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Introduction: We need a new discourse

Posted By Sunny On 6th September, 2006 @ 5:33 am In Current affairs | Comments Disabled

No one can really predict how Britain will respond to the July 7th attacks last year over the long term.

It is a subject that consumes thousands of bloggers every day and indeed many started blogging in response to 9/11 or 7/7, as I did, or completely changed their focus after those events.

Every day the ripples continue to be felt and we carry on trying to make sense of a rapidly changing world. I entered the blogosphere with my esteemed crew not to make sense of it all (though it has helped) but to engage in this global conversation.

Over five years ago I launched [1] barficulture.com to, in my own words, “build bridges in a [British Asian] community frequently fragmented by religion, caste, sex and race”. The [2] messageboards remain popular (though I haven’t had time to maintain the rest of the site and took many sections off).

I launched [3] AIM magazine three years ago to build a bridge between ethnic and ‘mainstream’ media and psuh for more diversity in the voices that the mainstream media chooses to engage with.

After July 7th 2005 I realised a new direction was needed. Something needed to be done. I wasn’t exactly sure what but I needed to engage in a wider dialogue. So we launched Pickled Politics.

Now. Why am I telling you all this?

When we search for answers, to explain events or phenomena, I believe we look for narratives that encompasses everything. Narratives that not only explain current events but lay out a path to the future. Well, I’ve formulated my own one and this is the introduction.

Given that it needs to put current events in perspective and address where we go from here, and touch upon the future of British society, this is quite a broad narrative.

The first segment to this narrative is an understanding of terrorism. More specifically home-grown British terrorism. Another part of this is the Politics of Representation, a debate that I [4] kicked off on CIF last week.

Only a Muslim issue?

I sometimes get asked by irate Muslims to stop poking my nose into ‘Muslim affairs’ or writing about Muslim issues. I don’t buy this argument for three reasons.

The obvious reason is that the threat of terrorism affects us all, making it my business. When people are blowing themselves up on the tube or saying they will only rest once all of Britain has converted to their ideology (I refer here to the old Al-Muhajiroun crew), then it affects me.

The other obvious point is that they (Inayat Bunglwala, Faisal bodi) say so because they find it difficult to put me in a box. I neither hate all Muslims; I have nothing against Islam as such; nor am I a neo-con supporting GW Bush’s policies. Since slurs don’t come easy, they prefer I don’t talk about these issues.

The third is the most significant.

I believe many of the issues that British Muslims / Pakistanis / Bangladeshis face apply to other Asians too, namely: representation, integration, racism, identity and especially religious extremism. It is a naive person who believes that religious fanatics who threaten violence are only limited to Islam. Although it is also undeniable we are currently facing a rather potent wave of Muslim religous extremism.

There are naive people however who believe religious extremists are only limited to the sidelines. I disagree and know from first hand experience that the threat of violence hovers in the background if you raise your head above the parapet. So, for me, this is part of a broader fight against violence in the name of religion.

Going forward

Even before I started barficulture it was obvious bigotry was driving British Asians apart. As this extends to wider British society the fight to deal with it must become bigger.

I have found current theories and explanations fairly limited because they are constructed to fit into prior struggles. Thus we are presented with facile choices that do not reflect the complexity of the issues involved. This is what I hope to address starting with my next chapter.

[5] Here is the preface to this introduction.

Comments Disabled To "Introduction: We need a new discourse"

#1 Comment By nyrone On 6th September, 2006 @ 9:39 am

I would seriously lose my cool if I was told by ‘irate muslims’ not to concern myself with ‘muslim affairs. I don’t know how you manage to keep it together, it truly seems like such an idiotic and unproductive thing to say.

As a former Muslim, I can safetly say that discarding the comments of non-muslims is also an utterly un-islamic practise too.

