounced, but here we have people saying it is being used rampantly.

    Has a Muslim ever called any of you a kafir?

  92. anobody — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:36 pm  

    The Common Humanist,

    I do not use it, and have never used it when addressing non-muslims.

    I am arguing this Mehdi bloke, has used it not in an insulting way, yet you have here a general feeling amongst some people that he shouldn’t use the word at all, and because he has, a campaign against him is justified.

    Maybe we should ban T*rantino films, and gangster rap. Maybe as a brown, I should have felt insulted whilst watching This is England. It is all about context.

  93. Don — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:48 pm  

    However, we’ve got people here censoring a word not even registered yet in the English Language dictionary – maybe because it’s an Arab word – just because a tiny tiny tiny minority use it as an insult

    No, not really. Just noticing that a very significant media figure has spoken in those terms.

  94. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:53 pm  

    Anobody

    Glad to hear that you don’t, it is a gross insult.

    I think it is used in an insulting manner, certainly open to question at any rate. His attitude to non-muslims appears very questionable.

    Still, he is perfectly free to be a muslim chauvinst if he so wishes but then shouldn’t be surprised when people take offence.

    I think though that on the whole some clarifying comments from Mr Mehdi would aid matters.

    I take it there are going to be some soon from Hasan and I think that is a good idea.

    But at the moment the audio files do not sound good and I note no-one has come forward with a proper contextual explanation. Hmmmmmm.

  95. Brownie — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:54 pm  

    Imran: HP subscribes to the Phillips and Pipes doctrines.

    That’s it. The writ is in the post. Start saving, Sunny.

  96. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 11:03 pm  

    INterestingly Hasan Mehdi is possibly going to make more of a statement in the NS. One of the comments reads:

    “”Looking forward to it. Will you tell me why you condemn me and my children – non-believers – as animals, cattle, “KAFFARS”? And will you explain where you stand when it comes to the rights of my gay friends, their relationships and rights. And then please tell us how you qualify as “left wing”.”"

    I too would like to have those questions answered in some detail. Going to be interesting indeed to read those answers – if they ever come forward.

  97. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 11:30 pm  

    Anyone who calls me kaffir or infidel is a c*nt. I don’t care if it’s in the Quran – so is smiting at the necks of the unbelievers, amputations for theft, and stoning to death for ‘adultery’

    Funny how Marvin rails against political correctness gone mad when it suits him.

    I actually wrote about usage of these words not long ago and pointed out the hypocrisy. Then, of course, I was accused of excessive political correctness.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/11/freedom-of-speech-race

  98. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 11:32 pm  

    I wish I could make money through blogging – then I’d actually save some money!

  99. jane — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:21 am  

    Thank you pickledpolitics for exposing the HP blogger’s witchhunt and the subsequent character assassination of this NS journalist for what it is. I hope your site enlightens some of those blindly accepting these accusations without realising the possible ‘agenda’ of the HP blogger.

  100. Rumbold — on 28th July, 2009 at 9:38 am  

    Sunny:

    I was solely talking about the use of ‘kafir’. I don’t agree with everything Harry’s Place had to say, but why not focus on that, rather than defend the use of ‘kafir’ as well?

    Brownie:

    “That’s it. The writ is in the post. Start saving, Sunny.”

    Is that an attempted joke? Do you draw your sense of humour from your favourite comedians?

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2007/06/19/whaddya-mean-funny/

  101. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2009 at 9:56 am  

    Whilst we are at it could we squash another idea that is now going the rounds, that the word kafir is not in English Dictionaries?

    I have in front of me the 10th Edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary – which was published 10 years ago – in which the following definition is given:

    n. (among Muslims) a person who is not a Muslim.

    -ORIGIN from Arab kafir ‘infidel, unbeliever’; cf Kaffir.

  102. The Common Humanist — on 28th July, 2009 at 10:17 am  

    Sunny

    Are you defending the use of ‘kafir’ by Hasan?

    What about generaly as it is a deep, base insult?

  103. Imran Khan — on 28th July, 2009 at 10:24 am  

    Look every Abrahamic religion has the concept that anyone who does not believe its teachings is not a believer.

    Each one of those words can be used in a derogatory way. Its just that people are choosing here to divert attention to the original comment by instead focussing on a word and how it is used.

    The word cattle and animals are metaphors and he isn’t saying that unbelievers are animals he is using a metaphor for crying out loud. People use these metaphors all the time but a Muslim does them then take it out of context and get hysterical.

    When commentators say the same about Muslims then that is called freedom of speech.

    Get a grip people – he wasn’t being offensive.

    As regards the false twist on Jews and fighting what he said was:
    “and our Jewish brethren who we spend so much time fighting and arguing with”

    He is referring to the achievements of the Jewish people who the Muslims spend so much time fighting and arguing with. How can that be twisted into a statement about a call to fighting Jews is beyond me.

    Here he is criticizing the Muslims for spending their time fighting and arguing with a smaller Jewish Community who he highlights have achieved so much.

    This is now ridiculous in that the whole discussion has moved away from its original aim to expose how such statements can be used in a negative way to essentially diversionary tactics.

    As a Muslim I’ve been called an unbeliever by Jews and Christians and in a offensive way. Thats called freedom of speech I am told but a Muslim says it and it can be twisted in any number of ways!

  104. Imran Khan — on 28th July, 2009 at 10:26 am  

    TCH – “Are you defending the use of ‘kafir’ by Hasan?

    What about generaly as it is a deep, base insult?”

    Look the word can be inoffensive and offensive depending on the context.

    As an insult the people who use that are prats who fail to realize that Islamically if they are incorrect then then term reverts to them and they face punishment. The term was not regularly used by early Muslims but has been adopted as offensive slang.

    Did he mean it in this way – most likely not but only he can answer that not Sunny.

