One reason I don’t tend to use the word ‘Islamism’ is because it is used to denote almost as wide a range of views as ‘Zionism’, and thus can lead people to argue at cross purposes. So I do not agree with the logic used by Tell MAMA here, when they suggest that someone who asserted Mo Ansar was an Islamist must be feeling pretty silly now that Ansar is himself being threatened by Islamists (Al Shabaab). After all both Yitzhak Rabin and Yigal Amir were Zionists.
As this footage from Norway shows, other vague words such as ‘extremist’ are similarly slippery. Fahad Qureshi begins by complaining that the media draw attention to preachers who support the death penalty for homosexuals. He goes on to explain that he always responds by insisting that all Muslims support these views and thus that they cannot be seen as extreme. Then he offers to prove his point on camera, by asking everyone in the audience first to raise their hand if they think they are ‘normal’ Muslims, not extreme types, before establishing if they agree with some further propositions. Do you agree, he asks, with the punishments described in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, including stoning – do you think that they are the best punishments which could be applied? Everyone seemed to raise their hand very readily, and then also agreed that they were average Muslims, not radicals. Qureshi is delighted, and asks:
“What’s the media going to say now, that we are all extremists, that we are all radicals?”
As Andy points out, this is a particularly surreal example of the oft-noted mirroring between Islamophobes and their main targets. Fahad Qureshi’s script is straight out of Jihad Watch. I am, of course, more than happy to acknowledge Muslims who find such views appalling, to take at face value those who claim that they sincerely believe such punishments are unislamic, and welcome polls which show that most British Muslims are proud of the way our country treats gay people. It’s good to note that Qureshi’s views may not be quite as widespread as that self-selecting audience might suggest. However the first response to Qureshi, and those who agree with him, should not be to worry whether or not his views are representative, but to insist that, whether representative or not, they are barbaric.
Update: Robert Spencer has written about Qureshi, partly in response to this post, here.
Hat tip: Andy Hews