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  • Technorati: graph / links

    The price of Engagement


    by Sid (Faisal) on 19th May, 2009 at 12:41 pm    

    What is the direction of the currency of ideas between peaceable (non-violent) and militant (violent) Islamism? Do the two groups influence each other? Can individuals shift effortlessly from one form of Islamism to another or are we talking about discrete self-contained mindsets which, once allegiances are struck, excommunicate one another as a matter of principle?

    There are those who will agree with the last assertion; that violent and non-violent Islamist groups are congealed entities, ideologically opposed to each other. In the context of the UK, this is often cited by those who would like to see more engagement of non-violent Islamists on the grounds that failure to do so is a failure of our pluralist, social democratic principles.

    Andy Hull of the IPPR, for instance:

    The argument runs that the linkage between non-violent and violent extremism is underplayed: that non-violent Islamism is a gateway drug – the marijuana to jihadism’s cocaine. This claim is unproven. Very few, if any, of the 200 individuals convicted of terrorism offences in the UK since 9/11, for instance, have been members of [Shiraz] Maher’s erstwhile Islamist outfit, Hizb-ut Tahrir. Takfiri terrorists view such organisations with derision.

    There is an uncomfortable flaw in Hull’s thesis: If, as he says so himself, the “law-abiding, non-violent Islamists” Hizbut Tahrir are treated with derision by the violent jihadi groups is wholly correct, why will the engagement of Hizbut Tahrir result in de-radicalisation of the violent Islamists? It makes no sense and yet this idea is central to the IPPR thesis of the need to engage non-violent Islamists as a “community based approach to counter-terrorism”. But it is flawed by self-contradiction from the outset.

    If anything, what can be observed is the traffic of values and ideology between so-called “non-jihadi” Maududi-Jamaati groups, jihadi Salafis and the Hizbut Tahrir, while at the same time denouncing each other.

    So we now have individuals from Jamaati groups based in London, whose “engagement” by the authorities has gone so far that their members sit on Security Committees headed by the Police meanwhile arranging a video broadcast by the Yemeni jihadist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in a Tower Hamlets community centre.

    In the context of the Middle East, Michael Young argues compellingly against engagement with violent Islamist groups. He offers three reasons for not doing so:

    1) Political dialogue is a two-way process, “the aims of one side must somewhere be reconcilable with the aims of those on the other side of the table”. But if social democracies of the west are to enter into a horse-trading process with Hamas and Hizbollah, the returns must be clearcut. This is to say nothing of the fact that concessions to intractable jihadi interests are often self-defeating.

    Recently the British government resumed a dialogue with Hizbollah at a moment of dangerous polarisation in Lebanon before elections in June. Forget that a dialogue existed several years ago and led nowhere; this latest step implied that Hizbollah’s Lebanese political adversaries, who are closer to positions the British government advocates, were losing ground. In fact, engaging Hizbollah made that outcome more likely. The foolish decision caused an angry reaction, irritating the US especially, which may be why the UK has now backtracked.

    2. Engagement with totalitarian tendencies is the diminishing of other non-Islamist stakeholders. It is also a betrayal of moderate Arab voices, who ultimately must live under these totalitarian regimes.

    The search for common ground usually pushes engagers to adopt the mindset of the Islamists themselves, at the expense of alternative voices. This is not a case of going native. It is a case of trying too hard to make the engagement agenda work by going overboard and giving Islamists a central role in Arab political discourse, when the reality might be very different.

    3. In the struggle to engage or appease radical Islamist groups, it is very often liberal values which end up being compromised while Islamists are loathe to allow their own ideals to become fungible.

    At the heart of political realism – and the engagers are realists – is the notion that in negotiations mutual interests are best served by avoiding introducing values into the discussion. These only complicate matters, leading to an uncomfortable tendency to impose one’s own on others.

    Except Islamists never compromise on values because they define their legitimacy. Hamas refuses to recognise Israel, since it considers Palestine a religious endowment. Hizbollah considers “resistance” absolute, rejecting the very principle of disarming in favour of a sovereign Lebanese state. In contrast, the engagers urge western governments to shed their principles because by not doing so they supposedly revive the spectre of neo-colonial arrogance.

    Young’s reasoning ought to be considered when discussing the engagement of British radical Islamism of both the violent and non-violent varieties.

    ************************************
    This is a cross-post from The Spittoon. A new blog venue for the views and ideas of a group of writers and activists who oppose religious supremacism and clerical fascism in all its various stripes and denominations. It aims to contribute ideas to that intellectual tradition, now losing ground to power structures and religious “orthodoxies”. Ideas which respect ‘a willingness to dialogue, a spirit of criticism, moderation of judgment, philological scruple, a sense of the complexity of things’.



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    159 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. munir — on 19th May, 2009 at 12:56 pm  

      No Muslims must be represnted by self-hating Muslims like Sid and the Quilliam Foundation who dont actually believe in much of the religion and are happy to demonise other Muslims for money or fame.

    2. munir — on 19th May, 2009 at 1:03 pm  

      “2. Engagement with totalitarian tendencies is the diminishing of other non-Islamist stakeholders. It is also a betrayal of moderate Arab voices, who ultimately must live under these totalitarian regimes.”

      As if the current Arab regimes they are living under are liberal democracies and not authoritarian dictatorships ! In many places in the Muslim world like Turkey Islamic influenced parties have given more freedom to people than their secular counterparts and unlike them they are at least popular

      By failing to engage with popular movements you simply make yourself irrelevant.

      The piece by Michael Young was published in a paper in the Emirates -which is of course a dictatorship whose dictator feels threatened by Islamic groups (you wont find any seering exposes of the Emirs opression and corruption there). Sid you are beyond parody.

    3. platinum786 — on 19th May, 2009 at 1:36 pm  

      As much as you like to bash Sid, if you took a cross section of the Muslim community they’d be more comfortable with Sid like characters than HT like characters. At least QF/Sid aren’t alienating the Muslim community, or taking digs at it.

      I think engaging with Islamists, whatever you want to call them is important. Take groups like Hizbollah/Hamas for example. One the one hand you’ll hear of them calling for the destruction of Israel, but at the same time, if a Palestinian state was created along the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as it’s capital, these same groups are willing to recognise Israel.

      In a recent topic on PP someone mentioned the words of a leader of Fateh, who said that once the Israeli ideology dies, Palestinians will at the least claim back Jerusalem, and that a Palestinian state is a step, not the end goal, or words to that effect.

      What I want to know is, Is that really that unfair or suprising? The fact of the matter is, Israel was created on Palestinian land, the Palestinians want it back. Fateh use politics to make that point, Hizbollah/Hamas use islamist politics and even violence and terrorism.

      If through dialouge a Palestinian state could be created, do you think anti-Israeli opinion would flourish or be reduced? If people are allowed to have futures, do you think they are more likely or less likely to become terrorists?

      It might not be pleseant but in the Israel-Palestine situation, violent Islamist groups have gained enough power to be considered legitimate powers in the region. In this situation it might be worth considering talking to them.

      Does that then mean you should talk to all violent extremists? Obviously not. Osama Bin Laden and his Al Queda group have no interests in peace, they want domaination of the western world, obviously that is unacceptable. They can’t be reasoned with.

      Pakistan has had a similar experience. It did a deal with the TTP and the TNSM, the TNSM were reasonable, but the TTP could not be reasoned with, hence the operation we see today.

      I think you have to take each case on it’s own merits, and you can’t asess that until you engage with the groups. HT might not be someone who will compromise, they have global power aspirations, but their membership is fickle. We know of so many stories of people being HT members and then turning on them. You can help that process if you engage with those people.

      Also for the record, I don’t think your are uncredible as QF.

    4. fugstar — on 19th May, 2009 at 2:34 pm  

      1.
      Life is about discerning truth from falsehood right? Also, this grunt’s malady is more to do with fabricating an innocent identity for himself. folsk like this are pariah’s on much smaller scales than their ‘ communities’. the internet is their therapy.

    5. munir — on 19th May, 2009 at 2:43 pm  

      platinum 786

      “As much as you like to bash Sid, if you took a cross section of the Muslim community they’d be more comfortable with Sid like characters than HT like characters. At least QF/Sid aren’t alienating the Muslim community, or taking digs at it. ”

      Quite but this is of course a straw man-positing that the only alternative to Islamophobic appeasers like Sid/QF are HT!!! Rather than people who defend Muslims within the system .

    6. munir — on 19th May, 2009 at 2:47 pm  

      platinum786
      “Does that then mean you should talk to all violent extremists? Obviously not. Osama Bin Laden and his Al Queda group have no interests in peace, they want domaination of the western world, obviously that is unacceptable. They can’t be reasoned with. ”

      You could say the same with neocons/Americans and replacing “western” with Muslim except that :

      1) neocons/Americans actually have the ability to dominate the Muslim (and non-Muslim) world
      2) they and their agenda have many apologists in the media including (on the left) Sid’s darling sheikh David T and the HP rabble.

    7. Sunny — on 19th May, 2009 at 3:41 pm  

      There is an uncomfortable flaw in Hull’s thesis: If, as he says so himself, the “law-abiding, non-violent Islamists” Hizbut Tahrir are treated with derision by the violent jihadi groups is wholly correct, why will the engagement of Hizbut Tahrir result in de-radicalisation of the violent Islamists?

      If you’re going to flesh this out, at least don’t make it into a caricature. What do you mean by ‘engagement’ here?

      And is there only one form of engagement?

    8. Faisal — on 19th May, 2009 at 3:53 pm  

      Perhaps you should read Hull’s (of IPPR) article to understand what *he* means by engagement. He does not go into details himself, but I understand this to mean as bringing all stakeholders holistically to the table, but especially those who are representatives of far-right Islamic radicalism.

      b) Define what you mean by “caricature”? It is Hull who divides Islamists into violent and non-violent groups. I don’t think that is wholly incorrect. But his reasons for prescribing the engagement of non-violent Islamists (such as the Hizbies) as a bulwark to the takfiris is logically flawed.

    9. Faisal — on 19th May, 2009 at 4:02 pm  

      Quite but this is of course a straw man-positing that the only alternative to Islamophobic appeasers like Sid/QF are HT!!! Rather than people who defend Muslims within the system .

      Have you read the post? There are a myriad number of Islamist interpretations who oppose your Islamist interpretation.

      One of the reasons for setting up The Spittoon is to show just how wide and deep the consensus against the Islamists are in the community. But more importantly, it is to show to moderate Muslims how it is possible to be critical of Islamists without falling victim to their emotional blackmail that criticism of them is criticism of Muslim culture, identity and faith etc.

    10. Sunny — on 19th May, 2009 at 4:40 pm  

      to understand what *he* means by engagement. He does not go into details himself, but I understand this to mean as bringing all stakeholders holistically to the table, but especially those who are representatives of far-right Islamic radicalism.

      PArt of the issue is how Hull sees engagement - but you can’t get away with just pointing the finger at him.

      I’d like to know what you see as ‘engagement’ and whether sitting around in a table with a bunch of people means you agree with their agenda.

    11. fugstar — on 19th May, 2009 at 5:02 pm  

      the reason is your own self promotion and reproduction. eurgh. nothing to do with social aql.

    12. Imran Khan — on 19th May, 2009 at 5:21 pm  

      Sid - “One of the reasons for setting up The Spittoon is to show just how wide and deep the consensus against the Islamists are in the community. But more importantly, it is to show to moderate Muslims how it is possible to be critical of Islamists without falling victim to their emotional blackmail that criticism of them is criticism of Muslim culture, identity and faith etc.”

      But who decides those definition you?

      The point is that the likes of QF are attacking the Muslim community and its always Salafi this, and Wahabi that and Jammati this and that.

      Which is itself divisive and often inaccurate.

      Basicaly many of these organisations are Sufi inspired but their whole message is that everyone else is wrong apart from them and they speak for the silent majority.

      If these organisations want to be successful in their aims then labelling everyone Islamist that they don’t approve of isn’t the way to go.

      Also what arer the plans for the grassroots?

      Is it is a condition of being moderate that one supports Israel?!

      QF is calming down a bit but from the outset it was always the fault of everyone bar the preapproved Sufis and that lost them lots of support.

      Hopefully Spitoon won’t go down the same road.

    13. Faisal — on 19th May, 2009 at 6:36 pm  

      I’d like to know what you see as ‘engagement’ and whether sitting around in a table with a bunch of people means you agree with their agenda.

      Exactly, engagement might mean sitting around a table trying to find common ground even if this means you don’t agree with “their agenda”. On engagement with non-violent Islamists, Hull makes this point:

      In this context, engagement with law-abiding, non-violent Islamists can play a valuable role. Shared interests, if not ideologies, are paramount: it is not in our interests or theirs for terrorists to mount another attack. That is not to say we have to agree with them on arranged marriage, homosexuality or creationism, but it does mean we have some important common ground, and we should make the most of it.

      I’m wondering whether Hull would agree that it was necessary to engage with law-abiding, non-violent BNP members even if you didn’t agree with them on white supremacism and immigration in order to thwart another BNP-related terrorist attack. And if he did advocate that, I think it’s fair to say that you would most certainly be “pointing the finger at him”.

      But when it comes to Islamists, the “liberal” position seems to want more engagement. I find this very curious.

    14. Sunny — on 19th May, 2009 at 8:57 pm  

      I’m wondering whether Hull would agree that it was necessary to engage with law-abiding, non-violent BNP members even if you didn’t agree with them on white supremacism and immigration in order to thwart another BNP-related terrorist attack.

      Faisal - what I find curious is that you’re repeating Dean Godson talking points almost by verbatim without actually adding anything new to the discussion.

      Hell - why don’t you just copy and paste from any Policy Exchange document on the issue and be done with?? You sound the same.

      But to point out how silly your central argument is:

      1) We did engage with friends of terrorists - the Sinn Fein. Without them Ireland wouldn’t be peaceful

      2) We do engage weith working class white people who are tempted to vote BNP - and in fact that is what the Margaret Thatcher dog-whistle to immigration was all about. So while the BNP are not engaged to defeat terrorism, their potential supporters are engaged in order to talk about immigration. In fact I’ve given several examples of this on PP recently. Clearly you missed out.

      In addition to pointing out the complete emptiness of your argument - you avoid my question.

      This is: how do you define engagement? Are you saying that one should not chat to elements you find disgusting under any circumstances? Answer that point - forget about what Hull is saying for now.

    15. MaidMarian — on 19th May, 2009 at 9:22 pm  

      Sid - Interesting though this is, I just feel you are over-reading this a bit. After all, people with radical religious views seem to me unlikely to wake up one morning and subscribe to an alternative world view. Apologies if I am being glib.

      Muslim extremists have been blowing themselves and everyone around them up for years now. The attempt to blow up the WTC in 1993 was long before the Iraq conflict, and indeed 9/11 itself.

