I’m back, with a vengeance


by Sunny
26th June, 2006 at 4:10 am    

Hello everyone, I’m back from my trip to Strasbourg. It was my second time to France and reinforced my growing affection for the French, primarily because they cheerfully put up with my total lack of knowledge about their language, and despite their terrible food (I’m vegetarian, see).

I come back intellectually energised, with lots of ideas and thoughts and plans (as ever). In particular there is a lot to be said about identity (I’m currently reading Amartya Sen’s latest book Identity and Violence) and usage of language, and how they relate to recent events. More on that later this week as I get settled back in and catch up with my work.

In the meantime here is something interesting…

1) Remember Yvonne Ridley’s hilarious diatribe about Britain being the “third most hated country in the world”? The target of her ire was singer Sami Yusuf, who got so pissed off he published an open letter on this website, beautifully lambasting her. No really, you should read it because it tears her to shreds. I selectively quote:

This leads me to another important issue which you raised – that of identity and culture. Who are we? How do we define ourselves? What do we stand for? Let me remind you again – I am a British Muslim. Proud to be Muslim and proud to be British! Why? Because this is what Islam teaches me to be – loyal towards my faith and my country. Throughout our rich history, wherever Muslims settled they adopted and fused the best aspects of the local culture/society with Islamic teachings and traditions.

Such emotional fist-pumping and chest-pounding about renouncing our British identity may seem attractive to a minority of Muslim youth, but as Muslims in positions of influence like yourself, we should not play to these base instincts. Rather, we should try to be more far-sighted and responsible in our discourse and not sacrifice this in the pursuit of tabloid-style sensationalist journalism.

Although we have our fair share of racism, Islamophobia, discrimination, under-representation – and in no way am I claiming that we live in a utopian society, but I still believe that British society is amongst the most tolerant, open, liberal, multi-cultural and inclusive societies in the world. We don’t need to go far but Muslims in the Continent would envy the liberties and opportunities that British Muslims take for granted.

Heh. In defence Ridley has written another article, back-paddling furiously and neglecting to mention his own letter. Love it. [via Closer]

2) Didn’t I say Lakshmi Mittal was going to buy out Arcelor? Guess what.

3) Remember that Telegraph interview with Mohammed Abdul Bari? I thought it was ok. Anyway, Dominic Lawson of all people, former editor of the Sunday Telegraph, has come to his defence. Bizarre, but justified.

4) AP has an interesting (and pretty obvious) article on why Muslims have remained somewhat silent on European terrorist attacks.

5) BBC’s director of television Jana Bennett responds to my last week’s article on diversity. Heh.


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  1. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 26th June, 2006 at 6:48 am  

    Sunny,

    A strange blurb from the AP article, “I had to do a lot of work to convince them that I saw them as people, rather than as Muslims,” by Sue Vogel, a psychologist who practices in Muslim-populated Bedford, in central England. What the hell is that supposed to mean? To be Muslim blind is just as impossible as being colorblind. And why should we be blind to differences?

    But the rest of the article starts to sound a little strange. Its as if everyone is trying to prove that they arent Muslim enough to feel guilty about terrorism commited by Muslims. Essential those arent there brothers and why should they bother.

    I consider them my brothers and I am not in a position to say whether they are Muslims or not. They probably are. I, on the other hand, know that they are deviants, consider them as such, and will always reject their actions and ideologies to them or anyone else.

    It its true that Muslims do want to just get on. I remember hearing about the London attacks and seeing T Blair on T.V. dam near shaking and it gave me a shitty feeling.

    Anyway, why in the World are you British people so celebrity obessed especially when you consider that most of them are so ugly.

  2. Katy Newton — on 26th June, 2006 at 7:39 am  

    It is a terrible thing to be vegetarian in France. My best friend is vegetarian and when we went to Calais she ate nothing but cheese omelettes and vegetables au gratin.

    It is not as bad as being vegetarian in Copenhagen, though, where there is only one vegetarian restaurant, and when we got there we were rather surprised to find that they sold meat there too. It turned out that they were known as the vegetarian restaurant because they had a couple of vegetarian dishes, which is more than could be said for the rest of Copenhagen’s restaurants.

  3. Vikrant — on 26th June, 2006 at 8:09 am  

    Eek Sunny you positively like french? Thats not British! French are one of the rudest boys in teh continent and their driving manners remind me of Old Delhi!

  4. sonia — on 26th June, 2006 at 11:15 am  

    it is rather interesting. this woman in that article who pointed out “her identity is not defined by Islam”. we’re always hearing people complain about how all these european muslims are defined by their religion and why can’t they be like ‘the rest of us’. if people who aren’t defined by their religion and are blending in like other non-muslims, then that’s also interesting. i don’t see too many people making a fuss about the lack of most people in society out on the streets demonstrating re: all the injustices out there. if these people are blending in, maybe they don’t think they should ‘group’ themselves as one distinct group. isn’t that what everyone says they want more of.. whenever the ‘multiculturalism’ thing raises its head.

