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al-Guardian & the Brotherhood

The following article outlines how the mainstream organ of the British left has given a sanitised promotional platform to the Muslim Brotherhood. At the time this piece was written, the Guardian's comment editor was Seumas Milne. When not promoting obnoxious Islamist mouthpieces and calling 9/11 a “self-inflicted wound,” Milne felt obliged to praise Stalinism for, among other things, its “genuine idealism.”  However, as noted over at Harry's Place: “the real source of Milne's disgrace is that he... is responsible for making fascism respectable on the left.” 

"One has to wonder how contempt for pluralism and free speech, along with the theological mandate of arbitrary murder, have become such obvious causes for a 'progressive' newspaper. Granted, the Brotherhood shares with much of the left a hatred of U.S. ‘imperialism’, which is, allegedly, the cause of all evil in the world. Though, again, I’m not sure how these anti-imperial credentials sit with the slogan that still adorns the Brotherhood’s literature and website: 'Islam will dominate the world'..."

The_strange_and_wonderful_faisal_bodiIn his Guardian columns, Faisal Bodi, a news editor of the Islam Channel TV station, has said many strange and wonderful things. In March, during the Abdul Rahman apostasy case, Bodi championed the orthodox punishment for those who leave the Religion of Peace™ – despite it being rather permanent and involving ritual murder: “It is an understandable response from people who cherish the religious basis of their societies to protect them… from the damage that an inferior worldview can wreak.” In a climate of cultural equivalence, it’s somewhat refreshing to hear a Guardian columnist openly refer to an “inferior worldview.” Though I suspect one might disagree with Bodi’s estimation of which worldview is less enlightened.

Taken in isolation, Bodi’s advocacy of Islam Taliban-style might seem little more than an attempt to be contentious. But in matters of Islamist zeal a remarkable pattern of endorsement runs throughout the Guardian’s commentary. It began, more or less, in January 2004, when the paper published a speech by Osama bin Laden  in the form of a regular opinion piece, prompting waggish comments about the al-Qaeda figurehead being “recruited as a Guardian columnist.” Dubious humour aside, at least readers were clear about the author’s political affiliation. However, the Guardian has subsequently published no fewer than 14 opinion pieces by members of, or advocates of, the Muslim Brotherhood, the radical group whose militant ideas directly inspired bin Laden. Curiously, the commentators’ links with the group were not disclosed to readers.

One recent example, a piece by the Brotherhood’s Egyptian vice-president, Khairat el-Shatir, is the first to acknowledge the writer’s membership of this illegal organisation. In Shatir’s article, titled No Need to be Afraid of Us, we were, improbably, told: “The success of the Muslim Brotherhood should not frighten anybody: we respect the rights of all religious and political groups.” Shatir’s reassurances are at odds with comments by the Brotherhood’s president, Muhammad Mehdi Akef, who last year told the Egyptian newspaper al-Arabi: “Islam will invade Europe and America because Islam has a mission.” Speaking in December, Mehdi described the Holocaust as “a myth” and insisted that, when in power, the Brotherhood would not recognise Israel, whose demise he “expected soon.” Mehdi views "martyrdom operations" in Palestine and Iraq as a religious duty and has described all Israelis – including children - as “enemies of Islam.” And yet Guardian readers are assured that the Brotherhood “has long espoused non-violence.”

In January, the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yusouf invited Ragab Hilal Hamida, a Brotherhood MP and former member of the jihadist group Jama'at al-Takfir Wa al-Hijra, to clarify earlier comments expressing support for bin Laden. Hamida promptly obliged: “'Terrorism' is not a curse when given its true [religious] meaning. From my point of view, bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and al-Zarqawi are not terrorists... I support all their activities.” When asked if such statements might reflect badly on the public perception of Islam, Hamida replied, “Islam does not need improvement of its image.” 

You_know_for_kidsThe Guardian’s comment editor, Seumas Milne, is apparently unfamiliar with the Brotherhood’s less conciliatory statements to non-Western journalists, including the group’s ambitions for “the widespread implementation of Islam as a way of life; no longer to be sidelined as merely a religion.” Nor, it seems, is Milne aware that the Egyptian Brotherhood’s own website directs young Muslims to a website for children that celebrates jihad, racism and homicidal ‘martyrdom’, albeit with child-friendly cartoons. 

