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  • Samira Ahmed on feminism and fundamentalism


    by Sunny
    9th November, 2006 at 10:57 pm    

    samiraChannel 4 News presenter Samira Ahmed recently gave a lecture at LSE earlier this week, organised by the journalism think-tank Polis. Director Charlie Beckett has posted about on his blog. He writes:

    What made her especially interesting was her view that the UK media often fails to recognise extremist dangers, partly because of “over-sensitivity”. She feels that there is, for example, an under-reporting of misogyny among political extremists, including certain Islamic groups. And she thinks that this is a crucial factor in creating the ‘Death Cult’ of suicide bombers prepared to kill innocent people for their beliefs.

    I agree with Samira of course. But then this under-reporting applies to Sikh and Hindu groups too. When the Behzti controversy blew up, no one wanted to challenge the rubbish claims put out by “community-leaders” that they had never heard of any Sikh women being assaulted in Gurudwaras.

    There has also been a tendency to accept and legitimise extremists such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and look the other way when the MCB’s affiliates invite over nutters.

    Samira has also written up a little piece on Channel 4′s newly launched blog.
    On it she says (reproduced in full):

    After 15 years covering Islamic radicals, crime and being winked at by Tory ministers, I found myself trying to put all the experience together for a lecture at the LSE last night on reporting fundmentalism and feminism, showing clips of good and “bad” news coverage on issues ranging from the Fertiliser bomb plot trial to the Molly Campbell custody row that a lot of news outlets (not C4 News) decided, wrongly, was about the horrors of forced marriage.

    Why for, example, are ethnic reporters so often pressed into making “personalised” journeys through faith, preferably with at least one scene of them crying?

    And when it comes to the growing crisis of the death cult within radical British Islam that has already produced several suicide bombers — in Tel Aviv and on 7/7 — it’s often been by listening to the very personal narratives of alleged bombers that you can uncover common themes and motivations.

    A vicious misogyny is often a crucial part of the alienating ideology promoted in these groups. I also believe in fighting the great temptation of news editors, to give more airtime to the radicals, (it’s guaranteed infotainment) rather than the much harder job of getting to know communities and finding more representative voices.

    The most fascinating part of the evening, was the students’ debate about Islamophobia, with most of the British ones generally optimistic, while 2 white Germans grimly asserted that the treatment of Muslims in much daily news coverage was reminiscent of the anti-semitism coalescing at the end of the Weimar Republic.

    The British multicultural consensus that we’d all somehow “muddle through” is clearly at an end. But such a suggestion was a chilling thought.

    Although I think she is playing down some of the phobia that her peers have of Muslims, especially at the Daily Express and parts of The Sun/Telegraph, I generally agree with her.


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    1. Nick — on 9th November, 2006 at 11:29 pm  

      Only tonight I was saying to a colleague in the pub we were led by Weimer politicians - meaning decadent, spinless opportunists. Now Samira mentions it, the press is pretty Weimar too, though I think more through its fascination with trivia, sensation and celebrity.

      But this is not 30s Germany. Our society is neither shattered by total war, nor are we undergoing a profound economic slump. People are not starving in the streets. The Reichstag has not burned down yet.

      Times change. This is a new time. But to use another German 30s metaphor, I think the UK is more like Metropolis - middle class bloggers like us sit in the clouds debating the issues of the day, while beneath us the working classes toil increasingly segregated and alienated from each other and a conception of themselves as a nation together.

    2. ZinZin — on 10th November, 2006 at 12:53 am  

      The medias failing with regards to Islamic fundamentalism is that they have allowed the groups that are part of the problem(MCB,MAB,MPAC and HuT) have too much air time and allowed them to set the parameters of the debate over Islamic terror.

      The Express, Sun and Telegraph is not the problem it is the Guardian a supposedly liberal paper allowing the fundis to set the terms of debate. The Guardian should be providing a space for liberal Muslims and feminist Muslims however an appearance from them in the comment page or CIF is rare. I expect a liberal paper to provide a space for secular,liberal and feminist Muslims but if they give space to fundis on a regular basis and thus stop alternative views from muslims appearing in their paper then the skewering of the debate is inevitable.

    3. miraxx — on 10th November, 2006 at 4:12 am  

      Agree 100% with Zin’s comments on the Guardian.

    4. miraxx — on 10th November, 2006 at 4:17 am  

      Accomodating the nutters seems to be the line of least resistance with some sectors of the British establishment.

      Read this:
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6134804.stm

      The judge was changed instead of the legal counsel being told to either take off her veil or take off altogether.

    5. Nick — on 10th November, 2006 at 6:02 am  

      Miraxx. Gosh, at least through this insomniac’s eyes the almost casual submission of the legal establishment is quite stunning - let that be a lesson to any judge who dares to stand up to a stroppy young lawyer.

      Would it have been acceptable for her to appear in court naked if it is was an “expression of her religious faith”? Personally I would find it less offensive than someone who voluntarly “defaces” herself and, symbolically, the rest of her gender.

    6. Isaa — on 10th November, 2006 at 8:58 am  

      ZinZin,

      Have you ever read The Guardian? Over the past few weeks I’ve read a wide variety of views from people within the Muslim community in the pages of The Guardian. I’ve read articles by people like Houznah Mahmoud who are opposed to any form of political Islam. I’ve read articles from people like Tariq Ali who have left Islam and are now committed to left-wing politics, I’ve read articles by moderate Muslims like Asim Siddiqui and I’ve also had the chance to read articles by people committed to Islamist politics such as Soumayya Ghanoushi and Imran Waheed. So what is your problem? Your cheap and unfounded shot at The Guardian bears no resemblance to reality. If you want to silence debate then you have a point and are correct to deny opposing views a platform, however, some of us like to read views from both sides of the spectrum and then make up our own mind. And personally, I wouldn’t see a problem with Nick Griffin having his own column in The Guardian or any other paper for that matter. I don’t fear his views and feel a need to silence him.

    7. Sid — on 10th November, 2006 at 9:06 am  

      The Guardian editorial line (as opposed to its entire journalistic opus) is a necessary counteragent to the kind of prejudice peddled by the Sun/Daily HateMail/Daily Express. You know, the kind of thing malignancy that equates any woman in a niqab as a “nutter”.

      Can’t have one without the other.

      Also, before I dash, I’d like to add that Samira Ahmed is fabulous.

    8. Yakoub/Julaybib — on 10th November, 2006 at 9:36 am  

      Kimmel, M. (2003) Globalization and its Mal(e)Contents: The Gendered Moral and Political Economy of Terrorism, International Sociology, 18, 603 – 620

      This draws attention to the relationship between misogny and groups such as Jihadi death cults and white Nazis.

      Also see Ouzgane’s collection of essays published this year, called ‘Islamic Masculinities’, especially the essay by Durre S Ahmed.

      And as Fatima Mernissi points out, there is probably a link between misogynistic masculinity amongst Muslims and colonialism (and also homophobia - see Jeremy Seabrook, It’s not natural, The Guardian Online 03 July 2004).

      And as Ashis Nandy has pointed out, colonialism itself facilitated hypermasculinity in British culture, hence the equally under-reported levels of domestic violence and femicidal violence in the UK.

      Wasalaam

      TMA

    9. Kismet Hardy — on 10th November, 2006 at 9:57 am  

      “What made her especially interesting was her view that the UK media often fails to recognise extremist dangers, partly because of “over-sensitivity”.

      I kinda disagree. The way I see it, the more coverage you give a small, nutty organisations, the more opportunity there is for small nuts to go to them. It’s the whole X Factor mentality (that only works on stupid people). You see someone clearly talentless on TV and in the magazines all the time, and boom! They become celebrities in their eyes.

      I saw the same happen with Abu Hamza. If the Sun hadn’t been so relentless in giving him front page coverage for so long, he wouldn’t got as many supporters crawling out of the woodwork as they did.

      Catching suspected terrorists and hatemongers is the job of the secret services. Not the media.

      As for the part about exposing misogyny, however, name and shame and crucify at will

    10. soru — on 10th November, 2006 at 12:41 pm  

      And personally, I wouldn’t see a problem with Nick Griffin having his own column in The Guardian or any other paper for that matter. I don’t fear his views and feel a need to silence him.

      There’s certainly an argument for allowing both. By doing so you are making it clear to all readers that you don’t endorse, or even consider acceptable, the things said.

