Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Guardian and Islamism - is anybody counting?

Last week The Guardian’s Comment is Free (CiF) weblog published a robust defence of ‘mainstream Islamists such as Daud Abdullah’ claiming that they were being ‘unjustly demonised and uniquely held out for political attack’. This also illustrated the power of anti-Islamist groups.

Daud Abdullah, the deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), recently attended a conference of Islamic religious scholars, clerics and Hamas officials in Istanbul and signed the conference declaration (see BBC report: Clerics urge new jihad over Gaza).

Following exchanges between the MCB and the Government, The Guardian published a statement by Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, which said:

“ ...we have been asking the MCB to find out whether their deputy secretary general, Dr Abdullah, attended the conference and signed the statement. The MCB has now confirmed he did attend and did sign the declaration. A declaration that supports violence against foreign forces – which could include British naval personnel – as the prime minister has offered British naval support to stop the smuggling of weapons to Gaza; and advocating attacks on Jewish communities all around the world."

Dr Abdullah is now suing the Secretary of State for libel.

Now the interesting thing about The Guardian’s blog piece on this man and Islamists in general is not the defence itself but the comments it elicits.

The defence holds no surprises. We are told, for example:

“ … Islamists are able to work in partnership with mainstream politicians like Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn to present their concerns about UK foreign policy to a wider public.

“British Islamists … reveal … a devotion to social justice and a concern for community needs over individual or corporate ambitions.

“British Islamists are typified by a sense of moral obligation to confront injustice, and they strive, in their own ways, to try to make the world a better place.

“… a sense of an Islamic imperative that is strikingly similar to Tony Benn's interpretation of Jesus' call to active citizenship on behalf of the politically oppressed.”

It makes the point: “This interpretation isn't necessarily universal or representative – both Islam and Christianity have powerful advocates who oppose this view and believe in religion without politics.”

It also says: “Mainstream British Islamists are simultaneously under attack by extremist Muslim groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir and Islam For The UK." These fringes claim that British Islamists have sold out by working within British democracy. They also attack British Islamists for working harmoniously with a wide range of secular activists including gay people and feminists, most notably in campaigns such as the Stop The War coalition. Which is why it's a gross misrepresentation to conflate mainstream British Islamists with Hizb ut-Tahrir, and entirely disingenuous to suggest they serve as a conveyor belt for terrorist movements like al-Qaida.

But it is interesting to read what The Guardian’s bloggers think.

The topic certainly engaged them: it attracted over 290 comments, which is high for a Guardian blog piece and demonstrates the priorities of the paper’s readers.

The blog shows alongside each comment the number of readers who have shown their support for that comment by clicking a ‘recommend’ button (the system prevents readers voting more than once for any one comment).

The table below summarises the first 90 comments indicating whether or not the comment was for or against the defence:

Overwhelmingly, Guardian blog readers are against (95% to be precise). They do not sympathise at all with this defence of ‘mainstream’ Islamists and Daud Abdullah, the deputy secretary general of the MCB.

The comments also show that even those who believe Israel is the greater transgressor regarding Palestine do not sympathise with Islamists because of all the things Islamism represents and purports to stand for.

The full blog and comments can be read at: ‘The demonisation of British Islamism’. Here are extracts (as written) from a small but typical sample of comments:

Prodigy 01 Apr 09, 11:41am

When you say "make the world a better place", don't you mean turn it into a global Caphilate?

Justabloke 01 Apr 09, 11:45am

Hamas is regarded by, amongst others, Canada, the US and the european union as a terrorist organisation. It still has in place its 1988 charter calling for the replacement of the state of Israel with an islamist palestinian state.

If you continue to argue that British foreign policy should be developed from an isalmic perspective, you will continue to be isolated and foolish, no matter how often you use the word mainstream.

Shachtman 01 Apr 09, 11:51am

You say "mainstream". You're joking aren't you ? The Muslim Association of Britain is the UK wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and the British Muslim Initiative isn't much better. I doubt many British Muslims support either group.

thaumaturge 01 Apr 09, 11:54am

Fine words - as long as 'social justice' and 'community needs' … aren't a smokescreen for such inanities as a woman's testimony being worth half a man's.

