A brief post to point out that a very informative comment by Quizblorg has just been, I believe, deleted from underneath this article without trace. I didn’t save it, so I can’t be absolutely sure, but my recollection was that it was a long comment, that it attracted well over 1000 recommends, and that it may possibly have included the word cattle.
The more general issues raised by Mehdi Hasan about anti-Muslim bigotry should not of course be brushed aside – and here’s a link to a report from Tell Mama, an initiative I blogged about a few months ago – to reinforce that point. But Hasan is perhaps not the best person to give lectures about bigotry.
A reader with (fortunately) an unrefreshed window has managed to save it!
I absolutely agree with you that there is a disturbing phenomenon of nasty and bigoted comments being posted in the comments box of any piece about Muslims or by a Muslim writer
There is world of difference between that – which should be condemned – and the proper criticism of writers who are Muslim, who themselves express sometimes horrific political views, or use offensive rhetoric. Such revolting rhetoric should be opposed, always.
You don’t quote from the ’selectively edited speeches’ that you gave. You should.
This was what you said:
““The kaffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, the rational message of the Quran; they are described in the Quran as, quote, “a people of no intelligence”, Allah describes them as; not of no morality, not as people of no belief – people of “no intelligence” – because they’re incapable of the intellectual effort it requires to shake off those blind prejudices, to shake off those easy assumptions about this world, about the existence of God. In this respect, the Quran describes the atheists as “cattle”, as cattle of those who grow the crops and do not stop and wonder about this world.””
Not only did you use the offensive term ‘kaffar’. You said that people who were not Muslim were ‘people of no intelligence’. Imagine somebody saying that about Muslims -you would object, and rightly so.
You went on to say:
““In Islam, to believe is to know. To disbelieve is not to know. That is what it fundamentally comes down to; it [to disbelieve] is to remain ignorant; to cover up knowledge. After all, what is ‘kaffar’? Kaffar comes from the root word which means to cover up, to conceal. The kaffar is the one who covers up that knowledge which is clear. The French orientalist scholar Lamens [?], he once wrote that the “Quran is not far from considering unbelief, disbelief as an infirmity, as an illness, as a disease of the human mind”. Subhanallah. Non-Muslims point this out to us.””
What is the ‘context’ within which that is acceptable?
You also said that Muslims needed to improve their standard of education, and were praised for saying this by your defenders. But you made this point in the context of … Muslims needing to “outthink” Jews!
” Our Jewish brethren who we spend so much time fighting and arguing with: 12 million Jews in the world and 150 nobel prizes to their name. All Israel’s top 6 universities feature in the top 200 universities on earth – none of the Muslim world’s top universities feature in top 100 or 200 universities in the world and then we wonder why we are losing battles – we are not being out-fought we are being out-thought. We are not underarmed. We are undereducated.””
This was a comment about conflict – battles, arms – with those you think are in conflict with Islam.
The most worrying part of your speech was when you praised the Supreme Leader of Iran – a Shia religious authority – for his supposed opposition to nuclear weapons. Is it not worrying that a political editor of a national newspaper should take the statements of a religious leader as ‘gospel’, so to speak. It implies that you believe that Iran is not really building nuclear weapons – and that, I think, is actually your view. You’re free to hold that view, but to do so on religious grounds is worrying:
““Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa saying the stockpiling, the production, the use of nuclear weapons us forbidden under Islam. Spot on. Islamic Republic of Iran. The fatwa of the Supreme Leader.””
The other matter of concern is that you have shown a readiness to attack others who draw attention to Islamist hate preachers. Remember this piece?
In it, you attacked the anti-extremists of Quilliam for their report on hate preaching and extremism on the Islam Channel. You denied it existed. However – tellingly – you then went on to attack the Islam Channel itself – because it had broadcast a preacher who had said nasty things about Shia Islam, your own sect. The Islam Channel was later censured by OFCOM for precisely the offences that you denied it was guilty of.
There are other points to make briefly. Lady Warsi is a politician. She has a close relationship with somebody who was active in Hizb ut Tahrir. Frankly, if there were a Tory with a close relationship with a BNP activist, you’d attack them, and rightly so. They’d probably resign. Similarly, Lord Ahmed, whose record speaks for itself. Yet, he has been let back into the Labour Party, recently.
Frankly, if these problems are not addressed by us, then the field is left clear for the BNP and the EDL, and the nastiest people in the comments box.
The comment had been recommended by about 1400 readers, which may possibly have been a record for Comment is Free.
There was also another comment which responded to a comment in which Mehdi Hasan condemned opposition to Lord Ahmed’s conduct. The comment listed Lord Ahmed’s many associations with extremists, some of them Islamists and some of them on from traditional white far right groups, and suggested that this was why he attracted criticism.
I don’t know why The Guardian would delete a comment which threw light on the reason that Mehdi Hasan is so controversial a figure. It makes them look silly and a little dishonest.