      But that’s not the Guardian policy. Claiming it is, so that noone can object to the presence of supremacist views, is simple bait and switch.

      Ultimately, what’s needed is education of the reader. If you see an article written by a member of the government, the opposition, the far left, the CBI, the teacher’s union, or whoever, readers largely know what biases to expect, how to read what they are saying. Imagine the Guardian producing a wall-chart of all the different strands of Islamist and muslim opinion, and referring to it with a little diagram above each column showing where the author is coming from.

      Of course, the Guardian isn’t in the education business, it is in the race war business - bombs mean sales, and there’s a circulation war going on. So they don’t do that, they just makes sure the controversial articles are written by people with obviously Muslim names, and put a little picture of them with brown skin or a hibab next to it, just to make sure the race war message gets through.

    11. Anas — on 10th November, 2006 at 12:57 pm  

      I don’t get Samira’s point re: extremist misogyny. It seems to be an understanding within large swathes of the media that any but the most “liberal” Islamic group or organisation is by default misogynistic and anti-woman. Islam is perceived as being a misogynistic religion by most Western journalists and commentators. Therefore it is an obvious but maybe unspoken understanding in most media coverage that extermist Islamist groups, given that they’re taken to follow the most literalist, legalistic, “fundamentalist” strain of Islam will indeed be extremely misogynistic and hold views on women in common with the Taliban or the Saudi regime: both of which do receive coverage or are at least commonly referenced in the media. In fact all fundamentalists whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, etc, are taken by default to be misogynists.

    12. Anas — on 10th November, 2006 at 1:07 pm  

      Hey people, don’t forget about Androphobia, a growing problem in the West:

      http://www.backlash.com/content/gender/1996/4-apr96/wilson04.html

      http://www.backlash.com/content/gender/1996/5-may96/wilson05.html

    13. Kulvinder — on 10th November, 2006 at 1:24 pm  

      Would it have been acceptable for her to appear in court naked if it is was an “expression of her religious faith”?

      Yes. The ‘interests of justice’ (and legal talent) are more important to the judiciary than screechy complaints about what the people in court are wearing because of their faith. Even clarity and communication is assessed on a case-by-case basis. It would be incredibly easy to prejudice against disabled in an self-rightous campaign for ‘clarity’.

    14. Kulvinder — on 10th November, 2006 at 1:32 pm  

      Regarding the article, although i broadly agree with the rest of what she says i’m skeptical of the role misogyny plays in becoming a suicide bomber; not least because there are female suicide bombers. I’m not happy with tarring a large percentage of people who die for a cause with the same brush; it just seems too dismissive.

    15. Jagdeep — on 10th November, 2006 at 1:37 pm  

      Oh, how awful, tarring suicide bombers with the same brush, how brutish of us.

    16. Kulvinder — on 10th November, 2006 at 1:42 pm  

      Oh, how awful, tarring suicide bombers with the same brush, how brutish of us.

      Not brutish; small minded. Its less about trying to find out why they act as they do, which requires a degree of empathy regardless of how much you disagree with their actions, and more about using words that - in context - lean towards pejoratives.

    17. Jagdeep — on 10th November, 2006 at 1:45 pm  

      Oh how small minded — imagine suggesting that suicide bombers mght have a degree of misogyny in their mentalities, oh how horrible and unfair. The poor little flower petals must be turning in their graves. It just isnt fair to describe them as possibly being misogynistic. Is there no end to their persecution?

    18. Jagdeep — on 10th November, 2006 at 1:50 pm  

      I’m not happy with tarring a large percentage of people who die for a cause with the same brush; it just seems too dismissive.

      Hey! What’s the matter with you? Why are you so prejudiced? You are suggesting that suicide bombers are selfish because they are willing to die for their cause without mentioning their deep generosity. They are so magnanimous and unselfish that they also kill other people for their cause. What’s the matter with you? Next you’ll be suggesting they might have had an itsy-bitsy tiny-winy amount of misogynistic attitudes.

      These days, the Islamophobic stereotyping of suicide bombers is getting outrageous. Stop attacking them when they’re dead and can’t answer back these slurs on their noble and brave characters.

    19. Kulvinder — on 10th November, 2006 at 2:01 pm  

      Oh how small minded — imagine suggesting that suicide bombers mght have a degree of misogyny in their mentalities, oh how horrible and unfair. The poor little flower petals must be turning in their graves. It just isnt fair to describe them as possibly being misogynistic. Is there no end to their persecution?

      Sarcasm really is the lowest form of wit, all you have done is demonstrate that small minded anti-intellectualism. A degree of misogyny wasn’t mentioned

      And she thinks that this is a crucial factor in creating the ‘Death Cult’ of suicide bombers

      Hey! What’s the matter with you? Why are you so prejudiced? You are suggesting that suicide bombers are selfish because they are willing to die for their cause without mentioning their deep generosity. They are so magnanimous and unselfish that they also kill other people for their cause. What’s the matter with you? Next you’ll be suggesting they might have had an itsy-bitsy tiny-winy amount of misogynistic attitudes.

      These days, the Islamophobic stereotyping of suicide bombers is getting outrageous. Stop attacking them when they’re dead and can’t answer back these slurs on their noble and brave characters.

      Make an argument.

    20. Anas — on 10th November, 2006 at 2:04 pm  

      The Express, Sun and Telegraph is not the problem it is the Guardian a supposedly liberal paper allowing the fundis to set the terms of debate.

      Firstly, that’s a laughable claim you make about the Guardian’s being an apologist for “fundamentalists” . Secondly, why aren’t The Express, Sun and Telegraph the problem, given the combnined tally of their massive circulations, and their obvious anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, pro-war, pro-bigotry agendas and myriad misrepresentations?

    21. Jagdeep — on 10th November, 2006 at 2:09 pm  

      Who said sarcasm was the lowest form of wit? That’s the lowest form of cliche. Sarcasm is brilliant.

      We need to stop persecuting dead suicide bombers by suggesting misogyny is an important factor in the ideology that drives them. I’ve had enough of this bigotry.

    22. Jai — on 10th November, 2006 at 2:29 pm  

      It is possible that some of the suicide bombers who think they’ll get 72 virgins in Paradise may have an element of misogyny in their characters.

    23. Raul — on 10th November, 2006 at 2:35 pm  

      “I’m not happy with tarring a large percentage of people who die for a cause with the same brush; it just seems too dismissive.”

      The glaring thing is this statement focuses on the suicide bomber to the exclusion of the victims and shows an appalling lack of sensitivity to their deaths in contrast to a inexplicable, macabre even sensitivity to the sucide bombers cause. What motivates a rapist to rape? Who cares, that’s academic, and is not going to prevent rape. People are insane, crazy, mad, perverted, psychotic, I am sure there are reasons why they are so but the existance of these reasons doesn’t make their actions acceptable. Suicide bombing is not about giving up life, its about taking other lives. I will be perfectly happy if they ‘die for a cause’ alone and not get other people mixed up with their perverted fantasies. Get it.

    24. Kulvinder — on 10th November, 2006 at 2:38 pm  

      Who said sarcasm was the lowest form of wit?

      Apparently Thomas Carlyle gives the earliest version, though it isn’t exact. Which is a shame because i disagree with him about Cromwell.

      We need to stop persecuting dead suicide bombers by suggesting misogyny is an important factor in the ideology that drives them. I’ve had enough of this bigotry.

      We don’t persecute the dead ones, understanding why the ones about to die act as they do is of more importance.

    25. Kulvinder — on 10th November, 2006 at 2:48 pm  

      The glaring thing is this statement focuses on the suicide bomber to the exclusion of the victims and shows an appalling lack of sensitivity to their deaths in contrast to a inexplicable, macabre even sensitivity to the sucide bombers cause

      I’m not sure how you derived all that from this

      I’m not happy with tarring a large percentage of people who die for a cause with the same brush; it just seems too dismissive

      but the victims of suicide bombers don’t concern me as much as potential future victims. Understanding why they act is the best way to prevent them having cause to act.

      What motivates a rapist to rape? Who cares, that’s academic, and is not going to prevent rape.

      …yes it is.

      People are insane, crazy, mad, perverted, psychotic, I am sure there are reasons why they are so but the existance of these reasons doesn’t make their actions acceptable.

      Noone suggested otherwise.

