Brian Whitaker writes a good article on New Labour’s intimidatory tactics against British Muslims. And here is an unusually excellent editorial from the Guardian. The branding of the Istanbul Declaration as extremist is designed to ensure that nobody engages with it, and it deserves to be engaged with. Although I don’t identify with the religious language myself, or like the globalising flourish at the end, I don’t see anything terribly objectionable about the declaration, which is posted after the Whitaker article.
Following the recent muddle over Hezbollah, the British government continues to dig itself deeper into the mire with its “anti-extremism” policy.
Hazel Blears, secretary of state for communities and local government, is trying to engineer the resignation of Daud Abdullah, deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. She may not like Abdullah or agree with his views but, frankly, it’s none of her business. The MCB is not a government body and can appoint whoever it wants as its deputy secretary general.
This sort of government interference is condemned by human rights organisations when it happens under dictatorial regimes such as that in Egypt where authorities vet the board members of NGOs and even tell them how they must conduct their meetings.
Of course, the government can choose whether or not to talk to the MCB but, by choosing not to, it will seriously undermine its own policy of engaging with the British Muslim community.
The MCB is an umbrella organisation that claims the support of more than 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools. By definition it needs to include as many strands of British Muslim opinion as possible. In the past it has been criticised for not being representative enough, and now Blears seems determined to make it less representative as a condition of being recognised by the government.
Abdullah’s “offence” is that he signed a declaration in Istanbul last month at a meeting called in response to the Israeli bombing of Gaza. This has been interpreted by the government and critics of the MCB as calling for violence against Israel and condoning attacks on British troops.
Whether or not we approve of the Istanbul declaration’s content, there is little doubt that it represents a significant strand of Muslim opinion, in Britain and elsewhere. By refusing to acknowledge this and instead bestowing its favours on cuddly but marginal Sufi organisations, the government is destroying whatever credibility its policy of engagement might have had.
This comes against a background of ever-widening government definitions of “extremism” which, as Inayat Bunglawala has pointed out, are counterproductive because they risk alienating the majority of British Muslims. The latest example is the daft – sorry, draft – counterterrorism strategy known as Contest 2 which, among other things, counts as extremists those who believe in “armed resistance, anywhere in the world”, or “argue that Islam bans homosexuality and that it is a sin against Allah”.
Muslim attitudes towards homosexuality are certainly a problem, but why single out Islam in that respect? If we’re going to go down that road, shouldn’t Blears also be calling for the pope’s resignation and refusing to engage with “extremist” Catholics and evangelicals?
Similarly with violence. Muslim organisations are required to condemn violence while Jewish organisations that aid and abet Israel’s warmongering policies don’t receive letters of complaint from Hazel Blears or threats to exclude them from meetings with the government.
Part of the problem here is that Israel’s propagandists have succeeded in portraying Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaida as peas from the same pod, when in fact there are important differences. Unlike al-Qaida, neither Hamas nor Hezbollah poses a global threat, and certainly not a threat to Britain. They have both killed Israeli civilians, though on nothing like the scale of Israel’s killing of civilians in Lebanon and Gaza.
One does not have to be a supporter of Hezbollah or Hamas to realise that large numbers of British Muslims are likely to see double standards and injustice here, especially amid the growing evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, and that having their views dismissed out of hand by the government will only increase their sense of alienation.
In the name of Allah the Most-merciful the All-merciful
A statement by the religious scholars and proselytisers (du’a) of the Islamic Nation (ummah) to all rulers and peoples concerning events in Gaza
Praise to Allah who strengthened His troops, aided His servants and alone routed the Zionist Jews, who says,
‘It was incumbent on Us to aid the believers.’ [Quran 30:47]
And blessing and peace be on the Imam of the
mujahidin who says,
‘There will remain a group of my Ummah adhering to the truth, and those who oppose them will not harm them until Allah’s command comes.’ [Hadith]
(And now to our topic).
This statement is addressed to the Islamic Nation, its religious scholars, its rulers and its peoples. In it we congratulate the whole family of Islam on the manifest victory which Allah has granted us in the land of Gaza, a land of pride and dignity, over the Zionist Jewish occupiers. Allah has appointed it as the first step in the complete victory for all of Palestine and the holy places of the Muslims. Furthermore, we herein emphatically affirm various resolutions and judgments.