    anyway with regards to myself, i’d like to spend more time on the streets making a fuss about all sorts of injustices and go to a lof the demonstrations i read about on indymedia and that i often spread awareness of. however i do have a job and i can’t. I also can’t see why people don’t spend more time reading and listening to individuals who condemn all sorts of violence – like myself – whether that is perpetrated by a muslim or anyone else – like a soldier in a national army or a psychopathic baby killer. But then i’m not shaped by religious identity so i daresay that wouldn’t satisfy all those people who claim they can’t hear any ‘condemnation of terrorism’. Still it does reek of if you haven’t said you’re with us then you’re against us mentality which isn’t going to encourage people to speak their mind without fearing their words will be twisted into more polarized hoo-ha.

    on a slight tangent – i’ve started reading a book by a guy called Stephen Schwartz – ‘the two faces of islam’ which looks at the roots of Wahhabism. Seems very interesting and i’ll be posting more about that soon.

  5. sonia — on 26th June, 2006 at 12:01 pm  

    Amartya Sen’s book looks really promising and interesting. Thank goodness for Amartya – otherwise we’d be stuck with monomaniacs like Huntington who do believe you can divide up individuals into “little boxes in terms of civilizational categories”.

  6. soru — on 26th June, 2006 at 12:16 pm  

    Try being vegetarian in Germany – the national definition seems to be ‘no chunks of meat larger than 1/4″‘

  7. Sid — on 26th June, 2006 at 12:37 pm  

    This is Ridley in her reply article to Sami’s letter:

    As I pointed out, Britain is the third most hated country in the world. The Union Jack is drenched in the blood of our brothers and sisters across Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine. Our history is steeped in the blood of colonialism, rooted in slavery, brutality, torture, and oppression. And we haven’t had a decent game of soccer since we lifted the World Cup in 1966. (With a bit of luck, that last point might change as the World Cup in Germany is fast approaching).

    Not much backpeddling there. To think that she has the access to the Islam channel for voicing opinions “on behalf” of Muslims. This does nothing to repair the opinon that Ridley is an aggrieved, belligerent, nasty, fastidious oaf and not the Muslims she “represents”. In any case, I thought England’s game against Ecuador yesterday was pretty decent. But I do wish she’d backpeddle off a cliff.

  8. Sunny — on 26th June, 2006 at 12:59 pm  

    Funny thing about that paragraph – Britain is apparrently the third most hated but she still wants them to win the world cup. I mean, wtf?

    Sonia – I’ll let you know actually. The first few chapters were really interesting but after that its becoming a bit repetitive and verbose. Let me finish it and I’ll review it for you ;)

    Katy and Soru, I’ve heard the rumours *shudder*

    Bikhair:
    To be Muslim blind is just as impossible as being colorblind. And why should we be blind to differences?
    I think the point there is Muslims are not just Muslims – they also have multiple identities that relate to a lot of other issues. I will expand on this point later, but the point is when people just see others through the prism of religion (rather than being ordinary people) then their reactions and attitudes can be more negative, specially if you keep watching muslim terrorists on TV every day.

    Essential those arent there brothers and why should they bother.
    Well – a lot of people say that. Why would I take responsibility for another Asian Punjabi male’s stupidity?

  9. Refresh — on 26th June, 2006 at 1:02 pm  

    Welcome back Sunny – good thread.

    Reading both Sami Yusuf and Yvonne Ridley – the one thought that remains with me is this one from Ridley

    “My editor expects me, as a columnist, to be provocative and produce thoughtful articles; otherwise, readers would simply switch off and read something else.”

    Which is the ethos of all editors who also have a commercial imperative. No less on Pickled Politics.

    With regards, the argument between the two – both very interesting articles. I expect this will run and run.

    Not sure I saw Yvonne Ridley back-paddling, other than use of language perhaps.

    On the boy-band stuff, its correct. It is a problem for all of us regardless of faith. Celebrity worship is a disease we, of ‘intellect’, will deny affects us. But it does. And there is no check on that.

    I appreciated Sami’s article very much, and agree with his sentiments. However Yvonne isn’t that far of the mark. Not really – two approaches to the same problem.

    Its the usual working from within the system and from without to effect change. In the end, its foreign policy that’s the problem. As Ken Livingstone said – its been like that for 80 years. (Longer I would say). And that policy had its license renewed with the Bush/Blair/Sharon/AQ consortia.

  10. Rohin — on 26th June, 2006 at 1:16 pm  

    Vikrant, yup the French are atrocious drivers. But I love France (and most of the Francophone world). I wouldn’t say being British means hating the French, it’s more complex – Brits love to badmouth those froggies, but they also love their food, fashion and culture and always have.

  11. Sid — on 26th June, 2006 at 1:53 pm  

    “My editor expects me, as a columnist, to be provocative and produce thoughtful articles; otherwise, readers would simply switch off and read something else.”

    Which is the ethos of all editors who also have a commercial imperative. No less on Pickled Politics.

    Buit wait. If Ridley wants to tell us that she has prostituted her opinion-making to her editor or the organ she writes for – then thats fine.

