Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Democrats’
Maajid Nawaz writes, in the Daily Beast,
The desire to impose religion over society is otherwise known as theocracy. Being veterans of the struggle to push back against fundamentalist Christians, American liberals are well acquainted with the pitfalls of the neoconservative flirtation with the religious-right. How ironic, then, that in Europe it is those on the left—led by the Guardian—who flirt with religious theocrats. For in the UK, our theocrats are brown, from minority communities, and are overwhelmingly Muslim.
Stop: if Nawaz considers that the Guardian is representative of the ‘left’ then there is a problem here. The paper officially backed the Liberal Democrats an election ago, – his party – not even going far enough to the left to support Labour.
True there are plenty of columnists for the Guardian (and exceptions, does he ever read Polly Toynbee?) like Reverend Giles Fraser, who have a soft spot for Islamism and spend their time wittering away about “shared identities” and linking Islamist “radicalism” with a fight against injustice.. Some, like Seumas Milne (who has stronger claims to be on the left), think that the struggle for progressive principles runs so far ‘within’ Islamism that he could back the right-wing Ennahda party in Tunisia for its apparent calls for ‘social justice’ against left-wing secularist parties.
The Guardian also opened its pages to writers who loathed Charlie Hebdo, and French secularism, at the time of the Islamist attack on the Weekly, and the murder of Jewish customers at Hyper- Casher.
Seumas Milne denounced Charlie for “repeated pornographic humiliation.” of the Prophet. Fraser felt the pain of “a beleaguered, economically fragile Muslim community”.
While condemning the killings with a sentence or two, they immediately went out of their way to understand the ‘anger’ of people at seeing rude cartoons about their religion.
These people, and they include would apparently set up a list of rules and regulation to govern what is satire and what is not. It should, we heard endlessly, only attack the ‘powerful’. That, according to Will Self, we should drop the “sexual fetish” of defending the right of people to express themselves freely.
It was no doubt no coincidence that Respect’s MP, George Galloway was particularly keen on a set of regulations to keep in check people’s tendency to make fun of others.
For those who came up with their hare-brained idea we can only guess that at their public schools they had read Juvenal’s line
…difficile est saturam non scribere. nam quis iniquaetam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se
It is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself.
Yup, injustice, that’s all satire should be about.
But one doubts if their ‘rules’ can fit Viz magazine’s idea of satire:
On the left there were others who stood with those who would regulate free speech to suit the demands of ‘Muslims’, and some (like a former supporter of your party Nawaz, the Liberal Democrat voting, Tariq Ali, as well as more obvious sources, like the Socialist Workers Party) who essentially claimed that Charlie “had it coming”.
But there were plenty of left-wing people, and organisations who stood with the martyrs of Charlie.
Groups like the Alliance for Workers Liberty, the paper, the Weekly Worker, and, more importantly countless Facebook friends, democratic socialists, social democrats, liberals and believers in human rights – hundreds of thousands of left-wing and liberal people in this country wept at the murders of our beloved comrades at Charlie and the Jewish victims of the anti-Semite killers and stood up against Islamist violence when it counted.
There is a natural fear among Europe’s left, that challenging Islamist extremism can only aid Europe’s far-right. But the alternative to this fear must not be to instead empower theocratic fascism. There is a way to both challenge those who want to impose islam, and those who wish to ban Islam. It has not escaped me, nor other liberal Muslims, that while challenging Islamist extremism we must remain attentive to protecting our civil liberties. We are born of this struggle, after all.
Some of us are born of this struggle as it echoed in the United Kingdom. and across the world:
Secularism, in the form of laïcité, was the product of the 19th, not the 18th century. As Georges Weill explained (Histoire de l’idée laïque en France au XXe siècle. 1929, new edition, 2004) it was during the 1840s that the idea that administration and government of the country should be free from any religious power, emerged. Edgar Quinet ( 1803 – 1875) was one of the first to advocate a “une séparation complète radicale” of religious institutions from the State (Page 147 – 149)
Quinet’s emphasis on the idea of secular education, “l’école laïque ” was to be at the centre of all the subsequent fights for laïcité. Jules Ferry, who created the basis for a republican education system liberated from the –Catholic Church –, was only able to begin to realise this ideal after the Second Empire, under clerical domination, had fallen. The Third Republic (founded 1875) was rocked by divisions on the issue. It was only in 1905 that France saw a real separation of Church and State (with numerous exceptions, notably concerning private Catholic education, which continued, with subsidies).
