Letter by Muslim MPs and organisations


by Sunny
12th August, 2006 at 1:43 pm    

The Guardian reports:

Leading UK Muslims have united to tell Tony Blair that his foreign policy in Iraq and on Israel offers “ammunition to extremists” and puts British lives “at increased risk”.

An open letter signed by three of the four Muslim MPs, three of the four peers, and 38 organisations including the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain, was greeted with dismay in Downing Street. It has courted the MCB and several of the signatories, such as key Labour MPs Sadiq Khan (Tooting) and Shahid Malik (Dewsbury), whom it believes can shape Muslim opinion.

————————

The letter

As British Muslims we urge you to do more to fight against all those who target civilians with violence, whenever and wherever that happens. It is our view that current British government policy risks putting civilians at increased risk both in the UK and abroad.

To combat terror the government has focused extensively on domestic legislation. While some of this will have an impact, the government must not ignore the role of its foreign policy.

The debacle of Iraq and the failure to do more to secure an immediate end to the attacks on civilians in the Middle East not only increases the risk to ordinary people in that region, it is also ammunition to extremists who threaten us all.

Attacking civilians is never justified. This message is a global one. We urge the prime minister to redouble his efforts to tackle terror and extremism and change our foreign policy to show the world that we value the lives of civilians wherever they live and whatever their religion. Such a move would make us all safer.

———————
The article goes on to say:

The signatories insisted they condemned those who planned the alleged attacks. Mr Khan told the Guardian that Mr Blair’s reluctance to criticise Israel over the Lebanon attacks meant the pool of people from which terrorists found their recruits was increasing.

He said: “We simply cannot ignore the fact that our country’s foreign policy is being used by charismatic [figures] to tell British Muslims that their country hates them. Current policy on the Middle East is seen by almost everyone I speak to as unfair and unjust. Such a sense of injustice plays into the hands of extremists.”

Mr Malik said British foreign policy encourages the view in the Muslim community “where you forget about right and wrong, where you think two wrongs equals a right … those events are diminishing my ability to put forward arguments against extremism”.
….
On the BBC’s World at One Shiraz Mihir, a former member of the hardline Hizb ut-Tahrir group, said: “The mosques are not able to offer any effective leadership. At a time when there is a polarising debate about Muslim identity and how young British Muslims fit into the wider British society, there is a vacuum which is being filled by radicals and extremists.”


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  1. Serious Golmal » Identity and Culpability

    [...] The letter by Muslim MPs to Downing St in which they have charged Western foreign policy as ‘anti-Muslim’ and therefore the sole factor in the creation Muslim terrorism is an example of this failure. This is the antithesis of wisdom because the subtext of such a statement suggests that Muslims are unable to blame the agencies that allow terrorism to grow in the midst of Islam. It is also self-defeating because the statement implies that Muslims are in alignment with terrorism and on and on we go. [...]




  1. Old Pickler — on 12th August, 2006 at 1:51 pm  

    That is pure blackmail. These “moderate” Muslims should be seen as a fifth column, pure and simple.

    You didn’t get Christians threatening terrorism when Nato was bombing Serbia. You don’t get Jews murdering their fellow citizens when some jihadi, backed by the BBC and the Foreign Office, blows himself up in a Pizza Parlour.

    All Muslims have the right to vote and express their
    “grievances” that way. Not that British Muslims have any real grievances.

    The government should wipe its arse on this letter. Anything less is Chamberlain style appeasement.

  2. Bert Preast — on 12th August, 2006 at 1:53 pm  

    Ah lovely, a threat.

    Nice timing, lads.

  3. Old Pickler — on 12th August, 2006 at 1:54 pm  

    Wrong religion, but talk about “chutzpah”.

  4. Bert Preast — on 12th August, 2006 at 1:59 pm  

    “As British Muslims we urge you to do more to fight against all those who target civilians with violence, whenever and wherever that happens.”

    Um, that’s going to be quite a list, isn’t it? We’re going to need a lot more soldiers then. Or have I got the wrong end of the stick again?

  5. Chairwoman — on 12th August, 2006 at 2:49 pm  

    British foreign policy must be based on what’s best for Britain. I personally was not in favour of invading Iraq for no other reason than that I couldn’t see the point of it. As to the Israel/Lebanon conflict, it’s about time that the rest of you go this into your heads. The United Kingdom has no influence on Israeli policy whatsoever. This country lost any credibility with Israelis years ago. All the protests that are held here serve only to harden Israeli opinions.

    Policy here must never be dictated by a minority, I don’t care which one it is, and that includes my own.

  6. Rakhee — on 12th August, 2006 at 3:06 pm  

    Slightly off topic but George Bush is treating the issue with his usual level of intelligence and understanding….

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4785065.stm

  7. Pablo — on 12th August, 2006 at 3:55 pm  

    Right. Do as we say or you will be killed. Welcome to moderate Islam.

    I think that Bunglawala and co relish this situation, it is like their dark wet dream come true.

  8. winrock — on 12th August, 2006 at 3:57 pm  

    All these letters are rubbish. To me this letter sounds like a black mail. Why they cant simply condemned the killing and plotting bombs. What they had done by issuing this letter, its sound like to me, oh we feel bad but it’s not our fault it’s a fault of your own policy and thinking.

    Urging Muslims to “fight against any one who is targeting innocents and killing civilians” any where in world. I would like to suggest one point which I guess would help in your cause if you really serious about it, then go out ask your entire Muslims leader to issue a Fatwa against terrorist’s organization. I guess its hard right? Reason is because some people well leaders of your community think they are not terrorist they freedom fighters?

    I don’t know how you people or leaders differentiate between freedom fighters and terrorists. If you know little about Freedom Fighters then you shouldn’t be comparing all the terrorists with freedom fighters.

    I would call Freedom Fighters defensive. Freedom fighters always fights inside of his country, they are citizen of their own country. Freedom fighters won’t destroy a whole country and kill innocents. Freedom fighter does not shield his face from the world.

    Terrorists are offensive. They attack foreign targets in hopes of spreading their message or achieving a goal. A terrorist is a coward who covers his face from outsiders, fearing the response to his actions. Terrorist uses violent force against defenseless civilians. They do this in the belief that doing so will demoralize their enemy and make other civilians turn on their government.

    If you read news paper you will find out the mostly people who are attacking in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Chechnya and in IRAQ are outsiders. They are not the citizen of these countries, that’s reason people call them terrorists. It’s like an outsider is trying to invade your country.

    I can name few places where you should urged your people and ask your leaders to issue Fatwa against terrorist organization and urged people not to show support organization who is involved in kill of innocents and civilians, Kashmir, Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan and in Africa.

    Show some maturity and Act leaders of your community and condemned the killings and bombing civilians place with out putting your own political agenda on first place at least for once.

    It’s Just My Opinion. Any One Agree?

  9. Pablo — on 12th August, 2006 at 4:00 pm  

    So, further down the line, will we have to change our whole society to accomodate a bunch of thugs and their not so moderate ‘leaders’? What are the odds on demands for sharia and the killing of apostates (remember, the ‘moderate’ Sacranie calling for Rushdie’s head a few years ago?) being allied with oh-so-sincere and moderate letters urging the home secretary to implement their agenda or ‘face the consequences’ of unrest?

    Thugs, fascists and hooligans.

  10. Pablo — on 12th August, 2006 at 4:10 pm  

    The leader of the plot seems to have been a chap from Birmingham who was arrested in Pakistan. This rum fellow fled the country four years ago after his uncle was stabbed to death (police in Biirmingham was to interview him about the incident but as you can see he has been in hiding and quite busy it would apprear). Pakistani intelligence have interrogated him and it led directly to the urgency of the arrests.

    You might imagine that it would be a matter of some concern to the head of the central Birmingham mosque, that a Muslim in his city appears to be at the centre of a planned attack to kill thousands of men women and children. You might imagine he would seek to reassure the people of Birmingham and his co-religionists that this has nothing to do with Islam and that he unequivocally condemns any such action. This is what Dr Muhammad Naseem actually said:

    “…it poses the question whether the arrests are part of a political objective, by using Muslims as a target, using the perception of terrorism to usurp all our civil liberties and get more and more control while moving towards a totalitarian state.”

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2309167,00.html

    People like Muhhamad Naseem are repellent, thuggish, ddeply craven and mendacious, not to say arrogant individuals. Their level of denial shades into what appears to be active sympathy for the criminal extremists.

    With leaders like this, Muslims in this country are burdened with blockheads. The arrogance, the mendacity, the threats, the sheer blockheaded bully boy hooliganism of the mentality, is actually quite impressive.

    The actual level of extremist terrorism is frightening and horrifying. But most British people understand that not all Muslims are to be implicated as they are innocent. After all, collective guilt and collective punishments are the hallmarks of these fascists. But what aggravates it is the arrogance of people like Dr Muhammad Naseem and others, with their stupidity and denial. We are in a deep situation here. They are making things worse.

  11. Sunny — on 12th August, 2006 at 4:40 pm  

    Hmmm…..

  12. Katy — on 12th August, 2006 at 4:45 pm  

    I don’t like the concept of foreign policy “endangering us”, I must admit.

    Lots of people get angry about foreign policy, and domestic policy, all the time, but the vast majority of them don’t go and blow themselves or anyone else up over it. There is a particular type of person (and I believe they exist to some extent in all races, ethnicities and religions) who will use any excuse to inflict the violence that exists inside them on other people, and it may be foreign policy that triggers them, but if it wasn’t that it would be something else.

    Most people are not like that. If you want to criticise the government’s actions, do it on the basis of the government’s actions, not on the basis that the government has to tiptoe round for fear of offending a tiny minority of psychopaths.

  13. thabet — on 12th August, 2006 at 4:57 pm  

    If you think a fatwa will sort it out you don’t understand the situation very well.

    For example, here is a very detailed and authoritative fatwa from an authoritative Muslim jurist. (It is very long; Eteraz has a summary.) Here is another fatwa issued in the wake of last year’s bombings by 500 Muslim scholars.

    Yet, not even Muslims know about these fatwas. Or even care about them.

    What can’t be denied is that the extremists use “foreign policy” as a vehicle to spew their violence. Yes, I agree, they will always find something to justify their violence. But it is a fact that this is what galvinizes them. What Muslims have to do (and the government cannot do anything about this) is to say that responding to what they perceive to be unfair policies does not come through these acts of violence. Mosques, scholars etc. are totally useless here because such acts of violence are not ordinarily preached at mosques.

    What is required is for Muslims to speak up. Forget ‘communitiy leaders’. How many Muslims know who Iqbal Sacraine even is? Not a lot, I assure you. Individuals will have to speak against extremism should they hear it or hear justifications for such violence. This is where groups like MPAC could be useful (i.e. asking Muslims to engage in the civil/democractic process), if only they would stop seeing everything as a Zionist conspiracy.

  14. Barbara Meinhoff — on 12th August, 2006 at 5:11 pm  

    Expect the British National Party or Combat 18 to submit a similar ‘open letter’ to 10 Downing Street warning that, while *of course* they deplore attacks on Muslims, if it does not alter its domestic policy of letting their representatives dictate government policy, they will find themselves at ‘increased risk’ from an increasingly angered non-Muslim majority.

  15. Jackie Brown — on 12th August, 2006 at 6:13 pm  

    The argument that UK foreign policy is wrong might be valid. Blackmail (the letter to parliament) is not the response. Victim mentality believes no one else is interested in the same aims internationally—sustainable peace in the Middle East. That insular feeling not being part of a larger ‘British’ community is counterproductive. The organizations that endorsed the letter should work on building political coalitions to influence a political issue foreign policy. I’m not a Muslim- have no desire to be one, but I can see where I might have a common cause with some Muslims on some things.

  16. Winrock — on 12th August, 2006 at 6:35 pm  

    Arguments about Foreign Policy, is understandable but again you can’t bomb your own place and kill innocents because you not agreed of policies of your own government. For example I am sure loads of young’s people have arguments with their parents and not agreed with their parent’s rules and regulations about home, but they don’t bomb their own house and kill their own parents? Do they?

    Same rule apply with country policy, when government make policies they made by taking whole picture in their mind including domestic and security issues and internal threat. If these young generation Muslims are not agreed with policies then should show their protest in peace full manner, try to integrate with society and choose their true representative in elections. No one can justify killing of innocents on the name of government policies. These acts of terrorism make much harder for government to change any policies.

    It’s not hard to understand.

  17. Sunny — on 12th August, 2006 at 6:38 pm  

    I think this letter is unfortunate to be honest. It’ll just make everyone think all Muslims are into blackmailing people otherwise they’ll blow themselves up.

    Thabet has made some excellent points which I completely agree with. And to think young Muslims aren’t worried about the same issues is naive. For example see this thread.

    On a related point, over the last week I’ve had an epiphany and am putting together a brilliant narrative that encapsulates everything to do with British terrorism. Now I just need to sit down and write the damn thesis.

  18. Yakoub/Julaybib — on 12th August, 2006 at 7:13 pm  

    Blair and his minions have conspired to murder innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now condone and arm those who are currently murdering civilians in Lebanon. So try telling disaffected Muslim youth recruited into jihadi cults that its not okay to kill civilians! This letter is stating a fact, not issuing an ultimatum. And it is not an attempt to justify or condone any actual or alleged terror acts.

    Even from where I’m standing, which is non-violent ultra-liberal Muslim land, I cannot discern the moral difference between 7/7 on the one hand and British foreign policy on the other, except that perhaps more innocent civilians have died as a result of the latter. Of course, they’re just sand niggers and Pakis, lives that always seem to be worth so much less than those who died in London.

    Tony looks like a terrorist, terrorists look like Tony. Pig becomes man, man becomes pig, in the end no one can tell the difference.

    I was in the park with my 13 year old autistic son today, and I had to listen to a drunken teenager shouting from a tree he had climbed, ‘Shoot the nigger!’ We were in the middle of a Black and Asian neighbourhood. That’s the kind of empty-headed, simian scum currently allowed to roam free in Britain. What’s their excuse?

    Wasalaam

    TMA

  19. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 12th August, 2006 at 7:28 pm  

    Sunny,

    Perhaps they should have written a letter stating that Britian’s foreign policy is a miserable failure and hasnt made good on its promises and on top of all that pyschos use it to justify their pyschosis.

