Community censorship plagues the house of Islam


by Leon
27th September, 2006 at 4:02 pm    

Bashir Goth writes:

Freedom of the press in the Muslim world cannot be separated from freedom of expression in general. Journalists, due to their conspicuous public role, risk their lives everyday. They have been targeted and killed in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan and other countries. The Muslim world is not a friendly place for freedom of speech at all.

Journalists, creative writers and artists all share the same fate. The writer in a Muslim society is in shackles. Every time I put pen to paper it is a struggle against the tyranny of community-imposed self-censorship. Nowhere is Rousseau’s statement that “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains,” truer than in the House of Islam.

Everything is a taboo. Whenever a Muslim writer takes up a pen he starts tiptoeing in a minefield. You have to follow the flag signs of religious, cultural and social taboos. You should tread carefully avoid shame, social estrangement or even death.

An interesting insight; my general reservation is the use of the term “Muslim world” I’m not completely convinced lumping all those countries and peoples together is wise or accurate. That aside the piece touches on something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. The (over) reactions of the “Muslim world” is fast eroding serious debate, journalistic freedom and community relations.

Not a week goes by it seems without some latest outrage angering a bunch of placard waving Muslims somewhere. Of course the numbers may tell a different story but the growing perception is telling. More and more I hear people talk about “Muslims over reacting” or “Why can every religion but their’s be criticised?”. Shamefully I’m finding it harder and harder to disagree let alone counter the views with anything remotely intelligent. I’ve heard it in conversations from random strangers, I’ve heard it in hushed tones from within the political sphere and I’ve heard it often from friends and family.

The constant curtailment of freedom of speech and expression by reactionaries is doing all Muslims a serious disservice. The fear of offending is almost becoming offensive in itself. There is a growing intolerance of the sensitivities of the communities and its peoples. Put simply, it can’t go on. This doesn’t mean the individuals deserve attack or abuse but it does mean that rational and humane intellectual discourse, critical or otherwise, must be tolerated if the religion is to be also. There’s nothing wrong with making an argument against a religion or its practice as long as it’s not a thinly veiled excuse to treat a group of people badly.

These are dangerous times and I’m acutely aware that my thoughts here might be perceived aggressive or even rightwing. They’re not intended to be, I’m attempting to be honest about a growing discontent and it’s implications for our country’s future. I don’t want anyone to feel like they aren’t a part of things, I believe we’re all in this together and collectively we must struggle to find news ways of co-existing. It has to be recognised that outrage, constant and uncompromising, will give the reactionaries (of all persuasions) their ideal state of affairs.

This means more honesty and directness than certain “leaders” or idiotic groups can cope with. It means recognising that religion has its place in people’s lives but no one religion should determine our country’s future. It means knowing where you stand with each other will sometimes result in uncomfortable and inconvenient truths. It will also mean bravery on all sides to challenge old ideas, formulate new ones (and practical plans to implement them) and strangers actually talking with each other.

It will be hard, it will be open to abuse by the reactionaries but it will be worth it because it will be one more step towards a New Britain.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)


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Filed in: Civil liberties,Moral police,Race politics,Religion






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  1. Serious Golmal » This is how we do it

    [...] Leon, over at PP, has hammered out a thoughtful but hard-hitting appeal to the sensibilities of Muslims (and non-Muslims) who want to tackle the forces of obscurantism that plague our communities. Brilliant stuff. [...]




  1. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 4:44 pm  

    I agree entirely. Have a good look at yourself, Leon.

  2. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 4:58 pm  

    I feel sorry for any Muslim trying to pen a novel in this day and age.

    See the muslim point of view and you’ll get ignored by the publishing industry or vilified for being an extremist sympathiser

    Go against the muslim point of view and hello salman rushdie

    I’m looking at salman’s bank balance and his super fitness missus, so yeah, load of bollocks what these muslims are saying ain’t it?

    Wonder whether I’ll get that cheque before that bullet gets me…

  3. Arif — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:04 pm  

    I speak very carefully depending on my context too. Including on Pickled Politics, but even then not always carefully enough to avoid offending people.

    I do agree things have gotten very ridiculous with Muslim Groups ready to threaten anyone, like a paranoid drunk shouting “what you looking at?” at everyone who passes.

    So how do we get away from this? The natural reactions are to be fearful or irate, depending on your confidence. And neither of them really help.

    I think that in this situation it would help to engage in serious discussion with those who will, inviting those who won’t to try it, leaving people who still want to scream looking like crazed lunatics rather than the brave protectors of Islamic dignity they want to portray themselves to be. Those who are genuinely scared and offended will be proud of those of their representatives who engage in articulate debates, so it is in our interests that these debates take place, and are seen as enlargements of free speech, rather than threats to it.

    It would require some of their opponents to be willing to debate without using power imbalances in the media or state to get an advantage. And that’s do-able. If we get over our fears, I’m sure there can be generosity and understanding on both sides.

  4. Chairwoman — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:16 pm  

    Leon – What’s going on? I agree with you again. Twice. In one day.

  5. Chairwoman — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:17 pm  

    I also agree with Arif. And Bert.

  6. Anas — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:22 pm  

    I think there are two kinds of censorship here that Bashir may be conflating:

    1)censorship of political criticism of ruiling instituions and figures

    2)censorship of criticism of religion or religious practices

  7. Jagdeep — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:25 pm  

    Some of the same issues affects Sikhs, although to a lesser extent.

    You know, what KH says is true, and I dont want to sound condescending, but at least if you are a young British Sikh or British Hindu writer or film maker or artist, you are free of a certain amount of expectation in what you do. You dont have to touch on the global clash of civilisations. If you’re a Muslim writer your work will always be read for what it can teach you about Islamic tensions with the West. For example, the novel Londonstani, if that had been written by a Muslim writer instead of a Hindu, it would have been held up as an example of Muslims failing to integrate and the roots of young British Muslim’s rage etc etc etc, instead of what it is, a book about young Indian Mummy’s boys and how they hustle in the city. If a Muslim Woody Allen ever came about, would he even get a chance to make his films in todays climate? I doubt it.

  8. Jagdeep — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:28 pm  

    Every time I put pen to paper it is a struggle against the tyranny of community-imposed self-censorship

    That is true to a certain extent with other groups – look at the fiasco with the play in Birmingham. Although Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal still writes his soft porn, so things cant be that bad.

  9. Jagdeep — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:30 pm  

    If a Muslim Woody Allen ever came about

    And his name would be Woody Ali. I just wanted to say that before KH did.

  10. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:37 pm  

    Jagdeep, not just the Sikhs in Brimingham, there’s the Jerry Springer opera idiocy, the Brick Lane book burning and the list goes on.

    The one common factor here is the complainants invariably come out of it looking like whinging hypersensitive fools who can’t grasp satire. So I’m optimistic that the majority will win this one eventually, and the offended peeps will learn not to protest things that are no danger and you don’t actually have to go and see.

  11. Jagdeep — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:42 pm  

    The (over) reactions of the “Muslim world” is fast eroding serious debate, journalistic freedom and community relations.

    That’s exactly the point.

    Imagine, if you will, someone like Trevor aka Abu Izzadeen, a nothing man, a small man, in many ways a failure. His ideology is one of hatred and resentment at his smallness and insignificance, hatred of both the West, and also hatred of his fellow Muslims who listen to Mariah Carey, eat KFC, and love being British and having friends from loads of different races.

    But Trevor *LoL*, sorry I mean ABU IZZADEEN, can do something about this. He suddenly realises he has power. Real power. And this power can change the world, at least a little, simply by standing in front of a camera and ranting and saying certain things, he can destroy the trust between Muslims, those disgusting liberal Muslims, and the rest of society, simply by shooting his mouth off. He can be someone and something. He can help to put in place a certain atmosphere of community relations in which he can grow, and his message will find fertile takers.

    And it works. Everytime something like this happens, I know in my family, uncles and brothers and cousins start swearing at the screen and unleashing fairly atavistic comments based on ancient Sikh enmities towards Muslims. Imagine what it does amongst white people. Then imagine how the poor girl on the bus feels, wearing her hijab, just wanting to live her life, wondering about why so many people look away when she catches their eye, or won’t smile at her anymore.

    Abu Izzadeen, the little man, the nothing man, is no longer small. And it makes him feel good. And his name is really Trevor.

    (Every interviewer on the TV should insist on calling him Trevor just to see him get riled up hahaha)

  12. Don — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:07 pm  

    Leon,

    Absolutely agree. There can be no freedom of belief without freedom to question and criticise. To attack a personal faith held in private is boorish, but once religious belief enters the public domain then it must be open to the same robust examination as a political or economic belief.

  13. ZinZin — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:10 pm  

    Bert
    A few words: Incitement to racial and religious hatred Act 2005.

    Been reading the Guardian recently? The Pope was criticised for his perceived offence but Muslim overreaction was ignored.

    British Liberals appear to have lost the stomach for a fight with religious reactionaries.

  14. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:27 pm  

    The first thing you need to do when you have a problem is admit that you have a problem.

    Well done Leon!

    TFI

  15. Don — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:41 pm  

    Jagdeep,

    You may have come up with a new eponym (do I mean eponym?) as in ‘Did you see that absolute Trevor on Newsnight?’

    Tough on all the perfectly nice Trevors, but they’re probably hardened to mockery.

  16. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:41 pm  

    ZinZin – they’ve only lost the stomach for a fight with anyone who’s likely to complain they’re not liberal. What’s new?

  17. ZinZin — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:05 pm  

    Whats New?
    In the 60s and 70s when Mary Whitehouse and her christian fellow travellers were out to censor absolutly anything that they considered offensive. The Liberals rightly told her where to go and they are right do it.

    The Bezhti affair was a different matter as the theatre asked sikh reactionaries about the problems they had with the play. They asked for amendments which were refused, rioted, cancelled the play and forced the writer into hiding.

    For Christian Voices treatment see the first paragraph only following the path of Islamic and sikh reactionaries they added a bit of violence to proceedings. Stephen Green is vilified by the Liberal press and they are right to do it.

    The christian reactionary is condemned by all but sihk and muslim reactionaries are given an easy ride. Sadly its PC in action brown/black bigots good and white bigots bad accompanied by the states refusal to prosecute those who use violence as a way to censor.

    The truth is Bert that i am fustrated with liberals.

    On another matter if they win on things such as the Rushdie affair and on the Bezhti affair. They will only make more demands and encourage other censorious impulses.

  18. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:16 pm  

    ZinZin – I know what you mean. I’m a libertarian, but from what I see humanity as a whole is not able to cope with libertarianism yet, so here I am consorting with liberals and lefties trying to make the best of it. But I’m frustrated too.

    In the 60s and 70s it was fashionable to insult the establishment, even more so Mary Whitehouse. Then, the establishment was christian, now it’s multiculturalism. And it’s not fashionable to have a pop at it anymore, but it’s becoming moreso with every idiotic protest. So big up the protesters – I hope soon even they will realise the damage they do to their own image in the wider population. With islam this is becoming more and more evident – when you mix the protest with bombings you are not going to get anyone’s sympathy for long.

    Why can’t gods be like Monty Python?