      Suicide bombing is not about giving up life, its about taking other lives. I will be perfectly happy if they ‘die for a cause’ alone and not get other people mixed up with their perverted fantasies. Get it.

      Suicide bombers are generally thought to act for a cause rather than wanting to commit suicide and by chance take as many people with them as possible. You aren’t going to progress very far in preventing suicide bombers if your sole analysis boils down to them killing themselves without anyone present.

    26. Nick — on 10th November, 2006 at 3:36 pm  

      Reminds me of the Life of Brian…

      Suicide Squad Leader: We are the Judean People’s Front crack suicide squad! Suicide squad, attack!
      [they all stab themselves]
      Suicide Squad Leader: That showed ‘em, huh?

      I don’t know, could be a start though…?

    27. Don — on 10th November, 2006 at 3:47 pm  

      I agree with Kulviner that sticking a same-size-fits-all label on terrorist (or rapist, or arsonist) and thinking we have ‘explained’ them is not particularly productive.

      Certainly it seems reasonable to consider misogyny as a factor, despite the existence of female suicide bombers. Samina described it as a crucial part of the alienating ideology, the bombers who emerge from that ideology will have other factors in their make up.

      On a purely practical level, we don’t seem to have a useful profile for these people. We won’t develop one without asking questions.

    28. soru — on 10th November, 2006 at 3:53 pm  

      ‘Kimmel, M. (2003) Globalization and its Mal(e)Contents: The Gendered Moral and Political Economy of Terrorism, International Sociology’

      If suicide bombers limited their targets to academics who write papers with lame puns in the title, I for one would have no problems understanding them.

    29. ZinZin — on 10th November, 2006 at 4:23 pm  

      Have you ever read The Guardian?
      Issa that question should be directed at yourself.

      Anas.
      My point is that the Guardian in providing a platform to islamists on a regular basis is contributing to the bad rep that Muslims get. It is no use complaining about the Right-wing press and their bigging up of fundis when the Guardian treats them as your elected representatives speaking on your behalf.

    30. Jagdeep — on 10th November, 2006 at 4:33 pm  

      If suicide bombers limited their targets to academics who write papers with lame puns in the title, I for one would have no problems understanding them.

      soru, you crack me up man. I just bought you a metaphorcial cyber pint of beer for that.

    31. funkg — on 10th November, 2006 at 4:58 pm  

      I don’t agree that the guardian are apologist for the ‘islamist’ whatever the guardians faults, its to their create that they have at least proper debates on the issues. We all have a responsibility to not only try and counter the perceived ‘threat’ but also to have a sense of proportion. Media outlets such as the right wing press have a responsibility to accurately report events in an open and non reactionary way to properly inform ‘middle englanders’. It makes me sad that lots of peoples news outlets and opinions are formed by the ‘red tops’
      as a believer in God my only gripes were the guardian was its previous hostility to those who believe that God created the earth. My personal opinions on creation were laughed at when I was a student, now that uni’s are more multi ethnic with Islamic creationist and others, we creationist can no longer be made a laughing stock of.

    32. ZinZin — on 10th November, 2006 at 5:05 pm  

      funkg i did not say that they were apologists for islamists.

      we creationist can no longer be made a laughing stock of.

      Don’t tempt me.

    33. Don — on 10th November, 2006 at 5:56 pm  

      Funkg,

      out of idle curiosity, old or young earth?

    34. Psychohobbit233 — on 10th November, 2006 at 11:02 pm  

      INTERLUDE:

      [BADGES]

      ###
      RACIALLY
      NEUTRAL
      ###

      MY SKIN IS
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      PEDIGREE
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      BANGLADENGLISH

      I
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      END OF
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      ignore
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      [END INTERLUDE]

    35. Nick — on 11th November, 2006 at 12:36 am  

      I switched from the Guardian because it stopped burning bras and started defending head scalves. Sorry, not the paper I grew up with. That simple really.

    36. Psychohobbit233 — on 11th November, 2006 at 1:04 am  

      However, the Telegraph has not even reported the Griffin trial, so let’s try The Aughafatten Observer, or The Oldham Times

      (http://www.infopt.demon.co.uk/1726grif.htm

    37. Sunny — on 11th November, 2006 at 4:14 am  

      A few points in response:

      I generally agree with Isaa - that the Guardian tries to provide a broader range of opinion and comment than other papers. The Times and Telegraph will only publish people who will agree with them. From talking to ppl at the Guardian, I know they don’t do the same. They want a good debate and people to make up their own minds.

      But there is also a problem, as Soru alluded to. Most people, including some people at the Guardian, haven’t spent enough time studying the politics of these people, to make a judgement on what bias their view is tarred by.

      I recently spoke to a very highly placed journalist/editor at a left leaning publication (don’t want to make it more obvious than that), who said as recently as a year ago, his editor didn’t even know there were Sunni and Shia strands within Islam and many of them hated each other.

      NOw try extrapolating that. Do they have time to read up on the dodgy links that many of the MCB affiliates have in Pakistan/Bangladesh… or the Hindu Forum’s ideological love of the RSS/BJP/VHP nexus in India… or the Sikh Federation’s love of Khalistan politics.

      This a huge minefield that even most Asian aren’t clued up on. I have to explain to people their extended links and then people are horrified at the kind of people claim to represent them. Can we expect national newspaper editors to understand quickly? Probably not.

      We’re in for a long haul of misunderstandings folks. The world is a complicated place.

      Anyway, Isaa - I like a lot of points you make on comment is free by the way, just thought I’d say that.

      I’m not happy with tarring a large percentage of people who die for a cause with the same brush; it just seems too dismissive.

      True too. As I have mentioned on previous occasion: many of Hizballah’s suicide bombers weren’t even particularly religious. Many were leftists… three were women. A few were Christian.

      Trying to understanding the motivations of a suicide bomber is not feeling sympathy for them. It is merely trying to understand their motivations. That is the only way to defeat terrorism.

    38. ZinZin — on 11th November, 2006 at 8:52 am  

      “I generally agree with Isaa - that the Guardian tries to provide a broader range of opinion and comment than other papers.”

      I am all in favour of debate and a broad range of opinion. However is giving a platform for Tamimi and the MAB a platform every other week when Muslims with a differing viewpoint are noticeable by their absense a good thing. Then there is Bunglawala, Bodi and Ghannoushi who make contributions to Cif on a regular basis.

      The views of Tamimi and Bunglawala are well known so the excuse that they may not know is ridiculous. The MCBs links to Hamas many will not know of unless they do some research. Tamimi has defended suicide-murder and Bunglawala has Jews on the brain.

      Is this good debate allowing religious fascists with records of anti-semitism and make apologies for terrorism to disseminate their views through the MSM. I am amazed that they are invited onto any current affairs programme as they have little to contribute other than blame foreign policy and give us what we want.

      Isaa the Guardian will never give Nick Griffin a slot because he is a racist of the wrong colour. If he is brown then it’s alright.

    39. Isaa — on 11th November, 2006 at 11:04 am  

      Sunny,

      You make some good points. It’s also worth pointing out that it’s almost impossible for any Muslim to become a spokesperson/leader of an organisation such as the MCB unless he has a pukka background: Ikhwan/Jammat-I-Islami e.t.c., however this is more an indictment of the British Muslim community than the editorial board of The Guardian. The Guardian and other papers can only work with those who a) choose to and b) are encouraged by their respective communities to stick their head above the parapet. For example, the current favoured spokesperson chosen by the British Muslim community, whoever they may be, seems to be a francophone academic who has spent most of his life living outside the UK, all because he has a brotherhood heritage. Tariq Ramadan is the person I’m referring to in case you don’t know who I’m talking about. Someone who I quite like by the way but whether he is the best person for promoting as a spokesperson of the majority British Muslim opinion, I’m not sure. Its pretty depressing when you think about it, as there’s certainly no shortage of British born Muslims out there but why some get promoted to the top and others not is largely I guess to do with who you are affiliated with rather than what you know or can offer. I presume the Hindu/Sikh organisations work in the same manner.

    40. Samira — on 11th November, 2006 at 2:17 pm  

      Having read the thoughtful feedback I thought I’d add, that I never thought misogyny alone “explained” British Muslim suicide bombers. My point was about how best to pursue journalistic fact when reporting radical Islam and terrorism. Listening carefully to evidence from individual cases (often from their own witness testimony in criminal trials) might help explain why that individual — and not some of the many others who’d been through radical groups or to jihadi training camps — chose to commit/attempt mass murder. I also agree with Sunny about misogyny being equally revelant to the Sikh, Hindu and even Christian communities. In fact I’d planned to use news coverage of the “Behzti” row (in which you featured as a non-extremist voice of reason, Sunny!) and Christian Voice/Jerry Springer the Opera in my presentation, but left it out due to lack of time. If If I get round to writing up the full lecture, I hope you might have a look.

