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Archive for the month “May, 2011”

Fundamentally Wrong

Fundamentalist, militant, radical, extremist. All words commonly applied to Islam and Muslims to describe the element involved in carrying out, encouraging or condoning terrorist or criminal activities. I have issues with some of these descriptions. We often hear the likes of Stephen Lennon claiming that the EDL are at war with fundamental Islam, or terrorists described as Muslim fundamentalists. To me, this just misses the point by such a huge margin and displays such ignorance that it can’t be ignored.

fun•da•men•tal [fuhn-duh-men-tl]


1. serving as, or being an essential part of, a foundation or basis; basic; underlying: fundamental principles; the fundamental structure.

2. of, pertaining to, or affecting the foundation or basis: a fundamental revision.

3. being an original or primary source: a fundamental idea.


5. a basic principle, rule, law, or the like, that serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part: to master the fundamentals of a trade.

Synonyms – essential, original, primary.

Using the word fundamental to describe the violent jihadist outlook of terrorists, is quite blatantly insinuating that Islam in its original 7th century incarnation was violent, hostile and barbaric. Anyone who has studied Islam or the history of the Arab world will know how this perception is completely at odds with the truth.

The word Islam is a verbal noun which originates from the trilateral root ‘S-L-M’ (Shin-Lamedh-Mem) which translates as ‘whole-safe-intact’, and is derived from the verb ‘aslama’ which means ‘to give up’, ‘to desert’ or ‘to surrender’. Its religious meaning in the simplest term is ‘submission’ or ‘surrender’, or more poetically ‘entrusting one’s wholeness to another’ namely God. Another word derived from the same root is ‘Salaam’ which means ‘Peace’. ‘Muslim’ is the participle of the same verb of which Islam is the infinitive, and means ‘one who submits’.

It is also important to note that Muhammad was encouraging submission to Allah which is a contraction of the Arabic definite article al- “the” and ‘ilāh “deity, god” to al-lāh meaning “the [sole] deity, God”. So rather than claiming to bring revelations from a new deity named Allah, Muhammad was simply using the Arabic for the God already worshipped by Christians and Jews. For one to devote one’s life to the worship and adherence to the commandments of Allah (become a Muslim), one would need to accept that the Qur’an is the final word of God as revealed to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. Naturally, as a prophet of God, Muhammad lived his life according to the message of God and encouraged others to follow his example. It’s logical to assume therefore that the message of the Qur’an, the life of Muhammad and the earliest examples of life under Islam are an accurate indication of the fundamentals of the faith.

Historians, scholars and biographers are quite unanimous in the opinion that the advent of Islam was a blessing for Arabia, and the deeds and words of Muhammad revolutionised Arabian society.

Muhammad approved and exhorted certain aspects of the Arab pre-Islamic tradition, such as the care for one’s near kin, for widows, orphans, and others in need and for the establishment of justice.

William Montgomery Watt states that Muhammad was both a social and moral reformer. He asserts that Muhammad created a “new system of social security and a new family structure, both of which were a vast improvement on what went before. By taking what was best in the morality of the nomad and adapting it for settled communities, he established a religious and social framework for the life of many races of men.”

Bernard Lewis writes about the significance of Muhammad’s achievements:

“He had achieved a great deal. To the pagan peoples of western Arabia he had brought a new religion which, with its monotheism and its ethical doctrines, stood on an incomparably higher level than the paganism it replaced. He had provided that religion with a revelation which was to become in the centuries to follow the guide to thought and count of countless millions of Believers.

According to Lewis, Islam “from the first denounced aristocratic privilege, rejected hierarchy, and adopted a formula of the career open to the talents.”


According to Jonathan Brockopp, professor of History and Religious Studies, the idea of using alms for the manumission of slaves appears to be unique to the Qur’an. Brockopp adds that: “Other cultures limit a master’s right to harm a slave but few exhort masters to treat their slaves kindly, and the placement of slaves in the same category as other weak members of society who deserve protection is unknown outside the Qur’an. The unique contribution of the Qur’an, then, is to be found in its emphasis on the place of slaves in society and society’s responsibility toward the slave, perhaps the most progressive legislation on slavery in its time.”

The Islamic prophet Muhammad encouraged manumission of slaves, even if one had to purchase them first. On many occasions, Muhammad’s companions, at his direction, freed slaves in abundance. Muhammad personally freed 63 slaves, and his wife Aisha freed 67. In total his household and friends freed 39,237 slaves.


The Oxford Dictionary of Islam states that the general improvement of the status of Arab women included prohibition of female infanticide, and recognizing women’s full personhood.

William Montgomery Watt: “At the time Islam began, the conditions of women were terrible – they had no right to own property, were supposed to be the property of the man, and if the man died everything went to his sons.” Muhammad, however, by “instituting rights of property ownership, inheritance, education and divorce, gave women certain basic safeguards.”

Majid Khadduri writes that under the Arabian pre-Islamic law of status, women had virtually no rights. Sharia (Islamic law), however, provided women with a number of rights.

John Esposito states that the reforms affected marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Women were not accorded with such legal status in other cultures, including the West, until centuries later.

Nancy Gallagher, Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures, Infanticide and Abandonment of Female Children: According to some scholars, Muhammad’s condemnation of infanticide was the key aspect of his attempts to raise the status of women.

Maya Shatzmiller (1994), Labour in the Medieval Islamic World: The labor force in the Caliphate were employed from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, while both men and women were involved in diverse occupations and economic activities. Women were employed in a wide range of commercial activities and diverse occupations in the primary sector (as farmers, for example), secondary sector (as construction workers, dyers, spinners, etc.) and tertiary sector (as investors, doctors, nurses, presidents of guilds, brokers, peddlers, lenders, scholars, etc.). Muslim women also held a monopoly over certain branches of the textile industry, the largest and most specialized and market-oriented industry at the time, in occupations such as spinning, dyeing, and embroidery. In comparison, female property rights and wage labour were relatively uncommon in Europe until the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Jamal Badawi, The status of women in Islam: Women’s rights in the Qur’an are based around the marriage contract. A woman, according to Islamic tradition, does not have to give her pre-marriage possessions to her husband and receives a mahr (dowery) which she is allowed to keep.

Dr. Jamal A. Badawi: The position of women in Islam: In Islam, in some circumstances, a woman can initiate a divorce. According to Sharia Law, a woman can file a case in the courts for a divorce in a process called “Khal’a”, meaning “Break up”. However, under most Islamic schools of jurisprudence, both partners must unanimously agree to the divorce in order for it to be granted. To prevent irrational decisions and for the sake of the family’s stability, Islam enjoins that both parties observe a waiting period (of roughly three months) before the divorce is finalized.


The Qur’an rejected the pre-Islamic idea of children as their fathers’ property and abolished the pre-Islamic custom of adoption.


Sociologist Robert N. Bellah (Beyond Belief) argues that Islam in its 7th century origins was, for its time and place, “remarkably modern…in the high degree of commitment, involvement, and participation expected from the rank-and-file members of the community.”

The concepts of welfare and pension were introduced in early Islamic law as forms of Zakat (charity), one of the Five Pillars of Islam, under the Rashidun caliph Umar in the 7th century. This practice continued well into the Abbasid era, as seen under Al-Ma’mun’s rule in the 8th century, for example. The taxes (including Zakat and Jizya) collected in the treasury of an Islamic government were used to provide income for the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled.

Islam reduced the devastating effect of blood feuds, which was common among Arabs, by encouraging compensation in money rather than blood. In case the aggrieved party insisted on blood, unlike the pre-Islamic Arab tradition in which any male relative could be slain, only the culprit himself could be executed.

The Cambridge History of Islam states that the nomadic structure of pre-Islamic Arabia had the serious moral problem of the care of the poor and the unfortunate. “Not merely did the Qur’an urge men to show care and concern for the needy, but in its teaching about the Last day it asserted the existence of a sanction applicable to men as individuals in matters where their selfishness was no longer restrained by nomadic ideas of dishonour.”

Islam teaches support for the poor and the oppressed. In an effort to protect and help the poor and orphans, regular almsgiving — zakat — was made obligatory for Muslims. This regular alms-giving developed into a form of income tax to be used exclusively for welfare.