      The indiscriminate killing started in the middle east, and it came to the west directly and indirectly, through the radical Muslim “teachings” that should have been severely questioned long ago, but which political correctness regarded as legitimate as freedom of speech.

      If you accept that there are some Islamists who will hate the western world simply for having the temerity to exist, well the bombers amongst them will find something to bomb. Be it in London, embassies in the likes of Kenya/Tanzania or elsewhere.

      The stark reality is that no amount of engagement will change that.

      Not a comforting thought for those who choose to blame our society and government for all ills.

    16. Faisal — on 19th May, 2009 at 10:01 pm  

      Sunny - I sense a certain amount of emotion creeping into your sentences which seems to be clouding your judgement.

      1) Sinn Fein were only brought to the negotiation table when they could prove they had sufficient traction with the Provisional IRA either by getting them (the IRA) to lay down their weapons or to agree to a ceasefire. They proved that they could and lo and behold, god gave us the Good Friday Agreement. The non-violent IRA had to prove that they could change mindsets of violent IRA. But there is little proof that non-violent Islamists like the Hizbut Tahrir’s values are any different to that of a jihadi Salafist’s to do anything to change them. And since that is the case, what’s the point in engaging non-violent Islamists? And this is what I meant upthread as “logically flawed”.
      2) Your recent posts on the BNP are not examples of engagement with the BNP. That’s blogging. And neither is leafletting BNP wards - that’s canvassing. Perhaps you should define what you mean by engagement yourself.

      And hey, I would never be so disrespectful as suggesting you might as well just copy and paste from any Fabian Society manifesto. That would be mean. :-)

    17. Ravi Naik — on 19th May, 2009 at 10:27 pm  

      But there is little proof that non-violent Islamists like the Hizbut Tahrir’s values are any different to that of a jihadi Salafist’s to do anything to change them. And since that is the case, what’s the point in engaging non-violent Islamists?

      It is rather simple, Faisal: you want to engage with non-violent Islamists in order to isolate the violent Islamists. By alienating both factions, you are only providing the opportunity for both groups to find common ground, even though they may disagree with the means to achieve their goals.

      The BNP and C18 shared the same ideology, but different ways to achieve their goals. Because the BNP was allowed to engage in the electoral process, it accentuated the differences with C18, and this group became isolated and weaker.

      Hence, Hull’s thesis makes a lot of sense to me.

    18. Faisal — on 19th May, 2009 at 11:16 pm  

      C18 withered away because it’s members found their home in the BNP. The BNP absorbed them, losing none of its core values and grew stronger. This kind of entryism is one of the dangers, if not failures, of engagement Hull’s thesis fails to acknowledge.

    19. Faisal — on 19th May, 2009 at 11:22 pm  

      MM:
      The stark reality is that no amount of engagement will change that.

      no - as in I agree.

    20. dave bones — on 20th May, 2009 at 12:36 am  

      Faisal I dont think you are right Majors govt spoke to the IRA.

    21. Sunny — on 20th May, 2009 at 1:30 am  

      1) And since that is the case, what’s the point in engaging non-violent Islamists? And this is what I meant upthread as “logically flawed”.

      Since you consistently fail to even give your definition of engagement since its the third time I’ve asked - there’s no point even bothering to ‘engage’ with your own thesis. You seem to be only interested in convincing yourself.

      Your recent posts on the BNP are not examples of engagement with the BNP. That’s blogging. And neither is leafletting BNP wards - that’s canvassing. Perhaps you should define what you mean by engagement yourself.

      Unlike you I actually have examples:
      http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4321

      and
      http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4229

      According to your grand theory, we should completely ignore anyone who voices some sympathy for the BNP, even though that may be because they are pissed off with local services or simply because they don’t know the true nature of the BNP or whatever reason. For you, they’re too beyond the pale to even talk to. I suppose you say that we should just ignore those people.

      Unfortunately that’s not the real world - however easy it may be to be a keyboard warrior.

      If you’re saying we shouldn’t talk to the HuT because they can’t bring back potential terrorists, then I’d probably agree with you. I don’t like HuT myself. But HuT aren’t the whole range of Islamists around.

    22. Sunny — on 20th May, 2009 at 3:37 am  

      And take this story Sid:
      Pakistani clerics back government offensive, denounce Taliban tactics
      http://www.miamiherald.com/692/story/1056358-p2.html

      Some of those clerics may be Islamists. Would you never talk to them to get them on side?

    23. Katy Newton — on 20th May, 2009 at 6:57 am  

      Engagement is starting a dialogue, isn’t it? That’s what I understand Faisal to be talking about. That’s why leafleting people who might potentially be tempted to vote BNP - whilst undoubtedly vital in stopping the BNP from increasing whatever foothold they have - isn’t engaging with the BNP as such. Leafleting Northern Ireland, for example, clearly wouldn’t have counted as engaging with the IRA. Similarly, blog posts criticising the BNP play an important part in alerting non-BNPers to the activities and motivation of the BNP but aren’t, it seems to me, a way of engaging with the BNP itself.

      Engaging with the BNP would involve sitting down with people who are actually in the BNP, trying to work out what it is that led them to join the BNP, and seeing if it’s possible to make them see that being the BNP, as it were, is not the answer.

      I’m not suggesting that anyone could talk Nick Griffin round, you understand, but that’s what I understand to be the difference between canvassing and engaging.

    24. imran khan — on 20th May, 2009 at 7:17 am  

      Sunny - “Some of those clerics may be Islamists. Would you never talk to them to get them on side?”

      The label Islamist is being used and abused to stifle engagement only with specific types of Muslims - Sufis. Hence although these type of organisations claim they are for engagement and discussion its only at their beck and call.

      I’ve asked Sid who decides who is and isn’t an Islamist and haven’t received and answer.

      The mislabelling of people who can and do join the fight against terror and the associated hysteria is what is causing problems.

      Katy - “Engagement is starting a dialogue, isn’t it? That’s what I understand Faisal to be talking about.”

      Yes but the central question is unanswered who decides who is and isn’t Islamist. Part of Hazel Blears grand vision was that recognition of Israel was a deciding factor in whether engagement was to take place so its farcical. Engagement in the past has been quick to label people Salafi this, Wahabi that and Jammati this and that and its all false advertising.

      So what is the level of control to ensure that as in the past there isn’t a gross dispute and distortion of labelling people and groups Islamist and what is the criteria.

      Don’t forget that based on this quick labelling people get abused and locked up innocently. Its the quick judgements that lead to ongoing problems and still births for these types of ventures which are needed but which fail because they are alienating the very people they want to engage.

    25. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 7:34 am  

      C18 withered away because it’s members found their home in the BNP. The BNP absorbed them, losing none of its core values and grew stronger. This kind of entryism is one of the dangers, if not failures, of engagement Hull’s thesis fails to acknowledge.

      But this actually vindicates Hulls thesis: that violent groups get weaker, either because they are isolated, or because its members find a more legitimate (non-violent) path. Had we shunned the BNP, the terrorist group C18 would get stronger. In the end, this is about getting rid of violent groups, not the non-violent ones.

      And according to the latest BNP manual, they are now saying that non-Europeans who settled in Britain and their descendants should be afforded the same rights as British citizens. Not that one should believe their word, but certainly it’s a far cry from C18.

      Yes but the central question is unanswered who decides who is and isn’t Islamist.

      This is the part that bothers me most about Faisal and QF’s narrative. The lack of any clear definition of what “Islamist” is, makes them call anyone they do not like as Islamist.

    26. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 8:33 am  

      Let’s stop pretending stall we? I think we know all who “Islamists” are. The IPPR and Conflicts Forum know who they are. And certainly Islamists themselves know who they are and even self-identify themselves as such. To try and say that a definiton of ‘Islamism’ is being imposed externally is, at this stage, plain intellectual flaccidity.

      because its members find a more legitimate (non-violent) path. Had we shunned the BNP, the terrorist group C18 would get stronger. In the end, this is about getting rid of violent groups, not the non-violent ones.

      C18/BNP isn’t a good counter example because the BNP were never “engaged” in order to pacify the extremist rhetoric of C18. To suggest that C18 imploded because BNP became a political party might be correct, however the BNP were never engaged to mollify C18.

      Here we’re talking about the IPPR thesis which advocates why non-violent Islamists should be made the interlocutors of violent jihadi Islamists. But IPPR’s logic for their advocay of engagement is flawed - that’s my first point, as I’ve shown.

      My points are not about calling for non-engagement. If violent extremists are engaged there should be clearcut reasons for doing so because of the dangers of enagagement as discussed in Michael Young’s article.

    27. Refresh — on 20th May, 2009 at 9:26 am  

      Imran,

      ‘I’ve asked Sid who decides who is and isn’t an Islamist and haven’t received and answer.’

      Ravi,

      ‘This is the part that bothers me most about Faisal and QF’s narrative. The lack of any clear definition of what “Islamist” is, makes them call anyone they do not like as Islamist.’

      Precisely, Sid’s first ever unsupervised thread did all the damage. His definition shifted so much in and out just so he wouldn’t be seen to lose the argument. I for one believe that thread exposed him completely and he has been damaged since.

      The only time I thought Sid/Faisal might just be beginning to heal was when he offered not to label Imran an islamist in return for being nice to him.

    28. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 10:24 am  

      C18/BNP isn’t a good counter example because the BNP were never “engaged” in order to pacify the extremist rhetoric of C18.

      That depends on what your definition of “engagement” is.

      My definition of “engagement” is in the broadest of sense: it’s providing a legitimate platform or a communication channel to individuals or organisations, as opposed to banning, censoring or persecuting.

      In that sense, when the BNP was accepted as a political party, we gave them a legitimate platform in which they could spew their message. For that reason, blogs like PP to individuals like Sunny, billaricaydickey, Don, Douglas and every other progressive, by blogging, canvasing and so on, have made racism a dirty dirty word. This in turn made BNP soften its language to the point that as of April 2009, they now say that non-whites and their descendants who settled here are British in every civic sense and should be given the same rights as “indigenous” citizens, and reject vehemently that is a racist party. You know, because the electorate doesn’t like racists.

      So you see, that’s engagement - it doesn’t have to be directly meeting in a table, but instead, indirectly by convincing the electorate that racism is indeed bad, which makes the BNP in turn reject its core message in order to be accepted. Meanwhile, C18 is gone because it got isolated and weak in this process.

      If we reject Hull’s thesis, and put the BNP (non-violent) and C18 (violent) in the same bag (which is what you want to do with Islamists), you will just accentuating the problem.

      By default, we should engage with any group, as long as they abide by the law. Non-violence is a precondition for engagement. And by isolating the violent from the non-violent, we isolate and weaken the violent group, and we allow the non-violent to grow more moderate - you see, because mainstream is moderate and you provided a bridge between them.

      Let’s stop pretending stall we? I think we know all who “Islamists” are. The IPPR and Conflicts Forum know who they are.

      Sorry, that won’t do. You either have a clear definition of the term “Islamist” or you don’t. This ambiguity is very convenient for you because it allows you to arbitrarily label people you do not like as such. That shameful QF alert about the Islam Channel is a prime example of this tactic.

    29. Katy Newton — on 20th May, 2009 at 10:37 am  

      My definition of “engagement” is in the broadest of sense: it’s providing a legitimate platform or a communication channel to individuals or organisations, as opposed to banning, censoring or persecuting.

      There’s no real difference between engagement and free speech, then?

    30. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 10:40 am  

      Here we’re talking about the IPPR thesis which advocates why non-violent Islamists should be made the interlocutors of violent jihadi Islamists.

      I have read Hull’s article two times now, and I couldn’t find any instance where he is advocating that non-violent Islamists become the interlocutors of violent jihadi Islamists. It is clear that the motivation is to isolate the violent groups in one corner. I wonder if you completely missed the point of the article.

    31. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 10:40 am  

      That depends on what your definition of “engagement” is.

      I don’t believe that the BNP were engaged in order to become a political party. The “we gave them a legitimate platform in which they could spew their message” is dubious to the point of incorrect. No govermental agency was involved with engaging either the C18 or the BNP in the IPPR sense of the term “engagement”.

      Engagement of the BNP would be to encourage unelected representatives into agencies on the basis of some arbitrary notion of religious, ethical or racial identity. To that end, how many BNP members’ opinions are solicited for the government to understand the needs of radical BNP thought? How many BNP members are asked to join Security Committees presided by the Police to represent their communities? How many BNP members sit on the board of Liberty etc etc.

      Sorry, that won’t do. You either have a clear definition of the term “Islamist” or you don’t. This ambiguity is very convenient for you because it allows you to arbitrarily label people you do not like as such.

      Sorry it will have to do. If you have a problem with the definition of “Islamist” why are you not faulting the IPPR article, or any other use of the term Islamist, for their useage?

      I think I already know.

    32. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 11:03 am  

      I don’t believe that the BNP were engaged in order to become a political party.

      It is true that there was no incentive on our part to get the BNP engaged in the electoral process, but the truth of the matter is that as you admitted, it weakened the violent faction, and as I said, it moderated the non-violent one. This is pretty much the Hull’s thesis in action.

      There’s no real difference between engagement and free speech, then?

      Engagement assumes a more prominent channel.

    33. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 11:10 am  

      This is pretty much the Hull’s thesis in action.

      No it isn’t. Engagement does not mean helping the creation of political parties. That happens without engagement.

      Hull’s “thesis in action” would be to legimitise Islamist political groups by giving them credence as viable and valid representatives in initiatives of government agencies. That doesn’t happen in the case of the BNP so why does it need to be endorsed in the case of Islamists?

    34. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 11:53 am  

      Hull’s “thesis in action” would be to legimitise Islamist political groups by giving them credence as viable and valid representatives in initiatives of government agencies.

      Opening a channel of communication between the government and these Islamists organisations - which we assume are law-abiding - does not mean giving credence to their views, or even consider their views as viable solutions specially if they go against our core values. Hull says: “It has to be both principled and pragmatic. We must work with non-violent Islamists and mainstream Muslims, while practising the values we preach.

      Is that too subtle for you? The other two options are ignoring them, and persecuting them. Guess which of the 3 options is more democratic and more effective against violence?

      But let’s go back to the BNP.

      Engagement of the BNP would be to encourage unelected representatives into agencies on the basis of some arbitrary notion of religious, ethical or racial identity. To that end, how many BNP members’ opinions are solicited for the government to understand the needs of radical BNP thought?

      You are comparing the BNP with an Islamist organisation, but that is comparing oranges with apples: the BNP is a political party that participates in the electoral process.

      Hence, it is far more productive to directly engage with potential BNP voters and understand their concerns, than engage with BNP members or officials.

      In that end, talking with potential BNP voters is NOT giving them credence because we dislike their views on race or immigration, but it is part of a healthy democratic process. It is the feeling of “disfranchising” that make a lot of people vote or support extremist parties.