  19. ZinZin — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:40 pm  

    It a sad state of affairs when the rights of religious fundis not to be offended are given a higher priority than the right to say it.

    The only response is to mock, ridicule and criticise them. This is the land of Monty python and i will not stand for it.

  20. Don — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:46 pm  

    Bert,

    You would have thought that coppers would have learned not to piss off pagans;

    http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/P/B00005UL6G.02.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

  21. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:46 pm  

    I agree. The UK needs a new religion for the not very religious and not very bothered about offending people, the Pythonists.

    And offending people is after all one of our oldest traditions. Long before panicking over gay vicars and shit.

  22. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:48 pm  

    Don – I’m just bloody glad you didn’t link to the Hollywood remake, that might have meant nastiness all round.

    And anyway, he got to see Britt Eckland in the altogether before being barbied, so fair’s fair.

  23. ZinZin — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:52 pm  

    Bert
    Britt had an arse double.
    Woowar was on the other side of the wall so how could he see Britt and her arse double.

  24. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:54 pm  

    Arse double? Noooooooo /o\

    And if he didn’t get in there when the time was ripe, that’s his own sorry lookout.

  25. Don — on 27th September, 2006 at 8:49 pm  

    He had to be a virgin, man.

  26. ZinZin — on 27th September, 2006 at 8:55 pm  

    Don are you watching the film and posting at the same time? I only ask as it has taken you an hour to glean this nugget of information.

  27. Don — on 27th September, 2006 at 9:30 pm  

    Acually, I’m watching Barbarella.

  28. soru — on 27th September, 2006 at 9:46 pm  

    ‘Tough on all the perfectly nice Trevors’

    I seem to recall another of the prominent UK nutter converts changing his name from ‘Kevin’. I seriously suspect there’s a pattern here.

  29. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 9:47 pm  

    Stay strong, you Daves.

  30. ZinZin — on 27th September, 2006 at 10:23 pm  

    I’m a Dave

    My Brothers name is Kevin.
    Cheeky sods

  31. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:07 am  

    I am also a Dave, truth be told. Though my brother’s name is not quite as crap as Kevin.

    Sorry.

  32. Amir — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:37 am  

    Leon – A superb article. Thank you for drawing our attention to this diffcult topic.

    I would also like to point the Picklers in this direction (A famous theatre in Berlin has just announced the cancellation of its production of Mozart’s ‘Idomeneo’, fearful of security threats because of a scene that might offend Moslems.) The difficulty lies in explaining how serious it is without falling into the language of a demagogue. So I shall simply list some developments as dispassionately as I can.

    Islam is growing. And it is growing fast. More and more British cities have seen the domes and minarets of smart, prominently positioned new mosques rising in their neighbourhoods. A large and imposing mega-Mosque (funded by Saudi oil) is set to be built nextdoor to the Olympic stadium, whereas the Kingsway Centre – the biggest evangelical church in Europe with 12,000 worshippers on a Sunday – is coming down to make way for the Olympic stadium. Imagine what would happen if Evangelicals sought to build a Christian centre in Qom, Isfahan, Najaf or anywhere on the soil of Saudi Arabia, and imagine how British Moslems would feel if we demolished one of their places of worship to make room for an Olympic stadium? Imagine how I feel?

    In a rare but revealing interview for The Sunday Times, George Alagiah makes an almost identical observation:

    “Just as the true level of immigration is revealed, this is provoking quite a rumpus. Alagiah says what third worlders despised about British colonists was their refusal to “learn our languages, eat our food or wear our clothes”. Now he accuses some of those colonising Britain of displaying precisely the same insensitivity.”

    For me, one word – more than any other – stands out: colonialism. Civilizations do not fall to the power of enemies. They fall due to the timidity or lack of will of the defenders; or to both. In the name of ‘diversity’ and ‘multiculturalism’ – coupled with mass immigration, open borders, and overseas marriage – we invite the enemies of Western civilisation and even allow them the keys to the citadel. This will be a far more effective way of changing our way of life than bringing down a jumbo jet or bombing a Tube Station. I believe that the ‘War on Terror’ is a shady social construct and a radical endeavour that is doomed to failure. Period.

    In saying this, however, I do believe that there is a battle to be fought. A question to those of you who invest your faith in atheism or liberal indifference: What of your beloved secular democracy – with its chavs, lager louts, page-3 girls, benefit fraudsters, football hooligans and Brownshirt bouncers? When Islam is a stage more powerful than it is now, and begins to demand more and applications of Sharia in European cities, will you then regret your failure to stand up for those cultural traditions and moral values which are in many ways best qualified to defend our open society from the veil, the Mullahs, and so on and so forth? You will not like these things when they arrive, as the Netherlands has already found.

    Apologists for Islamic imperialism – such as Maddy Bunting, Gary Younge, and Karen Armstrong – are just as short-sighted as those arrogant buccaneers in the Bush administration. Islam, in its current manifestation, is a political movement with colonial ambitions (colloquially referred to as ‘Islamism’). In Indonesia, Nigeria and Sudan, Moslems are at war with Christians, in the Middle East with Israelis, in Chechnya with Russians, in India with Hindus, in Thailand with Buddhists, in Malaysia with Indians and Christian Malays.

    Now – to forestall any silly accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ – I would like to make it clear that in some of these conflicts Moslems have been the aggrieved party. One needs only to think of Chechnya, Bosnia, Kashmir, the West Bank, or the Uighurs in China. Yet it is precisely the influence of political Islam which has made these conflicts infinitely worse. The moment the Albanians had the opportunity, they turned against their Serbian and Macedonian neighbours; the Chechens invaded Dagestan; the Moslem Kashmiris made it known that they wanted not only a state of their own but to expel those who were not Moslems. The radical Palestinian groups have made no secret that they do not merely want to liberate Gaza and the West Bank but to destroy the state of Israel, for which they argue their no room.

    The root cause, as is usual in Fourth Generation Warfare, is one of loyalty. Most British workers and students, however moonbatty their politics, are Englishmen or Scotsman or Welshmen first and foremost. The Moslem Diaspora, on the other hand, will never give their primary loyalty to Britain. They are ‘the Other’ by choice and by pride, not by economic or any other circumstances. No school, no housing project, no job program will take their loyalty away from the Ummah.

    For those of us who are cultural conservatives, the situation is painfully amusing. We warned you about this, over and over again. You stopped your ears and yelled ‘racist, racist, racist’ back at us. But now – yes, ‘now’ – you arrogant liberals and left-libertarians are finding it is easier to block your ears than to keep yourselves from being intimidated by the very people that you welcomed into this country. Chickens come home to roost. You reap what you sow. What goes up, must come down – eazzzy come, eazzzy go.

    Amir

  33. Sunny — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:39 am  

    Bloody hell, I think I agree with Jagdeep here more than anyone.

    For a start, yes there is a deep need to mend fences and the political leadership (Labour and the MCB) are worse than useless in this regard. They make things worse.

    But the problem is being perpetuated by a media that has cottoned on to the perfect story (or series of stories) where one side does the monke dance for the media (burning flags, loud chanting, big banners, making outrageous statements) without any regard for how it impacts others. And without a shred of wisening up to how the media is using them.

    As Jagdeep said, now every man has the power, even Chavlims like Abu. They just need to be at the right place with all the cameras flashing.

    The media is partly at fault for playing into this, and the BBC is absolutely to be blamed for making Abu into the well known twat he is. Though I have a feeling they’ll be reviewing this policy soon enough. But the media behaves like this with everyone.

    The Chavlims who play up to the cameras with their impromptu protests also have to be blamed.

    But what can you do, this has been happening since the days of Salman Rushdie. Just read Zia Sardar’s Desperately Seeking Paradise.

  34. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 1:02 am  

    Amir wrote: “A question to those of you who invest your faith in atheism or liberal indifference: What of your beloved secular democracy – with its chavs, lager louts, page-3 girls, benefit fraudsters, football hooligans and Brownshirt bouncers?”

    Er, you might have left out the half a million servicemen and reservists there – it wouldn’t be wise to think they’ll roll over without a fight. But you’re right in that it’s a problem we need to get to grips with now, as the longer we leave it the more painful it will get.

    We’ve been bombed and will be bombed again, so it’s not a joke anymore. When the bombs went off I gave up on the idea that we could sort it by the usual method of throwing money at the problem, the people bombing were born here so things are getting worse rather than better. It’s hard to see what more we could have done to bring muslim immigrants into UK society without alienating everyone else, and I suspect even giving them half a million quid a piece would not have changed much. Basically we need to let them dictate our foreign policy, and that ain’t democratic so it can’t be thought of.

    The bottom line is if you think there will be an islamist takeover democratically, it won’t happen. The forces answer to the queen, not the PM, and just as if the BNP were to win an election the forces would expect the queen to make use of them. There are almost no muslims in the army, I think at the last count they make up 67 of a strength of 90,000. If we carry on as we are we are heading for some severe unpleasantness and the longer we pretend it’s not going to happen the nastier it’ll come.

    I’m not looking forward to it, but that makes me something of a moderate wussie leftie in military circles. I think we aren’t beyond the brink yet, but if we’re to back off from it we need to show muslims that in the UK islam is not special and no more immune to criticism than anything else. To my mind islam needs a reformation, and if it’s not coming from westernised muslims then it looks like it’s not coming at all.

  35. Arif — on 28th September, 2006 at 10:30 am  

    A couple of observations

    1. Putting what Jagdeep and Sunny say in different terms:

    Muslims are not a monolithic entity (as is often repeated here). So it makes no sense to argue that Muslims have, for example, made demands, taken a colonial attitude, created a backlash without realising the consequences and will come to regret it.

    There will be some Muslims who take their British citizenship seriously and make demands just like they believe other citizens would, and don’t realise they are actually considered as a kind of alien here through sufferance of others.

    There will be some Muslims who are more savvy and will make those demands in as shrill a way as possible in order to remove any sense of common citizenship and pose as defenders.

    There will be some caught up in hysteria, who feel the need to take sides emotionally based on who they fear most.

    There will be some who feel some sympathy with these demands, but recognise that making such demands are damaging and just want to hush up those harming community relations.

    There will be some who just think those making demands are nutcases and feel no connection with them, but most of those would realise that others will see them as connected anyway and want to do something about it. Some of them will try to do something, but many will keep their heads down as life is hard enough already.

    There will be some who are outraged by what fellow Muslims are doing and make lots of enemies among other Muslims by being outspoken, and risk being labelled as traitors. And some will relish this and just get even more angry and alienated with what Muslims come to represent for them.

    So hoping that Muslims will wake up to the damage they are doing is really only referring to a few groups of Muslims who both contribute to the damage, don’t realise and don’t want this damage anyway.

    2. Similar point about Muslims not being monolithic to most of what Amir said. We probably have very different understandings about what colonialism is. But I will accept that some Muslims may have a parasitic relationship to their own or wider communities. And just point out that some of us do not. Most of us have double standards as do most people generally (including myself). But that most Muslims respond better when they feel respected rather than stigmatised, as do most people generally. So best not to project us as some evil monolithic entity destroying your way of life. Just as Muslims who project the west as completely evil and destructive would do better to look at themselves and have a bit of nuance.