    41. raz — on 11th November, 2006 at 2:35 pm  

      WOW Samira is here :)

    42. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 2:39 pm  

      Sorry Samira, I don’t agree. I don’t think that misogyny is enough of a factor, or “crucial” enough, in the creation of suicide bombers, at least not to the extent that it warrants substantially more coverage in the media: at least not, if you take into consideration that it’s a given amongst most commentators that any Islamic fundamentalist is going to be ipso facto a misogynist.

      But, it’s clearly part of a trend amongst Western journalists who attempt to uncover the roots of radicalisation and terrorism that they will play up the role of different psychological factors in order to understand the phenomenom. Yes, these factors are oftentimes relevant, but this concentration on specific personality traits always comes at the expense of an analysis of the role that perception of Western foreign policy plays.

      Clearly, the central and overriding factor in the radicalisation of Muslims — as we keep hearing from British and American intelligence leaks — is Western Foreign Policy. And you can’t tell me that the Western media gives enough coverage to the effects of British and American foreign policy. (However, I have to say that Channel 4 does have by far the best coverage of current affairs of any of the terrestrial channels.) I think *this* sensitivity deserves more attention.

    43. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 2:40 pm  

      Sorry that should be Islamic extremist, or militant rather than fundamentalist. A worthwhile distinction to make.

    44. Jai — on 11th November, 2006 at 2:47 pm  

      Amazing — Samira Ahmed herself visiting PP and participating in the discussion !

      Samira — Honoured to have you here. I’m sure I speak for many people when I say we’re extremely proud of you and Krishnan over on Channel 4 News.

    45. Caliban — on 11th November, 2006 at 3:05 pm  

      Western Foreign Policy might be one factor, but if you are serious about understanding why people want to carry out attacks to kill innocent men women and children, fly planes into buildings, blow up trains and buses, attach explosives to their body and pull the switch in crowded places, why Muslims from Derby and Hounslow go to Israel to kill jews through suicide bombing, why Muslims in Germany spent ten years ploting to carry out the 9/11 slaughter as well as the 1994 bombing of the WTC (that is, before current foreign policy was in place), why hundreds of Africans were killed in the Nairobi bombings, why Muslims from England helped the decapitation of Daniel Pearl, why Muslims in Britain plotted terrorist attacks before 9/11, if you want to get to grips with that, you also have to examine the deep cancer inside a certain extremist version of Islam, that is virulent, deadly, murderous and hateful, that believes in absolute hatred of non Muslims, to the point that they deserve to be killed. Neglecting to examine this rancid ideology is an abrogation of responsibility, considering it pre-dates in its striking and killing all of the major foreign policy disputes (which have arguably exacerbated it) which now distinguish it so much in opposition to.

      In short, this extremist strain is eating the heart of Islam itself and it is up to Muslims to confront it and examine the many factors including misogyny and the failure of a leadership to refute the basic claims made against it often even exacerbating them by hysterical campaigns and sectarianism that have helped to make Islam appear to be a religion indifferent or unalarmed by thea vicious death cult speaking in its name.

      So I reject Anas’s analysis, which is myopic and probably symapthetic to the terrorists; a holistic approach is needed and that is why I support Samira Ahmed’s stance.

    46. S — on 11th November, 2006 at 3:11 pm  

      Newsweek Interviewer:
      In the story you describe jihad as the most charismatic idea of Atta’s generation. Do you really believe this?

      Martin Amis:
      It’s self-evidently true. You’re always onto a winner if you can persuade people they can be righteous and violent at the same time. Nothing beats that. Officially sanctioned violence is unimprovable. And with this paradise which they’ve stirred into the mix - whereby with an act of mass murder, you gain the keys - you’ve got a very attractive idea. Also, it gives the “nobody” a chance to play a decisive role in world history, and there are lots of people who are going to be drooling at the thought of that.

    47. Samira — on 11th November, 2006 at 3:13 pm  

      I have to prepare for tonight’s show now.. interviewing Deputy PM-hopfeul Jon Cruddas on why he thinks Labour’s failure is apparently to blame for growing BNP support. On air at 6.05pm tonight. But I will keep following the discussion on pp. Hope you all watch!

    48. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 3:17 pm  

      With all respect Caliban, that sort of argument might have been more effective during the peak of neo-con/neo-imperialist hubris; but most serious commentators, most of the people in Western intelligence agencies, and I’ll wager most rational people nowadays would tend to agree with me.

      Check out my blog piece in which I set out my opinions on why Western FP is so important to the growth of terrorism and extremism.

    49. Caliban — on 11th November, 2006 at 3:25 pm  

      I am not a neo-con, or a neo-imperialist, I was against the Iraq war, and my argument stands and is the truth.

      Ultimately, you become a supporter of terrorism, because you do not make the case for how Muslims have to confront the extremists who plotted slaughters en masse before the current foreign policy manifestations.

      You refuse to do that, or make the case that no matter what your belief is, it is wrong to fly an airplane into a building, or blow yourself up on a bus in London to make your point.

      With that attitude, the death cult really will grow even more malignant, and keep feeding on the body of Islam. If you cannot understand this then you are in denial.

      I am not in denial about how the Iraq war may have exacerbated the problem. However you are in denial about the cancer of extremism that exists in the first place, and that is why, when the next suicide bomb goes off in London, Birmingham or Manchester, you will be on the side making excuses for mass murder by refusing what is the truth; that Islam has a major problem of extremist ideology that seeks to kill non Muslims en masse, and that there is a pre-existent disposition to kill and carry out terrorist attacks, as is self evident by the amount of terrorist attacks that took place before the current war, including 9/11 (plotted in Germany) the 1994 WTC attacks, the Nairobi slaughter, and so on ad nauseum. Including Muslims from Britain travelling to Israel to kill people in suicide attacks.

      Unless you acknowledge both sides, you are part of the problem.

    50. Sunny — on 11th November, 2006 at 3:35 pm  

      Check out my blog piece in which I set out my opinions on why Western FP is so important to the growth of terrorism and extremism.

      Anas - I’m sorry but I’ve said it before… that argument simply does not cut it. There was religious extremism before foreign policy issues, and in each case they had different ways of justifying their stances.

      I was at a City Circle talk yesterday where Asim Siddiqui hosted a debate with a guy from CAIR - the American Muslim organisation. This guy was so intelligent he blew the socks of any “representative” from England. He also rejected the FP argument saying everyone knows there was extremism, literalism and problems before FP issues.

      The Taliban’s growth and support alone shows there were problems. I wish I had the transcript for the lecture… it was quite good.

      Samira - Thanks for posting your views, it’s always good to get the author’s own input in afterwards. Will see you on C4 news later.

    51. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 3:36 pm  

      Ultimately, you become a supporter of terrorism, because you do not make the case for how Muslims have to confront the extremists who plotted slaughters en masse before the current foreign policy manifestations.

      You refuse to do that

      Except I don’t refuse to do that. You obviously didn’t read my piece, as you persist in your misrepresentations. OK, I’ll make it simple, so you can understand it. The best way for a Muslim to confront these murderers is by reference to the rulings of mainstream Muslim scholars who condemn these actions as un-Islamic.

      , or make the case that no matter what your belief is, it is wrong to fly an airplane into a building, or blow yourself up on a bus in London to make your point.

      I thought that was self-evident. Most of what you write in your responses is a flat out misrepresentation or misunderstandng of what I wrote.

    52. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 3:49 pm  

      There was religious extremism before foreign policy issues, and in each case they had different ways of justifying their stances.

      A point of logic here. Does you statement quoted above preclude my statement that Western FP is extremely important to the growth of terrorism and extremism being true? No.

      Secondly, when were the no FP issues amongst Muslims, must have missed that period of history? Ever heard of the Palestinians? Or Saudi Arabia?

      Yes, I agree, organisations like HuT do represent a strain of fundamentalism that has roots in several aspects of Muslim existence across the world, not just the Muslim perception of Western FP. Yes I know that “there was extremism, literalism and problems before FP issues”.

