• Islam

    Rejecting Narratives: Data, Islam and Terrorism

    This is a cross-post from anonymous mugwump The Year of the Monkey (As always, footnotes and bibliography are at the bottom of the post). Many of my friends in my ‘ideological camp’ do not seem too pleased with the rise of Vox, 538 and The Monkey Cage. I applaud it as an open break from some of the worst journalism we see. Op-ed writers will write streams about housing[1], immigration[2], foreign policy; and not utilise a pool of peer reviewed, robust empirical literature. Vox and 538 are reversing this trend. And I agree that they may sometimes present the literature through their own ideological lens – but once people accept a form of the scientific method, it’s very…

  • Islam,  Secularism

    David Goodhart on ‘Conservative Muslims, Liberal Britain’

    Last night’s Analysis (BBC Radio 4) explored the tensions between more conservative sections of the Muslim community and ‘liberal Britain’. Demos’s David Goodhart approached the topic robustly – listen, for example, to where he expresses scepticism about the claim that finding out more about Islam is going to make people feel more positively about it (from about 13:30).  However that challenge was issued to Mufti Muhammed Ibn Adam, one of the more hard-line interviewees, and made specific reference to his understanding of Islam. Elsewhere Goodhart finds several Muslims who share his concerns about rigid teachings and separation between communities. Gina Khan, for example, speaks passionately about the dangers of political multiculturalism…

  • Anti Muslim Bigotry,  Islam,  Islamophobia

    It’s like watching a Harry’s Place thread on TV

    On Bill Maher’s HBO show, (from left) New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, actor/director Ben Affleck, Maher and neuroscientist/author Sam Harris discuss Islam, Islamic extremism, anti-Muslim bigotry, Islamophobia, etc. It all sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it? Affleck may be an excellent actor/director, but he comes across as a rather ill-informed jerk. (Maher comes across as a somewhat better-informed jerk.) I especially liked what Kristof had to say, and I wish he had been allowed more time to say it.

  • Islam

    Critics of Muslim extremism need to learn – ‘radical’ isn’t the same as ‘terrorist’

    This is a guest post by Mehrdad Amanpour I’d never heard of Brigitte Gabriel nor Saba Ahmed until a couple of days ago when I saw a clip of Gabriel’s impassioned attack on ‘Muslim lobbyist’ Ahmed. Gabriel’s point is pretty much distilled here: “Of course the majority of [Muslims] are peaceful people. The radicals are estimated to be between 15 and 25% according to all intelligence services around the world… you’re looking at 180 to 300 million dedicated to the destruction of Western civilisation. It is the radicals that kill, it is the radicals that behead and massacre. When you look at all the lessons of history, most Germans were…

  • Islam

    Qasim Rashid’s ‘Extremist’

    In his Youtube taxonomy of commenters on Islam, Klingschor includes the category of ‘Muslim apologist’.  My main reservation about the video was his rather negative portrayal of this (varied) group. I might agree with his conclusion – that academic scholars of Islam are the very best authorities on the religion – but while some ‘apologists’ are evasive charlatans, others are sincere people.  When they are not only sincere, but keen to promote a conspicuously tolerant and peaceful vision of Islam, it seems perverse not to hope their views prevail.  (Sometimes it’s the people who insist that Islam needs a reformation who are oddly the quickest to produce some hadith or…

  • Islam,  Women's Rights

    On Muslim feminism – and indigenous science

    Two recent articles, in quite different contexts, take issue with the idea that certain ideas might have a universal application. The first, ‘British Muslim women don’t need the West’s version of feminism, ok?’, is written by a Muslim woman, Shelina Zahra Janmohamed , who rejects what she calls ‘the West’s version of feminism’.  She opens with a dubious premise – that feminism doesn’t accept religion. Everyone loves Malala Yousufzai, right? Fearless, inspiring and courageous, she is the kind of female icon that asserts the need for women to have justice and rights – arguably a ‘feminist’ viewpoint – and which has won the admiration of western feminists. Whatever your opinions of Yousufzai, one part…

  • Islam,  Secularism

    Sayeeda Warsi, Winston Churchill and Secularism

    This is a cross-post from CEMB Forum Sayeeda Warsi, the unelected appointee of Prime Minister David Cameron who gave her the portfolio of ‘Minister for Faith’ in the coalition government has made another speech criticising secularism and suggesting that religion should have a privileged place in British politics. The occasion was the ‘Faith in Politics’ conference at the Winston Churchill archives at Cambridge University. The whole speech warrants a detailed response and refutation. An exploration of why Sayeeda Warsi has undertaken a very personal (peaceful) jihad on secularism, linked to wider questions of religious identity politics, communalism, religious privilege and Islam in Britain is needed and we hope to engage…

  • EDL,  Islam

    Wrath of the Multiculturalists

    This is a guest post by Jacobinism On October 8, Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll, then-leaders of the English Defence League (EDL), announced that they were leaving the organisation they had founded to work with the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think-tank founded by former members of the radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. Anti-racist and self-styled anti-fascist organisations, bloggers and commentators committed to combatting racism and what they call ‘Islamophobia’ ought to have been delighted. They had expended vast amounts of time and keystrokes warning us all that the EDL posed as grave a threat to democracy, social cohesion and human rights as that posed by Islamic fundamentalism. Now, suddenly, this…

  • EDL,  Islam,  Islamism,  Islamophobia

    Hype, Hyperrreality, Hyperbole

    It seems we now live in a society where Tommy Robinson is regarded as the Messiah., according to Dr Chris Allen:- Hyperreality is a term that has been used to characterise our inability to distinguish reality from fantasy. Those such as Jean Baudrillard have defined hyperreality as being a means of viewing ‘reality by proxy’, one where the viewer of ‘reality tv’ for instance – or ‘When Tommy Met Mo’ – begins to believe and live in a constructed, non-existent world despite that same constructed world failing to offer any accurate or realistic depiction of life or living. In hyperreality, reality is non-existent; replaced by something that purports to be…

  • Islam,  Women's Rights

    Forced and underage marriage: three perspectives

    Religious commentators are certainly capable of spinning a more benign reading out of unpalatable doctrine – such as those Catholics who can’t quite bring themselves to deny Hell but ingeniously suggest that perhaps, even though it certainly exists, no one is actually there. There are various ways in which people can grapple with the (contestedly contested) age of Aisha on marriage and its applicability to Muslims today. Although it is high profile Hamza Tzortzis whose take on this issue at a recent debate has received most attention, Faraz Nomani’s response to the initial challenge is even worse. On being questioned – quite gently – about the implications of the case…