I love reading articles by CIF’s Soumaya Ghannoushi. They’re so flowery and full of passion with long meaningless prose that stretches the the text unnecessarily. But she does it with flair and I like that, even if she dances around the issue like a Bollywood heroine without making a succint point. In a reply to our manifesto she ends with the phrase: “the camel laboured and gave birth to a mouse.” That actually sums up all her articles.
This is the problem when academics try and be journalists; it turns out to be all hot air and indignation without structure and reference points. She certainly gets the boys all excited.
The article has something about citizenship, not confronting structural inequalities, some bizarre reference to “Edmund Burke’s critique of the French revolutionaries”, says we are apparently in bed with the Sufi Muslim Council, labours about the CEHR and then plugs her own talk at the end. Hello? Is there a point hidden in there somewhere?
She seems to think we were lining up behind Blair (she’ll find we actually blame the Labour govt more than anyone); or promoting the SMC (no, we don’t want any sole representatives) or that we planned to write exclusively about the “structural” challenges we faced.
The last point betrays a fundamental misreading of our aims. The problems can be debated until the cows come home but to get anywhere you need a more effective and constructive conversation with parties that are geared towards the same goal.
Our central point has been that you cannot make alliances with bigots who do not have an interest in community cohesion. Our other point was that “structural problems” can be resolved but should not be politicised into being specifically about race or religion otherwise racists will use that against you and make statements such as “blacks are poor because they’re stupid” or “Muslims fight in gangs because it’s in their religion”.
Such nuanced points clearly missed Ms Ghannoushi by completely and she launched into a prose-laden tirade designed to protect the hegemony of her friends. That is hardly surprising but by doing so she only betrays the Muslim communities she claims to be looking out for.
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