Sometime after 622 Muhammad drafted the Constitution of Medina. It constituted a formal agreement between Muhammad and all of the significant tribes and families of Yathrib (later known as Medina), including Muslims, Jews, Christians and pagans. The document was drawn up with the explicit concern of bringing to an end the bitter inter tribal fighting between the clans of the Aws and Khazraj within Medina. To this effect it instituted a number of rights and responsibilities for the Muslim, Jewish, Christian and pagan communities of Medina bringing them within the fold of one community.

The Constitution established: the security of the community, religious freedoms, the role of Medina as a haram or sacred place (barring all violence and weapons), the security of women, stable tribal relations within Medina, a tax system for supporting the community in time of conflict, parameters for exogenous political alliances, a system for granting protection of individuals, a judicial system for resolving disputes, and also regulated the paying of blood money.

Hisham Ramadan: Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary: The Medina Constitution also instituted peaceful methods of dispute resolution among diverse groups living as one people but without assimilating into one religion, language, or culture.

Welch in Encyclopedia of Islam states: “The constitution reveals his Muhammad’s great diplomatic skills, for it allows the ideal that he cherished of an ummah (community) based clearly on a religious outlook to sink temporarily into the background and is shaped essentially by practical considerations.”

The Basic Principles of Sharia

Respect for Divine RevelationClassical Islamic scholars interpret this to require freedom of religion, which means that each human has the right freely to seek truth.

Respect for the Human Person and LifeThis principle provides guidelines for what in modern parlance is called the doctrine of just war.

Respect for Family and Communityat every level all the way to the community of humankind as an important expression of the person.

Respect for the Environmentconcerns the relative priorities in protecting the environment versus protecting the other essential purposes of human life.

Respect for Economic JusticeThis requires respect for the rights of private property in the means of production, which is a universal human right of every human being

Respect for Political Justiceincluding the concept that economic democracy is a precondition for the political democracy of representative government.

Respect for Human DignityThis principle states that the most important requirement for individual human dignity is gender equity. In traditional Islamic thought, freedom and equality are not ultimate ends but essential means to pursue the higher purposes inherent in the divine design of the Creator for every person.

Respect for KnowledgeThe last universal or essential purpose at the root of Islamic jurisprudence is respect for knowledge. This can be sustained only by observance of the first seven principles and also is essential to each of them.

The second-order principles of this maqsad are freedom of thought, press, and assembly so that all persons can fulfil their purpose to seek knowledge wherever they can find it.

To summarise:

The word Islam has the same origin as the word for peace. Islam through Muhammad improved life for women, children and slaves. He reformed womens rights in marriage, divorce and inheritance, outlawed infanticide and encouraged and practiced the emancipation of slaves. He introduced the concept of welfare and social security through a tax system to benefit the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. He ended the blood feuds by introducing financial compensation in it’s place. He ended the constant battles in Medina by instigating a constitution that ensured the security of the community, religious freedoms, the barring of all violence and weapons, the security of women, stable tribal relations within Medina, a tax system for supporting the community in time of conflict, parameters for exogenous political alliances, a system for granting protection of individuals, and a judicial system for resolving disputes. His revelations and example were also the cornerstone of the basic principles of Sharia which stand up to scrutiny as a precursor to modern human rights guidelines.

These are examples of the effect that the fundamentals of Islam had on the Arab world. The basic, pure, uncorrupted principles at the core of Islam. The likes of the EDL attempt to evade accusations of discrimination by claiming they’re not against Islam, only the barbaric 7th century version practiced by extremists. They see cruel, inhumane and discriminatory acts being committed in developing or third world countries and assume their form of Islam is less evolved and therefore closer to the original version. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Poverty, lack of education and oppression means that a huge number of these people have never even owned or read the Qur’an. They are at the mercy of conservative clerics, corrupt authorities and Taliban style militias who use their own distorted versions of Islam and political views to subjugate and manipulate the public. The ideology espoused by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda has deviated so far from the principles and morality of Islam that it ceases to be Islamic. In fact it could be argued quite convincingly that their motives are entirely political, and religion is only used dishonestly to justify their actions.

I want to have a look at the other adjectives that are often used to describe Muslims.

Radical – deviating by extremes, extremist, fanatical, rebellious, revolutionary.

Militant – belligerent, hostile, barbaric, aggressive, offensive.

Extreme – beyond reason and convention, fanatical, irrational, rabid, unreasonable.

How can someone adhereing to the fundamentals also be rebellious and beyond convention? How can someone follow the original theology but also deviate by extremes? Islam forbids aggression and excess and encourages moderation, even in religion.

‘We have made you a nation justly balanced’ (2:143)

‘Do not overburden yourselves, lest you perish. People [before you] overburdened themselves and perished. Their remains are found in hermitages and monasteries’ (Musnad of Abu Ya’la).

Muhammad once said to his close Companion Abdullah ibn ‘Amr: ‘Have I heard tight that you fast everyday and stand in prayer all night?’ Abdullah replied, ‘Yes, 0 Messenger of God: The Prophet said, ‘Do not do that. Fast, as well as, eat and drink. Stand in prayer, as well as, sleep. This is because your body has a right upon you, your eyes have a right upon you, your wife has a right upon you, and your guest has a right upon you (Bukhari, Muslim).

Islam only permits fighting in self defence, and commands to cease if the opponent surrenders.

Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loves not transgressors.

But if they cease, God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression.

If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him. But fear (the punishment of) God, and know that God is with those who restrain themselves.


“If you kill one person unjustly it is as if you killed the whole humanity, and if you saved once person it is as if you saved the whole humanity.” (Quran Surah 5 Verse No 32)

Therefore a militant form of Islam which encourages hostility, aggression and barbarism is a departure from the fundamentals and un-Islamic. Just as Christians claim that someone acting in an un-Christian manner is by defenition no longer a Christian, the same must apply to Muslims. It may be a trivial point. It’s not going to stop extremists being extremists. But I thinks it’s crucial in changing the perception of Islam and understanding the situation. The belief that the problem with Islamic extremism is a dogmatic adherence to a barbaric 7th century religion is common even among non-Islamophobes. But it is clearly not true. The need for Islamophobes to make the link between Islam and crimes committed by its adherents means that we need to be clear on the these facts to be able to counter their claims. The best way I can think of putting it, even as an atheist, is by quoting Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) when he said that the problem isn’t too much Islam but too little.

EDL: Educating Dhimmi Liberals

Apparently the EDL are trying to educate us. As well as claiming to be a street army defending our nations values, culture, children and women and a human rights organisation, they are also providing an educational function. They want to teach us about the dangers of Islam. That’s right, this largely white, Anglo-Saxon, culturally Christian organisation wants to educate us about the evil message of the Qur’an. Forget that Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals have been studying and interpreting the holy book for over a thousand years and are still debating and disagreeing. Forget that varying schools of thought have been developed over the centuries not only into Sunni and Shi’a Islam but into Ahmadiyya and Kharijite, and further branched into Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanafi, Twelver, Ismaili, Zaidiyyah, Alawi & Alevi. There was the development of Sufism and its numerous branches. Then, of course there are the ultra conservative Salafi or Wahabis. The list goes on. Forget all of that, the football hooligans, binge drinkers, book burners and the ‘not racist’ BNP voters of the EDL are here to put the record straight about this most diverse and multi-dimensional faith.

Of course, not all EDL soldiers and human rights activists have the time to study the Qur’an they’ve stolen before they perform the tradition burning ceremony. What with having to fit neighbourhood watch duties, humanitarian work and actual teaching around their day jobs (no laughing). Luckily though, there is a vast array of altruistic scholars that have kindly done the reading for them, and have published their findings in books and online. Those kind folks in Israel that translate the Qur’an for Guramit Singh, for instance. Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz, Geert Wilders etc. These people have all produced literature, made films, formed political parties and created organisations to educate us and protect us from Muslims. The fact that they are all unashamed Zionists is neither here nor there.

I started to wonder though, am I being a bit too hasty in dismissing the EDL’s capacity to educate those of us who don’t yet hate Muslims and fear the inevitable Islamic takeover? Have I learnt anything from the EDL? Surprisingly, the answer was yes.

The EDL has taught me that the direction of one’s political leaning has a direct correlation with one’s body odour & washing frequency.

The EDL has taught me that Xenophobia is a country.

