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Guns. It’s the only way.

An article in today’s Guardian is most instructive. With regard to the situation in Pakistan getting rather more desperate, it notes:

“Under the deal the Taliban were supposed to renounce violence in exchange for the implementation of Sharia law in Malakand division, a vast area that covers one-third of the frontier province. Instead the militants used the ceasefire to send fighters from Swat into neighbouring districts such as Dir and Buner.”

Well, duh! It is frightening that anyone actually believed that a ‘deal’ might stick, least of all one that traded – oxymoronically – a concession to the legalised use of brutality for a ‘renunciation of violence’.

When will people understand you can’t appease these people and you can’t deal with them. They’re the Taliban. They’re on a mission from Allah!

Forget the lawyers. Forget the money. It’s only guns that will have any success in stopping them. They cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be bought off. They won’t stop til they’re dead, and if we don’t kill them, they will kill us and anyone else who stands in their way. There are no limits to their ambitions, only new frontiers. When one goal is achieved, it’s on to the next. If ever there was a contemporary reason to warn “if you tolerate this, then your children will be next”, this is it.

If the thought of the mullahs in charge of the Islamic Republic of Iran getting a nuke is worrying, how about the prospect of their country cousins, the Taliban, getting control of a country that already has nuclear weapons?

The Guardian report also notes:

Brigadier Mehmood Shah, a Peshawar-based analyst, said Pakistan was finally waking up to the seriousness of the Taliban threat.

“The Taliban have exposed their real intention – not the implementation of Sharia law, but to seize power in Pakistan. It is now clear that al-Qaida is driving these people, and the government has realised it can’t [defeat] them with a small effort,” he said.

Some will scoff. Some will go on insisting that Al Qaeda is just a figment of George W Bush’s paranoid imagination. More scoffers will say that is is a small local problem. But it isn’t. The Taliban themselves have given no indication that their ultimate and motivating objective is limited by national boundaries. Practically that might be the case (for the moment), but philosophically they’re doing god’s work. It is inevitable that military force will be used to stop them (or to try to stop them). It is better that this is used now while the unpleasant consequences of armed conlict will be limited. As the Taliban gain momentum, more and more force will be needed to halt their advance and ultimately the world could be at war once again. If you think that is impossible, reflect on how the Nazis built the Wehrmacht from boyscouts to blitzkrieg in less than a decade.

Others will recoil in horror at the thought that only countervailing violence can stop this. But what is the alternative? Is it more civilised to stand idly by and watch as theocratic storm-troopers terrorise entire populations? Very often Civilisation demands force of arms in its own defence. It is unfortunate, but it is frequently not the case that rational debate and persuasion can alter the course of events. This is clearly one of those times. There is no room on this earth for the Taliban. Not what they do. Not what they stand for. Anywhere. Under any circumstances.

Civilisation cannot tolerate this and the civilised must not tolerate this.



Al-Qa’ida Cool?

This is a guest post by George Readings

Jamie Bartlett, leader of Demos’s violent radicalism project “From Threat To Opportunity”, has a piece in Prospect Magazine this month. In it he makes some interesting observations:

[M]embers of terrorist cells tend to be young men with little religious knowledge other than a few cut-and-paste lines from the rockstars of jihadi literature, like radical Egyptian cleric Sayed Qutb. In comparison to such founding fathers of modern Islamic terrorism, this generation has suffered no serious repression.

He also argues, on the back of research from McGill University, that:

Ultimately it is not the ideas of al Qaeda that need dismantling; it is the idea of al Qaeda. This is tough. As has been proved by counterproductive anti-drug warnings, anything government proscribes can become more exciting for young people. The key is to strip al Qaeda of its mystique, and show that the average day of an Islamic extremist is more like that of a petty criminal than a secret agent. (This happens to be true: seven out of ten European militants in al Qaeda training camps return home because of tough training and being treated like skivvies.)