    The problem is she speaks very much as Yvonne Ridley, RESPECT Party politician and “representative of Muslims in Britian” and not Yvonne Ridley, commentator and journalist. Or rather, her voice is interchangeable and she uses her persona as and when the occassion suits her

    I see her as the analogous figure to Melanie Phillips. But for all here faults, when Phillips comes out with her silly screeching, she has the intellectual honesty of saying her opinions are representative of herself and not as a “representative of the Jewish community”.

    Ridley on the other hand milks the ambiguity of her individual voice, with her platform as a politician and then as a TV anchor for everything its worth.

  12. Cisoux — on 26th June, 2006 at 1:57 pm  

    Refresh

    Is foreign policy the problem for men blowing themselves up on the Underground? Or do you think that Islamist indoctrination, the dissemination of hardcore right wing Islamist doctrine amongst British Muslims may have a teensy weensy bit to do with it? Or as usual, is it everyone elses fault, except those who decide to carry out murderous terrorism and propagate fascist ideology in the name of expansive aggressive Islamism?

    Or are they cuddly fluffy teddy bears who can do no wrong?

    I think I know what you think they are – and you are a handmaiden to their fascism too. Weasel words and snake oil salesman and all.

  13. sonia — on 26th June, 2006 at 2:03 pm  

    round and round the mulberry bush the mulberry bush the mulberry bush… yes cisoux it is the bombers fault they bombed the underground. “I think I know what you think they are – and you are a handmaiden to their fascism too-” rather presumptuous of you isn’t it?

  14. Refresh — on 26th June, 2006 at 2:04 pm  

    Sid, totally agree with your point. She can speak for Respect (assuming Respect agrees), and for herself. But not generally for muslims. She is one amongst many.

  15. sonia — on 26th June, 2006 at 2:08 pm  

    So you say Sid, and she may well not specifically refer to herself in the same way Yvonne does – however an us vs. them rhetoric is common to both of these people.

  16. Sid — on 26th June, 2006 at 2:10 pm  

    true, true.

  17. Refresh — on 26th June, 2006 at 2:14 pm  

    Cisoux,

    I think you are far of the mark. Suffocating debate by accusing anyone questioning foreign policy of supporting indescriminate bombing of innocents is reprehensible.

    However I get the feeling you must be glowing with an inner delight that the bombing did happen. And that 52 people murdered is a price worth paying so you can write what you did with righteous indignation.

    Get that?

    I suspect you are the fascist.

    Weasel words are yours – handmaiden indeed.

  18. Cisoux — on 26th June, 2006 at 2:26 pm  

    Refresh

    You’re a snake oil salesman in bloom.

    Does the convoluted logic of a snake oil salesman and handmaiden of extremism project glee at the suicide bombing of London onto one who calls the sophistry of a man who regards said action as explicable by the nebulous and general concept of ‘foreign policy’?

    If you choose to live with your head in the sand and refuse to see the truth of extremists indoctrinating a creed of murderous hatred with the intent of carrying out mass slaughter, and you believe that their actions are explicable then you are a handmaiden to that fascism.

    It is shameful if you deem it a cause of shame – but I doubt you believe it to be so, so the designation of shame in your instance is superfluous.

    Now, do you believe that the fascism of Islamism has anything to do with the spread of terrorism, hatred, extremism in Britain or do you believe that Muslims are automatons without agency and are liable to blow themselves up on the Underground without moral restraint simply because of Britains foreign policy and without the propagation of fascist ideology?

    Well, if you sell snake oil and are in deep deep denial then you will believe so. I view people in such a state as handmaidens to that ideology – that is how I see you.

  19. sonia — on 26th June, 2006 at 2:32 pm  

    Oh for goodness sakes..

  20. sonia — on 26th June, 2006 at 2:33 pm  

    So Sunny – tell us – what were you up to in Strasbourg?

  21. Refresh — on 26th June, 2006 at 2:40 pm  

    Reprehensible!

    What percentage of the population sees a causal link between the Iraqi invasion and the bombing? Did the officials of the secret services warn of the increased dangers of radicalisation? And what of the leaked report on the 7/7 bombing?

    How many millions warned of these dangers when they marched against the war?

    Do you see them all as handmaidens?

    No projection here Cisoux. Facing realities. And you are stifling debate.

    Now lets look at denial. I could deny that muslims were involved in the underground bombing – inconclusive proof. We should have a full independent public enquiry. Does that move your argument forward?

    Does that make me a conspiracy theorist?

    Think about that very very carefully and lets see if you can work out what you are talking about.

  22. Kismet Hardy — on 26th June, 2006 at 3:40 pm  

    All this talk of snake oil salesman and handmaiden has put me in confessional mood…

    I tend to oil my snake and often pay a maiden to give me a hand

  23. Arif — on 26th June, 2006 at 3:49 pm  

    Oh Sunny…. you’re a bit of an Yvonne Ridley yourself with your sensationalist commentary. Sami’s letter is beautifully written – definitely not trying to rip her to shreds.

    Yvonne’s original piece is hilarious, with the kind of tongue-in-cheek “salafi on Jerry Springer”-type humour I secretly enjoy. But there’s always the little bit of the wishy washy liberal in me which wonders whether or not she is still joking, like when she claims in her follow up article that she is turning off her mobile phone because she cannot stand the cacophony of agreement she is getting. Go Ridley, Go Ridley, Go Ridley, Go Ridley.

