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Max Blumenthal vs Free Arabs

Have you ever lost the will to live half way through a Glenn Greenwald article?  Then I don’t fancy your chances getting to the end of this piece by Max Blumenthal, first published on electronic intifada, then reposted on Loonwatch.

As I indicated in a comment, while I am not familiar with all of the names and organisations Blumenthal mentions, the accusations seemed lacking in substance, some relating to vague links, at a couple of removes, with groups whose views Blumenthal doesn’t care for.   I tentatively mapped the American Islamic Congress (AIC) onto Quilliam, but that may not be a very close match.

I’ll confess my attention wandered, at first reading, and I didn’t really engage with the hatchet job on the website Free Arabs.  But now they have hit back, with this robust response by Ahmed Benchemsi. It seems Free Arabs have come in for similar stick in the past. Their banner is ‘democracy, secularism, fun’ – so far so good.  I spent a little time browsing the site.  The first piece I read was about a poll into Muslim attitudes towards Shariah. Although I’m guessing the writer didn’t welcome the popularity of hudud punishments in the Middle East, s/he reported the fact dispassionately – but with an emphasis on highlighting that Muslims are not a monolithic group.  This doesn’t seem to be a site indifferent to, or careless about, Islamophobia.

Blumenthal identifies ‘The Fatwa Show’ as a source of possible concern, because it makes fun of daft edicts. Yes, such fatwas are of course weaponised by Islamophobes, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be used as a focus for humour by Arabs (most of whom are Muslims or cultural Muslims).  In fact it defuses the problem to demonstrate that plenty of Muslims think some of these fatwas are crazy, and mad Mullahs are most certainly not the only target of the site’s satire.  And why shouldn’t Benchemsi, a Moroccan dissident now based in the US, want to satirise threats to democracy, secularism and fun in the Arab world? And why should Americans, of all people, have a problem with that?

Hat tip: Jacobin

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