I. Affirmation of the following unequivocal resolutions:
1. We affirm that the victory that Allah accomplished by means of our brothers the
mujahidin, our defiant and steadfast kinsfolk in Gaza, was indeed achieved through His favor and help – exalted be He! It was also achieved through fulfilling the religious obligation of jihad in His way. This is a confirmation of His statement – sublime is He! –
‘How often a small party overcame a large party, by Allah’s leave.’ [Quran, 2:249]
2. We affirm that this manifest victory has clearly disclosed the volume of international and local military and political conspiracy against the
jihad and the mujahidin in Gaza, as represented by the following:
Military co-operation in tightening the blockade and closing the crossings to the people of Gaza, especially the Rafah crossing
Public or quasi-public support for the enemy
The prevention of demonstrations and popular events held in support of the mujahidin; the arrest, trial and severe punishments of those who instigate them
The aggressive pressure put on the mujahidin to break their will and force them to agree to their [the conspirators] terms and the stipulations of the Zionist enemy
The attempt to present the Hamas government as the cause of this malicious Jewish Zionist war over Gaza
The absence of any official and effective Arab and Islamic stance and its weakness in reflecting the will of the Arab and Islamic peoples to help our brothers in Gaza win. This indicates the width of the gap between the Nation and those rulers who lead it
The use of funds for reconstruction and aid to those hurt as a negative pressure card on the mujahidin to abandon their legitimate demands, or some of them
The prevention of delivery of aid and reconstruction funds to the Hamas government and the reliable authorities in Gaza; deeming the Palestinian Authority, represented by the presidency of Abbas and the Fayyad government, the sole representative of the Palestinian people, without the Hamas government; and the delivery of such funds and aid to increase their grip on the legitimate elected government of Hamas. This redoubles the suffering of the people of Gaza at the time they mostly need those funds and aid
3. We affirm in full conviction that the Palestinian Authority, whose mandate is coming to an end, is not eligible to represent the Palestinian people. It stands outside the will of its people, and has given up the choice of
jihadin the way of Allah Almighty as an effective means in defeating the occupation and the liberation of the Islamic holy places. It adopts the wishes of the Nation’s enemies in exchange for the illusions of false peace.
4. We affirm in full conviction that the so-called Arab peace initiative is a proven betrayal of the Islamic Nation and the Palestinian cause, and a blatant betrayal of the Palestinian people. It aims to criminalise the Resistance [
muqawama] against the Zionist occupying entity in perpetuity through its de facto recognition of it, as well as the confiscation of the right of refugees to return to their homes and their property. II. Affirmation of the following legal judgments:
1. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to rush to the aid of the people in Gaza; to rebuild what the Zionist aggression destroyed; to compensate the injured and support the widows, orphans, those suffering permanent disabilities, and the old and infirm.
2. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to restrict itself to dealing only with the legitimate elected Palestinian government (Hamas) in the delivery of aid and reconstruction of dwellings. It is the sole government authorised to do that by reason of its official legitimacy as well as its maintaining the Resistance against the Jewish Zionist occupation, its integrity, and its solidarity with the people in all circumstances.
3. The obligation of the Islamic Nation not to recognise the Palestinian Authority, whose mandate is ending, as representative of the Palestinian people. It must not elect it again, in view of its proven financial and administrative corruption as well as its squandering of time and assets behind the false peace process. It is also necessary to work seriously to choose a new authority that will guard the Palestinian ranks, respect their will and their right to resist the occupation, and work for the complete liberation of its land and holy places.
4. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to circulate a declaration to withhold aid funds from the undeserving or placing them in the hands of those who are not trustworthy. It must regard this as a legal betrayal that should be prosecuted, and punish those who cause mayhem, negligence and waste of these moneys.
5. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to find a fair formula of reconciliation between the sons of the Palestinian people, under whose responsibility a legitimate authority will be formed that will attend to the fixed norms and the legitimate and national rights; and will carry on with the
jihadand Resistance against the occupier until the liberation of all Palestine.
6. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to open the crossings — all crossings — in and out of Palestine permanently, in order to allow access to all the needs of the Palestinians — money, clothing, food, medicine, weapons and other essentials, so that they are able to live and perform the
jihadin the way of Allah Almighty. The closure of the crossings or the prevention of the entry of weapons through them should be regarded as high treason in the Islamic Nation, and clear support for the Zionist enemy.
7. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard everyone standing with the Zionist entity, whether countries, institutions or individuals, as providing a substantial contribution to the crimes and brutality of this entity; the position towards him is the same as towards this usurping entity.
8. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression, and a clear violation of the sovereignty of the Nation. This must be rejected and fought by all means and ways. To conclude: the Nation’s scholars and proselytisers remind the Islamic Nation, rulers and ruled alike, of the necessity of returning to its religion, adhering to the book of its Lord and the
sunna of his Prophet, working for its unity, and seizing control of the instruments of power that will make possible its supremacy and the preservation of its holy places and provisions
‘Allah prevails in his purpose, but most people know not.’ [Quran, 12: 21]).