#2 Comment By Kkiller On 6th September, 2006 @ 11:13 am

I seem to have gotten away with “poking my nose in” - despite being white and agnostic. But then I don’t have your profile, Sunny…

Sounds like an interesting series tho, look forward to seeing the next chapter…

#3 Comment By Kismet Hardy On 6th September, 2006 @ 11:21 am

It was a cold, dark winter’s day when I, Sunny Hundal Singh, was born into this world. It wasn’t my mission there and then to change, understand and redifine this world we call mine; that happenned when I was 4 when, while reading Guru Nanak and Mein Kampf, my mother said unto me: ‘I am blessed, nay, the world is blessed, that such a demi-god has entered into our lives.’ A few years later, I touched a pair of breasts and it was then that I was sure that world domination was not just for Bond villains, but for heroes, prophets and, most of all, me. Two days later, Alaistair Moore stole my lunch money

#4 Comment By Rakhee On 6th September, 2006 @ 11:32 am

Well I’m heartened to see this Sunny.

It’s going to take more people like you to stand back from the debate and try to challenge perceptions on the basis of what is right and wrong, not just on what is sensationalist and ‘dull’.

An example, The Evening Standard are currently running a series called ‘The Muslim Debate’. Yesterday they announced findings of an exclusive survey they conducted with YouGov which showed that 1 in 6 Londoners admit moving seats on the bus or tube to get away from a passenger they believed to be a Muslim.

Headline reads: “Afraid to sit next to a Muslim on bus? Londoners admit, yes they are”.

The findings however also showed that 54% have never moved away from people, 8% not applicable as they didn’t travel and 3% didn’t know. Instead of running with the more positive story, the ES has run with the negative as usual.

What gets me is that in the comments section, they then call for Muslims to help themselves:

“the community leaders need to prove they are more actively working against extremism (I have to say I agree to this bit to a certain extent). London’s tolerance has held up amazingly well to date. It would be a tragedy if it were damaged by one community’s reluctance to face up to the threat.”

It’s the last sentence that gets me. I mean, hello? If that isn’t installing a blame culture in our society, what the hell is??

I’m trying to find the survey on-line but can’t seem to track it down….

#5 Comment By Bert Preast On 6th September, 2006 @ 11:41 am

#6 Comment By Jagdeep On 6th September, 2006 @ 11:42 am

To be honest, if it was only a matter of problems in the Muslim community being confined to Muslim communities, I wouldnt discuss it either. But when it impacts on me, as a British-Indian, from a family of practising Sikhs, when my life is under threat from Jihadis and the lives of my fellow British citizens too, and my family experience turbulence and hostility in a racist backlash, it is damn well my problem, and I have the right, as everyone does, to talk about attitudes in the Muslim community.

This has really made me re-assess my attitudes. Which has been a good thing. One result of this was that I realised how much the Islamists ‘lite’, the cheerleaders for Islamic politics, have overplayed their hands. Their depiction of Britain as a massively racist society is egregious, and they have much hatred in their hearts for things that I hold dear.

Islamists have set the agenda for multiculturalism for too long. Including people like the MCB, who have demanded that policies and thinking be skewed to their thinking and demands. That means every other minority gets marginalised and our narrative, one of success and failure faced with stoicism and achievment, and proud engagment with British society, and integration and a gradual sense of being British, developing into love for Britain and deep friendships with our white brothers and sisters, means that a more tempered approach to obstacles we face is thrown out of the window to pander to shrieking, whining, moaning, religious ideologues. I hate that, and I hate them.

It is time the narrative of minorities was seized back from those demagogues and ideologues. They are loathsome losers and have succeeded in drowning out the reality of our varied and complex lives.

#7 Comment By Jagdeep On 6th September, 2006 @ 11:49 am

One more thing. I wonder about what will happen when and if the next attack occurs. If a suicide bomber blows himself up inside a nightclub, or inside Bluewater or the Trafford shopping centre, or on commuter trains coming into London, or a few planes, an attack that dwarfs 7/7. I get terrified thinking about it all - the loss of life, and the long term effects on us all, to my family and friends and my children. What kind of society will that lead us to?

This is as bad as it was when the NF were roaming the streets. I have a nephew at university and he tells me that the atmosphere on his campus is poisonous because of the presence of intimidating extremist groups, and that Sikh, Hindu and Jewish students feel intimdated by them and their activities. What kind of society are we living in that permits this to flourish? How did we get here?