  105. bananabrain — on 28th July, 2009 at 10:55 am  

    imran,

    Harry’s Post is referred to by the Jewish Chronicle and its editor, its referred to by Jewish writers in the UK and recently despite your assertion they don’t deal with jewish Community issues they had a guest post by The CST which is a community organisation.

    that is not at all the same as it being an official institution of the community. would you consider the spittoon blog a muslim an institution of the community? it qualifies on all of these counts. are you saying the same of dovbear, hirhurim, the erstwhile bloghead (who is now part of the JC editorial team) or adloyada? all of these were/are popular, widely read blogs in the community. so are american sites such as jewcy. i don’t think you can single out HP in any such way particularly as it is interested in many other issues other than those that are of interest to the jewish community.

    Thus I would say that the methods used by HP have a impact on Jewish Community relations with at leats the Muslim Community.

    by this logic so do those of the broadsheet and tabloid MSM, yet these are not considered by you part of the community.

    I’ve said it before that there is not enough criticism of individuals who go beyond the bounds within the Jewish Community.

    no, there’s not enough that you’re aware of. there is a difference.

    It does the Jewish Community no good to stand by and allow HP and similar to do what they do.

    oh really, so in your view the board of deputies should send the CST boys round to duff up david t? how idiotic. that is not how the jewish community deals with disagreement, there is considerable debate and a wide variety of viewpoints, some of which are vehemently disagreed with. i, for example, find the views of rabbi yitzchok shochet of mill hill united synagogue (who has an “ask the rabbi” column in the jewish news) violently objectionable and i attack them at every given opportunity. so do many other people – a good example is the spoof “ask the rabbi” column that was run by jewdas for a while.

    yours is a typical leftie response: an attack on free speech. you may not like HP, i am sure that there are many views there that i find objectionable, just as there are many views here that i find objectionable. yet i find it far more objectionable when someone attempts to close down conversations on the grounds that it might cause trouble. it is not the job of the “jewish community” to manage blog discussions.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  106. chairwoman — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:15 am  

    “As regards the false twist on Jews and fighting what he said was:
    “and our Jewish brethren who we spend so much time fighting and arguing with”

    He is referring to the achievements of the Jewish people who the Muslims spend so much time fighting and arguing with. How can that be twisted into a statement about a call to fighting Jews is beyond me.”

    Here I entirely support Imran.

    However on his opinion that Harry’s Place is a mover and shaker in the Jewish community, after I’d stopped laughing, I phoned a dozen members of my family, all Jews-on-the-Golders Green-Omnibus so to speak, and asked them their opinion of Harry’s Place.

    Sorry Imran (and sorry David T too), none of them had heard of it. Four asked if it were a new restaurant, five asked ‘Harry who?’, and the other three just said they’d never heard of it.

    And as for their opinions on Muslims, all would like to have better intercomunity relations.

    And bananabrain, isn’t Rabbi Shochet an embarrassment? I can no longer face reading his column.

  107. Imran Khan — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:20 am  

    Chairwoman – My point is that HP is influential in that many commentators such as Mr. Pollard who is Editor of The JC love it. Thus its opinions can be pushed to the community via said Editor of the JC.

    Many Jewish Commentators refer to HP as does Mr. Pollard so your friends may not have heard of HP directly but indirectly they have been reading its positions via the JC Editorial or other comments by Jewish Writers.

    Hence the influence it has.

  108. anobody — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:30 am  

    douglas clarke,

    Whilst we are at it could we squash another idea that is now going the rounds, that the word kafir is not in English Dictionaries?

    I have in front of me the 10th Edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary – which was published 10 years ago – in which the following definition is given:

    n. (among Muslims) a person who is not a Muslim.

    -ORIGIN from Arab kafir ‘infidel, unbeliever’; cf Kaffir.

    You had to check, because you were unsure. So the point still stands. It’s a word that is hardly ever used, and is getting far more press than it deserves.

    Has anyone ever called you a kafir in your face douglas clarke?

  109. Imran Khan — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:33 am  

    Bananabrain – With respect I did not say that HP was an official institution – I said that it had influence in the Jewish Community through being referenced by writers and The JC. There is a major difference between Pollard referencing HP regularly in his column as editor and say other blogs by writers people may or may not read.

    “oh really, so in your view the board of deputies should send the CST boys round to duff up david t? how idiotic.”

    Oh please did I say that? Please show me where I said that? This is again a case of you getting hysterical when all I am saying is that the Jewish Community Orgs need to speak out on such issues. Thats a simple enough way to address the issue. Its pretty much what those same community organisations are asking Muslim organisations to do but won’t do themselves!

    “yours is a typical leftie response: an attack on free speech. you may not like HP, i am sure that there are many views there that i find objectionable, just as there are many views here that i find objectionable. yet i find it far more objectionable when someone attempts to close down conversations on the grounds that it might cause trouble. it is not the job of the “jewish community” to manage blog discussions.”

    Hyteria again. Please explain where I asked for HP to be stopped or limited in comment. I never have and indeed wouldn’t. There is a difference between asking for a distancing of the community and stopping free speech.

    You need to learn that basic difference instead of getting hysterical every time this is discussed.

    This is precisely what Jewish Commentator after commentator has asked of the Muslim community but when the reverse is true then its hysterical and claims of restriction of free speech.

    I haven’t asked for HP to be restricted in any way all I said is the community leadership needs to say this isn’t in our name and is a private opinion.

  110. Imran Khan — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:37 am  

    Chairwoman – “And as for their opinions on Muslims, all would like to have better intercomunity relations.”

    Agreed – I’d love this and really want to see this make progress.

    As an idea I suggest your friends push their Synagogues to contact the major mosques in London and strongly suggest to them they organise events that both communities can attend.

    How about the JC pushing for this? Why can’t Mr. Pollard contact the Directors of the big mosques and ask what they are doing to build better relations?

    That may put them on the spot!

  111. Roger — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:43 am  

    The fact that Mr Hasan quotes from the quran to describe nonmuslims as cattle does not justify him but discredits the quran. He could just about justify it if he was using the word in an entirely religious context, but it doesn’t loos as if he is: politics and religion seem to be inextricably mixed up for him, as for many muslims.

    “As regards the false twist on Jews and fighting what he said was:
    “and our Jewish brethren who we spend so much time fighting and arguing with”

    He is referring to the achievements of the Jewish people who the Muslims spend so much time fighting and arguing with. How can that be twisted into a statement about a call to fighting Jews is beyond me.”

