Is Mehdi Hasan Inciting Hatred Among Muslims?

Mehdi Hasan has been on Facebook, firing up Islamophobia. His statement is simple:

This awful Daily Telegraph piece, from headline to last sentence, is pure Islamophobia, a textbook case of ‘othering’ an entire community of British citizens:

The article?

It is Muslims who must reach out to Britain – David Cameron is right to identify the resentment that young Muslims can feel, but the antidote can only come from within Muslim communities themselves – Philip Johnston.

We know how gullible people are on Facebook. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve posted hoax slaying links under claims about the magic of some weight pill, how storing water in plastic bottles will give you cancer – even the fake one about Tesco refusing to serve a soldier in uniform at a time when dead soldiers were coming back from Afghanistan – that was intended to incite Islamophobia, or more specifically, Muslim-phobia.

So, you’d think some well known journalist would be a bit more responsible in his Facebook posts. Not Mehdi Hasan, who writes the most outrageously biased posts, and then sits back to let easily inflamed west-hating Muslims and British Muslim-phobic non-Muslims start unloading on each other. I’m surprised this last post isn’t classed as hate speech.

Let’s check the claim again, from Mehdi Hasan: “from headline to last sentence, is pure Islamophobia” And let’s have a look at the article, from headline to last sentence.

Well, the headline is pretty straight forward, to the point, but I’m not sure how it can be considered Islamophobic. The trouble is the headline isn’t that clear, by itself. At face value it’s saying what pretty much applies to any community that has a significant number of members that consider themselves to be not British. The same goes for British ‘ex-pats’ that move to Spain to live, where the locals are reasonably disgruntled that many of these Brits try to create a Little Britain, pushing out local Spanish, importing British pub life. But even so, I can see how the headline alone might have Mehdi wondering about what’s coming next.

But what does come next is not only benign, the sub-heading reflects the messages we hear often from Muslims. The message of the headline and sub: “David Cameron is right to identify the resentment that young Muslims can feel.” Well, isn’t that what Mehdi wants? Hasn’t he been banging on about identity? Here’s Johnston saying that.

And, “the antidote can only come from within Muslim communities themselves” – This is just what many Muslims have been saying in an attempt to reject opinions from non-Muslims, who, it is claimed, don’t understand Islam. We’re also told this by #PseudoLiberals that try to protect Islam from criticism (you know, because to criticise Islam is to personally attack and demonise all Muslims).

Nothing Islamophobic here.

Perhaps the problem lies within the body of the article. Already the inciteful Mehdi’s “from headline to last sentence, is pure Islamophobia” is looking a bit thin, but let’s see.

Paragraph 1: Nothing to do with Islam, but a reflection on authors own naive impressionable self in the days of the socialist phenomenon of the seventies Britain. But I can’t imagine many young Muslims demonstrating on the streets of Britain being any different in their passions.

Para-2: More of the same. Personal history.

Para-3: Same subject. Nothing on Islam at all yet.

Para-4: Ah, a quote from Cameron’s speech, and first implied link similarity between extremists of the past and ISLAMISTS (extremists that act in the name of Islam, but which Mehdi likes to think isn’t real Islam). Nothing on Muslims and Islam in general yet. Not a jot of Islamophobia of any kind yet.

So far Philip Johnston has done nothing more than express his own young passionate naiveté and accused older supposedly wiser heads for inciting anti-British, anti-western, passions based on rather simplistic political ideology of the 70’s. Yes, I know, Mehdi is primed to read this as a dig at Muslims, but it’s no more than a dig at the hate preachers Mehdi himself surely disagrees with, when they incite Muslim youth. That’s right, isn’t it Mehdi, you do oppose what the hate preachers say? Only from your rhetoric it’s not always clear.

Para-5:

By contrast, young Muslim men – and, increasingly, girls – have few counterpoints to the warped world view they experience on a daily basis, whether at home, in school, on TV or through the Internet. It is their separation from the mainstream rather than the ideology itself that is the problem.

Holy fuck! He mentioned Muslims! Islamophobe!

Hold, on, what’s Johnston actually saying? Isn’t Mehdi always banging on about identity problems? Isn’t separation from mainstream British culture part of the problem? Can you really demand segregation and special status and complain you’re not treated like everyone else?

Essentially, this has a lot to do with a shared religion, which is why those who say Islam is not the issue miss the point: it is not that its teachings are necessarily at fault, but Islam provides an impenetrable ethical and cultural carapace that repels liberal ideas.

