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  • Dealing with home-grown terrorism

    by Sunny
    4th December, 2006 at 6:50 pm    

    The think-thank Demos has published a report today titled: Bringing it Home: Community based approaches to counter-terrorism. More on it later.

    Demos will claim Government actions are breeding resentment and alienation among Britain’s Muslims, allowing violent extremists to gain sympathy from some quarters of the Muslim communities. Based on over twelve months of embedded research, [the report] argues that, despite some commendable attempts at engagement, the Government’s actions continue to drive a wedge between the majority of British Muslims and the rest of society, rather than isolating the violent few.

    The authors argue that without a strategic blueprint for putting community relations at the heart of security, the Government is denied a valuable resource in tackling the threat of home grown al Qaida inspired terrorism. The approach to Muslim communities called for by the report would offer a source of intelligence; support in diverting potential extremists away from violence; community level allies in seeking social justice; and an acceptance of necessary measures taken by police and other security services.

    “By viewing Muslims as a single interest group the government has failed to draw a clear enough distinction between angry Muslim opinion and those that would seek to inflict violence and terror,” they say.

    All of which I agree with. As I have said before, John Reid’s chest-beating and Tony Blair’s head-in-sand approach to terrorism has not made anything better. Perusing through the report, this paragraph also struck me:

    First, the magnitude of September 11 and the audacity of Osama bin Laden made us lose sight of the fact that terrorism is a social and political phenomenon that needs local roots to take hold. The international network and the concept of the ‘umma’ – the global community of which every Muslim is a part – are important features of al Qaida, but distant and global concerns can gain currency only when they are able to feed off local, everyday, personal grievances, such as those experienced by Muslims in the UK.

    Second, the almost exclusive focus on the group – its membership, infrastructure and modus operandi – distracted politicians and security forces from the fact that terrorists prefer to get other people to do their work for them… In other words, when a terrorist kills, the goal is not murder itself but something else, such as a police crackdown, that will create a rift between government and society that the terrorist can then exploit for revolutionary purpose.

    One of the co-authors of the report, Dr Catherine Fieschi, is also a signatory to the NGN manifesto. I hadn’t read the report before it was published, but the summary points are very similar to what I have also been saying on PP.

    In an earlier article titled the Tipping Point theory applied to terrorism, I made the same point - that we cannot ignore social factors in favour of foreign policy or religion entirely.

    I hope the report makes the govt re-think its rather idiotic approach so far.

                  Post to

    Filed in: Civil liberties,Current affairs

    53 Comments below   |  

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    1. Electro — on 4th December, 2006 at 7:31 pm  

      A load of twadle.

      Islamic terrorism has been rooted, is rooted and will remain rooted in the core texts of the faith.

      Given Islam’s 14 century long track-record of supremacism, chauvinism and unprovoked aggressions, it’s well worn history of demonising the “other” as prelude to subjegation and oppression, perhaps it’s time the authorities looked into the ideology and a took a less sociological approach.

      Why not start with a thoughtful re-reading of the Pope’s Regensburg address?

    2. Sunny — on 4th December, 2006 at 7:51 pm  

      Yeah… I’ll just wait for the intelligent comments before responding further.

    3. ZinZin — on 4th December, 2006 at 8:04 pm  

      Sunny which local, personal and everyday greivances are radicalising young middle class muslim men in Britain?

    4. Sunny — on 4th December, 2006 at 8:14 pm  

      If you had read the reoport, it would have said:

      Our Muslim
      communities suffer some of the worst indicators of deprivation,
      discrimination and social exclusion, and many are deeply unhappy
      about aspects of the government’s foreign policy towards the Islamic
      world, which they feel constitutes a ‘war on Islam’. Cheap international
      travel, satellite television and continuing links to family and
      friends in countries of origin provide a vital bridge between these
      personal and global grievances.
      When you are caught in the headlights, all oncoming vehicles tend
      to look like juggernauts, and after September 11, our politicians and
      security forces were too quick to focus on al Qaida’s global credentials.
      In the five years since September 11, there has been very little
      consideration of the local dynamic or the value that Muslim
      communities could add to counter-terrorism efforts.

    5. Douglas Clark — on 5th December, 2006 at 12:00 am  


      I have always subscribed to the ‘tipping point’ idea. It seems to me that the fall of the Berlin Wall is the classic case of all sorts of things coming together at one time to create a gestalt, something bigger than the parts.

      There is also, of course, the idea of the meme. That something, or someone, can express an idea that becomes the new consensus. It is certainly the case that folk are suddenly more open to the idea of individuality, than they have been for a long time. I suspect that the NGN has had quite a lot to do with that. Amongst the chattering classes, anyway. You are, in a sense, liberating folk from one idea, that we need to represent ourselves though established power structures. You say, here’s an option. You can be full citizens, but this is what it will entail. As you eloquently spelt out in the manifesto.