    I would agree there, Imran, except that Mr Hasan follows with:
    “then we wonder why we are losing battles – we are not being out-fought we are being out-thought. We are not underarmed. We are undereducated.”
    At best, it looks as if he is taking his metaphor a little too literally and getting carried away with it.

  112. Ganpat Ram — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:47 am  

    I take it Sunny Hundal would be quite happy with an New Statesman editor who called Sikhs cattle?

    What the speech shows is that Hasan identifies himself in politics totally with a religion, Islam.

    Why is the British self-styled Left allying itself so enthusiastically with such raging devotees of religious politics – one who, whatever else, dehumanises anyone who dares to question an Arab book?

    Would that so-called Left be equally enthusiastic in its support of HINDU nationalism as it clearly is of Islamist nationalism?

    As for all this sneering at “Neocons”. What force in the world today is more conservative than Islam?

    In fact, the dreaded Neocons at least believe in full freedom for believers and non-believers. So they are MORE progressive than the Oldcons of Islam.

  113. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:49 am  

    anobody,

    You are right, I had to check to see if it was in the Dictionary or not. It has however been in pretty common usage in a far uglier way than the Dictionary definition suggests, has it not? I was well aware of the word long before I picked up the Dictionary, which I had done because I was not following the kafir (muslim) / kaffir (SA term of abuse) distinction. I am none the wiser on that though.

    No, no-one has called me that to my face. In fact, apart from on-line – munir if I recall correctly – it is not part of anyones’ usual discourse. Was it OK for munir to use the term, in a derogatory way, to The Common Humanist then? I’d say not, what say you?

  114. The Common Humanist — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:56 am  

    “Was it OK for munir to use the term, in a derogatory way, to The Common Humanist then? I’d say not, what say you?”

    No it bloody well wasn’t. When used in that manner it is a bad as n*gger and p8ki. Nasty, base and deeply insulting.

    No sane person would think to use the N and P word (am tired of having to type them out) and the same courtesy, basic civility really, should be applied in this case.

  115. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:08 pm  

    The Common Humanist @ 114,

    I agree.

  116. Imran Khan — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:27 pm  

    Munir – Please please please can you stop using the K word at all.

    This is derailing a very important discussion.

    The Common Humanist – If he said it he is wrong and the term shouldn’t be used without clear cut evidence and here importantly no-one can clearly know from a blog what someone’s belief is and thus if he said it to you and you are not a disbeliever then it is a sin against him.

    Please can we get back to the original important discussion.

  117. Paul Moloney — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:41 pm  

    “Many Jewish Commentators refer to HP as does Mr. Pollard so your friends may not have heard of HP directly but indirectly they have been reading its positions via the JC Editorial or other comments by Jewish Writers.”

    Why do you keep using capital Letters for common Nouns? It is very Annoying.

    P.

  118. Imran Khan — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:21 pm  

    David Aaronovitchin in The JC – “Over at my favourite political website, Harry’s Place…”

    Stepehn Pollard in the Spectator – “There are always good reasons for looking at Harry’s Place,”

    Melanie Phillips refers to the site as well in her blog.

    I could go on but these writers are read by many in the Jewish Community and hence HP has influence indirectly on the Jewish Community as they refer to the site often in glowing terms.

  119. bananabrain — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:35 pm  

    Sorry Imran (and sorry David T too), none of them had heard of it. Four asked if it were a new restaurant, five asked ‘Harry who?’, and the other three just said they’d never heard of it.

    i had to laugh as well, but you’ve really put your finger on it!

    and yes, rabbi shochet *is* an embarrassment.

    With respect I did not say that HP was an official institution – I said that it had influence in the Jewish Community through being referenced by writers and The JC. There is a major difference between Pollard referencing HP regularly in his column as editor and say other blogs by writers people may or may not read.

    i know you didn’t *say* it was, but you *implied* it was a jewish institution by virtue of the fact that david t is jewish, some of the jewish writers you disagree with appear to agree with some of the bloggers and apparently the editor of the JC does as well. well, i read the times, so do a lot of other jewish people – doesn’t make it jewish. what you said was:

    the methods used by HP have a impact on Jewish Community relations

    and the methods used by the far left have the same on muslim community relations. but my point is, so what?

    Oh please did I say that? Please show me where I said that?

    you said:

    It does the Jewish Community no good to stand by and allow HP and similar to do what they do.

    how do you suggest they stop them? hence my reductio ad absurdum argument. you need to learn the word “bathos”. look it up. the only hysterical person here is you.

    Please explain where I asked for HP to be stopped or limited in comment.

    same thing; you said:

    It does the Jewish Community no good to stand by and allow HP and similar to do what they do.

    in other words, HP should not be “allowed” and the jewish community should not “stand by”. perhaps you’d like to explain how this is *not* you requesting the jewish community to stop or limit their comment, because it beats the hell out of me.

    There is a difference between asking for a distancing of the community and stopping free speech.

    nobody has the power to “distance” the community – how would you suggest such a thing is to be achieved? a statement from the BoD perhaps? are you suggesting that the BoD makes a statement on HP, when they don’t even make statements on israel?

    This is precisely what Jewish Commentator after commentator has asked of the Muslim community

    not i. not for me the endless circle-jerk of posturing, manifestoes and everyone sitting around deploring things they have no control over.

    the community leadership needs to say this isn’t in our name and is a private opinion.

    who says it *is* in their name? surely the burden of proof is for you to show that HP is speaking in the name of the jewish community? mel phillips doesn’t speak for the community either, although she is a JC columnist. you seem to think we’re living in some village somewhere and this can all be sorted out by the village elders.

    I haven’t asked for HP to be restricted in any way

    i fail to see how what you want could be achieved in any way that wasn’t merely pandering to a bunch of loudmouth lefties on the net. the BoD almost certainly have the same opinion of HP as the people chairwoman asked. i know my parents (one of whom is on the BoD and thinks mel phillips is a wet liberal) have no idea what HP is let alone what it says.