      Engaging with people with views we consider radical is a sign of strength, not weakness. It does not mean we need to compromise our core values, but that we are mature enough to start a dialogue.

    35. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 12:00 pm  

      By the way… care to comment #30? Can you actually quote from Hull’s article where he defends this:

      Here we’re talking about the IPPR thesis which advocates why non-violent Islamists should be made the interlocutors of violent jihadi Islamists.

      Your entire post seems to hinge on this assertion.

    36. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 12:02 pm  

      Is that too subtle for you? The other two options are ignoring them, and persecuting them. Guess which of the 3 options is more democratic and more effective against violence?

      There is a fourth to add to your list which is far more viable: To disengage with the ones that are currently used as proxy representatives of Muslim communities.

      Engaging with people with views we consider radical is a sign of strength, not weakness. It does not mean we need to compromise our core values, but that we are mature enough to start a dialogue.

      Nice to see some consistency. If you argue for the engagement of radical Islamist groups then you have to equally argue for the engagement of far-right racial supremacists.

      For the sake of your credibility and continuity, I look forward to seeing how you want to facilitate that. Which government agencies, policy bodies and media outlets you want extreme BNP members to enter. And how you want to bring BNP members’s needs into liberal discourse.

    37. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 12:14 pm  

      Very brave discussion Faisal.

      First of all - engagement - or are we talking representation? And to- by whom/ do we mean the media/govt. etc. That would clarify a lot on this thread. People are talking at tangents.

      One -People need to “engage” with each other. How we mean engagement - is up to us to define. it doesn’t have to mean ‘one’ thing. There is something separate - about governments/institutions, paying a particular kind of attention to particular kind of groups.

      Frankly, religion needs to be engaged with. Now more than ever. That includes non-violent people and those who might be violent -and that division - is possibly more arbitrary than we might think. We ain’t going to find out - if we don’t ask some questions, or study these people. and the best thing to do - would be to get them up, and ask them to tell THEIR fellow muslims, why they are violent, or why not.

      There are many reasons we cannot ‘engage’ the reality of interpretation/mis-interpretation of Islam.

      One being the general lack of open-ness in challenging from ‘within’ and if anyone nowadays says anything, one is accused of making the ‘community’ {as if it were monolithic} look bad. {Who is generalising there and treating muslims as one community? Anyway}

      The other is simply that people don’t seem to really want to engage in religion - because if they do- they are accused of being against ‘people who believe’. Again very simplistic - as if examining a system of belief - somehow implies one ‘hates’ those who uphold that system.

      Who is an Islamist - who isn’t - why have we got that terminology? Its popularly used since 9/11 - and the issue is this. Islamist seems to be commonly applied to those who believe in what is often referred to as ‘political’ Islam. Many ‘cultural’ Muslims use this term too -(and they are denounced by these political Muslims as having diluted their religion, become confused by (usually HInduism etc.) lost the original point of the religion, didn’t understand the Arabic etc. It’s all about literalism - and the fundamentals of a religion. The real issues, therefore, we are not going to be able to grapple with - till we have some knowledge of what the hell these people are all going on about. And ask THEM to tell us, rather than put words in their mouth.

      Why? Because, I sonia, could easily - (write a very long post) setting out what I see as differentiating ‘cultural’ muslims - from the Islamists. i could set out a nexus of factors and contexts that { i think} apply to both. I could refer to textual sources - and do an analysis of which group - is ‘closer’ to the ‘real’ Islam (as upheld in the sources) because let’s face it, Islam WAS a political project - you couldn’t distinguish the two, (because if you did, it becomes nothing more than another greedy empire-wannabe) The only legitimacy of the Arab expansion into Persia - and so on - was because of ‘our’ link to God. having accepted that, there is the question - ok that was then - but what about NOW? is it our job to resurrect the Islam of Mohammed’s days - and if so - do we do what they did, or something else. All these questions - we would have to ENGAGE in- because they ARE the questions. i could set out what I think people think about it - but i’d rather they got involved and spoke for themselves. I could set the questions too. Do you believe sex slavery should be continued in a new caliphate - for example? this would elicit a lot of info -in my opinion anyway.

      Without getting these groups, individuals to talk about the ‘excuses’/reasons they have/don’t have - we ain’t getting anywhere. But that’s about engaging their version/interpretation of their religion really.

      So that’s my view of what ought to happen. Now what’s happening is completely different.

      Does the ‘liberal’ position wants ‘engagement’ - or just a bit of ‘consultation’ with the troublemakers so we can say we did it? I don’t know.

      The real reason engagement with the ‘issues’ won’t happen is because emotions run too high with most of us Muslims. We’re so annoyed at being linked to terrorist ideals we simply cannot acknowledge any material in the Quran that is problematic. And everyone knows how we respond to anything said about the Prophet. We want to support our religion, blindly sometimes. So how can anyone (muslim or non-Muslim) really engage? If we can’t admit the Quran (as with other religious texts) is a dangerous document - to some anyway - then how can we engage with those who have read violence in it?

      We can’t obviously. Look what happened to Irshal Manji - when she wrote the Problem with Islam. The very valid points she made in the book (could her detractors refute them? No they attacked her character, her politics, her associations). No one wants to get into this game because they know they will be attacked.

      And does anyone really want to be clear about their religion/interpretation of that religion? No they don’t. A lot of people would feel offended because they feel they don’t have to explain themselves.

    38. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 12:25 pm  

      Look folks, this engagement word has been misused as one of these govt. management speak phrases. so who knows what other people mean, but when the government says ‘engage’ - they mean ‘consult’ okay?

      i.e. they have fulfilled their duty to consult stakeholders.

      Anyway, there is a point to all this - which is besides the religion thing. its what i observe a lot of wussy journalist/commentator types doing (what we all do) in the name of multiculturalism. ‘Oh we are liberals, we must find give those ‘Other’ people a ‘voice’ /or ‘consult’ them/or something. Let them ‘exist’!

      The way i see it -their form of consultation {when its the govt doing it} or ‘engagement’ is precisely the opposite of ‘engagement’ - real engagement - as ‘equals’ - in a world society where we expect to at least try to arrive at some sort of common ground. Because it involves so much cultural relativism - oh we couldn’t possibly expect to understand you (or your religion) but because WE are liberal, we will do xyz, like let you be and not really ‘challenge’ you. or do it in such a politically correct way, that it will be quite pointless.

      that to me - is highly problematic, and the reason why we cannot challenge problematic institutions and practices. ‘oh no don’t insult them, we just don’t understand them’. Rubbish - all this moral relativism is well annoying. its more racist than anything else.

    39. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 12:28 pm  

      I say - let’s ‘engage’ really and truly. Not ‘consult’ which is really a condescending thing to do. And its not about hearing someone’s ‘voice’ just for the hell of it, its about starting a dialogue, in which all people have to realise there are some universal moral precepts of living together - we are going to have to hash out together. its not just a case of ‘my religion says this, i’m different to you, let me have my way’ type of discussion that we’ve all put up with for too long. You’re not fucking different - would be my answer. You’re a human and you have standards to maintain. Let’s talk about WHY you feel you can’t maintain those standards.

      End of.

    40. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 12:29 pm  

      Your entire post seems to hinge on this assertion.

      And Hull’s thesis hinges on this:

      Along these lines, Policy Exchange have published a report, Choosing our friends wisely, co-authored by former extremist Shiraz Maher, which provides a list of nine sorts of people the ‘government must not engage’.

      The PEx report he refers to (by Shiraz Maher) argues for disengagement with non-violent Islamists as interlocutors of violent Islamists because there is no break in the core values between them, only in methodologies. So his entire article and is to refute Maher’s findings and suggestions.

    41. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 12:33 pm  

      Yeah - i guess the point is about ‘appeasing’ such groups. (engage is such a weasel word - it can mean anything!) Oh come - sit on our community - look we are so inclusive! we won’t ask questions of your odd beliefs either - really - because we know WE wouldn’t understand it.

      I definitely believe is there is too much “appeasement” of some highly illiberal thinkers/actors. all in the name of ‘oh we might upset your communities’ if we don’t take you seriously. Multiculturalism gone sour and a superiority complex on the part of some people.

    42. justforfun — on 20th May, 2009 at 12:36 pm  

      End of :-(

      …just when you were getting going, and I have a slow work day.

      Frankly, religion needs to be engaged with - how? My first instinct is to ban religions - especially congregational religions - but I suppose realistically, as a starting point try and discourage ‘congregational’ aspects of all religions.

      justforfun

    43. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 12:41 pm  

      Faisal, this IPPR guy can’t know much about Islam, if he doesn’t know about the core ideologies shared by violent and non-violent types of “political -islam”-ists.

      its all about facilitation - fluffy facilitation.

      that’s the problem. he is again, focused on ‘us’ as ‘oh WE must be the good ones’ here. which is fine, if he wants to play that game. its all about being seen to be the ‘good’ liberal one, and its full of cultural relativism. that’s not what i call ‘engagement’. there are ways of really engaging - which address the fact that xyz is not acceptable, and as part of OUR community, we want to know why you think you’re doing xyz. not some fluffy facilitaition.

      the IPPR article - looks like the usual govt blah blah of ‘oh we have to engage communities’. they say that about everyone - and what the hell do they know about community ‘cohesion’ -its so often a lot of fluffy ‘play nicely’ surface stuff. but the government has to do stuff like that - or so it thinks.

      Anyway, i’ve said what i’ve got to say. there has to be some ‘engagement’ on some level - its a lot more complicated than it seems. ANd without delving into religion, you’re not going to manage this one, and if you do delve into religion, you’re going to upset all the ‘moderates’.

    44. Refresh — on 20th May, 2009 at 12:56 pm  

      Sonia, I was going to say your #39 was close to my thinking except for the us and them; and engagement to also address foreign and economic policy of the last 80 years.

      But then you manage to address the us and them question quite adequately in #43.

      We are all in it together.

      As for ‘and if you do delve into religion, you’re going to upset all the ‘moderates’.’ I do not agree. A civil discussion, without the demonisation and rabid insults will elicit quite a healthy debate.

    45. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 1:03 pm  

      For the sake of your credibility and continuity, I look forward to seeing how you want to facilitate that. Which government agencies, policy bodies and media outlets you want extreme BNP members to enter.

      Look at your definition of “engagement” in #13. It says nothing about giving them jobs in government agencies, etc. I guess when you do not define terms, you can make them up as you go along.

      The PEx report he refers to (by Shiraz Maher) argues for disengagement with non-violent Islamists as interlocutors of violent Islamists because there is no break in the core values between them, only in methodologies. So his entire article and is to refute Maher’s findings and suggestions.

      I would say it is a gross mischaracterization of Hull’s article. He never said that non-violent Islamists would serve as interlocutors to violent Islamists (it makes no sense!) - just because he briefly criticised another report, does not mean you inherit the conclusions, assumptions and whatnot from those reports. His thesis and arguments should be confined to what he wrote in the article, not what you arbitrarily take out from another author (Shiraz Maher) and then accuse Hull of saying something self-contradictory.

      You should correct your shoddy piece.

    46. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 1:11 pm  

      Look at your definition of “engagement” in #13. It says nothing about giving them jobs in government agencies, etc. I guess when you do not define terms, you can make them up as you go along.

      I didn’t say anything about giving them jobs. But I do look forward to you encouraging and championing extremist BNP values and opinions to be credited and consulted. It would be an example of gross hypocrisy if you didn’t. Perhaps that’s a forgone conclusion though.

      You should correct your shoddy piece.

      Does that come from the fact that you’re too lazy to read the report Hull’s artcle has been written in reponse to?

      I said this:

      But there is little proof that non-violent Islamists like the Hizbut Tahrir’s values are any different to that of a jihadi Salafist’s to do anything to change them. And since that is the case, what’s the point in engaging non-violent Islamists? And this is what I meant upthread as “logically flawed”.

      Now that you have said Hull’s piece is not self-contradictory, you’re actually going to have to structure an argument on how the passage I qoted of his isn’t contradictory. Just saying so is not going to be enough. Let’s see you walk the walk.

    47. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 1:31 pm  

      42 - jff. how to engage religions? ha ha.

      yeah good point. what i meant is specifically here is pertaining to the one religion i know something about. and very specific to the discussion. it seems to affect islam these days more =(but im sure applies to all) but the very fact that some Muslims have radically different views to some others (i.e. in whether their religion calls for violence or not, whether they have to go around trying to convert other people, bring back the Caliphate etc.)

      Having grown up as a Muslim myself, in the middle east of all places, i know about the kind of major differences you find in ‘muslim-hoood’. interestingly,i never heard anyone mention a Caliphate - (outside of history books) - not in Bangladesh either -another majority muslim country - but here in the UK, as an international student, i heard too much of it. i went to a talk at the University where the Mullah bloke said Muslims have to hate Jews and Christians and Hindus. That is pretty shocking stuff - i’d never heard anyone STRAIGHT OUT say that before - in all my life growing up in Muslim majority countries. I of course challenged the bloke, as will many people (muslims) challenge Islamists.

      But alas - how much of our scriptures do we all read? Not much - there are lots we overlook, or ignore. the unfortunate reality is that we have a text, and traditions, which support multiple positions - so mr. mullah was technically NOt lying. And so on and so forth with many issues: so my point is there are many people in the world today, who call themselves Muslims, who have very differing understanding and knowledge of the ‘original’ religion, and there are many ‘appropriations’ of this original religion, being practised around the world today. A lot of people want to call that ‘Islam’ too - and i see no reason why they shouldn’t pick and choose, although the traditionalists do not agree.

      When i said ‘let’s’ engage - I mean - we need to be able to actually explore - between the many different Muslims - what is going on - and why so many people will parrot and say ‘oh no there is nothing dodgy in Islam, it is simply cultural. (Whatever that means?) Yes at least these people have good intentions = but they are rarely able to actually ENGAGE with the contentious issues! there is lot of side comment,never actual engagement with ‘ok what about this para? what about this story about the Prophet, what about this?

      people might say - ok that’s not relevant to me , i ignore that, i don’t believe it, etc. etc. - At least that would be some level of engagement.

      We make a huge fuss about some bloody cartoons of our Prophet, want to ban some fiction book about his wife - yet we are not willing to engage - the material in the Quran, in the Hadiths, in the Sirah of the Prophet (biography) that leads people to ask questions!! of course nowadays - saying things like that - you must be Islamophobic. ?? eh? so we can’t question our ‘own ideology’ now??? why has this right been taken away from us? We haven’t had the chance - people who have grown up Muslim, fed the mythology, - to dissect it over, and ask each other what we think about the problems! No we can’t very easily - and can you imagine trying to do a monty python-esque sketch ?

