“When Islamophobes Fall Out”

Islamophobia Watch have posted a superb analysis entitled “When Islamophobes Fall Out” about the recent spat between Douglas Murray and Paul Goodman.

Both Murray and Goodman are part of the cabal that constantly scaremongers about ‘Islamists’ in the UK and see it as their duty to ensure that the government does not engage with them. It seems the only acceptable Muslims to them are those who are willing to remain silent about the human cost of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the ongoing Israeli persecution and land-theft against the Palestinians.

The funny thing, of course, is that since the beginning of the Arab Spring earlier this year it is apparent to the whole world now that the dreaded ‘Islamists’ are not the extremist fringe as they have been portrayed by the Islamophobes, but a very substantial and mainstream part of the Muslim communities in which they reside.

Here is an extract from the Islamophobia Watch piece – but do read it in full:

In an article attacking the Muslim Brotherhood published as ConservativeHome in January this year, Goodman referred to Tariq Ramadan as “Brotherhood royalty”, whereas Ramadan has made it clear that he has no organisational links with that movement and and has developed his own interpretation of Islam outside its ideological framework. In the same article Goodman revealed the extent of his political understanding of Islamist politics in Egypt by informing his readers that “Brotherhood members sit in its parliament as independents”, when in fact the Brotherhood won a single seat in the 2010 Assembly elections which they refused to take up in protest at massive vote-rigging by the Mubarak regime.

Since Goodman wrote this the Mubarak regime has fallen and parliamentary elections are scheduled next month from which the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will almost certainly emerge as the strongest political force in Egypt, with a substantial role in government. Tomorrow elections will be held in Tunisia and the Ennahda party, which also derives from the Ikhwan tradition, looks set top the poll. The Libyan Islamic Movement and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood will undoubtedly play a prominent part in the transition to democracy in Libya. Everywhere across the Arab world, in fact, where dictatorships fall, Islamist political parties will almost invariably emerge as contenders for power, demonstrating that they posess a significant base of popular support.

If the British government attempts to address this process on the basis of Paul Goodman’s crude and ignorant analysis of Islamism, and treats these parties as though they are part of the same movement as Al-Qaeda, it will not only end up looking very stupid but also seriously damage its chances of exercising any future influence in the region.

Unsurprisingly, the government has been forced to reassess its one-sided attitude towards political Islam, at least with regard to developments in North Africa and the Middle East. Interviewed on the Andrew Marr Show last Sunday, foreign secretary William Hague was asked if he was worried that “Islamist extremist elements” might come to the fore in Libya following the fall of Gaddafi. Hague replied: “This term ‘Islamist’, it covers a vast range of views. And there are people who could be described as Islamists who are in favour of what one might describe as being a moderate Muslim country. There are others who are what we would call extremists.”

This distinction is certainly the beginning of wisdom. But the recognition that not all Islamists are dangerous extremists must surely be applied across the board. Otherwise the government will find itself in the ridiculous position of denouncing reformist Islamists in Britain as co-thinkers of Al-Qaeda and refusing to engage in dialogue with them, while at the same time attempting to establish friendly relations with reformist Islamists abroad on the basis that they are legitimate participants in the political process. If the government is to resolve this contradiction between foreign and domestic policy towards political Islam, it will have to reject the advice not only of Douglas Murray but of Paul Goodman too.

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4 Responses to “When Islamophobes Fall Out”

  1. stublore says:

    You might find this enlightening then:
    “A conversation with several friends on Facebook erupted into something quite extraordinary. An 18 year old Muslim student, from Western University and born in Mississauga had this to say about the distinction between Islam and Islamism:
    “case and point on why you dont understand Islam. No one makes this distinction [between Islam and Islamism] other then the Western world, for the sake of having a tidy little system to classify everything. Our religion and political ideology are one. Furthermore, I really wouldnt use the term islamist or Islamism. Many muslims, including myself, find the term deeply offensive.”

    In other words, IN CANADA, there is an entire generation of Muslims who openly subscribe to ‘Islamism’ as indistinguishable from Islam.”

  2. LibertyPhile says:

    The key conclusion of the Islamophobia Watch article is:

    “….. recognition that not all Islamists are dangerous extremists must surely be applied across the board ….. otherwise the government will find itself in the rediculous position of denouncing reformists Islamists in Britain ….. .”

    Reformist Islamism is not explained. What do you think it means, Mr Bunglawala?

    I ask this question because I would really like to know the answer.

  3. @ LibertyPhile:

    I don’t like the word ‘Islamist’ and try to avoid using it as it has basically become so broad in its usage as to be virtually meaningless.

    Anyway, I think IW may be using the phrase ‘reformist Islamists’ to mean those Muslim political activists and parties that are able to reconcile their Islamic beliefs with participating in a pluralist multiparty democracy.

  4. LibertyPhile says:

    An important idea that: Islamic beliefs need to be be reconciled with participation in pluralist multiparty democracy. I wouldn’t myself hold out much hope though, that it can.

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