    As an idea I suggest your friends push their Synagogues to contact the major mosques in London and strongly suggest to them they organise events that both communities can attend.

    and that’s your suggestion, is it? at a time when we’re all paying for extra security at kids’ schools and shuls are being firebombed, you think that is going to get results?

    Why can’t Mr. Pollard contact the Directors of the big mosques and ask what they are doing to build better relations?

    you don’t think that would be interpreted as an aggressive “justify yourself” kind of approach? because i do. it would do far better to come from a more neutral source.

    incidentally, if anyone calls me a “kafir” or “cattle” i will explain to them in no uncertain terms why they are a bigot and an ignoramus, before kicking them in the nuts and claiming provocation under the religious discrimination act.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  120. Imran Khan — on 28th July, 2009 at 2:40 pm  

    Bananabrain – “i know you didn’t *say* it was, but you *implied* it was a jewish institution by virtue of the fact that david t is jewish, some of the jewish writers you disagree with appear to agree with some of the bloggers and apparently the editor of the JC does as well. well, i read the times, so do a lot of other jewish people – doesn’t make it jewish. what you said was:

    the methods used by HP have a impact on Jewish Community relations

    and the methods used by the far left have the same on muslim community relations. but my point is, so what?”

    How difficult is it for you to grasp that HP is quite often referred to by a leading media outlet in the Jewish Community. If its referred to in glowing terms as Pollard does for HP then it is having an influence on a widely read community newspaper.

    The Muslim Community has the very same issues but the Muslim Community is being asked to do the same. Pot Kettle Black.

    “you said:

    It does the Jewish Community no good to stand by and allow HP and similar to do what they do.

    how do you suggest they stop them? hence my reductio ad absurdum argument. you need to learn the word “bathos”. look it up. the only hysterical person here is you.”

    I didn’t say stop them, I said they need to make a statement – say something like they do not necessarily support all the views of …..

    “in other words, HP should not be “allowed” and the jewish community should not “stand by”. perhaps you’d like to explain how this is *not* you requesting the jewish community to stop or limit their comment, because it beats the hell out of me.”

    HP should be allowed to have its say. I have never asked for HP to be banned and you know that and your stance is just nonsense. Do you grasp that I am not asking for HP to be banned and this is just hysteria by you.

    The Jewish Community shouldn’t stand by though it needs to make clear that it doesn’t support everything said by influential blogs and media.

    This is being requested of the Muslim Community so why single one out and not the other?

    “nobody has the power to “distance” the community – how would you suggest such a thing is to be achieved? a statement from the BoD perhaps? are you suggesting that the BoD makes a statement on HP, when they don’t even make statements on israel?”

    This is deja vu. You live in a world of absolute denial. The BoD says it is “The Voice of British Jewry since 1760″ So either they are wrong or you are. If they are wrong tell them not me. Frankly you are talking nonsense. They are the voice of British Jewry so yes they can make a statement.

    On their press page they refer about communal meetings they hold.

    I mean for crying out loud they hold meetings with senior politicians on behalf of British Jewry and now you are trying to say they can’t comment when they clearly do. In this case they are choosing not to.

    “who says it *is* in their name? surely the burden of proof is for you to show that HP is speaking in the name of the jewish community? mel phillips doesn’t speak for the community either, although she is a JC columnist. you seem to think we’re living in some village somewhere and this can all be sorted out by the village elders.”

    Why then when Muslim Preachers make extremist statements do Jewish Organisations and MPs demand Muslim Organisations make statements? Surely then the burden of proof is on showing those statements spedak for the Muslim community.

    “i fail to see how what you want could be achieved in any way that wasn’t merely pandering to a bunch of loudmouth lefties on the net. the BoD almost certainly have the same opinion of HP as the people chairwoman asked. i know my parents (one of whom is on the BoD and thinks mel phillips is a wet liberal) have no idea what HP is let alone what it says.”

    Wet Liberal?

    This is nonsense – if something is continually referred to by commentators then surely the BoD need to know who they are? If they don’t they are hardly acting in the role they were elected to.

    “and that’s your suggestion, is it? at a time when we’re all paying for extra security at kids’ schools and shuls are being firebombed, you think that is going to get results?”

    I was wondering when you’d throw this one in. Why not stop bitching and do something. My idea won’t get instant results but it will in the long term build up results starting at the grassroots. Either we start doing something or keep going down the same road and listen to you complaining about this without doing something to combat it.

    Frankly I am getting fed up of the fact you keep complaining but when people suggest something you whinge further. Its not helping to turn the tide.

    “you don’t think that would be interpreted as an aggressive “justify yourself” kind of approach? because i do. it would do far better to come from a more neutral source.”

    No it can be done in a positive way. I don’t care if its from a neutral source – your website maybe. I really don’t. I just want this to start moving forward and we make progress.

    I don’t have the answers and can only put forth suggestions. But we need to try and despite your negativity it doesn’t mean I’ll stop or give up.

  121. anobody — on 28th July, 2009 at 2:49 pm  

    douglas clarke:

    You are right, I had to check to see if it was in the Dictionary or not. It has however been in pretty common usage in a far uglier way than the Dictionary definition suggests, has it not? I was well aware of the word long before I picked up the Dictionary, which I had done because I was not following the kafir (muslim) / kaffir (SA term of abuse) distinction. I am none the wiser on that though

    I disagree, that it has been in common useage. Maybe your definition of what is common, is different to mine. Maybe that word is also changing to mean what is reported by media types. However, I agree that when addressing non-muslims it plays with sensitivities, so it should not be used in that context.

    No, no-one has called me that to my face. In fact, apart from on-line – munir if I recall correctly – it is not part of anyones’ usual discourse. Was it OK for munir to use the term, in a derogatory way, to The Common Humanist then? I’d say not, what say you?

    Calling someone a kafir in a derogatory way is not right.

    Allah knows best.

  122. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2009 at 2:54 pm  

    anobody,

    Then, on the substantive point, we agree.

  123. The Common Humanist — on 28th July, 2009 at 2:58 pm  

    Amen. Group hug.