Another route is to poke fun, an idea touched on in Michael Waller’s underappreciated 2007 book Fighting the War of Ideas like a Real War. After all, the Ku Klux Klan lost members when a children’s magazine mocked it. Instead of describing violent extremists as “operatives”; let’s drop the Bondisms and focus on the blunders that permeate terrorism plots. Surveillance of the “Toronto 18” cell in Canada revealed that the plotters could not even name the prime minister they were planning to attack. Sharp-eyed British satirist Chris Morris is said to be planning a feature film on Islamic extremism. He could well achieve more than the hawks and the doves combined.

Bartlett has a point about the Bondisms, remember this interview:

And mocking your enemies is a tried and tested strategy, its transposition to the war on terror could be interesting. Maybe Chris Morris has something like this planned?

It’s not like there’s a lack of material. There have been “chapati bombs“, bombers forgetting essential kit and even a bomb plot defeated by London’s traffic wardens and their efficiency.

But Bartlett is making a more serious point. He is suggesting, as he has before, that to defeat terrorism we need to reduce its “glamour.”

In April 2008 he wrote that we shouldn’t necessarily jail people who incite terrorism:

[W]e should think carefully before locking people like this up, and recognise that a balance needs to be struck between punishing those who transgress what we as a society feel is acceptable, without unnecessarily adding to the glamour and legitimacy of the ideas they put forward. On this occasion, we might be better off publicising widely what they’ve said, and let them be ridiculed and treated with the contempt they deserve.

A little later that year he wrote this:

Al Qaeda is no longer a religious terrorist network, it’s a brand – and the suicide bomber video, guaranteed a million hits on YouTube, provides a handy shortcut on the arduous path from anonymity to stardom.

He has expanded on these views in “Wicked Jihad“, a publication available on the Demos website. In it he proposes three “often overlooked” explanations for the appeal of violent extremism:

- it offers a sense of adventure
- it gives a sense of personal agency
- it wins street credibility

Bartlett provides an original perspective, but I’m also reminded somewhat of one of Jon Stewart’s finer moments:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
The Outsiders
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis Political Humor

Yes, some who turn to terrorism are seeking glamour, a sense of personal agency and street credibility but, as Stewart asks, aren’t all youth?

The ideas Bartlett expresses in these articles are an interesting starting point for research, but some fairly fundamental questions remain unanswered. Like why have some Muslim youths gone to Afghanistan to seek adventure when most youths, Muslim and not, have sought it by going to casinos, theme parks or nightclubs? Why have some Muslim youth sought glamour in violent extremism when most other youth take drugs or start a band? And isn’t carrying a knife or learning judo an easier way to acquire “a sense of personal agency” and win “street credibility” than joining a terror network?

Not that I’m endorsing knife crime as a way to combat terrorism, it’s just that there must be a few other factors which govern why common desires and emotions have provoked wildly different responses amongst British youth. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, Bartlett hasn’t developed upon this idea yet.

I would also like to see a little more evidence before I agree to equate the psychological circumstances of somebody who threatens me with a knife and steals my mobile phone with those of somebody who blows himself up on a tube train along with dozens of other people. And is it really possible that a desire for “adventure” is a satisfactory explanation both for why I used to go pot-holing in Yorkshire and for why a lad from Leeds went for arms-training in Afghanistan?

Whilst the concept of “dismantling [...] the idea of al Qaeda” is attractive, I remain unconvinced that this can or should occur without attempting to dismantle its ideas. If seven out of ten Europeans who travelled to al-Qa’ida camps in Afghanistan returned home because of their disenchantment with the reality of life as a trainee terrorist then this still left three out of ten who were happy to bear the deprivations for the sake of their “studies”. This is not an acceptable situation.

Bartlett has some interesting proposals which should be researched further, but what he suggests should surely complement, rather than replace, combating the violent and Islamist ideas which lie at the core of al-Qa’ida’s ideology? Once these have been defeated then questions of “glamour” and “adventure” will be immaterial.


Have Your PhD Supervised… By Osama Saeed!

Here’s a once in a lifetime opportunity:

Understanding and communicating Islam in official discourse and policy in Scotland and the UK: *ESRC Collaborative (CASE) +3 year PhD Studentship** **Globalisation, Communication and Democracy Cluster, Department of Geography and Sociology**, University of Strathclyde*

The Department of Geography and Sociology at the University of Strathclyde has been awarded an ESRC Collaborative Doctoral Studentship in partnership with the Scottish Islamic Foundation. The PhD will be supervised by Prof David Miller and Dr William Dinan at Strathclyde and by Osama Saeed of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation.