CetCenseo 01 Apr 09, 11:58am

The further out on the political spectrum extremists get, the more "moderate" others who hold objectionable opinions seem. What we need is not a strategy for engaging with the Islamic centre whatever the Islamic centre says or however far to the right it moves by non-Islamic standards or wherever it drifts over time. We need a firm, principled politics that drags the whole Islamic spectrum back to the left.

MiskatonicUniversity 01 Apr 09, 12:07pm

Have you even read any of this stuff? "Muslim lands"? Giving a free pass to this theocratic madness (roundly rejected by Muslims themselves) is an act of cowardice.

There is plenty to object to in the Islamists view of the world: second-class treatment of women, discrimination against non-Muslims, a discriminatory legal code with barbaric punishments - why on earth would you give them any support?

bulbosaur 01 Apr 09, 12:13pm

This crock of cant leads straight into the West Mids Plods taking a stand against Dispatches, and all that sort of islamo-Stasi stuff that is leading to a powerful reaction from what the authors slander as 'Islamophobes' - that is, the bulk of the population, who frankly do not relish this Sharia power-grab and can see the supremacist, sectarian ideology of most 'Islamists' for what it is - totalitarian, reactionary rot.

aboveusonlysky 01 Apr 09, 12:19pm

What a terrifyingly naive article - they seem to think that Islamists are activists who just happen to be Muslims. The clue is in the word 'Islamist' - they want a society with more Islam.

sarka 01 Apr 09, 12:27pm

… only a minority of "Islamophobes" believe that the gentlemen of the MCB etc. are all secret terrorists. They merely believe that Islamic activism is not progressive and does not tend to making the world a better place (in fact it tends to making the world a more divided, intolerant place), and above all deserves no special favours or respect.

locsen 01 Apr 09, 12:38pm

The fact that Daud Abdullah is considered mainstream compared to other Islamists is just sad.

JackofDiamonds 01 Apr 09, 1:08pm

What is this 'Islamic imperative'? Does it mean eg. shariah law must become part of the legal system or what? Are we meant to nod wisely at the 'striking similarity' to whatever Benn believes Jesus may or may not have meant? Who is politically oppressed? The MCB - they are oppressed? Mr Abdullah is being oppressed? OK - no more government money for the MCB - that is oppression? Get over yourselves.

leftinthedust 01 Apr 09, 1:09pm

"Daud Abdullah is a mainstream British Islamist". Surely that is the problem. The fact that he is not as bad as al-Qaeda does not make him any more endearing. Islamists by their very nature are incompatible with British society. Islamism does not promote the right of freedom of worship, it promotes belief in how society should be structured.

And Abdullah has shown that the cause of Islam (as he sees it) overrides the policies of the elected government of Britain. While one may disagree with those government policies, calling for the use of armed force to oppose those policies is nothing less than treason.

leftleast 01 Apr 09, 1:17pm

Yes, by all means criticise Israel (which the guardian does daily) but in the same way expose the murder, female suppression/oppression and homophobia alongside the many deaths perpetrated against innocents in the name of Islam.

Heresiarch 01 Apr 09, 1:39pm

As an April fool parodying the Guardian's craven attitude towards radical Islam this is actually rather good.

It is a joke, right?

Kotu 01 Apr 09, 1:49pm

Why is there an obsession with Israel and Palestine ? What about the hundreds of thousands killed and enslaved across africa every year in the name of allah ? Why is one palestinian life worth so much more then hundreds of african lives ? Is it because the aggressors are muslim ? I can see no other reason except perhaps hatred for the jews ? This is something I've never understood....

== End ==


Blogger Gnostic said...

I guess us Brits aren't so eager to roll over and let Allah tickle our bellies as the Grauniadistas thought.

Things must be bad if dim but grim Hazel "Chipmunk" Blears has seen the writing on the wall. I might even find myself warming to the woman...


7 April 2009 at 10:34  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

I would never read the Guardian. It simply does not exist in my world. Well, I will correct that, I know its out there, like the Satanic Bible, but that's as far as it goes.