It isn’t clear why Milne continues to give a platform to the Brotherhood and its affiliates. Like many other refugees from the Communist Party of Great Britain, Milne may be vicariously titillated by the revolutionary intent of Islamic fundamentalism. Though one has to wonder how contempt for pluralism and free speech along with the theological mandate of arbitrary murder have become such obvious causes for a “progressive” newspaper. Granted, the Brotherhood shares with much of the left a hatred of U.S. ‘imperialism’, which is, allegedly, the cause of all evil in the world. Though, again, I’m not sure how these anti-imperial credentials sit with the slogan that still adorns the Brotherhood’s literature and website: “Islam will dominate the world.”

Seumas_milneGuardian readers are, however, spared such troublesome details. It’s not entirely obvious whether these omissions are a result of Milne’s ignorance, or of some deeper sympathy with delusional bigots. Either way, I’m inclined to wonder if the Guardian would publish a regular series of propaganda pieces by members of Stormfront or the BNP, championing the benign ambitions of white supremacist groups, without reference to the writers’ membership of those groups, and without any subsequent challenge or contrary point of view.

Here’s a small taste of the views that go unchallenged in the Guardian’s comment pages. In July 2004, Sohaib Saeed, a spokesman for the Brotherhood affiliate, the Muslim Association of Britain, generously suggested that criticism of Islam could be raised “in appropriate times and places.” Alas, Saeed neglected to specify which times and places might be permissible. We were, however, informed that the Brotherhood's foremost cleric, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is a “shining example of moderation” and asked whom British Muslims should follow if not the Brotherhood’s “esteemed” spiritual leader.

The following month, Anas Altikriti  - whose father happens to be the head of the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood - warned of “catastrophic consequences” if the right continued to “smear and demonise” Islam. That these “smears” are very often statements of fact passed without comment. And labelling as “rightwing” anyone who asks inconvenient questions is itself a form of demonisation, if only to Guardian readers.

And let’s not forget the Guardian’s former trainee journalist, Dilpazier Aslam, whose youthful exuberance for radical Islam will, of course, be sorely missed. Readers may recall that Aslam is a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a supremacist movement banned in Germany and much of the Middle East – chiefly for circulating the kind of xenophobic literature that one would think is at odds with the Guardian’s multicultural ethos. The Hizb newsletter proclaims a “clash of civilisations is not only inevitable but imperative” and in October 2002 the group’s Danish representative, Fadi Abdelatif, was prosecuted for distributing an anti-Semitic leaflet titled And Kill Them Wherever You Find Them.

Alternative_to_capitalismMany of the Guardian’s non-Muslim contributors also seem determined to sanitise Islamic radicalism for purposes of their own. Last September, Natasha Walter downplayed Hizb’s anti-Semitic hysteria and stressed the group’s “espousal of decent things like women’s rights.” But according to Hizb’s own on-line draft constitution, those “women’s rights” would involve compulsory segregation of the sexes, limited voting and enforced “modesty.” Evidently, Ms Walter was too busy describing Hizb as an “alternative to capitalism” to actually read what these anti-capitalist revolutionaries wish to bring about.

One month later, Madeleine Bunting conducted a bizarre Hello-style interview with the Brotherhood’s moral compass, Yusuf al-Qaradawi. In it, she enthused about his “horror of immorality and materialism”, his “independence of mind” and his mastery of the internet. However, Bunting was careful to skip over the actual content of Qaradawi’s website, which propagates the cleric’s “problematic” endorsement of suicide bombing, executing homosexuals and the beating of disobedient women. One wonders if Ms Bunting chose not to question Qaradawi’s beliefs for fear of receiving similar chastisement.

A_curious_moral_compassElsewhere in the Guardian, Milne has argued that extremists should be given a voice within the media, rather than being driven underground. Well, a public testing of ideas is one of the virtues of democracy, and even the most poisonous views can be countered with contrary facts and a healthy dose of ridicule. But a public testing of Islamist ideology is precisely what is missing from the left-leaning press and from the Guardian in particular. What we see instead is an unchallenged platform for those who don’t wish their ideas to be tested at all.