We invite applications from potential UK/EU research students who have a good Masters qualification and meet the eligibility criteria for ESRC doctoral funding. Suitably qualified candidates from a wide range of social science disciplines – including sociology, media studies, politics, geography, anthropology and international relations – are encouraged to apply. ESRC meets the tuition fees and pays a basic (tax free) maintenance grant of £17,290 p.a. The collaborating organisation pays an additional £2,000 p.a.

This study will examine relations between, and policy communications about, Islam and governmental agencies in the UK. The focus will be on governmental strategies for dealing with Islam and British Muslims particularly in relation to issues of community cohesion, ‘radicalisation’/’de-radicalisation’ and the management of particular themes or strands in Islam.

To do this the project will

  • Systematically map the policy initiatives launched by the UK and Scottish Government (formerly Scottish Executive) intended to deal with the issues arising from the attacks in the US on 11 September 2001 and those in the UK including most notably on 7 July 2005
  • Analyse the historical progression of the strategies and examine both changes in policy and potential contradictions or tensions between differing government agencies
  • Examine the communicative relationships between Muslim organisations and individuals and governmental agencies in relation to these policy issues • Analyse media output on these questions and how it interacts with policy processes
  • Contribute to policy debates on the most appropriate way to respond to potential threats to public order. 
  • Inform and contribute to Muslim ‘community’ responses to official policies

The research will catalogue varying government responses historically, and in terms of geographical and policy coverage. It will explore the formation of government policy in this area and look at the already evident contending agendas and approaches which exist inside government, such as those focused on a policing response and those seeking to engage and involve communities in decision making on the one hand, and the extent to which differing arms of government may be unwittingly undermining each other by operating in varying policy arenas such as for example the alleged conflict between and the Foreign Office and the Department for Communities, or the varying approaches to the ‘war on terror’ taken by the Cabinet Office (branded as ‘UK Resilience’) compared with proactive community work.

The origins of policy will also be examined through research on the strategies and activities of the various policy actors in public debate on these matters, including voluntary organisations, think tanks, journalists, civil liberties groups and other community based organisations. It will also take a prospective approach and follow how policies determined in Whitehall and Edinburgh operate in practice by attending and observing policy events such as cultural or religious events sponsored or supported as part of government policy.

A CV, letter of application (making a case why you should be appointed), a transcript of your qualifications to date, and anticipated results if you are still studying and the names of two referees, should be sent to Margaret Keoghan, Dept Geography and Sociology, 50 Richmond Street, Glasgow G1 1XU by Friday 15 June 2009 and short-listed candidates will be interviewed in the week beginning 22 July. The successful candidate will be expected to take up the studentship on 1 October

All nominees must satisfy the ESRC’s academic and residential eligibility requirements which can be downloaded from:http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/Images/GUIDANCE%20MARK%202_tcm6-7186.pdf *

For informal discussion and further details about the project, contact **Prof David Miller**, **0141 548 3794 / 07786 927 551** **[email protected]*

So, if your thesis is that the Scottish Islamic Foundation represents an attempt to impose a vicious Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood politics on a heterogeneous Muslim population, by means of a faustian bargain under which a very small band of Scottish Islamists – mostly related to each other – get mainstream respectability, while the SNP get a few votes…

… don’t bother to apply.

David Miller is an interesting one too. He’s a professional paranoiac who runs a website called “Spinwatch”, and has recently created a laughably inaccurate wiki which claims to map the British “neocon” scene.


Class in America

I’ve long been a believer in the powerful influence of social and economic class on people’s lives, even in a country like the US where class is not generally a polite topic of conversation. (In my experience, people are more comfortable talking about sex than about class differences, even as the gap between the richest and everyone else has widened.)

But even I was surprised at how much a family’s income can affect the lives of their children– through college (or no college) and beyond. As Ryan Avent writes at Portfolio.com:

One of the most remarkable findings from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Economic Mobility Project is that a child from a family in the top income quintile who does not get a college degree is more likely to wind up in the top income quintile himself than a child from a family in the bottom income quintile who does get a college degree (see here — PDF).

