MCB’s friends


by Sunny
30th June, 2006 at 2:25 pm    

In Parliament yesterday Tory MP Michael Gove asked:

… [Muslim Council of Britain's] new chairman, Dr. Muhammed Abdul Bari, recently invited to Britain a Saudi cleric who called Jews “pigs and monkeys”, and who also said that Hindus were idol worshippers to whom it would be wrong to talk sweetly. Dr. Bari was also involved in inviting a Bangladeshi cleric who has called for American troops to return from Iraq in coffins if they do not convert to Islam. May we have an opportunity to examine where Ministers have gone wrong in tackling extremism?

A sensible question you may think, given this is the organisation supposedly tackling extremism and easing inter-religious tensions. But unsurprisingly Labour’s Jack Straw defended them: “It is a sensible organisation that faces its own difficulties in trying to hold together a very diverse community that is itself under pressure.”

Once again, it’s soft racism of low expectations isn’t it? Jack Straw is implicitly thinking and saying: “These Muslims are a bit mad right, and they feel they’re under attack. So what if they invite a few crackpots over? What else do you expect? Sensible mullahs? Let it go man, let’s talk about something else.

They’re propping each other up like drunks. The MCB’s love-in with Labour means the former does not get criticised and continues to receive funding, while the latter can expect political support (and votes from Muslims) and in return give the impression they care for what the ‘Muslim community’ thinks.

Update: Wrote a related article for comment is free.


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9 Comments below   |  

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  1. j0nz — on 30th June, 2006 at 2:30 pm  

    Precisely. The left wing intelligentsia are constantly wallowing in soft racism. Oh they’re brown, they can’t possibly be expected to live up to the standards of us.

    Nice on Sunny.

  2. j0nz — on 30th June, 2006 at 2:31 pm  

    What is with Jack Straw anyway? He’s a complete doughnut. A round one, with nothing in the middle, not even jam.

  3. Arif — on 30th June, 2006 at 3:49 pm  

    I am neither a friend nor an enemy of al-Sudais, who I believe is the person referred to as invited by the MCB.

    While there is a lot of publicity given to something very inflammatory he said in a sermon – from what I can make of the context he was comparing pro-zionist Jewish people with those Jewish people who reputedly rebelled against Moses and were made ignorant like apes. He has since then been preaching, notably at eid-ul-adha, against extremism, against calling anyone an infidel and has been urging Muslim scholars to preach against the extremism which leads to the “rottenness” of terrorist militancy and misuse of the Quran to justify violence.

    Most importantly he argues that Muslims must protect non-Muslims. Which I think is one reason why he is probably being invited over by the MCB – to bolster their argument for Muslims to co-operate with the authorities. A very hard sell for the MCB among those radicalised people who most need to be persuaded.

    A highly conservative, Saudi imam from the Grand Mosque of Mecca, he might have the credbility to change peoples’ perceptions at the hard edge. The fact that he held up as a hate-figure by people they perceive to be “islamophobes” might just help it more.

    So Michael Gove is adding to his credibility among alienated Muslims, the imam is coming to preach to them a message of peaceful collaboration to protect non-Muslims, and Jack Straw is letting him in to do it.

    For once, I feel everyone I oppose can be covered in glory! This is hopeful – I hope they don’t blow it.

  4. Arif — on 30th June, 2006 at 3:56 pm  

    By the way, the Hindus as idol-worshippers thing. He wasn’t calling Hindus idol-worshippers, if anything he was distinguishing them from idolworshippers, but not in a way which gives him any credit.

    I think it was part of the same inflammatory sermon when he said that he saw no point in talking sweetly with Hindus and idol-worshippers when they kill Muslims in Kashmir. I don’t know why he seems to have changed his opinion on extremist talk since then, but I want to encourage his attempt to repent.

  5. Sunny — on 30th June, 2006 at 4:59 pm  

    no point in talking sweetly with Hindus and idol-worshippers when they kill Muslims in Kashmir.