    Also like a wishy washy liberal, I don’t find it comes naturally to me to be proud of anything. Including being British. Kind-hearted people tell me this is very British of me. And maybe that should warm the cockles of my heart. But I kind of think if I were really British, I’d know what cockles are.

    Anyway, as you can tell, I find it all very confusing. I like Sami Yusuf’s style, would like him to be my mullah and want to agree with him on being British, but I secretly admire Yvonne Ridley’s style and secretly agree with her that it just makes no sense even though I’d never go near any fatwa she’s touched.

    I am sure Cisoux will see this as evidence of my closet fascism. But honestly, I’m just a bit emotionally immature and can’t quite put my finger on why patriotism, nationalism or any territorial emotions towards Britain don’t cut any ice with me. Nice countryside and liberal freedoms can’t be taken for granted, I guess, but I don’t feel pride about being British. There’s a lot of other baggage with Britishness too, and I never know what side of the line Melanie Phillips or other proud Brits will put me (or Sami or Ridley) on when they come up with their unconvincing definitions.

  24. Cisoux — on 26th June, 2006 at 3:54 pm  

    Beyond shame lies the inability to grasp that a deeply nihilistic fascist virus exists within the Muslim community that seeks to kill people indiscriminately and asserts that the blame for slaughtering innocents lies not with the perpetrators of the terrorist slaughter and their intellectual minions and those handmaidens of fascism who assent to the belief that it is explicable as a response to ‘foreign policy’ – ie: PEOPLE LIKE YOU.

    This is snake oil salesmanship in full effect.

    Now explain your last dose of salesmanship – are you saying that you do not believe that Islamist fascists were responsible for 7/7, or are you being ironic? Make it plain please – spell it out – are you being ironic? Because if not, you make the case even further for what you are – deep deep in denial and a handmaiden to fascist extremism through your DENIAL. Don’t be cryptic.

    Posturing along the lines of Islamist sympathetic moans of ‘stifling debate on foreign policy’ will not do in the rigour of this position – no matter what the ‘foreign policy’ is you are asserting their actions are explicable and are in DEEP DENIAL about the nature of the fascist beast.

  25. Cisoux — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:02 pm  

    Arif I don’t care what your feelings are about the loopy debate over whether pop music is permissible in Islam or not. I think Yvonne Ridley is a source of great comedy and lunacy and is a borderline postmenopausal psychotic, but that is just my opinion. It is healthy to be sceptical of all claims to ‘pride’ in nationhood and I’m sure you are equally sceptical of those who preach ‘pride’ in religion too.

  26. Kismet Hardy — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:05 pm  

    I fink bush done it, the bombs and stuff

  27. Cisoux — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:09 pm  

    But you have an excuse Kismet Hardy. From reading your other posts I can deduce that your belief stems from LSD flashbacks, high doses of cannabis consumption, magic mushrooms consumed in your mid-twenties, and other miscellaneous hallucinogens plaguing your thought process temporarily. You are therefore forgiven.

  28. Refresh — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:10 pm  

    I will deal with the last first – so when you say denial – what does that mean? What do you think I am denying?

    Are you denying that foreign policy is not under question? And by very many people here and abroad.

    I wasn’t being cryptic. I will answer directly when you have answered what I put to you.

    I would like to finish this before 5.00pm. So answer mine and I will begrudgingly respond.

    [Did you read Sami Yusuf article linked in the header?]

  29. Cisoux — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:13 pm  

    No doubt the accused at the Old Bailey who were planning to blow up the Ministry of Sound so that they could ‘kill those dancing sluts innit’ were also aggrieved by the foreign policy of allowing Zionists sluts to dance freely in London. Refresh would think so.

    Maybe the desire to kill dancing sluts in their naked glory could be blamed on antipathy to bush too. But that would be a crude and lame double entendre to make which the Refresh’s of the world would also find a disgusting slur on the brave freedom fighters of Beeston. In the meanwhile, more important issues are at hand, like whether pop music is allowed in Islam. We must wait for the postmenopausal psychopaths next contribution.

  30. Cisoux — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:17 pm  

    Refresh

    Answer what? You exist in another dimension to me. Do you believe that killing dancing sluts is an explicable reaction to the ‘foreign policy’ of the United Kingdom? Is it all explicable to you, that this is a legitimate to be understood rationally response to policy disagreement? Do you believe Muslims are capable of individual agency and morality? If I stick an axe in your head because I disagree with ‘Muslims’ is that my fault or yours?

  31. Kismet Hardy — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:19 pm  

    Cisoux, at last someone understands me

    I’m your fan

    I’m starting a fan club in your honour: Cisoux and the Banshees. Now we just need some banshees

  32. Arif — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:37 pm  

    Person has many other influences on them, cultural, ideological, personal, social. Person also aware of situation x and person kills others saying it is because of x.

    Cisoux decides ideological influence is the only key influence. He decides the nature of the ideology is y. Any reference to x by anyone to explain person’s action shows they share ideology y (or are “handmaidens” to y).