Bootstraps these days just aren’t as sturdy as they used to be.

Or perhaps they never have been.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan, an economic Reaganite and Thatcherite)


Anger management? Nous?

Does it say anything about the nature of our posts and comments that this ad has been appearing lately on our blog?

anger-management

And that the guy in the ad looks a little like a young George Galloway?


Pre-Emptive Blogging

Guest-Post from Alex Stein of falsedichotomies.com

Expect to see a lot of needless whooping about this. ABC”s George Stephanopoulos interviewed Iranian President Ahmadinejad last week, and asked the following question: “If the Palestinians sign an agreement with Israel, will Iran support it?”

Ahmedinajad’s response was conciliatory: “Whatever decision they take is fine with us. We are not going to determine anything. Whatever decision they take, we will support that. We think that this is the right of the Palestinian people.” Over at Peace Pulse, MJ Rosenburg is already cracking open the champagne: “Ahmadinejad throws the ball back in Israel’s court. Make peace with the Palestinians and I’ll accept it, and you, too, he says…The neocons always want Ahmadinejad to play their game and promise to rain destruction on Israel. This time Ahmadinejad refused to play.”

Before the whooping continues, it’s important to remind ourselves that Iran has had every opportunity to back this talk up with words, but continues to support Hamas, an organisation which remains steadfast in its opposition to…previous agreements signed with Israel. The cry of hypocrisy is rightfully heard when Israeli leaders pledge their commitment to a two-state solution while continuing to build settlements in the West Bank. I trust this cry will be heard in this case as well.

Too much time is spent pondering the words of politicians. Ahmadinejad & Co contain multitudes just like anyone else. We must insist on assessing politicians solely on their actions. Ahmadinejad and the Iranian leadership fail this test time after time. The fact that the current Israeli government is beset by its own hypocrisies should not blind us to this unfortunate reality.


Obama and Wiesel remember Holocaust victims and rescuers

Some commenters seem to think British Jews are facing real danger, and need to make plans to leave the country. I have fond memories of my visits to Britain, so I hope their fears are exaggerated. But in my years of participating in this blog, I’ve seen too many disturbing reports to feel completely sanguine.

Fortunately it’s not a fear I feel in the US. Perhaps one reason is the US Holocaust Museum’s Days of Remembrance ceremony Thursday in the rotunda of the Capitol building in Washington, featuring speeches by Israeli ambassador Sallai Meridor (39:00), Elie Wiesel (45:00) and Barack Obama (1:20:00).

You can read Obama’s speech here.


Quilliam Offends the SNP

This is a guest post by Tom Gallagher, Professor of Ethnic Conflict and Peace at the University of Bradford

‘Stop the World We Want To Get on’. These were the words of Winifred Ewing, now the Grande Dame of Scottish Nationalism, when she won a sensational by-election in 1967, an event which marked the debut of the SNP as a political force to be reckoned with.

But it is now reasonable to ask exactly which epoch does the Scottish National Party want to join, as it drags along a compliant Scotland in its wake? Increasingly, the language it uses to scorch its opponents and groups like the Quilliam Foundation which dare to give it wise counsel, is from an epoch associated with rather scary and confrontational nationalism.

As a long-time SNP-watcher, even I was taken aback at how a party spokesman responded when Ed Husain urged the SNP to review its links with Osama Saeed, recently confirmed as an SNP parliamentary candidate, on account of his ‘sectarian and divisive record’.

In a briefing issued on 17 April Quilliam found a clear set of reasons for believing that it was highly problematic for a mainstream party like the SNP to promote Osama Saeed:

  • Support for Yusuf-al-Qaradawi
  • Support for the Caliphate
  • Religious separatism and attacks on modern Muslim scholars
  • Offering a platform to Prominent Islamists through the Scottish Islamic Foundation
  • Displaying an ambiguous stance on Sharia punishments
  • Urging Censorship and ‘defiance’ of Police counter-terrorism measures