    I respect your rights as a Christian and support it in Muslim countries too. Am I undermining your way of life?

  36. Anas — on 28th September, 2006 at 10:34 am  

    That telegraph piece Amir posted was an exemplary piece of obfuscation and misdirection. I’ve only glanced at it briefly (plus, I don’t know enough about the issue itself to comment), but here are a few interesting quotes:

    When Abu Izzadeen, the firebrand Islamist militant, berated John Reid last week for “daring” to visit a Muslim area, the Home Secretary bridled, as did many others, at his suggestion that part of London was off limits for a British minister of the Crown.

    There was nowhere in this country from which anyone should be excluded, Mr Reid said; nowhere that could be called exclusively Muslim.

    Who was saying it was off limits? Answer, an extremist, someone who everyone acknowledges is completely unrepresentative of the Muslim community. So why is it suddenly an ‘issue’ now why has it become something that torygraph can work themselves up into a lather about?

    Funded entirely by voluntary donations from its congregation, it was erected by the Ahmadi Muslims, who also contructed the first London mosque in Putney in 1924. The Ahmadis, who have lived harmoniously in this country for many years, condemn any form of extremism. Tellingly, perhaps, the Ahmadis are considered heretics by the rest of the Islamic world.

    The way he’s written it, it seems as if he’s making a connection between the Ahmadis being able to live so harmoniously and other Muslims considering them heretics. They’re considered heretics for the reason that they don’t consider Muhammad to be the last prophet, something considered by the overwhelming majority of Muslims to be one of the central tenets of Islam.

    Much of the funding for the Markaz, which will cost about £100 million, is expected to come from Saudi Arabia.

    We only seem to have a problem with the Saudis when they’re funding Mosques, not when we’re selling them arms.

  37. Anas — on 28th September, 2006 at 10:48 am  

    This is what I’m talking about :

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/military/story/0,,1853420,00.html

  38. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 10:53 am  

    Arif, I don’t see muslims as a monolithic entity but the problem is plenty of others do. I can tell them ’til I’m blue in the face they’re wrong but they always ask “well how can I tell the difference, then?”. I don’t have an answer to that, becuase they see Izzadeen spouting his vitriol, them Bunglawala smarming his. You would be hard pressed to find two more different looking men, yet they both have the idea that islamic values are superior to British ones and that’s annoying a lot of Brits right now.

    The attitude of “sling the lot out” is becoming more popular, and the only thing I see that can reverse this is more muslim extremists on the telly – but this time ones that are extremely against the Izzadeens. Intelligent muslims looking for a nice quiet life like everyone else are going to have to forego that for a bit and rant, rage and foam at the mouth against the ones who are putting them in danger.

    Stop being coy – hurl insults publicly at the groups supporting terror and trying to tell the government how to act. Front the bastards up, young men like a bit of excitement, a cause and confrontation and as things stand the only place to get that is with the nutters. The muslims need a version of the anti nazi league to make it quite clear to the rest where their sympathies lie. Stick on a union jack badge and when the loonies next gather go and try to kick some lumps out of them. The police can’t do it but you can. Don’t wait around for a resurgent national front to do the work for you, because they’ll be too high on hatred to care where your sympathies lie.

  39. Chris Stiles — on 28th September, 2006 at 11:59 am  


    We only seem to have a problem with the Saudis when they’re funding Mosques, not when we’re selling them arms.

    One involves the import of values, the other of money. Logically the two are quite different – naively tying them together is the sort of thing that passes for intellectualism on the left. There are reasons for why we should have problems with both – but those are quite separate from the ‘argument’ you make.

  40. sonia — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:02 pm  

    rant rage foam at the mouth – ha ha

  41. Arif — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:03 pm  

    Bert, I understand what you say. Standing up to bullies can be effective, and for some even enjoyable.

    In this circumstance you see being nonviolent and respectful as coyness and argue against it because, it seems, the ends justify the means. But one of the consequences might also be to legitimise violence and spread a culture of disrespect more widely.

    Another problem is a loss of personal integrity. How can I argue for people to channel their anger peacefully and self-critically, when I refuse to do so when I decide my cause is righteous enough?

    On the other hand, I do agree with you that the Anti-Nazi League were effective and in some ways heroic.

    On the other other hand, as I understand it, the Anti Nazi League was set up as a reaction to street violence, not initiating it.

    I do not want to be a bully, but effective ways to stand up to bullies are limited. I feel that both as someone opposed to those who advocate wars as well as those who advocate violent forms of censorship.

  42. sonia — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:13 pm  

    yes – if you say anything a lot of people will jump on you and shout ‘but you’re not wearing a hijab!’ you’re not a REal Muslim!’ HOW DARE YOU etc.

    :-) he heh lucky for me i enjoy a good fight. fact is though at the end of the day it has nothing to do with religion but that a lot of people see their religion as a cultural tradition and how dare one insult ‘their’ culture. and they get a bit upset because they don’t question anything themselves and WHY SHOULD YOU? i have this problem with one of my sisters – you can’t say anything to her she just gets upset!

    generally the ‘institutions’ seem to back this up because most of them are so rigid and scholars also can’t stand any disagreement – unless it’s from some other equally chauvinistic male – despite the requirement for ‘consensus’ and how dictatorships are no good. now i recently found this lots website and i was pleased to see some people speaking sense for a change. the progressive muslism union of north america

    http://www.pmuna.org

    when one of the women of that group – a professor at some university in Virginia – led a group in prayer last year – what outrage there was! no mosque would have them – they had to have a room in some church. apparently the mosque received ‘death threats’ and old Qaradawi said nasty things about them. Good for them i say. some of these nasty old men seem to think their word is God.

    frankly the way i see it, the communities around the ‘religion’ are the problem. wanting everyone to be the same and listen to them. set themselves up as authorities. bah humbug. of course even if one points out to them that there is not meant to be any religious ‘authority’ in Islam they don’t appear to care. they also appear to be out to suppress women for the most part. Now i read something recently about one scholar in Pakistan who’s standing up to a lot of these clerics – on those nightmarish so called laws on rape – bully for him. Nice to see some change. I must find out who it was again and post it. There doesn’t seem to be much publicity about people like that.

  43. sonia — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:14 pm  

    Spiritual abuse – a good term i found in this Born Again Christian journal type thing i found on the net – to express how religious authorities use religion to further their own interests in power and authority.

  44. sonia — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:15 pm  

    i think all wannabe mullahs ( or Catholic Priests – same goes for them) should study sociology of religion – may ring some alarm bells for them.

  45. sonia — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:17 pm  

    hmm just reread my post no. 42 – “now i recently found this lots website” can’t imagine where lots came from! :-) ignore please.

  46. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:19 pm  

    Arif – It’s all about the bombing. Until then the cause was not righteous enough to use violence. After a lot of people were killed and maimed that goes out the window. People who openly support that need their noses biting off.

    As I said, the police can’t do it. If I do it the police will come down on the side of the nutters and so will most Asians. If muslims do it that’ll really give people pause for thought. How are they going to support the extremists now?

    I don’t think the anti nazi league bought about a ligitimate culture of violence – quite the opposite. Nor do I see why street violence should get a violent reaction while bombing should not.

    And you’re not going to be telling them to channel their anger peacefully, because you will be too busy chewing his nose off to talk. Your personal integrity is not at risk.

  47. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:25 pm  

    Anas – The Eurofighter is useless. If the Saudis were buying for an effective military they’d be buying American. Their buying the Eurofighter is a sop to us that I can only conceive came about as a result of some massive, massive bribes.

  48. Arif — on 28th September, 2006 at 1:22 pm  

    Bert, which bombing do you mean? Are you connecting 7/7 to demands for censorship? Or are you arguing in favour of censorship through violence of any people you think justify the bombing? I could not follow the logic of your first paragraph in #47.

    The second paragraph is arguing that I should tailor my behaviour to what I think will make non-Muslim British people think less crudely about Muslims. And that the only thing that would work would be for me to initiate violence. Did the anti-Nazi League initiate or respond to violence?

    In the third paragraph you mention the bombing again, so it seems you assume I know who the bombers are and rather than going to the police, I should fight them myself.

    The last point seems to be saying that I can have integrity as a bully against bullying. To me moral integrity means something along the lines of doing as I would be done by. It may be that you would like people to violently stop you expressing your opinions as well, in which case you have no reason to be upset by Muslim intimidation of artists who merely do the same thing.

    I’m not trying to be clever, because I see some point in what you are saying with your analogy with the Anti Nazi League, but lots of people tell me to leave my morality at the door for the sake of a greater good, and I’m always going to question that.

  49. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 1:40 pm  

    Arif – Sorry, we seem to be at cross purposes. I wasn’t talking about censorship rather replying to your post #36 about muslims not being a monolithic entity. I agree, but too many people see them as a monolithic entity and that’s unlikely to change until they see some clear splits in the community. My first paragraph was about the 7/7 bombings which I see as far more violent and provocative than the NF marching about shouting. We’ve already had muslim groups marching about shouting, but it’s the bombing that has really got people annoyed.

    The ANL responded to a violent group with violence, which is what many Brits would like to see happen next time Izzadeen or Choudhary take to the streets for a bit of ranting and threatening. You’ve seen the police can do nothing, and if a load of skinheads wade into them it’ll make things worse for everyone. You need not initiate violence – standing toe to toe with a ranting nutter and letting off an airhorn every time he tries to speak should guarantee you can paint yourself as having responded rather than initiated.

    I don’t assume for one moment you know who the bombers are, and I can’t see how you got that idea from what I wrote. All I meant was that the street violence of the NF provoked a violent reaction from those not wishing to be associated with those doctrines, and there is no reason why a bombing should not.

    Doing as you would be done by is admirable, and if everyone thought on those lines we’d have no need for heaven as we’d be just dandy down here on earth. But neither the NF nor Al Ghurabaa subscribe to the concept and sometimes it has to be laid aside for a while to deal with the problem. I don’t have any ethical problem with bullies geting a good hiding – well served for forgetting the do unto others rule.

  50. Anas — on 28th September, 2006 at 2:31 pm  

    One involves the import of values, the other of money. Logically the two are quite different – naively tying them together is the sort of thing that passes for intellectualism on the left. There are reasons for why we should have poblems with both – but those are quite separate from the ‘argument’ you make.

    Selling the saudis fighter jets is helping to prop up and legitimise one of the most repressive and restrictive totalitarian regimes in the world — and probably one of the biggest breeding houses for fundamentalism and extremism in the world. My argument is that if we have a problem with Saudi influence in the world, and yes we should, then what kind of message are we giving out by selling weapons to the house of Saud? See, both involve ‘values’ — you can’t be simple enough to suppose that selling arms to dictatorships has zero significance: it’s not just the import of money.

  51. Anas — on 28th September, 2006 at 2:51 pm  

    Why is it when Muslims claim they feel victimised in the West, people get really pissed off and angry and say things like “One of the things that Muslims need to come to terms with is the sense of victimhood that informs the political component of Muslim self-perception” or “The notion of Muslim victimhood is difficult to engage with: because it has an amoeba-like quality.”