      I am really and truly fed up because I want to engage Muslims in these questions about OUR religion. And you know what - not many people want to engage. the vast majority of ‘moderates’ don’t really have an opinion - they are muslims because they have been told to be - and don’t really want to find out unpleasant things.

      At least, some of the ‘radicals’ are honest enough to say - yeah, we’ve read the unpalatable stuff, and guess what - it goes! that’s what god said, so mohammed did it.

      there is a whole pile of material to dissect over. ALi eteraz did some cartoons of the Mohammed/Zainab (marrying his daughter -in-law) question - and that was brave of him. Can’t find them anywhere anymore - perhaps he realised he was sailing close to the wind.

      But no - you can’t find too many Muslims to engage with. the ones i grew up with - frankly they’re the worst. scared eyes, #oh what do you mean sonia# you always asked too many questions but this is too much! its even worse now than when we were kids.

      What seems to be bizarre is that - we have a huge amount of material - which says certain things about our Prophet - which applied to any other man - are most certainly scandalous, to the modern [feminist] mind anyway. Frankly, according to OUR own traditions, Muhammad was a strong leader, no different to any conquering leader of those times, (no doubt they all had the same appetites, these mediaeval empire conquerors) - so why then were we upset with the cartoons portraying him as such? Oh that was about ’someone’ else portraying it. In any case, if we want to have an alpha male war leader who has lots of sex - at the top of our religion, fine. But let’s bloody admit it, and perhaps not be surprised when young men through the centuries may want to emulate him.

      This is some of the stuff i want people to discuss, to engage other muslims on. But it is such a terrible climate, everyone is scared, people get offended, ridiculous. Unfortunately i did not know enough of Muhammad’s biography when i was younger. But still - i don’t see why i should not ask the questions now. Too much of the Hadiths appear almost pornographic/in a violent horrible way. Muhammad killing men in war and then having with their wives left behind - who watched their husbands die! When you start getting into this detail, really the ‘violent’ Islamist question - doesn’t seem much of a question.

      Another long post - but this is the stuff i was referring to. Let’s get the Islamists to tell us - violent and non-violent - what gets them so into Islam. some of this stuff perhaps? before i found out about them actually being in our texts, i used to laugh it off as well, rubbish how could that stuff be true! that’s what #moderates# today are doing - laughing it all off, or putting it down to ‘culture’. Well maybe it is down to culture - in that case, are we going to say its the bedouin culture? What?

    48. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 1:33 pm  

      Because that’s what you hear all the South asians say ‘oh its the Saudis’ - well Muhammad was a Saudi too - so perhaps we ought not to have been following that lot. Either we have a leader we are proud of - and emulate - or we don’t. And if it’s the former, well then- we’d better all become Islamists then hadn’t we?

    49. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 1:34 pm  

      So - see - this is why no one really wants to engage, all the skeletons coming out of the closet. Or even worse, people finding out that - despite these things, people don’t care! and will “Believe” anyway. A bit of moral relativism - but most people - certainly those who are religious - do NOT like admitting to.

      Ok.

    50. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 1:37 pm  

      See what i mean - who wants to ‘engage’ in the issues? People seem to simply want to have a go at Faisal for his ’shoddy piece’ - or beat around the bush about what ‘engagement’ means.

      So same for the government/related think-tanks. Think Andy Hull is going to go to Bradford to ask them young lads if they believe the Prophet’s example is one to follow? Cos if they say yes..

    51. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 1:37 pm  

      Because that’s what you hear all the South asians say ‘oh its the Saudis’ - well Muhammad was a Saudi too - so perhaps we ought not to have been following that lot.

      Not true Sonia. Muhammad was an arab. The Saudi dynasty and Wahhabism came some 1,300 years later. But in terms of moral relativism, I know exactly what you mean.

    52. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 1:47 pm  

      I didn’t say anything about giving them jobs. But I do look forward to you encouraging and championing extremist BNP values and opinions to be credited and consulted. It would be an example of gross hypocrisy if you didn’t.

      You seem to have difficulty in understanding the difference between having a dialogue with people, and accepting their views, specially when they go against our core values. Yes, I strongly believe we should engage with potential BNP voters - that’s how you beat them.

      I do not like your view at all - it is undemocratic and it does increase the potential of violent attacks.

      Now that you have said Hull’s piece is not self-contradictory, you’re actually going to have to structure an argument on how the passage I qoted of his isn’t contradictory.

      Actually, there is no contradiction in that quote. :) What two sentences do you feel are contradictory? In fact, I do not find any flaw in Hull’s thesis.

      Does that come from the fact that you’re too lazy to read the report Hull’s artcle has been written in reponse to?

      It comes from the fact that you mischaracterised Hull’s article by attributing him things that he did not say, instead, you relied on an argument from an author he referenced.

    53. Andrew — on 20th May, 2009 at 1:54 pm  

      This word ‘Islamist’ seems to be very flexible and it seems it can be applied to most Muslims depending on the issue. I think it would help a lot if there could be a sharply defined definition of what makes someone an Islamist. I think that one fundamental belief/policy is actively working towards some kind of Islamic state in some way. Support for the establishment of the Caliphate would be another.

      One interesting article I have recently come across is by Yahya Birt, who argues that Abdullah Quilliam (who the Quilliam Foundation is named after) was Britain’s first Islamist. Having read it, I now know that he not only supported the Caliphate - he officially represented it in the United Kingdom. He even gave a Fatwa calling for the boycott of the British Army. It’s interesting to compare him with the ones we have around today.

      I wonder if the British government of the day engaged with him!?

      http://www.yahyabirt.com/?p=136

      “Abdullah Quilliam: Britain’s First Islamist?”

    54. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 1:57 pm  

      Actually, there is no contradiction in that paragraph. What two sentences do you feel are contradictory?

      How is the passage I quoted by Hull not contradictory? Explain.

      And by extension, you think it’s important to engage Hizbut Tahrir as a way to tackle jihadi Islamism. Expalin why this should be the case. Textual critcism is great for laughs, now explain the bigger picture. How is engagement of non-violent Jihadis going to tackle jihadi Islamism.

      Walk. The. Walk.

      It comes from the fact that you mischaracterised Hull’s article by attributing him things that he did not say, instead, you relied on an argument from an author he referenced.

      You might need more than the two-readings of the article you’ve had.

    55. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 1:59 pm  

      Actually, there is no contradiction in that quote.

      No? Tell us why HT’s views on homosexuality or the Islamic state any different from a Jihadi’s?

    56. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 2:01 pm  

      Is wanting a homeland for Muslims ‘Islamist’?

      if so then Britain’s first Islamists were those who allowed the creation of Pakistan!

      *discuss*

    57. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 2:06 pm  

      51 - faisal, i hear you, when i said ’saudi’ - i meant the region, specifically the country that is now saudi arabia.

      as for the saudi dynasty - -who were their ancestors anyway? they were the ones who wanted to grab the prime role of the ‘caliphate’s’ descendants for themselves. (i’m sure i need not remind people of the late 19th c/early 20th C shenanigans against the Ottomans)

      i know half of the indian subcontinent’s muslims (and many persians) claim direct ancestry to the Prophet but that’s clearly bollocks/wishful thinking.

      but yeah..moral relativism sure.

      and good link Andrew .

    58. Sunny — on 20th May, 2009 at 2:07 pm  

      The PEx report he refers to (by Shiraz Maher) argues for disengagement with non-violent Islamists as interlocutors of violent Islamists because there is no break in the core values between them, only in methodologies. So his entire article and is to refute Maher’s findings and suggestions.

      Clearly you haven’t read the PX report since it features Ruth Kelly as writing the introduction, and saying that engagement doesn’t mean that we agree with people, and that engagement for social cohesion and engagement for defeating terrorism are two different things.

      But you know, I’m actually used to people not reading the stuff they’re citing as the basis for their infallible logic.

    59. Sunny — on 20th May, 2009 at 2:09 pm  

      I didn’t say anything about giving them jobs. But I do look forward to you encouraging and championing extremist BNP values and opinions to be credited and consulted. It would be an example of gross hypocrisy if you didn’t. Perhaps that’s a forgone conclusion though.

      And I see you’ve conveniently ignored my posts above (#21 & #22) that refute this kind of shallow thinking.

    60. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 2:10 pm  

      Sunny, right. And pro-Islamists like Andy Hull is arguing for engagement for defeating terrorism. That is the line that the PEx report argues against. Thanks for reinforcing my point, even if you’ve done so inadvertently.

    61. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 2:27 pm  

      Actually, there is no contradiction in that paragraph.

      How is the passage I quoted by Hull not contradictory? Explain.

      Because - there are NO two sentences that contradict each other. Further proof: you are unable to tell me which two sentences are contradictory.

      And by extension, you think it’s important to engage Hizbut Tahrir as a way to tackle jihadi Islamism. Expalin why this should be the case

      #17 and #25. The preocondition is that Islamists (or any other group) must abide the law.

      You might need more than the two-readings of the article you’ve had.

      You said this: Here we’re talking about the IPPR thesis which advocates why non-violent Islamists should be made the interlocutors of violent jihadi Islamists.

      Yet, Hull NEVER said in any form or shape that non-violent Islamists should be made interlocutors of any kind, instead, he wants to ensure that both groups are isolated. The best you can do is attribute this argument to another author which Hull happen to reference to make a point. In no way can you make “Hull’s thesis” on something he didn’t write or say.

    62. bananabrain — on 20th May, 2009 at 2:36 pm  

      i am gobsmacked by the insight of sonia’s point at #47. it parallels the experience we have had in judaism and, more to the point, the specific experience of the “enlightenment”. now, arguably, we reacted to the enlightenment in two predictable and equally wrong ways:

      1. oh, we’re a bunch of mediaeval throwbacks unsuited to the modern world of technology. we must change everything so as to be more modern!
      2. i’m not listening i’m not listening i can’t hear you, you want to destroy everything for the dubious rewards of the culture of the Other.

      now, clearly both were wrong and clearly both were right, but in different ways and at the same time. the challenge to islam and muslims is - will you make the same mistakes? not, i would suggest, unless you follow sonia’s example and start asking the hard questions - but NOT in a way that suggests you already know the answer!

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    63. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 3:11 pm  

      Ravi, it seems the IPPR article and what it advocates is a little too subtle for you if you think that it does not advocate the engagement of non-violent Islamists to tackle jihadi Islamism.

      I’m afraid you’re going to have to accept that it’s the *principles* that are contradictory, not two easy sentences.

      So at the risk of repeating myself: The contradiction is that Hull wants to engage the Hizbut Tahrir in spite of admitting that they have little or no credibility with the violent jihadis or difference in fundamental values. Is that still too subtle? You did once admit to being ignorant of Salafi ideology, so it could be you’re oblivious to the finer points here.

      As a result, you’ve exposed some rather dodgy inconsistencies here. The engagement of HT to tackle Islamist tendencies in society and the BNP to tackle racism being just two.

      If you still don’t get it, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    64. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 3:27 pm  

      if you think that it does not advocate the engagement of non-violent Islamists to tackle jihadi Islamism.

      Did you not read #17 and #25? It does advocate to engage non-violent Islamists in order to isolate and weaken the violent Islamists. I have repeated this so many times.

      The contradiction is that Hull wants to engage the Hizbut Tahrir in spite of admitting that they have little or no credibility with the violent jihadis or difference in fundamental values.

      The contradiction is you assuming that Hull wants Hizbut Tahrir to serve as interlocutors to violent Islamists. Except that he did not say this, much to the opposite: he believes that by us engaging with non-violent Islamists, that they violent faction will be isolated and weakened. To isolate two factions is the opposite of using one to talk to the other.

      I don’t mind disagreeing with you - it is the fact that you are unable to understand what Hull is saying that is more worrying. The contradiction only happens because you believe he is saying something he does not say.

    65. Sunny — on 20th May, 2009 at 3:33 pm  

      And pro-Islamists like Andy Hull is arguing for engagement for defeating terrorism.

      given that you’ve doggedly refused to define who you see as Islamists, differentiate between different kinds of Islamists, and not bothered to address my point about the BNP, I can’t even be arsed to further ‘engage’ in your futile debate.

    66. Sunny — on 20th May, 2009 at 3:35 pm  

      sonia - I see theological engagement as a different process with different goals than one aimed at defeating terrorism.

    67. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 4:23 pm  

      The contradiction is you assuming that Hull wants Hizbut Tahrir to serve as interlocutors to violent Islamists. Except that he did not say this, much to the opposite: he believes that by us engaging with non-violent Islamists, that they violent faction will be isolated and weakened. To isolate two factions is the opposite of using one to talk to the other.

      Are you sure? You seem to be projecting your own ideas on a misreading of what Hull is saying, a kind of paraphrase of your BNP/C18 example - except “isolation” and “weakness” is nothing to do with what he’s advocating.

      What does this passage suggest to you in the context of engagement of HT as a bulwark. :

      Non-violent Islamists are much more likely to come across Al Qaeda recruiters and recruits than moderates, who do not move in those circles. And unlike most mainstream Muslim leaders, Al Qaeda’s Islamist critics have the credentials to make their criticism bite. If, as seasoned former counter-terrorism officer, Bob Lambert, observes, ‘Al Qaeda values dozens of recruits over hundreds of supporters’, can the government really afford to do business only with moderates?

      If anything he’s talking about isolating and weakening moderates! Juxtapose this with the passage I quoted of his in my piece about how HT are regarded as irrelevent - and you have the makings of quite a serious contradiction, if not a miscalculation by IPPR.

      But with supporters like you and Sunny to rush to their defence and try and paper over these inconsistenicies whilst argueing from a position of complete ignorance, they will be fine.

      With liberals like these, who needs enemies.

    68. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 4:29 pm  

      sunny -its not ‘theological’ engagement - I was referring to - what on earth do you think that is anyway? That would be actually discussing theology - and plenty of believers don’t actually have any opinions about theology would you believe!

      I am talking about engaging people on/about their religion - specifically yes - to gauge what THEY think, with regards to their religion inciting them to violence, and what forms, under what conditions that may take place.

      /how else are you going to ‘defeat’ terrorism if you don’t establish what link, if any, is in their #minds# between their religion - and terrorism?

      Really, some of you perhaps are just kow-towing to some bias that we cannot bring people’s religions into it otherwise we’re insulting that religion somehow. Frankly the whole point is about how people understand religion differently! AND Frankly if you don’t do that, you aren’t going to find out the difference between any of these groups/individuals etc. - and it may as well just be a consultation exercise.

      we don’t need to discuss the nature of “god” or why they think god exists - just getting to the bottom of the fact that out of all these people who claim to believe in the same God, some claim they have to kill for him, and some don’t. NOw unless you are accepting the mainstream apologists business that nothing in Islam lends itself to these people who take the violent route, this discussion - is one we need to have.