    I thought the Iraq adventure was supposed to make everything ok? I thought democracy, freedom and homosexuality was supposed to be on the march in the Middle East? Where does Pakistan fit into all this? Ah nevermind.

  20. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 12th August, 2006 at 7:31 pm  

    Yakoub/Julaybib,

    Do you know the story of the grear Sahabah Julaybib? Its amazing.

    I doubt Blair takes much pleasure in the fact that innocent people have been killed in these mistaken wars.

    Takfiris on the other hand…

  21. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 12th August, 2006 at 7:35 pm  

    Thabet,

    For real. Most Muslims dont need a fatwa to tell then that terrorism is haram. Those Muslims that dont will make takfir of any Muslim who has. I mean if they can excommunicate the Saudi Ulema, who cares who semi literate Pakistani Imam has to say?

  22. seekeroftruth — on 12th August, 2006 at 7:50 pm  

    There appears to be so much disbelief about how such ‘nice’, ‘helpful’ and ‘pious’ men who cared about their families and their ‘community’ could such a thing. What many ppl have not registered is that it is quite possible to have such a profile but have completely different feelings (antagonism/disdain/blame/alienation/retaliatory prejudice) for the people who are not from that tribe/community (in this case the ‘Muslim nation’). Infact youngsters who are more sensitive to political events, have an unhealthy sense of ‘Muslimness’ in relation to ‘every one else’ are ideal candidates to be brainwashed and given twisted theological justification for terrorism.

    We are reaching a critical point in this ‘long war’. Just as these terrorism acts ‘vindicate’ Bush’s policy in the eyes of many in the west, the injustice done in Palestine, Lebanon and elsewhere instill a tension among ordinary Muslims about what their exact take on the situation should be.

    Hardline orthodox Muslims may have very out of sync (with modernity) views on co-ed schools, mtv, homosexuality, banking system etc etc. but these things are not the driving Muslims to acts of violence. The violence from all sides is mainly due to the sense of seige and last ditch effort against an unimplacable enemy (a growing militant Islam as perceived by USA and a vicious ‘colonial’ force fueled by the christian and zionist right as perceived by the Islamists). In this situation, it is critical to kill off hardened terrorists, try to resolve key political issues (guarantee final resolution of states of Palestine and Israel), and make sure that stupid rhetoric(antisemitism/ pointless anti americanism/ bigotry against Muslims) is not fueling the already raging fires.

  23. Sunny — on 12th August, 2006 at 7:52 pm  

    I’ve updated the article with a video that I thought was quite relevant.

  24. Don — on 12th August, 2006 at 9:00 pm  

    Brilliant vid. This link;

    http://www.comedycentral.com/sitewide/media_player/search.jhtml

    takes you to the archive stuff. Saves relying on YouTube.

  25. Bert Preast — on 12th August, 2006 at 9:29 pm  

    The vid’s fantastic, but I’m completely missing the relevance to today’s leading muslim’s letter to Blair telling him to do what the terrorists demand.

    And again, does anyone really think they want him to start going after “all those who target civilians with violence, whenever and wherever that happens”?

    How does that work? Obviously, you can send the Queen’s Own Royal Lager Louts in to beat the bejesus out of Hamas and Hisbollah by that criteria, and I rather suspect they want to send Tommy into Israel too.

    Then what? They do seem to have harped on rather about Iraq, so presumably in order to de-radicalise our muslim youth we must attack the US, quite a lot of the EU, and of course ourselves.

    It’s not really any sort of demand that our government can do anything but laugh in the face of, is it?

  26. Tanvir — on 12th August, 2006 at 10:27 pm  

    I think the element of surprise has worn thin now even with the most naive Britons, that when foreign policy leads to DEATH by the hundreds of thousands, some people might be pissed off and may be willing to do ANYTHING to persuade us to change. A million people marching in London had no effect. I don’t think all this needs to be spelt out in a letter, the bombs kind of tell us that anyway – no mater how much the politicians may want to convince us there is no link.

    Somehow these MPs reckon that although death and destruction in the hundreds of thousands; or the tens of thousands of people in the scores of refugee camps waiting to go home (albeit a bit impatient now), really don’t make a difference to the ‘shoulder to shoulder with neo-conservatism, American religious extremism and Zionism’ policy – a letter might just do the trick! Good one boys.

  27. eteraz — on 12th August, 2006 at 10:54 pm  

    i’m with the guy who called it blackmail. while im not wont to judge the intentions of the muslim mp’s and the org supporting this, my issue is that it *looks* like blackmail. media sophistication among muslims is clearly just as bad in england as in the u.s. what i dont understand is why they can’t issue two separate press releases on two separate days? it’s like blogging. shit goes down one day, write about that; don’t go back and start talking about shit from another day – save it for tomorrow.

    as to the rest, i’m with thabet, muslims themselves don’t know, or care, about the fatwas. at the most, what they want is to not be called names. yet they are in the difficult situation that if they don’t take command of their communities, others will (who will do such things which only make people dislike muslims more). so, the question is this: how does a decent muslim, with a career, a family, only some money, and only some friends, bring his ‘moderation’ to bear on his community?

    i don’t know about you guys but in the us, many muslims have successfully negotiated an answer to this question in their communities. part of it may have to do with the fact that the muslim communities here are arising C0-EXTENSIVELY with the mosques while in England both the communities and their insular members have been around forever, and its the ideas which are now being *injected.*

  28. eteraz — on 12th August, 2006 at 10:59 pm  

    im curious as to people’s thoughts that perhaps the ‘next-generation’ muslim activist needs to stop being muslim and just be asian.

    i was talking to thabet and trying to find out that if i moved to london, which muslim group would i affiliate with. i got the sense that i’d have no choice but to be with the sufis. i then wondered why would i even seek to connect with anyone on the basis of my religion, when, isn’t it the case that the british ‘classification’ is racial: whites, blacks, asians? in that sense, i see something like pickled politics, which to me is race based rather than religion, a better solution. anyway, im not really trying to solve the british problems, because we have our own set of problems, namely, how to bridge, if at all, the gap between immigrant arabs, immigrant south asians, and native-black muslim populations.

    i gave some thought to this idea a while back and I am not sure if the results yielded I subscribe to any longer. still, i’d appreciate some feedback (assuming you aren’t bored to death).

    http://eteraz.wordpress.com/2006/02/28/washing-some-american-muslim-dirty-laundry/

  29. Bert Preast — on 12th August, 2006 at 11:01 pm  

    Eteraz wrote: “so, the question is this: how does a decent muslim, with a career, a family, only some money, and only some friends, bring his ‘moderation’ to bear on his community?”

    At maximum volume. You’re managing it, keep encouraging others.

  30. Old Pickler — on 12th August, 2006 at 11:52 pm  

    Who voted for these “community leaders” anyway? By what right do they speak for “the Muslim community”? Is there a Muslim community?

    Much as I dislike Islam, even I am not so stupid as to think that all Muslims speak with one voice – that of a mad Mullah.

    It is unfashionable to talk about patriotism, loyalty to one’s country. Echoes of the BNP, etc. But the nation state at its best (albeit an imperfect best) treats citizens – at least in theory – as equals. These “communities” perpetuate hierarchical systems that are out of the ark. Why lefties like them I can’t understand.

    “Community” – a dirty word. It is the individual that matters.

  31. rh mayo — on 13th August, 2006 at 3:47 am  

    How do the Muslims believe that this politics of blackmail work in a open society. Are the democratic states now to be guided by the policies of a active, militant verbal minority.

    Is this the new political lexicon: Should the govt.policies not be acceptable you change them otherwise we will intimidate so that you have to change.

    Will someone please explain this dichotomy If I am aguest in some one’s home can and should I demand that the homeowner live by my rules. Please help explain this viewpoint, then I will understand why European and world governements need to adopt undemocratic values

  32. Winrock — on 13th August, 2006 at 5:48 am  

    Unfortunately people still believes that, they can use violence and black mailing method to change the foreign policies of UK.

    My only question is why should UK change its policy? Policies as I said in my earlier post are based on domestic situation rather than external situations.

    People here on this thread said that Young British Muslims are angered about foreign policies of this country, that’s why they are doing all sort of terrorist acts or supporting terrorism.

    Like for example some people on thread said Airline plot, is all because of government policies about Lebanon and Israel war. Well as far as I can see and read it about suspects and Airline Plot its clearly shows that, these terrorist were planning about bombing the airlines in mid air and kill innocents as many as they can, since last 6-7 months and Israel war has been only started few weeks ago right?

    So how, they will justify this. Even when Spain changed its foreign policies after Madrid Train attack, it didn’t changed the terrorist thinking they planned another attack on spain, luckily Spain secret agency and police unfolded it on time and saved many life’s.

    So saying changing policies will change these terrorist minding and make UK society safer and secure is rubbish in my opinion.

  33. S — on 13th August, 2006 at 10:08 am  

    I’m really tired of pointless false dichotomy arguments over the causes of terrorism. Ideology vs policy is as sterile as the old nature vs nurture argument that one-track brain morons have kept alive for 30 years. There is a pre-existing problem in middle east ideology and some of our (the UK I mean)actions or responses may have exacerbated rather than soothed the problem.

    As regards the letter I think it is very very bad PR to produce it now. It sounds like good cop/bad cop. It is irrelevant if policy has aggrieved these individuals (though they seem unusually receptive to offence). We shouldn’t make policy on the basis of threats of violence. What is the difference between this argument and Enoch Powells famous rivers of blood speech– that would make an excellent footnote to this letter.

  34. Chairwoman — on 13th August, 2006 at 11:51 am  

    Pickled Politics is a microcosm of the world. Look what happens here. Everybody wants to apportion blame, ‘Your lot did this in blah’, ‘Oh yeah, and look what your lot did in blah’. It’s neverending. Technology and blogging actually give the man (or woman) on the net the opportunity to mould governmental policies in a way unheard of 10 years ago.

    I assume that the majority of us just want the fighting to stop, and the concilliation to begin. Well this is how it’s done. We all start commenting on the sites of those we consider our ‘enemies’, also those of our ‘friends’. And what we say is something like this:

    ‘The inability, and lack of willingness on both sides of this dispute has led to to the death of our compatriots, fear in our communities, and hatred on both sides. Let us stop blaming each other, and sit down and see how we can go forward together. Let us try to dispense with ideologies that have brought us to this sorry state, and strive for a better life for our countries.’

    Idealistic, yes, but let’s try idealism for a change. If we can do this as ‘ordinary people’, we could start a groundswell of public opinion which will force governments forward, and I think will be far more effective than an afternoon waving inflamatory banners and shouting invective at each other.

    I hope you all realise that this is a catchall policy and not directed at any one particular conflict.

  35. soru — on 13th August, 2006 at 12:06 pm  

    The situation is very simple. There are young men, unwilling or unable to commit to civilian life, perhaps fearful of the role of a new father, perhaps of what they will become if they carry on down taking drugs. Add a dash of idealism, a side order of macho swagger, and a big hero complex.

    That’s the traditional recruiting grounds for the British Army.

    But British society in general is not providing any plausible route where they can join that army and feel a hero rather than a traitor, or at best morally compromised. I’d challenge anyone to name one book, film, advert or song that celebrates or glamorises a person who made that choice.

    So, like a footballer who gets jeered when they try out for their local side, they go join some other team. If that requires believing a certain story about the world, that is about as irrelevant as the colour of the shirt a footballer would be required to wear. If it requires taking orders from some rich guy on the Afghan border, that is as irrelevant as the source of wealth of the club chairman.

    The point is the wages paid, and the roar of the crowd.

  36. Peter Jackson — on 13th August, 2006 at 2:13 pm  

    The part of the letter that struck me was at the end, where Tony Blair is urged to “change our foreign policy to show the world that we value the lives of civilians wherever they live and whatever their religion”.

    The clear implication is that current foreign policy shows the world that the UK does *not* value the lives of civilians in some countries and of a particular religion. Can the signatories really believe this, regardless of what some other misguided UK muslims may believe? And if so, what could the Government do to change this perception?

  37. Refresh — on 13th August, 2006 at 2:24 pm  

    The letter was naive and lacked savvy. They are rubbish at both politics and PR. And to think there are MPs amongst them

    If only they’d looked around the blogs, they would have anticipated the response from the likes of Kim Howell.

    Having said that the issues are and will remain important. They will not go away.

    What I would have recommended is call on some influential academics from around the globe and established a think tank – to analyse this exact issue and reported on it on a regular basis along with opinion polling. And I would have said they would have got their point across much better.

    Lets not forget that previous enquiry in the 7/7 bombing itself had already warned about the risk of increased radicalisation; as had the intelligence services prior to the invasion of Iraq.

    Truth will out. And it is widely understood and recognised within the United Kingdom. But I don’t think anyone really wants to hear it from the muslims themselves. No sir.

  38. Winrock — on 13th August, 2006 at 4:33 pm  

    After reading comments, I still didn’t understand why few people are so blinded that they believe, what ever is happening is a fault of government and its foreign policy. I believe in democracy and we are very fortunate that we are living in one of most democratic state in world. Democracy gives a right to every one to express their feelings and anger, raise their voice. Democracy give every one chance to elect and form a government and their representative, whom they think will and can work towards the betterment of society and help them to feel secure.

    But the main point in democracy is how majority treats minority, how powerfully people treats power less people. So far I know UK does treat monitory very well, we had given every right to them, they are first class citizen of this country ( we don’t treat them as a second class citizen).

    If we look to some countries (especially Islamic countries) and see how people get treated in their democracy specially minorities I am sure people will be shocked to know about it. Most of British Muslim are saying that they are not happy with the policies of government, ok fair enough but you don’t bomb the whole country because you not happy with few elected members of parliaments and their decision. Did Christians or any other religion other than Muslim bomb the places because of their own country policies? (By the way I am not Christian and got no plan to convert in to Christianity)

    At this point what we need is proper debate about this issue, government should do bit more to help these young Muslims to understand how our policies works. We should bring some really intellectual and scholars who understand a lot more about Holy Quran ( not the one who comes in Sharia TV, they bloody don’t agree with each other statements) to tell these people, what Quran says, and help the government to let these people know about UK governments policies and issues.

    They must understand it is not possible for any government in the world to make happy every one happy at same time. Because it’s democratic government so they go according to simple rule, majority wins.

