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  • Johann Hari and former Islamists

    by Rumbold
    23rd November, 2009 at 10:54 pm    

    Johann Hari has a good, detailed piece up on a group of former Islamists. Not all the information is new of course, but he is a very good writer and it made for an interesting piece:

    The Muslims who arrive here every day from Bangladesh, or India, or Somalia say they find the presence of British Islamists bizarre. They have come here to work and raise their children in stability and escape people like them. No: these Islamists are British-born. They make up 7 per cent of the British Muslim population, according to a Populous poll (with the other 93 percent of Muslims disagreeing). Ever since the 7/7 suicide bombings, carried out by young Englishmen against London, the British have been squinting at this minority of the minority and trying to figure out how we incubated a very English jihadism.

    But every attempt I have made up to now to get into their heads – including talking to Islamists for weeks at their most notorious London hub, Finsbury Park mosque, immediately after 9/11 – left me feeling like a journalistic failure. These young men speak to outsiders in a dense and impenetrable code of Koranic quotes and surly jibes at both the foreign policy crimes of our Government and the freedom of women and gays. Any attempt to dig into their psychology – to ask honestly how this swirl of thoughts led them to believe suicide bombing their own city is right – is always met with a resistant sneer, and yet more opaque recitations from the Koran. Their message is simple: we don’t do psychology or sociology. We do Allah, and Allah alone. Why do you have this particular reading of the Koran, when most Muslims don’t? Because we are right, and they are infidel. Full stop. It was an investigatory dead end.

    (Hat-Tip: Jai)

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    1. pickles

      Blog post:: Johann Hari and former Islamists

    2. Toby Archer

      This is very interesting on the psychology of true believers: RT @pickledpolitics: Johann Hari and former Islamists

    1. MaidMarian — on 23rd November, 2009 at 2:15 pm  

      Or, put another way - sod the public and sod society.

      I have no sympathy for this glib, throwaway excuse about foreign policy 'crimes.' Many people were angry about the conflict in Iraq, yet no one felt it somehow understandable that, say pensioners angry about Iraq strap bombs to themself and go out to kill.

      These people's religion does not entitle them to special pleading. Indeed, there are many millions of muslims whose anger about Iraq did not manifest itself in suicide attacks. These people are not 'hard-wired' or 'driven.' They are adults who make a cognisant choice to exclude themself from civil society and make a conscious decision to kill.

      I have no intention of indulging them and nor should anyone else. Why should their views about Iraq (or anything else for that matter) take priority over those of elected politicians, the public at large or anyone else?

      'We' very much did NOT incubate a, 'very English form of jihad,' and I am buggered if that is being thrown at my society, government and alliances. These people are adults who should be held to account for their lifestyle and decisions, not have those decisions explained away.

      Hari's comment is wholly of a piece with the ethical vaccum that exists at the core of those who find it easier to blame this mythic 'we' for everything, Stuff that!

    2. MiriamBinder — on 23rd November, 2009 at 2:49 pm  

      Why do I get the feeling that this article is only half finished? It starts out and then leaves you half way up the garden path.

      What it does tell me quite clearly is that British Islamists are primarily young men. Disaffected young men at that. If that is the case then they are suffering from the same disaffection that so many young individuals appear to suffer from … those youngsters that run around binge drinking, wanna-be gangstas, knife and gun toting inner city youth and all those other hordes of anti-social scourges on the rest of society. And, following on from that reasoning, it is merely that they have been 'grabbed' by an exploiting ideology as spouted by hate merchants such as Abu Hamza and his ilk which has led them to this expression of their disaffection rather then the other chosen by non-Muslim disaffected youth.

    3. Kulvinder — on 23rd November, 2009 at 2:58 pm  

      Or, put another way - sod the public and sod society

      I assume your paraphrasing is a symptom of your lunacy.

      Good article with frothy comments below it (but then thats always the case nowadays). There were and are foreign born islamists in britain - 21/7 - is an example of that, and not all immigrants are against that kind of theocratic authoritarianism or religious terrorism (as the recent arrests in italy concerning the mumbai attacks show).

      Id guess the ratio will always roughly be 10:1 in terms of those who support extremist views in any ideology or religion (including sikhism) and the 'everyday moderates'; it just so happens theres more british born muslims in britain than foreign born ones.

      I have no evidence of this but id hypothesise that an element of 'growing up' is also involved. Its far easier to be the firebrand when you're in your late teens and twenties than in your thirties and beyond.

      Life has a way of relentlessley hitting you in the face until you confront your prejudices and i don't see why religious extremists have it any different.

      Still all that said and done islamic extremism presents the least significant threat to britain in the last 100 years; the only way they can 'succeed' is if the british government changes our way of life …ah.