      Sod that word engagement. Bottom line is what do we want?

      some people want to keep ‘minorities’ happy
      some people want to defeat terrorism

      well if you want to defeat terrorism, it might be sensible to ask people - why they think their religion encourages terrorism, and then to ask others - of the same religion - to say why they don’t think so - and get these guys to engage each other.

      That’s what we really need, not the bloody govt or media/journalists/think-tanks/representatives what have you - going on at each other. that’s all fun of course :-)
      the thing that this is all really pointing to - is the lack of proper intra-muslim debate - given we are all so terrified of our mullah’s that’s not bloody suprising.

    69. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 4:56 pm  

      refresh @ 44

      “As for ‘and if you do delve into religion, you’re going to upset all the ‘moderates’.’ I do not agree. A civil discussion, without the demonisation and rabid insults will elicit quite a healthy debate.”

      Well I’m glad You don’t agree - seeing as i am referring to the future, and we know ‘muslim opinion’ is easily upset, but that doesn’t mean we should not try. and yes of course there is no need for the discussion to involve ‘insults’ - or ‘demonisation’ - because what we will discuss is in our own texts, our own characterisations of Muhammad’s sexuality and conduct in war. Of course we need this debate to happen - so I am eagerly waiting. I am more than happy -for someone to say to me, well look sonia, this is what’s in the Hadith, we still think Muhammad was a good man inspite of these ‘accounts’ which you find problematic with Your modern morals. Fair enough - there are no ‘insults’ to sling then, no ‘demonisation’ - many Muslims would then be free to say, if they so wanted, that’s fine thanks very much, but they dont’ want a leader like that. At least we could discuss it openly.

    70. Sunny — on 20th May, 2009 at 5:08 pm  

      But with supporters like you and Sunny to rush to their defence and try and paper over these inconsistenicies whilst argueing from a position of complete ignorance, they will be fine.

      With liberals like these, who needs enemies.

      Oh dear. Looks like you’ve been drinking Morgoth juice. Well done for avoiding all substantive questions again.

      Sonia:
      That would be actually discussing theology - and plenty of believers don’t actually have any opinions about theology would you believe!

      I am talking about engaging people on/about their religion - specifically yes - to gauge what THEY think, with regards to their religion inciting them to violence, and what forms, under what conditions that may take place.

      What I mean is - if you want to talk about the actions of Mohammed and the hadiths - that is a theological debate.

      People get into terrorism for all sorts of sociological/theological reasons - but mostly its acceptance from their peers around them. If a large enough group of people justify and carry out terrorism, then others will be tempted to think that is a legitimate way of protesting.

      Religion in itself has little to do with it because it’s happened across the board, including with Sikhs. Hell, the sikh scriptures are about as non-controversial as you can get. And yet they’re still used to justify terrorism. So I feel that going down that road is somewhat futile - though you’re welcome to.

      I just think the theological/historical debate is rather different in context and purpose to a look at how to stop terrorism.

    71. sonia — on 20th May, 2009 at 5:14 pm  

      I see what you mean Sunny - but you’re not going to get to the crux of the matter of what inspires young jihadis if you don’t ask about their beliefs. And i’m sorry you didn’t understand my point - of course its about a person’s context - (hence sociological) but if you don’t think religion has anything to do with it (warlike leader held up as a role model) then I’m not sure why we’re even talking about Muslims or terrorism. The whole problem is people radicalising other people - and how are they doing it? What ‘myths’ stories, nationalisms, pride, what are they tapping into - to turn people into killers? I’m not suggesting ‘religion’ makes people killers, obviously, there are plenty of killers who are not religious, but in that case, there is a different driver - like in your Sikh case, a sense of ‘community’ that they are fighting for. Its no different to people joining armies for their country. {this is what i meant about it is NOT a theological ‘engagement’ - because God doesn’t even have to come into it. It’s about role models, glory, etc. communities that people believe are worth fighting for. at what point does the violence come in and why? }

      In this context, religion is a driver - or is certainly being used as such, by unscrupulous people who emphasise stories - that the rest of us have forgotten. If you don’t find out HOW it is being used to radicalise young people, well then how are you going to combat it? If you don’t talk openly about people’s beliefs, how are young people going to find out what’s ‘radical’ and what’s not.

      that’s why the STREET project is useful - they don’t shy away from the religion question and actually engage on religion - they get young men who have converted into islam- and other muslims - to engage the young men being radicalised - to give them a sense of perspective on the religion, and what they are being fed/how it might be interpreted in a different way, away from violence.

    72. Sid — on 20th May, 2009 at 5:24 pm  

      Oh dear. Looks like you’ve been drinking Morgoth juice. Well done for avoiding all substantive questions again. Well done for avoiding all substantive questions again.

      It might be possible that Morgoth was sometimes right.
      Substantive questions like “what is an Islamist”? Yeah.

    73. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 5:53 pm  

      “Non-violent Islamists are much more likely to come across Al Qaeda recruiters and recruits than moderates, who do not move in those circles. And unlike most mainstream Muslim leaders, Al Qaeda’s Islamist critics have the credentials to make their criticism bite. If, as seasoned former counter-terrorism officer, Bob Lambert, observes, ‘Al Qaeda values dozens of recruits over hundreds of supporters’, can the government really afford to do business only with moderates?”

      If anything he’s talking about isolating and weakening moderates!

      Considering that Hull said in the beginning of his article that we would not compromise on our core values, it seems that the relation with moderates would be a different one than with non-violent Islamists. But the paragraph you cited clearly states the motivation for engaging the non-violent Islamists: to isolate the violent faction from the non-violent one, since they roam around the same circles.

      But never mind that.

      But with supporters like you and Sunny to rush to their defence and try and paper over these inconsistenicies whilst argueing from a position of complete ignorance, they will be fine. With liberals like these, who needs enemies.

      I understand why you feel threatened by the proposal to engage with non-violent Islamists - because you feel QF would lose its importance. I am not impressed by QF - and I do not think they are the answer. They engage in the same polarising language and hysteria as the wingnuts, if that QF alert stunt you pulled last time is anything to go by. Moderation is useless unless it is accompanied by non-polarising and unambiguous language which allows you to describe a “fool-proof” narrative, something that you so far have failed. Defining “Islamist” or “Engagement” would be a good start.

      I have more to say, but I will let you digest this first. :)

    74. dave bones — on 20th May, 2009 at 5:59 pm  

      This has all got a bit confusing, but very interesting comments. I tend to engage with everyone regardless of their beliefs because we all live here. I’ve said here before that I think that while we aren’t shooting each other we should talk to each other.

      I don’t see that talking to someone validates them in any way. You talk to them. You have a discussion. All this swinging pocket watches/hypnotising/radicalisation talk is ridiculous. I have never understood it.

      Young Muslims are growing up in a country where large scale ordinance is aimed at Muslims who weren’t responsible for 9/11 or 7/7. Big money is going into funding despots and dictatorships in majority Muslim countries. Mohammed doesn’t say turn the other cheek. I’d be bloody confused.

      You want to swing pocket watches to pretend to young Muslims that this isn’t true? Then give bloody Derren Brown the £80 million.

    75. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 6:07 pm  

      I have more to say, but I will let you digest this first.

      Oh you have plenty more to say on your position regarding engagement of Islamists, I’m sure.

      But before you do that, you need to think a little bit more on what Hull meant by that para. All I can say is that you’re getting warmer. But I have a feeling that trhat something’s gonna stall you when you come to a full appreciation of the phrase

      “If, as seasoned former counter-terrorism officer, Bob Lambert, observes, ‘Al Qaeda values dozens of recruits over hundreds of supporters’, can the government really afford to do business only with moderates?”

      :D I’ll let you marinade on that for a while.

    76. Jai — on 20th May, 2009 at 6:17 pm  

      Sonia,

      given we are all so terrified of our mullah’s that’s not bloody suprising.

      The “mullahs”, as you put it, only have any power over others if people give that power to them.

      To give an example from some other religions, Christianity and Hinduism both lost a great deal of the power to act on some of their more negative interpretations when huge numbers of people simply started ignoring the teachings/preachings of formal priests who promoted such hyperorthodox ideas. The priests concerned subsequently couldn’t (and still can’t) do much about it if they don’t have any power to retaliate against “disobedient” Christians/Hindus or force them to comply to their own theological beliefs.

      In any case, as I’m sure you know, the history of South Asia is also full of various Muslim figures who had a similarly dismissive view of Islamic clerics/scholars whose ideas of religion and spirituality they disagreed with. Some of these figures went on to be regarded as great Sufi saints.

      So, there are plenty of precedents for this sort of thing amongst Muslims too, especially where the subcontinent is concerned.

    77. Sunny — on 20th May, 2009 at 6:22 pm  

      Sonia: but you’re not going to get to the crux of the matter of what inspires young jihadis if you don’t ask about their beliefs.

      But here’s the thing. Most jihadis are fairly ignorant of their own religion. The people at the top weave theological arguments to cover their own asses, but the foot soldiers are always fairly stupid and willing to believe those narratives without really learning much about their religion.

      They want a chance to express their hatred and anger, not really spend years and years learning about their religion.

      The same goes for people who mindlessly follow Sikh militants and the RSS/VHP crew. These are faux-defenders of the faith.

      What actually happens is that if their peers mostly become relaxed and start ignoring inconvenient parts of their faiths - most people follow. Christians for example don’t really focus on the nasty things said in the Bible any more do they?

      So I think by all means have that theological debate. But if you want to do that to counter-terrorism, you’re barking up the wrong tree I feel

    78. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 6:27 pm  

      But before you do that, you need to think a little bit more on what Hull meant by that para. All I can say is that you’re getting warmer. But I have a feeling that trhat something’s gonna stall you when you come to a full appreciation of the phrase

      It means that that government should not only engage with moderates but with non-violent Islamists, and in this process isolate the violent Islamists in one corner.

      I believe I have repeated this so many times, that we are past the marinade stage - it is over-cooked. :)

    79. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 6:34 pm  

      Overcooked? hardly. But you’re getting warmer. What does the Bob Lambert quote mean to you?

    80. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 6:37 pm  

      What does the Bob Lambert quote mean to you?

      What I said in #78 - I see you are unable to refute that.

    81. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 6:44 pm  

      I’ll break it down for you, in order:

      “engagement with law-abiding, non-violent Islamists can play a valuable role.”

      “Non-violent Islamists are much more likely to come across Al Qaeda recruiters and recruits than moderates”

      “Al Qaeda values dozens of recruits over hundreds of supporters”

      “can the government really afford to do business only with moderates?”

      Is it time to Pop out the “What’s an Islamist?” question now? :D

    82. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 7:00 pm  

      Is it time to Pop out the “What’s an Islamist?” question now?

      You are a clown, Faisal. You clearly have no clue, you are just copy pasting without actually saying anything.

      Let’s look at the whole paragraph:

      Non-violent Islamists are much more likely to come across Al Qaeda recruiters and recruits than moderates, who do not move in those circles. And unlike most mainstream Muslim leaders, Al Qaeda’s Islamist critics have the credentials to make their criticism bite. If, as seasoned former counter-terrorism officer, Bob Lambert, observes, ‘Al Qaeda values dozens of recruits over hundreds of supporters’, can the government really afford to do business only with moderates?

      He is saying that non-violent Islamists have more power and credibility than moderates Muslims organisations to deter potential recruits from joining violent groups. If that is the case, how can we afford not to engage with non-violent Islamists?

      And the following paragraph, Hull seems to have written it thinking of people like you:

      This is not paying Danegeld or what Martin Bright, again writing for Policy Exchange, has labeled a ‘bizarre policy of appeasement’: it is the prevention of terrorism in a plural democracy. To suggest that government engagement – be it dialogue, debate, or judicious sponsorship – with the sort of non-violent Islamists described above is tantamount to government endorsement of all of their views is lazy. We can and do engage and criticise simultaneously.

      As I said before: we should not be afraid to engage with groups with views that sound radical to us, it is a sign of strength and of a vibrant Democracy. And I agree with Hull when he says that this “divide-and-conquer” approach can be a powerful tool against terrorism.

    83. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 7:04 pm  

      You’ve stalled Ravi. You’re flapping. It’s all over. You can stop digging now.

    84. Amrit — on 20th May, 2009 at 7:40 pm  

      sonia and Jai -

      I love you.

      Faisal - agree with Sonia, this is a brave post, and despite what some might have said, you’ve raised a very important question indeed. ‘What is an Islamist?’

      I think some people on this thread need to cool it with the rudeness. PP depresses and infuriates me these days, with the level of macho weight-throwing-around that goes on.

    85. Rumbold — on 20th May, 2009 at 7:49 pm  

      Good points Sonia.

      Faisal didn’t definitively condemn any discussion with non-violent Islamists, but merely raised the question. It is a complex issue; I would be more willing to talk to Islamists than some, but Faisal doesn’t deserve the vitriol directed at him. Let’s try and just have a discussion.

    86. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 8:01 pm  

      But with supporters like you and Sunny to rush to their defence and try and paper over these inconsistenicies whilst argueing from a position of complete ignorance, they will be fine.With liberals like these, who needs enemies.

      You’ve stalled Ravi. You’re flapping. It’s all over. You can stop digging now.

      I do hope that the government starts listening to a myriad of voices, not just the ones that self-identify as moderate. If we’ve learnt any lessons from the past, I hope it is the fact that we treat should treat blocs like the Muslim one as heterogeneous, and no single organisation should pretend to speak for it, nor should be the judge of who gets to have a voice.

      …but Faisal doesn’t deserve the vitriol directed at him.

      Since I am the only one speaking with Faisal, I think this is directed to me. Except for perhaps the clown part which I admit was gratuitous and I apologise for that, I have been quite patient and polite with him since #17.

    87. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 8:24 pm  

      In this context, religion is a driver - or is certainly being used as such, by unscrupulous people who emphasise stories - that the rest of us have forgotten. If you don’t find out HOW it is being used to radicalise young people, well then how are you going to combat it? If you don’t talk openly about people’s beliefs, how are young people going to find out what’s ‘radical’ and what’s not.

      That’s a good point, Sonia. However, let me add two things:

      (a) Radicalism is not necessarily defined by holding a particular belief - in my view, it is more with not having any doubts about the veracity of that belief, and not allowing others to hold other beliefs. It’s the belief that you hold the Truth, rather than the truth.

      (b) If you are crazy enough to blow or kill yourself because of your beliefs, then perhaps there are other factors involved: having high levels of “suggestibility” (natural tendency to follow suggestions or instructions), being ignorant about history and different interpretations of religious though, and other traits that violent groups crave in recruits. In that sense, I feel that debating religious interpretation may be futile when it reaches a certain level.

    88. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 8:37 pm  

      I think some people on this thread need to cool it with the rudeness. PP depresses and infuriates me these days, with the level of macho weight-throwing-around that goes on.