    Muslims leaders should come forward and give proper statements and assure these young and vulnerable people, that government and normal public of this country is with them, they are not isolated and neglected. We need proper Muslims scholars (not moderate or extremists Muslims) to do this job. To make this country, more safe and secure.

  39. Refresh — on 13th August, 2006 at 7:03 pm  

    Winrock, government policy is a part of what we the people want. How its derived is a part of the electoral/consultation process. It is entirely correct to put your view forward to say that the longstanding policies being played out in ME, needs a major update.

    And it is appropriate for groups to put that forward. To silence that view is counter-productive. The test should simply be – and its something you could try at home – is to ask the question of your family, friends and colleagues. Do you think that we are doing the right thing in the Middle East? And do you think the Prime Minister is able to deliver the best results for our country?

    I’d be interested in what results you get.

  40. Kulvinder — on 13th August, 2006 at 7:26 pm  

    Wheres the blackmailing bit??? Im slightly off the ball as its sunday, someone help me.

  41. Kulvinder — on 13th August, 2006 at 9:22 pm  

    I don’t get the fuss :(

    They seem to have made a perfectly valid point that british foreign policy aggravates segments of the british population and drives them to extremists.

  42. Trofim — on 13th August, 2006 at 9:38 pm  

    >> They seem to have made a perfectly valid point that british foreign policy aggravates segments of the british population and drives them to extremists.

    So if we aggravate Israelis, we might get Jewish suicide bombers. If we upset the Argentinians, we could get catholic suicide bombers. Hells bells! What are we going to do. You can’t win, can you!!

    And I understand that British people being allowed to drink alcohol, wear revealing clothes, and the tolerance of open homosexuality also aggravate “segments of the british population”. So is there a difference between the aggravation caused by foreign policy and the aggravation caused by having to live among the kuffar?

  43. Trofim — on 13th August, 2006 at 9:42 pm  

    Or, given that foreign policy will inevitably “aggravate” someone, is aggravating muslims quantitatively different from aggravating those of other beliefs?

  44. Old Pickler — on 13th August, 2006 at 10:30 pm  

    Muslims “aggravate” easily?

  45. Kulvinder — on 13th August, 2006 at 10:37 pm  

    So if we aggravate Israelis, we might get Jewish suicide bombers.

    Yes!?

    If we upset the Argentinians, we could get catholic suicide bombers. Hells bells! What are we going to do. You can’t win, can you!!

    Again yes. Im not sure what point you’re making, unless you believe theres been a sudden cluster in psychopaths roaming the nation there has to be some ‘driving cause’ to make these men turn to extremism. If ‘aggravated enough’ (a broad term i accept) most people (pacifists aside) would say there was some ‘consequence’ imminent. If the Argentian jews sat in Buenos Aires and started ‘aggravating’ the gringos in Britain, would the British just shrug their shoulders??

    And I understand that British people being allowed to drink alcohol, wear revealing clothes, and the tolerance of open homosexuality also aggravate “segments of the british population”. So is there a difference between the aggravation caused by foreign policy and the aggravation caused by having to live among the kuffar?

    Obviously yes, being allowed to live your life as you wish but getting militant because you want to deny others the same privilege is far less justifiable than saying the way your government is behaving in a certain part of the world is getting you cross.

    Or, given that foreign policy will inevitably “aggravate” someone, is aggravating muslims quantitatively different from aggravating those of other beliefs?

    Alright allow me to skew that a little to make my point, they’re politicians they said the actions of the government is detrimental to their constituents, it aggravates them. Their opinions aren’t quantitively different from MPs who say the level of immigration to this country is alienating their constituents and making them more liable to turn to extremists, that they’re could be ‘social consequences’ if the white people weren’t listened to.

    Now i might be mistaken, those consequences may well be interpretive dance and cultural fairs, but the inference i’ve always drawn is that people may go apeshit if you don’t stop aggravating them. The threat in that context is made in a finger wagging kind of way.

    In this case those Muslims who wrote the letter have accepted that there are people willing to blow themselves up and have tried to articulate the casual factors for that, and they’re critizised for it!

    The threat of widespread civil disorder is far more menacing to me than accepting that a minority of extremists exist and trying to cut off their oxygen by finding out what makes them tick.

  46. Kulvinder — on 13th August, 2006 at 10:38 pm  

    Muslims “aggravate” easily?

    As do the elderly.

  47. Don — on 13th August, 2006 at 11:06 pm  

    One makes allowances for the elderly.

  48. Refresh — on 13th August, 2006 at 11:17 pm  

    To accept the notion that muslims aggravate easily is to accept a re-write history.

    I’ve long held the view that foreign policy comes in 50-year chunks; and the middle east is going through their 2nd chunk, and if Bush et al get their way there is another 50-year chunk heading their way.

    As Ken Livingstone pointed out this has been going on for 80 years. I would say it takes a lot to aggravate people – as it does to pacify them.

    Sort out the middle east and lets move on.

    Hold on a second, some might say we are sorting it out once and for all. No – no they are not they are again skewing the outcome to deal with a much longer term issue and that is global domination. The middle east is the battle ground – but the war is economic. Whoever controls the world’s most valuable assets will actually rule.

    Some of us, actually most of us, Britons prefer to follow the notion of justice and fair treatment. Is this happening in the ME? It is not.

    Forget this idea that you can silence a group of people because they are the wrong colour or the wrong ethnic group – and in this case the wrong religious group. It still leaves us to deal with the reality on the ground. Muslim lands actually have most of the oil.

    Do not fool yourself that it is anything to do with values.

  49. Trofim — on 13th August, 2006 at 11:38 pm  

    >> Muslim lands actually have most of the oil.

    I understand, according to various sources, that the world’s second largest oil reserves are in either Canada or Russia.

  50. Refresh — on 13th August, 2006 at 11:56 pm  

    In which case perhaps global powers will play their games over there. And offer respite to the Middle East.

    But somehow I doubt it.

    BTW – have a look at the central Asian lands to see if the argument holds.

  51. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 14th August, 2006 at 12:08 am  

    Do not fool yourself that it is anything to do with values.

    It has everything to do with values. Western Governments would much rather give their hard earned money to a friendly democracy that spent it on looking after its people, just like Norway does.

    Instead it buys oil from oppressive regimes that have learnt how to use TV as a properganda tool, buy arms (which we cannot help ourselves but sell to them), rattle thier sabers at their neighbours and openly mock the concepts of free speech, equal rights and democracy, calling it colonism and oppression.

    It leaves a dirty taste in the mouth when you consider the pact we made with the devil to buy Saudi oil.

    Oil creates a terrible clash of values.

    TFI

  52. Refresh — on 14th August, 2006 at 12:10 am  

    TFI – go book ourself a copy of Lawrence of Arabia and see for yourself (courtesy David Lean) what its been all about.

  53. John C — on 14th August, 2006 at 1:32 am  

    White people have now got it into their heads that they can now do anything to anybody and suffer no consequences and that their innocent lives in the west are worth more than other less innocent lives in the east. That way lies madness because the media still refuses to acknowledge that other people might have a different view to their world perspective. Let me be quite clear about this. I oppose British foreign policy (as regards to Iraq and Lebanon etc) because it is wrong and evil, irrespective of the fact that the said policy is the product of a democratically elected government. Lest we forget, The Third Reich and the holocaust of the Jews was the product of a democratically elected government and not so long ago in this country people took to the streets and rioted to bring about the end of a thing called the Poll Tax, another sad social experiment brought about by another democratically elected government.

    No white people shouldn’t be talking about blackmail (which is a ironic when you think about it), they should be thinking about bribes. The black community in general and the Muslim community in particular have to ask themselves this simple question. What price are we willing to pay for the abandonment of our conscience? Is life in the west worth turning a blind eye to death in the east? Is a injustice in Beirut or Palestine worth the price of a four bed roomed house, a great career and a flash car? If the answer is yes then the Muslim community must put up and shut up and let the white man get on with it. But if the answer is NO, then we must rise and fight and bring this injustice to an end. In this there is no middle road. We can’t have our cake and eat it!

    For the last couple of days I’ve witnessed a succession of white people wringing their hands about the “Muslim problem”. Did anyone see the Richard and Judy Show on Thursday? Scary stuff! It is a double standard on huge proportions being perpetuated by a government too arrogant to care and a media too scared to resist (note some of the ill-informed posts on this forum) but because it is not being seriously challenged and articulated by anyone within the black community, it is left to hotheads with bombs strapped to their backs to do the talking and redress the balance, the balance of madness. White people have gone mad with the power of their own self importance. It is up to us all to show them a better way but first we must challenge their rhetoric.

  54. El Cid — on 14th August, 2006 at 1:34 am  

    May I express my displeasure at the joint statement put out by “representatives” of the moslem community.

    Their intention may have been to play to an angry young constituency within their own community — one prong in a two-prong strategy to steer people away from violence. But what they have achieved in my eyes is to legitimise the option of indiscriminate violence at home to influence policy abroad and to increase a vague idea among the rest of us of an enemy within that has stronger loyalties to a global and loose religion-based identity than it has to the place in which it lives.

    It is deeply divisive. And the timing of it is appalling. We’ve just foiled, it increasingly seems, a particularly bloody terrorist assault. So what does the community from which these Jihad chav came from do? Try to counter the disturbing and still unfolding news with its own spin that plays up the foreign policy angle?
    What, were they disappointed that the plot failed?

  55. Refresh — on 14th August, 2006 at 1:53 am  

    Foreign foreign policy in action:

    “Bush ‘helped Israeli attack on Lebanon’

    Dan Glaister in Los Angeles
    Monday August 14, 2006
    The Guardian”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1844021,00.html

    It seems it was all part of the plan.

    And to think Blair may have been duped into delivering his ‘Arc of Extremism’ speech.

  56. Old Pickler — on 14th August, 2006 at 10:12 am  

    John C – are British Muslims, some of whom are white – British or not? If they are, they should use the democratic process, denied to them in Muslim countries, to influence government policy. If they are not British, or if they put loyalty to other Muslims first, they should get the flip out of this country – we don’t want them.

  57. Jai — on 14th August, 2006 at 10:52 am  

    Okay, I think it may be helpful for me to add my own 5 cents at this point, for the benefit of Kulvinder and others who may be having trouble grasping what all the fuss is about. On this occasion, hopefully Sunny will not mind me temporarily climbing back into the treehouse here in Springfield despite the fact that I am obviously spending most of my time in the counterpart clubhouse across the river in Shelbyville, if you know what I mean.

    The point isn’t really what the Muslim MPs & organisations said. It’s the timing, the perceived tone, and the broader context of the letter’s contents.

    It is absolutely correct that current Western (read: American & British) foreign policies risk inadvertantly encouraging further home-grown terrorist attacks. In this regard, the letter from those MPs & organisations wasn’t a threat, but a prediction.

    However, where the Muslims concerned slipped up is by adding the caveat that the British government should therefore consider altering its foreign policy in order to mitigate the risk of future jihadi attacks here.

    The problem here is that British politics and foreign policies should not, cannot, and will not be influenced or dictated by the threat of terrorist elements in the country. It’s not the grievances (actual or perceived) on the part of ‘aggravated’ British Muslim elements which is the primary problem — it’s the methods they wish to use in order to facilitate political and military change.

    The Muslim MPs and organisations would have been better served if they had directed their ire towards the wannabe jihadist elements in the UK instead. Now, they are possibly doing this already (I have no idea), but something like an open letter warning “the enemy within” of the social and legal consequences of attempting terrorist attacks would have been more appropriate and a far more legitimate target for their efforts.

    Therefore, their main message should be “It doesn’t matter how much you disagree with what the US and the UK are currently doing to Muslims overseas — nothing whatsoever justifies attempting mass murder of ordinary American and British citizens, and we will enforce the legal consequences x, y, and z if – indeed, when – we find out exactly whom amongst you is involved in all this and exactly what you are planning.”

    They need to take — and to be explicitly seen to be taking — the side of the peaceloving British population as a whole, not just British Muslims (and they should not be using the airline bombing plot as an ill-timed opportunity to target the Government’s foreign policies), rather than inadvertantly promoting themselves as groups making possible excuses for the wannabe jihadists and their armchair supporters.

  58. soru — on 14th August, 2006 at 10:54 am  

    John C makes my point for me. He says nothing about the details of injustice, or what the alternatives to it are. I rather doubt they are things he remotely understands, or cares about enough to study with the goal of understanding as opposed to self-validation.

    What he focuses on is the rejection, on the four bedroomed house, the flash car. Those are things he that he sees as morally compromised, as signs of the soft civilian sheep, not the manly Warrior. They are Temptation, and the fact that they are on offer is proof they must be turned down.

    The last time working class people from the suburbs of Northern towns went on a great crusade for excitement, adventure, dignity, with the goal of making the world a better place by the application of religious moral virtue backed up by explosives, Britain ended up with an Empire.

    This is no different, and will no doubt end similarly badly.

  59. Jai — on 14th August, 2006 at 11:01 am  

    Sunny,

    =>”As British Muslims we urge you to do more to fight against all those who target civilians with violence,”

    A quick friendly note: It may be a good idea to alter the formatting of the above extract from the letter at the top of this page and ensure that the text is also in red italics, otherwise it looks like these words are actually your own and on behalf of Pickled Politics, rather than quoted from the Muslim groups’ letter. There is a risk of people stumbling across PP and not checking out the Guardian link misinterpreting the matter.

  60. sonia — on 14th August, 2006 at 11:06 am  

    “im curious as to people’s thoughts that perhaps the ‘next-generation’ muslim activist needs to stop being muslim and just be asian.”

    Eteraz – one step further – or several steps further – the next generation activists need to ‘not stop’ being muslim or asian or whatever the hell they may be – e.g. Polish and Jewish – but be ‘human’ on top of everything else.

    Yeah?

  61. bananabrain — on 14th August, 2006 at 11:54 am  

    sonia – we tried that during the enlightenment. the result was “scientific racism”, which declared that jews were “subhuman” and we all know what that led to. fact is, if people want to discriminate, they’re gonna. nowadays, the worst thing has moved on from being “racism” and has turned into “warmongering” and “occupation”. guess who will be the bad guys?

    plus ca change…

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  62. mirax — on 14th August, 2006 at 12:24 pm  

    Sonia, I think that everyone must put their ‘human’ identity before all else for the simple reason that the rest is totally arbitrary – ‘race’, religion, nationality et al. If we have an unerring commitment to humanistic principles, a better perspective will be thrown on the conflicts around us.