Weill indicates that far from being the result of a violent hostility to religion French secularism originates in four sources. The first came from ‘Galician’ Catholics who opposed the ultramontagne power of the Pope over their own affairs, and, as the century progressed from Catholics who became attached to republican ideals. The second was amongst liberal Protestants, who had obvious (and blood-stained) reasons to distrust the power of the official Church. A third were desists, who wanted religion, illuminated by science, to be free from the doctrinal control of Papal Curia.
Only in the fourth category, the “libres penseurs”, can we find those with some debt to Hébert. The early workers’ movement owed a debt to Christian belief, particularly to Lamenais’ Paroles d’un croyant (1834), which rooted Christianity in democracy and social causes (in many respects more advanced than British ‘Christian socialism’ and still worth reading). But as the century progressed anti-clericalism spread amongst the socialists as well as amongst those who would become the so-called ‘Radical Socialist’ party (the word ‘radical’ comes from the British ‘radicals’ like John Stuart Mill). Many of the popular classes simply abandoned religion.
For myself this is one part of the socialist heritage: the ‘synthesis’ between democratic Marxism and universal human rights for which one of our greatest martyrs, Jean Jaurès, was assassinated.
Note that many secularists are ‘believers’.
Secularism is freedom to believe….
At a time when our comrades are again being slaughtered in Bangladesh for the crime of criticising Islam and Islamists in the shape of the genocidal Daesh movement are attacking minorities, enslaving, and as you say…..
Will you join with this movement?
Back the Kurdish fighters, and the brace voices for secularism and freedom in every country – in many cases people deeply rooted in the Left?
The choice is for everybody.
Reports the Independent.
Islamism: Discipline and Punish.
To much of the world the British daily, the Guardian is the best known English-language paper of the liberal-left.
It is important to emphasise the word ‘liberal’ (the Guardian advocated voting for the Liberal Democrats at the last election).
But the hyphen attaching the word to the ‘left’ is indissoluble.
Guardian writers, above all in the Comment in Free Section, shows the limits of what this left believes in.
The section, (run between 2001 and 2007 by former Communist Party of Great Britain member Seumas Milne), are, in the majority, consensus believers in a number of liberal values.
Some of the principles these people stand for are admirable, such as freedom of speech, promotion of diversity, human rights, gender equality, social equality, and tolerance.
Their advocacy of liberty extends to letting a range of people expressing their opinions in the paper who have very different interpretations of these ideas.
But they are heavily modified when it comes to one political and cultural issue, the nature of Islamism.
A couple of days ago the daily published an article by George Monbiot, Why stop at Isis when we could bomb the whole Muslim world?
The author, who has previously compared European recruits to the genociders of ISIS to volunteers who defended the Spanish Republic, argues,
“Humanitarian arguments, if consistently applied, could be used to flatten the entire Middle East.”
Let’s bomb the Muslim world – all of it – to save the lives of its people. Surely this is the only consistent moral course? Why stop at Islamic State (Isis), when the Syrian government has murdered and tortured so many? This, after all, was last year’s moral imperative. What’s changed?
Nothing, according to Monbiot, the latest US-led bombing will all end in disaster, killing, and destruction by the “destroying angels of the west”. He ends his article with the observation that politicians “scatter bombs like fairy dust.”
Monbiot now deigns to mention that the group amongst the Syrian rebels, which he compared to the Spanish Republican democrats – Isis – has its faults, “the agenda and practices of Isis are disgusting. It murders and tortures, terrorises and threatens. As Obama says, it is a “network of death”(14).
But it’s one of many networks of death.
Worse still, a western crusade appears to be exactly what it wants.
So it’s just one of many. And attacking them would make them worse.
Monbiot then fails to mention any form of physical military reaction to Isis that he could support.
Sound the alarm, run to the hills, the world is about to be flattened!