    Refresh decides x is important reason for person’s actions and Refresh does not share ideology y. Refresh believes Cisoux is trying to silence people who point out x is the reason, because Cisoux has an ideology z. Ideology z approves of situation x.

    Arif makes post reducing complexity of argument. Arif disapproves of reducing complexity. So Arif is a hypocrite. He does not deny the existence of hypocrisy. He does not want to be considered a handmaiden to hypocrisy. But a hypocrite is what he is. What drove him to it? If only he could have ignored the posts above, and not tried to become a part of the discussion, the hypocrisy would not be an issue.

    Cisoux, I think you are right that ideology y is absolutely necessary to explaining the actions of the bombers. That ideology y should be opposed. And I also think that part of the reason they were attracted to y was probably because they were scared of x and z.

    There, Arif attempts to save his reputation by reintroducing complexity. (Cisoux, please do not take this post badly, I am not making fun of you or Refresh, your ideas are worth discussing, and I just want you both to see it isn’t good for debate to be so angry with one another)

  33. Refresh — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:39 pm  

    Its clear you’re in a different dimension.

    I may surprise you but I actually object you using the term ‘s**t’. It may also surprise you to know that’s the first time I’ve actually used it myself, in speech or text. I find it deeply misognyst. As I do ‘slags’,'cow’ and the like. I put it down to the way I was brought up.

    “Answer what?” – You know what I asked of you.

  34. sonia — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:40 pm  

    kismet hardy – you never fail to amuse.

    i must say – on a completely unrelated topic – i once read this column in asiana magazine and women and their friends and i thought it was brilliant..

  35. sonia — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:40 pm  

    erm – i meant about women and their friends..

  36. sonia — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:43 pm  

    “the inability to grasp that a deeply nihilistic fascist virus exists within the Muslim community..”

    i think nobody ever suggested that there aren’t deeply dodgy wahabbi influences around which try to cause trouble and convince young people that a lot of hatred is what their religion is about.

    anyhow sounds to me like cisoux is as full of hate as any of them, so what’s the big point in all this.

  37. Refresh — on 26th June, 2006 at 4:48 pm  

    Arif, methinks the alternative would be for me not to have even attempted to join the thread. It was about the argument between Sami Yusuf and Yvonne Ridley. Not about the bombing. The common theme between both was they share the issue over foreign policy. As very many people do.

    Sami Yusuf is effectively saying there are peaceable ways of dealing with the issues of foreign policy, by participating in the running of the country, whether through the electoral process or through public debate. And I believe he sees his songs as a part of that process.

    So if he sings about victims of our foreign policy, that is his contribution.

    Now that is what the issue is – can anyone British, but muslim, challenge our foreign policy?

  38. Refresh — on 26th June, 2006 at 5:17 pm  

    Cisoux – an extract from Sami Yusuf’s website:

    “Maintaining balance and adopting the middle way is the key in these troubled times of ours. Extremism and extremists have no place in Islam and in our civil societies. “Perished are the extremists” is a famous Prophetic tradition. Extremism is not a problem unique to Islam. Every religion, every way of life, every ideology has its puritans and those willing to distort and misinterpret it to meet their own agenda. And these are no different to those that commit acts of terror, who preach extremism, and who sow seeds of hatred in the name if Islam. There is no denying that Muslims in places like Palestine, Iraq, Kashmir and Chechnya are facing oppression and tragedy every day, and both the Muslim world and the West need to come together to solve these problems in the greater interest of humanity. Western governments in particular must understand that to help the majority of Muslims defeat the minority of extremists, they must assist us in eradicating the daily humiliation faced by Muslims across many parts of the world. Ending this humiliation is the only way forward for us.”

  39. Refresh — on 26th June, 2006 at 5:23 pm  

    Cisoux, anything there you find disturbing?

  40. Arif — on 26th June, 2006 at 5:32 pm  

    Hmmm, yes, I see what you mean, Refresh, you never mentioned the bombings and you were suddenly accused of saying something you didn’t even hint at: that you think that a right-wing philosophy has nothing to do with bombings.

    What it shows though is that, in answer to your question, you can challenge foreign policy, but by doing so some people will suspect you of all sorts of thought crimes. I don’t know how many people that would be, though.

    I guess if you get that response a lot, it would make you much less likely to feel British, even though you might assert Britishness as a proxy for asserting you right to express your political equality with the people who are stigmatising you.

    In a similar vein, Ridley is almost accusing Yusuf of a thought crime by promoting singing and dancing, as though this makes him less Muslim and less concerned about Muslim suffering. Yusuf asserts his Muslimness, with reference to fiqh and his lyrics. But if Ridley and others bash away in terms which justify violence against musicians, maybe he might start to feel more British and less Muslim. As it is, she does it jokingly and they both recognise they have a broader common cause, but I have a bit of Cisoux in me – which wonders whether without the common enemy, the Ridleys of this world might turn more ideological heat on the singers putting the fun into fundamentalism.

    Yusuf’s whole approach is a lot more earnest, but it is also a much more humane approach to Islam, seeking to understand and build bridges, both with fellow Muslims and Brits. So when you see them allies with different approaches to the same goal, I think I can see how the means condition the ends – and really I’m on Yusuf’s side. Both their means may be nonviolent and based on active participation, but I reckon Ridley’s condemnatory tone won’t bring about a more liberated or polite society. Yusuf’s unfashionable political correctness might.