      That doesn’t diminish my argument however, which is that FP is now primarily responsible for radicalising Muslims, and is the extremists’ best recruiting tool.

    53. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 3:50 pm  

      Correction:
      A point of logic here. Does you statement quoted above preclude my statement that Western FP is extremely important to the growth of terrorism and extremism *from* being true

    54. Sunny — on 11th November, 2006 at 3:54 pm  

      That doesn’t diminish my argument however, which is that FP is now primarily responsible for radicalising Muslims, and is the extremists’ best recruiting tool.

      Ok I won’t deny that it helps recruit people into those groups. But here’s a point that was recently made. Given that the vast majority of Muslims are sane enough not to be seduced by this suicide bomber mentality, you’re insulting them if you think FP alone is the driver in these cases because it equally applies to other Muslims too.

      Or to put it another way. Both yourself, Mohammed Sidique Khan and I know about (and agonise over) Britain’s messed up FP. But neither you nor I have chosen to blow up ourselves along with innocent Britons to drive home this point. Why? FP alone cannot answer that because we’re also acutely aware of the injustices of Britain’s FP. There are psychological reasons that also come into play and I believe Samira Ahmed is picking up on an aspect of those psychological influences.

    55. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 4:10 pm  

      Given that the vast majority of Muslims are sane enough not to be seduced by this suicide bomber mentality, you’re insulting them if you think FP alone is the driver in these cases because it equally applies to other Muslims too.

      Or to put it another way. Both yourself, Mohammed Sidique Khan and I know about (and agonise over) Britain’s messed up FP. But neither you nor I have chosen to blow up ourselves along with innocent Britons to drive home this point. Why? FP alone cannot answer that because we’re also acutely aware of the injustices of Britain’s FP. There are psychological reasons that also come into play and I believe Samira Ahmed is picking up on an aspect of those psychological influences.

      OK, this is another counter-argument I’ve encountered before. And it’s precisely why I’ve never denied that other factors apart from FP are relevant or important and why I’ve never said that FP can alone answer why someone would choose to blow themselves up.

      I’ll quote from something I wrote in the comments section of one of Thabet’s blog entries on this subject to better explain what I mean:

      The example I would give to illustrate my point is my own reaction to reports of the growing popularity of the BNP among the dispossessed white working class population of England. I would watch news reports where they’d have interviews with first time BNP voters and they’d talk about how they felt that none of the mainstream political parties were listening to them. A lot of them would add by way of vindication that although they weren’t really racists they’d felt compelled to vote for BNP because in many instances it’d been the only party willing to maintain a presence in their communities. Then the report would cut to some academic or pundit who would comment that the main parties had indeed been neglecting certain constituencies in favour of key marginals; adding that if this trend continued the BNP would make even more gains. I just wanted to shout at the screen, “Hello? I don’t care how dispossessed these people are, how voiceless they felt themselves to be, it doesn’t make it any voting for an avowedly racist party any less repugnant or more justifiable.” But I had to admit that yes, under the cold light of analysis, the less well served by mainstream politics white working class voters felt themselves to be, the greater the support the BNP would achieve. There was a causal link, even though I found the rationale given by BNP supporters unreasonable.

      I would argue that although the consequences are far direr, there is a similarity here with the link between British foreign policy and the alienation and subsequent radicalisation of Muslim youth: regardless of how unacceptable I find the arguments of the extremists I recognise that British and American foreign policy is without a doubt the greatest recruiting tool the extremists have.

    56. Sunny — on 11th November, 2006 at 5:03 pm  

      The example I would give to illustrate my point is my own reaction to reports of the growing popularity of the BNP among the dispossessed white working class population of England.

      Anas, also an argument I have encountered. But a better analogy would be between voters for the BNP and Muslim people who sympathise with Hizb ut-Tahrir and those types.

      BNP voters do not blow themselves up or go on a killing rampage and then blow themselves up. They can be persuaded to come back and vote for someone more sensible next time. If these suicide bombers only killed themselves then it may even be a closer analogy. But they do damage to themselves, thinking they will be rewarded, and they kill other innocents. That is a totally different scale of barbarity, brainwashing and cold-hearted brutality mate. Your argument is very lame.

    57. Don — on 11th November, 2006 at 5:33 pm  

      Most of us see some aspects of US/UK FP as being immoral or irresponsible; Iraq, Palestine and Saudia Arabia being the key points. But isn’t it the case that the terrorists and their enablers object just as strongly to aspects we would probably not see as immoral? Australia’s role in the liberation of East Timor, for example, was deemed to warrant the Bali bombings simply because it was perceived as taking sides against an Islamic majority state. We saw extremists screaming in the streets that a few cartoons justified bombings and random murder, we are told that any attempt to help the people of Darfur will lead to an upsurge in terrorism.

      We, probably, have complex and considered reasons for deciding whether or not a particular piece of FP is moral or not. It seems to me that the extremists respond to any policy, foreign or domestic, according to whether it helps or hinders militant islam. Which makes sense, of course, since the essence of religious fundamentalism is that you hand your moral sense over to the dictates of a mythical being as interpreted by whatever middle-man you have chosen to follow.

      If moslems - or anyone else -take to the streets to protest the Iraq disaster then I don’t see that as terrorist-supporting or sinister any more than the demos some of us went on against Vietnam or apartheid SA. However, within those ranks are some who are pushing a pre-existing agenda and who seek to recruit the angry, confused and alienated into their death-cult. Is AQ really horrified and distressed by the bloody mess in Iraq, or do they thank their bloodstained god for it and seek to worsen and widen the carnage? Do terrorist groups in Palestine and Lebanon really think that a bomb in a bus is a step towards peace and justice or are they actively seeking the retaliation which will ratchet the hate another notch?

      The roots of violent militant islam go deep and have been around in their current form for at least half a century. Every now and then a stupid or immoral FP decision will dump some fertiliser on these roots and we will see a flourishing growth. But even if every western nation’s foreign policy were in the hands of virtuous moral philosophers, the core of hate and violence would remain. Because they aren’t driven by anguish over the avoidable deaths of the innocent, but by a hatred for those who stand in the way of theocratic triumphalism.

    58. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 5:33 pm  

      Sunny, the principle I was trying to elucidate was this: just because I feel that the rationale given by BNP supporters is ridiculous and wrong, it doesn’t mean that it is a false rationale.

      I felt the explanation that these new voters gave was morally unjustifiable; but I also recognised that they were likely being honest. The analogy I was trying to make (though admittedly clumsily) was this just because you or I find the justifications given by the bombers obscene and barbarous (i.e., morally dubious to a far greater extent than those of the BNP supporters), it doesn’t mean that they weren’t driven towards their actions because of these justifications — and that therefore FP wasn’t the chief motivating factor in their commiting these actions. That is even if you take into the account that there may well be other factors that contribute towards someone’s being willing to take their life and those of innocents.

    59. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 5:35 pm  

      The point is that at times we may have to put moral judgement aside and make a dispassionate analysis of some situation: if we want to work towards changing it.

    60. Caliban — on 11th November, 2006 at 5:57 pm  

      Anas, you are in deep sympathy with the terrorists. I believe your myopia and denial and sympathy is a menace. It is Muslims like Samira Ahmed and others who question the narrative you are in sympathy with that will make a change. You are a lost cause.

    61. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 6:00 pm  

      Obviously most suicide bombers would reason that their actions don’t really constitute the murder of innocents because as citizens of states complicit in the murder of innocent people they are culpable of these crimes and therefore not innocent. Most people would find that kind of reasoning morally abhorent, and there may well be certain psychological factors behind somone taking that position, or it may be that they’re vulnerable to being “brainwashed” by Islamist extremist millitants because of other factors.

      On the other hand it’s hard to deny that the central motivating factor for Siddique Khan and the other 7/7 bombers was quite probably anger at the injustice of Western FP; or that it won’t be the central motivating factor for any future potential suicide bombers.

    62. Caliban — on 11th November, 2006 at 6:03 pm  

      How many times do I have to list the atrocities perpetrated by Islamists that took place BEFORE the Iraq war, included atrocities carried out by British Islamists?

    63. Caliban — on 11th November, 2006 at 6:05 pm  

      This is an utterly pointless exercise now. Myself, Don and Sunny have addressed your points repeatedly, and pointed out the egregiousness of your myopic and one sided view. All you are doing is chasing your tail now.