We can’t do anything at all!
Today the Guardian publishes Seamus Milne.
He begins well,
Theresa May devoted over three quarters of her speech in Birmingham to Muslims and the threat of a catch-all “Islamist extremism”.
Drawing on the tricks of Tony Blair’s invasion-prone government and Thatcher’s failed campaign against the IRA, she promised yet more anti-terror laws: this time to ban nonviolent “extremists” from television and protests, and to proscribe groups with no links to terrorism.
The package amounts to a straightforward attack on freedom of speech and democracy – in the name of the “functioning of democracy”. It would alienate Muslims from mainstream politics still further and create a new, all-purpose collection of thought crimes, allowing the authorities to ban views or activities they deem likely to cause “alarm” or “distress”.
Milne is now a defender of free speech.
He would have done well at this point to oppose something he once backed, to make causing offence to religious faiths a crime. (1)
But he doesn’t.
And, in the wider news, perhaps I missed this bit,
The justifications were straight out of the Blair playbook too: from May’s insistence that we are at war with an “ideology” and that “they” hate our values rather than our violent interventions in the Muslim world – to the claim that Isis could develop weapons of mass destruction to attack us“within a few hours’ flying time of our country”.
Yes I did miss that one, because it’s from the far-right Daily Express’s spin on the May speech….
I suppose Islamic State’s tortures, rapes, genocide and the threat to hundreds of thousands of Kurds would have merited a mention from anybody with genuine left-wing feeling.
In a sense they do get mentioned,
Like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya before it, the bombing has been sold as a response to a humanitarian catastrophe and imminent threat but already shows every sign of spreading the terror it is supposed to stop. Mission creep is already upon us, as Cameron softens the public up to join the US campaign in Syria. As in the past, the war is projected to last years, has been launched against our own mutant creation, and is fanning reverse sectarian cleansing on the ground. Revenge terror attacks at home are once again seen as almost certain.
Ah, “sold as a response to a humanitarian catastrophe”.
What Milne’s views on this catastrophe are, part from the fact that they have been “sold”, remain in decent obscurity.
One thing sticks out: no mention of the need to back the Kurdish and other fighters on the ground battling Islamic State/Isis!
But the prize for feeble-minded analysis of Islamism must go to a piece by Antony Loewenstein.
Speaking of how people treat recruits to the genociders in Australia he laments a “sudden terror panic“. Loewenstein uses a Muslim interlocutor to express the dismay.:
“There’s a lack of context, lack of spirituality and understanding, combined with impatience. Many Isis fighters are newly converted, newly pious … these men have grown a beard in three months and they don’t give Islam time to be understood.”
He is tired of having to defend his religion against bigots who take these instant Islamists to be the authentic representation of Islam.
“Keyboard warriors often ask: “Where is the universal Muslim condemnation of terror acts?” We’re distancing ourselves, so why do you keep asking? People just aren’t listening.”
“It’s been the same narrative of apology for decades and we’re sick of it. It’s like the probation the media is trying to grant me. I want to stand back, it’s got nothing to do with me and it’s nothing to do with Islam. I don’t need to come out and prove my innocence.”
Indeed, it is remarkable that those who trumpet their religious belief, in Islam and the Qu’ran, should be called to express disapproval of those who trumpet their religious belief in Islam and the Qu’ran – Isis.
As he continues in the vein we weary.
But there is some truth in this, though “dis-empowered” – an expression now confined to ageing social workers – is not perhaps the right word.
The pressure on the Australian Muslim community is immense, a feeling of being outsiders, exacerbated by a message that they’re different and under suspicion. Many Muslim women in particular feel disempowered and not trusted by the wider, white majority. Islamophobia is now unofficial government policy and some media’s central world-view
Muslims have ample reason to be sceptical towards government and intelligence services; real journalists would investigate why. Sadly, most in the media are failing in their basic duty to question.
Islamophobia is an ageing and muddled term as well: it tries to conflate opposition to islamism with prejudice, and offers no way to distinguish them.
This will not help clear up what ‘Islam’ is.