  41. David T — on 26th June, 2006 at 6:15 pm  

    I’ve not read this whole thread through – so I’m not entirely sure what is being discussed here. One small point though…

    Refresh Cisoux, anything there you find disturbing?

    Nothing ‘disturbing’. Although it is interesting that the locations in which Muslims are thought to be suffering “oppression and tragedy every day” are located in the familiar quartet:

    Palestine, Iraq, Kashmir and Chechnya

    The lesson Yusuf draws is also a familiar one:

    Western governments in particular must understand that to help the majority of Muslims defeat the minority of extremists, they must assist us in eradicating the daily humiliation faced by Muslims across many parts of the world.

    These two passages are instructive, because they illustrate a widely shared worldview in which:

    1. Muslims who suffer and are humiliated in the grand ‘ideological’ struggles of Iraq, Palestine, Chechenya, and Kashmir is the main focus. Muslims who suffer in other places – in far greater numbers – are ignored.

    2. The West’s role in Muslim suffering is a key focus. This is what makes these four locations of Muslim suffering so important.

    3. The “extremists” can only be defeated if the West backs the ‘right’ side in Palestine, Iraq, Kashmir and Chechnya.

  42. Arif — on 26th June, 2006 at 6:20 pm  

    Good point, David T. How do you respond to expressions of this worldview?

  43. Leon — on 26th June, 2006 at 8:26 pm  

    Welcome back Sunny! Good to see ya back in the swing of things.:)

  44. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 26th June, 2006 at 9:05 pm  

    There are alot of politically active Muslims in Britian apparently. When Dr. Bari, I believe it was suggested some ways in which Britian can change for the better socially, jOnz, for instance was particularly insulted by it. I guess he saw it as some kind of conspiracy to make Britain Muslim. Unfortunately Muslims cant use that same line of reasoning and accuse Britain and the US of trying to make Iraq Christian by invading it and imposing certain kinds of values that are apparently Judeo Christian in its origins.

    It is a lose lose situation. Political activity among Muslims, non violent political activity is seen as some kind of nefarious conspiracy. How are we supposed to be in non Muslim countries?

  45. Don — on 26th June, 2006 at 9:21 pm  

    Bikkhair,

    ‘… values that are apparently Judeo Christian in its origins.’

    Could you elaborate? I’m not sure how Islamic values (as distinct from doctrines and traditional but non-religious practices) differ from Judaeo-Christian values.

  46. Refresh — on 26th June, 2006 at 9:36 pm  

    Don, makes an excellent point. I used to ponder over the differences – I first heard it from the xenophobic British minister Norman Tebbit (Margaret Thatcher’s favourite I think) in the late 1980′s. I didn’t appreciate why this distinction could be so important.

    Bikhair, you make a valid point on the other stuff:

    Be rest assured the situation on the blogs is quite odd, lots of stuff but very little dialogue – ordinary people are a bit more connected.

    Its unfortunate you would not see that from our media or blogs. But on the street life’s pretty good. Blair is despised; and Bush is Bushed; opposition to occupation of Iraq is shared right across the country. No one believes the politicians.

    What passes for the roadmap for Palestine is seen for what it is – yet another deception of the Palestinians.

    Even the argument over Iran is seen as a big yawn, a big concocted yawn.

    Chechnya doesn’t feature in the public arena – much as before. Nor does Kashmir to be frank.

    The Great British public is just that – great.

    In summary don’t assume what you see on these blogs is what the rest of the country thinks.

    Its one thing I’ve learned – for all its great reach – the blog world is actually quite claustrophobic.

    We should all dread the day when bloggers with agendas become mainstream media.

  47. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:00 am  

    Refresh,

    Are you calling me ordinary? Thats the sweetest thing anyone has ever said about me on PP. Thank you.

  48. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:03 am  

    Don,

    “Could you elaborate? I’m not sure how Islamic values (as distinct from doctrines and traditional but non-religious practices) differ from Judaeo-Christian values.”

    Unfortunately I cant elaborate because I dont know what it is. What are Judeo Christian values. The Judeo-christian world has been alot of things for more than one thousand years. The importance of this distinction today has alot to do with being different from Islamic values.

  49. Refresh — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:18 am  

    Bikhair, you are welcome.

    I have a feeling I might just become ordinary myself – and plug back into the natural world.

  50. Don — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:33 am  

    bikhair,

    It’s late, I’m to tired to look at ‘The importance of this distinction today has a lot to do with being different from Islamic values.’

    but later we’ll talk.

  51. Leon — on 27th June, 2006 at 2:17 am  

    “I guess he saw it as some kind of conspiracy to make Britain Muslim.”

    To be fair Dr Bari did actually say he’d like to see Britain take on some elements of Sharia law or Islamic values (no drinking, women not wearing short skirts etc). So it’s not too far fetched to believe that there are those who wish for Britain to become an Islamic state.

    What would be far fetched would be to believe that that is going to happen any time soon (if it is ever going to be possible…).