  124. anobody — on 28th July, 2009 at 3:32 pm  

    Easy now, be gentile, you know I’m not down with the man loving business.

  125. The Common Humanist — on 28th July, 2009 at 3:45 pm  

    Even with manly guffaw sounds and hearty back slapping? 8-)

    TCH

  126. Ala — on 28th July, 2009 at 10:06 pm  

    Harry’s Place reminds me of a high school playground.

    Now I’ve said that, they’ll probably write an expose of me, an atheist, based on damning insider information that I have Muslim family.

  127. douglas clark — on 29th July, 2009 at 12:41 am  

    Ala, Some brave person said something the same over on David Taubes cesspit:

    And still faceless commentators bay for blood. This is not a court of justice. Please stop acting as if it is one.

    They can write an exposé of me too! How boring would that be?

  128. Abu Faris — on 29th July, 2009 at 2:12 am  

    Can I ask whether those who find the word “kafir” offensive also find the expression “non-believer” offensive?

    Given that many who seemingly find the Arabic term offensive are the very same people who would happily defend (on ultimately spurious grounds) offensive attitudes and language towards religious believers of whatever faith, I find the sudden outrage at the Arabic term “kafir” most convenient, to say the least.

    All meanings have multiple senses, and Arabic does not escape this fact. One important way in which the term “kafir” is understood in Arabic is that it relates to those people who have been presented with the message of Islam, but have chosen to actively oppose this faith. Clearly a “kafir” understood in this sense is not simply a non-Muslim; but, rather, an active opponent of Islam as a faith.

    Given the deeply-held animus of many at HP towards Islam – and given the frankly asinine smearing and hate aimed at almost any prominent Muslim evident on that site – one might have some sympathy with the view that the kufr opponents of Islam sometimes behave… well… little better than farmyard animals.

  129. Abu Faris — on 29th July, 2009 at 2:32 am  

    Mehdi’s claim relates to a theological anthropology in which a full description of humanity includes the moral dimension, which for believers of any faith, must include religious identity.

    In short, the depiction of active opponents of Islam (kufr) in terms of non-human animals is not to be read as “derogatory” of humanity beyond the fold of Islam – it is descriptive of a condition that many (perhaps very many) find themselves within bound.

    It is not an exclusion from the ambit of humanity – a narrowing of the scope of the term to only the Muslim believers; rather, it is an observation that without faith, without a moral compass, we are little better than the beasts of the field.

    I cannot think of single messenger of religion who has not made some similar point – but I can think of many who have perhaps nuanced it such that it is less a hostage to fortune.

    The son-in-law of Muhammad, ‘Ali, perhaps put it well when he suggested that “loving one another was half of wisdom” – leaving us to ponder as to what amounted the other half (perhaps knowledge of right and wrong?). Of course, the Apostle argued that without love we are nothing. I read precious little outrage on the part of HP stalwarts condemning Paul for suggesting that the loveless are “nothing” – I mean, how offensive is that? Not even an “animal” – but simply “nothing”.

    We learn a lot about the manufacture of consent; but too precious little about the manufacture of hate, or contempt. Harry’s Place appears too often a veritable factory of loathing for the Other, particularly should that Other bed towards a little city in Arabia five times a day. In sum, lacking love for the other, too many on Harry’s place display a sad lacking in wisdom. Lacking a moral sense of the right and the wrong, they are almost nothing.

    What a terrible thing to be, a place of emptiness – a veritable living Hell. Perhaps, ultimately, I feel a great sorrow for these angry typists, locked in a hate that deprives them of wisdom and so love.

  130. douglas clark — on 29th July, 2009 at 4:01 am  

    Abu Faris,

    You do know you are nuts?

    In short, the depiction of active opponents of Islam (kufr) in terms of non-human animals is not to be read as “derogatory” of humanity beyond the fold of Islam – it is descriptive of a condition that many (perhaps very many) find themselves within bound.

    So we are wrong and your are right? Fuck me gently, but that is a load of pish….

  131. The Common Humanist — on 29th July, 2009 at 9:52 am  

    Abu Faris

    What a load of tosh. You want us to understand and contextualise so that a muslim saying such can get away with being deeply offensive?

    Go take a long walk.

    We wouldn’t be having this discussion if positions were reversed. Liberals like myself have bent over backwards to be understanding and accommodating of other faiths and of none and this is the thanks we get – base insult and offence. Cheers for that.

  132. Paul Moloney — on 29th July, 2009 at 10:05 am  

    “without a moral compass”

    Atheists don’t have a moral compass? In that case, why have I never robbed, cheated or murdered anyone? Lack of opportunity?

    So Hasan thinks the vast proportion of his readership have no moral compass? In that case, why does he bother writing for a campaigning magazine?

    P.

  133. The Common Humanist — on 29th July, 2009 at 10:10 am  

    So Hasan thinks I am an animal, have no moral compass and Abu thinks I should just get over being called the equiv insult of a N (that was by Munir by the way and I welcome the move to ban him BTW).

    Well, Happy Wednesday to one and all.

  134. Ravi Naik — on 29th July, 2009 at 10:55 am  

    It is not an exclusion from the ambit of humanity – a narrowing of the scope of the term to only the Muslim believers; rather, it is an observation that without faith, without a moral compass, we are little better than the beasts of the field.

    Mehdi Hasan was very clear that he felt that those that do not follow the teachings of Islam are of “no intelligence” and have a lifestyle that is animal-like. Forget about kuffir or Islamist, these are distractions from the rather odious point he is making. But your interpretation is equally narrow-minded.

    People do not need to follow organised religion or believe in the supernatural to have a sound moral conduct. To claim otherwise is bigotry, that is no different than atheists who believe all religious people are nuts. And one can equally make the point that those that follow religion blindly without questioning their mullahs, rabbis or priests, are behaving like “cattle”.

    Mehdi Hasan should know better than this, and if he wants to change the mindset of his Muslim audience when he gives these talks, then perhaps he could start by stating that moral conduct and virtue is not a monopoly of Muslims, and atheists and other religious people can attain enlightenment.

