Maajid Nawaz: My Fellow Muslims, I Am Not Your Enemy

Maajid Nawaz in a Facebook post answers critics claims that he has not stood up for Muslims. As he states “I am not your enemy. I am not your representative. I am not your religious role-model. But I am still from you, and I am of you. I have suffered all that you suffer. And I refuse to abandon you.”

My fellow Muslims, I am not your enemy. Since co-founding Quilliam I have:

1) Opposed UK gov ministers on ethnic & religious profiling http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-wgBFoS-Gs

2) Opposed Obama’s targeted killings & drone strikes http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/oct/01/drone-killing-anwar-al-awlaki

3) Opposed Senator King in the UK Parliament on his obfuscation & justification of torture http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1cU8ZzIPkc

4) I have been cited by the UK PM for my view that though Islamist extremism must be openly challenged, non-violent Islamist should not be banned http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm071114/debtext/71114-0005.htm

5) I have spoken out against extraordinary rendition of terror suspects https://www.facebook.com/MaajidNawazFanPage/posts/124062524393106

6) And against detention without charge of terror suspects http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/events/2009/maajid-nawaz-moderates-discussion-on-violent-extremism-in-europe/

7) I have supported an entire political party backing a call to end schedule 7 that deprives terror suspects of the right to silence at UK ports of entry & exit http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/in-the-media/maajid-nawaz-speaks-out-against-schedule-7-terror-laws-at-liberal-democrats-conference/ among much else.

Please understand, it is due to this very same concern for human rights that I vehemently oppose Islamist extremism and call for liberal reform within our communities, for our communities. I am not your enemy. I am not your representative. I am not your religious role-model. But I am still from you, and I am of you. I have suffered all that you suffer. And I refuse to abandon you.

Maajid Nawaz has had a discussion with Sam “Islam is the Mother lode of bad ideas” Harris, which will be released as a book at the beginning of October. That has brought its own criticism, given some of Harris’ controversial sounding positions (my essay on them can be read here). Debate is something worthwhile for its own sake, as Tom Holland mentions regarding the book.

Sam Harris has said in an interview:

“Tolerance, openness to argument, openness to self-doubt, willingness to see other people’s points of view – these are very liberal and enlightened values that people are right to hold, but we can’t allow them to delude us to the point where we can’t recognise people who are needlessly perpetrating human misery.”

I look forward to reading.

Maajid Nawaz wrote the Facebook post as a direct appeal to his son:

Ideas can move heaven and hell, let alone rip families apart.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Supreme Court of The United States Supports Gay Marriage

  

By 5-4 the Supreme Court reversed states being able to ban gay marriage. Speaking for the majority, Kennedy mentioned:

 
 The Chief Justice was one of the dissenters, commenting:
  

The celebration, that the right outcome has occurred, is one to rejoice at.

Update: the judgment can be read in full here.

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The End of The Confederate Flag 

In the aftermath of nine black people shot dead by a white supremacist, as an act of terror, to in his words reclaim the country and avenge rape by black people, symbolism matters.

Rather than going for handguns, the political will has been mustered to go for the confederate flag. It’s designer said it would help:

“maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race. ”[Source]

That reality, has been brought home in the wake of the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. How do you expect white supremacist ideals to be challenged when the flag that represented such an ideology still flies over state buildings, and roads bare the names of Generals that fought to prevent freedom and liberty for all? Jon Stewart makes that point in the above video.

The flag has now been removed now from South Carolina’s state house. Reducing it’s legitimacy as a political symbol is welcome. Now comes how to deal with the historical and cultural legacy.

Dukes of Hazzard: As a child in England, the historical significance of the flag was never explained, as I was entertained. Maybe that was the intention as I shouted “Yee-haw!”

The Apple App Store banned a game based on the Battle of Gettysburg, because the South are depicted with the flag. As the makers point out:

The historical “Gettysburg” movie (1993) is still on iTunes. We believe that all historical art forms: books, movies, or games such as ours, help to learn and understand history, depicting events as they were. [Source]

Flags are rallying symbols, endowed with the symbolism ideologues chose to give them. Walmart no longer stock anything that displays the flag. While politicians come together across the left and right to end the legitimacy public institutions gave the flag, the tougher challenge remains.

Challenging racist attitudes in public institutions like the police, going after violent rhetoric of white supremacists. Acknowledging the United States was built on the genocide of Native Americans. Slavery providing the economic foundation for once white colonialists then free white members of the Republic, to build a nation.

Racial oppression is at the heart of the American story. Somehow it has to be faced by the modern day citizens of the United States. Language is everything, it was once these United States – flying the flag represented that idea also. Banishing it from history is much the same as denying the nightmare upon which the American Dream was to be realised. A country has not come to terms with history when some cannot contemplate seeing it in a museum; something argued in this Slate article.

Removing the confederate flag was not just symbolic – it was about identity. That identity narrative now has to be fought against white supremacists with the same urgency as to preserve the Union. The battle for hearts and minds is ever as important as those that take place upon the battlefield.