This unilateral concession and failure of courage should concern everyone, irrespective of their politics and religion. As Islamic zealots invariably claim to speak on behalf of “all Muslims”, it’s imperative that their beliefs are challenged unapologetically. Yet what we find in the Guardian is a non-debate between advocates of the Brotherhood like Azzam Tamimi, who defends suicide bombing as a measure of pious “desperation”, and those, like Iqbal Sacranie and Karen Armstrong, who disingenuously deny terrorism has anything to do with conceptions of Islam and the teachings of its prophet.

Karen_armstrong_hagiographer_and_shillUnfortunately, this denial of reality sidelines Muslim reformers and serves the cause of extremists. Whether through ignorance or embarrassment, moderate believers say 'Oh, terrorism is nothing to do with Islam.' Then the jihadists prove them wrong by pointing out the relevant verses from the Qur’an and Sunnah, using Muhammad’s own instructions and example as their mandate. Consequently, it is the jihadists who gain kudos as more knowledgeable and "authentic." As Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote in her book, The Caged Virgin: “The central figure in this struggle is not bin Laden… or Sayyid Qutb, but Muhammad.”

Any realistic response to the Brotherhood and its affiliates must include a frank discussion of the theology from which they claim legitimacy. Yet the prevailing climate remains one of deference, evasion and blatant double standards. Islamists may well react to any questioning of their beliefs with umbrage, threats or howls of impropriety. But what is more troubling is that the mainstream organ of the British left is giving a preferential platform to fascistic ideas, shielded from any meaningful opposition or factual correction, at least in its print form. Perhaps this bias and timidity is part of an attempt by the Guardian to siphon readers from Q News or the Muslim Weekly. But a fear of offending any strand of Muslim opinion – no matter how bigoted and grievous it may be - has left the Guardian critically hamstrung on a defining issue of our time.

 

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Comments

Niko

"the Egyptian Brotherhood’s own website directs young Muslims to a website for children that celebrates jihad, racism and homicidal ‘martyrdom’, albeit with child-friendly cartoons" - I'm quite confident to allege that none of the Muslim Brotherhood's higher representatives' children are being exposed to such urges of martyrdom but rather spend their time at boarding schools in Britain, France and Switzerland.

It may also be helpful to examine the echo chamber that the Guardian, BBC and AP have assembled for much of Britain's and continental Europe's press corps. While it may be widely known that BBC anchorwomen get their daily dose of "information" solely from the pages of the Guardian (and vice versa), the inner workings of the AP still remain mysterious for much of their audience:

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=22055_LGF_Exclusive-_How_Much_Does_It_Cost_to_Buy_Global_TV_News&only

SDM

I am no lover of Seumas Milne's postmodernist drivel but I am far more offended by your rampant Islamophobia. If you feel that free speech is anathema maybe you should try blogging from Burma, Turkmenistan or Russia. The Guardian publishes articles from everyone and they are all open to criticism. You implication that peoples ideologies should be accepted or not by judgement of some authoritarian council of ideological correctness stinks of Stalin's rationale. You are a fool and an ignorant. Get stuffed.

Shawn

"You implication that peoples ideologies should be accepted or not by judgement of some authoritarian council of ideological correctness stinks of Stalin's rationale."

You, sir, are a fool. Would you be fine with the Guardian publishing the op-eds of neo-Nazis without telling you that they were neo-Nazis?

They do not publish articles by everyone. That is the entire problem. The other problem is non-disclosure. I would be just as angry if they published an article by a Black Panther or a Grand Wizard without making a note that the author was a member of either group.

And your cry of Islamophobia to shut down rational discussion will be a failure. "Islamophobia" is an invention of the fundamentalists and their apologists in order to shut down the discussion of radical Islam (notice that most "Islamophobics" have nothing wrong with most Muslims).

That you think major media outlets should give voice to bigots and supremecists is disgusting. The media is private and is allowed to choose who it gives voice to - free spech only applies to government suppression you sadly ignorant person.

Perhaps you should take your own advice and "get stuffed".

sheik yer'mami

Excellent article, well done. Keep up the good work! If it 'offends' the Muhammedan invaders, we are doing the right thing.

'Islamophobia' is a swearword, and should be.

