Any regular visitor to this site will readily know that I’m not the BNP’s greatest supporter. In fact, I believe that I might even be on their ‘black-list‘ (if you pardon the pun…!!!). Either way, I do write about them often and you can find some of my posts using the ‘Tag Cloud’ feature in the sidebar to the right. However, I came across an article on the BNP website earlier today that I am in some agreement with…
Writing about the Government’s decision to fund a board of “Islamic thinkers” in an attempt to sideline “violent extremists” (read the BBC News story here…), I have to admit that I think that the BNP have a point. In their article, “Labour is as out of touch with Muslims as it is the public in general“, the party write:
THE Government’s complete lack of understanding of Islam is starkly exposed this morning by the Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, with the announcement that her department is to sponsor a theological board of leading Imams and Muslim women in an attempt to refute the ideology of violent extremists. Blears & Co hope that this committee will hold some sway with Muslims and that its pronouncements on areas such as wearing the hijab and the treatment of wives will help to counter radicalism. How naive can you get? The concept that a British Government sponsored board of hand-picked Western-friendly Muslims will be able to rule on the interpretation of the Koran and promote a moderate strain of Islam amongst Muslims living in Britain is laughable.
I’m not sure, but I think they’re making a fair point…???
The whole ‘Prevent’ strategy (including the Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) agenda) as well as the Government’s approach to Muslim communities of late is frankly laughable and entirely divisive, so to suggest that another group of Muslim ‘Usual Suspects’ thinkers will in any way be able to divert or sideline “violent extremists” – a group whose size, strength and potential is completely unknown and without any substantiation whatsoever – is farcical. Surely, these ‘Islamic thinkers’ were already in existence before 7/7, so if the ‘extremists’ (whoever they might be) didn’t listen then, why would they suddenly start listening now, especially given that they are being funded by the very people they seem to want to be ‘at war’ with or at least have issues with their foreign (and other) policy…???
As the BNP asks: “How naive can you get?”
And it’s not just the BNP that are raising their metaphorical eyebrows. The Muslim Council of Britain’s (MCB) Muhammad Abdul Bari states:
“British Muslims…do not need to be ‘re-programmed’ by a government-approved list of theologians”
Likewise, Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Taji Mustafa agrees:
The British government’s interference amongst the Muslim community and matters of Islam, is unprecedented in comparison with any other religion. The government would like nothing more than to have credible figures pronounce that opposition to their foreign policy is tantamount to heretical extremism. Their problem hitherto has been to find credible figures to do their work.
Again, I think that they have a point. Amazing that I agree – in principle at least – with both the BNP and Hizb ut-Tahrir.
So who are the ‘credible figures’ that constitute this group of ‘Islamic thinkers’?
Like the BBC story referred to previously, the Times Online are unable to provide any names. Although we do know that £100,000 of public money will help Cambridge University to create an independent board of twenty leading Muslims academic and theological experts. NOte the subjectivity of the word ‘independent’ here. Elsewhere, it is near impossible to find any names as to who might be one of the ‘Islamic thinkers’ (an overly pretentious distinction if ever there was one). The only names that have been linked – albeit in terms of their vocal support – are as follows:
Imam Irfan Chisti, Asian News
Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, Hindu Times & BBC News
Azzam Tamimi, BBC News
Given that £100,00 of public money is being invested in such a plan, it would seem only reasonable to know who the ‘Islamic thinkers’ are. But as with anecdotal evidence that is available about PVE, it would again appear that the Government is happy to fund and support whichever Muslim organisations and individuals are willing to say and do exactly what they want for the right amount of money. A strategy that does nobody any use whatsoever – except the ‘Usual Suspects’ themselves. Suffice to say, no names need shaming.
So does the BNP have a point…???
Well ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Having stuck my neck out and accepted that they have made a somewhat legitimate point, the rest of the article fails to build on the good argument that they initially put forward, quickly resorting to type:
The British Government, with its invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and unequivocal support for Israel in its suppression of the Palestinians, is a clear-cut enemy of Islam. The idea that a group of Muslims, lured no doubt by a lucrative financial arrangement paid by this very enemy of Islam, will hold any credibility within the mosques of Britain shows that Labour is just as out of touch with the Muslim Community as it is with the aspirations of the public in general…
…There is no such thing as a moderate Muslim. When Muslims want advice they go to their local mosque, they certainly won’t be waiting for a Government pronouncement from its Muslim Committee.
The fact that the Government has launched this desperate initiative indicates that Gordon Brown and his cabinet have information that there is a very real threat from Muslim extremists to the public. If this is the case, then it’s not another tame-Muslim committee that is needed but swift action to tackle the problem. We have got to stop this appeasement of Islam that is being spearheaded by our own Archbishop of Canterbury, senior judges and politicians with a vested interest. They are encouraging Muslims living here to believe that one day Britain may well become an Islamic state.
We must make it very clear that this will never be the case by confronting the spread of Islam head on with measures that start immediately to reduce its influence within Britain.
And so all the old BNP adages around Britain becoming an ‘Islamic state’ come to the fore and raise their ugly head once again, as does the suggestion that ALL Muslims are extremists for the very fact that they ARE Muslims and very little else.
Strangely – and thankfully – I’m reassured by their approach in the latter paragraphs as it gives me cause to continue to dislike the BNP. However, what is worrying is that if an ardent voice against the BNP like myself is seeing some ‘sense’ in their rhetoric, how easy are the Government – and let’s not forget some Muslims and their respective organisations also – making it for others to see that same ‘sense’ as well? Is the money that is lining their pockets in colluding with the Government really of benefit to the communities they allege to represent…???
It’s a worrying prospect and one that I fear will not reduce extremism but increase it. Increase it in terms of more extremist views and opinions against Muslims.