    Over the weekend, Fred Halliday had a superb article on the ME crisis that dealt with the fundamental universalist principles that might save us all.

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/arendt_deutscher_3813.jsp

    From the article:
    What Isaac Deutscher and Hannah Arendt noted contains truths that the contemporary middle east, and the world, sorely need. Their relevance is to much more than the Arab-Israeli question; it applies in principle to any of the numerous other national or inter-ethnic conflicts across the world where local rhetoric and partisan solidarity from outsiders have reinforced each other in a dance of death, as if one side were angels and the other devils – Cyprus, ex-Yugoslavia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland. In regard to the middle east, Muslims and Arabs across the world identify with the Palestinians (or, more recently, Hizbollah) on ethnic, religious and communitarian lines; Jews do the same, in support of Israel. Even many of those Jews who oppose the policies of the state of Israel speak as Jews (“not in my name”).

    There is an enormous historical regression involved here. It involves seeing membership of a particular community, or claims of affinity, ethnicity or religious association with others, as conveying particular rights (or particular moral clarity) on those making such claims. In purely rational terms, this is nonsense: the crimes of the Israelis in wantonly destroying Lebanon’s infrastructure, and the crimes of Hizbollah and Hamas in killing civilians and placing the lives and security of their peoples recklessly at risk, do not require particularist denunciation. They are crimes on the basis of universal principles – of law, decency, humanity – and should be identified as such.

    I particularly like this paragraph and feel that many on PP should make a particular note of it and shut up.

    (In this regard, ethnic and religious diasporas are among the last people who can offer rational explanation or moral compass in regard to such events. Recently, when interviewed by a BBC panel set up to consider accusations of bias in regard to the Arab-Israeli dispute, I was given a list of the British-based groups the panel had consulted – Muslim and Arab on one side, Jewish and Zionist on the other. My recommendation to the panel was to ignore completely what any of them said and to question whether they should have any standing in the matter.)

  63. Sunny — on 14th August, 2006 at 12:33 pm  

    I’m with Jai on this one. He said exactly what I wanted to – that the letter was badly judged and will backfire. In fact it gives more ammunition to those people who think Muslims are an alien column living in this country. A very sad state of affairs, but then I’ve been arguing for years that the leadership of Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus is a joke.

  64. El Cid — on 14th August, 2006 at 12:35 pm  

    victimhood is a state of mind and a poweful propaganda weapon bananabrain. but it loses its potency and credibility over time.
    Israel is occupying land in the west bank and lebanon that belongs to other people. it has also used disproportionate force in lebanon.
    if that makes me and other europeans anti-semite then so be it.

  65. mirax — on 14th August, 2006 at 12:44 pm  

    >Israel is occupying land in the west bank and lebanon that belongs to other people. it has also used disproportionate force in lebanon.

    Yes I agree. Banabrain may agree too.

    >if that makes me and other europeans anti-semite then so be it.

    You are jumping the gun here, methinks. Who’s actually called you an antisemite or even intimated that you might be one here? This is the false note that sets off more argument and dispute. Needlessly.

  66. mirax — on 14th August, 2006 at 12:46 pm  

    ‘This is the false note’ should be “This is the one false note in an otherwise utterly correct post”

  67. El Cid — on 14th August, 2006 at 1:01 pm  

    back to the topic in hand: this letter stinks.
    the facts that it is signed by 3 MPs pisses me off

  68. sonia — on 14th August, 2006 at 1:31 pm  

    bananabrain – “sonia – we tried that during the enlightenment. the result was “scientific racism”, which declared that jews were “subhuman””

    well obviously isn’t that proof that it wasn’t respecting one another as humans! clearly we ‘didn’t’ try it successfully enough. {and the enlightenment wasn’t particularly enlightening – a meta-narrative from someone’s rather superior perspective.}

    as mirax says ( well put!) –

    “Sonia, I think that everyone must put their ‘human’ identity before all else for the simple reason that the rest is totally arbitrary – ‘race’, religion, nationality et al. If we have an unerring commitment to humanistic principles, a better perspective will be thrown on the conflicts around us.”

  69. sonia — on 14th August, 2006 at 1:41 pm  

    “..that the leadership of Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus is a joke”

    i wouldn’t even consider it ‘leadership’ – starting up some tin-pot ha’penny organization that may be meant to represent Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus hardly equates to actually ‘leading’ them. Why in any case would ‘they’ want leadership per se. ..

    I know the media seems to think so ( and probably a lot of people who’re easily ‘led’ but hey.._)

  70. Winrock — on 14th August, 2006 at 1:50 pm  

    So you saying foreign policy of this country should be shaped in part, or in whole, under the threat of terrorist activity if we do not have a foreign policy with which the terrorists happen to agree. Well polcies made by taking whole picture means by taking the whole population into account, not just few people who wants polices to be made to benifit them. Right?

  71. Chairwoman — on 14th August, 2006 at 2:07 pm  

    At no 35 I made concrete suggestions about changing the situation not only in the Middle East, but all over the world. No one picked it up at all. All you’ve all done is bang on apportioning blame (Israel as usual) and saying nothing constructive at all.

    The only ‘constructive’ thing anyone ever says is Israel should make all the concessions. How constructive to you think that is? Do any of you know any 20th century history? Have you heard of the Treaty of Versailles after the 1st World War, and how the humiliation of Germany led to the rise of Hitler and the 2nd World War? Peace treaties have to be 2 handed, and no side will ever be 100 per cent satisfied with what they get. But if they get peace they 100 per of what their citizens deserve.

    Frankly, though you’re all talking about peace, I think you’re just a load of warmongers!

    If you lot are the future, I’m truly glad that I’m almost the past.

  72. sonia — on 14th August, 2006 at 2:09 pm  

    In any case, surely the whole population wants no terrorist activities, not just ‘the muslims’. the problem here is clearly that the ‘Muslim’ MP’s have taken this on – as opposed to all MP’s telling Blair what’s wrong with his government, and thereby agreeing that it is a ‘Muslim’ problem. whatever a ‘Muslim’ problem is.. i don’t know – but effectively, this sort of thing ‘boxes’ people in even further.

  73. sonia — on 14th August, 2006 at 2:24 pm  

    Chairwoman i have now scrolled above to read your post in no. 35 – and you have a very very good point.


    I think you would like someone i’ve befriended lately – his name is Daniel and you can find his blog here

    – he’s someone i respect for being able to do just that.

  74. Zussy — on 14th August, 2006 at 2:27 pm  

    What is amazing is their seemingly complete lack of critical self awareness – they don’t stop to think of how their words effectively place them on the sides of the terrorists as far as exculpating and apologising for this egregious link made between political process and psychopathic murderousness. This is a real tragedy. It also makes me wonder how much of it is simply the case that they are stupid, unable to see clearly, and how much is actually motivated by an adherence to the terrorist bully boy fascist mentality. In the case of people like Dr Muhammad Naseem of Birmingham Central Mosque, it is difficult to tell where the line between sentience and mental disease begins and ends.

    With people like Bunglawala, I think they are straight up fascists, bully boys and extremists, playing the terrorism for all it’s worth.

    Some of this comes close to sedition and places them totally against the British people, and I find some of their attitudes obscene. And this is tragic, for the average Muslim paying his mortgage and simply living his life and struggling like the rest of us. You might imagine that given the need to create understanding between Muslims and the rest of Britain, they might temper their rhetoric, but given that they have not, you can only imagine that the true bully boy extremist nature of them arises, or they are simply reckless and recklessly arrogant.

  75. Zussy — on 14th August, 2006 at 2:35 pm  

    The contributions of Refresh to this thread show how deeply this mentality is entrenched even amongst seemingly articulate and intelligent Muslims. Intellectual decrepitude, myopia, denial, denial, more denial, open assension to fascist ideology.

  76. Zussy — on 14th August, 2006 at 2:39 pm  

    Excellent post Jai (number 58) — that should be posted as a headline article and read by everyone.

  77. Kulvinder — on 14th August, 2006 at 3:03 pm  

    The problem here is that British politics and foreign policies should not, cannot, and will not be influenced or dictated by the threat of terrorist elements in the country. It’s not the grievances (actual or perceived) on the part of ‘aggravated’ British Muslim elements which is the primary problem — it’s the methods they wish to use in order to facilitate political and military change.

    The letter didn’t say it (britain) should be ‘dictated’ to by people blowing themselves up, rather it pointed out the obvious fact the driving factor for those turning to extremisn is government policy.

    As it is ive never understood the ‘we shall never backdown’ school of politics, putting your head down and ignoring the fact your own poeple are so disenfranchised with you that they’re willing to blow themselves up is if nothing else a fairly obvious indication the democratic process has gone very very wrong somewhere.

    They need to take — and to be explicitly seen to be taking — the side of the peaceloving British population as a whole, not just British Muslims (and they should not be using the airline bombing plot as an ill-timed opportunity to target the Government’s foreign policies), rather than inadvertantly promoting themselves as groups making possible excuses for the wannabe jihadists and their armchair supporters.

    Yeah using the alleged airline bombing plot as an ill timed and rather cynical opportunity to make political capital is only the work of those at the margins of politics. After all im sure a Home Secretary who knew of this plot beforehand and the impending raids would never try to make comments on the need to curb liberty then sit back and smugly say ‘told you so’ after the raids.

  78. Jai — on 14th August, 2006 at 3:24 pm  

    Kulvinder,

    =>”The letter didn’t say it (britain) should be ‘dictated’ to by people blowing themselves up,”

    I never said that either. I was referring to the fact that the jihadis wish to use this method, and the fact that there is no way the British Government would (or should) give in to these demands if such methods are being used to make their alleged grievances heard.

    =>”your own poeple are so disenfranchised with you that they’re willing to blow themselves up…..”

    The individuals/groups concerned do not regard themselves as “our own people” in terms of their fellow British citizens, irrespective of what is currently happening with regards to Iraq etc. From their perspective, their “own” people are their co-religionists here and across the world, first and foremost.

    =>”…..is if nothing else a fairly obvious indication the democratic process has gone very very wrong somewhere.”

    Not necessarily. It also indicates that the people concerned are quite possibly unwilling to use the proper “democratic channels” if they think a blunter “quick & dirty” route is more effective. Perhaps they also lack the political and legal knowledge, intellectual clarity and social skills to be able to know how to achieve their aims through normal peaceful means.

    In either case, this still doesn’t excuse suicide bombings against civilian targets and mass murder in general. Not on a general “humanitaritan ethics” level, and certainly not with regards to Islam’s prescribed guidelines for warfare (at least the official version).

    =>”Yeah using the alleged airline bombing plot as an ill timed and rather cynical opportunity to make political capital is only the work of those at the margins of politics.”

    Irrelevant. If the people concerned are convinced that they are doing God’s work and have divine sanction for their “struggle”, then their motivations and actions have to be morally pristine and beyond reproach, along with being within the constraints of their religion’s teachings on the matter. Otherwise the entire basis for their “war” being “holy” is without foundation. I’m sure you know what the word “paakhandi” means. Either the jihadis are hypocrites or there is indeed something fundamentally wrong with their religion’s teachings in this issue (the latter is a separate argument and not appropriate for this thread).

    One has to maintain the moral high ground irrespective of what one’s perceived opponent does or what depths one perceives the other party to be resorting to. Certainly if you are going to bring God into the equation.

  79. Jai — on 14th August, 2006 at 3:38 pm  

    Zussy & Sunny,

    =>”Excellent post Jai (number 58) — that should be posted as a headline article and read by everyone.”

    =>”I’m with Jai on this one. He said exactly what I wanted to”

    Many thanks to both of you for your responses. Sunny, if you want to use post #58 as a new ‘headline article’ or would like to add it to the existing article at the top of this page, you have my permission to do so if it will be helpful. (Obviously the first paragraph involving the Simpsons analogy should be removed !).

  80. Arif — on 14th August, 2006 at 3:44 pm  

    Interesting comments. Like Kulvinder, I didn’t see the blackmail. But I can see how and why it can be interpreted that way if we make certain assumptions about the writers’ motives.

    In no way is it justifying or supporting terrorism. At worst it is taking advantage of terrorism to promote an agenda of global human rights.

    If we are accusing them of blackmail because of the timing, tone and context (as Jai suggests) this is a positive kind of emotional sensitivity of how perceptions work on our part, but also a kind of loss of intellectual clarity on what is being communicated.

    People writing open letters should learn how unwilling people are to be self-critical when they feel under attack. Campaigners for human rights must learn to remain silent if their social identities mean that whatever humane message they have will be stigmatised by people who do not like the group affiliation of the person saying it.

    Personally, such sensitivity to people’s perceptions would mean I wouldn’t preach human rights to Muslim radicals as I’d be routinely accused of being a collaborator. I also wouldn’t preach human rights to non-Muslims without being accused of fifth columnist treachery. But, I think as Jai suggests, keep learning how to do it without giving excuses for people to become defensive.

    I also like Chairwoman’s suggestion (#35), and I’m glad she puts it forward. If it were in an open letter from “moderate” Muslims, it might be seen as giving in to terrorism.

  81. El Cid — on 14th August, 2006 at 3:50 pm  

    Kulvinder, Arif
    I don’t think you appreciate the damage done by this letter.

  82. Chairwoman — on 14th August, 2006 at 3:58 pm  

    Arif – I hope that no=-one who took what I hope was a global view would be seen as giving in to terrorism. The whole point of my idea is euphamistic. It harks back to the sixties when we wanted ‘world peace’.

  83. Refresh — on 14th August, 2006 at 4:01 pm  

    Zussy, do you want to show any supporting material to back up your claim?

    Truth is quite the opposite. No denial here. Not about the terrorists nor about foreign policy.

    I am interested to see a response to this as I was thinking I was saying pretty much what Jai had said.

  84. Refresh — on 14th August, 2006 at 4:02 pm  

    For all, this topic has now become a target for giyus.org, so expect a long and tedious thread.

  85. Jai — on 14th August, 2006 at 4:17 pm  

    Arif,

    I think the Muslim MPs and groups concerned should basically have been doing both simultaneously — bringing the risk of further terrorist attacks (as a result of current foreign policy) to the Government’s attention if they think the latter genuinely aren’t listening enough, and (more pertinently) explicitly, loudly, and unequivocally condemning the jihadis within the British Muslim community.