    Yet, when people say things like:

    “The difficulty lies in explaining how serious it is without falling into the language of a demagogue. Islam is growing. And it is growing fast. More and more British cities have seen the domes and minarets of smart, prominently positioned new mosques rising in their neighbourhoods”

    or

    “Civilizations do not fall to the power of enemies. They fall due to the timidity or lack of will of the defenders; or to both. In the name of ‘diversity’ and ‘multiculturalism’ – coupled with mass immigration, open borders, and overseas marriage – we invite the enemies of Western civilisation and even allow them the keys to the citadel.”

    or

    “But now – yes, ‘now’ – you arrogant liberals and left-libertarians are finding it is easier to block your ears than to keep yourselves from being intimidated by the very people that you welcomed into this country. Chickens come home to roost. You reap what you sow.”

    or

    “There are almost no muslims in the army, I think at the last count they make up 67 of a strength of 90,000. If we carry on as we are we are heading for some severe unpleasantness and the longer we pretend it’s not going to happen the nastier it’ll come.

    I’m not looking forward to it, but that makes me something of a moderate wussie leftie in military circles. I think we aren’t beyond the brink yet, but if we’re to back off from it we need to show muslims that in the UK islam is not special and no more immune to criticism than anything else.”

    No one bats an eyelid. Apparently this persecution complex is far more acceptable, yet its proponents have far less reason to feel persecuted than most Muslims. I remember having an argument about religion with this scientist, and she seemed really normal and sane then out of nowhere she said “But, I don’t want this country to become a Muslim country” as if there was a real possibility of this in the next few years. Wasn’t there similar hysteria at the turn of last centuries in Europe regarding “Jewish” plots to take over the West?

  52. Arif — on 28th September, 2006 at 3:14 pm  

    I agree Anas, both Muslims and non-Muslims, even very well-meaning ones, will treat their own sensitivities as being more important than other peoples’.

    Both will think something along the lines of:

    “Our backlash is based on an understandable desire for self-defence, their backlash is based on a reactionary ideology of oppression”

    “Our violence is wilfully played up and misunderstood for political reasons, their violence is underplayed and over-contextualised so they can evade responsibility”

  53. Anas — on 28th September, 2006 at 3:24 pm  

    Correction:
    “Wasn’t there similar hysteria at the turn of *the last century* in Europe regarding “Jewish” plots to take over the West?”

    Yep, Arif, it’s the double standards that I find really bothersome. Another thing is that even though the demagogues on the Islamaphobic side insist that they’re only singling out “some” Muslims, their arguments invariably generalise across all Muslims or most Muslims. How else can you play up the idea of a ‘Muslim threat’? What also disturbs me is that the growth of Islam as a religion in the West is somehow a threat. How can you justify that without assuming that Muslims aren’t all fundamentalist zealots by default?

  54. sonia — on 28th September, 2006 at 3:30 pm  

    ha ha Bert – “but too many people see them as a monolithic entity and that’s unlikely to change until they see some clear splits in the community.”

    well maybe they will. there are clear splits within ‘Christian’ Churches that doesn’t stop people from labelling people ‘Christians’. the problem is we all seem to do a certain amount of thinking the ‘Other’ is a monolithic entity while we are not.

    Nothing is a monolithic entity – individuals are all different and have hugely different opinions – as this forum can testify to! but we still have terms like the the ‘left’ and the right – does that make any sense? No there are huge ‘splits’ in what should be termed left and right.

  55. bananabrain — on 28th September, 2006 at 3:32 pm  

    hang on, i was about to agree with anas for a minute there when he made a silly comparison:

    Wasn’t there similar hysteria at the turn of last centuries in Europe regarding “Jewish” plots to take over the West?

    now this may quite possibly be true. however – and i hope nobody is seriously going to dispute this – in comparison with the current situation, however serious or not, with the muslims of britain or europe or whether, you cannot deny that there are a group of muslims, however small, however unrepresentative, however powerless, however laughable, that does a) want to impose shari’a on the uk an the world b) supports acts of terrorism against the uk’s government and citizens and c) has actually intimidated, injured and killed quite a few people. now the reaction to this may very well be overblown, but it is a reaction to *something*. the putative “jewish plots” were all, without exception, LIES. no jew ever plotted to overthrown the uk government. no jew ever sought to impose jewish law on the uk. no jew ever threatened or committed murder in order to protest against how the jewish community was treated or perceived to be treated. that makes it a comparison that i reject. and i’m not making trouble here, but you can’t simply compare these cases.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  56. Chris Stiles — on 28th September, 2006 at 3:37 pm  


    See, both involve ‘values’ — you can’t be simple enough to suppose that selling arms to dictatorships has zero significance: it’s not just the import of money.

    Anas – Given the potential of the eurofighter to turn into an expensive lawn dart in Saudi hands, I’m of the opinion that it’s biggest impact will come if and when one of the Saudi princes goes down in one of them. I’m sure the extent to which they directly prop up the Saudi regime is limited.

    That said, you’ve modified your argument some – which is good, as your original had all the subtlty of “go back to your own country if you don’t like it here”.

    There is still a vast qualitative difference between Saudi’s building mosques here and selling them arms there – unless you believe one is a quid pro quo for the other.

    I happen to agree that over the long term it’s a bad idea to support the Saudis – it is however questionable as to the best alternate strategy is. Certainly a significant minority of Saudi’s don’t agree with you on what the problem is, nor the remedy, and you’d be hard pressed to prove that they were wrong using their own presumptions and values.

  57. Anas — on 28th September, 2006 at 3:57 pm  

    I appreciate your point, bnana, but

    you cannot deny that there are a group of muslims, however small, however unrepresentative, however powerless, however laughable, that does a) want to impose shari’a on the uk an the world b) supports acts of terrorism against the uk’s government and citizens and c) has actually intimidated, injured and killed quite a few people. now the reaction to this may very well be overblown, but it is a reaction to *something*.

    It is a reaction to *something*, granted. But regardless of that it’s no justification for widespread bigotry and attacks on innocent Muslims that follow. It’s not just “overblown” when a whole community is under threat on the basis of actions committed by a small minority. It’s irrelevant whether there are some Muslim plotters if the majority have nothing to do with it.

    Look, suicide bombings are a reaction to *something* does that make them right? No. Killking someone cause they look Muslim, or firebombing a random mosque does that make it less wrong because it’s a reaction to *something*?

    and i’m not making trouble here, but you can’t simply compare these cases.

    They are comparable because in both cases innocent people suffer because of the unjustified prejudices of the many. The way things are going now across Europe where this form of intolerance and bigotry is becoming more and more acceptable, we’re reaching a dangerous situation.

    I happen to agree that over the long term it’s a bad idea to support the Saudis – it is however questionable as to the best alternate strategy is.

    And what about the rights and wrongs of supporting such a regime and arming it? Turning a blind eye to torture and repression?

    And if you want arguments from expediency you just have to ask yourself why were so many of the 9/11 bombers Saudis? Why do 25% of young men in SA support Bin Laden.

  58. Anas — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:04 pm  

    Also, If Muslims are so fond of censorship, then why is Al Jazeera so popular?

  59. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:08 pm  

    Anas – I’m not saying I want to see people attacking muslims. I’m trying not to threaten either because what I want to do is warn. I work in construction, where immigrants have made life more difficult for the natives by working black and undercutting our charges. These immigrants aren’t muslims, they are eastern Europeans. The men I work with aren’t happy about it, but they blame the government – not with optimism for change but with an age old and weary despair that people like us have always been and will always get fucked over. They don’t blame the immigrants.

    The lads talk about lots of things at work and in the pub after, and the most usual conversations are football and muslims. The muslim topic has been on and off the menu since 9/11, but since 7/7 it’s really risen through the rankings to now sit just behind football. As you can probably imagine, the topic isn’t the loveliness of diversity – it’s raging at terrorism trying to change our policies and costing us money, a perceived demand by muslims for special treatment, and a perceived campaign by the government and BBC to cover up how bad the problem is.

    These aren’t 18 year old hotheads looking for an excuse to ruck, these are men in their late 20s and 30s with children and they are fearful for the safety and freedom of those children. They are capable I believe of turning very ugly, and just like their antagonists they feel nobody is listening to them. There aren’t too many brickies do a bit of journalism on the side and even papers like the Mirror and Sun employ middle class graduates who have never done a day’s manual work in their lives.

    These men are not interested in how to tell a moderate muslim from a radical. They don’t care. They just want the problem gone. Even more concerning is many aren’t interested in how to tell a muslim from a hindu or sikh. They don’t understand and will go for anyone who looks like they might be muslim.

    So, a large group of men feeling afraid, angry, ambiguous and alienated. Six years back they were staunch tories or labour, and now more and more are seeing the BNP as their only representative party. The BNP aren’t stupid, over the last few years they’ve changed their message from Britain for whites to sling islam out. A few months back a survey found 25% of people would consider voting BNP. Not for a moment because they want a BNP government, but because of that one area of policy they want the mainstream parties to sit up and take notice of.

    My fear is that one more substantial terror attack, and it could go off. You’ll have the NF marching through muslim areas and you won’t like what the placards and banners say. There will be fighting and with things as they are that’s exactly what the Izzadeens and Choudharys or the muslim community want. They will present themselves as the defenders of the community and they’ll be right. Their support will grow hugely, and we’ll have ourselves a nice police state to look forward to.

    The only way I can see to avert all this pain and doomfulness is if muslims themselves begin reacting to Al Ghurabaa and similar groups. Not with statements to visiting journos but by arranging large counter demonstrations every time Al Ghurabaa hit the streets. Not just standing there holding banners either, but shouting them down and hurling abuse. AG are pretty expert at that, but I reckon with a bit of practice you can get into it too.

    My comment you quoted above about the army, it will be the same there as with the builders. Al Ghurabaa seem under the impression there is nobody out there prepared to take them on who they can’t just shout down. Well there is, and if it gets to that nobody is going to like what we see. Man, I depress even myself sometimes.

  60. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:10 pm  

    Anas – When Al Jazeera run something insulting to islam or the prophet we’ll see. But I think we’ll be waiting some time.

    No one thinks muslims are opposed to criticism of people, governments or cultures. Just religion.

  61. Anas — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:16 pm  

    Bert you’ve made a very good argument as to why it’s not just the Muslim community that needs to reducate itself and go through a period of self-reflection and education to prevent the growth of extremism. It’s the white working class brickies and builders too, out for a ruck; there’s no excuse for racism and bigotry whether you’re white and alientated or brown and alienated (your description of white extremism mirrors that of Muslim extremism). Don’t expect the Muslim community to change while remaining mired in your own cesspool of prejudices.

  62. Anas — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:18 pm  

    Anas – When Al Jazeera run something insulting to islam or the prophet we’ll see. But I think we’ll be waiting some time.

    No one thinks muslims are opposed to criticism of people, governments or cultures. Just religion.

    Exactly, but the article at the top of the page seems to be confusing the two types of censorship. And it’s *some* Muslims who are opposed to criticism of religion. Please be more careful with the way you use language.