So, he’s not blaming Islam as such, but merely identifying a difference between Islam as lived in some communities and the liberal values of Britain in general. Isn’t that what many Muslims are actually saying, that they are relatively conservative, want to keep their kids away from the influence of the more liberal values observed in many young British non-Muslims? Is Mehdi denying that some Muslims want this sort of segregation, the sort that chooses to have women wear traditional Islamic dress if the wish? I’m not seeing anything Islamophobic here, but an acknowledgement of what many Muslims say.

Where’s the Islamophobia?

Para-6:

It may well be true that some young Muslims feel angry and alienated but that is only because they are fed a daily diet of resentment that other settlers – Jews, Chinese, Indians etc – do not feel.

Fed a daily diet of resentment by Mehdi Hasan and many other influential Muslims playing the victim. The problem is that this ploy masks genuine cases of persecution: actual racist persecution of Muslims, and the persecution of people within Muslim communities by Muslims.

These [other – Jews, Chinese, Indians etc] communities have also often congregated together (just as expat Brits do) but they are more open to the influences of the wider community and much more likely to embrace the values and support the institutions that underpin the nation.

Nothing Islamophobic here. A straight forward comparison of how various communities in Britain have issues arising out of their community segregation. This isn’t a value judgement. It’s quite natural for communities to of like minded, like language, like religion, to want to stick together. That’s what makes communities. But as we see around the world, distinct communities, minorities can often co-exist with a host culture, and can become so well established that most of the time they rub along well, even in their differences. But again, as with many places around the world, there can be a conflict of ideas and practices. There really isn’t anything Islamophobic in what Johnston is saying here.

Para-7

Here, Johnston is addressing the problems that a British PM faces in trying to keep the nation running smoothly, in the midst of one particular salient fact: too many British Muslims are being radicalised.

… what, specifically, makes a young Muslim susceptible to extremist ideology but not a young second-generation Indian or, for that matter, a young British Christian bombarded with the quack nostrums of Marxist collectivism.

I think Mehdi would agree that these other communities are not experiencing radicalisation the way some Muslims are. It’s a genuine question. What can be Islamophobic about establishing the facts of the matter?

To ignore the cultural confines of Islam and say this is really a political, not a religious, issue is to miss the point entirely as, indeed, Mr Cameron conceded for the first time in his Birmingham speech.

Is Mehdi so naive, or dishonest, not to notice that when the radicalisation of some British Muslims, many from a Pakistani heritage that has nothing to do with Syria or Iraq other than Muslim identity and religion, is so focused on that community’s identity, in Islam, that he really has to try to divert attention from Islam, incite western-phobia, and contribute to the inflaming of British Muslims?

Breaking down these barriers is the real challenge, just as it has been for the past 30 years. We are reaping the whirlwind of the multiculturalist experiment that the Left championed and the Right were too cowed to denounce until the baleful consequences of segregation became apparent.

Again, nothing here that is Islamophobic, because the post-modern relativism that has clouded the vision of multi-culturalism applies right across the board. When Reza Aslan points out that FGM isn’t just an Islamic problem (it isn’t, but look at Aslan’s misrepresentation of the facts), then clearly the recent report on FGM in the UK presents a problem that has not been addressed, and there are specific examples of it not being addressed because post-modern relativist reluctant to offend has overridden the humanist right not to be mutilated.

Seven paragraphs in, and while there’s been mention of Islam and Muslim identity issues, there’s been nothing that we haven’t heard from many liberal Muslims, about the segregation, isolation of their communities. There has been nothing in this that is Islamophobic – unless, as the deeply offended Mehdi Hasan would have it, merely acknowledging and reviewing the nature of the problem for some Muslims is in itself Islamophobia. If it is, then virtually everything coming out of Mehdi Hasan’s pen is western-phobia, British-phoniab, white-phobia. There’s no end to the phobias you can find if you turn your mind to it, and Mehdi Hasan has made a name for himself doing it, for Islam.

Para-8 – It’s not until paragraph eight that we have something of a value judgement on the differences between Islamic and other British cultural influences.

Again Johnston echoes Cameron’s speech. Which, incidentally, surely means that by now Mehdi Hasan is saying that Cameron’s speech is Islamophobic. Of course it wouldn’t suit his agenda to make it that clear, to speak so plainly. After all, Mehdi, by now, has been found out with his poisonous rhetoric often enough. He still wants to play the part of a British liberal Muslim while being free to inciting division the way he does. The plausible deniability of accusing Cameron of being an Islamophobe is something he has to be careful to hang on to, because while he can get away with inciting hatred in his fellow Muslims he can’t risk being seen as an anti-western Islamist by too many non-Muslims.