  52. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 27th June, 2006 at 3:50 am  

    Don,

    Did that make sense? My bad. Its like a nationalism. Its grows in opposition to something else. The popularization of this Judeo CHristian something has grown out of opposition to the Islamic something.

  53. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 27th June, 2006 at 3:56 am  

    Leon,

    This term Islamic state is used rather loosely and foolishly if you ask me. There are aspects of the Sharia that are taken by the individual and those that are taken by the state.

    “So it’s not too far fetched to believe that there are those who wish for Britain to become an Islamic state.”

    He was mostly likely suggesting that people make that personal decision not to drink or wear revealing clothing. That doesnt have anything to do with an expanding power of the state. People wanting to ban abortion and gay marriage are trying to implement something that is actually intrusive. Bari wants a cultural shift not institutional ones. Actually I take that back I dont know what this guy wants.

  54. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 10:39 am  

    “In summary don’t assume what you see on these blogs is what the rest of the country thinks.

    Its one thing I’ve learned – for all its great reach – the blog world is actually quite claustrophobic. ”

    Refresh – I think you’re right about that – and thank goodness! after all the vitriol and hatred and sheer awful nastiness i see on the net it’s such a relief to go out onto the streets and smile at strangers and have them smile back at me. people are much nicer really than they appear on the net! ;-)

  55. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 10:43 am  

    where is this man dr. bari from? his ideas are very far fetched indeed. if he’d gone and had a go look at any country with a majority of muslims ( ok im going to leave S. Arabia out here, and possibly iran – though i have no idea as i’ve never been there) he’d find girls wearing short skirts and doing a fair amount of drinking :-) ah yes i see he is ‘bangladeshi-born’ – aha even better – well silly muggins he is then.

  56. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 10:44 am  

    erm..typo up there, hope it makes sense!

  57. Refresh — on 27th June, 2006 at 10:44 am  

    Arif,

    It doesn’t actually make me feel less British. My point is that shutting down debate in that manner is not-democratic. And that leads to fascism.

    And people do need to speak up – not accept it.

  58. Kismet Hardy — on 27th June, 2006 at 11:07 am  

    “ah yes i see he is ‘bangladeshi-born’ – aha even better – well silly muggins he is then.”

    What does this mean? I’m Bangladeshi born. i’ll have you know in Bangladesh, it’s common to see women baring flesh. And I’m not just talking a mini-skirt hiked procariously over a silky pair of thongs, but butt bobbie naked. As a child I enjoyed scenes of watching our maid servants bathe from the tubewell, from atop my marble floored verendah, naked as the day they were born

  59. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 11:24 am  

    “aha even better – well silly muggins he is then.”

    What does this mean? I’m Bangladeshi born. i’ll have you know in Bangladesh, it’s common to see women baring flesh.”

    precisely.

  60. Sunny — on 27th June, 2006 at 12:17 pm  

    Bikhair is right – there is so much paranoia around Sharia that people forget most of its personal, and some of it is state run. Besides, avoiding alcohol and dressing more modestly would co-incide with Christian, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu values too, so I don’t know what the big deal is.

  61. Refresh — on 27th June, 2006 at 7:10 pm  

    Sunny – depends on who says it.

  62. Don — on 27th June, 2006 at 7:58 pm  

    Sunny,

    Of course you are right, there is a paranoid, simplistic, knee-jerk response to the word ‘sharia’. But there are also considered, nuanced and powerful objections to its manifestations as advocated (and practiced) by some, objections often expressed here.

    I take it that Bikhair means personally choosing to adhere to the principles of her religion which, providing these are subordinate to the laws of the land, is fine and dandy. I prefer my neighbours to be sober and restrained. In that sense it is perfectly in keeping with the principles of freedom of conscience and belief which secularists have wrested from the religious establishment over several bloody and difficult centuries.

    As an enforceable legal system, however, I have yet to be shown a positive contempoary working model, and as a parallel ‘community’ based legal system within a non-moslem country, well, we had this discussion quite recently.

  63. Roger — on 27th June, 2006 at 8:07 pm  

    ” Besides, avoiding alcohol and dressing more modestly would co-incide with Christian, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu values too, so I don’t know what the big deal is.”
    Some of us are equally unenthusiastic about those values, especially if we find that all these religions are going to force eneryone else to adhere to their supposedly common values.

    ” I prefer my neighbours to be sober and restrained.” So would i, Don, but I would be much more worried about a society that claimed the right to force them to be sober and restrained.

  64. Don — on 27th June, 2006 at 8:18 pm  

    Roger,

    I did make the distinction between making a personal choice and enforcing it on others.

    I respect the first, I despise the second.

  65. Sunny — on 27th June, 2006 at 11:56 pm  

    Roger – both Don and I would make that distinction too, and I agree in that there isn’t a workable model of Shariah I can see happening now or in the future despite the hilarious “it’s around the corner” assertions of Pizza HuT types.

    Refresh – earlier when I referred to backpaddling, I was talking about Ridley’s assertion that she was only being provocative because her editors demanded it. Rubbish. She’s invited to write not because she’s particularly good but because she’s built herself up into a personality. And plus, she never specifies what she may have been hasty in proclaiming.