Just do not mention the guns – another symbol of a historical freedom yet to be tarnished by the blood it has shed. We have to face the past to have a better future, together. The ability to endure bloodshed in pursuit of certain ideals is a lasting legacy.

Update: activists are beginning to take the flag down of their own accord.

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Tom Holland Is The New Spiderman 

 

 
Regrettably, the Tom Holland I know has been overlooked for the role of Spiderman. I hope to show, using the old Spiderman theme, that he was clearly born for the role.

 

 

Spiderman, Spiderman,

Does whatever as a historian

Spins a tweet, any size,

Uses history to open eyes

Look Out!

Here comes the Spiderman.

 

 

Is he strong?

Listen bud,

He’s got vampire blood.

Can he swing into a thread

Then hit a six overhead

Hey, there

There goes the Spiderman.

 

 

In the chill of night

At the scene of misinformation

Like a streak of light

He arrives to save the situation

 

 

Look out Mr Ansar!

 

 

Spiderman, Spiderman

Friendly neighborhood Spiderman

Wealth and fame

He’s ignored

His Savile suit is it’s own reward.

Look out!

Here comes the Spiderman

 

 

To him, life is a Roman big bang up

Wherever there’s a Viking hang up

You’ll find the Spiderman.

On a more serious note, there is a poem celebrating Tom’s aim to raise funds for children to be schooled in India. These charitable endeavours: “Never before will rank incompetence have been put to such a noble cause” go by the name of BatAid. Armand D’AnGour penned:

 

Let us sing of the sound of leather on wood,

As our hero strides out for a cause that is good,

To support orphan children who need to be taught:

From Tom’s bat to the book every pound must be sought!

 

If you have enjoyed our poetry efforts, or feel British pluck against the odds deserves support, then do please donate via this link.

 

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Education: Children Must Not Be Pawns For Fundamentalists

Children are increasing being taught superstition and pseudo science as fact. It is an outrage and a betrayal of their education by the government. These pressures are being compounded as religious fundamentalists from around the world try to push their own agenda via our education sector. We need to protect our most precious resource.

Listening to Dr Alice Roberts on schooling in the UK, and Leo Igwe on Africa, at the British Humanist Asscoaition Conference in Bristol today, a quick post as I travel back home. 

Madrasahs are opening as extra school activities, and Islamic faith schools are denying a rounded curriculum while promoting a tribalistic cultural interpretation of the religion that promotes face masks and fasting on kids (against mainstream theological views). Fundamentalist Christians, responding to increased Godlessness and what they see as a breeding jihad are funding their own schools teaching creationism, the power of prayer, and that marriage without knowing contraceptives will it all. A Jewish faith school threatens not to admit children driven by their mothers.

Add to that mix, Christian witch hunting fundamentalists from Africa trying to open a school in Kent. Naturally they want to bring their roadshow to the country, to exercise the devil and the wallets of the faithful. Thankfully with pressure from groups like the BHA, this has been stopped. An education is one of the best defences against superstitious peddling and charlatan chancers. As a result, they are the ones trying to breach that by owning schools, or controlling via education boadies or governors. 

Money is coming from all over the world to indoctrinate children into fundamentalist beliefs, at odds with the education they need to make the most of opportunities in life, and their potential. What the government sees as investment and the extension of parental choice, is playing with the education of children. Curriculum standards and safeguards are challenged, and too often breached.

Even the one about schools having daily Christian prayer is more commonly in the breach than in the observance. A law that is not going to be enforced, and frequently broken, is one not worth having. It is doubtful that parliament will rescind this obligation anytime soon, despite a forthcoming vote. You wonder what other things are not worth the paper they are printed on.

The Trojan Horse plot took years before Ofsted were prepared to take it seriously. The school in Kent was blocked, as have witch hunting evangelists. The other schools continue to grow. In Higher Education science teachers are being reported by their students for mentioning evolution, as part of their science or medical degree. 

A universal curriculum standard should not be sacrificed. I have argued before about schools being a space unlike a place of worship or home (please read: No Such Thing As A Faith Child). Religion posions everything – by that Christopher Hitchens made clear intelligent people will make ridiculous statements, and good people will do bad things in the name of religion. It should not be given a free pass. 

The cliche that religious schools increase standards (more on that here: The Church To Control Non Faith Schools) and parents have an absolute right to have the schooling they want for their child, rather than a guaranteed universally academic standard education, should concern us. For mistaking the impact of selective socio economic admission selection, fundamentalists from far and wide are coming for the minds of our children.

Do not be surprised with so many children being used as pawns of fundamentalists that some will go on to have extremist sympathies. Or end up with qualifications that are devalued compared to other children’s. Let alone a fundamentalist mind set due to the instruction, rather than an education that they should have received. Life choices ruined due to promoting parental choices.

These are things that should concern us whether we are religious or not. If we cannot safeguard the quality of education and extra school activities of our children, society is broken. Do not be surprised if some pawns end up promoting an end game we should have seen coming.