I still don’t think Mehdi is an Islamist. I still think he’s somewhat liberal. But videos of his hate speech rhetoric exist out there, and it’s difficult to take his denouncements of those episodes seriously when some of the same sentiments sneak in to his current persona. But, still, I’d err on the side of good saying he is well meaning, but genuinely misguided by his Islamic indoctrination.

Of course, his #PseudoLiberal non-Muslim leftist ideologue buddies have no trouble demonising Cameron or anyone else they disagree with. Owen Jones already had Cameron down as a PR man for ISIS, because he was blaming ALL MUSLIMS (not that again): David Cameron, inadvertent PR man for Islamic extremists. So, the Quran and Hadith are not sufficient persuasion for ISIS?

Onward with Johnston. In parapgraph eight, Johnston asks:

Mr Cameron said it was wrong to say Islam was incompatible with British values; yet at the same time he insisted that those who follow minority faiths must subscribe to mainstream progressive views on gay marriage and gender equality. How do those two statements come together when attitudes to homosexuality and women’s rights – and even democracy in places like Tower Hamlets – are so out of sync with the tolerance and values shown by the majority?

Well, has Mehdi not said himself that he is homophobic? He now says he was wrong, but surely Mehdi isn’t trying to tell us all fellow British Muslims have changed their minds too? He can tell himself what he likes about the status of women in Islam, but he’s not fooling anyone but himself and a lot of fellow Muslims. There are real Islamic values, not just Islamist distortions, that are in direct conflict with liberal British. And while many other Britons don’t like how liberal Britain is, they are not being radicalised by their faith quite so often or as easily.

It’s not until paragraph nine, the last one, that Johnston does anything like pointing a finger at the Muslim community in general. But look carefully at what he says:

The Prime Minister said that to face down extremism we all must change our approach; but since support for violent jihadism is confined to the Muslim community, it is patently not true that everyone has a role to play. To pretend otherwise is to perpetuate the cultural cringe that got us into this mess in the first place.

If some members of the British Chinese community started to incite anti-British anti-democratic, homophobic, misogynistic feelings within that community, and some started to consider violent attacks on British civilians or the military, do you really think Mehdi Hasan wouldn’t wash his hands of it. Perhaps even claim that, oh, had they been Muslims, following the religion of peace, this wouldn’t have happened? Mehdi might well have made the same anti-western diversionary claims – it’s Britain’s fault, for, whatever. But he certainly would have made it clear that it’s not an Islamic problem, not a Muslim problem.

Remember my main point here, set out at the top. Mehdi Hasan had claimed the Johnston article to be “from headline to last sentence, is pure Islamophobia”

Let’s see Johnston’s last sentence:

But all his bold statements about cohesion, and the counter-terrorism strategy now being devised, will be immaterial if the Muslims he needs to convince are simply not listening.

That’s the nature of the Islamophobia?

Radical Islam, Islamism, is derived squarely from Islam, and in Britain is leading to many Muslims joining ISIS, some even plotting to carry out attacks here, and occasionally succeeding. And when Johnston says, quite simply, that Muslims need to help us solve this problem, because these radicals and those radicalising them, are embedded in their segregated communities, then in what sense is it not important for responsible Muslims to care and contribute to the solution instead of, as Mehdi Hasan does, only washing their hands of all responsibility, denying Islam has anything to do with it, but also diverting blame everywhere else they can.

This Johnston article isn’t Islamophobic. It’s a fairly simple echo of Cameron’s speech, put, early on, in the context of the Johnston’s own youthful misguided exposure to 70’s radicalisation. It’s a comparison of how radicalisation works within a framework of an ideology. It’s a clear statement that, as the 70’s socialist intelligentsia needed to look to themselves for what they were doing, so too now do Muslim preachers of hate in the Muslim community. Cameron’s speech was a call for decent Muslims to speak up and not let some of these radicalised organisations (mis)represent them. Let’s here your support for democracy and liberal secular values. Even if you personally want to live a more conservative pious life, if you can’t sign up to the secularism that allows freedom of belief for everyone, including minorities within the Muslim community, women, gays, then you really are part of the problem.

For stating this, Mehdi Hasan says this article is “from headline to last sentence, is pure Islamophobia”.

If that’s not incitement to hatred of Britain, of the west, aimed at British Muslims, by Mehdi’s own weak standards of ‘phobia’, then what is?

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