    The bullshit about 98% of her response being positive is of course hilarious and no doubt scores of Yusuf’s fans read his prominent open letter and got angry and cussed her for her stupidity, hence her need to come back to the issue and try and say that she was only joking. Gimme a break.

  66. Refresh — on 28th June, 2006 at 12:06 am  

    Sunny, thanks. Wasn’t clear from the header.

    My point is simply all these bloggers and hacks are from the same cloth – sensationalise to maintain readership. A heavy burden I am sure.

    Lets face it – it works. To get attention in the media you got to be somebody or something. (Insert appropriate marlon brando line).

    By the way it is not a direct criticism – its just the way the world seems to be working. Studious well researched journalism is expensive, when feeding opinion and rhetoric as news is so much cheaper.

  67. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 12:21 am  

    “I respect the first, I despise the second.” yes for the second would be fascist.

  68. Refresh — on 28th June, 2006 at 1:09 am  

    Sonia, force is the hallmark of fascism.

    You would not think it was a fascist state that ensured that Class A drugs remain illegal.

    I would say its not as clear cut as it seems.

    If you have a dry state, then for alcohol to remain illegal is not a problem. Presumably. Not just thinking Islamic states here, I believe some of the US states are dry.

    Our cultures and mores are in a state of flux and will remain so for a while yet.

    It may well prove that the binge drinking experience of our culture will eventually feed into attitudes on alcohol. Temperance Movement may be resurrected, quite what form it will take can’t be forseen.

    Similarly, respect, self-respect and dignity may yet become re-defined in the context of feminism. (Some articles seem to be coming through challenging ‘raunch’ and feminism courtesy guardian blog site CiF). And feminism as a source or empowering women may itself come more and more from the developing world.

    In the end – some may say they’ve already had the message and hope and expect others to join them; or society as a whole recognises the value of what was put forward thousands of years ago – all through rational debate and contemporary experience. Or even that the outcomes are coincidental.

  69. Roger — on 28th June, 2006 at 9:41 am  

    “I did make the distinction between making a personal choice and enforcing it on others.

    I respect the first, I despise the second.”

    Unfortunately, many religions and religious people do not.

  70. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 10:03 am  

    Definitely Roger. But not just only religious people – authoritarianism is pretty much that as well. Dogmatic beliefs of any sort encourage that.

  71. Jai — on 28th June, 2006 at 11:41 am  

    Roger,

    =>”Some of us are equally unenthusiastic about those values, especially if we find that all these religions are going to force eneryone else to adhere to their supposedly common values.”

    For the record, the idea of forcing religiously-derived values on others is anathema to Sikhism — in fact it’s a fundamental principle of the religion. I believe the same is also generally true of mainstream Hinduism.

  72. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 12:07 pm  

    there is no compulsion in religion – is a fundamental principle of Islam too. But of course highly ignored.

  73. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 12:12 pm  

    As far as i can see – there ain’t too much difference in any of the fundamental ideas in religion. The differences all arise through interpretation – and as we can see – that has always been contested by different people – unpopular attitudes have been labelled ‘heresies’ and exterminated. |And more often than not – it always seems to have – in the process of socialization – gotten embroiled with ‘community’ dynamics of exclusion – oh you’re one of us or you’re not. Also people competing with each other with regards to ‘labelling’ – this is x or y isn’t acceptable and blah blah. instead of just encouraging people to think for themselves – oh no! we can’t have that! *shock horror* i saw something interesting about these women in malaysia – called sisters in islam or sth like that – who’re making a fuss about some plans the malaysian govt. have on restricting who can ‘speak’ on islam – i.e. introduce some measure of only authority x or y can say anything on islam – the rest of you are ‘unqualified’ ( yes dodgy in the extreme) As they rightly point out – the govt. is trying to impose a monopoly voice and stamp out difference of opinion. i’ll find the link and stick it up. You go girls!

  74. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 12:18 pm  

    force is the hallmark of fascism – i agree with that. and i think its pretty fascist that i can’t smoke a spliff legally if i want to. it’s stupid as well. force is always rather stupid. the only things that should be illegal is when you harm someone else. The idea that you need to protect people from themselves is not one i agree with – it encourages people to not think for themselves and hold themselves responsible for their own actions. It’s also an idea that Authority has always tried to put forward. oh you’re all too stupid to know what’s good for you – We Know Better. I’d rather muddle through, make mistakes and learn from them.

  75. Refresh — on 28th June, 2006 at 1:13 pm  

    Sonia – You would have to have enough people to rally behind you to persuade the legislators to back your ideas, idea by idea. In effect you need to establish a political movement which pushes for that agenda.

    At the same time there will be others who are informed by opposing strategies (I’ve developed an aversion to the word ‘ideology’).

    Perhaps the Libertarian Alliance may be quite close to your thinking.

    On the splif thing, David Blunkett did change policy on possession and personal use; but seems John Reid is reversing it. There’s a change in attitudes in record time.

  76. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 2:05 pm  

    i know – we can’t keep track of the rules! it’s a bit nerve racking as well – cos you never really know how the police are going to react. ive been very lucky with standing next to policemen with spliffs and not having any problems but you never know..

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