      The treatment of every last one of us as individuals, not some sort of tick tock characterisations of ourselves, is what attracted me to the manifesto in the first place.

      I do not think Demos has actually understood the need to engage on an individual level with people, rather than at a controlled community level. Their arguement, surely, is that communities, still exist. And can be dealt with through institutionalisation. Which cannot be right?

      Help me out here.

    6. Nick — on 5th December, 2006 at 8:06 am  

      I’m broadly with John Reid on this I’m afraid. I don’t believe Muslims are any more badly treated by the majority population than any other minority. Indeed, as Londoners response to 7/7 illustrated, the vast majority of non Muslim Brits are a pretty tolerant lot.

      Equally, the impoverishment and alienation of the Muslim community is no different than any other immigrant community. The only difference I can see, with respect to south asian muslims, is their links to the old country. There is a clear view that the UK is a milch cow, good only to make money. Other than this there is little interest in integrating or respecting the indigenous population ande its culture, let alone marrying into it.

      No wonder some young muslims grow up with contempt for the UK and its citzens, who they view largely as immoral foreigners. Continually putting the responsibility for tackling extremism on the govt. is precisely the wrong thing to do. Only by taking responsibility for ourselves will we regard our neighbours as equal to ourselves, or as someone once said, love our neighbours.

    7. El Cid — on 5th December, 2006 at 9:13 am  

      I don’t necessarily disagree with all you say Nick. But your generalisations, while sounding good, miss the point and are deeply unfair. Most first-generation immigrants see the host country as a milch cow, not just south Asians. That’s inevitable since they largely come over for economic reasons and retain a strong sense of identity with the mother country, as do Brits when they go to live in Spain, Portugal, or France and congregate in ghettos, tucking into their fried breakfasts day after day and installing satellite dishes to tune into Eastenders.
      At the end of the day, a complicated problem deserves a more complicated solution than old fashioned Paki-bashing. And a good starting point is to recognise that British moslems are as heteregenous a group as British whatever.
      Electro: if you are going to peddle the Old Pickler/Nick Griffin line, try and do it more intelligently, eh? How about starting with a link to El Papa’s controversial speech. I’ve been meaning to read that for some time.

    8. Bert Preast — on 5th December, 2006 at 10:02 am  

      “Demos will claim Government actions are breeding resentment and alienation among Britain’s Muslims, allowing violent extremists to gain sympathy from some quarters of the Muslim communities”

      Which government actions? Don’t tell me that chest beating and head-in-sand are the root cause here?

      “The approach to Muslim communities called for by the report would offer a source of intelligence; support in diverting potential extremists away from violence; community level allies in seeking social justice; and an acceptance of necessary measures taken by police and other security services.”

      How does one approach these communities, if not through the current crop of community leaders which a) have shown almost no interest in assisting the security services; and b) are constantly being bashed here as unelected and unrepresentative? Which muslim groups are there with which we can engage productively? Where do we start? Where is the muslim pressure group concerning itself with domestic or wider issues than foreign policy greivances, even while muslims are underachieving in education and employment?

      “and an acceptance of necessary measures taken by police and other security services”


    9. Bert Preast — on 5th December, 2006 at 10:28 am  

      Just flicking through the report now, and I come to the name Abdul Haq Baker as a contributor. That name rings a bell - I remember him from the Moussaoui trial where he said:

      “He was seeking arenas for jihad. We had conversations about it and he would ask me where the next jihad is and he would become very frustrated when I told him I didn’t know. He thought I was withholding information from him.”

      Now that’s unfortunate for Abdul, because the police probably thought he was withholding information too. He did nothing to report Moussaoui’s craving for jihad. It seems he forgot even to explain to Moussaoui that he should look inside himself to find jihad. Not a promising start. Must be that danged wedge the government insist on.

    10. bananabrain — on 5th December, 2006 at 12:28 pm  

      perhaps it would be easier not to treat all muslims as one group if they themselves stopped insisting on how things affect “the ‘ummah” and talking about “the muslims” as if they were one group. i have noticed how it is very often the beardy nutters that bang on about the “‘ummah”, because it gives them the oppportunity to make out that they speak on behalf of everyone. if all muslims are in an “‘ummah”, then they’re all responsible for each other. if they’re not, then things that affect one group of muslims are not an attack on all muslims. you can’t have it both ways but having your cake and eating it seems to be a feature of this debate.