    The two courses of action are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but at this point in time (certainly so soon after the airline bomb plot discovery) their primary focus should be on addressing the extremist elements within their community. Indeed, if they really are “community leaders” (emphasis on the “leaders”), then right now their energies should be mainly focused towards identifying actual-and-potential terrorists, bringing them to justice in conjunction with the security services and the British legal system, and rooting out the nefarious third-parties encouraging & supporting such behaviour. Simply blaming Western foreign policy is oversimplifying the issue and isn’t good enough.

    The bottom line is that a) contradicting Islamic tenets with regards to warfare whilst allegedly claiming to act in the name of Islam and b) directly targetting Western citizens for terrorist attacks should both be forcefully condemned outright by the Muslim MPs & groups, not just in the vein of pointless platitudes but in an open statement aimed directly at the wannabe jihadis within British society. If any threats should be made by them at this point in time, they should be aimed at the terrorists, not (indirectly and accidentally — yes I know that the letter wasn’t actually a threat, as I said before) towards the British Government.

    I don’t know how much difference a bunch of us bouncing around opinions on the internet is going to make in the grand scheme of things, but God I hope someone notices all this and acts on it (positively).

  86. Sunny — on 14th August, 2006 at 4:19 pm  

    I see where Arif and Kulvinder are coming from, but as El Cid says, you don’t appreciate how the letter will be received.

    We seem to be living in two parallel worlds here. One the one hand you have people who think Muslims are out to kill everyone and such terrorism should be dealt the harshest measures, with no mercy.

    On the other hand you have people who keep blaming foreign policy for all the problems (and it is clear the seeds were sown way before Afghanistan/Iraq) and don’t want to engage with others.

    Both these groups lack self-critical analysis, not just Muslim leaders. But either way, we need a middle ground where people can appreciate the problem and go about dealing with them.

    The problem with such letters is that it only panders to the audience that is receptive to it. It preaches to the converted and will make the other side be even more suspicious. It is nothing intelligent and it does nothing to further better relations between these parallel groups.

    Jai – Am just working on some articles for AIM so I’ll look at this a bit later today.

  87. Sunny — on 14th August, 2006 at 4:25 pm  

    Chairwoman – I do appreciate your idealistic response. But to be honest I think it was a bit wishy-washy. What about concrete solutions?

    Don’t take this the wrong way but in a previous thread you said you thought all Muslims were anti-semitic and wouldn’t have a problem is Jews were sent to another holocaust. I find it difficult to comprehend how you can engage in a solution if you hold such mass generalisations about Muslims.

    The way I work is this. You have to put together a bunch of like minded people who want peace and re-conciliation. At this stage there is no point engaging with the disaffected or the extremists. Once you put the core group together you can engage in dialogue and do things that illustrate what can be achieved. Basically doing good things within a control group to show they can be done, and then use that as a basis to expand activity and bring in the more fringe elements.

  88. Chairwoman — on 14th August, 2006 at 4:38 pm  

    Sunny – yes I did say that, but I also said we should put aside the past, stop apportioning blame and go from here. That means having the courage to take a step forward with people with whom you have a joint antipathy. There’s no point in negotiating with the like minded, the people one has to make agreements with are those you haven’t sat down with.

    Wishy-washy? Yeah why not? The wishy-washy are unlikely to strap on the explosives, and more likely to want a quiet life.

  89. Arif — on 14th August, 2006 at 5:13 pm  

    Jai, what you ask for is something which might have a similar effect on Muslims as this letter has had on non-Muslims. If leaders put out the kind of one-sided message against jihadis you suggest, without being equally forthright against UK foreign policy would (at best) just be seen as sell-outs – covering up massive human rights abuses and scapegoating people who commit smaller ones.

    Like Sunny says, there is a lack of middle ground. Or there seems to be one. This open letter was clumsily inching towards precisely the kind of middle ground I think we would like – human rights for all. But it is perceived to come from a sinister direction. I am sure if Tony Blair were to say “ethical foreign policy” in some of his speeches about winning Muslim hearts and minds, he would be ridiculed and rejected too by the people who should be most eager to build such a policy with him.

    Is it stupidity to ignore who and in what context someone says they want human rights and simply engage with them to achieve their goals – or is it a straw worth clutching?

    Chairwoman, I don’t think that what you suggest is wishy-washy. Saying we should talk to people who you are supposed to hate as your political enemy can be quite courageous. Actually talking to them can attract a lot more venom. So wanting a quiet life might not go hand in hand with making such agreements in the beginning. But hopefully can bring us all quieter lives in the end.

  90. El Cid — on 14th August, 2006 at 5:45 pm  

    If leaders put out the kind of one-sided message against jihadis you suggest, without being equally forthright against UK foreign policy would (at best) just be seen as sell-out

    There you go again.. making no distinction between govt and citizens… tying indiscriminate murder with foreign policy… and setting yourself apart from your neighbours.. maybe we have a lot less in common than i imagined.. think about it…

  91. Arif — on 14th August, 2006 at 5:58 pm  

    El Cid, I may tie things together in ways you do not like. And this may make you feel you have little in common with me.

    I thought I was discussing with Jai how people (mis-)read messages and when they feel defensive and ascribe hidden agendas to anyone who doesn’t share the right kind of goodie v baddie view of the world.

    It might not interest you that Muslims can also be defensive in that way, but recognising this helps me sympathise with non-Muslims who feel the same way. Otherwise couldn’t I argue that you are making a distinction between UK civilians and civilians in other countries, holding Governments to lower standards of behaviour to terrorist groups and so on etc, just because I can decide to read it into what you wrote without you having said anything of the sort.

  92. El Cid — on 14th August, 2006 at 6:16 pm  

    the right kind of goodie and baddie view of the world… what about just plain old them and us… after all, marriages of convenience seem pretty fashionable at the mo.. we have for example, the extreme left cosying up with highly respectable followers of a deeply conservative if manifestly peaceful religion but also with its most vicious and fascistic elements… it will be a sad day indeed when battle lines are drawn up so that people like me are also forced to make choices…

  93. Don — on 14th August, 2006 at 6:24 pm  

    Given that the occassion for the letter was a large scale terrorist plot, a ‘one-sided message against jihadis’ seems appropriate to me. And I’m not sure how that would be ‘scapegoating people who commit smaller (human rights abuses).

    ‘Is it stupidity to ignore who and in what context someone says they want human rights and simply engage with them to achieve their goals’

    I think it would be, if not stupid at least unwise, to ignore the context and origin of such a call before helping them to achieve ‘their’ goals. I would at least ask if the signatories have a significant record of universalism when it comes to human rights, or if ‘whenever and wherever’ is window dressing for a more selective and partisan agenda.

    If the government were to respond to the call ‘to fight against all those who target civilians with violence, whenever and wherever that happens’ by starting with, say, Sudan I very much doubt if the letter writers would applaud.

    In fact that ‘whenever and wherever’ seems less all encompassing the more I think about it. After all, who is most notably targetting civilians at the moment? The jihadis in Iraq of course, but we’re already fighting them. The Taliban of course, ditto. Numerous terrorist groups, but I’m sure the government is doing its best to fight them.

    Do the signatories really think relations with British moslems would be helped by the government taking action against the Janjaweed or The Lord’s Resistence Army, or the various Sri Lankan groups?

    So who could they possibly have in mind?

  94. Chairwoman — on 14th August, 2006 at 6:28 pm  

    Arif – sometimes this site makes me despair, whenever I read an open minded reasonable post, such as yours, there’s someone out there who wants to rubbish it.

    If this is a microcosm of the world, we’re all in for a very difficult time.

  95. Katy Newton — on 14th August, 2006 at 6:50 pm  

    In a previous thread you said you thought all Muslims were anti-semitic and wouldn’t have a problem is Jews were sent to another holocaust. I find it difficult to comprehend how you can engage in a solution if you hold such mass generalisations about Muslims.

    The Chairwoman appreciates that the only way for people to move on and find consensus is for them to overcome her fears and prejudices and try to engage with each other, and she makes no exception for herself.

    I agree with Arif that that is brave, and I do not understand why Sunny thinks that it is wishy-washy.

  96. Jai — on 14th August, 2006 at 7:10 pm  

    Arif,

    =>”what you ask for is something which might have a similar effect on Muslims as this letter has had on non-Muslims.”

    Firstly, I agree completely with Don’s main points in post #94.

    Secondly, as I mentioned before, it would have been more appropriate and certainly wiser for them to have done both simultaneously — approaching the Government with their concerns and simultaneously issuing a very strongly worded statement condemning the terrorists and warning them of the dire social & legal consequences of their actions.

    Thirdly, again it’s a matter of timing. Right now, the greater “weighting” should have been given to condemnation of the terrorists on their part.

    Forthly, if one is going to suggest that any course of action is potentially pointless and perhaps even counterproductive, then the act of giving that letter to the Government is as pointless as you suggest any similar action aimed at “the enemy within” would be. In either case, if it’s just a matter of “making a statement” on a point of principle, even if the recipients are unlikely to take much heed, then I still don’t think publicly condemning the jihadis would have been a wrong step if they had similar motivations for approaching the Government.

  97. Jai — on 14th August, 2006 at 7:49 pm  

    Arif,

    =>”what you ask for is something which might have a similar effect on Muslims as this letter has had on non-Muslims.”

    Firstly, I agree completely with Don’s points in post #94.

    Secondly, as I mentioned before, there is no reason why they could not have done both simultaneously — ie. making their concerns known to the Government whilst simultaneously issuing a very strongly worded condemnation of the terrorists and warning them of the dire social & legal consequences of their actions.

    Thirdly, at this point in time it would have been more appropriate, more sensitive (emotionally and politically) and certainly wiser to have given greater “weighting” to forcefully condemning the terrorists.

    Fourthly, if it is felt that such a move would be pointless and even counterproductive, and that the recipients would not take heed of the concerns raised, then perhaps such a statement should still have been issued as a point of principle. If the Government is deemed unlikely to take much notice of the letter they’ve just been handed, then the same logic applies to any statement targetting the terrorists/extremists. If you really want to make your concerns and objections known then you should do it anyway, even if you think the other party isn’t necessarily going to listen.

    If the British Muslim “leaders” really have the courage of their convictions and really deserve the position of authority they claim to have, then they should have the backbone and sheer guts to stand up for what is right and face any potential psychological (indeed, possibly physical) consequences their actions would elicit from the extremists.

    The true test of courage is not just standing up to those who won’t retaliate, but facing off to those who will.

    In this situation, it’s not just a verbal disagreement where both parties can grudgingly “agree to disagree”. There are serious, life-threatening, and potentially society-changing consequences of not challenging the jihadis in this country. So the “Muslim leadership” can’t afford to avoid any direct confrontation with the extremists (actual and “armchair”) out of fear of the ramifications or because they think it’ll be “pointless”.

    Otherwise, perhaps they should get out of the way and make room for Muslims here who really can step up to the plate and challenge the extremists head-on without fear.

  98. Jai — on 14th August, 2006 at 7:54 pm  

    =>”warning them of the dire social & legal consequences of their actions.”

    Clarification: Warning the terrorists, not the Government.

  99. Sunny — on 14th August, 2006 at 8:16 pm  

    Arif – sometimes this site makes me despair, whenever I read an open minded reasonable post, such as yours, there’s someone out there who wants to rubbish it.

    If this is a microcosm of the world, we’re all in for a very difficult time.

    Chairwoman – You have years and years of experience over me. But I feel have the advantage of optimism over you. Or maybe its youthful idealism. I do see positive ways forward.

    But that means talking or carefully listening to people you don’t want to. I’m not saying sympathising with them but listening to them. I’ve said this previously plenty of times here – a lot of people simply create categories whereby on one hand you have ‘murdering Islamist fanatics’ and on the other you have ‘freedom loving people’. These are facile comparisons, not least because that is exactly how the terrorists put people into loose categories.

    The other point is that people trust governments more than they trust individual organisations. So the US or Israeli govt is autotmatically a goody because of their position and NGOs (whether they be the murdering kind or not) are dangerous. This doesn’t work mainly because for many people in the East and South, NGOs play a bigger role than govt do, and usually have more credibility. Hamas and Hizbullah are unfortunately part of this equation. They are seen as legitimate because the traditional organisations – the Lebanese govt and PA – are made ineffectual.

    So I guess my point is that while I appreciate your sentiments, they are very vague. You have to deconstruct some of your closely held beliefs, as Muslims have to do, in order to reach a middle ground. Otherwise we have plenty of sentiments but no actual middle ground.

    I don’t know if I’ve made this any clearer, sorry. To summarise – if you can provide examples of what you think is the middle ground, we can have a more solid debate.

  100. Katy Newton — on 14th August, 2006 at 8:26 pm  

    But Sunny, it was the Chairwoman who said that we had to approach people who we saw as our enemies and find common ground with them, and you who said that she was being wishy washy and that the solution was to find like minded people and form a group with them.

  101. mirax — on 14th August, 2006 at 8:34 pm  

    Hamas and Hezbollah as NGO’s, Sunny?!? Facile comparisons or what?

  102. Katy Newton — on 14th August, 2006 at 8:41 pm  

    I thought Hamas was a democratically elected government?

  103. Sunny — on 14th August, 2006 at 8:49 pm  

    But Sunny, it was the Chairwoman who said that we had to approach people who we saw as our enemies and find common ground with them, and you who said that she was being wishy washy and that the solution was to find like minded people and form a group with them.

    Katy, that I agree with. But the sentiment alone is not good enough. We need steps for action.

    I thought Hamas was a democratically elected government?

    I’m not sure who takes that seriously. Israel certainly doesn’t since it rounded up and imprisoned most of the Palestinian territories govt ministers before the war with Lebanon started. The US doesn’t take them seriously either. When Abbas was trying to sideline Hamas or get them to accept Israel’s existence – he was sidelined by everyone.

  104. Katy Newton — on 14th August, 2006 at 9:15 pm  

    Eh?

    I’m not sure who takes that seriously. Israel certainly doesn’t since it rounded up and imprisoned most of the Palestinian territories govt ministers before the war with Lebanon started. The US doesn’t take them seriously either.

    What are you lecturing me for? You’re the one who can’t tell the difference between an NGO and a democratically elected government.