The EDL has taught me that Brazil is a Muslim country.

The EDL has brought the existence of halal pork to my attention.

The EDL has uncovered Iraqi, interracial and Muslamic law in London.

The EDL has taught me of the existence of Muslim Infidels.

The EDL has taught me that you can’t build Mosques in Mecca.

The EDL has taught me that the New Testament is an updated version of the Old Testament.

The EDL has taught me the true meaning of irony.

Wearing a balaclava while demanding a ban on the burka is NOT ironic.

An ‘ex’ BNP member running a business that turns pale people brown is NOT ironic.

The son of immigrants being the leader of xenophobic organisation is NOT ironic.

The EDL moralising about the reported age of Aisha despite one of their leaders being a convicted paedophile is NOT ironic.

I consider myself a better person for opening my mind to the wisdom of the English Defence League.

Response to lancastrian_EDL

This is a response to a response to an earlier blog post of mine.

Firstly I have to say I’m amazed that someone who’s clearly an intellectual cut above the usual </aEDL thug is attempting to make a case for said organisation being a human rights group. Either you are being monumentally naive or extremely dishonest. Secondly I’ll address the charge that I imply “we can ignore Islamic human rights violations” and I “would prefer them to be quietly swept under the carpet”. This is a typical right-wing response to what is simply pointing out the hypocrisy and double standards, of a group highlighting the wrongdoings of a certain section of society, whilst the same crimes are being committed within their own. I’m not the one demonising an entire community of people here, if it wasn’t for the EDL and their ilk being hellbent on creating a fear of a non-existent threat, there would be no need for people like me to redress the balance.

Next, and this is a good one, is the feeble attempt to absolve the EDL of any semblance of guilt by association or incitement. The claim that “the EDL doesn’t have any members, it only has supporters” will come as a huge surprise to the thousands of people who believe they are members of a movement, not just supporters of an abstract concept or political ideology. Unless you are part of the leadership you have no authority to make such a claim. And what of the leadership? Are the people who actually founded and lead the EDL members or merely supporters of an intangible set of ideals (sharia?)? What if we just use them as a measure of how credible the claims to be a human rights organisation are?

Courtesy of Exposing Racism and Intolerance online & Hope not Hate.

The leader and founder Steven Yaxley Lennon

In 2004 he joined the BNP with a family membership. In the same year he assaulted an off-duty police officer who intervened to stop a domestic incident between Yaxley-Lennon and his partner Jenna Vowles. During the scuffle Yaxley-Lennon kicked the officer in the head.

He was convicted on 18 April 2005 for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, for which he was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, and assault with intent to resist arrest, for which he received a concurrent term of three months.

Vowles, also a BNP member, was cautioned for possession of cocaine. She told the court that the she found two empty bags in her house and was taking them out so that her parents did not find them.

Kevin Carroll

Kevin Carroll is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the EDL. In July he lost his appeal against his conviction for shouting abuse at Islamic protesters at the Luton homecoming parade for the Royal Anglian Regiment. It was the events in Luton in March 2009 that prompted the EDL’s formation.

He insists he is not racist, yet he revealed in a BBC documentary, Young, British and Angry, that he had signed the nomination papers in the 2007 Luton council elections for Robert Sherratt, a BNP candidate and activist in the tiny nazi November 9th Society. Carroll apparently was very keen to stand as a BNP candidate himself but was prevented by his partner’s intervention.

Guramit Singh

You know what, ive got an inkling the profit muhammed was really a bit of a adultering, raping, hate preaching looting Cunt!! Anyone agree, or is it just me????

The muzzies wanna keep away from me im just looking for an excuse im fucked off at the mo fuck the pakis … i just think we shud burn the cunts now!!

[Comment aimed at a Muslim who insulted the EDL] hey amir how many times have u fucked your sister today, ure all a bunch of pedos, piss off back to pakistan!!

“God bless the Christians, Jews, Sikhs, even God bless the Muslims — they’ll need it when they’re burning in fucking hell.”

Jeff Marsh

Has served three jail terms for violence, including a two-year sentence in 1989 for stabbing two Manchester United fans.

Joel Titus – EDL Youth Division Leader

A prominent member of the English Defence League admitted his part in a mass brawl between Brentford and Leyton Orient fans in London. Joel Titus, was among rival supporters who clashed in a a pre-arranged meeting on the final day of last season, on May 8, at Liverpool Street station.”

Joel Titus gets ASBO preventing him from attending EDL protests for the next three years.

Richard Price

A leader of the English Defence League who was described as a “political prisoner” after being jailed for violence at a march had already been placed on the sex offenders register for downloading indecent images of children.

Price, 41, had been convicted in June 2010 of making four indecent images of children, and possessing cocaine and crack cocaine.

An earlier arrest in 2009 for public order offences believed to have been connected with EDL marches.

Roberta Moore

Roberta Moore, notorious Kahanist , Islamophobe and close ally of Zionist Federation Co Vice-Chair Jonathan Hoffman, announced that her three-member strong “Jewish Division” is now closely working with American far-right group, the Jewish Task Force (JTF), whose leader Victor Vancier served a five-year prison sentence for bomb attacks against Soviet targets in America in response for the USSR’s alleged mistreatment of Soviet Jews.

Show me another human rights organisation with a leadership structure with these types of characters. If these are the most senior and influential members of the EDL how does that fit into the ethos of a human right group?

Here’s another beauty.

“As the mission statement  makes clear, the changes required need to come largely from within  the Islamic community.”

Not once, on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, television or radio interviews, from ‘supporters’ and leaders alike have I ever seen or heard the suggestion that the solution must come from within the Muslim community. In fact I have yet to see any constructive advice at all. I have seen chants of “Burn a poppy, we’ll burn a mosque”, “We all hate Muslims”, “Who the fuck is Allah”, “Allah is a paedo”, “Muslim paedos off our street”, “We want our country back”, “You’re not English any more” etc. Divisive and offensive slogans sang by hundreds of ‘supporters’ at every demo without the intervention of other ‘supporters’ or stewards.

This one is a peach.

“Suggestions that as an entity, EDL should  present recommendations would only be construed as imposing things.”

The EDL don’t want to be seen as imposing things on the Muslim community? How very British. Let’s just take that in for a moment. The EDL, out of meekness or diplomacy don’t want to impose, but feel it’s their place to call for a ban on the burka? They don’t want to be construed as treading on anyone’s toes, but will protest halal food outside KFC for a whole week? Their leader is happy to call for the halt of mosque building and Muslim immigration, but doesn’t want to impose? Why organise demos in Luton, Bradford or Oldham where there are large Muslim communities, at huge expense to the taxpayer and against the wishes of the locals if you don’t want to impose? As I said your either being naive or dishonest.

“The mention of origins of majority of Muslims shows that once again racism is being used (wrongly again) as a charge to try and stifle any debate.”

*Sigh* This tired old right-wing cliché again. This one is wheeled out every time the truth becomes a little too uncomfortable. The irony is that it’s this statement that usually leads to the end of the debate, not the accusation of racism. It never seems to be followed by any convincing argument for why they couldn’t possibly be racist. Is it a just wild coincidence that a group formed and lead by BNP members, convicted hooligans and terrorist sympathisers attracts other violent racists as supporters.

“As for  the ‘type of people’ the EDL attracts, some people are less  articulate than others (that is more a reflection on the British school system over the past decades) on the subject of Islam but they  have a right to their opinion and it is still valid.”

This is a weak and disingenuous argument. Don’t try to pass off the failure of people to express their objections to a ‘barbaric, totalitarian, political doctrine’ as a lack of education. Have a browse of the 1,300 screen captures compiled here if you honestly think it is to do with anything other than racism. Before you use the Muslims aren’t a race card, read my thoughts on that first.

I’m not sure how you’re defining the ‘Muslim problem’, but here is my take. This is what I had to say about Cameron’s multiculturalism speech. Some thoughts on collective guilt here. You have already read my piece on sharia.

Another question for you to consider. If the EDL genuinely advocate human rights, how do they explain throwing their support behind Israeli and Zionist organisations? Israel has perpetrated more violations of international law than every other nation combined, and consistently ignore UN rulings. The EDL would be the only human rights organisation on the planet that not only don’t condemn Israeli expansion but actively support it.