    11. El Cid — on 5th December, 2006 at 12:30 pm  

      perhaps it would be easier not to treat all muslims as one group if they themselves stopped insisting on how things affect “the ‘ummah”

      so what you’re saying is that ALL moslems talk of the ‘ummah’….. the clue is in the question QED

    12. bananabrain — on 5th December, 2006 at 1:01 pm  

      el cid - it ought to be obvious from reading what i wrote that that isn’t what i meant, so don’t try and put words in my mouth. i meant that the ‘ummah discourse works in favour of the communitarians and extremists, so it needs to be ditched. i’m not saying all muslims go on about it, but i’ve rarely met a religious muslim who doesn’t. what i am saying is that that has larger implications. in my religion we resolve the question of multiple identities and loyalties by the binding concept of “dina de’malchuta dina” - “you must abide by the laws of the land in which you live”. that means we have a religious obligation to coexist and not to act in a way which is injurious to both the interests of the country we live in or ourselves as a community. i am not aware of a similar principle in islam, although i am open to correction. i was under the impression that, in terms of shari’ah, you ought to be living in an islamic country anyway, or convert the country you’re living in - neither of which are really viable options for the entire muslim community, nor would i be in favour of either. what is lacking is a religiously based pragmatic middle ground.



    13. Nick — on 5th December, 2006 at 1:21 pm  

      Hmmm El Cid, I’ve nothing against the milch cow biz - why emmigrate otherwise? - it’s the integrating that seems to be a problem. And frankly I wouldn’t have a huge problem with that - pace elderly Brits on the Costa Brava - if it hadn’t become a problem. But it has (unless I’m missing something).

      I’m not “bashing” anyone, but like you I resist the idea that one ethnic or religious group deserves more attention than any other. Either you’re British or not. You participate in the society (or try to change what you don’t like via the rules of that society) or you don’t. We’re all immigrants at the end of the day and I do wonder whether the somewhat harsher environment my ancestors experienced during the Victorian era, may have served the country, and their forebears (ie, me), better in the long-run.

    14. Bert Preast — on 5th December, 2006 at 1:32 pm  

      The muslims who put everyday considerations before the ummah are not the ones causing anyone any problems. The only ones that are a security concern are those thinking in terms of ummah.

      I can’t see anything being sorted until there are muslim groups in the UK putting domestic issues above and even against the ummah issues. But as far as I’m aware there are currently no such groups. Nor should there be a need for them, as your ummah-unaware muslim already has a fine choice of secular pressure groups to push domestic issues - but since the bombings there does seem to be a need for such groups. Muslims are being polarised as ummah-aware and good muslims, or ummah-unaware and bad muslims or even apostates. The main people doing this polarising are the mosques and muslim organisations, not the UK government.

    15. Nick — on 5th December, 2006 at 1:33 pm  

      Oh and while I’m off the topic, can I just sound a giant raspberry to Channel 4 for championing the oppression of women everywhere,,1964510,00.html

      Now here’s a strain of self-hating liberalism in the English psyche we could do with dis-integrating!

      Hurrumph… I’m off to Harry’s Place.

    16. El Cid — on 5th December, 2006 at 2:02 pm  

      Ha. I was just about to cut and paste the link myself. My initial reaction was one of annoyance. But I’m quite relaxed about it when I saw the list of previous alternative Xmas messages. The Simpsons, Quentin Crisp, Sharon Osbourne… Unwittingly, this is going to be a spoof. I might tune in just to laugh at the ridiculous idea of having someone on my tv talking to me while covering up her face. It’s so Borat like.
      I’m going to make sure all my kids are watching too so that we can have a good laugh together. It’ll remind them of the story about the Emperor’s New Coat.
      However, I defend her right to wear it, if she really really wants to.

    17. El Cid — on 5th December, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    18. Neil W — on 5th December, 2006 at 2:36 pm  

      Ch4 News - Standing Up for Medievalism!

      But seriously, I am a great believer of ‘When in Rome’ - When last in a Muslim Country my wife wore a headscarfe….So how about in Britain people just don’t do the veil or the burkha? Its oppressive, its rude and its just not the done thing in Britain!

    19. Sunny — on 5th December, 2006 at 2:55 pm  

      A few points:

      Douglas: I do not think Demos has actually understood the need to engage on an individual level with people, rather than at a controlled community level.

      I think that is a very good point and may be true. I’m going to print off and read the report later so may end up agreeing with your point.

      don’t believe Muslims are any more badly treated by the majority population than any other minority.

      That doesn’t mean other minority groups don’t have grievances either.

      The point of the report is that the govt’s response to dealing with terrorism has been flawed, exacerbating the problem.

      Don’t tell me that chest beating and head-in-sand are the root cause here?

      Not the root cause - making things worse.

      Which muslim groups are there with which we can engage productively? Where do we start? Where is the muslim pressure group concerning itself with domestic or wider issues than foreign policy greivances, even while muslims are underachieving in education and employment?