      I think Faisal deserves a lot of scrutiny for what he has written. The topic is great, but the article contains a lot of flaws. I did take the time to read all the material he has provided and tried to justify my position in the most objective and assertive way possible, and for that I do not apologise.

      However, I do agree with you that we need to keep civility and good-manners, and that these long discussions can be off-putting and somewhat depressing. I will try to keep that in mind next time.

    89. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 9:01 pm  

      Sonia, Amrit & Rumbold - Thanks!

      I really hope PP regains some of the ground it has lost to the shear weight of doctrinaire attitudes that now manifests itself here with some force.

      Progressives in the Muslim community are under attack so it’s shocking to see how PP has largely lent it’s support to these anti-moderate forces here. This was the last thing I expected of this blog and having experienced the slide first-hand, I have to say it has been very depressing. But I think there are enough good people on here to turn things around. I hope so.

      Thanks again and hope to see you soon, offline. :-)

    90. Amrit — on 20th May, 2009 at 9:23 pm  

      Ravi - scrutiny, yes, but there is a real macho feeling of one-upmanship that I sense in the way some of the debates play out. That’s not targeted at you in particular, though - you are on the whole civil-yet-forensic. :-D

      I just like that PP is one of the few places that doesn’t feel like the ‘blokeosphere’ to me, and I’d like it to stay that way. In other words, you all have some semblance of a point somewhere along the line - quit arguing and slot it together already!

      Personally, I’m not going to go into writing style or ‘quality’ - I think calling it ’shoddy’ was a bit too far. That is merely because I don’t think that a perfectly-argued, expertly-crafted article (although desirable) is always necessary, or even possible, especially not when it comes to issues as emotive as this.

      Though the arguments upon which this turns have descended into white noise for me, I think this is one of the best threads to appear in a long time, because of sonia and Jai’s excellent contributions, and because Faisal has resurrected a question which may have slipped our collective mind for a while. It generated a debate, and all you hoary old gits got to crank it up to 11, didn’t you? :-D

      Faisal - no problemo, el moderate-o. As long as PP retains its diverse-yet-agreeable mood, I’m happy.

    91. Ravi Naik — on 20th May, 2009 at 9:55 pm  

      there is a real macho feeling of one-upmanship that I sense in the way some of the debates play out. That’s not targeted at you in particular, though - you are on the whole civil-yet-forensic

      That’s ok, I can take your criticisms - although I have to say I was a bit hurt when you did not invite me to come to your harem in another thread… :(

      I just like that PP is one of the few places that doesn’t feel like the ‘blokeosphere’ to me

      I understand what you are saying. I will try my best to keep PP more gender neutral, Amrit. :)

      Personally, I’m not going to go into writing style or ‘quality’ - I think calling it ’shoddy’ was a bit too far.

      I am sorry, but I do find it shoddy - and I objectively said the reasons over 10 messages: he grossly mischaracterised an author’s work. Everyone can make mistakes, but I am very unforgiving about this sort of thing after patiently explaining where he got things wrong, and he still not correcting his piece.

      Faisal has resurrected a question which may have slipped our collective mind for a while.

      It is a pity that the answer to that question is still dead, specially since the topic of this thread is the price of engaging Islamists.

      Ah well, I will keep my mouth shut now - I don’t want my comments about talking with non-violent Islamists to continue to shock and depress Faisal. I am glad he has good friends to comfort his moderate sensibilities. :)

    92. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 10:31 pm  

      Ravi

      I would say it is a gross mischaracterization of Hull’s article. He never said that non-violent Islamists would serve as interlocutors to violent Islamists (it makes no sense!) - just because he briefly criticised another report, does not mean you inherit the conclusions, assumptions and whatnot from those reports.

      Again, I’ll break it down for you, in order, from Hull’s article:

      “engagement with law-abiding, non-violent Islamists can play a valuable role.”

      “Non-violent Islamists are much more likely to come across Al Qaeda recruiters and recruits than moderates”

      “Al Qaeda values dozens of recruits over hundreds of supporters”

      “can the government really afford to do business only with moderates?”

      I think this is called ‘pwned’ in internet parlance.

      Humble pie doesn’t taste that bad. But I understand if it sticks in the gullet.

    93. Refresh — on 20th May, 2009 at 10:50 pm  

      Faisal, I cannot for a moment think you have succeeded in bettering Ravi, or anyone else. But is it really necessary to be so gauche?

      ‘I think this is called ‘pwned’ in internet parlance.

    94. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 10:58 pm  

      Refresh

      The post at #91 seems that the message hadn’t sunk in and because of the bad-mannered and abusive nature of Ravi’s demeanour throughout this exchange (which others have commented on), I think it was appropriate. Hence the rive gauche (?). In any case pwned isn’t nearly as bad as ‘clown’ and ’shoddy’ but I’m pretty sure you can’t bring yourself to agree.

    95. Refresh — on 20th May, 2009 at 11:18 pm  

      Faisal, the message is poorly formulated and counter-productive. I am glad there are other commenters who have not accepted your view. I being one of them. Your style and your argumentation (is that really a word?) is agressive and I’ve yet to see a thread from you which hasn’t ended up in you abusing a commenter. And when in a particularly good mood several at a time. Regardless of their manner. You are a repeat offender, and I really can’t see how Ravi was the one to be collared. (I am looking at you Amrit).

    96. Faisal — on 20th May, 2009 at 11:33 pm  

      You’re entitled to your opinion Refresh. From what I recall, you also find fugstar intelligent and amusing.

    97. Refresh — on 20th May, 2009 at 11:41 pm  

      Thanks. Some of his play on words were amusing and intelligent. How is that related to the discussion in hand?

    98. imran khan — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:11 am  

      Sonia - Who decides who is and isn’t an Islamist? With the widespread abuse of the term then how can one rely on a definition especially as that definition alone may determine if government engages or not?

      We’ve seen it here where Wahabism is brought up but then what about the grave dangers posed by men who want t worship a load of dead people and make money at graves by ripping off the poor and then be referred to as saints?

      Are they the ideal model for engagement?

      We’ve seen how QF at its launch went into hyperdrive saying the dangers of talking to people from the Middle East and the need for Western Islam without explaining what that was. When their advisors left en mass they then tried to say it wasdue to threats till the advisors said it was due to theagenda. Yet despite all this they are still seen as the engagement police by government and dare I say PP.

      So who decides who is and isn’t to be engaged with? Who decides who is and isn’t a clerical fascist as the phrase is put? Is it just the Saudi’s or does it include cuddly imams who demand recognition of Breevi or Sufi thought before one can even be considered for a senior mosque position?

      But who does decide and are those deciding fit to decide and with their unelected position are they actually any better than what we have?

      All this is a load of hot air designed to ensure flows of tax payers money for fancy London offices.

      The hysteri when the government engages with someone not deemed worthy and which leads to alerts is surely counter to the concept of freedom if government funded tanks are deciding who is fit for engagement and who isn’t.

      The definition of acceptable Muslims is so narrow and the labelling of creeds as Islamists so large is it any wonder this is leading no where.

      It appears all Middle Easterners are Islamists except when money is needed even by government tanks!!!

      The formula is give us your money or we’ll say you’re Islamists - then once the money is obtained call them Islamist anyway till you need more money or the government hands over a few more pounds. Bit like MPs really except without the hassle of being elected. Notice how those that back such organisations such as Gove and Blears are also involved in the expenses scandal and yet these two lead the way in deciding who is and isn’t to be engaged and they are associated with tanks who do the same.

      So where are the decisions made as to who is and isn’t to be engaged with? Who reviews and decies the labelleing?

    99. Andrew — on 21st May, 2009 at 2:22 am  

      It seems to me that the word ‘Islamist’ is just becoming a term of abuse, to label someone you don’t like. Just like in my younger days when I called everyone I didn’t like a ‘Fascist’!

      The term is so flexible that an ‘Islamist’ like Abdullah Quilliam can be used as a model by an ‘anti-Islamist’ think-tank!

    100. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 6:29 am  

      I’ve yet to see a thread from you which hasn’t ended up in you abusing a commenter. And when in a particularly good mood several at a time. Regardless of their manner. You are a repeat offender, and I really can’t see how Ravi was the one to be collared.

      Heh - thanks Refresh - it feels like Bizarro world in this thread. I also do not understand how people are letting Faisal get away with this.

      I will actually try to find Hull’s email address and try him to comment on Faisal’s piece. It’s perfectly fine for Faisal to disagree with whomever, it’s not acceptable (and not a matter of opinion) for Faisal to grossly mischaracterise anyone’s thesis for the sake of argument, specially after being corrected.

    101. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 7:00 am  

      It seems to me that the word ‘Islamist’ is just becoming a term of abuse, to label someone you don’t like. Just like in my younger days when I called everyone I didn’t like a ‘Fascist’! The term is so flexible that an ‘Islamist’ like Abdullah Quilliam can be used as a model by an ‘anti-Islamist’ think-tank!

      Exactly right, Andrew.

    102. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 7:43 am  

      With liberals like these, who needs enemies.

      Progressives in the Muslim community are under attack so it’s shocking to see how PP has largely lent it’s support to these anti-moderate forces here.

      Faisal, you are no doubt a nice guy and I am sure we want the same things. You should not feel that because we offer an alternative to the “moderates vs Islamists” line in the sand, that we are the enemy or somehow we are betraying the real moderate and reasoned voices in the Muslim community.

      I do believe that we should engage law-abiding Islamists, specially this new breed that is born in the West, because they have more traction, credibility and respect from the more conservative factions than self-declared moderates like QF. Rather than alienate and shun, we need to let them grow and find their position in an increasingly progressive and secular society. The West is still struggling with issues like homosexuality and gay marriage, why should we expect Islamists to suddenly become moderates in one day? No shortcuts are ever possible, but real reform always comes within.

    103. Rumbold — on 21st May, 2009 at 8:27 am  

      Sorry Ravi- I wasn’t trying to single you out. It just felt like ‘rush Faisal day’ on this thread.

      Issues like this rightly arouse passion. But people, and I include myself in that, do go over the top sometimes, so we benefit from others just saying ‘calm down, calm down’, preferably in a faux-Scouse accent.

    104. Katy Newton — on 21st May, 2009 at 8:34 am  

      There is no one on this website whose views I don’t respect, but like Amrit I feel that it’s gone very alpha-male recently in tone. I mean, here’s a whole thread about engagement and it’s taken about a hundred comments for anyone to actually engage with anyone else :-)

    105. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 9:00 am  

      Ravi

      This is all very amusing. After claiming that my article was “shoddy” for suggesting that Hull of IPPR wants to use non-violent Islamists as intercolutors to the engagement of violent jihadis, you went on to say this:

      I would say it is a gross mischaracterization of Hull’s article. He never said that non-violent Islamists would serve as interlocutors to violent Islamists (it makes no sense!) - just because he briefly criticised another report, does not mean you inherit the conclusions, assumptions and whatnot from those reports.

      And now, after being “pwned” (sorry but it had to be done), you’re all for using non-violent interlocutors to engage violent jihadis:

      I do believe that we should engage law-abiding Islamists, specially this new breed that is born in the West, because they have more traction, credibility and respect from the more conservative factions than self-declared moderates like QF.

      So what happened overnight? Did you see the error of your ways, a Damascene moment? You really are amusing Ravi, but completely unintentionally. :D

      You then go on to say:
      Rather than alienate and shun, we need to let them grow and find their position in an increasingly progressive and secular society.

      Which is a bit like saying “We need to let fundamentalism and jihadism find their position in an increasingly progressive and secular society. I’m not entirely sure society is becoming “increasingly progressive and secular” but even so, that line pretty much encapsulates your thinking better than anyone could have done. It exposes those reactionary tendencies that beat under your “liberal”, “progressive” exterior. Truth will out, as they say.

      Then this little gem:
      The West is still struggling with issues like homosexuality and gay marriage, why should we expect Islamists to suddenly become moderates in one day?

      So why put your weight behind those who want to attack homosexuality and gay marriage? Unless, under the surface, you too are against these practices. You’re not using Islamist values as a proxy for your own prejudices are you? Perish the thought.

      Finally:
      You should not feel that because we offer an alternative to the “moderates vs Islamists” line in the sand, that we are the enemy or somehow we are betraying the real moderate and reasoned voices in the Muslim community.

      Sorry, that’s just in bad faith. If you don’t agree with certain values, values that run contrary to universal values of tolerance and human rights, I think one is obliged to fight them *without* the snide suggestion that it is anti-Muslim in the personal sense. If you really “offer an alternative to the “moderates vs Islamists”” then you should write that up in an article and publish it here rather than indulge in glib textual crit from the comments thread. I’m intrigued to know what this alternative is you speak of, if that is, you’re not merely posturing to make a point. Nevertheless, I’m sure it would make interesting reading and I’m sure Sunny would be more than happy to publish it here.

      And that’s it, I really have to get going. I have a new blog to attend to.

    106. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 10:40 am  

      I mean, here’s a whole thread about engagement and it’s taken about a hundred comments for anyone to actually engage with anyone else :-)

      It just goes to show how important and difficult engagement is. :)

      So what happened overnight? Did you see the error of your ways, a Damascene moment?

      They are two perfectly layered and matured positions, which I’ve repeated throughout this thread.

      I’m not entirely sure society is becoming “increasingly progressive and secular”

      We certainly have, in regards to racism, homosexuality, women’s rights. Compare our values to the values from the previous generation.

      So why put your weight behind those who want to attack homosexuality and gay marriage? Unless, under the surface, you too are against these practices. You’re not using Islamist values as a proxy for your own prejudices are you? Perish the thought.

      Like I said, the fact that we engage with people who we disagree with does not mean we compromise our core values, or that we secretly abhor homosexuality. It has been always a strength of progressives and moderates for their ability to communicate with different positions, as opposed to seeing the world as black and white, good and evil.

      I’m intrigued to know what this alternative is you speak of, if that is, you’re not merely posturing to make a point. Nevertheless, I’m sure it would make interesting reading and I’m sure Sunny would be more than happy to publish it here.

      I have been explaining this alternative in this thread from post #17, and I cannot describe it better than Andy Hull’s article, which you cited and grossly mischaracterised.

      And now, after being “pwned” (sorry but it had to be done)

      I promised Amrit I would try to use language that is less alpha-male, and more friendly. You need to help me on that front. Let’s debate ideas, and let others decide who is “pwning” who.