“Also, some of the sources quoted by you are hardly what one might  describe as impartial. Most have fairly extreme agendas of their own  and that has certainly influenced the presentation.”

This one is going to be fun. The sources I have quoted are either concerned with news or opposing bigotry. Any agenda they have is either in reporting fact or exposing racial hatred. If you think that’s extreme, that says more about you than it does about them. If the details were libelous action would have been taken. As you say, the presentation may be influenced, but you don’t challenge the veracity of the contents. Speaking of impartial sources with extreme agendas, I notice that you provide a link to Jihadwatch in your twitter profile. You may not see the irony here so I’ll do my best to make it obvious. Let’s start with Robert Spencer himself, the anti-Muslim ideologue who runs the site. Here’s what some renowned scholars and experts have to say about him.

“Spencer’s readers are carefully steered away from all contact with the Islamic interpretative tradition, which equals or exceeds that of any other religion, because any scholarly knowledge about Islam would expose all his extremist interpretations to ridicule.”

– Robert Crane, (Ex-Nixon Aide, author)


“[Robert Spencer] has no academic training in Islamic studies whatsoever; his M.A. degree was in the field of early Christianity”

“The publications of Spencer belong to the class of Islamophobic extremism that is promoted and supported by right-wing organizations, who are perpetuating a type of bigotry similar to anti-Semitism and racial prejudice. They are to be viewed with great suspicion by anyone who wishes to find reliable and scholarly information on the subject of Islam.”

– Carl Ernst (Islamic Scholar UNC)


“[Robert Spencer] uses the Internet to spread misinformation and hatred of Islam and presents a ‘skewed, one-sided, and inflammatory story that only helps to sow the seed of civilizational conflict’.”

– Benazir Bhutto (Late Prime Minister of Pakistan)


“When it comes to Robert Spencer scholars of Islamic studies outright dismiss him and his body of work. They call him an unreliable ideologue at best and a divisive bigot at worst.”

– Michael Kruse (Writer St. Petersburg Times)


“After looking at your website, I was quite surprised to see how much hate, venom and misunderstanding you are fostering.”

– M. Cherif Bassiouni (Law Professor, Scholar, Humanitarian)


“Robert Spencer is an extremist, right-wing anti-Muslim rabble rouser.”

– Robert Dreyfuss (Nation Magazine Editor, Contributor to Rolling Stone and Mother Jones)


“Mr. Spencer espouses a view of Islam as a system of belief which is essentially violent, undemocratic, totalitarian, exclusive and at war with all non-Muslims. Mr. Spencer in fact goes as far as to equate Islam with fascism.”

– Group of ALA Librarians, scholars and academics


“There is no doubt The Little King [Robert Spencer] ‘plagiarized,’ and therefore is a ‘plagiarist’.”

– Andrew Bostom (Close friend, ally and blog collaborator)


“Robert Spencer is an anti-Muslim blogger…And yes, I do mean ‘anti-Muslim’ — Spencer long ago crossed the line from simply criticizing radical Islamists to relentlessly demonizing all Muslims. And the bigoted, hateful comments he allows at his website are beyond disgusting.”

– Charles Johnson (Former Ally, Friend and Blog Collaborator)


“Spencer’s historical argument is dubious. It emphasizes violent passages in the Koran, while downplaying the passages that urge peace and goodwill. It applies a moral standard to Islamic empires that certainly could not be met by the Roman empire or the empires established by the Portuguese, the Spanish, the French and the British. In the Spain of Ferdinand and Isabella, for example, Jews had three choices: convert to Christianity, leave the country, or be killed. No Muslim empire legislated or systematically enforced such a policy toward its religious minorities.”

“Spencer glibly jumps over entire centuries in linking, say, the savagery of the Ottomans in Constantinople with the savagery of Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

– Dinesh D’Souza (Conservative scholar, pundit and author)


“According to Mr. Spencer, Judeo-Christianity is fundamentally and qualitatively superior to Islam, so to suggest that there could be a degenerative least-common-denominator into which all three religions could converge under any conditions, reeks of cultural relativism, because it denies Judeo-Christianity’s irreducible superiority.”

“I find it curious that Robert Spencer closes both eyes to atrocities perpetrated by Serbs, because if it had only been Muslims on their receiving end, I would understand now (but of coursenot justify it) seeing where Spencer is coming from, but Serbs have also fought against Croats and Slovenes —their fellow Christians. Yet he takes the side of the most historically aggressive representatives of his own ‘Religion of Peace.’ Could it be that while ostensibly and quite irrationally denying any violence within Christianity, he in fact secretly and perhaps subconsciously admiresviolent Christianity?”

– Kejda Gjermani (Commentary Magazine author)


“Robert Spencer, a prolific anti-Islam writer and a leading Islamophobe who is bent on distorting Islam and demonizing Muslims, has persistently argued that violence and terrorism employed by Muslim extremists is rooted in the Quran and its message. Spencer calls the Quran, a book sacred to Muslim, ‘the jihadists’ Mein Kampf,’ in reference to Hitler’s memoir.”

– Louay M. Safi (Islamic Scholar)


“The widespread ignorance about Islam in the West makes many vulnerable to Spencer’s polemic; he is telling them what they are predisposed to hear. His book is a gift to extremists who can use it to ‘prove’ to those Muslims who have been alienated by events in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq that the west is incurably hostile to their faith.”

– Karen Armstrong (Author)


“Spencer thinks, ‘Islamist fundamentalist drive European politics’.”

“Spencer and Bat Ye’or “lack academic seriousness.”

– Ivan Jablonka (Scholar)


“Words like Islamophobia and phrases like anti-Muslim bigotryare bandied about too liberally…But the real thing does exist, and it frequently takes the cover of anti-jihadism. Jihad Watch…traffics fairly openly in such stuff.”

– Cathy Young (Writer with Reason Magazine)

Hasn’t started well has it? What about the content of the site.

Well there was that time when a series of bomb attacks hit India in 2007 & 2008. Without hesitation or a shred of evidence, Spencer claimed it was the work of a Bangladeshi jihadist group. Lo and behold, it then transpires that the attacks were carried out by a Hindu group, with no retraction or correction on Jihadwatch.

Then there was the case of the Muslim terrorist on a Maltese flight last year, who was praying in the aisle with a suspect package. Except it turns out he was a Christian. A West Indian, dreadlocked Christian with a funny accent, but a Christian all the same. This particular story was deleted from Jihadwatch.

What about the infamous Gaza mass child bride extravaganza? Who could forget that? A field day for Islamophobes and Zionists. A photograph emerged in which numerous grooms were accompanied by primary school age girls dressed as brides. You can imagine the headlines. Yet again, this myth was busted by someone who was actually present. The young girls were the cousins and nieces of the grooms. But hey, they’re Muslims, you wouldn’t put it past them would you?

There’s the fact that Spencer uses a bogus translator to manipulate Arabic texts to suit his agenda. In one instance he reported a Fatwa giving Muslims permission to have sex with pre-pubescent girls, when in fact the true translation showed that the Fatwa was intended to do the exact opposite. The full read is absolutely ‘you couldn’t make it up’, facepalm material.

There was the time Spencer was revealed to be the owner of ‘hate URLs’ and only to delete them when exposed. Impartial source?

Don’t forget the time he accidentally joined a genocidal Facebook group. That could have looked really bad.

There are volumes upon volumes of work, comprehensively debunking Spencer’s dishonesty. Here is a start.

Robert Spencer and the disappearing articles

Robert Spencer’s “Scholarly” Credentials

On Spencer’s Credentials and Methodology

Understanding Jihad – Answers to Spencer’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)

“Fascist-Islamophobia”: A Case Study in Totalitarian Demonization – Five part series debunking Spencer’s written work.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Robert Spencer – A huge resource of responses and rebuttals of Spencer’s statements.

It seems to me that you are either oblivious to the reality of what the EDL is or just trying to pull the wool over my eyes. It won’t work. If you truly believe that the EDL mission statement is sincere, and a representation of what they stand for maybe I have overestimated your intelligence. I wonder if you can even see the irony of an EDL member using a piece of text as the true representation of what they believe in when an extreme element of their membership is found to be violent and bigoted, and the whole organisation comes under fire? Does it sound familiar?