      There are lots of diff groups doing diff things - they are not homogenous and neither can one group ‘sort out the problem’ or show the right way.

      The way forward should be to work with a range of Muslim groups to deal with religious extremism. But for a start the govt ignored most of the recommendations made by the group following 7/7.

      Banana: perhaps it would be easier not to treat all muslims as one group if they themselves stopped insisting

      Some do, others don’t. Surely it’s also up to us to recognise there is diversity and no one should speak for all?

    20. Sunny — on 5th December, 2006 at 2:56 pm  

      Neil W: Its oppressive, its rude and its just not the done thing in Britain!

      I’m afraid dictating how people should wear clothes is also not the done thing. You should sort out in your head whether you want to live in a society where people are told what to wear (or not), or allowed the freedom to wear how much (or little) they want.

    21. Bert Preast — on 5th December, 2006 at 3:02 pm  

      Sunny - PET, yes? The government ignored most of the recommendations following 7/7 because they were unacceptable, i.e. they were changes in FP or just what the terrorists wanted. Which workable recommendations were ignored?

      I’m still trawling through the DEMOS report and I’m unimpressed as yet. More of the same old crap, give muslims a voice and shovel money at them. Hasn’t worked so far, and isn’t likely to unless the voice we give them is much, much louder than anyone else’s. That can’t be allowed to happen.

      Still, I’m only up to page 30 so far, and it keeps promising to “explain in more detail” in later chapters so I will keep at it.

    22. Neil W — on 5th December, 2006 at 3:05 pm  


      I take the view that people can wear - with very few exclusions what ever they like. The barriers should be that we don’t walk around naked and we don’t walk around fully veiled. Beyond that its laissez faire.

      It should be a similar situation to free speech - we can say what we like until the point we are inciting or causing the infliction of direct harm (the old ‘fire’ in a theatre example).

      I do not see why either of those positions is a problem in modern 21st Century Britain.

      I also think having a veiled women do the Christmas Alternative Message is a slap in the face of two hundred years of progress of struggle away from the notion in Britain that women are to seperated, to be property or to be treated differently.

      But then, what do I know, just an enlightenment loving left of centre liberal. A dying breed clearly.

    23. bananabrain — on 5th December, 2006 at 3:42 pm  


      “Some do, others don’t. Surely it’s also up to us to recognise there is diversity and no one should speak for all?”

      i totally agree. but when i point that out to anyone saudi-educated (which means almost anyone who is a newly religious muslim in this country) they start banging on about the ‘ummah. the ‘ummah discourse is anti-diversity within islam and intolerant within mainstream society. that’s my point. and actually, even the ‘ummah discourse is completely subject to who thinks they ought to be at the top. the khilafa-now idiots think it should be them, the saudis think it should be them and, naturally, the iranians also think it should be them. they all use the same vocabulary and i think it’s time we called them on it and asked them to explain to the rest of the world what they actually mean. you can have the ‘ummah or you can be an ethnic minority, but the two are in conflict.



    24. Sunny — on 5th December, 2006 at 3:44 pm  

      Walking around naked and walking around fully veiled are not exactly the same thing. You don’t have to like what other people wear/say as long as you support their right to do what they want to, as I do.

      i.e. they were changes in FP or just what the terrorists wanted.

      We need a change in FP regardless, it is simply immoral and idiotic. Their point was simply that FP exacerbates terrorism, a point our intelligence services have also made.

      What do the “terrorists want” exactly that we have not given them? A curtailment of civil liberties, more paranoid and hatred on the streets, demonisation of minority groups.. more segregation?

    25. Bert Preast — on 5th December, 2006 at 3:57 pm  

      Is FP exacerbating terrorism, or is how our FP is presented by some leaders exacerbating terrorism? After all, there is no reason whatsoever to conclude that an attack on Saddam Hussein was an attack on islam, yet that seems to be how it’s thought of in many minds.

    26. Neil W — on 5th December, 2006 at 4:04 pm  

      Changes to FP:
      Well, quite, we need to get out of Iraq, thats been a disaster from near start to finish.

      Question though - Afghanistan - if NATO pulls out and the Kabul Govt falls to a mainly Pashtun Taleban and the clock goes back 1000 years again for the poor Afghans - will we see volunteers from the Ummah flocking to Afghanistan, to roll back the Talebs and enable their sisters to go to school, drive and generally be more then ovaries and property????????

      I rather suspect, well, actually, dread, that there wouldn’t be a counter movement because it would confirm my worst fear - that muslim rage only goes one way and that muslim can do pretty much what he likes to another muslim - just as long as the West isn’t involved. Thats a pretty large double standard.

    27. Sunny — on 5th December, 2006 at 5:01 pm  

      Hi Neil,

      I advocate staying in Afghanistan. Iraq was a disaster from the start, as you said, because it was planned, implemented and thoughtout badly. In fact the reasons for invasion were all fudged too.