    64. Jai — on 11th November, 2006 at 6:06 pm  

      =>”Obviously most suicide bombers would reason that their actions don’t really constitute the murder of innocents because as citizens of states complicit in the murder of innocent people they are culpable of these crimes and therefore not innocent.”

      It’s pretty stupid of them to think “the civilians are guilty themselves because they voted for their leaders”, considering that their targets will also include people who “voted for the other guy”. It’s not as though Tony Blair and George W Bush are in power because 100% of American and British adults respectively voted for them.

      Faulty logic.

    65. Don — on 11th November, 2006 at 6:10 pm  

      Caliban,

      I agree with a lot of your points, but not that Anas is ‘in deep sympathy with the terrorists’.

    66. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 6:20 pm  

      Caliban, I was debating with Sunny, you’re just hurling insults around.

    67. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 6:29 pm  

      I think Kulvinder made this point very eloquently above: distorting and misrepresenting the views of terrorists, painting them as inhuman demons may very well feel good but it gets us no nearer to understanding why they do what they do. It’s about as useful as David Icke claiming the royal family are reptiles.

      Caliban: plenty happened prior to Iraq, i.e., Palestine, Iran, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc.
      I recommend you watch Adam Curtiss’s The Power of Nightmare to understand better the growth of Islamist militancy.

    68. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 6:32 pm  

      It’s pretty stupid of them to think “the civilians are guilty themselves because they voted for their leaders”, considering that their targets will also include people who “voted for the other guy”. It’s not as though Tony Blair and George W Bush are in power because 100% of American and British adults respectively voted for them.

      Tell that to those who’ve imposed sanctions on the Palestinians for voting in Hamas.

    69. Isaa — on 11th November, 2006 at 7:23 pm  

      I think the issues are being blurred. Extremism can exist in many forms. A person could be extreme in his religious beliefs but not harm anyone whereas another person could be relaxed in his religious beliefs and yet go on to inflict immense damage - think back to Ramzi Yousef who was frequenting the nightclubs in Manila whilst at the same time hatching the bojinka plot. Literalism/extremism have existed in Islam since day one, even the prophet stated in a couple of authentic hadeeth: “beware of extremism, for it is that which destroyed the peoples before you” and “ruined are those who insist on hardship in matters of faith”.

      I personally think that the current phenomena of extremism in Islam is a generational thing and will eventually whither out. There are a variety of common traits you will find in most of the modern day Muslim extremists: an un-Islamic background sometimes involving drugs, sex, alcohol followed by redemption through radical Islam, rejection of the form of Islam followed by their own parents usually seen as being poisoned with ‘bi’daa’ (innovation), racial discrimination (Zacharias Moussaoui claimed to have suffered serious racial abuse in his youth), inferiority complex and immense animosity towards their past colonial masters coupled with a superiority complex offered by the belief/certainty of their new religious path. Before you even begin to throw in some genuine foreign policy grievances you already have the make-up of a highly dysfunctional/bitter/twisted being.

    70. Isaa — on 11th November, 2006 at 7:33 pm  

      BTW I’m referring to home grown extremists in the above post. Move to Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine and the reasons for people turning to extremism are most likely entirely different. Revenge, protection of family and property plus other issues would probably come into play in active war zones.

    71. ZinZin — on 11th November, 2006 at 7:38 pm  

      “I recommend you watch Adam Curtiss’s The Power of Nightmare to understand better the growth of Islamist militancy.”

      Baby its cold outside. So which elements ofthe wests foreign policy led Qutb on to his path of extremism?

      Anas you are telling us that Islamists and their violent progeny are hapless victims of the western wrong doing. I am not having that and neither is anyone else.

      The Bali bombers motivations were the adulterous practices of western tourists. I never thought i would say this but Islamists have sex on the brain not foreign policy.

    72. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 7:45 pm  

      Isaa, I wouldn’t entirely disagree with you: what I would is say that the emphasis on psychological factors can be misleading.

      Most of the evidence seems to suggest that it is in fact anger at foreign policy that drives young Muslims towards committing acts of terror. Take the taped statements of the two London suicide bombers, look at how terrorist groups are capitalising on this very anger, look at the findings of British and American intelligence agencies on the recruitment potential of Iraq or Afghanistan.

      Before you even begin to throw in some genuine foreign policy grievances you already have the make-up of a highly dysfunctional/bitter/twisted being.

      Yes, but even so, what would drive such a being to kill himself and others. Again the evidence suggests that that chief motivating factor is foreign policy.

    73. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 7:49 pm  

      So which elements ofthe wests foreign policy led Qutb on to his path of extremism?

      Errr, the West’s support for corrupt totalitarian regimes?

    74. ZinZin — on 11th November, 2006 at 8:02 pm  

      Anas
      You do dissappoint me.
      Nasser’s Eqypt was a client state of the Soviet Union.

    75. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 8:04 pm  

      The soviet union wasn’t considered a part of the godless West then?

    76. Isaa — on 11th November, 2006 at 8:10 pm  

      Sayid Qutub’s anger was mainly directed towards the secular ideology of Nasserism. Don’t believe the Martin Amis (rehashed Bernard Lewis) theory that Qutub turned to extremism because he was a sexually repressed virgin. Although Qutub visited the states and returned to Egypt not being too impressed with US society, which in itself is not a crime, his main beef was and remained with Nasser until he was eventually hanged. If anything, it was Sayid’s brother Muhammad who might be held partially responsible for the current mess as upon being released from prison he went on to become a teacher with Ayman al-Zawahiri being one of his students. And again, the reasons for Zawahiri turning to extremism are probably not the same as the reasons why Siddique Khan et al. turned to extremism. Although you may find some similarities in their discourse and reasoning.

    77. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 8:30 pm  

      However, Qutb’s fiercest polemics were reserved for those who were Muslims - or rather, those who claimed that they were Muslims. Neither Egypt under Nasser’s dictatorship nor Arabia under the Saudi monarchy had made any serious attempt to implement the Shari’a, or religious law. More generally, the territories of Islam were governed by corrupt, westernised dictators and princes whose spiritually heedless and ignorant ways could only be compared to those of the Jahili Arabs - that is to say, to the pagan ways of the Arabs prior to the coming of Mohammed and the revelation of the Koran.

      The corrupt regimes had to be resisted and overthrown…Qutb seems to have rejected all kinds of government, secular and theocratic, and, on one reading at least, he seems to advocate a kind of anarcho-Islam. On the one hand his writings have exercised a formative influence on the Taliban, who, under the leadership of the shy, rustic Mullah Omar seem to have been concentrating on implementating the Shari’a in one country under the governance of the Mullahs. On the other hand, Qutb’s works have also influenced al-Qaida, which, under the leadership of the flamboyant and camera-loving Bin Laden, seems to aim at a global jihad that will end with all men under direct, unmediated rule of Allah.

      In the context of that global programme, the destruction of the twin towers, spectacular atrocity though it was, is merely a by-blow in al-Qaida’s current campaign. Neither the US nor Israel is Bin Laden’s primary target - rather it is Bin Laden’s homeland, Saudi Arabia. The corrupt and repressive royal house, like the Mongol Ilkhanate of the 14th century, is damned as a Jahili scandal. Therefore, al-Qaida’s primary task is to liberate the holy cities of Mecca and Medina from their rule. Though the current policy of the princes of the Arabian peninsula seems to be to sit on their hands and hope that al-Qaida and its allies will pick on someone else first, it is unlikely that they will be so lucky

      From an article by Robert Irwin

    78. Caliban — on 11th November, 2006 at 8:42 pm  

      Anas

      I can provide a long list of grievances perpetrated by Muslim governments and institutions against non Muslims. If I raise a crew that targets cold blooded murder of Muslim men women and children in their homes by bombing them in order to avenge those injustices, would you think it was a legitimate or understandable response? If not, why not?

      So what if they had ‘grievances’ before the current war in Iraq. Their greivances led them to killing thousands of people. This is a self justifying, self perpetuating, self rabble rousing hatred that will always find a reason to launch slaughter and death in its name. Ultimately I say you are a sympathiser and supporter for these terrorists. There is no difference between you and a racist supporter of fascist murderers, for example.