The tone of the report indicated that a modern party like the SNP ought to see reason and ditch such an antediluvian figure. I felt like writing to Quilliam to point out that the problem lay not so much with the tartan Islamists but with the SNP itself. Just as small groups of restless, angry and sometimes idealistic young Muslims have found it difficult to engage with the West, this is true of the SNP, except that its ‘West’ stretches from the English Channel to the Cheviot Hills and is called ‘England’. Several conditions and complexes make it altogether natural for those currently directing the SNP to link up with disseminators of a politicised version of Islam. Like not a few Islamists, the party is fuelled by a grievance culture. England is viewed as an overbearing and intrusive force which has thwarted the evolution of Scotland into a successful country with a much larger population and a more illustrious role in the world. The SNP is defined by its separatism just like the Islamists: neither wish meddling outsiders to be able to dictate, or even influence, what happens in their respective sacred spheres. Powerful tribal leaders whose authority rests on their ability to look into the soul of their respective nationalist and religious faithfuls, and divine the path to salvation, play well not just in the strongholds of Al Q’aida but among part of the SNP ranks.

Instead of asking when will the SNP see the light over its Islamist Tendency, the question perhaps ought to be reframed to ask, when will Osama and his chums realise that their street credibility is not being enhanced by throwing in their lot with the SNP. The SNP is an angry rhetorical party short of ideas and fuelled by resentment as well as the ambitions of a few driven individuals. Comparisons can be made with nationalist parties that have risen and fallen in the Middle East and which proper Islamists shunned. Is Osama Saeed an apostate in danger of morphing into political careerist with a good line in religious evangelism?

In his defence, it has to be pointed out that he is relatively cosmopolitan compared with many who exercise authority in today’s SNP. Probably no other top party figure other than Alex Salmond, travels abroad as much on high-level party business,. Experience alone of the political scene in Washington DC, Cairo, the Gulf, and even points East would entitle him to be in the running for Scotland’s foreign minister if the United Kingdom really does unravel. He almost certainly visits England far more often than any other SNP notable and rarely displays the one remaining fashionable chauvinism in these islands, Anglophobia. Osama and his confederates also have a more sophisticated agenda than the rest of the SNP. They wish to consecrate a new form of traditionalism for Muslims in Western Europe. They are inspired by a vision of a Muslim community that is simultaneously pious and dynamic , remaining in close contact with South Asia and parts of the Middle East and perhaps one day forming a single ummah.

Tariq Ramadaan and Osama Saeed may be Islamists who believe religion ought to enjoys primacy in an exhausted and neurotic West which others even believe is ripe for post-democracy. But they are of course progressive and responsible when compared with those ultras who are committed to achieving theocratic governments in many different countries by indiscriminate violence. They also prefer to express their beliefs in opaque language which is not always open to just one interpretation.

That’s why I suspect Osama Saeed was far from overjoyed by the furious outburst from an SNP spokesman when questioned by The Times about Quilliam’s concerns about their high profile activist’s track-record. The article, entitled ‘SNP urged to drop “sectarian and divisive” Muslim candidate’, written by Angus Macleod, Scottish Political Editor appeared in the Scottish edition of the paper on 23 April. The unknown spokesman riposted:

‘This disgraceful attack is untrue from start to finish, and shows that the politics of smear is not confined to websites.

‘The Quilliam foundation has zero credibility…this smear must be seen for what it is. We have strong community relations in Scotland, and when we are all working to build unity, the very last thing we need is people with no knowledge of Scotland spreading nastiness and smears’.

Ed Husain may not have known what hit him upon reading this fusillade. This kind of stuff may be the standard putdown of splitters issued from the caves of Waziristan but here it is being fired off by a mainstream party which, whenever its leader goes abroad, always insists it is motivated only by nationalism at its most civic and responsible. We know that even Nick Griffin of the British National Party has ditched such bombast. The Quilliam people might be even more discomfited to realise that the ‘SNP spokesman’ could well be an Edinburgh civil servant. For Alex Salmond has drafted in a contingent of political workers to the various devolved ministries who now enjoy civil service status and princely salaries to boot. The most important of them arguably is Kevin Pringle who runs Salmond’s media office and glories in the title of Senior Special Adviser to the First Minister. Probably nobody in the party is closer to Salmond than Pringle who transforms the leader’s thoughts into pugnacious soundbites and who the largely unheroic Scottish press corps hold in wary respect.