      Bert - I’m not sure if its about presentation as such. When there is a civil war going on, and your own troops have led to the death of over 500,000 new people, there aren’t that many ways to dress a fuck-up. If they wanted to prevent it being seen as an attack on Islam/Muslims, they should have gotten more Arab countries involved from the start.

      FP is exacerbating terrorism, even the intelligence services have admitted it. It is an open goal for suicide-bomber recruiters.

    28. William — on 5th December, 2006 at 5:08 pm  

      It would be a shame to pull out of Afghanistan without any real improvements being made. The thing is it seems the Taliban can just be constantly replenished from outside sources like Pakistan. Maybe in the end it will be futile and troops will be pulled out anyway. Then the Taliban may take power again. Maybe even Osma Bin Larden might make his way back. Pessimisic aren’t I!!

      Neil W

      I agree, I doubt if there would be a counter movement. I can’t see a constant supply of surgents from Muslim countries say Pakistan to overthrow the Taliban.

    29. Bert Preast — on 5th December, 2006 at 5:10 pm  

      Sunny - firstly if the war had not been presented or taken as an attack on islam it’s probable there would have been far fewer loss of life. Secondly, is it all the fault of “our own troops”? Sure, they’re the handiest thing to blame, but when we look at their intervention in other muslim countries they do seem to have been welcomed rather than attacked. Of course in other cases there has been a third party involved which is always handy but it’s still hard to believe the vast difference in the local’s reaction. Can’t all be down to the troops, can it? Brings me back to the first point.

      For the record I’d have killed Saddam in 1991. Failing that (and I do see why we failed that) it should’ve been doen in 1996 when it became clear he had no intention whatsoever of complying with the peace treaty. In both those dates internet access and mobile phones were almost unattainable in Iraq, something I reckon would have made a big difference to the insurgency. When would you have gone for him?

    30. Bert Preast — on 5th December, 2006 at 5:19 pm  

      Oops, forgot the other half of the post.

      There were Arab countries onside in 1991 because they were scared of Saddam and wanted the west to slap him. As the western forces stayed they were no longer scared of the posturing idiot and began to respect him for giving the UN the middle finger. Their own populations began to see him, absurdly, as an Arab champion. They were rooting for him to nuke Israel, because they fell for the WMD stuff too. Saddam got a serious case of islam all of a sudden and hey presto, he’s the people’s prophet all of a sudden.

      How much of all that is our fault?

      FP is exacerbating terrorism yes, but mostly due to how it’s presented. Google 9/11, invasion Iraq etc. etc. and the popular sites are the ones basically blaming crusaders and zionists for opressing everyone else. Doesn’t mean that’s correct or what’s going on. Why aren’t the UK jews up in arms at the aid given to the PA? Other groups do protest FP, but to date not with bombs and threats.

    31. bananabrain — on 5th December, 2006 at 5:23 pm  


      Walking around naked and walking around fully veiled are not exactly the same thing. You don’t have to like what other people wear/say as long as you support their right to do what they want to, as I do.

      is that for me? actually, i’d argue that they are very similar indeed. both can be positioned as legitimate expressions of self-determination and individual rights (rather like smoking) but neither can be conceded to be without an effect on others and to maintain otherwise is kind of missing the point. it’s the “shouting fire in a theatre” argument again. the veil wouldn’t be a problem if people were responsible about it and agreed that they would remove it at security checks, airports, teaching, for photos etc, just like crash helmets. the trouble is that some people seem to think these rules, which are important for the maintenance of civil society, don’t apply to them. as far as i am concerned, they can wear what they like, except the face has to be seen, because hiding your face means something else in this country. and hard cases make bad law.



    32. Arif — on 5th December, 2006 at 5:57 pm  

      I’m going to get a bit abstract, so ignore this if you want something clear and satisfying….

      I think that it would be useful to separate how actions hurt others from how perceptions of actions create a bad dynamic.

      Foreign policy actions may be evaluated for their consequences. They can also be evaluated for the principles that inform them.

      Wearing a veil can be evaluated for its consequences and for the principles which inform the action.

      We have different perceptions of their consequences and of their underlying principles.

      How do we negotiate these differences - so that everyone’s perception has enough recognition that the next foreign or social policy outcome is considered legitimate by those whose perceptions don’t prevail?

      I think that a democratic process is a good starting point. But one which is transparent and protects minorities (of all kinds) from being abused in terms of some basic human, civil, economic and social rights. We aren’t so far from that in the UK compared to most countries.

      But something else, which scary communitarians as well as subversive postmodernists point out, is the need for shared assumptions. They enable us to communicate easily to solve issues without creating more of them. But they also imprison us in certain modes of thinking and acting.