    79. ZinZin — on 11th November, 2006 at 9:11 pm  

      “Everything changed in 1948 when he was sent to study education in the US. It was a fateful decision. Perhaps those who sent him thought that it would broaden his horizons. What happened was that on the voyage out he decided that his only salvation lay in an unswerving allegiance to Islam. Almost immediately his newfound resolve was tested on the liner, as a drunken American woman attempted to seduce him. Qutb did not succumb, nor was he later won over by the charms of the American way of life. He was repelled by prejudice against Arabs and shocked by the freedom that American men allowed their women. He described the churches as “entertainment centres and sexual playgrounds”. After two and a half years of exposure to western civilisation he knew that he hated it and, on his return to Egypt in 1951, he joined the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.”

      I believe this passage lends some weight to the misogyny argument. Qutb like many muslim terrorists a fierce contempt of the West and it’s values.

      Rushdie is right about Islamists. Its nothing more than short skirts, bacon butties and alcohol.

      I blame Mary Quant she started it.

    80. Anas — on 11th November, 2006 at 9:20 pm  

      I can provide a long list of grievances perpetrated by Muslim governments and institutions against non Muslims. If I raise a crew that targets cold blooded murder of Muslim men women and children in their homes by bombing them in order to avenge those injustices, would you think it was a legitimate or understandable response? If not, why not?

      Understandable, yes. Any murder or slaughter carried out by a sane rational agent with rational motivations is understandable. That is a commonplace observation, for example, any discussion of the deterrent value of capital execution implicitly recognises this. As for being legitimate, obviously, no. I don’t think I need to explain why.

      So what if they had ‘grievances’ before the current war in Iraq. Their greivances led them to killing thousands of people. This is a self justifying, self perpetuating, self rabble rousing hatred that will always find a reason to launch slaughter and death in its name.

      Maybe so, no need to give them more reasons to recruit other people, right?

      Ultimately I say you are a sympathiser and supporter for these terrorists. There is no difference between you and a racist supporter of fascist murderers, for example

      Errmmmm, not really.

    81. Don — on 11th November, 2006 at 9:56 pm  

      One of the problems with seeing the current terrorist threat as a political response to specific polcy issues is the nature of the terrorists’ chosen response.

      No doubt there have been plots to assassinate Bush and Blair, or to blow up an air-base or a neo-con think tank. But the favoured target seems to be a cosmipolitan mix of mankind just getting on with life.
      The London transport bombings were commited in areas with high asian/moslem users. In the most cosmopolitan city in the world. Where would you find a more mixed concentration of people than at the World Trade Centres? Barcelona? How offended do you have to be before some poor bloody commuters are your target of choice?

      Target of choice being the point. If one of those transport bombers had chosen to detonate himself at a BNP rally, or in the vicinity of a major political figure, I would have seen the FP connection more clearly.

      But their target of choice is the world as a whole, us.

      That is not down to foreign policy, that’s pathological.

    82. Sunny — on 12th November, 2006 at 4:19 am  

      Anas - what you’re trying to do is see terrorism as a response to FP… but then failing to take into account the main factor: proportionality.

      I’ve stressed this to you before but you blatantly want to ignore it. There are lots of people out there very pissed off with UK foreign policy. But they do not blow themselves up because it is not a proportional response.

      But you’re trying to equate people voting for the BNP with people blowing themselves up because they are both driven by frustration and disempowerment. But again you are not taking into account proportion. White BNP voters still aren’t going around killing non-white people because it is way out of proportion. But some Muslim kids are.

      You don’t have sympathy for the suicide bombers, not explicitly anyway, but you deliberately want to deny that their actions are way out of proportion.

      At the same time though, during the Israel/Lebanon war, you were saying the Israeli response to Hizballah firing rockets into Israel or kidnapping its soldiers was way out of proportion.

      So in other words, in case of your “opponent” you want to play the proportional-reponse game, but not when it applies to suicide bombers. Then you see their behaviour as expected.

      Like I said, a completely spurious position. Because to take your logic then to its extreme end, the government is justified in a completely disproportionate response to terrorism and lock up all Muslims. After all, they feel threatened, so why not do everything needed in response?

      Everyone can see your reasoning for its hollowness. Isaa hit the nail on the head up there. There are deep psychological factors here you want to play down because you think FP alone is the motivating factor. It has to be because you think suicide bombing is a proportional response. But it blatantly isn’t. Deep inside, because you’re intelligent, you know this. You just don’t want to admit it.

    83. Douglas Clark — on 12th November, 2006 at 9:07 pm  

      Samira Ahmed,

      Could you please expand on the way that misogeny is the cause of all of this? I’d really like to know. I consider your views to be worthwhile, but you really need to go a step further, in terms of explanation. I think.

    84. Anas — on 12th November, 2006 at 11:37 pm  

      Anas - what you’re trying to do is see terrorism as a response to FP… but then failing to take into account the main factor: proportionality.
      I’ve stressed this to you before but you blatantly want to ignore it. There are lots of people out there very pissed off with UK foreign policy. But they do not blow themselves up because it is not a proportional response.
      But you’re trying to equate people voting for the BNP with people blowing themselves up because they are both driven by frustration and disempowerment. But again you are not taking into account proportion. White BNP voters still aren’t going around killing non-white people because it is way out of proportion. But some Muslim kids are.

      OK I will concede this: the BNP comparison was a stupid one. I think my original intention was to argue that people react differently to certain aspects of their reality but that this does not negate the fact that their given justifications may truly reflect their motivations.

      But yes, the two cases are disanalogous in the respect that although victims of alienation, the BNP voters aren’t going out and blowing other people up; their response isn’t as morally reprehensible as that of the suicide bomber. On the other hand, maybe one could argue that they are responding to two different kinds of event: that the wannabe suicide bomber would argue that his action is in response to the murder of innocent people and so is proportionate (an eye for an eye). So that proportional becomes in some way subjective. Either way the analogy, which wasn’t intended to be strict is at problematic.
      I apologise if it was seen as in any way endorsing suicide bombing of civilians. That wasn’t my intention.

      You don’t have sympathy for the suicide bombers, not explicitly anyway, but you deliberately want to deny that their actions are way out of proportion.
      At the same time though, during the Israel/Lebanon war, you were saying the Israeli response to Hizballah firing rockets into Israel or kidnapping its soldiers was way out of proportion.

      So in other words, in case of your “opponent” you want to play the proportional-reponse game, but not when it applies to suicide bombers. Then you see their behaviour as expected.

      Well, behaviour can be both “expected” and “disproportionate”.

      Like I said, a completely spurious position. Because to take your logic then to its extreme end, the government is justified in a completely disproportionate response to terrorism and lock up all Muslims. After all, they feel threatened, so why not do everything needed in response?

      I would answer by giving the same reason I give against suicide bombing: because it’s immoral. It would be understandble, and many governments have used the same excuse in the past.

      If I argue that most governments invariably behave in a disproportionate fashion to terrorist threats by curbing individual freedoms unnecessarily, does that make me an apologist for totalitarianism? Similarly if I argue that a certain fringe element of the Islamic community will likely respond in a disproportionate and absolutely immoral way to Western FP or exploit vulnerable young Muslims to commit such actions, does that make me an apologist for suicide bombing — because I’m saying it’s a response that can be “understood”? If I say I understand Israel’s terrorist response to Hezbollah’s kidnappings, because I do understand some of the reasons why they carried those actions out, does that set me aside as an Israeli apologist?

      To understand is not to justify.

      Everyone can see your reasoning for its hollowness. Isaa hit the nail on the head up there. There are deep psychological factors here you want to play down because you think FP alone is the motivating factor. It has to be because you think suicide bombing is a proportional response. But it blatantly isn’t. Deep inside, because you’re intelligent, you know this. You just don’t want to admit it.

      Thanks, but I don’t think FP alone is the motivating factor, I just think it’s the main motivating factor. You’re claim seems to be that FP is only one amongst many factors and has no precedence amongst them, which would seem to suggest that if Britain’s foreign policy were completely different, then the risk to British security from Islamic terrorism wouldn’t be much lessened. My claim is that it would be greately lessened.

    85. Anas — on 12th November, 2006 at 11:38 pm  

      Corr:
      So that proportionality becomes in some way subjective. Either way the analogy, which wasn’t intended to be strict is problematic

    86. ZinZin — on 13th November, 2006 at 12:18 am  

      “You’re claim seems to be that FP is only one amongst many factors and has no precedence amongst them, which would seem to suggest that if Britain’s foreign policy were completely different, then the risk to British security from Islamic terrorism wouldn’t be much lessened. My claim is that it would be greately lessened.”

