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Thursday, June 14, 2007

An argument against Islamophobia

Better late than never department...

If there's one thing that could raise Ed Husain higher in my estimation than when I first wrote about him, it's seeing him achieve the distinction of being patronized by Maddy of the Sorrows:-

'One of the book's shortcomings is its failure to acknowledge that just as Husain has been on a dramatic journey, so have some of the UK's different expressions of Islamism.

'It is as if, just as Husain once swallowed large chunks of Hizb ut-Tahrir propaganda, he now seems to have swallowed undigested the prevailing critique of British Muslims. He has no truck with the idea of Islamophobia, which he dismisses as the squeal of an Islamist leadership pleading special favours; he criticises Asian racism and castigates Muslims "who go back home to get married" and produce "another generation confused about home". On issues such as segregation, he is confident it is the fault of multiculturalism.

'One suspects the naivety which took him into Hizb-ut Tahrir has blinded him as to how his story will be used to buttress positions hostile to many things he holds dear - his own faith and racial tolerance, for example. A glance at the blog response to a Husain piece in the Telegraph reveals how rightwing racism and anti-Islamic sentiment are feasting on his testimony.'

He means well, poor chap, but why, oh why couldn't he have just kept quiet? Or if he really had to tell his story, couldn't he have let someone with a bit of political nous ghost-write it for him - our Maddy, for instance? And why does he have to let evil Tony Blair off the hook by retreating into apolitical Sufism? Doesn't he know how many cuddly varieties of Islamism there are for him to choose from?

Maddy doesn't let us into the secret of which the OK 'expressions of Islamism' are, but I rather suspect she may be among those who see Tariq Ramadan as a paradigmatic figure. In which case it smacks more than a little of asking somebody who's just bailed out of a neo-Nazi paramilitary group why he doesn't sign up with a good, solid, reputable organization like the BNP.

As for the charge of inflaming Islamophobia, well, of course confirmed racists will register only what confirms their prejudices. But for those of us who fear some 'expressions of Islamism' because we have good reason to fear them (yes, Maddy, really), Husain's courage, integrity and humanity, combined with his continued devotion to his faith, constitute an argument against Islamophobia of the best possible kind.

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