“Islam isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Samir says. His religion, just like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and others, is complex, contradictory and open to various interpretations – but figuring that out can’t be done in an instant.
I will, as will most readers, give up at this point….
Why does this matter?
We could say that a paper that publishes Richard Seymour is a fun journal, a good laugh, and that nobody takes the ideology in these articles seriously.
But what is striking is that not a single Guardian commentator has come close to analysing Islamism in any depth whatsoever.
That is a extreme-right-wing ideology, with a very material institutional basis, support in the pious Muslim bourgeoisie, and wider roots in the class structures of many Middle Eastern countries.
Or the rich critique of Islamism, democratic, socialist and secular, offered by the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan groups such as the Worker Communist parties (Mansoor Hekmat) and other left individuals and organisations in the Moslem world.
We could, for those interested in ‘Gender and Queer’ studies, also look at Michael Foucault’s concept of ‘micro-powers’ – intimate oppressive apparatuses that create a religious prison, in para-states and actual states.
Foucault’s Discipline and Punish is perhaps a good starting point to the operation of the Sharia, along with Nietzsche The Genealogy of Morals. (2)
We could look at its (or rather), since Islamism is a plural formation, their patriarchal roots, and its creation of sexual apartheid.
We might even mention that every single form of Islamism is viciously oppressive towards gays.
That it is anti-democratic and ‘communitarian’ on the template of 1930s ‘organic’ far-right.
We might even consider that its religion is a load of utter cack.
But nobody in the Guardian’s comment articles says that.
(1) “But for showing solidarity and working with Muslim organisations – whether in the anti-war movement or in campaigns against Islamophobia – leftwing groups and politicians such as the London mayor, Ken Livingstone, are now routinely damned by liberal secularists (many of whom have been keen supporters of the war in Iraq) for “betraying the enlightenment” and making common cause with “Islamofascists”, homophobes and misogynists. The pitch of these denunciations has been heightened further by the government’s plan to introduce a new criminal offence of incitement to religious hatred. This measure would extend to the most vulnerable community in the country the very modest protection already offered by race hate legislation to black people, Jews, Sikhs and all religious communities in Northern Ireland. It is not a new blasphemy law; it would not lead to a ban on Monty Python’s Life of Brian film; or rule out jokes about Ayatollah Khomeini’s contact lenses; or cover ridicule or attacks on any religion (unlike the broader Australian legislation) – but would only outlaw incitement of hatred against people because of their faith.” Guardian. December 2004)
This bill was thrown up precisely because it was a new “blasphemy law”. Does Milne back its return?
(2) I am all too aware of Foucault’s morally cretinous welcome to Khomeini, What are the Iranians Dreaming About (1978). More relevant to Isis is the way their beheadings of hostages could be compared to the violent and chaotic public torture of Robert-François Damiens analysed in Discipline and Punish (1975).
Hats off to Ipswich Labour Party!
Ipswich: Labour wins two Tory seats after the town goes to the polls for borough council election
Labour won two seats from the Conservatives during the election for 17 councillors, one in each of the town’s 16 wards and a by-election in Alexandra.
Whitton and Rushmere were the two wards switching from blue to red.
And despite big UKIP votes in some wards, including Bridge, Castle Hill and Gainsborough, they were unable to secure a council seat.
Labour worked extremely hard in these elections.
The won on the basis of the good record as a Borough Council – ranging from their widely acknowledged competence, standing for the majority of the people in the town.
There have been no devastating cuts.
They have begun to build new Council Housing.
Their backing for the Living Wage, their anti-racism (march against the EDL), to policies, such as their opposition to Workfare, have solidified good links with the labour movement, unions, and to the broad progressive constituency.
Just to give an example of things have changed politically in the UK.
This is where Tendance Coatesy lives by the centre of town (we call it a town, but in most English speaking countries it would be called a City).
Alexandra (first two elected): John Cook (Labour) 935, Jane Riley (Labour ) 917, Jose Esteves (UKIP) 444, Mark Felix-Thomas (Conservatives) 400, James White (Green) 390, Alex Hopkins (Conservatives) 331, Robert Chambers (Liberal Demcrats) 215, Andrew Houseley (Liberal Democrats) 180. Maj: 18. Turnout: 33.58%. No change.