  63. Kismet Hardy — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:22 pm  

    It’s important to use the word ‘some’ when describing muslims, just the same way you need to use the word ‘allegedly’ when making a claim that hasn’t been proven 100% fact in court

    So some of you are right, allegedly

    Sue me

  64. bananabrain — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:22 pm  

    But regardless of that it’s no justification for widespread bigotry and attacks on innocent Muslims that follow. It’s not just “overblown” when a whole community is under threat on the basis of actions committed by a small minority. It’s irrelevant whether there are some Muslim plotters if the majority have nothing to do with it.

    and i agree with you that it’s no justification. but the point i am making is that in the case of the fears about “jewish plots” that you referenced, it was not a question of “the majority have nothing to do with it”. it was a question of something being made up. manufactured. totally without a shred evidence, not even one jewish person found to air such an opinion, because there was no such thing. period. that makes all the difference as to why i don’t like the comparison, because it suggests that there was actually something to disown.

    i think bert has a point. the sooner we see “muslims for democracy” or “muslims for britain” or something like that counterdemonstrating and facing up to the Beards of Outrage, the hotheads and windbags, the happier everyone concerned will be. these guys – and i’ve seen it in the flesh – will talk anyone to death if they’re allowed to open their mouths. they need to be taken down a peg and be told “you don’t speak for us”.

    and while we’re at it, the same goes for bungalow-face and his family.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  65. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:23 pm  

    Anas – I’m not trying to justify. As I said, I’m trying to warn. If you sit back and debate who is justified and who isn’t, the violence will start long before you’ve got the debate wrapped up. Because the violent ones aren’t interested in your debate and they are sure they are justified.

    My description of white extremism was meant to mirror that of muslim extremism, because both are sliding down parallel slopes at the moment and there’s a nasty conflict at the bottom. Why are you assuming I’m a white extremist?

  66. Arif — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:28 pm  

    Bert, I appresciate you writing about your experience and fears. I don’t want to be provocative, but can you imagine the same dynamic which you see with your work-mates as working among Muslims.

    Some of them get angry seeing the worthlessness of their lives to others and the stigma attached to them for being Muslim. They feel anxious about the future and angry with westerners often without making the necessary distinctions between racist/islamophobe, conservative, liberal or whatever.

    Afraid, angry, alienated, they are ripe for manipulation by al-Ghurabaa or other groups. Liberal Muslims might say they fear that if there is one more attack on a Muslim country by the west it will confirm even more the view that there is war against Islam and all Muslims, and “it could go off”. Of course if they did say this it would be denounced as blackmail and a threat, but, hey, there has already been a bombing, so it isn’t all hypothetical.

    Perhaps many Muslims will go as far as you and say that they’ll be right to present themselves as defenders of their community.

    Perhaps to avert this doom British people themselves need to stand up against the warmongers who happen to control parliament and lead both of the two main political parties. It shouldn’t be that hard to vote them out if there were enough. But it doesn’t seem to happen.

    So I can join you in depression Bert. At least if your colleagues do become a mirror of al Ghurabaa you already know what you should do: shout them down, hurl abuse and fight them. I am still too anxiously looking for the humanity in other people.

  67. Anas — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:29 pm  

    and i agree with you that it’s no justification. but the point i am making is that in the case of the fears about “jewish plots” that you referenced, it was not a question of “the majority have nothing to do with it”. it was a question of something being made up. manufactured. totally without a shred evidence, not even one jewish person found to air such an opinion, because there was no such thing. period. that makes all the difference as to why i don’t like the comparison, because it suggests that there was actually something to disown

    In that respect yes, the situations are incomparable. But I wasn’t arguing for that comparison. I’m saying that in both instances a group of people suffer because of the unjustifed prejudices of the many. Anywayt, I’m sure many anti-semites were convinced that there was something to disown.

    I’m not trying to justify. As I said, I’m trying to warn. If you sit back and debate who is justified and who isn’t, the violence will start long before you’ve got the debate wrapped up. Because the violent ones aren’t interested in your debate and they are sure they are justified.

    But why is the onus only on Muslims to change themselves?

  68. Arif — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:32 pm  

    Oops, seem you meant the mirror image on purpose anyway.

    Bert we seem to be on the same page. Just the one thing. I don’t want to become the mirror image of a loud-mouthed, violent bigot.

  69. Arif — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:32 pm  

    ** the bigots being the al-Ghuraba-types, in case there is any misunderstanding.

  70. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:43 pm  

    Arif – thanks for your understanding but the difference between some of my colleagues and Al Ghurabaa is that my colleagues considered those speaking in support of terror a bit of a joke until we actually got bombed. So the dynamic was working among muslims before it was working among us pikeys. I don’t see Israel, Iraq or Afghanistan as enough reason to subvert democracy with bombs in London. Nor poverty, deprivation or racism. The riots in Toxteth etc. were not nice, but they’re still a million miles short of blowing commuters to bits on the tube.

    People can indeed vote the warmongers out, but it hasn’t happened because the war still has a broad enough level of support. Those supporters don’t leap up and down or gnash their teeth, but they will if they think we can no longer countenance war with a muslim country on the grounds we are scared of our own muslim minority.

    I’d like to confrim that if all this goes off I will beshouting down my colleagues but though I shout them down on the subject plenty today, if there’s another attack I will be left on my lonesome. I might heroically get my head kicked in on principle or I might not. It’ll be too late to make a difference either way though, they will certainly be carrying the majority.

  71. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:45 pm  

    Anas – the onus is on muslims to change because they have bombed us. Not in Iraq, not in New York, but in London. I keep on about it because I think the media are downplaying the amount of resentment there is over that. Asking why it’s your problem isn’t going to help.

  72. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:46 pm  

    Arif – it’s not bigotry when you’re fighting bigots. They rarely disappear all on their own, someone needs to make them look universally despised fools.

  73. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 4:57 pm  

    For a comparison, I’m an English immigrant in Spain. Now there was mild concern when an Englishman called Tony King raped and murdered two young girls – he’d been jailed for rape in the UK and on release came to Spain to continue with his hobby. We wondered if this would affect our relations with the Spanish, but they’re good sorts and there hasn’t been any sort of backlash at all.

    If on the other hand the Madrid bombing had been carried out by Englishmen we might have a problem. If then we had Englishmen indulging in hateful demonstrations and speaking publicly to justify the Madrid bombs, we would have no problem. Our own community would annhialate the extremists before they could bring the Spanish lynch mobs down on our heads. I don’t think for a moment we’d have any sympathy with any of our community who were endangering our quiet, comfy lives. No matter what the cause was.

    Another quick word on terrorist counter-production – before the Madrid bombings this place had large monthly demonstrations organised against Israel and their opressing the Palestinians. Since the bombing I’ve not seen a single one.

  74. Arif — on 28th September, 2006 at 5:30 pm  

    Bert, I understand that you see an important difference between a bomb in the UK and a bomb elsewhere in the world. And there are important differences.

    But there is also a difference between full-scale wars, proxy wars, destruction of lives and infrasturctures, destruction of heritage etc and four bombs on public transport.

    How we decide that one justifies saying “you started it” and considering any violent backlash understandable, and decide that the other one can be seen as justified and even well-intentioned as a method of getting important political change…. it seems to be based on something else to me.

    The geography seems more relevant to where a conflict will get played out, sure. And the scale, I guess, seems more relevant to the scale of response you will get. But if we agree that we are all human and have a common emotional potential, then I think we can agree that any political violence anwhere is understandable.

    We have to decide which violent actions/reactions we want to support or take part in.

    And I suggest we decide by principles and not by emotion, because those emotions are what enables others to turn us into cannon-fodder.

    Your principles seem to be that violence is justified if the opponent is either:

    a. part of your own community
    b. creating dangers for your own community by their violence towards others.
    c. their violence is directed towards people within your own territory.

    Or if they are not ooponents but:

    a. are in another territory.
    b. are already suffering because of your own and other peoples’ policies.
    c. may be expected to be grateful for your intervention.

    I assume I am misunderstanding, but I hope you can put me right.

    I would formulate my principles more like violence on someone is justified if:

    - I would want it used on me in their situation.

    or

    - It is to protect people from immediate violence.

    I’m wondering if you also subscribe to this in coming to your judgments (it sounds a bit like you do in a way). Or do you think this is too wet (it kind of makes war except on a battlefield with consenting armies impossible, as well as means I would not attack someone at all if they are not trying to hurt someone).

    By depending on how other people emotionally react, as you do in the Spain example, I take it that on principle you think it right for you to be lynched by Brits if they feel you’re support for violence is making things dangerous for them. And that is not far from arguing that people in Britain calling for war on Muslim countries, making local Muslims angry, are therefore ripe for lynching by fellow Brits before they create bombs in the hands of understandably violent bigots….

  75. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 6:15 pm  

    Arif – Try to step into my shoes a minute, or even better my eyes. I’ll look at the reasons given, straight from the horse’s mouth, for the London bombs:

    The UK is not a supporter of Israel. I admit that may be because we are subordinate to the EU on that policy area, or because we would sell them arms but our arms are a bit crap and the Israelis prefer other kit.

    The UK is a supporter of the USA, but as we share a language and remarkably similar cultures that’s no surprise. We have been close allies for 61 years, since they pulled us out of the soup and no mistake.

    The war in Afghanistan was not a war on islam, it was a war on Al Qaeda and the Taleban who sheltered them. If the Taleban had extradited OBL to the US it would never have happened. The UK was involved because of NATO, our mutual defence pact which includes the USA.

    The war in Iraq was not a war on islam. It was a war on Saddam and his mates that started with his invasion of Kuwait 13 years earlier. That one wasn’t a war on islam either.

    If there really was a war on islam, it’d be awfully obvious even to the most untrained eye by now.

    So who started it notwithstanding, it seems the only way we can avoid the unpleasantness and expense of having terrorists attack us is to allow those terrorists to dictate our foreign policy. Withdraw troops from any muslim lands, leave NATO, leave the EU. We also need to make some changes to our domestic policies, reinstating the long gone laws on blasphemy for starters.

    The only other options would be to outlaw islam in the UK which would lead to even more bombings and so is counter-productive, or to rely on the securtiy services to get the terrorists before they get us – and the security services have already made it very clear they cannot do this and the next attack is when, not if. Do I have it right?

    Which is how I’ve come to think that the muslims in the UK are the best hope to avoid all this – if they stand up to those supporting terror and make it clear that their view is not popular. Many people, Izzadeens included, feel they have the tacit support of the community. Just as the NF felt in the 70s. When they are disabused of this notion I’ll not say they cease to be a problem, but they certainly lose the vast part of their pain potential.

    For my principles, b and c, not a for the first one. The second one I don’t understand the options clearly enough.

    I would say violence against Al Ghurabaa would be protecting people from imminent if not immediate violence. It’s no use waiting until the skins are marching up your street to tell them you want rid of AG too, by then you’re unlikely to convince them.

    For Spain, I don’t think it right for anyone to be lynched. But I’ve seen civil war before and I know these things happen. A lot of people out there get the red mist when they are angry and afraid, don’t count on your ability to stop them with words. There is nothing the UK could do or Spain could do that would make me try and justify another Madrid bombing. I haven’t seen anyone in the UK calling for war on islam, but I have seen what became of Kilroy Silk. He was ridiculed and ruined for criticism of the islamic world, if he’d called for war I’m pretty sure he’d have been lynched, too.

    It’d be interesting to borrow your eyes for a few minutes?