      As people break free of these shackles to denounce the veil or to put it on as an act of resistence. As people decide to subvert the definitions of who is a terrorist, the legitimate authority and so on. As all this happens, we are stepping on other people’s basic inarticulate assumptions. And this can be frightening - how do I communicate with these people who do not share my basic prejudices?

      I have learnt it is better to put my fear aside the best I can and show by my choice of words that I’m trying to understand others and not to demonise them. Self censorship? Maybe. I think this is the most responsible way to deal with the reality that there are lots of very bad things happening in the world, and that people who care about them easily misinterpret other people - who also care but see different causes and consequences amid the complexity - as if they are part of the problem itself. That makes a solution impossible.

      In my opinion.

    33. Bert Preast — on 5th December, 2006 at 6:33 pm  

      Arif - would self censorship extend to things like keeping the Abu Grahib photos out of the public eye until Iraq was stabilised?

    34. Don — on 5th December, 2006 at 6:59 pm  


      ‘That makes a solution impossible.’

      Well, that abstract meander was worth it after all.

    35. Electro — on 5th December, 2006 at 7:07 pm  

      AS Nick asked, just what are those specific grievances that plague the muslim commmunity, but not others, Sunny?

      Porkchops? Smoked bacon? Too few prayer rooms at bus-stops?

      We don’t need more gov’t action. We need to call the islamic community on the carpet and to ask ‘em why they can’t/won’t integrate and also to ask them why, in light of the Muslim world’s abject poverty and backwardness, why they look down their supremacist noses at much more successful non-Muslims?


      Just answered my own question!

    36. sonia — on 5th December, 2006 at 7:09 pm  

      douglas clark had some interesting points up there. we keep hearing about ‘communities’.. and if we keep going on about communities instead of individuals - well how’s that going to help with the whole ‘community’ leader thing? what is a community anyway?

    37. sonia — on 5th December, 2006 at 7:13 pm  

      and again, so i hear that lots of muslims are deprived - but then so are other people! it’s hardly as if they’re the only ones or that there aren’t plenty of successful muslims in this country. Hey who owns all these curry houses anyway? are we talking about muslims on council estates or aren’t we? im always confused about this - i just don’t know enough about british born asians i guess. the vast majority ive met are the usual doctor lawyer crew. can someone help me out with some real life examples?

    38. Arif — on 5th December, 2006 at 7:14 pm  

      Bert - I guess I feel that in order to make it easier to freely express facts, people would need to be more circumspect in how they express opinions. If people can’t be respectful in expressing their opinions, then I can understand why people would not want to be open about uncomfortable facts. So my responsibility as a “fact-holder” would be to express facts in an unprovocative way and my responsibility as a “fact-receiver” is to avoid ascribing bad motives to things I don’t immediately understand.

      Don - I was saying that ascribing motives and believing that different values are evil are what make a solution impossible. I think if people do not react to each other in such ways, they can come to solutions.

    39. Jai — on 5th December, 2006 at 7:15 pm  

      I’ve commented a number of times about the inconsistency of “Muslim rage” in some quarters. Where are the public displays of “rage” against the 7/7 bombers and OBL, both of whom have done more to wreck the credibility of Islam and Muslims in general in the UK than anyone else, and whose actions directly violate Islamic principles for permissible warfare ? One would understand that such displays would be blocked in some Muslim countries (for obvious political reasons — compared to the recent issue of the Pope, the Danish cartoons etc), but as long as the protest was peaceful, such demonstrations wouldn’t be blocked by the British government & police.

      I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate. Hindus and Sikhs are highly discriminated against — dare I say “oppressed” — in modern-day Afghanistan, Uzbekhistan, Pakistan and apparently Malaysia these days too. Going by the logic of British Islamic extremists, would it therefore also be permissible for British Hindus and Sikhs to a) loudly desire the destruction of these nations for the oppression of their co-religionists, b) travel to these countries to fight against the oppressors in an armed struggle, and c) claim that “an attack against one is an attack against all”, and thereby proclaim that these nations are engaged in a War against Hinduism and a War against Sikhism ?

      Devil’s Advocate, remember. But think about it.

    40. sonia — on 5th December, 2006 at 7:17 pm  

      “It would be a shame to pull out of Afghanistan without any real improvements being made.

      heh - go on then = what sort of ‘real improvements’ are we talking about? the problem Afghanistan has had is they’ve too many soldiers for too f**ing long. You people are weird - you talk about rape on the one hand, and then you all lk about wanting to keep soldiers in countries. soldiers -fighting —> rape. oh silly me. we’re talking about ‘improvements’ not all the stuff that happens anyway.