The cause and effect principle applies here too. Extremism from one direction causes others to copy the tactics of extremists. Everything becomes coarsened.

#8 Comment By Tasneem On 6th September, 2006 @ 11:52 am

When an Indian can comment on Bangladeshi/Pakistani/Nepalese issues while dicussing a South Asian discourse, why on earth people would cry foul if someone “pokes nose” in Muslim affairs. “A toad trapped inside a well”, so goes a Bangla proverb.

#9 Comment By Sid On 6th September, 2006 @ 11:57 am

I sometimes get asked by irate Muslims to stop poking my nose into ‘Muslim affairs’ or writing about Muslim issues.

Some Muslims will react angrily because they already feel besieged. And calls for increased secularism or for self-reflection are often perceived as more Islamophobia from fellow Southasians. This is a knee-jerk is understandable given that Southasians are steeped in internecine bitching.

Those of us who call ourselves progressive Muslims, who:
* don’t feel we have anything to “prove”
* are not insecure about our identities
* are politicised but not reactionary

recognise your intentions as being constructive and incredibly broad-minded. We salute you.

#10 Comment By Jagdeep On 6th September, 2006 @ 12:25 pm

To be honest Sid, if a Sikh or Hindu criticises Muslim leaders or ideologues, a certain percentage of that may be inspired by communalist thinking, but the majority of it isnt. In fact, most have been remarkably quiet on the issue, given that the rise of Islamic politics and the Muslim-first and last identity was partly motivated, surely, by a desire by them to dissasociate Muslims from fellow Southasians, which must be ‘phobic’ of ‘infidels’ in some sense, in the first place.

Most people dont care about what Muslims think or how they get on in life. Nobody sticks their nose into questions of whether Qadianis are true Muslims or not (random fact of the day - my great grandfather was from the city of Qadian) or things like that. Nobody cares.

When they see themselves being marginalised in British society and the terms of the debate being warped to accomodate Muslim grievance all the time, I think more Indians should stand up and counteract their attitudes. Enough is enough. Muslim politicians and Muslim grievances (real or imagined) should not be taken any longer as the benchmark or litmus test for multicultural Britain. It is arrogant for Muslims to make it so, and stupid and blind for the media and wider society to accept that. More non Muslim minority communities should demand that this is made clear.

#11 Comment By Sid On 6th September, 2006 @ 12:45 pm


I can assure you that Islamists, or moderate Muslim for that matter. are fighting against the forces of “Multicultarism”. Muslim grievances should not be the “benchmark or litmus test for multicultural Britain“, I agree.

The endless social debate on the fissures in multiculturalism is a fallout of Islamist extremism. But I think we’re guilty of confusing effect with cause.

#12 Comment By Sid On 6th September, 2006 @ 12:47 pm

oh poo…

that should read “are not fighting against the forces of Multiculturalism.”

#13 Comment By Jagdeep On 6th September, 2006 @ 1:14 pm

I disagree. I think that Islamists are fighting against multiculturalism, all the while using at as a cover for their agenda ie: The oppressed Muslims, oppressed by orientalism and British society, must not be criticised or else it’s racism. They simultaneously claim to be representatives of the wonderful multicultural project, whilst distorting it and using it as a shield for their ideas. Whilst the terrorists are on another level, there are a platform of ideologues behind them that have really fucked things up for us, with their bad faith and twisting and constant constant unending selfishness and belligerent attitude and linking the price of fish in Birmingham and Brick Lane to the oppression of the ummah. It has distorted us, and their agenda must be confronted.