UKIP beat the Tories.
The Green beat one of the Tories and both of the Liberal Democrats.
This pattern was repeated with the exception of St Margaret’s where the Liberal Democrats (aka the St Margaret’s Residents’ Association) clung on.
There were no candidates standing from TUSC and other left parties, or from the Galloway communalists.
This is because most (not all) of the left in Ipswich works well with Ipswich Labour – which naturally represents a far larger constituency.
We might have our differences on this or that, but we consider in unity there is strength.
This gaff could be yours if you vote Ipswich Liberal Democrats.
Just got a leaflet from the Ipswich Liberal Democrats.
If I could cut and paste it I would but they are not up to putting it on-Line.
Time was and they had a councillor in our ward: a certain, well he’s better off spending more time with himself and his closest friend and love partner (as in right arm) .
So they are standing.
The leaflet spends most of its time going on about how their candidates support Ipswich Town FC.
Er, that’s about it.
If you want to read more you can see their site,
Working for Ipswich.
And read this.
Channel Four censored a Jesus and Mo cartoon last night.
“This is not about freedom of speech – this is about the behaviour of a parliamentary candidate”: Mohammed Shafiq from the Ramadhan Foundation says Lib Dem Maajid Nawaz has offended Muslims. Channel Four News.
What is the background to this censorship?
The Huffington Post says,
The row began when Quilliam Foundation’s Nawaz, whose think-tank was credited with Tommy Robinson’s departure from the EDL, tweeted a ‘Jesus and Mo’ cartoon, stating he was not offended by the content.
Nawaz has since said he has received “credible” death threats over the tweet.
The cartoon was the same as the one worn on t-shirts by the LSE Atheism society, who were told by the University to remove the t-shirts or cover them up when they hosted a stall at the university Freshers’ Fair.
Nawaz was challenged over the tweet by Shafiq, along with Muslim TV commentator Mo Ansar and Bradford Respect MP George Galloway.
Apprarently the two have kissed and made up (Liberal Voice),
Maajid Nawaz, the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn and Mohammed Shafiq, member of the Liberal Democrats, have released a joint statement:
“We wish to make a statement about the recent concern expressed over issues related to conflicting views on depictions of Prophet Muhammad.
“We recognise that, when it comes to this question, some Muslims of various persuasions may take different views. However, we also recognise that there are many Muslims who have taken offence, and we assert that images of the spiritual leaders of all religions should be deemed to be respectful. We also respect the freedom of every member of the Liberal Democrats on either side of this debate who feels offended by tone or language to make representations to the Liberal Democrats as is their democratic right.
“We are both Liberals and support the principle of freedom of speech. But we also understand the importance of respect for others’ views and of moderation of language. In so far as this second principle of moderate language has been breached in the heat and passion of the current debate, we regret this and call for all those who have differing views to ensure that any debate which continues on this subject should use language and attitudes which conform to Liberal standards of respect and moderation.
“We now call on those on both sides of this argument to return to moderate debate, free of insult and threat and we do so because we believe this is in the interests of our Party, of the wider Muslim community in Britain and of the principles of peace to which Islam is committed.”
Maajid Nawaz, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn.
Mohammed Shafiq, member of the Liberal Democrats.
Shafiq showed scant regard for freedom of speech on Channel Four.
He managed to say, in the allusive and imprecise way that is typical of Islamist bigots when they try to appeal to a liberal-minded audience, that nobody should be allowed to show images of the ‘prophet’ Mohamed.
On the basis of 21,000 people signing a petition calling for Mawaz to be removed a Liberal Demcorat candidate (a small number in the sum of things) he also mentioned that “Muslim leaders” were having a special meeting with Nick Clegg today.
This, we learnt during the programme, had been changed.
It would be a talk with Paddy Ashdown (no doubt on the basis of his experience in the aftermath of the Balkans civil war).
In fact they have not been reconciled at all.
If Nick Clegg were hoping that a joint statement by the Liberal Democrats at the centre of the Prophet Mohammed cartoon row would defuse the situation, then he is going to be disappointed.