  105. Sunny — on 14th August, 2006 at 9:48 pm  

    Sorry, my point was that everyone still treats Hamas as an NGO… while Hizbullah keeps getting conflated with Al-Qaeda. My head hurts..

  106. thabet — on 14th August, 2006 at 10:00 pm  

    It is worth noting that this letter, which some idiots have seized upon as a sign of ‘Islamist threats’, does not say necessarily anything new. I’d agree the letter was poorly timed and badly worded. Jai’s idea (#58) was a good one: they should also write a letter to would-be terrorists who think blowing people up will help their brothers and sisters.

    However, similar conclusions between foreign policy and extremism were reached by a Home Office and Foreign Office report leaked last year to The Sunday Times, and numerous opinion polls suggest many Britons think their is some a strong link between Iraq and the London bombings.

  107. thabet — on 14th August, 2006 at 10:03 pm  

    Also, on the Hezbollah question; not all Muslims (or at least some Muslim bloggers I’ve been reading) do not support HA for religious as well as political reasons.

  108. BevanKieran — on 14th August, 2006 at 11:34 pm  

    Tiff between Oliver Kamm and Asghar Bukari of MPACuk.

    http://news.sky.com/skynews/video/videoplayer/0,,31200-debate_140806,00.html

    Asghar translates the tone of the MPAC website,
    which provide a sober and illuminating perspective on the Israel-Palestine conflict into the debating arena.

    Agree very much with Don’s post 94. The most ideal foreign policy, treating all lives as equal, would have lead us to something about the calamities which continue in Darfur and the Congo.

  109. El Cid — on 15th August, 2006 at 10:41 am  

    thabet, for someone fond of disapraging others as idiots, I don’t think you get it either.
    It’s not enough to say that it is badly worded and poorly timed….
    Should we be grateful that the letter would not have been published if the alleged plot had succeeded?

  110. sonia — on 15th August, 2006 at 1:45 pm  

    what i have to say: ( ignoring the ‘muslim’-y’ aspect and just going on my anti-war feelings:

    in suggesting that by killing fewer people or trying to kill no people we invite less retribution isn’t blackmail, stupidity or ‘giving into Terrorists’ its just plain COMMON sense. which is the sort of thing we all apply in our own lives – presumably we all know if we try to get into fewer fights, we might have to worry less about being fought back. THAT of course, once understood, doesn’t mean one is immune to violence. But – however – it is still common sense.

    All this nonsense bleating about’ooh we can’t change our foreign policy to suit terrorists’ is bull – who put it like that anyway? Terrorists or no fu**ing terrorists We jolly well ought to be sorting ‘Foreign Policy’ out so we’re not a bunch of murderers ourselves. Some people may not agree with that but that’s their call. I personally don’t want to go and kill someone – their family might come and kill me back! Saying i don’t want to kill someone so i don’t run the risk of future violence isn’t blackmail – it’s looking out for your own skin. This is what the entire Anti-War lobby pretty much said before the war, and i still stand by it.

    I don’t care what the MPs said or didn’t say – no one should be stupid enough to think that if any one wants to be pacifist, they don’t have the right to demand the wider group take on those concerns. i of course wouldn’t do it under a specific ‘Muslim’ umbrella or something – that’s silly because it seems to imply that it’s not a more general issue that everyone should be thinking about.

    Really.

  111. El Cid — on 15th August, 2006 at 1:53 pm  

    how very christian of you

  112. Sunny — on 15th August, 2006 at 1:59 pm  

    El Cid – To a certain extent the letter is a bit of a straw man. The MCB and other organisations are rapidly losing credibility amongst Muslims, so my feeling is that they published it in order to say – ‘see, look, we are not government lackeys’ to their support base.

  113. El Cid — on 15th August, 2006 at 2:05 pm  

    I did sort of say that at #55
    Anyway, it’s the 3 MPs that get my goat.
    We’ll leave it there; I think everyone has said their piece

  114. Leon — on 15th August, 2006 at 2:05 pm  

    To a certain extent the letter is a bit of a straw man. The MCB and other organisations are rapidly losing credibility amongst Muslims, so my feeling is that they published it in order to say – ’see, look, we are not government lackeys’ to their support base.

    Reading over that letter and the responses I think you’re onto something with that. I wonder how long ago this letter was planned?

    Interesting that these MPs have come out with this too. I reckon they might regret being so emboldened by a perceived lack of support for Blair and his support for Israel.

    All in all it smacks of rather desperate and amatuer political move if you ask me…

  115. Don — on 15th August, 2006 at 2:53 pm  

    I agree with Sunny and Leon that this letter is more self-serving than a principled stand and brings nothing new to the table.

    And Sonia is right that presenting it ‘under a specific ‘Muslim’ umbrella or something – that’s silly because it seems to imply that it’s not a more general issue that everyone should be thinking about.’

    Mirax made the same point in her excellent #63, citing Halliday ‘ It involves seeing membership of a particular community, or claims of affinity, ethnicity or religious association with others, as conveying particular rights (or particular moral clarity) on those making such claims.’

    There are many good reasons to criticise aspects of foreign policy, saying that it angers a particular self-identifying group is not one of them. If a policy is wrong, it is wrong, whether a specific group is angered or delighted.

  116. Arif — on 15th August, 2006 at 3:43 pm  

    Jai (#97), to respond to your points to me

    1. I agree with Don’s point that it is worth challenging people to be consistent, but not to assume they are inconsistent or never will be consistent. He implies he believes that the signatories don’t care about massive human rights abuses by Muslims. And I think this assumption underlies a lot of hostility to the letter.

    2. I agree both a letter to the Government and to terrorist can be published simultaneously.

    3. However you want a particular form of words and tone in that letter as well. It sounds like you think it would be wiser primarily because it would create less of a backlash from non-Muslims, not because you believe this would be effective at dissuading potential terrorists.

    4. If such a letter were to be published as a point of principle, in my opinion, a second letter with substantially the same tone and content as the first would be the most consistent kind to write, but I assume would still make people angry, hence be unwise from a backlash point of view.

    You seem to believe that these Muslim groups never have and never will make statements against terrorism and therefore have no guts. I believe these groups probably have made such statements. Perhaps they do not seek out confrontation as much as you would like – I assume some might and some might not because there are different strategies and agendas.

    I think this may the source of our different reactions. My assumption is that these groups are opposed to Al-Qaeda type terrorists both ideologically and structurally – they are competitors for Muslim affiliations, with this letter writing posse clearly aligning itself with the British Government in order to marginalise the group. Your assumption is that as Muslims they are likely to have sympathy with al Qaeda or other terrorist groups unless they loudly prove they do not.

    Perhaps people who are upset for these reasons can take solace that despite British foreign policy, the writers seem to believe the UK Government are their allies. Despite Al Qaeda rhetoric, the writers seem to see them as politically and not religiously inspired, hence nothing to do with Islam as a religion as they understand it.

  117. El Cid — on 15th August, 2006 at 4:34 pm  

    Your assumption is that as Muslims they are likely to have sympathy with al Qaeda or other terrorist groups unless they loudly prove they do not.

    ..I never thought that for one second before this letter.. and even now I would not assume it… but if you are going to set yourself apart from me, then dont be surprised if i see you in a different light and focus on protecting my interests, rather than our interests

  118. Arif — on 15th August, 2006 at 4:41 pm  

    El Cid, I don’t want to set myself apart from you. Please make it clearer to me how I have done this.

  119. El Cid — on 15th August, 2006 at 4:49 pm  

    we catch the same buses, use the same tubes, our children play in the same parks, go to the same cinemas, live in the same streets, hold the same passports.. it’s quite simple really

  120. Don — on 15th August, 2006 at 4:49 pm  

    Arif,

    ‘He implies he believes that the signatories don’t care about massive human rights abuses by Muslims.’

    That’s a fair interpretation of what I said, although more precisely I meant that they don’t care to raise it as an issue. as far as I can tell ( I did a brief check on their speaking records in the House and can find no reference to any of the three raising an issue of human rights abuse unless it was directed at moslems by non-moslems, but if I’m wrong I’ll happily apologise ).I am wary of their particularness when it comes to abuses and I strongly suspect that ‘whenever and wherever’ is more or less a code for ‘Israel’.

  121. Arif — on 15th August, 2006 at 5:07 pm  

    Sorry El Cid, I think you mis-read what I wrote – how am I setting myself *apart* from you?

    Don, I think that is fair to check and hold people to account for what they say like that. And I think we should put pressure on them. A better response from the Government might have been to ask the signatories for support in setting up a tribunal to try war criminals in the Sudan and a sanctions policy on Saudi Arabia as an example which can be used more widely to show how the Government values the lives of civilians of all religions in the Muslim world and beyond.

  122. El Cid — on 15th August, 2006 at 5:24 pm  

    I’m talking about the letter because it justifies — inadvertently, probably — intentional mass murder of the innoncent, and will be seen as such by those who might wish to kill me, my family, and neighbours in order to further their cause.
    At worst it is taking advantage of terrorism to promote an agenda of global human rights.
    At best you mean, which might itself be laudable except for the fact that linking violent extremism at home with policy abroad could trash the agenda still further. The cynical might even point out that it also encourages the promotion of a non-violent al-qaeda wing. For a laugh, I will call it Pin Blame

  123. Arif — on 15th August, 2006 at 5:49 pm  

    I am sure the letters’ signatories believe they are seeking to undermine and not justify intentional mass murder. From other contributors here, it seems they detect the justification in the tone, timing and omissions of the letter rather than the words it actually contains.

    Your view is slightly different, that linking violent extremism to foreign policy at all justifies that violent extremism (and from your last comment, nonviolent extremism). I’m not clear how this works.

    Is this because opposition to UK foreign policy is in itself extremist, or because drawing attention to the shortcomings of UK foreign policy makes people more extremist, or because criticism of the UK Government is support for terrorism or because the issue should be seen as one of criminality rather than politics, or because of some other reasons or a combination of reasons?

    (PS I am not being facetious, but probably am just a bit dim for not getting what you are saying, so please don’t take the questions the wrong way)

  124. Jai — on 15th August, 2006 at 5:54 pm  

    Arif,

    It looks like you may be inadvertantly making some assumptions about my own viewpoint on this matter, which I should clarify as follows:

    =>”However you want a particular form of words and tone in that letter as well. It sounds like you think it would be wiser primarily because it would create less of a backlash from non-Muslims, not because you believe this would be effective at dissuading potential terrorists.”

    Not quite. I think the very act itself of a letter condemning the terrorists (regardless of the “tone”) would have been “wiser” at this point in time. Whether it would have been effective or not in dissuading the jihadis is possibly a different matter.

    =>”but I assume would still make people angry, hence be unwise from a backlash point of view.”

    That’s the whole point. Backlash from whom ? Exactly what kind of British Muslims would be “angry” at a public statement issued by Muslim “leaders” condemning jihadis ? What justification would they have to be “angry” about this ?

    =>”You seem to believe that these Muslim groups never have and never will make statements against terrorism and therefore have no guts.”

    No. I think these Muslim groups should have the guts to make statements against the jihadis and simultaneously take concrete steps to root out the people concerned right now. It’s not about what they did in the past or what they may do in the future — the present is of primary, indeed, critical importance.

    =>”Your assumption is that as Muslims they are likely to have sympathy with al Qaeda or other terrorist groups unless they loudly prove they do not.”

    I never base any opinions on “assumptions”. My basic point is that if they are going to loudly object to current Western foreign policy, they should also loudly object to the actions and aims of the jihadis within British society. Very loudly indeed, considering the problem is a) within the community they claim to represent and b) very close to home, since the problematic individuals are currently present within this country.

    There are, of course, large numbers of non-Muslim British people who will (mis)interpret their actions and loyalties in exactly the manner that you have stated in your post. Which is why, again, the letter is very badly timed, and it tallies with Sunny’s previous point about how this will be (mis)interpreted as an “alien” fifth column living within this country.

    Just think about it. There’s a massive alleged terrorist plot, predominantly involving British Muslims, which has been uncovered and was aimed at killing thousands of British and American civilians on a scale which was potentially greater than 9/11. This had been very recently preceded by some disturbing surveys indicating that there are large numbers of British Muslims who sympathise with jihadis, or at least their motivations, have major objections to some of the basic aspects of British life, and so on.

    And instead of jumping all over the jihadis and forcefully condemning them, the Muslim MPs and organisations pick this time to condemn the British Government instead and try to ascribe at least part of the blame to them. The continuous caveats about Iraq etc making people “angry” and “explaining” their jihadi aspirations just inflames everything even further.

    It’s not necessarily what they said which was the main problem — it’s the time they decided to say it and the perceived silence on their part with regards to aggressively damning the terrorists and promising to assist in hunting them down.

    There is a proper time and place for everything.

  125. Refresh — on 15th August, 2006 at 6:11 pm  

    It is purely timing. And method.

    Poor politics to hand a stick to your enemies.

  126. Arif — on 15th August, 2006 at 6:27 pm  

    Hello Jai, thanks for the points.

    I take it from the first points that you suggest a letter condemning terrorist would be wise primarily to reassure or gain legitimacy among non-Muslims, since it is important regrdless on impact on potential terrorists.

    The backlash I was referring to (in response 4 #117), was a backlash from non-Muslims to a letter which was so respectful in tone towards potential terrorists as this letter is towards the UK Government.

    On the concrete steps such people should take – beyond writing the letter what do you want them to do – they already preach and argue, and the MCB at least regularly calls on Muslims to co-operate fully with the police, but do you mean they should set up a police force of their own? Or something else?

    I agree completely that Muslims – whether leaders or representatives or just individuals – should focus on fellow Muslims and all the supremacist and violent ideologies closest to home. I don’t think that is an issue between us. But the ways to do it effectively probably is. That should not be a big problem between us, since there are many paths people can take to the same goal.

    On the timing issue and the appropriateness, I understand your perspective, and media operators should probably be aware if this is the most widely shared perspective – so yes, they have been counter-productive.

    There are other perspectives in terms of the timing (I mention this as an example perspective El Cid, I am not justifying terrorism)- with wars following wars abroad, most recently an invasion of Lebanon where the British Govt etc, and then there is a thwarted major attempt at terrorism in the UK (no one is hurt – it is thwarted, so domestic intelligence is fine and there is no criticism to be made of its ineffectiveness), so we should feel it is important enough and it would only make us safer to politely discuss ways to stop young people getting such evil ideas in the first place. But instead of taking up this attempt to make a human rights based alliance, it is reacted to with anger making it clear that only British human rights matter and Muslims who care about human rights of people outside Britain are seen as justifying terrorism. Resulting impression: there is no middle ground. If you care for human rights both here and abroad, you have an unacceptable emotional structure for non-Muslims at moment in time and prove to them you are an enemy within.