(when I say distorted us, I mean distorted the debate on multiculturalism, it has distorted Asian community and our relationships with each other, it has distorted everything)

#14 Comment By Jagdeep On 6th September, 2006 @ 1:19 pm

Let me correct something. I will explain what I mean by this:

The oppressed Muslims, oppressed by orientalism and British society, must not be criticised or else it’s racism

Their overwhleming and selfish agenda has been to twist everything so that Islamist politics becomes so tied to the pillars of multicultural truth that their communalist ideology and all that goes with it is screamed at as prejudice. This has been consistent and overwhelming. The threats, the warnings, the propaganda, all of it was employed to suit their agenda, not the agenda of Britain, not the agenda of what is nessecarily good for Muslims to get on in British society, and certainly not what is good for Sikhs or Hindus or black communities.

In doing so, through hectoring, bullying and selfishness, they poisoned multiculturalism.

#15 Comment By Jagdeep On 6th September, 2006 @ 1:23 pm

Oh yes, other communal organisations have shown that they too can play that game, we can think of examples from Sikhs and Hindus. The thing is, it doesnt happen to anywhere near the same extent, and the general consequences of their attitudes are not so dangerous or consequential for society as a whole.

Let’s face it, they have been a disaster on every level. They also distract from real problems, and lessen the urgency with which genuine grievance can be examined. Their depiction of Britain as a nation of default racists is also hateful and wrong.

#16 Comment By bananabrain On 6th September, 2006 @ 1:54 pm

i can’t help feeling jagdeep has a point. the MCB, MAB, MPAC and all their TLA-laden brethren have really pissed in the multicultural soup for the rest of us. any excessive whining is excused on the grounds that “the jewish board of deputies does the same thing” - never mind that the board is actually representative of most groups in the community, even if it sounds a bit like the MCB sometimes. at least nobody running the board that i know of speaks in the sort of terms that bungalow-wallah and his relatives do. it’s a bit like faith schools - it’s very hard to defend faith schools once one gets investigated for being a jihadi training camp. in the interests of “fairness” and “evenhandedness”, everything is treated with equal suspicion, even the inoffensive jewish primary schools where i’m considering sending my son. “isn’t it divisive?” “aren’t you segregating your children from mainstream society?” actually, no, we’re not. but that is because we’re determined not to live in a ghetto, so after primary school, the kid (and his future brothers and sisters insha’Allah) will go to a mixed secondary and normal university and then get a job, EVEN IF we choose to give him additional jewish education and send him to israel for a year after what i hope is his baccalaureate rather than bloody a-levels. in short, we have taken responsibility for making sure our children turn out as stakeholders in british society and good citizens, rather than a bunch of narcissistic, whining victims - just like many muslim, hindu and sikh (oh - and white) parents have done. multiculturalism is failing because people are treating it as a trojan horse, the same way that the “tragedy of the commons” always works.



#17 Comment By Rakhee On 6th September, 2006 @ 2:32 pm

Cheers BP!

#18 Comment By Jagdeep On 6th September, 2006 @ 3:16 pm

Yes bananabrain - Trojan horse is a good analogy.

#19 Comment By David T On 6th September, 2006 @ 3:47 pm

Nice one Guru Sunny

Now, here’s a thing.

I understand 100% what Sid means when he suggests:

“Some Muslims will react angrily because they already feel besieged. And calls for increased secularism or for self-reflection are often perceived as more Islamophobia from fellow Southasians. This is a knee-jerk is understandable given that Southasians are steeped in internecine bitching.”

It isn’t just “southasians…steeped in intericine bitching”. If you’re a member of a minority group, and people who are not members of that minority group start to talk in sweeping terms about the actions and attitudes and beliefs of that group, it inevitably makes you VERY edgy. That is so, even if you agree in part with what is being said, or if simplistic but not overtly hostile things are being said about your group.

I bet that one of the major effects of the over-focus on Muslims has been to make an awful lot of people with plural identities highly conscious of the centrality of their religious identity. Its an understandable kind of “fuck you” response. It has also helped to fuel a “laager-mentality”: something which further assists the “ummah consciousness” lot, who have been running the ‘your Muslim brothers are under attack the world over’ line in the UK since Bosnia.

As a result it is very difficult to have any discussion about religion and culture without producing this sort of effect: particularly when Muslims are already feeling jumpy. Sometimes, I think that there is a lot of wisdom in the old rule of etiquette which held that it was impolite to talk about religion at all.