1) Sheikh Ahmad Sulaiman Ahif, Yemen
2) Dr. Ahmad al-Ghamidi, Saudi Arabia
3) Dr. Ahmad al-Misbahi, Yemen
4) Sheihk Ahmad abdul Razzaq al-Raqihi, Yemen
5) Proselytiser [
da’iya] Ahmad Muhammad Abdullah, Egypt
6) Sheikh Isma’il Abdul Bari, Yemen
7) Sheikh Isma’il Uthman Muhammad, Sudan
8) Dr. Amin Ali Muqbil, Yemen
9) Proselytiser Al-Amin Karkush, Algeria
10) Sheikh Bilal Baroudi, Lebanon
11) Proselytiser Tawarim Kishlakci, Turkey
12) Dr. Harith Sulaiman al-Dhari [Iraq]
13) Dr. Hakim al-Matiri, Kuwait
14) Proselytiser Hasan Salem Hasan, Qatar
15) Proselytiser Khalid al-Dhahir, Lebanon
16) Proselytiser Khalil Asi, Denmark
17) Proselytiser Daud Abdullah, Britain
18) Sheikh Raed al-Jabouri, Iraq
19) Sheikh Rachid al-Ghannouchi, Tunisia [resides in Britain]
20) Proselytiser Ribhi Subhi al-Atiwi, Jordan
21) Proselytiser Rabi Haddad, Lebanon
22) Dr. Sami Muhammad Saleh
23) Proselytiser Sami Najid Sa’id, Jordan
24) Dr. Shafi al-Hajiri, Qatar
25) Dr. Shaker Tawfiq al-Adouri, Jordan
26) Proselytiser Shah Jahan Abdul Qayyum, Britain
27) Dr. Shawkat Karashji, Kosovo
28) Sheikh Safwan Murshid, Yemen
29) Sheikh Salah Nasr al-Bahr, Yemen
30) Dr. Adel Hasan Yusuf al-Hamad, Bahrain
31) Sheikh Arif bin Ahmad al-Sabri, Yemen
32) Sheikh Abbas Ahmad al-Nahari
33) Sheikh Abdul Hai Yusuf, Sudan
34) Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Khamisi, Yemen
35) Proselytiser Abdul Rahman Abdullah Jami’an, Kuwait
36) Dr. Abdul Salam Daud al-Kubaisi, Iraq
37) Dr. Abdul Samid al-Radhi, Morocco
38) Dr. Abdul Aziz Kamel, Egypt
39) Dr. Abdul Ali Masul, Morocco
40) Proselytiser Abdul Fattah Hamdash, Algeria
41) Dr. Abdul Karim al-Sheikh, Sudan
42) Sheikh Abdullah Ahmad al-Adini, Yemen
43) Sheikh Abdullah Hasan Khayrat, Yemen
44) Sheikh Abdullah Faysal al-Ahdal, Yemen
45) Sheikh Abdul Majid bin Muhammad al-Rimi, Yemen
46) Sheikh Abdul Malik al-Wazir, Yemen
47) Sheikh Abdil Wahid al-Khamisi, Yemen
48) Sheikh Abdul Wahhab al-Hamiqani, Yemen
49) Dr. Abdul Wahhab bin Lutf al-Dulaimi, Yemen
50) Proselytiser Izz al-Din Jarafa bin Muhammad, Algeria
51) Proselytiser Azzam al-Ayyubi, Lebanon
52) Dr. Ali Muhammad Maqboul al-Ahdal
53) Proselytiser Imad al-Din Bakri, Sudan
54) Proselytiser Imad Sa’ad, Iraq
55) Sheikh Omar Sulaiman al-Ashqar, Palestine
56) Proselytiser Faris Muhammad, Denmark
57) Sheikh Latif al-Sa’idi, Britain
58) Dr. Muhsin al-Awaji, Saudi Arabia
59) Proselytiser Muhammad al-Khalid, Denmark
60) Sheikh Muhammd al-Sadiq Mughlas, Yemen
61) Prof. Muhammad al-Ani, Britain
62) Proselytiser Muhammad al-Ghanim, Saudi Arabia
63) Proselytiser Muhammad al-Mufrih, Saudi Arabia
64) Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad al-Wazir, Yemen
65) Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa al-Amiri, Yemen
66) Sheikh Muhammad bin Nasr al-Hazmi, Yemen
67) Dr. Muhammad Juhaid Bu Aynain
68) Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Abdullah, Bahrain
69) Proselytiser Muhammad Khalid Muwasi, Palestine
70) Proselytiser Muhammad Salem al-Ali
71) Sheikh Muhammad Sa’ad al-Hatami, Yemen
72) Proselytiser Muhammad Sawalha, Palestine [resides in Britain]
73) Sheikh Muhammad Abdul Karim al-Da’is, Yemen
74) Sheikh Muhammad Abdul Karim Abu Faris
75) Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah al-Ghubaisi, Yemen
76) Sheikh Muhammad Ali al-Anasi, Yemen
77) Sheikh Muhammad Ali Mir’i, Yemen
78) Dr. Muhammad Magdi Krekar, Egypt
79) Sheikh Mudashir Ahmad Isma’il, Sudan
80) Sheikh Murad Ahmad al-Qudsi, Yemen
81) Dr. Mustafa al-Rif, Morocco
82) Proselytiser Nasser al-Fadhala, Bahrain
83) Dr. Nasser Jasim al-Sani, Kuwait
84) Proselytiser Nasif Nasser, Palestine
85) Proselytiser Nadhir Alan, Turkey
86) Sheikh Huza bin Sa’ad al-Asouri, Yemen
87) Dr. Hamam Sa’id, Jordan
88) Dr. Walid Musa’id al-Tabatibai, Kuwait
89) Proselytiser Yusuf al-Jababili, Tunisia
90) Proselytiser Yusuf Muhammad al-Barahimi