7 April 2009 at 10:35  
Blogger The Heresiarch said...

What a clever idea, Master Cranmer, to tabulate the responses in this manner. Of course, you had to do without the really hostile comments, which in time-honoured CIF fashion were rapidly deleted.

It has been the case for some time, I've noticed, that articles in defence of Islamists attract much more hostile comment than the Graun's general pro-Islamist position might lead one to expect. While readers are readers and CIF commenters are a fairly small and self-selecting group of opinionated egotists, on other subjects there tends to be a much more balanced debate. This suggests to me that the paper is indeed becoming seriously out of step with its natural constituency on this issue. In fact, the only other articles that unite CIFers in such derision tend to by Polly Toynbee's cheerleading for Gordon Brown.

7 April 2009 at 11:02  
Anonymous Cyclefree said...

Not for nothing, your Grace, is the Guardian now known as the "Madrassa Guardian". When Islamo-fascism is finally defeated - God willing - the Guardian will have a dishonourable place amongst those who appeased this latest incarnation of vile totalitarianism.

7 April 2009 at 11:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace,

In the age of moral relativity (facilitated by British Left-liberalism) where men can seem ‘to get no satisfaction’ as Mick Jagger once sang – Islam is self-propelled towards domination.

There is this pussyfooting around by hand-wringing liberals over the centre of gravity, in Islam, constantly drifting towards extremism as its extremists become even more so.

There are natural reasons for this drift towards extremism. The West has lost confidence in its Judaeo-Christian values which have been replaced by the values of moral relativism (underpinned by the Human Rights Act 1998) and ‘situational ethics’.

Secondly, young Muslims, just like young men in any other community, do thirst and hunger for that which is of eternal value rather that which is temporary, fleeting and unsatisfying.

Young Muslim men have turned to the Koran. In the early part of the Koran we note the young prophet being reasonable and moderate.

In the latter part of the Koran we note the prophet’s language becoming more violent and extreme.

A question arises in Islamic jurisprudence: how do we resolve apparent contradictions within the Koran.

One answer is: the earlier text is inferior to the more recent and latter text.

Violence, extreme.

7 April 2009 at 11:21  
Anonymous Josh said...

A POWERFUL Google Video:

Children in England Turn to Islam

I don't know how long it will last so be quick.

7 April 2009 at 11:29  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Heresiarch,

The idea was not His Grace's, and neither was the labour. These things just come to him, whither and wherefore he knows not.

7 April 2009 at 12:23  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

Do I hear tumbrils rattling over the cobblestones? Somebody at the Grauniad is surely on death row for letting through all those comments and recommendations by rightwing reactionary racist militaristic neocon-theocon zionist-crusader polytheists and kafirs.

7 April 2009 at 12:46  
Anonymous Ben said...

Is it really just the Guardian?

Seems to me that most media - here and abroad - is increasingly out of step with the general public.

If you read the media, you'd think that a majority of people are in support of Islamic 'rights', gay mariage and gay adoption, to name but a few.

Though it is apparently politically uncorrect to admit to being against any of these things, my own feeling is that people are much more reticent than the media would have us believe.

7 April 2009 at 12:54  
Blogger Roger Thornhill said...

D. Singh: "One answer is: the earlier text is inferior to the more recent and latter text.

IIRC the Koran is ordered in, well, what order? It is certainly not in revelation order, that is for sure, so the whole idea of "abrogation" is irrational when presented via a document that is temporally jumbled!

7 April 2009 at 13:10  
Anonymous Ben said...

Oh, here are some more subjects of 'disconnect', where the press seems to just toe the goverment line:

ID cards.
Biometric passports.
Snooping laws.
ISP communications logging (came into force yesterday).

7 April 2009 at 13:49  
Anonymous Charles said...

@Roger Thornhill (13:10) - The chapters of the Koran are arranged in order of length, from the longest through to the shortest. However, scholars have worked out the order the chapters ought to be in for the best, continuous narrative, and so it is clear which are the earlier, and which the later, verses.