The trouble is: when you’re up against some extremely reactionary religious-political forces, which are spreading paranoia and encouraging communal introversion for their own ends, in any case, it is very difficult to ignore it or fail to engage with it.

When you do, however, you’re at a massive disadvantage. Outfits like Pickled Politics, where people are generally sane, switched on, and savvy are few and far between. The loons are better organised and motivated than us, and they’ve been much better at spreading their message. They’ve been aided and abetted both by racists and other bigots, and by the ‘revolutionary’ left who get a vicarious thrill from holidaying in the anger and fear of Muslims.

I do think we need a new discourse, but I’m not sure how we’re going to get there.

We could start by taking a very deep breath.

#20 Comment By Jai On 6th September, 2006 @ 5:16 pm

Passionate and emotive posts by Jagdeep on this thread. Absolutely spot-on.

#21 Comment By Sunny On 6th September, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

Their depiction of Britain as a nation of default racists is also hateful and wrong.

This depiction is not pushed by faith based organisations as much as it is pushed by race related organisations and individuals such as Lee Jasper.

#22 Comment By David T On 6th September, 2006 @ 5:57 pm

One thing that we could do is to be vocal in our absolute refusal to allow politicians to “do” community politics. Dunno how successful that would be… but it is worth trying.

#23 Comment By Parma Violets On 6th September, 2006 @ 11:27 pm

I have little that hasn’t been said before, but I have to say that your work here at Pickled Politics has not gone unnoticed by any means.

Talking over the opinions and articles you’ve posted with my Asian co-workers has given me an insight into the problems faced by British Asians that no amount of tiresome newspaper articles ever could. And not just the problems - the hopes, the pleasures and the daft jokes (you can’t forget the daft jokes) have been a source of constant pleasure.

After 9/11, this clueless white boy suddenly realised that he had to have an opinion on the Middle East, its people and religions. And the mainstream media was no help at all. But you were.

I’ve introduced Hindu, Muslim and Sikh friends to your site and seen them sigh with relief that someone, somewhere, is saying what they think.

This is about eight hundred times more sincere and earnest than the posts I like making on other people’s blogs. But I want you to know that, in my experience at least, Pickled Politics has already done so much good.

#24 Comment By David T On 6th September, 2006 @ 11:31 pm

We should be stickering the whole of London with [7] www.pickledpolitics.com

#25 Comment By Jagdeep On 6th September, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

Pickled Politics T-Shirts?

Or how about a line of Pickled Politics Pickles? Mango, Lime, you know, the whole caboodle.

Someone get in touch with those ‘curry tycoons’ who own ‘Pataks’ to licence them. Pataks Pickled Politics Pickles. Curry with a Conscience.

#26 Comment By David T On 6th September, 2006 @ 11:50 pm

I ♥ Pickled Patakabies!

#27 Comment By Sunny On 7th September, 2006 @ 12:11 am

Heh, I think you guys are dangerous for my ego. Buddha warned me about people like you David and Parma Violets! Thanks for your kind comments nevertheless.

#28 Comment By Amir On 7th September, 2006 @ 2:33 am


Heh, I think you guys are dangerous for my ego.

Be grateful, then, since I act as a powerful bulwark against this tendency. He he :-)

#29 Comment By Kismet Hardy On 7th September, 2006 @ 11:00 am

And me also. Thank my powerful bullshit you ungrateful mutt

#30 Comment By Jai On 7th September, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

=>”Pickled Politics T-Shirts?”

We could have slogans on the front (or the back, depending which side the PP logo is on), eg:

“Make the world a better place. Hug a Hindu today !”

Hell, we could even sponser themed annual holidays to increase the peace and spread the lurve:

Hug a Hindu Day.
Massage a Muslim Day.
Snog a Sikh Day.

And so on and so forth.

#31 Comment By Isheeta On 7th September, 2006 @ 12:57 pm

Take it from a Muslim, Sunny… the only “irate” Muslims out there are the close-minded ones. You know, the fundamentalists, the ones that thing blowing up a few people will get results *rolls eyes*

Sid’s (#9) sums it up nicely.