  135. Don — on 29th July, 2009 at 10:59 am  

    it is an observation that without faith, without a moral compass, we are little better than the beasts of the field.

    It is not an observation, it is an assertion. Faith and moral compass are not one and the same, saying it is so doesn’t make it so. Which brings it back to one group being defined as no better than beasts.

    As for the Apostle Paul, why on earth would you imagine that atheists take his views on love seriously?

  136. Imran Khan — on 29th July, 2009 at 11:21 am  

    TCH – “So Hasan thinks I am an animal, have no moral compass and Abu thinks I should just get over being called the equiv insult of a N (that was by Munir by the way and I welcome the move to ban him BTW).

    Well, Happy Wednesday to one and all.”

    TCH what you are seeing is people mixing up lots of things and throwing it into one melting pot when describing non-Muslims and simply put this stems from their own ignorance.

    This is precisely why the leading scholars of Islam have always said that learning is important and people shouldn’t rush to lecture or teach on the religion.

    I’ll try to be brief but Islam accepts and acknowledges that not everyone will be Muslim and other people’s beliefs are not to be mocked as I explained earlier. The views being expressed above are a form of mocking.

    Now there are metaphors describing how some people react when the message of Islam is conveyed and the metaphor used is like an animal fleeing from a hunter or a lion. This describes the action and not that people are animals therein lies the crucial difference.

    So its the misinterpretation that is being used to describe a generality when it was applied to something specific.

  137. Imran Khan — on 29th July, 2009 at 11:25 am  

    Ravi – “Mehdi Hasan should know better than this, and if he wants to change the mindset of his Muslim audience when he gives these talks, then perhaps he could start by stating that moral conduct and virtue is not a monopoly of Muslims, and atheists and other religious people can attain enlightenment.”

    He should know better and this is why actions are based upon intentions and in the Qur’an Allah Says quite clearly everyone and that means everyone will get rewarded for their good actions and intentions.

    Muslims are commanded to set an example and clearly his speech has failed to do that.

  138. Imran Khan — on 29th July, 2009 at 11:33 am  

    Brownie:

    “That’s it. The writ is in the post. Start saving, Sunny.”

    I assume this is a joke but I suggest you review your own site first and see the disgraceful comments posted about people including me which are nothing short of slander. Comments which are posted and have remained without being removed and which are backed by no evidence to illustrate the claims being made.

    I have always promoted relations between communities both here at PP and in my own life so I suggest you sort out your own site first.

  139. Ravi Naik — on 29th July, 2009 at 11:43 am  

    He should know better and this is why actions are based upon intentions and in the Qur’an Allah Says quite clearly everyone and that means everyone will get rewarded for their good actions and intentions. Muslims are commanded to set an example and clearly his speech has failed to do that.

    It is good to hear you say that, Imran.

  140. justforfun — on 29th July, 2009 at 11:44 am  

    Ravi – well said.

    I would just add one word of my own –

    And one can equally make the point that those that follow religion blindly without questioning their God, mullahs, rabbis or priests, are behaving like “cattle”.

  141. Abu Faris — on 29th July, 2009 at 12:07 pm  

    No, I did not argue that atheists lack a moral compass. I argued that for the religious, faith is the completion of moral sense.

    Douglas Clark, if you cannot be bothered to comprehend, then I suppose all you would have left is ad homina. If I am to be labelled nuts – might I suggest that you are simply rude? You may feel that the religious are nuts, that is your prerogative; but to challenge an established understanding of the term “kafir” because it fails to match your prejudices and agenda is actually rather sad, as well as deeply ignorant.

    The CommonHumanist:

    “Liberals like myself have bent over backwards to be understanding and accommodating of other faiths and of none and this is the thanks we get – base insult and offence.”

    I have tried to show that neither offence was made and that the taking of it (as is your wont and right) is both evidently selective and highly question-begging. Does the fact that you have putatively bent over backwards to accommodate faith mean that at the first sign of dissent on the part of the faithful (or even suggestion on their part that they feel that they have more – in some intangible way – than the non-faithful) all bets are off? I am sorry, I was unaware that the religious were to be tolerated only if they abided by the rules of the non-religiously inclined. How very illiberal and intolerant of you.

    Incidentally, rather than this present flood of HP regulars hell-bent on leaping to the defence of Toube et al – and in so doing posting up the usual mish-mash of mindless abuse and asinine derision, how about actually challenging what I wrote? No, sorry, I forgot – you don’t do that, do you?

  142. anobody — on 29th July, 2009 at 12:15 pm  

    The Common Humanist

    So Hasan thinks I am an animal, have no moral compass and Abu thinks I should just get over being called the equiv insult of a N (that was by Munir by the way and I welcome the move to ban him BTW).

    You do need to get over it, you’re over reacting. It’s not the equivalent of the n word.

    Here we go again, another non-muslim trying to teach the Muslims their own religion, and the language of their Quran.

    Many Muslims find the word ‘Islamist’ offensive. I can’t see that getting censored, or banned.

  143. Carmenego — on 29th July, 2009 at 12:17 pm  

    I’m a bit late for this, but I’ve read through til the end and I’m a bit insulted (as a secular humanist) by the k-word (however it may be spelt). Context, as always, is important, but I’ve yet to see it been used in a positive way.

    #129 “without faith, without a moral compass, we are little better than the beasts of the field” sums up my insulted state rather well.

    My moral compass is not guided by a bronze age manuscript. It is based on logic, open mindedness, tolerance and dignity to ALL. As an atheist, surely there’s nothing stopping me from committing gross acts of unkindness towards women, LGBTs, or those that differ in opinion to me? And yet here I am!

    There is a very big difference between having “faith” and having a moral compass. I would so far as to say that the two are completely unrelated.

  144. Carmenego — on 29th July, 2009 at 12:18 pm  

    Sorry for that alst post, it was totally off topic but I got a bit annoyed!

  145. damon — on 29th July, 2009 at 12:22 pm  

    Mehdi Hasan has replied to this situation on one of the other threads about this on Pickled Politics (the one about Martin Bright – @ post 32).
    This was his reply.
    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/dissident-voice/2009/07/islamic-extremists-muslim

    I made the comment myself that I thought he wasn’t an Islamist, but that language like that is bound to cause alarm, and to imagine if Sadiq Khan MP had been recorded speaking like that.