Some areas of Islam may indeed be in need of reform, and the will to do so must come from within the community. But if the EDL mission statement is the true reflection of its values, intentions and actions, I argue that they are in need of larger reforms, from top to bottom. Either that or you need to admit that it’s just an exercise in disingenuous public relations, get off the bandwagon, and start your own peaceful human rights organisation. All the EDL has succeeded in doing is driving a wedge between themselves and the Muslim community, and creating further hostility. If Islam is going to reform some of its aspects, young, Westernised Muslims will be at the forefront. The EDL is only alienating them at present, and fostering a climate of suspicion, resentment and hate.

Why the EDL isn’t a Human Rights Organisation

“The English Defence League (EDL) is a human rights organisation”

The fact that the EDL don’t have a membership scheme makes it easy for them to disassociate themselves from disgraced members, but also equally problematic to actually prove they aren’t members. If you count every ‘like’ on your Facebook page as a member to exaggerate your numbers, you have to accept responsibility for the paedophiles, arsonists, murderers and racists when they are exposed. In Facebook world, if you have EDL, any variation of regional infidel groups or the Nse motto in your name, have a friend list full of EDL members, or are a member of the EDL and other far right FB groups, you can justifiably be considered as representing the EDL. I concede that large groups of people will always consist of individuals with varying opinions, but the EDL are a single issue group, that issue being ‘militant Islam’. They are a group formed by violent football hooligans with links to far right organisations who have singled out a minority group which just happens to include Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Arabs and Africans. It doesn’t take a genius to predict the type of follower they would attract.

When the EDL mission statement was published it was naturally greeted by sniggers, guffaws and pant wetting belly laughs. As laughable as the claim to be a Human Right organisation is, let’s humour them and examine the evidence.

To be able to declare yourselves a human rights organisation you need to demonstrate that you support and adhere to the Human Rights Act 1998, all of it. The articles of the act protect:

  1. the right to life,
  2. the prohibition of torture,
  3. the prohibition of slavery and forced labour,
  4. the right to liberty and security,
  5. the right to a fair trial,
  6. no punishment without law,
  7. the right to respect for private and family life,
  8. freedom of thought, conscience and religion,
  9. freedom of expression,
  10. freedom of assembly and association,
  11. the right to marry,
  12. the prohibition of discrimination,
  13. restrictions on political activity of aliens,
  14. prohibition of abuse of rights,
  15. the limitation on use of restrictions on rights,
  16. the protection of property,
  17. the right to education,
  18. the right to free elections,
  19. the abolition of the death penalty.

These articles also correspond with the European Convention on Human Rights.

According to international law, human rights organisation should display the four following characteristics:

1. is ‘non-governmental’ meaning that it is established by private initiative, is free from governmental influence, and does not perform public functions.

2. has an aim that is not-for-profit, meaning that if any profits are earned by the organisation they are not distributed to its members but used in the pursuit of its objective

3. does not use or promote violence or have clear connections with criminality

4. has a formal existence with a statute and a democratic and representative structure, and does normally, but not necessarily, enjoy legal personality under national law.

2 & 3 might me stumbling blocks for the EDL.

Official human rights groups include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Red Cross, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the International Peace Commission, Liberty, Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

Does the English Defence League sincerely believe it deserves to be considered in the same genre as these organisations? Rachel Brett of The Political Studies Association wrote in her report The Role and Limits of Human Rights NGOs at the United Nations:

‘What distinguishes a human rights group from other political elements of any given society is that while political advocates usually seeking to protect only the rights of their own constituents, a human rights group seeks to defend the same rights for all members of that or any other society.’

Although they use the persecution and discrimination of minorities in Islamic countries as a reason to protest against what they see as the Islamification of Britain, there is precious little evidence that the EDL actively support the minorities in question. It is little more than opportunistic scaremongering, designed to dehumanise and demonise Muslims, and legitimise their grievances. The EDL are quite vociferous in their explanation of what exactly they are defending. It generally runs along the lines of the British way of life, British values, British culture, and the future of British children. They are defending these from ‘militant Islam’, its advocates and adherents. I have yet to see EDL members campaigning for justice and equality for women in Saudi Arabia, for gay men in Iran, for Palestinians in the West Bank or for rape victims in Pakistan. They are quite happy to advertise these injustices, often accompanied by graphic videos or pictures, but only with the pretext of highlighting Islamic barbarism. How does this demonstrate the desire to ‘defend the same rights for all members of that or any other society.’? Quite simply it doesn’t. But there’s no need for a critical analysis of contradictory philosophies. Allow me to list just a small selection of reasons why the EDL is not a human rights organisation.

A human rights group would not seek to ban Halal food.

A human rights group would not attack women protesting a ban on the burka.

A human rights group would not call for the burning of a place of worship, let alone attempt it.

A human rights group would not leave a severed pigs head at a place of worship.

Members of a human rights group would not beat an autistic boy to death.

Members of a human rights group would not burn a holy book and receive a charge of inciting racial hatred.

A human rights group would not fight each other while being addressed by a bereaved mother.

A human rights group would not associate with religious extremists who believe homosexuals should be killed.

A human rights group would not accept funding from a donor who dreams of apartheid style ghettos for Muslims and liberal ‘traitors’ and also funds fascist political parties.  

The head of a human rights group would not stop the immigration of people based on their religion.

Members of human rights groups would not give Nazi salutes, especially in public.

Members of a human rights group would not attempt to commit blatant insurance fraud en masse.

Events held by human rights groups do not incur costs of £2,000,000 for riot police.

Events by human rights groups do not require local businesses to close and board up their windows.

Members of human rights groups do not rampage through streets terrorising women and children in fast food restaurants.

A human rights group would not seek to forge links with a known terrorist organisation.

A human rights group wouldn’t fraternise with a founder of a designated hate group, who denies the Bosnian genocide and claims Barack Obama is the illegitimate son of Malcolm X.

A human rights organisation would not allow a man found in possession of child pornography to continue his activism, and attempt to cover it up.

Members of human rights organisations would not find themselves in the situation of being charged with “soliciting murder and using threatening, abusive or insulting words likely to stir up racial hatred” and conspire with people accused of “possessing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism and disseminating a terrorist publication.”

Members of human rights groups do not receive ASBO’s for persistently committing violent crimes.

Members of human rights groups do not pose proudly with crossbows, swords and firearms on social networking sites.

Let’s drop the pretense and call a spade a spade shall we. The EDL are not a human rights organisation, you are a single issue, far right, English nationalist/nativist group. Rather than chant ‘Allah is a paedo’ or ‘Muslim paedos off our streets’, a human rights group would engage in dialogue, conduct research, co-operate with communities and authorities and present its findings with recommendations. The EDL has no intention of doing any of this. I therefore propose that you cut the disingenuous bullshit, show a bit of integrity and admit what you are.

Patriotism vs Nationalism

Patriotism is a devotion to one’s country. In a generalized sense applicable to all countries and peoples, patriotism is a devotion to one’s country for no other reason than being a citizen of that country.

patriot (plural patriots)

1. A person who loves and zealously supports and defends his or her country.

Nationalism involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms. It can be a belief that citizenship in a state should be limited to one ethnic, cultural or identity group.

An issue that keeps nagging away at my subconscious is the relationship between patriotism and nationalism. Whether you can express one without the other, whether feeling either is compatible with liberal values and principles, and what drives the sentiments. This dilemma was brought to the fore again this week with the Welsh Assembly local elections. Having voted Labour and Lib Dem in the past, and not particularly enthusiastic about doing so again, it was a choice between the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru. If you’ve been brought up in South Wales with family ties to the coal mining community (my maternal Grandfather was a coal miner in the Rhondda Valley) and witnessed the pain and poverty the Thatcher years and it’s aftermath brought to the area, voting Tory is not an option. It looked like it was going to be Plaid. I had already voted Plaid in the General Election of 2010 so it wasn’t a big deal, but the old question of nationalism reared its head once more. Now I know voting for a party such as Plaid or the SNP is a million miles away from giving the thumbs up to the BNP, but the perception of nationalism is still something that rankles with my desire to be part of a global community, not isolated and exclusive. The spectre of separatism still looms with the ideals of nationalism, whether left or right wing.