Pickle away!

#32 Comment By Badmash Vikrant On 7th September, 2006 @ 12:58 pm

Hump a Hindu Day.
Massage a Muslim Day.
Shag a Sikh Day.

#33 Comment By Jai On 7th September, 2006 @ 1:05 pm

Ravish a Rajput Day.
Manhandle a Maratha Day.
Grope a Gujju Day.
Kiss a Kashmiri Day.
Bonk a Bengali Day.
Pleasure a Punjabi Day.

Or, the creme de la creme, Poke a Pickled Pickler Day.

I suspect the last one is just a normal day for Sunny, since he’s a mild-mannered magazine editor by day, but an International Punjabi Buddhist Online Gangster Baron by night.

#34 Comment By Badmash Vikrant On 7th September, 2006 @ 1:13 pm

Ravish a Rajput Day.
Manhandle a Maratha Day.

Well… i get two days :p

#35 Comment By Badmash Vikrant On 7th September, 2006 @ 1:14 pm

btw.. Jai you forgot Tams….

Thok-a-Tamil day…

#36 Comment By Badmash Vikrant On 7th September, 2006 @ 1:18 pm

an International Punjabi Buddhist Online Gangster Baron by night.

Can imagine Gangsta Sunny on his nightly waking jaunt at internet porn.

#37 Comment By Amir On 7th September, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

Jump a Jaine
Bum a Bahá’í
Canoodle a Christian
Doodle a Dravidian
‘Smash’ a Sudroid
Jiggle a Jew
Masturbate a Mughalloid

A few suggestions…

#38 Comment By Jai On 7th September, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

Very funny, guys ;)

I still think the original suggestions in post #30 were the best — nice ‘n simple.

Although we could have “special edition” T-Shirts to prevent Sunny from getting that big head he’s worried about…..

“Keep Megalomaniacs Humble. Slap Sunny Today !”

#39 Comment By bananabrain On 7th September, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

i am bound to wonder if the last thing we need at pickled politics is lots of publicity. heaven forbid, we might get big heads. and anything which gets too big for its boots tends to attract the grandstanders and trolls.

i like the idea of patak’s “pickled politics pickle” (actually quite a good tongue-twister as well). we could have a good line in condiments named after regular contributors (you see, i’m a glory hound too)

my favourite is my own lime pickle mayonnaise, or my other passover favourite, sehug (iraqi-style chilli sauce) mayonnaise - served on matzo with smoked salmon. mmmmmm.



#40 Comment By Chairwoman On 7th September, 2006 @ 5:10 pm

bananabrain - stop it. I’m drooling.

#41 Comment By migsuk On 8th September, 2006 @ 12:52 pm

Excellent posts from Jagdeep, what an interesting thread.

I’m saddened to hear that there is still intimidation on university campuses from the usual Islamicist suspects: this was certainly a problem only four years ago when I was a student and only recently did I really understand and become interested in the habits of radical groups like Hizb-ut Tahrir (who had infiltrated our Islamic Society).

#42 Comment By Bilal Patel On 11th September, 2006 @ 12:22 am

I don’t recognise the HT that people are talking about. I’ve found their members intelligent and remarkably well-informed. What are their habits that you find distasteful migsuk?

Article printed from Pickled Politics: http://www.pickledpolitics.com

URL to article: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/764

URLs in this post:
[1] barficulture.com: http://www.barficulture.com/barfi/
[2] messageboards: http://www.barficulture.com/community/chilling/
[3] AIM magazine: http://www.asiansinmedia.org
[4] kicked off: http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/sunny_hundal/2006/09/unpacking_the_mcbs_behaviour.html
[5] Here is the preface: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/757
[6] http://www.yougov.com/archives/pdf/results060903terrorism.pdf: http://www.yougov.com/archives/pdf/results060903terrorism.pdf
[7] www.pickledpolitics.com: http://www.pickledpolitics.com