    41. soru — on 5th December, 2006 at 7:24 pm  

      ‘ what is a community anyway? ‘

      In my book, a community is a group of people who all more or less know each other, and a community leader is someone who everyone in the community has shaken hands (or appropriate cultural equivalent) with.

      Current usage differs, I am afraid.

    42. sonia — on 5th December, 2006 at 7:34 pm  

      yep well in that case there is sure as hell no such thing as a ‘muslim’ community or any community apart from a network of friends. a national community - does everyone in a country know each other? obviously not. back we come to the relevance of the ‘imagined’ community over any real thing such as ‘community’. the problem with this whole community ‘relations’ thing is no one will ever look past a ‘group’ label if we keep thinking of community on a level which basically means the application of some label. no moving out of the ‘monolithic’ blocks.

      im so fed up of communities it’s like the worst word ever. must be because im an antisocial loner or sth..h hhahh. doesn’t anyone else have a problem with the whole COMMUNity thing? it’s like - such a lot of unpleasant boxes, so much conformity. gah

    43. ZinZin — on 5th December, 2006 at 8:07 pm  

      The only way homegrown terrorism will be defeated is when a fundamentalist regime in the Middle East collapses from within such as Iran. When this happens we need not worry about homegrown jihadis.

    44. William — on 5th December, 2006 at 10:34 pm  

      By improvements In Afganistan I mean better living, food shelter, security whereby people can live in safety. When you talk of soldiers being there for too long sure they have. But I doubt soldiers or fighters will stop being there just by talking or negotiation.

    45. William — on 5th December, 2006 at 10:37 pm  


      To continue I am not sure the of the logical connection you are making with the term rape. There have been no reports as yet of British soldiers committing rape in Afghanistan

    46. Douglas Clark — on 5th December, 2006 at 10:52 pm  


      Thanks for your kind comments, but don’t go down the path I’m on. My head hurts! :)

      It seems to me that we have to place democratic structures at the centre of our decision making. And that these democratic structures have to have the support of the general population in refereeing, if you like, between different interest groups. All interest groups should be viewed as lobby groups. The difficulty seems to be that government finds the word ‘partnership’ irresistible. Partnership is a different sort of relationship and removes the right of the democratic representative to decide something independently from the partner. Given the obvious competition between interest groups this is unsustainable. At least, that’s what I think, I think. As I said at the start, there are probably a lot more twists and turns in this before I’m really sure about anything. All comments gratefully received.

    47. William — on 6th December, 2006 at 12:26 am  


      Devils advocate etc and inconsistencies are worth thinking about. Hindus are also discriminated against in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. There have been Sikhs asylum seekers fleeing Afghanistan. Also Christians are persecuted in Pakistan and Turkey.

      People are keen to point out US policy. But it has become obvious that there are inconsistent Muslim voices also.

    48. Jai — on 6th December, 2006 at 2:53 pm  


      Very good point about Saudi Arabia and countries in the Gulf region — I hadn’t meant to omit those glaring examples.

      You’re right about Christians in Pakistan too, of course; my original comments just referred to Hindus & Sikhs because most Indians here in Britain are from those religious backgrounds, but your own point is pertinent here too.

      Regarding Devil’s Advocate scenarios, there are a few more examples I could give in order to respond to those who use Muslim “rage” about their co-religionists’ “oppression” overseas as some kind of rationalisation of extremist attitudes and actions here in the UK (ie. they “understand” the anger even though they’re not explicitly condoning it) — particularly if such excuses are made repeatedly whenever the subjects of I/P and/or jihadi terrorism arise — but I will let the conversation on PP develop further before I use those examples.

      However, such people would do well to consider the situation if the tables were turned, considering that:

      a) there are Muslim-dominated countries which are highly discriminatory against their religious minorities,

      b) Brits from other religions could retaliate against allegations of indirectly supporting Western foreign policy regarding I/P, by theoretically holding Muslims en masse to account for not doing enough to temper the activities of their co-religionists overseas, if the “single united Ummah” concept is something they’re serious about,

      and c) there are plenty of modern-day and historical “grievances” that Asians (and others) from a non-Muslim background could use to point the finger at abuses of power by the Ummah if they were so inclined. “Rage” and “anger” can be a two-way street.

      (By the way, I responded again to your message about Guru Nanak’s visit to Baghdad on the other thread, just in case you missed that).

    49. William — on 6th December, 2006 at 8:15 pm  


      Thanks for the response. I must admit I am nowhere near as politically astute as some of you guys.

      I am looking and learning about all this and it is obvious there are broader issues. I feel I want to learn about them without jumping to quick blame or avoiding issues.

      I Looked at your response to the Guru Nanak post. Thanks.

    50. Arif — on 7th December, 2006 at 3:25 pm  

      Jai, on your devil’s advocate scenario of Muslims being held collectively accountable for the religious intolerance of Muslim-dominated governments….