    This is just a perspective, If it were mine, I wouldn’t expect others to share such a perspective and would try not to get angry with people who don’t. But maybe that is a personal ideosyncrasy.

  127. Jai — on 15th August, 2006 at 9:47 pm  

    Hello Arif,

    =>”I take it from the first points that you suggest a letter condemning terrorist would be wise primarily to reassure or gain legitimacy among non-Muslims, since it is important regrdless on impact on potential terrorists.”

    Not exactly. Morally, such a letter would be the right thing to do based on the logic behind their letter to the Government. Regardless of whether it’s a “letter” or some kind of public proclamation (or anything else), it’s a matter of making a very public stand on the matter and ensuring that the jihadis are sent the message loud and clear. Any reassurance or legimitacy gained amongst non-Muslims is just a positive by-product.

    However, as I mentioned before, at this particular point in time, it would have been a more appropriate (and less self-destructive) move for them to have either refrained from giving that letter to the Government at all, or — if they really felt that was something necessary right now — for them to have simultaneously issued the statement targetting the jihadis.

    As matters currently stand, I see a marked lack of “emotional intelligence”, political astuteness, social awareness and (to some extent) self-awareness across many of the Muslim leadership right across the board. The blunder regarding the letter is a prime example of this, as is the request for Muslim public holidays (as mentioned by Jagdeep on one of the other threads here on PP). It’s basically a matter of “right requests/concerns, wrong timing”.

    =>”The backlash I was referring to (in response 4 #117), was a backlash from non-Muslims to a letter which was so respectful in tone towards potential terrorists as this letter is towards the UK Government.”

    The letter to the Government is not perceived by many non-Muslims as being “respectful in tone”, but as implictly threatening, inadvertantly supportive (or at least “understanding”) towards the jihadis, and emotionally-blackmailing in nature. Trust me, perceiving it as “respectful” is very far indeed from the minds of many people in this country, rightly or wrongly.

    =>”On the concrete steps such people should take – beyond writing the letter what do you want them to do”

    1. Ensure that any jihadis or “armchair sympathisers” are made totally aware that the Muslim leadership does not support them even a fraction, that they are regarded as contravening Islam, and that they will be identified and their details given to the security services for prosecution as appropriate.

    2. De-couple the jihadi threat from any grievances the Muslim leadership may have about UK foreign policy. If the jihadis claim to be acting due to “anger” about the latter, and the Muslim leadership is simultaneously raising questions about the latter over and over again, then the “leaders” will end up being accused of being guilty-by-association.

    3. Following on from this, the Muslim leadership should not even mention “anger about Iraq etc” in the same breath as the jihadi threat. Their priority in this regard should be condemning the terrorists, disavowing any sympathy for them whatsoever, and refrain from any further “Yes, but….” caveats attempting to explain the homegrown jihadis’ motivations. There should just be straightforward, unequivocal, outright condemnations of the terrorists in both moral, religious, and legal terms.

    What is perceived to be happening, from the viewpoint of the wider population, is a pathological need to justify/rationalise the jihadis’ aims and motivations by the constant use of “extenuating circumstances” w.r.t Iraq etc.

    As an example, I’ll give you a very easy analogy, drawn from Sikh history (since that’s my own religious affiliation):

    Right method: “Banda Singh Bahadur was completely wrong, morally and religiously, in attacking & destroying the town of Sirhind after Guru Gobind Singh’s death. His actions were completely in contravention of Sikh principles and the religious tenets regarding justifiable warfare, and he betrayed Guru Gobind Singh’s legacy on the matter.”

    Wrong method: “Banda Singh Bahadur was completely wrong, morally and religiously, in attacking & destroying the town of Sirhind after Guru Gobind Singh’s death. His actions were completely in contravention of Sikh principles and the religious tenets regarding justifiable warfare, and he betrayed Guru Gobind Singh’s legacy on the matter…..but you have to understand the Khalsa’s grievances, as the Wazir of Sirhind had killed the Guru’s two pre-adolescent sons for refusing to convert to Islam, and the Guru’s mother subsequently died of shock, and Guru Gobind Singh had just been assassinated, and 2 previous Sikh Gurus had been tortured and killed by the Mughal authorities on religious grounds, including Guru Gobind Singh’s own father, and the Sikhs had suffered so much for so long, and they were angry and hurt about all of this and at the trauma Guru Gobind Singh had gone through in recent years, and yes I know this was all against Sikh religious teachings but we sympathise with how people can act if they are aggrieved enough and feel powerless, even though we do not condone their actions, and blah blah blah…..”

    You see the difference ? It’s very simple.

    =>”it is reacted to with anger making it clear that only British human rights matter and Muslims who care about human rights of people outside Britain are seen as justifying terrorism.”

    It’s because the Muslims concerned are regarded as placing their concerns about their co-religionists abroad above their supposed concerns about their fellow British citizens (of all faiths) right here at home. That’s the main problem. It’s all about priorities (actual and perceived).

    If they’re seen as making a louder noise about the Governments military actions abroad, and much more frequently, compared to condemnations of wannabe jihadis here and the steps they are perceived to be taking in order to nullify the jihadis, then that’s a major source of the problem. They should of course be making the latter their prime focus, because it’s the right thing to do, not just to “reassure” other parties.

    This doesn’t mean that concerns about foreign policy shouldn’t be raised either, of course, but at this particular point in time it should be a secondary issue, even though it is certainly an important one.

    It’s not right to focus predominantly on what’s happening to one’s cousin across the street if one isn’t simultaneously, and first & foremost, focused on tackling the murderer living in one’s own house.

  128. El Cid — on 16th August, 2006 at 8:52 am  

    Arif,
    I’m not logged on all the time because I’m in the middle of a big house move and this a quicky from work.
    However, I suggest you trawl back through previous posts to get a flavour of the kind of beliefs I hold. It might provide you with a bit of context regarding my general views and might give you a diff perspective on my reaction.
    I think Mirax stripped it bare reasonably well

  129. Arif — on 16th August, 2006 at 1:08 pm  

    El Cid – if I get time, I’ll take a look, but just want to assure you I don’t doubt your good faith and consistency.

    Jai – Thanks for making the effort to make your perspective much clearer to me. I think I understand it much more sympathetically now, although there remains a basic difference in our temperaments which means I cannot share your perspective. I would like to think, though, that we merely support different strategies and use different tactics to reach the same goals.

    I agree that it is important to be principled. I understand much better now how unskilful the letter is in terms of timing, subject matter and tone in the context of the identities of the writers and the wider political atmosphere.

    Whatever other people think, however, I see the letter as respectful from my perspective. And I don’t want to contribute to a political atmosphere which condemns it. I would, however, like such supposed representatives to be more politically skilled so they are not perceived to be disrespectful and don’t make counter-productive statements.

    On what you would like these representatives to do. I think I would go along with 1. I think 2 and 3 are counter-productive, undermining the standing of those representatives among those they are claiming to represent, so making them less capable of opposing terrorism which comes under a Muslim guise. They can choose to be unskilful and counter-productive, as you feel they have been with the letter you condemn. And they might justify it as being principled.

    I believe it would come across even to me as condemning terrorists not because terrorism is wrong, but condemning them because they are Muslim, or because they are opposing oppression, or at best as a careerist move to gain legitimacy among non-Muslims. Unless they show that they are condemning political violence in what I would perceive to be a principled way (ie including political violence of all kinds, with the same ferocity), their message would have no relevance to me.

    This is where I think it is a matter of temperament. I don’t think either of our perspectives are morally superior, but that we are surrounded in different political atmospheres which condition our reactions, and we have different strategies in opposing terrorism.

    The examples you give above of right and wrong methods are reversed for me. The second method seemed much more suited to my temperament as it helpd me to understand the actions much better. The first method then came to seem to me as manipulative and deceitful by omission.

    The perception that Muslims put the interests of co-religionists abroad above the concerns of people here is an important consideration. I don’t want to justify privileging anyone over anyone else in principle, but I do believe that as a matter of integrity I should focus on on creating harmony with people who I have contact with, more than preaching to people elsewhere.

    I can see that in a politically fraught atmosphere, anyone (Muslim or not) with unfashionably wide moral concerns, will be considered treacherous, even if they only act with goodwill towards their neighbours. How people are regarded may not be accurate or morally relevant. And in this case I think how the writers are despised by others reflects on their political incompetence – not their morality or honesty. I think whether they were paragons of virtue or vice would make no difference to the perception of the letter. And I regret that, but believe they should consider the need for harmony with others and so ought not to have published it.

    What it is right to focus on, when and how is not something we can lay down, I’d say. It is something we negotiate, through working out what our concerns are, what other peoples’ concerns are and how we might help each other with those concerns. Just because my concerns are different from yours does not make me insensitive to yours. Just because my temperament reacts better to understanding others than condemning them, it doesn’t mean I don’t share your concerns.

    Funnily enough I wrote an article for PP on how we understand and condemn before this article came up. It uses terrorist violence as its example, as I didn’t realise how angered people would be by such a discussion here. But it may be that Sunny’s greater sensitivity about how badly it would be received has held it back and saved me from scorn.

  130. John C — on 16th August, 2006 at 4:52 pm  

    All of my life I’ve second guessed the feelings of other’s and held back from fully expressing my opinion as not to offfend and it has brought me and “them” exactly nothing! If people are going to be upset by me telling them the blunt truth, then should I resort to telling them a lie in an vain effort in making them feel better? That would be infantile in the extreme. Having and holding a grown up debate should not be dependent on saving face or other social niceties. It should be by contrast an exploration of the truth, the whole truth and the sad fact remains that my truth can be vastly different from your truth. This does not and must not negate the exercise of the exploration. Yet there are some on this forum who believe that sticking your head in the sand in a valid means of moving the debate forward.

    The MCB’ s open letter to the government should be seen in exactly that light. The premise of the letter wasn’t exactly rocket science….If you put your hand in a fire, expect to get burnt. Common sense, which have also been previously expressed by members of our own security forces. Neither should we be suprised about the motives behind the letter. The street cred of the MBC isn’t exactly high at the moment and this was their attempt at putting some clear blue water between them and the Blair Adminstration. This is a political reality of living within a democrasy. Get over it and move on! Going about your whole cultural life catering for the self perception of others does no one any favours, neither does preaching to the already converted.

    As for writng a letter to our potential home grown terrorists warning them about the consequences of their actions, this is an exercise in futility if ever I heard one. A million people marching on the streets of London didn’t stop Blair (or Bush) from underming one of the most basic tenets of the Christian faith. “Thou shalt not kill.” In this respect Blair, Bush and the terrorist are but different sides of the same coin. Neither have a respect for human life.

    To the Old Pickler who wrote on post 57: “John C – are British Muslims, some of whom are white – British or not? If they are, they should use the democratic process, denied to them in Muslim countries, to influence government policy. If they are not British, or if they put loyalty to other Muslims first, they should get the flip out of this country – we don’t want them.”

    My response to your infantile rant a is simple one, old boy. Muslims are human too! And they did along with others use the democratic process, but the process failed them and this country in preventing an needless and illegal war. If you are looking to repatriate all those who would fail your cricket test (by which I am one, I support the West Indies), then you had better get yourself a very big boat.

    And to Soro who wrote on post 59: “John C makes my point for me. He says nothing about the details of injustice, or what the alternatives to it are. I rather doubt they are things he remotely understands, or cares about enough to study with the goal of understanding as opposed to self-validation.

    What he focuses on is the rejection, on the four bedroomed house, the flash car. Those are things he that he sees as morally compromised, as signs of the soft civilian sheep, not the manly Warrior. They are Temptation, and the fact that they are on offer is proof they must be turned down.

    The last time working class people from the suburbs of Northern towns went on a great crusade for excitement, adventure, dignity, with the goal of making the world a better place by the application of religious moral virtue backed up by explosives, Britain ended up with an Empire.

    This is no different, and will no doubt end similarly badly.”

    Soru…..Stop taking the drugs. Drugs will mash you up. Either that or a quick re-visit to my original post may well do the trick because for the life of me, I don’t know what you are on about? But I will say this, if you mean “rejection” as a means of turning a blind eye to evil and wrong doing, then I plead guilty and that’s coming from someone who is a northener, working class, home owner who drives an LPG 4×4.

  131. Jai — on 16th August, 2006 at 7:16 pm  

    Arif,

    My thanks to you too for taking the time out to write such an extensive post – much appreciated.

    =>”I think 2 and 3 are counter-productive, undermining the standing of those representatives among those they are claiming to represent, so making them less capable of opposing terrorism which comes under a Muslim guise.”

    It may be worthwhile to consider how badly this reflects on the Muslims those people represent from the perspective of the rest of the world, if decoupling the jihadi problem from the issue of Iraq would elicit such a negative reaction from “ordinary” Muslims. Some wannabe jihadis are motivated by “anger” about Western foreign policy. Fine, I think everyone knows that by now. However, simply taking a stance stating that, no matter what Western governments do, there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for attacking other Western civilians (and that it is hypocritical in the context of Islamic guidelines for warfare) should not be such a loaded matter. Why any Muslim community leaders would even want to be associated with, let alone represent, people who think that exceeding the boundaries of Islam in such circumstances and committing such atrocities is excusable, just because they happen to theoretically share the same religious affiliation, is completely beyond me.

    Or perhaps people should just be honest and state clearly that they think killing civilians in the name of Islam is permissible if one finds sufficient reasons to do so, and sufficient loopholes within the teachings of the faith. At least come clean about it.

    =>”I believe it would come across even to me as condemning terrorists not because terrorism is wrong, but condemning them because they are Muslim,”

    I’m not sure how Muslim community leaders condemning terrorists because a) terrorism is morally wrong and b) against the tenets of Islam, could be interpreted by anyone as a condemnation of such people purely because they are Muslim. Okay, I’ll rephrase that: Some Muslims may be unduly paranoid about the community leaders’ motivations and suspect them of being nefarious, as you summarised. However, the point is that the leaders have an added responsibility to address and counteract the extremist elements within their community, if they really are serious about being “community leaders”. An analogy would be a father’s responsibility to tackle his son if the latter is, for example, maliciously harassing the innocent family down the street. If the son is an adult, the father certainly doesn’t bear complete responsibility for his son’s actions, but it’s his job to do his best to stop his wayward son from continuing to persecute people outside the family, and certainly to not make excuses for his son’s behaviour.