We would like to link to you and you might like to do vice versa.


http://sheikyermami.com/2007/02/20/al-guardian-turned-animal-farm-the-swine-are-in-charge/

Sagredo

The Arab Muslims are stuffed with petrodollars. If I were in their position, I would try to buy favorable opinion for Islamofascism by endowing universities, helping newspapers, helping reporters, and so on. And, of course, they have done some of this quite openly here in America. Would it be a big surprise to discover that they also buy media opinion sub rosa? And would it be possible that this has influenced the blatant and extreme bias of al-Guardian--especially considering this paper's traditional leftist orientation and the (post)modern evoluton of leftist anti-Americanism, anti-Semtism, and pro-Islamsm? Has anyone looked into the Guardian's finances, and its editors' and reporters'?

Leatherneck

Allowing more, and more individuals into the west from Islamic countries is part of globalism. This is one example how culture is lost, and a new world order is brought about. Another great example is allowing 15 to 20 million poor and uneducated illegal aliens into America, destruction of marriage, white men are evil, Christian speech is hate speech, and anyting goes, as long as you feeeeeel good about.

One war, many fronts. Now, back to compassion, and understanding class!

Baz

Superb article. I especially liked the reference that much of the left is "vicariously titillated by the revolutionary intent of Islamic fundamentalism".

I've long suspected that it is this worship of power that lies behind the left's adoration.

David Thompson

All,

Re SDM’s rather confused comments above, I feel I ought to reply to the central insinuation of “rampant Islamophobia.”

The loaded nature of the term ‘Islamophobia’ has been discussed elsewhere at this blog, along with its bizarre implication that criticism of Islam must, in all cases, be driven by some irrational prejudice or nefarious intent, rather than by rational and substantiated concerns. I’ve tried to outline some of those concerns and have provided evidence to support them. It would, I think, be more productive if critics were to address the evidence and the argument, rather than make sweeping and unverifiable assumptions as to my motives in order to stifle real discussion.

There are many schools of Islamic theology and countless degrees of religious observance. Nothing I’ve written here has suggested otherwise. The majority of a billion or so believers do not appear to be busying themselves with xenophobic aggression or fantasies of conquest. Doubtless many believers will be appalled by the actions of those who do.

A recognition of the problems outlined in this piece (and other articles here) doesn’t imply any particular disposition on my part towards any arbitrary adherent of Islam, in whatever form, or any notional community thereof. I’ve made my criticisms as specific as possible and readers are welcome to challenge any of those points and to dispute the evidence I present, But denouncing me on the basis of things I haven’t actually said and positions I don’t hold sheds no light at all.

I’ve no particular feelings about how a person chooses to commune with some hypothetical deity in private. If consenting adults wish to stick pins in their eyes to do this, I don’t particularly care. But when religion enters the public and political realm, whether in newspaper opinion pieces or demands for unilateral favours, then it becomes fair game. Calling political ambitions a religion doesn’t exempt them from scrutiny or warrant special favours

Johan W

SDM you really are a moron, did you just completely miss this from the article you presume to comments on ?:
Well, a public testing of ideas is one of the virtues of democracy, and even the most poisonous views can be countered with contrary facts and a healthy dose of ridicule. But a public testing of Islamist ideology is precisely what is missing from the left-leaning press and from the Guardian in particular.

The point being made is not that Islamist's should not get a hearing but that they should be challenged like any other ideology. And of course you completely miss the bit about how their voice is being given a much better platform than that of moderate Muslims. People who like to throw the term "Islamophobia" around are the first to talk about the "tiny minority" of extremists in the Religion of peace, but at every oprrotunity they are the ones who are most ready to collapse the distinction between moderate Muslims and Islamists - so that any critique of Islamists is labelled "Islamophobia" as if it is after all the Islamists that are the broad ass of Muslims.

drk

Good article that clearly describes my current problem with "The Silence of the Left" - they won't support anything that would normally be a "left agenda" if it might oppose their hatred of "Amerika"

As a veteran "long-haired-hippy-lefty" type I am no longer suprised that the left refuse to deal with the problems of misogyny, gay rights, freedom of speech and democracy in countries under Sharia law - even when those same actions in any other country would cause an outrage ..

Like I say - "This time the enemy of my enemy is NOT my friend ..."

Mary Jackson

Excellent article. And this Islamophobia myth needs to be scotched once and for all.

Rob

As someone once said - "Islamophobia - the fear of being blown up on a bus or tube train".

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