    4. Yakoub — on 23rd November, 2009 at 3:15 pm  

      Hypermasculinity is useful concept for making sense of the psychology of violent Islamism. Mac an Ghail, a gender studies researcher, did some very interesting researching on black hypermasculinity a few years back, and hypothesised that it was one response to discrimination - put simply, you feel marginalised, you get macho. There have also been several pieces linking fundamentalisms and hypermasculinity - by Durre S Ahmed (in Ouzgane's 'Islamic Masculinities'), and especially Kimmel, M. (2003) Globalization and its Mal(e)Contents: The Gendered Moral and Political Economy of Terrorism,' International Sociology', 18, 603 - 620

    5. dave bones — on 23rd November, 2009 at 6:53 pm  

      Very funny article. Good on Johann Hari for having a go. The funniest part is the subtitle

      British muslim Maajid Nawaz is the country's most famous former Islamist fanatic

      Some very interesting stories. I like all these complex searching lefty ruminations about why? This is much better than most of them because he actually writes down what people actually say, a concept I thought was banned in journalism these days.

      That said I must admit these ruminations and soul searches actually annoy me a bit as well, as I think London is probably under threat of more terrorism, and I don't think the reasons are as complex as some people would like them to be. I can't see Marians “special pleading” theories as any less complex. I have no “sympathy” with terrorism of any kind. I am totally against killing. Always have been. In basic terms, if the UK forces invaded The Punjab with a whole lot of force and bombs would I expect to be endangered by a small number of people who were Sikh? I think I would.

      Would I put loads of government money into trying to pursuade Sikhs who were disgruntled about UK firepower in the Punjab to be more British?

      We live in la la land. We can try and be clever about it and mull it over, twisting and turning every aspect or we can just say la la la la la la la and wish the anti terror guys all the very best and moan about them when they get it wrong again.

    6. Binky — on 23rd November, 2009 at 9:36 pm  

      “Show me where it says in the Holy Quran that I can't live in a kuffar country on benefit fraud and fantasize about massacring and maiming scores of dancing slags …”

      “But, Ali. You've got to think about the future. We're not getting any younger. Wait! I've got it! We'll both become ex-Islamists and get on the payroll of the ever-generous British state and go on tour telling our brothers how we've seen the light…”

      ALI [sourly]
      “But we're living on the payroll of the British state as it is …”

      “No, I meant REALLY making a decent living as ex-Islamists! We'll be able to go on telly and go on counter-demonstrations yell things at Andy Choudhury and…”

      “Sounds good to me. Let's ring the Home Office right now!”

    7. Binky — on 23rd November, 2009 at 9:41 pm  

      What on earth was that line in Hari's original piece?

      “… suicide bombings, carried out by young Englishmen …” Yes?

      It takes rather more than a document opr two and a certified birthplace to make an Englishman, Hari!

      Binky's daughter Rosa was born in Taif twenty-six years ago but she's no more a Saudi than Binky is a Venusian.

    8. Binky — on 23rd November, 2009 at 9:49 pm  

      Hari mentioned Somali immigrants, too.

      Over at the 'Spectator' magazine one of their nororious irreverent commentators, one Rod Seacole Liddle, referred to Somalis in the U.K. being appropriately celebrated for their “… strong work ethic, their respect for the law and their keen, piercing intelligence …” and some very gullible readers took this legpull at face value and - without giving the issue further thought - wrote in to contradict Liddle sharply, one pointing out that Somalis constitute no more than 0.5% of the population of Finland yet seem to be implicated in no fewer than 12% of recorded crimes.


      Find a few Labour and Lib-Dem MPs willing to associate themselves with a spoof organisation witha title like:


    9. Binky — on 23rd November, 2009 at 9:58 pm  

      [not the mad black scientist of Nation of Islam theology, one assumes]
      refers to hypermasculinity of the American negro variety being the result of discrimination and marginalisation and it can therefore be assumed that the East-Asians in the USA adopted a different tactic altogether by studying hard and getting degrees and owning lots of property.

      The clan Mac an Ghail is not as well known as it ought to be; like many Highland clans, it fought on both sides at Culloden and now controls several shebeen franchises in the rougher parts of Glasgow and Edinburgh and is believed by some observers to be reaching out to establish a monopoly of the fried Mars bars which indulgent giro-recipient Scots feed to their obese children.

    10. Abdul Abulbul Emir — on 24th November, 2009 at 4:52 am  

      Mrs A likes your historical discourse Binky.

      One of her ancestors served with distinction in the Black Crescent after the Bonnie Prince uprising. At Culloden he also served Curried Haggis Masala to the Redcoats which went down a treat. Afterwards he helped rehouse the Ginger Highlanders.

      He made a terrible prophesy Abdul.

      On his death bed he said

      'One day those Ginger Monsters will take over Blighty. Wait and see'

      Peace be upon us all.

    11. donuthingeparty — on 25th November, 2009 at 6:27 am  

      Yay, Binky! Is Roy here, too?

      I'm not surprised that pasty gay liberal Johann Hari failed to get much from radical Islamists - maybe he'd have more luck with the Phelps family?

      Before the civil war, the Somalis were actually highly respected as some of the greatest merchant seamen. Unfortunately, as the only individuals who manage to escape from a governmentless Hannanist state tend to be those who a) can amass a fortune and b) have the physical fortitude to fight for their own survival, often at the expense of others, it's not all that surprising that the individuals who do turn up tend, on average, to be more 'capitalist' (in the sense of leveraging their strengths for their own financial aggrandisement at the expense of others) than those who've led more sedentary and generally content lives.

    12. Binky — on 26th November, 2009 at 3:54 am  


      Silly or scarey?

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