    =>” Just because my temperament reacts better to understanding others than condemning them,”

    If you’re referring to me personally rather than making a generic statement then it’s not quite accurate. There is some evidence of my personality in my limited participation on PP to date, but Sunny and Rohin could probably fill you in with a more accurate picture based on my extensive, long-term, and more wide-ranging commenting on Sepia Mutiny (since they both lurk there). You’ll get a partial idea from PP but one would need to also read my posts on SM in order to really be able to gain a true picture of what my personality and “temperament” are actually like.

    There is a time and a place for understanding others. Indeed, “root cause analysis” should always be undertaken, as and when appropriate and as far as possible. However, there are certain situations where taking a firm stand and defending innocent third-parties need to be at the forefront of one’s actions, even though one should simultaneously also be trying to figure out where the other party is coming from. I certainly don’t think everything in life is black and white (most things are not), but some situations are, and some scenarios are morally wrong without any question. Rape is one example. Paedophilia is another. Regardless of whatever “extenuating circumstances” have motivated the aggressor’s actions. And the mass murder of innocent civilians, especially on alleged religious grounds, is also abhorrent, morally wrong, religiously unjustifiable, and to be condemned and fought without hesitation.

    One’s sympathies and attempts at understanding in such situations should primarily be with the (intended) victims, not with the aggressors, even though the latter should not be hated and their common humanity with oneself should also always be remembered. Nevertheless, any actions (physical or psychological) one undertakes in order to intervene in these situations should be in order to defend the innocent targets and hopefully mitigate the risk of them being hurt again in future, not out of a sadistic anger/revenge-based desire to disproportionately hurt the aggressor. It’s a matter of priorities and a matter of perhaps adjusting one’s perspective.

    Hopefully you can now understand why the perceived bias in “understanding” towards the jihadis rather than the (intended) victims is creating such a negative response in the wider population. It gives the impression of the sympathies and energies of many Muslims being focused more towards the jihadis, just because they happen to share the same religion, instead of the ordinary citizens (of all backgrounds) who are the targets. The entire “Yes, but…..” caveat just makes matters even worse, because at the very least it essentially infantilises the jihadis and their armchair supporters and suggests that the people concerned are just looking for an excuse to “slip” from normal, universal civilised standards pertaining to ethical conduct and are using various societal & political factors are reasons to absolve themselves of full responsibility for their actions and even shift some of the blame to the victims. At worst it also implies that “ordinary” Muslims who fall into jihadi tendencies have such major psychiatric/behavioural problems, with a consequent lack of maturity and mental self-discipline, that their lack emotional self-control over their “anger” (itself a form of temporary insanity, as any medical professional with expertise in neuroscience would tell you) spirals into an uncontrollable need to kill large numbers of fellow Westerners.

    The perceived tendency to over-react to supposed crimes against Muslims and “under-react” to any misdemeanours by fellow Muslims doesn’t help matters either. The wildly differing reaction amongst Muslims worldwide to 9/11 & 7/7 compared to those Danish cartoons are prime examples. Apparently publishing those idiotic cartoons was a worse crime than OBL killing thousands of civilians in the name of Islam. We can appreciate certain complicating factors for Muslims living overseas in oppressive Islamic regimes (which would prevent or encourage such protests depending on the scenario), but this doesn’t apply to Muslims living in the West. Slightly off-topic, but still relevant in order to help you see the big picture.

    Anyway, I sincerely hope you are correct about the motivations of the Muslim “leaders” not being corrupt. Either way, a more cynical person would say that there is “too much chalaaki and not enough hoshiyaari”. If they want to miscalculate repeatedly, with sincere intentions and on genuine high-minded principles, but using the wrong methods and at the wrong time, then fine, that’s their prerogative. Perhaps British Muslims should find more competent community leaders with greater intellectual horsepower, greater emotional insight, and greater common sense. If not, then they will unfortunately have to reap the inevitable whirlwind, considering that large sections of the rest of the British population is now moving beyond irritation and veering into becoming infuriated, as indicated by multiple reports involving the media and political sources.

    Even more unfortunately, the rest of us – meaning non-Muslim Asians – will also have to face the consequences too, given the tendency for people to still use the terms “Asian” and “Muslim” interchangeably and the consequent mistaken identity which is causing us all to be dragged into this quagmire. The rest of us have no wish to be collateral damage in what is happening – and neither do innocent Muslims, of course – so it is absolutely critical that British Muslims, especially the community leaders, do some hard, honest thinking and self-analysis on this matter and take concrete steps to solve the problem as best as they can (or find/elect Muslims amongst them who are competent enough to do the job properly).

    Otherwise the whirlwind will have to be reaped by all of us.

  132. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 16th August, 2006 at 7:29 pm  

    Here, here.

    TFI

  133. Don — on 16th August, 2006 at 7:53 pm  

    Jai,

    Shahid Malik, at least, seems to have made a positive move. Much as you were urging, would you say?

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1072-2312886,00.html

  134. Jai — on 17th August, 2006 at 12:14 pm  

    Hello Don,

    Thank you very much for the link from The Times – very interesting reading. Shahid Malik is definitely on the right lines (although the usual references to Kashmir, Palestine etc were inappropriate – which ties into my earlier point about the need to focus on the core issue without the pathological desire to drag other complicating matters into the mix) and I think he’s certainly got guts. The comments posted after the main article were also excellent.

    From a personal perspective, however, I think that this conundrum would be also better served by greater (significantly greater) intervention and leadership from Muslim religious figures. Since the basic problem has its roots in religion (or at least people’s interpretation of their faith), it needs a religion-focused answer – not in terms of necessarily tampering with the Quran etc, but with regards to who has primary responsibility for tackling the problem within the general Muslim population. Imams here in the UK (and ideally globally) need to take control of the matter and lead from the front, as it were, in terms of targeting the wannabe jihadis and ensuring that, in both the private and public spheres, the exact reasons why the terrorists’/extremists’ (mis)interpretation of Islam is so wrong, and the dire consequences for such abhorrent actions in the Afterlife (according to the Islamic teachings on the subject), are proclaimed firmly, loudly, clearly, and repeatedly until the message gets through to the extremists. Not just in mosques, but direct intervention within the Muslim community and with a much higher public profile in the national media.

    The latter in particular shouldn’t just be left in the hands of MPs and “community leaders”/various Muslim organisations; religious figures would have greater credibility and authority in this matter, and they should at least be working in conjunction with Shahid Malik and other MPs on the public stage, if not becoming the primary activists in rooting out the extremists and loudly condemning them for their blasphemy and heresy. It needs to be made very clear indeed to the jihadis that they have absolutely no support either theologically or from the Islamic clergy. Pull the rug out from under them, basically.

    The following is also an article from The Telegraph (thanks to Sepia Mutiny for supplying the link) which you may find interesting reading; it discusses some of the root causes for what is going on. I don’t think the Christian angle should have been pushed so much (although it’s understandable, considering who the author is), but most of what is written is fairly accurate. I would recommend you read through the comments section afterwards too when you have some spare time, as it provides a more rounded perspective and some superb points are also made there:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/08/15/do1501.xml

  135. Jai — on 17th August, 2006 at 12:17 pm  

    Sunny – Apologies, a typo ruined the formatting of my post above. Please remove #135. Many thanks.

    Correct post:

    *******************************************************

    Hello Don,

    Thank you very much for the link from The Times – very interesting reading. Shahid Malik is definitely on the right lines (although the usual references to Kashmir, Palestine etc were inappropriate – which ties with my earlier point about the need to focus on the core issue without the pathological desire to drag other matters into the mix) and I think he’s certainly got guts. The comments posted after the main article were also excellent.

    From a personal perspective, however, I think that this conundrum would be also better served by greater (significantly greater) intervention and leadership from Muslim religious figures. Since the basic problem has its roots in religion, it needs a religion-focused answer – not in terms of necessarily tampering with the Quran etc, but with regards to who has primary responsibility for tackling the problem within the general Muslim population. Imams here in the UK (and ideally globally) need to take control of the matter and lead from the front, as it were, in terms of targeting the wannabe jihadis and ensuring that, in both the private and public spheres, the exact reasons why the terrorists’/extremists’ (mis)interpretation of Islam is so wrong, and the dire consequences for such abhorrent actions in the Afterlife (according to the Islamic teachings on the subject), are proclaimed firmly, loudly, clearly, and repeatedly until the message gets through to the extremists. Not just in mosques, but direct intervention within the Muslim community and with a much higher public profile in the national media.

    The latter in particular shouldn’t just be left in the hands of MPs and “community leaders”/various Muslim organisations; religious figures would have greater credibility and authority in this matter, and they should at least be working in conjunction with Shahid Malik and other MPs on the public stage, if not becoming the primary activists in rooting out the extremists and loudly condemning them for their blasphemy and heresy. It needs to be made very clear indeed to the jihadis that they have absolutely no support either theologically or from the Islamic clergy. Pull the rug out from under them, basically.

    The following is also an article from The Telegraph (thanks to Sepia Mutiny for supplying the link) which you may find interesting reading; it discusses some of the root causes for what is going on. I don’t think the Christian angle should have been pushed so much (although it’s understandable, considering who the author is), but most of what is written is fairly accurate. I would recommend you read through the comments section afterwards too when you have some spare time, as it provides a more rounded perspective and some superb points are also made there:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/08/15/do1501.xml

  136. Arif — on 18th August, 2006 at 1:19 pm  

    Hello Jai,

    I know you have written another article on this issue, but I felt I should give the courtesy of replying to your post to me #132.

    I think I read the letter in a very different way to you still. I cannot see it saying terrorism is permissible and excusable. But I accept that other people do read it that way and I can see how they do so from what you explained before.

    I did not mean to make a statement about your personality, but about mine, but it is fair of you to construe it as generalising the contrast between our approaches in this context, and I am sure that in other contexts your desire to understand is greater than that to condemn, while my urge to condemn may be greater than the desire to understand. I hope we are united in any case by a willingness to discuss things with each other.

    If the time is right to move on to the more general point about how Muslims are perceived to over-react to some perceived minor issues, and under-react to some perceived major issues. I agree that this is a big problem, but I also think this is a common human tendency when dealing with sensitive identity issues. The question I go on to is why Muslims are so sensitive. I don’t wonder this because I want to propose that other people expend efforts appeasing Muslim sensitivities – but just so that I interact more effectively with Muslims to promote human rights or other concerns I have. In this spirit I am also grateful that you help me understand the sensitivities of non-Muslims.

    On the issue of how saying “yes… but” creates an appearance that Muslims easily find (and may even be looking for) excuses for terrorism, and are unable to contain their anger the way that non-Muslims are – it is useful to have that brought to my attention. I would like to explain why this might be done by well-meaning without any pathological intention.

    One reason I believe, is that on the it is obvious to Muslim “representatives” that terrorism is wrong, and they feel they have been saying it relentlessly. However they perceive their audience (in this case the Government) do not believe terrorist acts are obviously wrong. They appear to believe only terrorist acts of certain kinds are obviously wrong, whereas other kinds are official policy.

    Like Shahid Malik, the Muslim Sufi Council, which believes it is unlike other representatives making uncompromising anti-terrorist statements also fall into this trap, without apparently realising, and can’t resist generalising their opposition to terrorism to opposition to all kinds implicitly including those promoted by western governments. It is not that they lack guts or principle, but perhaps they feel that they should be gutsy and principled enough to challenge the fashionable terrorism as well as the unfashionable kind. (I realise “fashionable” is not quite the right word, I mean it without connotations of frivolity).

    On the other hand, your and El Cid’s posts make me realise, there is the problem also of defining which identity is relevant in this situation. Is it my identity as a Brit or as a Muslim? Should they be seen as in conflict with one another, or can I create a positive kind of integrity which does justice to myself and others? As a Brit, if I were not Muslim, I might believe that we should talk about foreign policy right now, it would be taken as read that I don’t support terrorism, and the debate might be less fraught. If I were not a Brit, I might also be able to make less sensitive statements at this time, and the apparent lack of concern for travellers from British airports would be uncontroversial.

    But as a Brit and a Muslim, if I make a public statement I have to be sensitive that I am not perceived as a kind of agent of terror for one side or another. I think this is very difficult, when people only want to hear their own preoccupations reflected, so I think in such times I should stay silent for fear of making things worse.

    It doesn’t matter that I think that the relevant identity for me in this context is neither being British or Muslim, but being a human rights advocate. Other people will focus on my nationality or my religion because they have their own agendas, and I just have to live with that.

  137. sonia — on 18th August, 2006 at 2:13 pm  

    Yes – “I cannot see it saying terrorism is permissible and excusable.”

    I agree. Looking at what the causes behind psychopathic behaviour is normal clinical practice – in order to try and prevent further instances as much as possible. It’s in no way suggesting it is ‘permissible and excusable’ rather highlights the need to sort it out because it is such terrible behaviour.

    one can disagree on the ways to ‘sort it out’ but that’s another point.

  138. Jai — on 18th August, 2006 at 4:52 pm  

    Hello Arif,

    re: post #137

    Thanks again for kindly making the effort to write such a detailed message. I think that, in summary, you and I are basically on the same page in some of the fundamental matters, even if we’re looking at some aspects from different perspectives and, of course, have disparate solutions in mind. As you said earlier, perhaps multiple approaches are required, rather than a “one size fits all” method.

    Regarding the problems with the Muslim representatives’ actions, that has obviously been discussed in a little more detail on the new thread, but I do also think that perhaps they are trying to juggle too many balls in the air, with the result of a) other people thinking they’re inappropriately conflating disparate issues, and b) veering dangerously into suggesting moral equivalence between the actions of the jihadis and those of certain Western governments.

    You’re also absolutely correct about the complicating factors involving multiple identities (British/Muslim/etc).

    This topic should ideally be continued on the new thread if you wish, but I thought I should reply to your post here too as a courtesy, and also in order to wrap things up on this thread. My thanks once again for having the consideration to reply to my earlier message here, very decent of you.

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