@D. Singh (11:21) - According to a Google video, 'Islam: What the West Needs to Know', there is a verse in the Koran which states that where there is a conflict between an earlier and a later teaching, the later teaching eclipses the earlier. Hence, the early teaching that Muslims should live in peace with Jews and Christians (written while Mohammed was living peacefully with Jews and Christians in Mecca) is eclipsed by the later teaching that Muslims should kill those who refuse to convert to Islam (written when Mohammed had fled to Medina after being driven out of Mecca).

7 April 2009 at 14:10  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

@ Roger Thornhill

"None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things?" (Qur'an 2:106).

Qur'an 16:101: "When We substitute one revelation for another, — and Allah knows best what He reveals (in stages), — they say, ‘Thou art but a forger’: but most of them understand not."

7 April 2009 at 14:32  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

How can this guy Daud Abdullah sue the secretary of state for libel if she has published something that is factually accurate? Does he say that he didnt attend the conference or sign the declaration? If he didnt then if anyone is to be sued it is the MCB.

Is he going to get legal aid to sue the SofS?

I recall that George Galloway sued the Telegraph after they published documents which their reporter found in the ruins of the Iraq foreign ministry in Baghdad. the document purported to show that Galloway had been in cahoots with Saddam. Gallowy won too - cant understand why.

7 April 2009 at 16:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corporate Ambitions eh?
Now theres an extremist group if ever I heard of one.

So Gorbals Brown Shirt has offered British naval support to defend Jewish community interests all around the World has he, very interesting!

The labour puppets are finally revealing who's been pulling their strings.

7 April 2009 at 16:20  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Allah & Yahweh are NOT the same person using different names. If someone wishes to worship Allah, then that is their perogative. I believe that the Judaeo/Christian belief is the truth, the whole truth, & nothing but the truth. It is unique & the complete answer to mankinds fallen condition, and their is no other solution.

7 April 2009 at 16:21  
Blogger Richmond Hill said...

The various comments here about the negative aspects of Islam etc. and interpretation of the Koran are all very interesting but aren’t they missing the point.

Is it not remarkable that the readers of the Guardian CiF blog are so overwhelmingly unsympathetic to islamism, and the excuses made for it?

The dislike of islamisn is across the board in this country, in depth, and based on reason, and it seems the government is belatedly waking up to this.

I can also vouch for the fact that Islam friendly blogs on CiF especially those by MCB officials often get unsympathetic majorities. The MCB façade fools very few.

Let us hope someone from Mrs Blears department can count.

7 April 2009 at 17:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have two very interesting articles for His Grace and communicants. They are more to do with opposing views on the decline of Christianity in America, than any sympathies towards Islam.

If they are too far off topic maybe His Grace can use them for His own interests. Two very interesting reads that I am sure will be edifying for His communicants.

The End of Christian America
The percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 points in the past two decades. How that statistic explains who we are now—and what, as a nation, we are about to become.

By Jon Meacham | NEWSWEEK

God Still Isn't Dead
The decline of religion in America has been predicted again and again.

By John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge:
The Wall Street Journal

7 April 2009 at 18:05  
Anonymous len said...

The god of Islam is definitely NOT the God of the bible.Allah is presented in the Koran as an autocratic ruler who is aloof an arbitrary (Sura 5:40)Allah is unknowable whereas the God of the bible is knowable(2 Timothy1:2)
Allah is impersonal, unlike the personal God the scriptures reveal(1 Peter:6-7) Allah is unitarian( Sura 4:48) whearas the God of the bible is trinitarian( 2 Corinthians13:14)

Why are the Jews hated?
Why is this little strip of land (Israel) the most contested strip of land in the world?
Because Jahweh (God) is working out his purposes through both of them, and the prince of the power of the air is doing all he can to frustrate Gods plans.(Ephesians2:2)

7 April 2009 at 18:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More on the Lambert piece and its follow up HERE

7 April 2009 at 21:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apologies your Grace- more on the Lambert piece and its follow up at


7 April 2009 at 21:40  
Anonymous Sir Henry Morgan said...

Roger Thornhill

Chronological order of the Koran:



And this is a lot of reading, but rewarding (use sidebar):


8 April 2009 at 12:00  
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Items posted under "other views" are usually different from these of the Muslim Brotherhood.
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9 April 2009 at 04:29  

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