Is the Welsh nationalism of Plaid Cymru the same as that of Meibion Glyndwr (Sons of Glyndwr), Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (Movement for the Defence of Wales) or Byddin Rhyddid Cymru (Free Wales Army)? Possibly, but the crucial difference is the method by which independence is to be achieved. For Plaid it would be a referendum, for the aforementioned paramilitary groups it was burning holiday homes and bombing water and power lines. Welsh nationalism is defined as: emphasises the distinctiveness of Welsh language, culture, and history, and calls for more self-determination for Wales, including independence from the United Kingdom. Aspirations held by all Welsh nationalists, but there’s a risk that this could alienate non-Welsh residents (as well as Welsh), and if you ignore the history of Wales these sentiments look quite BNPesque. This is where my discomfort must come from. Looking at the Plaid platform it’s obvious that this is not the angle they are coming from:

1. To promote the constitutional advancement of Wales with a view to attaining Full National Status for Wales within the European Union.

2. To ensure economic prosperity, social justice and the health of the natural environment, based on decentralist socialism.

3. To build a national community based on equal citizenship, respect for different traditions and cultures and the equal worth of all individuals, whatever their race, nationality, gender, colour, creed, sexuality, age, ability or social background.

4. To create a bilingual society by promoting the revival of the Welsh language.

5. To promote Wales’s contribution to the global community and to attain membership of the United Nations.

You only have to look at the candidates put forward in Cardiff to see that Plaid are true to their word. The candidate for my particular constituency this time around is Liz Musa, a Cardiff born daughter to a Welsh mother and Nigerian father. At the General Election the candidate was Farida Aslam, a Muslim single mother. Plaids Riverside councillor is Mohammed Sarul Islam, and former candidates include Mohammad Ashgar the first AM from an ethnic minority and daughter Natasha Ashgar. In 2006 on the International Day of Peace, the group Muslims for Plaid was launched as a reaction to the party’s stance on the Iraq war. The BNP have recently called Plaid a ‘fake nationalist’ party and claimed that a vote for them is a vote for the further Islamification of Wales, due to the growing relationship.

So, I’m satisfied that a vote for Plaid is progressive and not at odds with my leftist leanings. They’re nationalist in the sense that they aim to promote the Welsh culture and language that has been eroded with Anglicisation since the days of the Welsh Not and earlier, but not in the sense that it should be done at the expense of other cultures that have found home in Wales.

What about patriotism? It’s a word that has been hijacked by the right-wing in recent years and has come to evoke sentiments similar to nationalism, the Union Jack and the St. George’s flag. In the minds of Teabaggers and EDLers, any inclination towards the left, any criticism of our troops and foreign policy, or any feelings on immigration, Muslims and multiculturalism that edge towards sympathy or objectivity are considered unpatriotic. Anything that doesn’t put white Britons first, second and last is unpatriotic.

There is also the feeling that the concept of being so proud of somewhere just because of an accident of birth is strange one. Yet I still get goosebumps singing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the hairs on the back of my neck still stand up watching footage of Barry, Gareth, JPR, Gerald and Phil from the 70’s. It still fills me with pride to remember great Welsh people like Aneurin Bevan, John Charles, Richard Burton, Dylan Thomas, Carwyn James and Tommy Cooper, to name but a few. My sense of national pride comes from knowing the history of my country and its people, the achievements of these people, and how we continue to overachieve in the fields of sport, the arts and culture. Not from any sense of superiority we have over any other country. Not because of any military conquests, an ability to build empires or the arrogant belief that we brought civilisation and democracy to the third world.

The EDL have a slogan that goes along the lines of ‘Patriotism isn’t Racism’. As a statement of fact, this is 100% true. But the EDL definition of patriotism has more in common with right wing nationalism or jingoism.

More on nationalism:

It can also include the belief that the state is of primary importance, or the belief that one state is naturally superior to all other states. In some cases the identification of a national culture is combined with a negative view of other races or cultures. Some nationalists exclude certain groups. Some nationalists, defining the national community in ethnic, linguistic, cultural, historic, or religious terms (or a combination of these), may then seek to deem certain minorities as not truly being a part of the ‘national community’ as they define it.

Jingoism is extreme patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy. In practice, it is a country’s advocacy of the use of threats or actual force against other countries in order to safeguard what it perceives as its national interests. Colloquially, it refers to excessive bias in judging one’s own country as superior to others – an extreme type of nationalism.

I saw the EDL being described recently as ‘Untranationalists’.

Ultranationalism is a form of nationalism that expresses intense support for one’s nation, and is often characterized by authoritarianism. It can lead to reduction or stoppage of immigration, expulsion, oppression, demagoguery, emotional aspects, talk of presumed real or imagined enemies, threat to survival, crack-down, limit of trade through tariffs, tight control over businesses and production, militarism, populism and propaganda. Ultranationalism has the potential to lead to conflict within a state, as well as between states, and in its extreme form leads to war, secession or, in the case of enthnocentrist ultranationalism, genocide

They would certainly tick a few of those boxes.

Patriotism is a celebration of ones own country and countrymen, once it strays beyond that it ceases to be patriotism. Is it possible to be patriotic without being nationalistic? It would seem so. Is nationalism necessarily a negative trait? It doesn’t have to be as far as I can see. As with any political ideology there’s a broad spectrum of ideals that pick up more unpleasant characteristics as you approach the extreme right. When ethnicity, culture or religion is targeted in a notion of nationalism, the sense of pride has been overtaken by a sense of supremacy. That’s when I get off the ride. I’m happy to celebrate and promote the people, the country, the cultural history and the language of Wales, but I’m also happy to welcome other people and languages that will enrich the cultural history. I don’t want the Wales of 2011 to be the same as the Wales of 1811, but there’s no reason why I can’t be proud of both.

Voices of America

Sick of reading liberal, do-gooders moralising over the execution of Osama Bin Laden and the joyous reception that welcomed it? Here are some comments from proud and patriotic Americans.

AZIZ POONAWALLA – I surfed Twitter and blogs and retweeted and Liked with wild abandon, I was ecstatic….finding Enemy Number One was like a delirium of joy. What else but sheer joy can we feel?

Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini, head of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Mich. “The world is definitely a better place without the patron of all terrorists. It is so comforting to see justice being served while the families of the thousands of his victims rejoice.”

Ibrahim Aljahim, 29, of Detroit, head of Arab American Outreach: “He never represented Muslims or anyone else. It’s a great thing. We’re very happy. He hurt Muslims more than any other religious groups.”

Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “As gratifying as it is to see this, we should continue to be on alert,”

Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We welcome the elimination of Osama bin Laden and the threat that his terrorist leadership posed to the people of the world,”

Amjad Taufique Islamic Center of Marietta outreach director: “I was relieved, but then you question, ‘Did it really happen? Is it true?’ We’ve heard these things before. “We hope the death of Osama bin Laden brings closure.”

Keysar Trad spokesman for Australia’s largest mosque at Lakemba: “This news will create a big relief for Muslims because this person has been used to symbolise violence and smear the peaceful image of Islam. I will be very, very surprised if any Muslims react badly to this news. This is a new beginning for people the world over.”

Muslim family of a Bronx maintenance worker killed on 9/11 “If you ask me, he didn’t even deserve to be washed or wrapped [in accordance with Islamic law]. I hope they dropped him in shark-infested waters,”

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi: From the beginning, we opposed bin Laden’s un-Islamic, inhumane philosophy. The death of bin Laden is a relief for our nation’s victims and their families, and confirmation of the president’s statement that “as a nation there is nothing we can’t do.”

Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council: “Bin Laden was symbolic. And the fact that he’s eliminated is a symbolic victory for all of us.”

Dr. Maher Hathout: “our planet will be a better place” without him.

Ihsan Bagby, an associate professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky: “American Muslims have kind of been in a kettle, a boiling kettle, and the fire has been this terrorism. Hopefully, the demise of Qaeda and this terrorist philosophy will put out the fire.”

Mohammad Ashraf , his nephew, Ehtisham Rana, died in the collapse of the World Trade Center’s north tower: “Osama bin Laden dying is good for the whole Muslim community, non-Muslims, everybody.”

HUSSEIN RASHID: “Osama bin Laden is dead. To hear those words last night was immensely cathartic for me. We needed him dead. I am glad that he’s gone, but I know that the war is far from over.”