  76. ZinZin — on 28th September, 2006 at 6:52 pm  

    Arif all Bert is asking is that Muslims do more to tackle terrorism and fundamentalism. Not a difficult demand.

    Like Anas you buy into an Islamophobia Myth. Muslims are under threat they are under threat from other Muslims if you want to do something positive stop moaning and take heed of Berts advice.

  77. Arif — on 29th September, 2006 at 10:45 am  

    Bert, I am more than happy to see things through your eyes. I do not think your perceptions are unreasonable. I have a different set of perceptions, but quite close to yours.

    I also listen to other people, to see things through their eyes. Some of their perceptions also have a rationality, if not so much reasonableness. And although I don’t share their perceptions (and even, please note ZinZin, challenge them). I don’t think they need to be beaten up or just told they are plain wrong any more than you do.

    You tell a story of how Britain came to be involved in a number of wars from your perception. Others have a very long, clear and consistent narrative about a war on Islam sometimes predating, although including, the wars and occupations you mention, and including a lot more. They would say, if Britain really wasn’t interested in a war on Islam, they could easily stop arming dictatorships in Muslim countries and avoid going to war on Muslim countries. To their untrained eyes, at least.

    And there are many perceptions in between. Mine is one of those. I don’t perceive Britain’s policies as having an Islamophobic agenda, but neither do I see it as having an agenda which is only partly humane and moral, and even then selective in its morality and humanitarianism, and unrepentant about the suffering it causes.

    Calling for Britain not to support or cause massive injustices or suffering can be stigmatised as allowing foreign policy to be dictated by terrorists. Or it can be undertaken because it is right anyway.

    Calling on terrorists to lay down their arms and seek peaceful resolutions can be stigmatised as calling on the weaker party fighting for justice to disarm so to make the stronger party’s policy of serial massacres easier to undertake.

    We do what we can. If I was in government I obviously change the foreign policy – not because of what terrorists say, but because I believe it would be right. If I was in an al Qaeda cell, I would obviously tell them to stop any terrorism and think about being good Muslims by either offering genuine protection to those who suffer or making a genuine difference to foreign policies through peaceful engagement – not because the “Muslim-murdering” Government would like me to, but because I believe it would be right.

    If I should fight al-Ghuraba, it should be because I am being physically attacked or because it would stop them falling under a bus or something. Not because of the threats of skinheads that they will unleash their own terror. Isn’t that another form of blackmail? Telling me unless I not only support, but actively indulge in a form of terrorist campaign on their behalf, I am a target of their terrorism.

    I understand how you explain it could come about. And I don’t think it is unrealistic, as it seems no different from any other self-righteous terrorist psychology.

    On other issues you raise:

    In my view laws on blasphemy have no particular relevance to the overall conflict. It is just another symbol among many that can be used to paint the British Government as pathologically opposed to Islam, or Muslims as pathologically opposed to freedom. It would return to obscurity if there could be basic trust between sets of people clinging to their fears and suspicions of a monolithic “other”.

    On your principles, the second set was me trying to make sense of what foreign wars you support.

    On what you have seen and heard – you have your media, which amplifies the odd nutter and examines Muslim preaching for frightening subtexts, and therefore is not trusted by many Muslims. There are other media which amplifies voices that do call for a war on Islam, or finds such subtexts in mainstream political speeches. I do not trust them either.

    While both like to sensationalise away any hope for a middle ground, and think that only one side should be nonviolent. Seeing things from my eyes, they are both as good and bad as each other and I just need to guard against being sucked into their blackmails and justifications for nastiness.

  78. Anas — on 29th September, 2006 at 3:26 pm  

    Anas – the onus is on muslims to change because they have bombed us. Not in Iraq, not in New York, but in London.

    Bert,*They* haven’t bombed you, one small extremist jihadist group has — I don’t know how that makes *all* Muslims responsible, and apparently according to your subhuman friends, legitimate targets. This kind of thinking gets us nowhere: *The Muslims* bomb us therefore we must retaliate. This is what Bin Laden spouts on his propaganda tapes: the west has bombed us, now we’re taking the conflict to you. He has a point, people in West do have a certain culpability when it comes to the attrocities funded or committed across the arab world by the West. So, according to your logic this justifies further attacks in the UK.

    The UK is not a supporter of Israel

    Effectively it is. Not only do we supply arms to Israel (http://www.guardian.co.uk/armstrade/story/0,,1835934,00.html), but we provide it plenty of diplomatic support, most disgustingly during the recent Lebanese conflict (http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=11&ar=538). Our close support of a criminal and psychotic American government does us no favours either even if “We have been close allies for 61 years, since they pulled us out of the soup and no mistake” — shouldn’t our own best interest outweigh any feelings of gratefulness for what about 61 years ago? The US has supported the illegal occupation of Palestine for decades, as well as supporting Israel throughout regardless of how many war crimes it has committed. It arms and supports repressive totalitarian regimes across the mideast, with our assistance. We aid its various Imperialist schemes in Afghanistan and Iraq which was an illegal war that had the support of very very few people in the world outside the US and the UK because:
    a) they could see it wasn’t for humanitarian reasons or for security reasons but for other baser motives;
    b) they knew what kind of disaster it would cause (especially in terms of lives lost), the boost to terrorism it would give and the instabilty it would cause. The problem is that most of the rest of the world outside of Bert’s little reactionary rightwing, frankly facistic group of associates, see those conflicts as driven by greed and America’s imperialist ambitions (a man is known by the company he keeps).

    So who started it notwithstanding, it seems the only way we can avoid the unpleasantness and expense of having terrorists attack us is to allow those terrorists to dictate our foreign policy. Withdraw troops from any muslim lands, leave NATO, leave the EU. We also need to make some changes to our domestic policies, reinstating the long gone laws on blasphemy for starters

    The problem is that we’re already allowing “terrorists to dictate our foreign policy”, i.e., George Bush. And the law for blasphemy isn’t long gone, it still exists, though it applies only to anti-Christian blasphemy.

    Which is how I’ve come to think that the muslims in the UK are the best hope to avoid all this – if they stand up to those supporting terror and make it clear that their view is not popular

    Plenty of Muslims have protested against Tony Blair.

    PS, did your scummy mates go around beating up Irish people during the IRA’s campaign on the British Mainland?

  79. Bert Preast — on 29th September, 2006 at 3:29 pm  

    Arif – Okay, you don’t blindly support islam and you don’t see us as blindly islamophobic. So there is some common ground to find.

    You are right in that what’s going on today predates 9/11, to say otherwise is very simplistic. To my mind it dates from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, though I understand that’s a western perception because that’s when it began to affect the west and therefore you may date it from further back. Al Ghurabaa probably take it right back to the crusades.

    For what’s happening in Iraq, I’d like to bore you with what happened in Bosnia. For parallels we can see the Bosniaks as the Shia, the Serbs as the Sunni and the Croats as the Kurds. On gaining independence the Serbs, while a minority, were used to power. They wanted a state where they called the shots, as things used to be. Quite rightly, the Bosniaks and Croats could not consider this independence, as it was the same situation they were in before. A referendum was held, the Serbs boycotted and refused to recognise the results, and the country slid quickly into a vicious civil war for over 3 years. About 1 in 20 Bosniaks were killed and nearly half were made refugees.

    The Serbs made up the vast majority of the military meaning Bosniak and Croat soldiers deserted having no doubts whose side the military would come down on. So we have the Serbs with armoured divisions, artillery brigades, helicopter gunships, fighter bombers and plenty of all terrain transport. The Croats received some support from Croatia although Croatia had too many problems of it’s own to be much help. Then the Bosniaks with farmer’s shotguns and a few small arms held by the deserting Bosniak soldiers.

    They fought all the same, trying to hold off the Serbs as they waited for western Europe to come to their aid. Western Europe couldn’t believe what was happening, the concept being too much to grasp for countries accustomed to peace and so sure they had eradicated evil. So they sat about while diplomats talked and they tried to play down what was happening. Most people in the west imagined bands of peasant farmers taking pot shots at each other with ancient rifles, not artillery bombardments levelling towns and tank divisions crushing the remains.

    The Bosniaks didn’t ask for aid from the islamic world. While muslim, they were surrounded by christians and considered themselves very much a part of Europe. Their islam included lots of beer and miniskirts and didn’t have much truck with any praying malarky at all. You didn’t see any prayer mats or headscarves except on old widows. Religion and politics were entirely seperate. But aid from the islamic world came – not in the form of arms, money or armies, but in the form of mujahadeen.

    When the first mujahadeen arrived the Bosniaks murdered them. They were still hoping for European assistance, and wanted none of the mujahadeen fanaticism, they were in the eyes of the world the good guys and they didn’t want to risk that position being reversed. As Europe dithered and delayed, mujahadeen kept coming and as the situation worsened were accepted and armed. This had several effects, none of them good. Serb voices speaking out against the war became silent as it turned into a war of atrocities. The Bosniaks lost their Croat allies and began fighting with them too. Those painting Bosniaks as muslims rather than Europeans gained credence. The mujahadeen themselves were angry with the state of islam in Bosnia and were fighting not for a return to a social democratic Bosnia where the people lived together in peace, but a new caliphate. The war dragged on and on, a bit like this post.

    The moral of the story is that the mujahadeen have been disasterous in Iraq too, and are there to do nobody but themselves any favours. In Afghanistan the mujahadeen finally forced the Soviets out in 1989 – just as glasnost was getting going and no more than two years before the Soviet Union was dissolved and any troops would have gone home anyway. Instead the country, like Bosnia, was shattered. All three of these countries have since seen massive aid for reconstruction from the west, yet in comparison next to nothing from the islamic world who sent them the mujahadeen. Unless it’s to do with training more mujahadeen, perhaps.

    Al Ghurabaa and similar groups give the mujahadeen unstinting and unconditional support being absolutely convinced they are the only ones who can protect islam. They might be right, but only regarding their form of islam. There are others who can do a far better job of protecting if the mujahadeen will give them the chance. None of the three wars I mention were attacks on islam and that’s a message that must be got across to prevent further disasters and needlessly prolonged suffering.

    It’s interesting you see the skinheads as blackmailing but not Al Ghurabaa. And I don’t think that standing up to Al Ghurabaa is going to make people see you as involving yourself in an NF terrorist campaign. More likely is you would be seen as standing up against those blackmailing the wider community and bringing suspicion on your own community.

    I try to see things through your eyes but if your sympathies lie with Al Ghurabaa over and above the UK government I find that a concern. How will you feel when our troops are home from Iraq and Afghanistan? Will a perceived support for Israel still sway you from the government position to the Al Ghurabaa one? Where is the line? Who and how do you expect to combat Al Ghurabaa’s views?

  80. Bert Preast — on 29th September, 2006 at 3:53 pm  

    Anas – One small extremist group has indeed bombed me. Another slightly larger extremist group is publicy supporting those actions. I’m not seeing the larger mass of muslims doing anything to stop this group, all I’m seeing is efforts to hinder the police attempts to stop this group. It seems the police are viewed as more of an enemy than Al Ghurabaa.

    The UK is not the west. I’m unclear as to which atrocities you’re saying we are responsible for because of funding. Can you give examples?