      I think the response would be very similar to other people in imagined communities: denial, followed by trying to divert the topic on to their “own” suffering and then challenging the motives of those who bring up the subject.

      Alongside that, there is now a taste(/media search for?) for violent rhetoric and threats to those who bring it up, and no doubt muckraking about their past or smears about their hidden agendas.

      So depending on how it is done, people will get defensive. To avoid the defensiveness that comes from making veiled accusations, I would clarify the principles behind people’s appeals for their group’s human rights and check that they extend those principles to other groups as well. There are already vehicles for this - with Amnesty International, for example, or solidarity groups. If people calling for human rights spurn them, they are spurning their own professed cause.

    51. Jai — on 7th December, 2006 at 7:02 pm  


      You’re correct in your points above. I was just commenting about the fact that the claims of the extremists concerning present & historical grievances against the Ummah — and, in the case of people like OBL, claims to territory such as Andalucia — could be responded to in kind, in the sense of a metaphorical “counter-suit”. Secondly, people who repeatedly use such matters, along with current events in the Middle East and Western foreign policy, to somehow claim “justification” of “Muslim rage” (in its most extreme form, manifested in Jihadi support & actions), can also have the finger pointed right back at them. William and I gave a couple of examples above.

      Now, we would unfortunately not expect people in the first group to be reasonable or change their minds (although it would of course be nice if they did), but in terms of the second group, one would hope that considering the reverse scenarios would at least encourage them to think about the other party’s position and perhaps re-evaluate their own thinking. Grievances can run in both directions, as I mentioned earlier.

      The following article (thanks to the News tab on Sepia Mutiny) also makes very interesting reading, and has some highly relevant points. I strongly recommend that other Picklers here check it out; it’s quite thought-provoking and is pertinent to the need for reciprocosity and correcting double-standards:,0,5108432.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

    52. Douglas Clark — on 7th December, 2006 at 7:49 pm  


      Thanks for the reference to the LA Times. There seems to me to be a bit of truth in the article. The intolerance of the Islamic State of ‘you name it’, to the religious practices of others is something that ought to be addressed. It is this lack of reciprocosity that probably underscores quite a lot of anti-Islamic sentiment. Do I not remember some, albeit misguided, Christian Missionaries, being stoned to death somewhere? Maybe I’m mixed up. But they do take the preaching, far less the evangelical aspects of other religions, as a challenge, to say no more than that.

      [By the way, I tried to spell recipricity, (see - nine times now - that is not my sort of word), eight times. In the end, I copied and pasted from your post.

      Postscript: I know you should never correct another posters spelling, and mines aweful and I deserve everything I get, but the word is 'reciprocity'. As I have iterated this at least ten times and never once got it right, this is as much a criticism about me as it is about Jai, whose insightful views on many issues should not be the subject of attack by any reciprocity fascists out there. And my address is a closely guarded secret too.

      "Just someone clearing some neurons out of their brain, there; nothing to see. Well, madam, the gunk is quite strange, I suppose. I suppose he might have had a brain, once. Please move on."]

    53. Desi Italiana — on 8th December, 2006 at 9:50 pm  

      Sorry, I didn’t read all of the comments here, but:

      ““By viewing Muslims as a single interest group the government has failed to draw a clear enough distinction between angry Muslim opinion and those that would seek to inflict violence and terror,” they say.”

      That should read (IMO) as “By viewing Muslims AS A GROUP has failed to do anything condusive, relevant and effective; and if anything, creating and singling out a specific group is only going to piss people off.” The above quote is similar to those who argue that “American Jews”, as one united group, single handedly drive US foreign policy….yeah, yeah, yeah. This logic rests on the premise that ALL Muslims automatically identify with and place their religion ahead of their politics, and that they automatically have strong opinions about what goes on in Muslim countries. By virtue of anything remotely Muslim about them (self identification, name whatever. BTW, lots of people who come from Muslim backgrounds but do not practice, or even consider themselves athiest….)

      But I’m sure there are going to be some that say, “Well, D.I., terrorism comes from Muslims, and the Muslim ‘communities’ often forment, fund, and support terrorism, and terrorism is the new global threat like the Red Menance was…..” OK. So for the sake of consistency and going by the same logic, there are plenty of diasporas and religious groups that fund terrorism. Some Hindus in the US fund Hindu fanaticism in India, and look what happened in Gujarat. Hey, lots of Gujarati Hindus here. So I suggest that the government starts focusing on the “Hindu community.” If I am going to Gujarat, I hope airport officials pull me aside and interrogate me. I would applaud the FBI paying a visit to my parents’ home- after all, they go to the mandhir every week. If we’re going to assume that people’s religion have to do with foreign policy and political problems, let’s apply that to every group.

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