If Alistair Campbell had ranted in such a splenetic way about a current foe of New Labour, he would have been met with scorn and ridicule by the press. But this is Scotland which doesn’t do satire and where you learn to keep a civil tongue in your head when addressing your betters. Take the Herald newspaper. Based in Glasgow and once a significant national broadsheet, it has gradually retreated from its political unionism while often adopting a world view sympathetic to multi-culturalism and critical of the conduct of major Western powers.

Neither this press organ nor any other branch of the Scottish media now includes figures on the Left who view the SNP government’s alliance with Islamists as a retreat from progressive politics, or at least are prepared to say so in print. This is in contrast with the press in London where left-wing journalists who have consistently argued against government collusion with non-violent Islamists include such figures as Martin Bright, Joan Smith, David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen.

Of the Scottish broadsheet press titles only Scotland on Sunday and the Sunday Times have offered regular coverage of the rise of political Islam. The topic generates far more concern in England arguably not because of anti-Muslim prejudice but owing to well-founded fears that precious freedoms might be eroded as a result. Given Scotland’s turbulent religious history, the lack of concern displayed by much of the press and even bodies like the Humanists is striking, suggesting that basic political freedoms are less appreciated here than in other parts of the United Kingdom.

Let us look more closely at the claims made in the statement quoted above from an anonymous SNP spokesman.

‘This disgraceful attack is untrue from start to finish…’

Quilliam made categorical claims backed up by quotes from Osama Saeed himself, writing on his blog, Rolled Up Trousers, and in the Guardian. If these were defamatory, then the very permissive libel laws of this country offer him and the SNP generous opportunity for redress. But if not, what has the party to lose by not refuting them ‘from start to finish’.

‘The Quilliam foundation has zero credibility…’

Would it not be a constructive step for Alex Salmond , perhaps on one of his visits to the House of Commons where he still sits as an MP, to invite Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz for tea to hear their views about Islam in its highly politicised forms? After all, Salmond belongs to a country whose progress has arguably been marred in the past by unwise rulers who have allowed mobilised Christian religions undue access to political power, the results not always being pretty to behold..

‘…this smear must be seen for what it is…’

But instead of being put up to this by God knows who, what if the Quilliam crowd are instead motivated by a desire to prevent a community like Scotland’s Muslims falling under the sway of people who hold very doctrinaire religious positions?

After all, ex-radicals have seen the consequences at close hand in English conurbations. Bureaucrats and local politicians sought to manage immigrant communities from the 1980s onwards by imposing ethnic identities on them and reducing the level of pluralism as self-appointed community leaders were appointed to act as latter-day colonial governors. This is the kind of creepy manipulative policy the SNP is emulating. It is the misfortune of Muslim Scots that they are the guinea pigs. But the rest of us, if we wish to find life in the new nationalist Scotland tolerable will also have to comply.

Scotland is enjoying an elaborate cultural makeover. A new stereotypical collective identity is being unfurled. It involves repackaging poets, artists and musicians as troubadours for Nationalism as well as high-profile festivals in the winter months where public participation will be tirelessly urged irrespective of the Scottish weather, and Gaelic lettering and Saltire flags emblazoned on every conceivable public space.

Such cultural propaganda, when tried out in Ireland, was mercilessly lampooned by satirists like Flann O’Brien. But in Scotland our stand-up comics and acerbic columnists for a long time have only had the United States, the wicked bankers, and despoilers of the environment in their sights. So the SNP’s bid to have us all marching in step to the same patriotic tunes along rain-washed Scottish streets has a good chance of success.

‘We have strong community relations in Scotland…’

This is moonshine and it is a perhaps a welcome sign of hubris that the SNP is ready to peddle such dope. Move away from the patriotic hype and a discerning visitor soon finds a small country with a great deal of anger that is directed into religious and quasi-religious rivalry (Orange versus Green nowhere stronger outside Ulster) and of course towards the English and some of the hated overlord’s symbols. To acknowledge this local dystopia involves spurning the Braveheart fantasy which is something that the SNP will never do so. Instead, it blithely paves the way for new inter-communal stand-offs by promoting a range of policies, beginning with state-funded Islamic schools, which are likely to increasingly isolate a currently quite-well-integrated Muslim community, from the rest of society.