Ahmed Albedairy, 35, of Dearborn, who came to the U.S. from Iraq in 1996: “It’s a special day for us to show Americans we are celebrating, we are united.”

Leila Hussein, a 24-year-old waitress: “It’s good he’s out of the world,”

Mohamed Kobeissi, Cafe manager: “We felt we got relief by him getting killed. Thank God, finally, it’s a done job. I think by seeing him out of our life gives us comfort. At least no big harm will come to the Muslim community in the U.S. from him or people like him.”

Khaldon Masri, 23: “It’s about time. No more hide and seek.”

Bambade Shakoor-Abdullah, principal of the Chicago Metropolitan Educational Center for Community Advancement school: “We stand and celebrate with the rest of our country. It concludes a time where Americans have been fighting to restore justice and dignity, things that were taken away on Sept. 11. I think all of us were waiting for this to happen, and thank God it finally did,”

Imam Mohamed Magid, Islamic Society of North America: “Their martyr and their icon is gone. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al-Qaida has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”

Imad Jurdi, Virginia: “Everybody’s celebrating. This guy spoiled the reputation of the whole Islamic world.”

Imam Kashif Abdul-Karim, president of the Leadership Council for Connecticut Masajid, said the group continues to stand with their fellow Americans “in support of the elimination of terrorism throughout the world.”

Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer: Myself included, there were many among the 1 billion Muslims worldwide who uttered three simple words when we heard about the official confirmation of bin Laden’s death. Those three words were: “God is great.”

Hesham A. Hassaballa: Good riddance. At long last, the criminal murderer Osama bin Laden has been killed by American Special Forces.

Sharif Sahibzada, The Imam of the Islamic Center and Mosque of Grand Rapids: bin Laden’s death “…was a relief that an evil person who has put the whole humanity and the world in danger has been removed from this land.”

Dr. Aslam Abdullah, The Islamic Society of Nevada: Bin Laden’s death is being seen as a sign of victory of reason over violence and terror.

Edina Lekovich, director of policy and programming with the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Los Angeles: “on a day like this, let me be honest and just say that I am filled with a huge sense of relief and a huge sense of gratitude.”

Steve Elturk, imam of the Islamic Organization of North America: “Hopefully, with the figurehead gone, things will simmer down. We have to be alert … (but) for the long run, I think his movement is dying.”

Parvez Ahmed, Associate Professor of Finance at the Coggin College of Business, University of North Florida: Memo to Osama bin Laden: Although rejoicing death is not part of the religious traditions of Muslims, Christians or Jews, I cannot help but feel a sense of joyful relief now that you are no longer capable of plotting your evil.

Yahya Kariem, a Jacksonville Muslim and Marine Corps combat veteran who served in Vietnam: “I hope it begins a healing process, because 9/11 caused such a separation between the Islamic community and some Christian communities.

Ali Metwalli, a leading activist of the Muslim community: “great news. The major head of the snake was cut off. A few smaller heads still need to be taken care of. He tasted the same poison that he gave others.”

Saleh Sbenaty, an engineering professor at Middle Tennessee State University: “We hope this has closed a dark chapter in our history,”

Imam Ossama Bahloul, Islamic Center of Murfreesboro: “I think we can all be united in doing what’s right, and we can be united against any radical or extreme view of any kind,”

Wajahat Ali, a Muslim-American writer and attorney: “A lot of (Muslim-Americans) feel, first and foremost, catharsis and relief. Relief because Osama bin Laden was a global symbol of terror and indiscriminate violence.… It’s also a relief because he symbolizes (those who) hijacked Islam, legitimizing his ruthlessness (using the) religion. … His name and the photo (are) imprinted on the collective consciousness of the world.”

Ashraf el Essawi, president of the Islamic Center of Naperville: “I think it will make things a little bit clearer, in the reaction among the countries around the world. They are happy and cheering the death of Osama bin Laden. As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam,”

Khalid Latif, Chaplain and Executive Director for the Islamic Center at New York University: “This is a chance for Islam to speak for itself instead of speaking in reaction to something bad. What we’ve seen en masse is all walks of life coming together, celebrating and smiling,”

Noor Zafar, a Muslim of Pakistani descent: “As an American Muslim, I was happy to see crowds celebrating in the streets and reacted positively to Obama’s statement,”

Omar Abu-namous, an imam at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York in East Harlem: “Al Qaeda is a burden to Islam. We always want to get rid of that stigma, this smear on the reputation of Islam.”

Khader Abuhamda, 62-year-old from Clifton: “I wish to hug the man who shot him,”

Mesut Abayhan, 51: “Bad people deserve to die.”

Dr. Kashif Chaudhry, a physician at Englewood Hospital: “This is a chance for us to go out and tell our American friends: “We are even more happy than you are.’”

Salaheddin Mustafa, president of the New Jersey chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: “Good riddance to him and his ideology,”

Ali Chaudry, president of the Basking Ridge-based Center for Understanding Islam: “We hope now that the justified elimination of this mass murderer will finally de-link the faith of 1.5 billion Muslims from the radical and violent views of a tiny group of extremists,”

Ameena Jandali of the Islamic Networks Group: “Every American Muslim I’ve talked to is relieved,”

Omar Nawaz, vice president of Zaytuna College in Berkeley: “All the people are relieved. We certainly hope this news will bring some closure to the families of the innocent victims of 9/11. This is a milestone in the war against terror.”

Salahadine Adam of Sioux Falls: “I’m very happy Osama bin Laden is killed today because I don’t believe Osama bin Laden. A lot of Muslims don’t believe Osama bin Laden. That’s not good what he does,”

imam Samer Altabaa, “Their families will be happy to hear this news that this guy (was) brought to justice. I’m really happy to hear the news, too. I think this should be good news for everyone,”

Imam Watheq al-Obeidi, “I am happy. We got rid of this criminal. Everyone should be happy. Especially those who lost someone near and dear to them.”

Sam Elhaf, 44, Dearborn, Michigan: “It’s the best thing that has happened. Everyone is celebrating.”

Amin Jaqani, “We’re ecstatic. After seeing the news, we had to go to Ground Zero to pay our respects. We’re just as ecstatic as the people of New York City,”

Mahmood Rahman, a New York City cab driver: “This is a good day for Muslims everywhere,”

Majed Moughni, a 40-year-old Dearborn attorney who burned an effigy of bin Laden in his backyard on the eve of September 11 last year: “I am happy that he is gone, but I’m terrified of the consequences — of what his people are going to do in response.”

Imam Mohammed Hagmagid of the Islamic Society of North America: “We hope his death will bring some relief to all families, of every faith and walk of life, who lost loved ones in 9/11,”

Mohammed Mehboob, director of the Muslim Association of Virginia: “We are happy just like every American,”

Rafi Ahmed, Muslim Association of Virginia Vice President: “I believe that justice is served,”

Muslim American Society (MAS): The Muslim American Society welcomes the news of the death of Osama bin Laden.

Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV): Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) expresses great relief at the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden as President Obama announced in a special report.

Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC): The Muslim Public Affairs Council tonight greeted the news of the death of Osama bin Laden with an immense sense of relief.

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA): The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) joins all Americans in thanking President Obama for fulfilling his promise to bring Osama Bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda, and perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks, to justice.

Islamic Networks Group (ING): ING responds to Osama Bin Laden’s death with a sense of hope that a dark chapter in the history of the world may now come to a close.

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR): “We join our fellow citizens in welcoming the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been eliminated as a threat to our nation and the world through the actions of American military personnel.”

Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID): The death of Ben Laden—the mastermind and the iconic face of al-Qaeda which has caused death and destruction in the name of Islam for the past 15 years – has led to a collective sigh of relief among Muslims and non-Muslims.

Arab American Institute (AAI): While nothing can adequately address the pain of people who have lost loved ones—whether here or abroad—bin Laden’s death is justice served.

Arab American Caucus: We join our fellow Americans in welcoming the announcement by our President that Osama Bin Laden has been killed by the actions of our armed forces. We hope his death will bring some relief to all the families, of every faith and walk of life, that suffered from Al-Qaeda’s campaign of terror over the years.”