    But I find equating ”kaffar” with N a nd P words a bit OTT, as who cares what people say about those who don’t share their belief system?

  146. Don — on 29th July, 2009 at 12:27 pm  

    ‘Islamist’, however defined, refers to a political position taken by an individual. I don’t use it myself, because of its lack of a clear definition. If there were an agreed definition (fat chance)then it would be for the individual to decide if it had been used appropriately.

  147. anobody — on 29th July, 2009 at 2:12 pm  

    Don:

    ‘Islamist’, however defined, refers to a political position taken by an individual. I don’t use it myself, because of its lack of a clear definition. If there were an agreed definition (fat chance)then it would be for the individual to decide if it had been used appropriately.

    Is there anything wrong with holding a political position?

    Unfortunately, both those on the left and right are guilty of using the word for sinister purposes. We have here the word ‘kafir’ in discussion, which has a clear definition, and yet we are trying to censore it. Whereas we have a word ‘Islamist’ which has no clear definition, which when used, can hold some very damaging connotations – like here for Mehdi Hassan – but we use it liberally, how we wish? Where’s the sense in that?

    Maybe I should start using ‘Islamist’ as ‘Isl*mist’.

    Just a question to the non-muslims, if I said you are all going to burn in hell with Mother Teresa, would you be offended?

  148. The Common Humanist — on 29th July, 2009 at 2:43 pm  

    “Here we go again, another non-muslim trying to teach the Muslims their own religion, and the language of their Quran”

    No, just asking not to be insulted and demeaned.

    There is nothing wrong with the original meaning of the word. However, the way it is used often now in political discourse is as a term of abuse as you well know.

    I am certainly not trying to teach you your religion.

    Do you consider abuse part of your interpretation of your religion?

  149. The Common Humanist — on 29th July, 2009 at 2:46 pm  

    “You do need to get over it, you’re over reacting. It’s not the equivalent of the n word”

    So the next time the BNP or Mel Phillips or the Daily Mail or any number of wingnut arseholes are insulting and demeaning muslims…….how will you react to being told ‘oh just get over it, I mean, being called ‘cockroaches’ or whatever is the latest far right insult isn’t so bad etc etc???

    Somehow I doubt it.

  150. justforfun — on 29th July, 2009 at 2:49 pm  

    Just a question to the non-muslims, if I said you are all going to burn in hell with Mother Teresa, would you be offended?

    No

    justforfun

    What offends/annoys me is my tax money going assist worshipers of all religions where this sort of sentiment is a doctrine.

  151. The Common Humanist — on 29th July, 2009 at 3:17 pm  

    Imran:

    “TCH what you are seeing is people mixing up lots of things and throwing it into one melting pot when describing non-Muslims and simply put this stems from their own ignorance”

    Well put. And also the rest of that comment. Cheers.

  152. cjcjc — on 29th July, 2009 at 3:21 pm  

    Just a question to the non-muslims, if I said you are all going to burn in hell with Mother Teresa, would you be offended?

    No. But I might well refer you to a shrink.

  153. Don — on 29th July, 2009 at 4:17 pm  

    Just a question to the non-muslims, if I said you are all going to burn in hell with Mother Teresa, would you be offended?

    If that is what you believe then it is clearly your duty to warn me. Why would I be offended? I car-share with an evangelical colleague who believes exactly that (MT being RC and all). What has offended me is that she has stopped trying to save me. Honestly, a little light mockery and she has backed off and left me to sizzle. Back in the day she and her ilk would have pulled out all the stops to save my soul. (And my teeth, fingernails…)

    Is there anything wrong with holding a political position?

    No. of course not. It’s the difference between calling someone a ‘Filthy Red’ and a ‘Filthy Black’. The one is an abusive term for a chosen political position and comes under the heading of vitriolic debate, the other is an abusive term for something intrinsic to the person and the group to which they are perceived to belong, and comes under the heading of bigotry.

  154. Don — on 29th July, 2009 at 4:20 pm  

    And Imran, thanks for you contributions to keeping this discussion civil and rational.

  155. The Common Humanist — on 29th July, 2009 at 4:37 pm  

    Don @ 153

    Well put.

  156. Abu Faris — on 29th July, 2009 at 10:57 pm  

    Camenego,

    I refer you to my post, which you clearly either did not read properly, or perhaps misunderstood. Precisely, this:

    “I did not argue that atheists lack a moral compass. I argued that for the religious, faith is the completion of moral sense.”

    Given that this was the very first paragraph of my previous post, I find it odd that it slipped your attention.

    You object to “Bronze Age” faiths (incidentally, Islam is perhaps not best so described) – that is odd from an atheist. I would have thought you would want to object to *any* faith of *any* age. However, let your prejudice against ancient faiths stand – do you not, then, object to Scientology?

  157. damon — on 29th July, 2009 at 11:01 pm  

    Is that it now? All done and dusted?
    I must say, I thought Mehdi Hasan could have given a better explaination than the one he did.
    Not an ”Islamist” for sure, but is that really mainstream Islam he was talking there?
    No wonder there’s so much ”Islamophobia” about.

    And I too don’t mind being told I’m going to burn in hell. My christian heritage threatens that too. ”Submit or else” it says – It’s blackmail.

    And while I will shug off kaffar and such words, will the religious do likewise if other people suggest their books and storys have as much chance of being the word of God as the folk tales of the Brothers Grimm have?

    How about that Hansel and Gretel were in fact two of God’s favourite angels, and that the The Pied Piper of Hamelin (pbah) was actually his prophet on earth?

    I wonder if this episode means that Mehdi Hasan has saddled himself with a reputation he might not care for (when he’s trying to be just a regular political editor for a left of center magazine?)

    Carmenego @ 143 – don’t be sorry.

  158. ali — on 29th July, 2009 at 11:09 pm  

    damon
    “No wonder there’s so much ”Islamophobia” about.”