    And we’re supposed to accept that sort of lazy generalisations are we? I don’t remember there being that many Hindu militant groups in Kashmir, its mostly the mujahadeein groups who kill Hindu families:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4727057.stm

    And on top of that we’re supposed to be ok with a cleric calling pro-Zionist Jews (which presumably means most) “pigs and monkeys”?

    he might have the credbility to change peoples’ perceptions at the hard edge.

    I don’t see this happening. We’re constantly held hostage to nutters simply because the aim is to reel in the fanatics on the fringe. Maybe they should examine how those fringe idiots get created in the first place (not just through foriegn policy but the propaganda that floats around by Hizb ut Tahrir types). Otherwise we’re caught in a vicious circle of trying to appease the religious nuts all the time.

  6. Arif — on 30th June, 2006 at 5:32 pm  

    As I said, I consider it inflammatory. You know I try to be polite about people whose opinions I oppose. Please don’t try to push the discussion into one where any attempt to explain negative actions is stigmatised as supporting it.

    My own suspicion is that the Saudi Arab government is starting to worry about how the American Government perceives the versions of salafi Islam it funds/promotes/imposes. I am guessing they are telling their leading clerics to provide sermons which can be interprested as moderate Islam by their allies.

    But that does not mean we cannot benefit from this. Or that we can’t be glad of the US and Saudi Governments sudden interest in pulling back their violent rhetoric.

    Say Jack Straw keeps him out. You might think great, Government shows it is not going to welcome bigots. A lot of Muslims are going to think: of course they hate him, because he denounces their wars against Muslims. Paranoia continues to be fed. More cynicism about “freedom of speech”. Knowing references to how likely Straw is to ban a vist by Ehud Olmert.

    Jack Straw lets him in, against the screeching of you and Michael Gove, and he says that Muslims must stay away from extremists who call others infidels, then you, me, Gove, Straw, the Saudi Government, the US all of us will benefit. If we want to stop him inciting religious hatred, we should I guess be calling for a law against it. Without such a law, the MCB and the like should hold him accountable for what he says – ask him what he means and he would either be exposed or be forced to be clearer still about his opposition to violence.

    I’m not kidding myself that anyone is acting with integrity. But I am not kidding myself that banning him from coming will make the UK safer either.

  7. Arif — on 30th June, 2006 at 5:39 pm  

    So keep up your angry denunciation Sunny – its all part of Straw’s masterplan to outmanoeuvre reactionary salafis to feel they have to shop their violent brethren as their religious duty, against their own emotional inclinations.

    Muhahahahaa. Errr. I mean, good thing too.

  8. soru — on 30th June, 2006 at 11:56 pm  

    The conflict here is foreign policy versus domestic policy. The FO have their bet placed there will be an islamist regime in saudi arabia within 20 years, and want contacts on the inside track, even if they are nutters by standards of UK muslims.

  9. mirax — on 1st July, 2006 at 7:08 am  

    >>masterplan to outmanoeuvre reactionary salafis to feel they have to shop their violent brethren as their religious duty, against their own emotional inclinations.

    I take your point, Ariff. As I usually do.

    However, this is still a dangerous game to play for these reasons :

    - Al Sudais, as part of the deeply hated Saudi establishment, and worse now with a conciliatory reach-out-to-nonmuslims message that bespeaks political coercion/convenience rather than a genuine change of heart, has no real pull with the hardcore ‘alienated’. The hope that he might reach radicalised muslims may not be realised in actuality.

    Radicals are not people sitting on the fence who might be swayed by one or two speeches by a ‘moderate’. They tend to have the most stubborn opinions and are the most likely to reject traditional forms of authority, esp if that authority is not on-message according to their lights. Some of the online rants against Tantawi, for example, as traitor supreme.

    - there is a much larger group of mainstream muslims, increasing confused by contradictory propaganda, their loyalties pulled in different directions, feeling somewhat besieged who do need to be catered for : is Sudais really a good choice for these people? There is no better? I don’t believe that!

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