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Charleston Church Shooting Was Terrorism

  
  

Nine black people massacred in a church by a white supremacist, who once posed wearing clothing with the apartheid era flag of South Africa and Rhodesia emblazoned upon. He deliberately kept one person alive, so they could bear witness to the terror he had inflicted. A child played dead, saving her life.

By most measures this was an act of terror, designed to reverberate in US society. The Church in Charleston is where Martin Luther King had once spoken. This was more than a hate crime. It was a message, in line with political and social white supremacism. 
This was an act of terrorism. 

The arguments on twitter over defining this as such have descended into petty insults for some, bogged down with dictionary screenshots. We need to recognise racism when it becomes politically demonstrated in violence, is so much more than just hate. 
Whether police brutality at a teenage swimming pool party, police shooting unarmed men repeatedly, we see what institutionalised power can get away with. Being White is the best tailoring to be clothed in – the arbitrary birth suit of privilege in western society ready made to measure. It would be disingenuous not to acknowledge that. 

We can be forgiven for thinking rather than nearing Martin Luther King’s dream, it is closer to a nightmare. Despite the grief and emotion, the civil rights movement has made a huge stride in getting there in the last fifty or so years. Now is not the time to give up, to be full of recriminations. Where bitter words are traded and fault lines in society snap – just the way Roof wanted in the wake of his massacre.

President Obama mentioned the church killing does not happen like this in other developed nations. Yet, recall the attempt by the Copenhagen cafe Islamist shooter trying to enter a synagogue – foiled by someone at the door who paid with their life. Or in Israel where this week the Church of the loaves and fishes (where the miracle is claimed to have occurred) burnt to the ground – with a Hebrew prayer sprayed on the side against false gods.

The hatred is real and aimed at people by race or creed – and sometimes both. Political extremists are using violence to intimidate while we are being played on by various narratives in the media and blogosphere, whether we know it or not. Thus ever has it been.

Today I am going to the British Humanist Conference in Bristol. Meeting with like minded people in celebration of ideas, discussion, and life. I cannot help but think the people at the church were doing the same. It is these things that make us human.

Do not let the memory of those nine people count for nothing. We must face down the hate, and the prejudice we are all capable of. Some dreams are too important not to live for.

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Asghar Bukhari and the Missing Shoe #MossadStoleMyShoe

 
I cannot imagine the horror of waking up to find your shoe stolen. No sign of forced entry. Naturally your first thought of such a violation, which is worse than the theft of a shoe, goes to the people to blame. Jews. Except, of course you cannot say that. Say Zionists. Even without proof, you may get away with that:

 
The battle is joined at last for Asghar Bukhari in the struggle against an international conspiracy of Zionists. Despite the lack of proof. It has cost him a shoe. You may be forgiven for not knowing about this person. Despite the Zionist reference hinting at someone who runs off at the mouth with hatred, you may want to empathise at someone who claims to be being harassed. Free speech means you can say nonsensical things, and not deserve to have your shoe stolen from you as you sleep. I totally agree.

That though is where my sympathy ends, and hopefully I can show you a few more examples of the hatred Asghar Bukhari expresses on Twitter.

 
Shoe shinning – that and other rather choice words are his mo on Twitter to insult people. Notice in 2013 people were beginning to wonder – is this carrying on about creating a media profile? Skip forward to this year see if this is still how he responds to people.

 

For Bukhari, evil bitch, zio-bitch, zio nazi bitch – trademark insults. Best response is to turn the other cheek. The attempt here is to make political and military conflicts all about religion. Classic fundamentalist point of view. One as head of MPACuk  he is prepared to advocate. Speaking of that organisation:

The Muslim Public Affairs Committee have used their website to reproduce material taken from the sites of both David Irving and The Heretical Press (a far right publisher based in Hull)… Often when Islamist organisations use far right sources it reveals a deeper antisemitism. The Muslim Public Affairs Committee’s reproduction of material from the far right sits on their website alongside open support for Holocaust denier David Irving, accusations of Zionist media and political control, lists of Jewish donors to New Labour and an investigation into whether the Talmud is “the most Powerful and Racist book in the world”. In one example which neatly illustrates the growing commonalities between political extremes, the Islamist Muslim Public Affairs Committee published an article by Professor Kevin MacDonald – who appeared as a witness for David Irving in his failed libel action against Professor Deborah Lipstadt – on the subject which is currently of so much interest to the far left and the anti-war movement: the “International Jewish Origins of Neoconservatism”.

A much longer conversation follows, regarding how Bukhari operates in the real world and social media to intimidate others.



Hopefully by now you are getting the full measure of the man. Such as it is.


Think we all get the gist by now.

So #mossadstolemyshoe was set up – to tackle his antisemitism, expose it to a larger audience. To highlight the hatred this self claimed “defender of my people” uses.


The best one I saw though was this:

How has he responded to all the attention? Like there is no such thing as bad publicity.


Indeed haters are going to hate. As we can see above.

Update 14/6/2015

Here is the video …

You can hear my thoughts regarding the video, on the Godless Spellchecker podcast here

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