    Sounds like your looking for a hook to hang your bigotry against Muslims on

    There is no excuse for hatred of Muslims (or any other group) how ever much you try and make apologies for it

  159. damon — on 30th July, 2009 at 12:16 am  

    Ali, what bigotry are you talking about?
    Munir said the same thing once.

    That I say that some Islamophobia is created by some Muslims being a bit off the wall (or seeming to be to some people) does not make me a bigot. But I can see a ”chicken and egg” situation could exist here.

    But that you (like Munir did … or was it Blah?) put 2 and 2 together and get five is part of the problem here IMO.

    In a broadly secular society, expressions of resolute religiosity can cause a certain amount of unease.
    Alastair Campbell had a good reason for declaring that ”we don’t do God”.

    Just because a person doesn’t recognise someone’s belief system as being credible, doesn’t make that person a bigot.

    I put ”Islamophobia”with quotation marks around it, because from reading sites like Islamophobia Watch, it seems to me that some of what they report there isn’t actually Islamophobia at all – but might be fair comment (for example, about ”burkas” and niquabs being discussed in the likes of the Independent newspaper).

    And I’m affraid to say, that this oversensitivity and readiness to claim Islamophobia and bigotry, is something that I think does help feed real Islamobhobia.

  160. anobody — on 30th July, 2009 at 9:08 pm  

    Don,

    I’m glad you don’t feel offended, because if you didn’t believe in Hell, why would you? I wouldn’t feel offended for different reasons.

    If that is what you believe then it is clearly your duty to warn me.

    I believe Allah is the master of the day of judgement. So it would be wrong for me to pass a judgement on you. If you want to know why I feel this way read about taqwa. If you want to know about Allah, you have the Quran.

    Is there anything wrong with holding a political position?

    No. of course not. It’s the difference between calling someone a ‘Filthy Red’ and a ‘Filthy Black’. The one is an abusive term for a chosen political position and comes under the heading of vitriolic debate, the other is an abusive term for something intrinsic to the person and the group to which they are perceived to belong, and comes under the heading of bigotry.

    Islam is intrinsic to me and if Allah accepts my ways, within the Muslim Ummah, to Islam is where I belong, so calling me an Islamist is not only vitriol, but also extends to bigotry?

  161. Don — on 30th July, 2009 at 11:32 pm  

    No, if you were called an Islamist in a debate in which you were advocating more political and social influence for Islam then the term might be wrongly applied or even vitriolic, but as long as it applied to the political and social aspects of your comments it would be a legitimate area for robust debate.

    If the term were applied to you just because you observe your religion, that would be bigotry.

  162. Celtlord — on 31st July, 2009 at 11:04 pm  

    Funny place,… break down of thread- muslims want to talk about the jews. Here chew on this jew haters, if jewish conspiracy ruled the planet, that with all the verables involved would require near godlike plus superhuman ability to manage and as a demonstration of jewish acumen they chose the worst neigbours on the planet, next to pakistanis, for a national home.

    For non-muslims, the conversation is about muslims and whether kafer, kafir, kufar, is the equivalent of paki or nigger, as a racist prick might use to insult another human being, in effect dehumanize them. The ways i have seen it use betrays a hatred toward the sonamed bordering on homocidal.

  163. ali — on 1st August, 2009 at 12:02 am  

    CeltLord

    Funny place,… break down of thread- muslims want to talk about the jews. Here chew on this jew haters, if jewish conspiracy ruled the planet, that with all the verables involved would require near godlike plus superhuman ability to manage and as a demonstration of jewish acumen they chose the worst neigbours on the planet, next to pakistanis, for a national home.

    Yet you believe the same thing about Muslims- that a minority with no political, social, military or economic power is about to take over Europe

  164. Celtlord — on 1st August, 2009 at 7:47 am  

    Ali

    Nay, Nay what I believe is that a considerable minority of practicing muslims have that(an islam dominated world), as an ambition, are sympathetic to Jihadi groups, that a majority of mosques are propaganda promoting an islamic supremacist ideology drawn from the example of the first three generations of muslims. I believe that the civil war occurring in the islamic world is a natural consequence of islamic history. The islamic world is at the bottom of human affairs, according to almost every source, UN, shitloads of NGO’s because of the culture created by dominance of islam in those societies. Concepts such as mohammed’s laughing perfection in morality, considering the story of mohammed’s life as a fraudulent prophet, a life of childrape, plunder, plain old rape, ethnic cleansing, enslavement, a list of evils too long. The five major schools of sharia are a pile of rancid camel and kafir dung, in my humble moral opinion. Among islamic societies most crippling beliefs are that of the koran’s unadulterated state, or scriptual inspired misogyny. Enough, there are so many, and it is repulsive as such a waste.

    The ideology of the muslim brotherhood and affiliates is just as repulsive on anything more than a casual glance. They have islamic global dominanance as a goal,have been around a long time, and boast a generational plan of action. I would imagine it would be quite a sophisticated plan by now, and far enough along to allow political violence through a proxy. The organization is right there in the mosque structure, and the islamic scriptures provide the ideological background, simultaneously motivation… as a vehicle for colonization it is fiendishly brilliant. Too bad to any sane person the belief system as expressed by islamic law and history is just evil wrong, unless you favour slavery. I would say islam by demanding submission total dehumanizes it’s believers.

    I know That they will fail because islam is a falsehood. The more islamic the state the more aggressive and more of a shithole, You encounter.
    Suborning the Left would be a strategy, if an other civilization, which is a title most muslims’ claim for their beliefs and culture, want to supplant another, in this case Western, a flawed but a far, far, far superior culture, as leading cultural grouping.
    See Western Culture is more than just capitalism, it’s the culture that affords it’s citizens the greatest opportunities and freedoms than any other on earth. Homos have a chance to live openly without being excuted for being gay, god almighty, i could go on all day, but i doubt many on this blog have the attention span. …But, I care. Expulsion solves problem for a tolerant society beset by belligerent culture and an recently imported intolerant minority with lofty ambitions, and does so with the least amount of bloodshed. Indigenous population will do it one way or another.

  165. krulayar — on 1st August, 2009 at 3:35 pm  

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