    107. sonia — on 21st May, 2009 at 11:02 am  

      76. Jai - you’re absolutely right. for example - that’s Bengali Muslim men don’t tend to have 2 wives because its not considered correct etiquette and only “low-class” people will do it when they have money -i.e. nouveau riche. the bengali matriarchs obviously managed to swing things their way… Also its amazing /(and cool for humanity) that given (what i have since found out about what the blokes are allowed to do) that a lot of men DON’t take advantage of the “alpha-male wins it all!” aspects of the religion, when they could have been doing all those centuries. so yes of course it is up to people to “appropriate” religion as they see fit and over time - for it to become their own. that is what has happened and that is good, obviously its worrying when a few people say ‘ah no we must revert to fundamentals’ and then there is confusion about what this is even. and brings up the ghost of issues like slavery in the past, which is far too easily glossed over. The British Empire and all the rest are rightly not allowed to forget their slavery days, and so it should be with the Islamic empire’s history. We need to be open with our past, basically, otherwise, all this ‘oh poor us, we don’t like your foreign policy’ doesn’t really hold any water. Because - the question is why? why are you objecting to imperialist foreign policy - on what basis? universal Human rights? Especially if you can’t condemn your own imperial past which made the same mistakes, its just as hypocritical as the politicians.

      Perhaps as Sunny says these ‘radical’ young folk just don’t know enough about their religion, the past, any of that. It always does suprise me that there is such a high incidence of black conversions in the US - and that a lot of the discussions around this point to the appeal of Islam as some kind of ‘challenger’ to the ‘white man’s rule’ in the US. given Islam’s history with slavery i find that ironic.

      But anyway, what do I know, this is all incredibly complex.

      But Jai is right, people only have as much power as you give them.

    108. sonia — on 21st May, 2009 at 11:10 am  

      Hey guys ease up this is not a ‘fight’. Some of ya all need to “chill” out.

      this engagement thing is complicated, it confuses govt. no end there’s no reason why PP should be any different :-)

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - having worked in the ‘engagement’ world to supply our dear govt with its KPIs for their Sustainable Communities agenda, #engagement# is a weasel word. It is extremely fluid.. It’s basically a move on from ‘consultation’ as the Govt’s record on matching their duty for public consultation is now recognised to be somewhat ‘flimsy’, and increasingly policy talks about ‘co-creation’ and commmunity driven services. This all requires government to ‘engage’ somehow beyond ‘consultation’ because public started complaining ‘they just asked us but didn’t really ‘involve’ us any further etc. Point is there is this great pressure all the way through to ‘engage’ communities.

      What that means - no one knows - and is always different in each situation. But communities must be engaged! all govt activities, including all those it funds through other organisations, Non-departmental public bodies, etc. the third sector what have you - everything is meant to be about ‘engaging’ communities.

      so that’s why the language is always going to be like that. the real issue is - what are the objectives in each case, beyond the use of the fluffy ‘we must Engage!’ but a lot of policy is very fluffy though so there you go, the real power lies with the people and those who turn policy into programmes - so each case, what ‘engagement’ means will be different and depend on the people involved.

    109. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 11:10 am  

      Classic stuff, Ravi. Let’s reiterate.

      There was the straight-backed outrage of these three:

      #100

      I will actually try to find Hull’s email address and try him to comment on Faisal’s piece. It’s perfectly fine for Faisal to disagree with whomever, it’s not acceptable (and not a matter of opinion) for Faisal to grossly mischaracterise anyone’s thesis for the sake of argument, specially after being corrected.

      and #45

      I would say it is a gross mischaracterization of Hull’s article. He never said that non-violent Islamists would serve as interlocutors to violent Islamists (it makes no sense!) - just because he briefly criticised another report, does not mean you inherit the conclusions, assumptions and whatnot from those reports.

      and #64

      The contradiction is you assuming that Hull wants Hizbut Tahrir to serve as interlocutors to violent Islamists. Except that he did not say this, much to the opposite: he believes that by us engaging with non-violent Islamists, that they violent faction will be isolated and weakened. To isolate two factions is the opposite of using one to talk to the other.

      Then, after the discovery that Hull does indeed advocate the engagement of Al-Qaeda franchises by using non-violent Islamists, there was this unfortunate dribble in #102:

      I do believe that we should engage law-abiding Islamists, specially this new breed that is born in the West, because they have more traction, credibility and respect from the more conservative factions than self-declared moderates like QF.

      But best of all comes the money quote in #106:

      They are two perfectly layered and matured positions, which I’ve repeated throughout this thread.

      Yes you certainly have repeated yourself throughout this thread but now you’ve have gone and pooped all over your own “perfectly layered and matured positions” by contradicting your own accusations. Does this mean that by agreeing with my point about Hull, you are now guilty of the same “gross mischaracterization of Hull’s article” that you’ve been so keen to repeatedly accuse me of? Or does it mean that you might just eat crow and acknowledge that you’ve been badly shown up here?

      Given your record, I really don’t expect to see either only more confused and self-contradictory gainsaying of liberal values. But I do hope you’re more consistent about your position if you ever get round to writing your position piece on the “alternative to the “moderates vs Islamists” line in the sand”.

    110. sonia — on 21st May, 2009 at 11:22 am  

      Amrit - 90 - well said! and Katy @ 104 - yep…

      62 - bbrain - yes and interesting to see the two points you set out. yes i imagine there must be some parallels.. it would be really interesting to talk with you further about this. Yes absolutely the point is of course, what do people want for themselves from religion. what do the various institutions want, is there any ‘unity’. And how will it play out with all this terrorism/islamophobia/the west hates us so we must not open up - environment. interestingly, but that reminds me of living in the US after 9/11. suddenly no more questions should be asked - we are all presenting a united front to the enemy! it’s depressing when discussion is shut down because people are so obsessed with the “Clash of Civs”.

      and different people will have different answers, some people will say actually - we don’t have an answer. at least that would be something. its all this denial that is sending so many people crazy. Or into “apostasy”.

    111. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 11:30 am  

      pooped all over your own “perfectly layered and matured positions” by contradicting your own accusations. Does this mean that by agreeing with my point about Hull, you are now guilty of the same “gross mischaracterization of Hull’s article” that you’ve been so keen to repeatedly accuse me of? Or does it mean that you might just eat crow and acknowledge that you’ve been badly shown up here?

      As I said, you got Hull’s article wrong.

      In Hull’s view, you have law-abiding Islamists on one side and Islamists preaching violence on the other, and a bunch of people in-between which roam around this environment, which Al Qaeda and the like go to harvest recruits. Rather than shun all Islamists and classify them as evil, what Hull is proposing is that we engage with the law-abiding Islamists which are better positioned to take these kids out of violence. According to Hull, these Islamists are better positioned to that, rather than the self-identified moderate organisations.

      Now, you may be disagree with this, but it would be great if we could debate it without caricaturing what Hull said, saying that he is defending that we use law-binding Islamists to talk/engage with violent Islamists to give up their ways and then say there is a contradiction because violent Islamists do not like law-abiding Islamists. This is about preventing recruits not to join terrorist organisations.

      I think part of the confusion is that you consider potential recruits as violent Islamists, whereas I don’t.

    112. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 11:36 am  

      In Hull’s view, you have law-abiding Islamists on one side and Islamists preaching violence on the other, and a bunch of people in-between which roam around this environment, which Al Qaeda and the like go to harvest recruits. Rather than shun all Islamists and classify them as evil, what Hull is proposing is that we engage with the law-abiding Islamists which are better positioned to take these kids out of violence. According to Hull, these Islamists are better positioned to that, rather than the self-identified moderate organisations.

      Thanks, but this is exactly what I’ve already said that Hull advocates.

      You can congratulate yourself for coming round to this, but you need to address the accusations you have repeatedly made of me, of this type:

      The contradiction is you assuming that Hull wants Hizbut Tahrir to serve as interlocutors to violent Islamists. Except that he did not say this, much to the opposite: he believes that by us engaging with non-violent Islamists, that they violent faction will be isolated and weakened. To isolate two factions is the opposite of using one to talk to the other.

      You can continue to delude yourself by saying that *I* got it wrong just to make yourself feel better about yourself, but there’s the matter of the glaring and very public contradiction in your own position now, isn’t there? How do you reconcile that?

    113. Refresh — on 21st May, 2009 at 11:40 am  

      Faisal, stop hectoring.

      This engagement thing isn’t that bloody difficult, unless you want to impose a particular model and through specific interlocutors. Which is really what you are telling us.

      In a nutshell you are imposing a solution which tells us who to engage with and through whom and even what the outcome should be. Clearly you have not garnered support and then resort to hectoring.

      Ravi, spotted this very early on. Ravi, correct me if I’ve misunderstood.

      You want Quilliam to be at the core but have yet to provide evidence they are making any headway in this regard. You might recall that when Quilliam was launched you went all heavy in exactly the same vein as on this thread, in support of Quilliam.

      I put it to you then that QF approach is agressive, and I say it has not changed. And so concur with Ravi when he says:

      ‘They engage in the same polarising language and hysteria as the wingnuts, if that QF alert stunt you pulled last time is anything to go by. Moderation is useless unless it is accompanied by non-polarising and unambiguous language which allows you to describe a “fool-proof” narrative, something that you so far have failed. Defining “Islamist” or “Engagement” would be a good start.’

      I am afraid they are still of no use, if we are to take you as their ambassador.

      Much as I hate cliches and sayings, I think this one is apposite:

      ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got’

    114. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 11:42 am  

      Thanks, but this is exactly what I’ve already said is Hull’s advocacy that non-violent Islamists should be used as interlocutors to Al-Qaeda.

      If you read my paragraph again, you will see there is no talking with Al Qaeda - it’s about using law-abiding Islamists to put potential recruits out of reach of Al Qaeda. Why do you keep insisting on the “interlocutors” stuff, and that we are using non-violent Islamists to talk with Al Qaeda? This is not what Andy Hull suggested, as it makes little sense.

    115. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 11:48 am  

      If you read my paragraph again, you will see there is no talking with Al Qaeda - it’s getting potential recruits out of reach of Al Qaeda. Why do you keep insisting on the “interlocutors” stuff, and that we are using non-violent Islamists to talk with Al Qaeda?

      Hull is very much advocating engagement of Al-Qaeda franchises by using non-violent Islamists, and dimisses the role of moderates. That much is clear.
      And you know that now.

      Your paragraph acknowledges Hull’s advocay, but it skirts around and elides the al-Qaeda issue. But we know why you’re doing that.

      Let me ask again, does this mean that by agreeing with my point about Hull, you are now guilty of the same “gross mischaracterization of Hull’s article” that you’ve been so keen to repeatedly accuse me of?

    116. sonia — on 21st May, 2009 at 11:50 am  

      Sunny

      “They want a chance to express their hatred and anger, not really spend years and years learning about their religion.”

      ok, i suppose then if we want to ‘counter’ this problem we’re going to have to understand what/where this ‘hatred and anger’ is coming from.

      I mean i’m curious - i’ve not been brought up here, so i really don’t know (i’m basing most of my thinking on the young people who were drawn to HuT at univ. the young brit pakistanis, bengalis etc.- and they were all middle-class kids studying law/medicine/etc.) In their case, they seemed to have some sort of ‘glory’ islamic past they were being told about by some of the speakers/mullahs they were consorting with, and it seemed to be filling some sort of ‘void’ for them, and they were all talking about how we must have a Caliphate and revert back to the ‘original’ ways and rules of OUR glorious religion. Sharia and all. And then there was the lecture with the Bloke shouting Hate the Jews, Christians, (and Hindus were mentioned too.) So that’s why i feel - that we needed to have a proper discussion about religion, because these people were soaking in stuff from Mullahs who were telling them - and that they can open up the Book and say - look there it is! HOw are young people meant to defend themselves against that - if they don’t know that’s there, and they are already feeling vulnerable (for whatever reasons, anger hatred, inferiority complexes etc.) then these people have plenty of Power over them.

      So i still feel - that the approach has to be two-fold.

      One - is to identify what affects these young people, what is making them vulnerable. where’s this hatred and anger stemming from?

      And Two - is to identify - if they are at risk of being radicalised through religion and older men who will give them a particular set of messages about it - how can this be dealt with.

      You don’t have to have a LONG complicated ‘theological’ anything - its not hard to condense sth like ‘the two faces of islam’ and set the scene about the different kinds of interpretations of passages in the Quran, our ‘fighting’ past, setting that into context, and comparing approaches. It could be done fairly simply.

      And to a certain extent, it’s already being done in innovative youth work.

      the government is already interested in the work of STREET (which won an award) which does use Islam to combat radicalism in young gangsters - they use a “deconstruction” technique to help them deal with the messages from older gang members who are urging them to convert/get involved in violence. And helping them to combat that by giving them a context of their religion - i.e. to not be violent about it.

      I have been helping the NDC to design programmes for young offenders in Lambeth you see- and they are the guys who capacity built STREET to run their project in Brixton. It has been interesting getting involved on this level and finding out the local contexts across lambeth.

      Of course this is a specific approach, focusing on the kids who are the ‘victims’, as part of targeted youth services.

      But perhaps my point is -dealing with the religion question - by using religion consciously -and the way in which it can and is ‘mis-used’ is already in practice - the project is led by youth workers who have been in the Same situation themselves - a lot of whom converted themselves, went through hearing the same mixed messages, getting into violence, getting out of violence, still staying in islam, and peer mentoring other kids now in the same position.

      Of course this is specifically about deterring young people on the fringes of gang culture, and involved in gangs, but the HOme office is interested because this can be extended to counter-terrorism, and obviously young gang kids converting to islam who are vulnerable to radicalisation and other kinds of violence…are a top priority.

      a few simple message is all it takes: there are passages in this text - which have been interpreted by other people to commit violence. there are also - millions of people - do not read a command of violence - into these passages. if they don’t know that the stuff can be used to confuse them, they are like more vulnerable.

      i say this Sunny - because as a Muslim who was not aware of those passages - I was confused. How do i know - if i had been filled by hatred and anger - i might not have thought ‘oh these silly Bengalis!’ they have practised a fluffy religion - they have never read these passages! I must right this and get involved with the ‘real’ muslims.

      Like you say, people are not aware of facts -but they believe anyway. HOw much more powerful - then - if you produce a fact =- ta da! Guess what - God wants you to kill your son!

      So i don’t think this is about a ‘theological’ debate where we invite rowan down. this is about the importance of ‘religion’ in people’s lives, and how that can be abused. if you don’t deal with it by suggesting you might be asked to do sth that is not ‘allowed’, then i’m afraid it is all ambiguous enough to confuse a young teenager.

    117. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 11:59 am  

      I am afraid they are still of no use, if we are to take you as their ambassador.

      That’s very kind of you Refresh. Please bear in mind that the sentiment is, insofar as I regard you as an ambassador of political Islamism’s value system, completely mutual.

    118. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:05 pm  

      Ravi, spotted this very early on. Ravi, correct me if I’ve misunderstood.

      No, Refresh, you got it right. And you are right that this is about Quilliam. All I can say is that I was truly excited when they came about, but soon became very disappointed. Their aggressive and polarising language only alienates rather than engage. I do not believe they are the solution, and I hope the government realises that, and spends our tax-payers money on more efficient organisations.

