Sunday, February 10, 2008


Donal Blaney: I'm still calling it Islamofascism

(Donal Blaney:) I'm still calling it Islamofascism

Last night I debated Mohammed Shafiq from the Ramadan Foundation on BBC Radio Five Live. The topic was Jacqui Smith's rebranding of Islamic Terrorism as "anti-Islamic activity". I naturally decried this politically correct example of Orwellian Newspeak.

Mr Shafiq - who chose to defend the hateful Hizb-ut-Tahrir and the extremist cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradawi during our debate - also failed to condemn Hamas or Hezbollah. When I asked him if they were terrorists because they killed innocent people (which, in his attempt to sound moderate, he argued was what terrorists did) he responded by whining about Israel being a state sponsor of terrorism. It's this kind of evasive moral equivalence that makes it so hard to take protestations of moderation from self-proclaimed Islamic spokesmen seriously.

The debate unfortunately moved away from the specific topic of "anti-Islamic activity" into a wider debate about integration. I argued that Trevor Phillips and Bishop Nazir-Ali were right to decry multiculturalism, cultural apartheid and ghettoisation. Mr Shafiq felt that ALL muslims were victimised and viewing in a hostile manner by wider British society and the use of phrases such as Islamic Terrorism or even Islamism contributed to that.

I cannot help but feel that Mohammed Shafiq, who seems to have encounted some considerable difficulties with his own LibDem leadership this past month, is a far from persuasive or moderate voice for his cause. Most of us are intelligent enough to realise that Islamic Terrorism is not the same thing as the peaceful practice of Islam. Most muslims are not terrorists and most thoroughly oppose terrorism.

If groups like the Ramadan Foundation spent less time wallowing in victim status and whipping up young muslim men into a fervour of bitterness, victimhood and revenge and instead concentrated on finding ways to promote integration rather than cultural apartheid, we would all be better off - muslims and non-muslims alike.

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Having lived in the Arab world, as have many of my friends, this is often a topic of discussion among us. The consensus is that there is just a deeply-embedded victim mentality in the region. Everything is always everyone else's fault. It is very rare to see anyone step up and take responsibility for anything.

On a more compassionate note, though, we've wondered if this mentality prevails because, living under mostly oppressive regimes, very few people in the region feel they have any kind of power. Maybe, even long after they've emigrated to freer countries, it is difficult to shake off the mindset.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"
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