‘…we are all working to build unity…’

This is the default position of all restrictive political movements which rely on suffocating conformity in order to prevail. Until recently the SNP was a byword for infighting and intrigue and unity of a sorts has descended as the opportunity to smash a feeble opposition and establish a dominance undreamt of a short time before, suddenly presents itself.

‘…we are all working to build unity…’

are revealing words. They indicate how impatient Alex Salmond, and those whom he has gathered around him are, with forms of pluralism involving searching debate and honest differences of opinion.

‘…the very last thing we need is people with no knowledge of Scotland spreading nastiness and smears’

These words encapsulate the self-righteous provincialism of the SNP. Mere foreigners, unless they drink from the fountain of nationalist purity, will never understand a country whose magnificent and complex history does not yield its secrets easily to outsiders. This kind of clap-trap has been pushed by ruling nationalists from Mussolini to Enver Hoxha and Kim Il-sung. In fact the Quilliam staffers almost certainly know far more about the consequences of crudely promoting religious precepts in ethnically-mixed parts of inner city Scotland than do SNP politicians who often just bother with these areas at election time.

I would like to think that there are still civic-minded folk in the SNP prepared to acknowledge that the Quilliam Foundation is well-meaning and only has good intentions towards Scotland and even the SNP itself. Quilliam is pointing out that Scotland is likely to become a more tribal place as a result of imposing a narrow religious identity on a section of the population. National self-confidence is bound to diminish and it will be less prepared to handle the challenge of independence, if that prospect ever materialises .Ed Husain and his colleagues are some of the most constructive and enlightened figures to reach public prominence in Britain for some time. If they have any backbone, the other parties at the Scottish Parliament, who have well over 50 per cent of the seats, ought to invite Quilliam to make a presentation at Holyrood showing why their work on combating extremism is relevant for Scotland today.

Habibi adds:
commenter Devorgilla has flagged this video, where Saeed scurrilously compares Labour to right wing extremists in Continental Europe:

Saeed is introduced by Salmond as a member of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB).

This harangue by Azzam Tamimi, a former MAB leader, whose comments Saeed has recommended you read, alongside those of George Galloway, nicely sums up the spirit of that organisation:

Poor old Union.


Pro Köln is a Fascist Organisation

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has been reporting on an ‘anti-Islamisation’ conference organised by Pro Köln, which is the successor to the neo-fascist “Deutsche Liga für Volk und Heimat“.

We expect fascists to use anti-Muslim bigotry to advance their hateful politics. The British National Party are following precisely the same agenda in the United Kingdom.

If you are no longer capable of distinguishing between specific jihadist and Islamist parties – Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami – and ordinary Muslim citizens of your country, then you have crossed over the line. If you attend a conference organised by fascists, then you have also crossed over the line. You have become an anti-Muslim bigot.

Speaking at the “anti-Islamisation” conference are Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs and Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch.

Not much more you can say, really.


David Duke arrested in Prague

Ceske Noviny reports:

The Czech police arrested David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan racist movement, in Prague today on suspicion of promotion of movements seeking suppression of human rights, Prague police spokesman told CTK.

Arriving in the Czech Republic at the invitation of local neo-Nazis, Duke was to give lectures in Prague and Brno.

Duke, a U.S. citizen, is suspected of denying or approving of the Nazi genocide and other Nazi crimes. This crime is punishable by up to three years in prison in the Czech Republic.

According to an Internet text signed by Filip Vavra, who is linked to the neo-Nazi National Resistance group, Duke has visited the Czech Republic in order to promote his book My Awakening.

Czech lawyer Klara Kalibova said some passages of the book can be interpreted as an effort at justifying or challenging the Holocaust.

I’m opposed to criminalizing Holocaust denial– better to fight back with the truth– but I can’t help contrasting the treatment Duke got in Prague to the reception he was accorded in the last castle of Arab dignity a few years ago.

(Hat tip: Adam Holland.)