    It seems from your first link you hold the British public responsible for Israel’s actions on the grounds that we make and use Apache helos, the US makes and uses Apache helos, and the Israelis just use them meaning some parts of the optical systems on borad find their way to Israel via the US. The other items mentioned are aircraft radars, which have plenty of civilian applications and SAMs, which are a purely defensive weapon system. It’s hard to see how they could be used in an atrocity.

    We did not provide Israel diplomatic support in the recent Lebonese conflict, we just did nothing to hinder them. I was behind Israel in that conflict anyway – if you want to fire Katyushas at your neighbours you have to expect it will piss them right off. If you accuse the US of unconditional support for Israel you mjust also accuse the Arab world of unconditional support for Palestine. The war crimes there have not been a one way street.

    I’d say the Taleban and the Baathists were rather closer to facism than my own views, but have it your own way.

    George Bush is not in my eyes or those of international law a terrorist, the US is a legal and sovereign state.

    You’re correct the blasphemy laws only apply to christianity, but as it’s been some 70 years since they were employed I don’t see that as relevant. What is relevant is that muslims want them widened and back on the statute books and I don’t.

    Muslims do indeed constantly protest Blair. It’s their refusal to protest muslims unless they are regarded as Blairite stooges that I find surprising.

    PS, try to keep it civil. And yes. Huge fights with the tunnel workers in Folkestone.

  81. Chairwoman — on 29th September, 2006 at 6:01 pm  

    The blasphemy laws apply only to Christianity because. like it or not, Britain is officially a Christian country in which the Queen is both Head of State, and Head of the
    Church of England.

    We haven’t prosecuted people for treason for a long time either, but the laws are still on the statute books.

    Frankly, I think it’s time everybody got a life, and tried to clear up the mess that UK has become. Then, perhaps, there’ll be time to look at foreign policy.

  82. ZinZin — on 29th September, 2006 at 7:42 pm  

    TITLE: A QUESTION of LEADERSHIP

    John Ware: Britain has around 2 million Muslims.

    Muslim leaders have condemned utterly the bombings.

    And yet this murderous rage grew from within their communities.

    Some influential Muslims believe the time for a full and frank debate about where Islam is going here is long over due.

    Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, Muslim Institute: I think the British people may give us benefit of doubt once this time, but if this were to be repeated, then I think the Muslim position ¿ future is very bleak. And knowing our community, the amount of fundamentalism and extremism that exists, I’m not quite sure that this will not happen again. ”

    I beleive this shores up berts case. Although Hutr are more dangerous than Al Ghurubba. There have been a succession of British Muslim terrorists before the first attack on 7/7.

    Anas do not play down those nutters there are many more of them and they are brighter than Choudary and as a result very dangerous.

  83. Bert Preast — on 29th September, 2006 at 8:28 pm  

    Hizb have drawn 9,000 to their meetings. I don’t think the BNP have ever managed a tenth of that. Mostly because nobody would be fool enough to give them the venue, granted. But that’s concerning.

    Still, I do know that everywhere the BNP try to demonstrate, there are the anti facists shouting them down. Both sides are a bit extreme from my point of view, but while they’re balancing each other out I’m not overly frightened.

  84. Old Pickler — on 29th September, 2006 at 11:44 pm  

    It isn’t often I say this, but I’m very impressed by the quality of debate on this thread, so much so that I have nothing to add. La Pickler is at a loss for words. Bert Preast – spade a moonerism – argues particularly well.

    To moderate Muslims everywhere – speak out and ridicule the extremists. You will find support if you do, whatever Bunting & co say.

  85. Anas — on 1st October, 2006 at 3:23 pm  

    The UK is not the west. I’m unclear as to which atrocities you’re saying we are responsible for because of funding. Can you give examples?

    The UK’s close alliance with the US incorporating military, ideological and diplomatic support makes us very much part of what the rest of the world sees as “the west”. Obviously, if you’re looking for attrocities we’ve funded then you need look no further than recent illegal occupation of Iraq, as well as Afghanistan — both actions resulting in the death of tens of thousands of civilians. Obviously we’re supporting (ideologically and diplomatically even if implicitly through muting criticism of the barbaric practises of) the Saudi regime, plus we’re even selling them arms and torture equipment, that makes us partly responsible for its continuous existence, or at least its existence as a repressive, torturing regime. To quote the Guardian from December03 :

    “Licences have been approved this year for the export to Saudi Arabia of “security and paramilitary goods”, hitherto unpublished figures show.
    The list of items under this category is: “Acoustic devices… suitable for riot control purposes, anti-riot shields… leg irons, gangchains, electric shock belts, shackles… individual cuffs… portable anti-riot devices… water cannon… riot control vehicles… portable devices for riot control or self-protection by the administration of an electric shock”.

    The government’s arms export guidelines state that licences will be refused if there is a “clear risk [they] might be used for internal repression”.

    The exports to Saudi Arabia, which also include a wide range of military hardware and weapons systems, were cleared despite sharp criticism of the country in the FO’s latest annual human rights report published in the summer.

    “We continue to have deep concerns about Saudi Arabia’s failure to implement basic human rights norms,” it says, referring explicitly to capital and corporal punishment and restrictions on freedom of movement, expression, assembly and worship.

    It adds: “We believe that between January and December 2002, the Saudi authorities executed about 46 people, one of the highest figures for any country in the world.”

    We’re still selling arms to the Saudis, reckoned to be the biggest funders of Islamic extremism across the world, and whose treatment of women makes the taliban look fair.

    As for Israel and their illegal occupation of Palestine (which we find the need to support militarily as well as diplomatically), to quote the article from the link I posted:

    “The government last year approved £22.5m worth of arms-related exports to Israel, almost twice the amount in 2004. They included components for combat helicopters, aircraft radars and air-to-surface missiles. British companies also make crucial parts for US-made Apache helicopters and display units for US F-16s, both used by Israeli forces in Lebanon and the occupied territories.”

    I was behind Israel in that conflict anyway

    Ah, so you’re an active supporter of state terrorism too. This gets better and better, Bert. To quote the LMD article which again I linked to in my previous post:

    “Britain also gave active military support to Israel’s attacks on Lebanon, granting permission to refuel at British airports to US flights carrying shipments of arms to the front, after the Irish government denied Washington such permissions. In late July, as the conflict escalated, sources at one of those airports told The Times that by that stage the number of refuelling stops had become “absolutely unreal”. (3)

    The use to which Israel puts these arms is well understood. After Hezbollah’s cross border raid of 12 July 2006 in which three Israeli soldiers were killed and two captured, Israel’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, told Israeli television that “If the soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon’s clock back twenty years”. Halutz declared that “Nothing is safe (in Lebanon), as simple as that”. Elsewhere, The Washington Post reported that “According to retired Israeli army Col. Gal Luft, the goal of [Israel's military] campaign is to “create a rift between the Lebanese population and Hezbollah supporters.” The message to Lebanon’s elite, he said, is this: “If you want your air conditioning to work and if you want to be able to fly to Paris for shopping, you must pull your head out of the sand and take action toward shutting down Hezbollah-land”.” (4)

    The intention to send a message to the people of Lebanon through the medium of extreme violence was illustrated by the propaganda campaign mounted by Israel against the people whose country it was in the process of destroying. Leaflets dropped from Israeli planes demanded that the population “remove the sore known as Hezbollah from the heart of Lebanon”. On the last day of the war, with over 1,100 Lebanese killed, 3,600 injured and around a fifth of the population displaced Israeli leaflets dropped on Lebanese cities claimed that Hezbollah and its Syrian and Iranian backers had brought destruction on Lebanon, and asked the pointed question “Will you be able to pay this price again?” (5)

    The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines terrorism as “the systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective”; precisely what is described above. We need hardly therefore waste any words on the idea that Israel took proportionate military action simply to defend itself, since its stated intention from the outset was to wage a terrorist war on the entire Lebanese nation. Nor can the British government deny the true nature of its allies actions, with which it was fully complicit.(6)”

    I’d like to keep it civil with you, but I find your views repugnant and hypocritical, Bert.

  86. Chairwoman — on 1st October, 2006 at 4:20 pm  

    Actually Anas that pretty well sums up my opinion of your views.

    I support Israel because I am Jewish, and to me a Jewish state is essential. As you are not Jewish, you cannot understand that. I am absolutely fine with with that. I am also fine with the fact that you don’t accept that a nation of approximately 7 million people feels threatened by a ‘nation’ of 150 billion (Islamic figures, often quoted), most of whom are baying for its blood.

    What I don’t understand is why you think it’s absolutely fine to encourage people not to make peace, and find a two state solution, and whether you like it or not, that is what posts like yours do.

    If you look back on posts on this blog, you will find that every time the Jewish Picklers say let’s find a solution, let’s try and move forward and put an end to this, the majority of Islamic Picklers who comment on these threads respond agressively. There are notable exceptions, people who actually want peace.

    In my everyday life, I have found that the only road to peaceful co-existence is to stop the finger pointing, the name calling, and the blaming. It’s the same between nations. Just because someone’s views are the opposite of yours doesn’t make them anything but opposite to yours.

    That is why I find your views repugnant and hypocritical, because you can’t accept that the other side has a point of view. You don’t want a solution, per se, you just want your side to win.

    Why don’t you take up Monopoly?

  87. Anas — on 1st October, 2006 at 4:39 pm  

    I can encapsulate my beliefs on Israel/Palestine in one phrase, a phrase that scares Zionists and uncritical supporters of Israel:

    No peace without Justice!

    Without a just settlement for the Palestinians that honours their right for a viable state, self-determination and security (and not just Israeli security), any supposed “solution”, you or your fellow pro-Palestinian occupation Picklers push (et’s not assume all jews think one thing, all muslims think another, I find that insulting and divisive, actually your whole characterisation of the “Islamic view” is insulting and plain wrong) is unrealistic and completely useless.

  88. ZinZin — on 1st October, 2006 at 4:42 pm  

    Chairwoman
    Please leave Anas to his paranoia. Its rather typical of many Muslims i am afraid blame others and take no responsibility for the actions of their own co-religionists. They would gain a great deal more sympathy if they made a stand against the fundis as Bert keeps on stating time and again.

  89. Katy Newton — on 1st October, 2006 at 4:43 pm  

    I am having trouble understanding how this post stopped being about the problem that moderate Islam faces (namely, the fact that the public face of Islam has been effectively hijacked by a minority of extremists with the result that the silent moderate majority has become the victim of a PR disaster) and started being about the Israel/Lebanon war. I am really tired of the way in which any attempt to explore censorship by Islamic extremists is automatically countered with “It’s all the West’s fault” or “It’s because of Israel”. How does that help to dispel the notion that Islam brooks no criticism of itself?

    Leon has identified a real problem – with great care and sensitivity – which needs deserves proper debate without acrimony. Let’s try to keep on track here.

  90. Chairwoman — on 1st October, 2006 at 4:47 pm  

    Anas – I am in favour of a viable bi-state solution with self-determination and security for both.

    I am against occupation for the same reason as I am against capital punishment. It brutilises the occupier as much as the occupee.