      I have to disagree even if the Israeli-palestininian conflict was resolved i doubt that the threat would decrease. They would move on to another concern. Your argument is drain the swamp and kill the mosquitos. Thats fine but appeasement works when the enemy can be appeased. To appease the enemy we would have to restore the caliphate including half of spain or convert and live under sharia law if they wish to rule the world. In short they want to take us back to the 7th century.

      Anas these terrorists don’t really give a damn about the palestinians its just a recruitment tool. If there was no palestine it would be chechnya, Iraq or afghanistan as the dubious FP argument.

      Sorry Anas but these terrorists are in pursuit of the caliphate and commit such atrocities in the name of the ummah.

    87. Anas — on 13th November, 2006 at 3:15 pm  

      Anas these terrorists don’t really give a damn about the palestinians its just a recruitment tool.

      Whether or not their stated concern is genuine, my point is exactly that it is a recruitment tool.

    88. Anas — on 13th November, 2006 at 3:24 pm  

      EM-B’s statement of last week (notice she’s not claiming that the extremists are motivated by the fact they weren’t breast fed as children, or the supressed trauma of being circumsized at an early age, but that passive sympathy can easily move to active terrorism) :

      What I can say is that today, my officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or networks, totalling over 1600 identified individuals (and there will be many we don’t know) who are actively engaged in plotting, or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas. The extremists are motivated by a sense of grievance and injustice driven by their interpretation of the history between the West and the Muslim world. This view is shared, in some degree, by a far wider constituency. If the opinion polls conducted in the UK since July 2005 are only broadly accurate, over 100,000 of our citizens consider that the July 2005 attacks in London were
      justified.

      What we see at the extreme end of the spectrum are resilient networks, some directed from Al-Qaida in Pakistan, some more loosely inspired by it, planning attacks including mass casualty suicide attacks in the UK. Today we see the use of home-made improvised explosive devices; tomorrow’s threat may include the use of chemicals, bacteriological agents, radioactive materials and even nuclear technology. More and more people are moving from passive sympathy towards active terrorism through being radicalised or indoctrinated by friends, families, in organised training events here and overseas, by images on television, through chat rooms and websites on the Internet.

      The propaganda machine is sophisticated and Al-Qaida itself says that 50% of its war is conducted through the media. In Iraq, attacks are regularly videoed and the footage downloaded onto the Internet within 30 minutes. Virtual media teams then edit the result, translate it into English and many other languages, and package it for a worldwide audience. And, chillingly, we see the results here. Young teenagers being groomed to be suicide bombers.

      There has been much speculation about what motivates young men and women to carry out acts of terrorism in the UK. My Service needs to understand the motivations behind terrorism to succeed in countering it, as far as that is possible. Al-Qaida has developed an ideology which claims that Islam is under attack, and needs to be defended.

      This is a powerful narrative that weaves together
      conflicts from across the globe, presenting the West’s response to varied and complex issues, from long-standing disputes such as Israel/Palestine and Kashmir to more recent events as evidence of an across-the-board determination to undermine and humiliate Islam worldwide. Afghanistan, the Balkans, Chechnya, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Kashmir and Lebanon are regularly cited by those who advocate terrorist violence as illustrating what they allege is Western hostility to Islam.

      The video wills of British suicide bombers make it
      clear that they are motivated by perceived worldwide and long-standing injustices against Muslims; an extreme and minority interpretation of Islam promoted by some preachers and people of influence; and their interpretation as anti-Muslim of UK foreign policy, in particular the UK’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      Killing oneself and others in response is an attractive option for some citizens of this country
      and others around the world.

      Safety for us all means working together to protect those we care about, being alert to the danger without over-reacting, and reporting concerns. We need to be alert to attempts to radicalise and indoctrinate our youth and to seek to counter it. Radicalising elements within communities are trying to exploit grievances for terrorist purposes; it is the youth who are being actively targeted, groomed, radicalised and set on a path that frighteningly quickly could end in their involvement in mass murder of their fellow UK citizens, or their early death in a suicide attack or on a foreign battlefield.

      Are Sunny and others going to accuse the Director General of M15 of being an apologist for terrorism because she doesn’t seem to be paying enough attention to the..*profound pause*…deep psychological factors Sunny is so enamoured of?

    89. ZinZin — on 13th November, 2006 at 3:55 pm  

      I believe Sunny has dealt with this point Anas and we are doing nothing more than going around in circles here.

      So lets drop the subject and move on.

    90. Sunny — on 13th November, 2006 at 4:27 pm  

      Anas - we both know that the intelligence chief is not far off the mark. I’ve already accepted that FP is a prime factor in getting these people radicalised.

      I would answer by giving the same reason I give against suicide bombing: because it’s immoral.

      This is my point too. We both know that suicide bombing is immoral and we both know that most interpretations of Islam would back up the declaration it is immoral. And yet you still gets lot of people half-justifying it by saying that is an expected response.

      Tariq Ramadan summed this up nicely. There are two issues here: religious and political. If you have a political problem that is Israel/Palestine or Iraq etc, then deal with it politically. It is not a religious issue and there is no point conflating the two.

      But because these people are hell-bent on making a political issue into a religious one, they are messing up both. They should have no sanction in Islam but they do because there are religious apologists out there for terrorism.

      The point is this: the problem is political. People make it into a religious issue and use it to radicalise their “recruits”. On top of that they indocrinate them to believe that suicide bombing is not only a proportional response, but that it has religious sanction. That is a very extreme position to take, which is why most Muslims don’t go with it. The ones who do, have been indocrinated for psychological reasons (though FP is of course their motivating factor).

      I hope that makes my stance clear. FP may be the motivation, but it doesn’t alone make a man into a suicide bomber. For that, psychological manipulation is paramount.

    91. Anas — on 13th November, 2006 at 5:25 pm  

      I’ve a feeling this issue will come up again and again in the future.

    92. ZinZin — on 13th November, 2006 at 5:30 pm  

      It will if you keep raising it.

    93. Anas — on 13th November, 2006 at 5:33 pm  

      I don’t need to raise it. It’s been a constant theme of recent news coverage and I’ve no doubt that that will continue.

    94. Petey — on 13th November, 2006 at 11:30 pm  

      Anas:

      So the ongoing slaughter going on in Darfur and going into Chad now is due to FP ?.

      Your reasoning is a fine example of the core problem within the muslim community:

      The failure to think outside the box, and especially the failure to look with scepticism upon core elements of your own religion, and how it is being practiced/raped by fundamentalists.

      Unfortunately the Samira Ahmeds are few and far between.

      Petey

    95. Anas — on 13th November, 2006 at 11:51 pm  

      Can you tell me what my reasoning is Petey, and how it leads to the conclusion you’ve elucidated above?

    96. Petey — on 14th November, 2006 at 4:36 pm  

      The FP with regards to Iraq is not the triggering reason for terrorism inside or outside Iraq.
      Islamism, and the illusion of a worldwide Kaliphat,is.

      A few examples:

      The Muhammed cartoon-affair led to worldwide violence, riots and embassytorchings. Nuttin to do with FP/Iraq.

      Darfur, nuttin to do with Iraq/FP.

      Van-Gogh killing. Nuttin to do with Iraq.

      Attempted terrorattacks in France and Germany. Nuttin to do with Iraq.

      Deaththreats to european politicians who speak up against radical islam eg. Hirsi Ali, Naser Khader etc. Nuttin to do with FP/Iraq.

      Bombing of Hindu statutes in Afghanistan: Nuttin to do with Iraq.

      These are just a few examples.
      Can you see the pattern ?.

      When was the last time the muslim community asked itself:

      Why does our community create these sick young men?.
      What can we do to prevent our young men to turn to terror?
      Is the machoculture that we teach our sons one of the reasons for this?
      How can we help prevent homegrown terror?

      Instead all you hear is:
      Its all because of Iraq and FP.

      Thats pure Bull.
      Especially with regards to homegrown terrorism.

      The core of the problem is Islamism. That is the common factor of 99% of terror-attacks.

      Petey

    97. Kismet Hardy — on 14th November, 2006 at 4:39 pm  

      “The core of the problem is Islamism. That is the common factor of 99% of terror-attacks.”

      What was the other 1%? Overreacting over Muffin the Mule being taken off air?

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