      We truly need organisations which are not victim of “black-white” mindset, which does not put labels on people to dismiss them, and understands that this is a process that takes time and patience. And that does understand how to engage with people they disagree with, rather than shun them with “alerts”.

    119. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:11 pm  

      We could also do with commenters who are intellectually honest. Who do not subvert secular, liberal ideals by purporting to embrace them, but then advocate the inclusion of the worst regressive and reactionary tendencies because they themselves have been unable or unwilling to dis-internalise them.

    120. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:16 pm  

      We could also do with commenters who are intellectually honest. Who do not subvert secular, liberal ideals by purporting to embrace them, but then advocate the inclusion of the worst regressive and reactionary tendencies because they themselves have been unable or unwilling to dis-internalise them.

      Finally, something we can agree on. :)

      … Rather than false programmes, delays and wasted opportunities.

      Well, as long as we do not repeat the same mistakes, then it is worth look at different possibilities. This is fun. I am actually responding your message (#121) before you actually wrote it. ;)

    121. Refresh — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:16 pm  

      ‘That’s very kind of you Refresh. Please bear in mind that the sentiment is, insofar as I regard you as an ambassador of political Islamism’s value system, completely mutual.’

      and there is proof if anyone was even bothered to look, that you and QF by extension are a disaster in the making. Lets just hope it ends up with just a few people having to look for alternative employment and one or two ministerial heads. Rather than false programmes, delays and wasted opportunities.

    122. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:19 pm  

      Finally, something we can agree on.

      Good, I’ll have that wriiten apology now. Send it to:

      faisal [at] spittoon [dot] org

    123. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:20 pm  

      Rather than false programmes, delays and wasted opportunities.

      Hope you can agree to #119 too Refresh. Won’t be holding my breath tho.

    124. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:22 pm  

      Good, I’ll have that wriiten apology now. Send it to:

      I will have the spammers apologise for me. ;)

    125. Imran Khan — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:25 pm  

      Sid - At some point you are going to have to concede that QF have not been a success due to their early approach where as you know they managed to annoy even their own advisors to the point that many refuted QF assertions that they were bullied to leave when infact they were not happy with the avocated approach.

      The other question is who is deciding who is an Islamist and what an Islamist is and again this has to be fair and impartial and QF with the own ideology can’t do this.

      Again setting unfair parameters for engagement which don’t apply to other communities is going to be divisive.

      I think you are failing to answer fundemental questions people have and it may be blindingly obvious to you but its clear that it isn’t obvious to many people so therefore you need to clear up the issues.

      What I would say is that QF have proved that the one fit all model doesn’t work so I can’t understand why you keep pushing it.

      The term Islamism and Engagement is being used and abused for promotion of a preset ideology and preset organisations. Its doomed to fail unless its more inclusive and nots the hysterical language used to decide who is deemed worthy of engagement.

      QF’s approach was shown to be one sided by demanding of Islam Channel that which wasn’t demanded of any other Muslim Channel. They wanted Brailwee’s and Sufis on Islam Channel even though they already have a presence but then declined to ask QTV, Noot TV etc. for the same rights for non-Sufi/Brailwee’s to be given rights on their channels. A touch of double standards.

      As regards mosques QF is again hysterical about certain mosques but tolerant of Sufi/Brailwee which them selves are dictatorial and far from the same ideals demanded of non QF Approved mosques.

      Its a recipe for disaster and QF is by and large ignored by the Muslim community which is why they have said they are not in this area.

      Engagement with extremists is the only way to end extremism and thats proved by history.

    126. Refresh — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:31 pm  

      I am not sure I really want you to hold your breath, but a tempting thought all the same. :)

    127. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:48 pm  

      I will have the spammers apologise for me.

      Given the rank quality of your textual crits of late, those spammers look like they’ve been commenting for you too. ;-)

    128. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:50 pm  

      I am not sure I really want you to hold your breath, but a tempting thought all the same.

      I’m sure it is. After your confession about stabbing a person you didn’t agree with in the eye with a fork on another thread, seems your violent-jihadi tendencies are really bubbling to the surface these days, aren’t they? :-)

    129. sonia — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:53 pm  

      Imran, face it, you can set up a definition of Islamism for some Parliamentary Committee working group, but unfortunately the term is widely used now and unless you have some influence, you will not be able to do much.

      P.S. I have responded to you on the ‘the final solution’ thread - I am really very interested to hear what you think about my comeback to your apologist stance on slavery - no seriously. I would like someone like yourself to seriously address my comeback - I asked Ajmal Masroor the same question and he was some slippery fish, talked about a ‘holistic’ approach and wanted to run away. Perhaps i can pin you down somewhat - I really feel this is an important moral question. An important yardstick.

      Thanks

    130. Refresh — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:56 pm  

      Hahaha, you’re one funny guy. Confession? No, I was being light-hearted about an encounter with a racist.

      So our trip to the restaurant’s off then?

    131. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 12:57 pm  

      I dearly hope so.

    132. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 1:09 pm  

      Given the rank quality of your textual crits of late, those spammers look like they’ve been commenting for you too

      Heh. You should know by now never to respond to spammers, or they will never let you alone. :)

      After your confession about stabbing a person you didn’t agree with in the eye with a fork on another thread, seems your violent-jihadi tendencies are really bubbling to the surface these da

      I guess we need another QF alert. :)

      Imran, face it, you can set up a definition of Islamism for some Parliamentary Committee working group, but unfortunately the term is widely used now and unless you have some influence, you will not be able to do much.

      I think definitions are useful because they allow us to speak without misunderstandings. More often than not, we disagree because our definitions do not match, and that is a waste of time. The term “Islamist” is ambiguous, and even though we may not agree what an Islamist is, at least, it would be a disservice to the discussion, to keep it ambiguous - specially when the topic of the discussion is the price of engaging Islamists.

      So, what defines an Islamist as opposed to a conservative Muslim? Andrew has given us some clues.

    133. sonia — on 21st May, 2009 at 1:14 pm  

      Let’s go to Brick Lane and ask them. They’ll be best placed to tell us.

      I know who we can ask =- The Dialogue with Islam man…he gets in folk from the East London mosque (they pay £3 a talk!) and a panel, on various different issues. we could suggest this as a topic, and then ‘engage’ the community and get them to do some brainstorming about the difference between an Islamist, and a conservative Muslim.

    134. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 1:17 pm  

      Heh. You should know by now never to respond to spammers, or they will never let you alone.

      I have to tell you, if they have been spammers, there has been a marked improvement from your spammer-free comments. Maybe you need them to sort out your “progressive”/”liberal”/”secular” values too. ;-)

      I guess we need another QF alert

      Only if you “plagiarise” it this time”. oops! :D

    135. Refresh — on 21st May, 2009 at 1:27 pm  

      As for the alert, can I recommend that QF does not rely on Faisal’s misquotes and misrepresentations. They have enough of a credibility issue without this.

    136. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 1:35 pm  

      Heh, not as credibly-bankrupt as raising the charge of plagiarism and then, when corrected, retreating defensively, without even admitting the error, let alone the simple of courtesy of an apology. :)

    137. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 1:39 pm  

      Only if you “plagiarise” it this time”. oops!

      Heh. :) I would rather you did not.

      Refresh, can you tell me what defines an Islamist?

    138. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 1:41 pm  

      I would rather you did not

      I would rather you, just like this time, understand the subject matter before you shoot your mouth off. There is the danger of, when corrected, of looking like a complete tit.

    139. Refresh — on 21st May, 2009 at 1:45 pm  

      Ravi

      I just spotted your magical feat at #120. Quoting me from a comment I hadn’t yet made (#121). Did I spot you do that once before on the ‘Melanie Philips is not the answer’ thread?

      Just to say such jiggery-pokery could be used in so many ways. Most of it for fun.

      I know Sid that did that to me once, shifting his stance ever so slightly in his debut post. In that case he used admin rights.

    140. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 1:45 pm  

      Heh, not as credibly-bankrupt as raising the charge of plagiarism and then, when corrected, retreating defensively, without even the simple of admitting the error, let alone courtesy of an apology

      You get no apology: it was told that if you don’t give credit of a copy-paste job to the original authors, then you are plagiarising. You corrected your piece by referencing QF, and that’s the end of the story.

      Furthermore, you said that your friend Ed said that plagiarising is absolutely ok - so why are you even demanding an apology for something you corrected?

    141. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 1:48 pm  

      Furthermore, you said that your friend Ed said that plagiarising is absolutely ok - so why are you even demanding an apology for something you corrected?

      Do you understand what it means to make the charge of plagiarism Ravi? Given your glib use of the term, it seems you have as much confusion with that as you have of terms like “liberal” and “secularism”.

    142. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 1:53 pm  

      Do you understand what it means to make the charge of plagiarism Ravi?

      Yes, and I am glad that you understand as well, since you corrected your piece. Even though you first said that you forgotten to reference the original authors because you had to go to lunch, and then four hours later said that you omitted the original authors on purpose because you did not want anyone to know the article was written by QF.

      So don’t accuse me of being confused.

    143. Refresh — on 21st May, 2009 at 1:54 pm  

      Ravi,

      ‘Refresh, can you tell me what defines an Islamist?’

      Actually I can’t. Its a new term, which tragically is intended to label and dismiss. The worst of it is, in Sid’s hands it became whatever he wanted it to be, all in the space of one thread.

      Now the baton has passed to Faisal. In summary, its intellectually bankrupt and stalinist.

    144. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 2:03 pm  

      Yes, and I am glad that you understand as well, since you corrected your piece. Even though you first said that you forgotten to reference the original authors because you had to go to lunch, and then four hours later said that you omitted the original authors on purpose because you did not want anyone to know the article was written by QF.

      Like I said then, you could always email QF and let them know of my “plagiarism”. Just like you wanted to get Andy Hull’s email and let him know of my “mischaracterization” his article. Both positions seem completely consistent and revealing. ;-)

    145. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 2:04 pm  


      ‘Refresh, can you tell me what defines an Islamist?’

      Actually I can’t.

      That’s the most intellectually honest thing you’ve said on this blog.

    146. Sunny — on 21st May, 2009 at 2:09 pm  

      You people are boring me to death.

    147. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 2:10 pm  

      And as I said before, I really enjoy PP and I believe everyone has a duty to keep PP bloggers on their feet and expect minimum standards of writing, such as referencing sources, providing a fair characterisation of people’s views, and sound logic.

      So, Faisal, if you can’t take criticism and then demand an apology for something I said, which led you to actually correct your piece… then I am afraid you are for a big disappointment.

    148. Sunny — on 21st May, 2009 at 2:10 pm  

      Sonia - we’ll continue this conversation another time, I can’t be bothered to wade through posts of people trying to think of the funniest put-down.

    149. qidniz — on 21st May, 2009 at 2:47 pm  

      My first instinct is to ban religions - especially congregational religions - but I suppose realistically, as a starting point try and discourage ‘congregational’ aspects of all religions.

      Wow. +1.

      I’m astonished to see this on a Left blog.

    150. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 3:01 pm  

      So, Faisal, if you can’t take criticism and then demand an apology for something I said, which led you to actually correct your piece… then I am afraid you are for a big disappointment.

      Well Ravi, I’m more than happy to discuss criticisms in good faith. But your last two forays, given the bad-mannered and abusive nature of the criticism and the high-stakes charges (”plagiarism” and “mischaracterization”, it seems that the nature of your comments are based not so much on objective criticism as plain old personal enmity and dislike.

      But I’m cool with that. It’s just that when you *are* proved wrong, the “big disappointments” are more palpable from your side. And I’m only fucking with you when I ask for an apology, I know better than to expect blood from stones.

    151. Faisal — on 21st May, 2009 at 3:03 pm  

      You people are boring me to death.

      I’m off, I promise! :)

    152. sonia — on 21st May, 2009 at 3:12 pm  

      Sunny - agreed! and it is an interesting and relevant discussion too - i think there must be many perspectives and approaches (i was simply starting to outline my thoughts)and plenty of people have insight that the rest of us don’t.

    153. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 3:15 pm  

      But your last two forays, given the bad-mannered and abusive nature of the criticism and the high-stakes charges (”plagiarism” and “mischaracterization”).

      It is called tough love, Faisal. And I apologised for calling you a clown - all the rest is based on an objective analysis.

    154. Amrit — on 21st May, 2009 at 6:06 pm  

      That’s ok, I can take your criticisms - although I have to say I was a bit hurt when you did not invite me to come to your harem in another thread… :(

      What?! You want to be part of my harem?!

      :-D

      Incidentally, you’ve never told me why you thought my blog was ‘interesting’. That’s the sort of comment that can keep a girl awake at nights! O_O

    155. Ravi Naik — on 21st May, 2009 at 6:25 pm  

      What?! You want to be part of my harem?!

      Well, at the very least if I got an invitation, I would R.S.V.P! :)

      Incidentally, you’ve never told me why you thought my blog was ‘interesting’. That’s the sort of comment that can keep a girl awake at nights! O_O

      I must have moved on to another thread and didn’t see your question (I know it is difficult to believe, but I do move on… eventually!)

      This was a while back, but I thought your blog had some pretty insightful entries. And that story about your online encounter with an American you didn’t know, but was obsessed about how “pure” you were, was priceless.

    156. Amrit — on 21st May, 2009 at 11:15 pm  

      People seem to like grazing on my blog, but I’ve only attracted 5 followers! DAMMIT *shakes fist heavenwards*.

      Seriously though, ta very much. He was a very weird one. That post really didn’t touch on how weird our relationship was.

      I can’t believe I’m all coming out and saying this in public, but technically most of PP IS my harem, you get me? :-D Except for a few select people I find annoying. I think I don’t really need to name names here. The commenters are astoundingly civilised compared to Cif. Someone should create a law of inverse commenting or SOMETHING, because most of Cif are absolute knobs. Cif, the site of a LEFT-WING PAPER. Whereas many of the comments on Times articles seem to be from highly sane individuals. BBC’s HYS is a rich supply of comedy idiots, and the Fail Online… can be a surprisingly mixed bag.

      That’s why I hate it when emotions run high. I will withhold comment on Liberal Conspiracy and take my derailing elsewhere now. Ahem.

    157. sonia — on 22nd May, 2009 at 6:37 pm  

      Amrit - you’re not linking to your blog anymore, why not?

    158. Amrit — on 24th May, 2009 at 12:18 am  

      sonia -

      Well, my blog became less and less political, so I decided to stop since I thought it wasn’t going to be of interest to anyone on PP… I figured maybe a few people would stumble on it via the ‘In-Laws’ if I was lucky. I’m not too bothered about picking up readers, though.

    159. sonia — on 24th May, 2009 at 11:18 pm  

      I know what you mean,but it doesn’t hurt to have your link up, other folks/readers may want to follow more of your thoughts anyway..



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