The American Society For Muslim Advancement (ASMA): We are grateful to President Obama and all others who were instrumental in the demise of a global terrorist who created unbelievable tragedy here in the United States and around the world. Today, we stand with these same voices and hope that the demise of a global terrorist will usher in an era of peace and tranquility for us all.

American Islamic Congress (AIC): The American Islamic Congress today welcomed the news that Osama Bin Laden has been brought to justice by U.S. Special Forces.

Oh yes, they’re all Muslims. Didn’t I say?

The Obligatory Osama’s Dead Post

So, Bin Laden swims with the fishes. Am I happy? It certainly won’t give me sleepless nights, but I can’t say happiness is an emotion I feel when anyone dies, no matter what they’ve done. There’s no dignity in celebrating the ending of someone’s life. I don’t want to judge the crowds partying in New York and Washington too harshly, but seeing that kind of joy being expressed at the murder of another human being makes me feel uneasy. I can appreciate it might have been a cathartic experience and maybe a release of emotion that some people needed to exorcise any residual demons. I’m also happy for any people bereaved on 9/11 that feel some sort of closure, and are able to move on. I listened to a NY Fireman on the radio yesterday morning that had been to the funerals of over 300 colleagues. He said they weren’t dancing in the streets but were happy that justice had been done for the friends they’d lost. From what I have seen and heard, the people who lost loved ones on 9/11 conducted themselves with reflective dignity, and a perspective not shown by others.

We learn today that contrary to initial reports Bin Laden was unarmed when killed, although he was ‘resisting’. I’m trying extremely hard to be objective and reasoned about this, because even as someone who extols pacifism, justice and respect, I’m tempted to say ‘Fuck it, he got what he deserved let’s move on’. But I want to explore the options that were open and their implications, assuming what we’re being told is the whole truth. Even if it’s just for my own benefit, I want to establish how outraged or relieved I should be.

Firstly there’s the question of resistance. We now know he was unarmed, although apparently others were. According to reports the raid was carried out by up to 25 Navy Seals at 1am on a night chosen due to the lack of moonlight, and lasted for 40 minutes. The 3 floor building was housing around 22 people including women and children. The compound walls were breached using explosives, guards (possibly only 2) opened fire but were overwhelmed and killed on the first floor, and a woman was also killed in the crossfire. On the second floor women and children were encountered and restrained. The third floor was home to the Bin Laden family and was reached in the final 5 – 10 minutes of the operation. Bin Laden and his brother were killed. Reports state that Bin Laden’s wife rushed the soldiers and was shot in the calf. Not a great deal has been revealed about the level of resistance put up by Bin Laden, but one US official states that he “didn’t put his hands up to surrender”. CIA Director Leon Panetta told PBS he didn’t think bin Laden said anything to U.S. forces before he was killed.
“To be frank, I don’t think he had a lot of time to say anything. It was a firefight going up that compound and by the time they got to the third floor and found bin Laden, I think this was all split second action on the part of the SEALs,” he said.

Now I’m in no position to second guess the actions of the SEALs, they’re under pressure, full of adrenaline and acting under orders. But if they’re able to subdue an oncoming assailant with a non-lethal shot as with Bin Laden’s wife, why not with him? There is no mention on or off the record of him attacking the soldiers, and resisting could merely mean trying to escape. They had already ascertained by now that he was unarmed. Bin Laden was a big man, standing at 6ft 5ins, but we’re talking 25 of the most highly trained soldiers in the American armed forces. The team had also been rehearsing the operation in an exact replica of the compound, so were as prepared as they possible could be. Was it a rush of blood when faced with the most wanted man in the world, the architect of 9/11, the iconic bogeyman, the face of the War on Terror? No one would blame him, in fact if his identity is revealed he’d surely have the freedom of every city in the USA and never have to buy a drink again in his life.

But let’s assume that there was a clear order to kill Bin Laden. This is what was first reported in the media. A political assassination. What would the reasons for this be? Could it be as simple as revenge? Barack Obama would have had plenty of time to decide on Bin Laden’s fate and the consequences of each scenario. He obviously knew that killing him would be hugely symbolic, and win him popularity. But he also would have recognised that martyring Bin Laden would potentially be a catalyst for reprisals and possibly give rise to more resentment towards the West. Then there are the liberals and human rights advocates who would be arguing that justice is not served with a bullet to the head, and that he should have stood trial in a court of law. I have a certain amount of sympathy with this view. In an ideal world he would be brought to justice according to the standards of a democratic and civilised society, but I can fully understand, if not agree, with those who think an eye for an eye is morally acceptable.

I want to continue with the possibility of Bin Laden being captured and prosecuted as some think should have been the case. It’s not as if there isn’t a precedent for mass murderers, terrorists, war criminals and evil dictators standing trial. From Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg, to Radovan Karadzic in The Hague, and Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. Isn’t there a greater sense of satisfaction in seeing dangerous, powerful men humiliated and made to answer for their crimes? In removing their aura and forcing them to face the reality of their future? Whether that’s a life in solitary confinement or facing the death penalty. But would a captive Bin Laden cause more problems than a dead one? There are enough theories to suggest it’s possible, even if some border on the conspiracy category. First of all where would he be detained? Guantanamo Bay? What are the chances he might ‘pass away’ in suspicious circumstances during ‘enhanced interrogation’? Where would he stand trial? Washington? The Hague? A secret location? Would the leader of Al-Qaeda being on American soil increase the risk of attacks? Would giving a voice to the charismatic ideologue further damage the reputation and perception of Muslims and Islam? Is there even the possibility that what he has to say might resonate with people previously unaffected?

There is also then the theory that he was killed to be silenced. We’ve all heard the stories of his CIA training, his family ties with the Bushes, the allegations that the Saudi Royal family have funded Al-Qaeda in the past. Would this expose the hypocrisy and double standards of the War on Terror? Did he know too much? Would we discover the extent to which Pakistan were or were not complicit in his concelment? How much damage would that do to a fragile situation on the sub-continent and to their relationship with the West? Then there is the fact that Bin Laden has never admitted responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. In fact his entry on the FBI Most Wanted list has never indicated he was wanted for the WTC atrocity. Is it provable that he was directly responsible? Would his prolonged detention and trial keep the spotlight on how tragically unnecessary and pointless the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been?

We can query why he was disposed of at sea with no independent autopsy, or how uninformed the claim of not wanting to create a shrine was. If they had someone knowledgeable enough to read his rites in Arabic and wash his body in compliance with Sharia, wouldn’t they know Salafis frown upon visiting graves? Why the sudden regard and respect for his religious or human rights after you’ve shot him in the head in front of his 12 year-old daughter?

No doubt there will be questions raised, more theories constructed, more facts will come to light and we may be no nearer knowing the exact details, or whether killing him was ‘the right thing’ to do. Do I care that he’s dead? No, not really. But I’m not celebrating. I see this as a symbolic moment, but far from a conclusion of any description. I’m hoping this is just the start of a process. Muslims and Muslim organisations across the world have welcomed the demise of Bin Laden. Positive statements have been issued by the governments of Yemen, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iran, Indonesia, Bosnia, Turkey, Iraq, Somalia, Morocco, Libya and UAE. We need to strike while the iron his hot and harness this one issue we can all agree on as a basis to further understanding and co-operation.

I have blogged previously about what fuels radicalisation and terrorism, and until there is an admission and a genuine attempt to address them nothing will change. A situation has been created that can’t be rectified without further damage. It’s akin to stabbing someone with a knife. Leave it in and the pain is unbearable, take it out and they could bleed to death. The West has many knives buried in the hearts of Muslim countries. Withdraw or remain the suffering doesn’t end. With Bin Laden no more, there is no reason for our troops to inflict further misery on innocent civilians in Afghanistan or Iraq. But with incidents such as the attack on the UN building in Mazar-i-Sharif, the Taliban prison break, the announcement of a spring offensive by the Taliban, and vows to avenge the death of Bin Laden, this is a precarious situation to leave the Afghan government to deal with. There are already reports of a Pakistani Taliban attack on the Afghan border and pro Bin Laden demonstrations in Pakistan. Events in Afghanistan and Pakistan will come under the microscope in the coming months, as will NATO responses in Libya, their lack of response in Bahrain and Syria and the Hamas/Fatah deal in Palestine. Let’s not allow the extremists on either side to hijack this opportunity for their divisive, destructive purposes.

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