IBTimes UK has learned that Mohammed Shafiq – who led the campaign for candidate Maajid Nawaz to be deselected over a tweet about the cartoon – is to take part in a meeting with members of the Lib Dem leadership about the controversy on Wednesday.
Critics of Nawaz are expected to insist again that he should not be allowed to stand for the party in Hampstead and Fulham at the 2015 general election. The row ignited when Nawaz tweeted a link to a cartoon of the Islamic prophet Mohammed earlier this month. Shafiq and others claimed the cartoon offended Islam.
The renewed call for Nawaz to be dropped came just hours after he and Shafiq issued a joint statement designed to foster unity. Death threats against Nawaz had sparked a police investigation.
More on IBT.
We are concerned that Channel Four’s censorship is not yet worthy of the demands of Mohammed Shafiq.
A special committee of Islamic scholars should no doubt be set up to supervise the Channel’s output, and indeed all the media, to ensure that no Muslim is ever offended.
This will have to go!
More Jesus and Mo (while you’re permitted to look at it): here.
Meanwhile Maajiid Nawaz has made a dignified defence of his actions in the Guardian, “• Why I’m speaking up for Islam against the loudmouths who have hijacked it“.
Galloway Says Those who Tweet this are Cuckolds.
No Muslim will ever vote for the Liberal Democrats anywhere ever unless they ditch the provocateur Majid Nawaz, cuckold of the EDL.
Now we have little sympathy (in fact none whatsoever) for Liberal Democrats and not a great deal for Mawaz’s foundation, Quilliam (which is involved, we are pretty sure, in the Jimas Ipswich charade with Jimas and the ‘ex’ EDL Tommy Robinson).
But this is the reason for Galloway’s comments,
Prominent members of the Muslim community have written to the Liberal Democrats and their leader Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to ask them to reverse their decision to back Maajid Nawaz’s attempt to become an MP at the next election.
The campaign comes after Nawaz posted a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and Prophet Isa (as) on his Twitter feed. Any depiction of the prophets is considered offensive to most Muslims and has traditionally been prohibited by the majority of scholars.
Nawaz, who’s the chairman of the anti-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, defended his decision to post the cartoon by saying that it was not offensive and that scholars were split over the depiction of the Prophet. He also accused others of inciting his murder by calling him “a defamer of the Prophet.” Here
“I have been discussing this matter since Friday night with a high profile Lib Dem who agrees people who attack religions with cartoons and other jokes are impolite and childish. Lets hope Nawaz can get this into his skull. Clegg must choose, lose hundreds of supporters by keeping Nawaz or sack Nawaz and rescue the Lib Dems which would fizzle out because of people like Nawaz.”
This is the background,
Two Muslim political commentators have clashed over a cartoon which was tweeted by one of them.
Maajid Nawaz of the Quilliam Foundation tweeted a cartoon with featured ‘Jesus and Mo’.
He added, “This is not offensive & I’m sure God is greater than to feel threatened by it.”
It led to a backlash by some readers, none more than Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation.
Shafiq said, “I intend to formally complain to the @libdems about @MaajidNawaz and his offensive tweet of a cartoon.”
Nawaz defended his tweet after being accused of being offensive, “My point is, that cartoon is not offensive. That’s my opinion. Don’t like it? Don’t read my tweets”.
Nawaz then accused Shafiq of inciting his murder. He said, “Using term “Defamer of Prophet” (Gustake Rasool) he knows gets people killed in #Pakistan,Mo Shafik incites my murder.”
To which Shafiq replied: “For the record I do not wish to see you murdered as you claim or wish you harm. But defend my right to challenge your tweets.”
Even political and social commentator, Mohammed Ansar added to the debate, “A parliamentary candidate has tweeted out something millions will find offensive. A very silly thing to do.” Here.
Maajid Nawaz (Urdu: ماجد نواز, born 1978), a British Pakistani, is Executive Director of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank. Himself a former member of the Islamist revolutionary group Hizb ut-Tahrir.
If this is the kind of thing “Muslim political commentators” row about then one can see why they have such universal respect.
You can see more sacrilegious Jesus and Mo cartoons here.
More information over at Shiraz.