  91. Chairwoman — on 1st October, 2006 at 4:51 pm  

    ZinZin – I try, heaven knows I do, but I am so busy trying to convince people that the majority of Jews favour this, that I end up disappearing up my own fundament. You of course are right, and I should refuse to rise to the bait.

  92. ZinZin — on 1st October, 2006 at 5:02 pm  

    Should i provide a top ten Victim chart as in these PC times being a victim wins the argument. In the past victims stood up for themselves and demanded their rights ie Martin Luther King and the Civil rights movement. If they whined about how beastly everyone was to them they would have got nothing.

    Katy you are right that this post has been diverted and i would like the ME to have the same freedoms that the West has enjoyed for 200 years. A sad fact that should be brought up is that Islamic Fundis are imposing their religious sensitivities upon us as the Motoons affair and Houellebecqs blasphemy trial have proven.

  93. Anas — on 1st October, 2006 at 6:52 pm  

    I am having trouble understanding how this post stopped being about the problem that moderate Islam faces (namely, the fact that the public face of Islam has been effectively hijacked by a minority of extremists with the result that the silent moderate majority has become the victim of a PR disaster) and started being about the Israel/Lebanon war

    well the two things ain’t disconnected: perceived injustice fuels the growth of islamic extremism and damages the moral authority of the west, which makes potential moderates less inclined to boisterously defend the supremacy of western democracy

    Leon has identified a real problem – with great care and sensitivity – which needs deserves proper debate without acrimony.

    i apologise if i come across as uncivil, just i feel strongly bout this stuff

  94. Jagdeep — on 1st October, 2006 at 7:18 pm  

    Yeah Katy it’s a bit mad how threads often end up being about Israel! When they have nothing to do with Israel in the first place!

  95. ZinZin — on 1st October, 2006 at 11:59 pm  

    Is Anas the Anas Al-Tikriti of MAB fame?

  96. Anas — on 2nd October, 2006 at 12:14 am  

    LOL. Not quite, ZZ.

  97. Leon — on 2nd October, 2006 at 11:44 am  

    Have a good look at yourself, Leon.

    I think that the following shows that, in fact, I already do.

    Shamefully I’m finding it harder and harder to disagree let alone counter the views with anything remotely intelligent.

  98. Katy Newton — on 2nd October, 2006 at 12:03 pm  

    I thought it was a really excellent article, Leon.

  99. Leon — on 2nd October, 2006 at 12:33 pm  

    Cheers, it was quite a struggle to write, it took four drafts and a lot of internal conflict. I’m thinking of giving a number of different topic the same treatment.

  100. sonia — on 2nd October, 2006 at 1:02 pm  

    yep great job leon – good balance.

  101. Anas — on 2nd October, 2006 at 1:36 pm  

    Having read over the article again, Leon, there was at least one sentence in what you wrote that I found disturbing:
    This doesn’t mean the individuals deserve attack or abuse but it does mean that rational and humane intellectual discourse, critical or otherwise, must be tolerated if the religion is to be also.

    I mean, most people accept that the placard waving extremists, who seem to be the darlings of the media — prolly because they place to the prejudices and irrational fears of white (and non-Muslim) audiences — represent only a minority of Muslims, and are not an accurate reflection of the wider Muslim community. But here, with this sentence you’re effectively placing as a condition of the ‘toleration’ of a religion, the acceptance within the community of “rational and humane intellectual discourse, critical or otherwise” — an implied threat to all Muslims that if you don’t sufficiently reign in the excesses of a voiciferous unrepresentative minority then you won’t be allowed to practice your religion. That’s quite a dangerous statement to make in a free democratic society, and is wrong in all manner of ways. I accept that the Muslim community needs to foster far more debate than it already has within the community, and it’s happening to an extent; though I’m pretty sure all mainstream Muslims leaders do actually condemn terrorism. But don’t you think threatening Muslims with the ban of their religion is extraordinarily counterproductive?

    I apologise if I’ve misread you, but I’m amazed no one else’s picked it up (actually I’m not really), and I think your article might have benefited from another draft.

    Another thing, how come none of the usual PP ‘progressives’ (apart from Arif) had nothing to say about Bert’s advocation of violence against Al-Guraaba:

    I would say violence against Al Ghurabaa would be protecting people from imminent if not immediate violence
    I thought this wasn’t how we did things in democratic societies, I thought this was what we were trying to drum into the heads of Muslims?

  102. Anas — on 2nd October, 2006 at 1:37 pm  

    * prolly because they play to the prejudices and irrational fears of white (and non-Muslim) audiences

  103. Leon — on 2nd October, 2006 at 2:10 pm  

    But don’t you think threatening Muslims with the ban of their religion is extraordinarily counterproductive?

    I wasn’t threatening anyone, simply pointing out the likely consequences of intolerance.

    Regarding you referring to our society as a free democratic one? I think that’s really open to debate…

  104. Sunny — on 2nd October, 2006 at 3:38 pm  

    Anas you seem to have slight double standards.

    On the one hand you say the ‘Muslim community’ (too broad a term but lets stick with it) is likely to behave in certain ways because its only human.

    But you don’t seem to understand that the 98% of non-Muslims in the UK are also likely to behave as ordinary (and frightened) humans when faced with a bunch of massacre demanding protestors.

    You want us to feel outraged if Al-Ghuraaba were faced with violence?

    I’m happy to say that at the next protest they organise the police should handle them very strictly and demand any placards inciting violence get taken down. And if refuse and start threatening violence then I’d be happy to see them getting thwacked by some riot police people.

    Is that ‘progressive’ enough for you?

    Yes this is (vaguely) a democracy but do not forget that the rules constantly change in a democracy and if the majority have a justification in feeling threatened by a small minority then its the right of the police to take action.

  105. Anas — on 2nd October, 2006 at 6:21 pm  

    I wasn’t threatening anyone, simply pointing out the likely consequences of intolerance.
    Yeah, funny how when Muslims (or even non-Muslims) point out the “likely” consequences of Western FP in terms of radicalising Muslims, unless they explicitly state their rejetion of terrrorism, or of the thought processes that lead people to terrorism, they’re accused of being apologists for terrorism, or they’re told that they’re trying to alter British FP on the basis of the anger of a minority. Also, if these consequences are so “likely” to the extent that certain types of discourse “must” be tolerated by Muslims, otherwise their religion stands the risk of being effectively outlawed, then why isn’t John Reid visiting white working class communities and warning them against turning to race hate, telling them to check their children for signs of affiliation to racist organisations? I mean, White Europeans have some previous ‘form’ on this, haven’t they? Why aren’t white people being encouraged to go through a process of soul searching, why aren’t they being confronted with their injustices? Why should Muslims pander to the White extremists?
    Anas you seem to have slight double standards.
    On the one hand you say the ‘Muslim community’ (too broad a term but lets stick with it) is likely to behave in certain ways because its only human.
    But you don’t seem to understand that the 98% of non-Muslims in the UK are also likely to behave as ordinary (and frightened) humans when faced with a bunch of massacre demanding protestors.

    I would have double standards if I was more comfortable with one form of extremism over the other — I’m not. Both forms of extremism are understandable, neither is justifiable. The problem I have is that if the problem is as bad as Leon makes it out to be, in other words, if the very existence of Islam from white extermism is at risk unless Muslims confront the Islamic extremists in their midst if they’re being intimidated on such a scale, then why isn’t the potential threat to Muslims receiving any coverage at all, and why isn’t it drawing widespread condemnation from white leaders, where are the taskforces? Could it be that Leon is talking rubbish?

    You want us to feel outraged if Al-Ghuraaba were faced with violence?
    I’m happy to say that at the next protest they organise the police should handle them very strictly and demand any placards inciting violence get taken down. And if refuse and start threatening violence then I’d be happy to see them getting thwacked by some riot police people.
    Is that ‘progressive’ enough for you?
    Yes this is (vaguely) a democracy but do not forget that the rules constantly change in a democracy and if the majority have a justification in feeling threatened by a small minority then its the right of the police to take action.

    It is still not a facist or totalitarian state, it is still enough of a free country that the majority should not be able to impose its will upon a minority community simply by intimidation (using the police), by dint of its status as majority just as no minority should be able change the policies of a country through the use of terror tactics. How can you persuade the Muslims of the benefits of free secular democracies when you’re still unclear of what they entail?

  106. Anas — on 2nd October, 2006 at 6:36 pm  

    To quote John Reid (filched from that superb Yongue article): “We will go where we please, we will discuss what we like, and we will never be browbeaten by bullies. That’s what it means to be British.”

    Quite right, British Muslims should “never be browbeaten by bullies. That’s what it means to be British.”

  107. soru — on 2nd October, 2006 at 6:43 pm  

    Why aren’t white people being encouraged to go through a process of soul searching

    Like, huh?

    Do you even read the Guardian?

  108. Anas — on 2nd October, 2006 at 7:06 pm  

    correction

    *if the very existence of Islam is at risk from white extremism unless Muslims confront the Islamic extremists in their midst, if they’re being intimidated on such a scale, then why isn’t the potential threat to Muslims receiving any coverage at all, and why isn’t it drawing widespread condemnation from white leaders, where are the taskforces?

  109. Bert Preast — on 2nd October, 2006 at 7:14 pm  

    Because some muslims are attacking and murdering what we can only assume they know are not white extremists. After all, they constantly assure us that the majority are aginst the war in Iraq, ergo on their side for now. I also assume “now, you shall taste the reality” is a reference to the reality of the chance of being hit by a random bomb.

    Other muslims keep on attacking white extremists, as well as the government and the UK in general, rather than the muslims supporting the bombings. You must admit you can see how it could lead to a bit of a monolithic impression?

    When the white extremists start to outnumber the counter demonstrators, you’ll see the taskforces.

  110. Sunny — on 2nd October, 2006 at 8:11 pm  

    if the very existence of Islam is at risk from white extremism unless Muslims confront the Islamic extremists in their midst, if they’re being intimidated on such a scale, then why isn’t the potential threat to Muslims receiving any coverage at all

    This is an absurd straw-man. Islam is not at threat from ‘white extremism’ (I don’t know how you define that because no one is planning to or claiming to wipe out 1 billion Muslims or forcibly convert Muslims.

    On the other hand there are a few Muslim ‘leaders’ who want to destroy Israel or want to turn Britain into an Islamic state. They don’t have the capability to, of course. But if there was going to be a global ‘clash of civisation’ I’d bet my house that they’d be the first to start it if they get hold of some serious weaponry.

    So, going by rhetoric… who should be scared again?

  111. Anas — on 2nd October, 2006 at 8:31 pm  

    This is an absurd straw-man. Islam is not at threat from ‘white extremism’ (I don’t know how you define that because no one is planning to or claiming to wipe out 1 billion Muslims or forcibly convert Muslims.

    I agree it is absurd, but how else can you interpret Leon’s statement to which I was referring? Namely,

    This doesn’t mean the individuals deserve attack or abuse but it does mean that rational and humane intellectual discourse, critical or otherwise, must be tolerated if the religion is to be also.

    Apparently, Islam’s currently being “tolerated”.

  112. Chairwoman — on 2nd October, 2006 at 8:49 pm  

    What’s wrong with Islam being ‘tolerated’? The opposite would be intolerance. How would that be better?

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