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Have you got a receipt for that inflammatory literature...
December 13, 2007 12:02 AM   Subscribe

The Hijacking of British Islam (PDF) has been widely reported in the British media. However, it appears that the story is not all it seems. Newsnight (A television news program) has unearthed evidence that receipts for extremist literature supposedly bought from mosques were faked. Despite this new evidence, The Policy Exchange stand by the report.
posted by seanyboy (32 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
the hijacking of british islam is presumably a phenomenon larger than just one set of questionable extremist literature transactions. enlightened western countries such as the uk make a place for muslims at their tables, and it would be nice if the muslims reciprocally acknowledged their primary loyalty to their community over their imams/mullahs.
posted by bruce at 12:38 AM on December 13, 2007


"We are standing by our report and the Muslim researchers that helped compile it," he added.

Not only are they extremists, but the bastards have scammed us into the bargain!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:52 AM on December 13, 2007


This, if true, is deeply loathsome. Enemies of truth are enemies of us all.
posted by Anything at 1:02 AM on December 13, 2007


When you consider that 91% of articles about Muslims in the UK are negative it's pretty clear that what's going on is an intentional propaganda campaign. And, as that ridiculously deceptive Sun article demonstrates so aptly, the media is a major and active component of this campaign to smear Muslims and Islam.
posted by nixerman at 1:25 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Policy Exchange has become one of the seminal influences on political debate in Britain."
Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP

By "seminal influence" I think he means they're white, sticky and smell a bit funky. And they seem to leave embarrassing stains, too.
posted by Grangousier at 1:31 AM on December 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


Listen, I'm sure the United Kingdom is as justified in their apprehension about Muslims as they were about Jews, and will be just as justified when they likewise expel Muslims for 350 years.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:39 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


jews don't proselytize the same way muslims do. outside of the middle east, jews haven't racked up anywhere near the same body count muslims have.
posted by bruce at 1:44 AM on December 13, 2007


Jews also haven't managed nearly the proselytizing or body count of Christians, so I am failing to see your point.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:47 AM on December 13, 2007


Yeah, proselytizing's for losers. Secretly controlling the international finance markets, owning the media and running the shadow world government is where it's at, amirite?
posted by flashboy at 2:02 AM on December 13, 2007


Not to mention the delicious blood matzoh. How I long for Passover!
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:07 AM on December 13, 2007


I remember a time it was uncomfortable to be Irish in the UK, but nothing remotely like what British Muslims have to go through.

Despite the fact that as Irish comedian Patrick Kielty said:
"‘Since 9/11 there have been two bombs. One in London and one in Madrid. That’s two bombs in six years. Coming from where I have, I can tell you that’s not a campaign. It’s a hobby. When I grew up, terrorism was a career. It was like being a member of a 1970s rock band. You started when you were 17, went to England to make a name for yourself and then to America to make your money, and then, if the work dried up, there was always politics. These new terrorists are like X Factor winners. They have one big hit and then you never hear from them again.’

I guess when your Dad's been murdered by sectarians you earn the right to a little dark humour.
posted by Wilder at 2:14 AM on December 13, 2007 [20 favorites]


Newsnight deserves credit for doing some very meticulous cross-checking. I'd love to know what prompted their suspicions in the first place.
posted by cluck at 2:16 AM on December 13, 2007


the hijacking of british islam is presumably a phenomenon larger than just one set of questionable extremist literature transactions.

"Presumably" means what here, exactly -- that you presume this? Or that we are all supposed to presume this?

enlightened western countries such as the uk make a place for muslims at their tables, and it would be nice if the muslims reciprocally acknowledged their primary loyalty to their community over their imams/mullahs.


I moved from America to Germany, and I'm not sure if my "primary loyalty" is to my "community" here. Oddly enough, no-one's ever asked me about this. It's not a requirement. Obeying the laws is the only requirement.

Do you stay up at night worrying about whether Catholics acknowledge their "primary loyalty" to the "community" rather than to their priests or the Pope? And what "community" are you talking about anyway? I've lived in "enlightened western countries" all my life and never once have I lived in a "community".
posted by creasy boy at 3:08 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I saw the Newsnight report last night. The interview was interesting - tempers clearly running high. Neither side exactly covered themselves in glory, but it looks like the Policy Exchange has either made a monstrous fuck-up, has been duped, or is guilty of something far worse (consciously altering documents to fit their version of the facts). Incidentally, none of the parties deny that extremist literature is available at many British mosques. But it looks like an effort might have been made to smear some leading moderate mosques, which is deeply troubling.
posted by WPW at 3:20 AM on December 13, 2007


There is also the issue, never bought up, of why an Islamic bookshop should not stock books that are inflammatory in nature. If all these book shops sold were angry little books inisiting on the subjugation of women, the destruction of the west and a move to Sharia law, then there may be something to be concerned about. As it is, some of the books espouse extermist views. I'm sure that I could buy any number of books from any of these shops calling for a moderate interpretation of Islam.

As it is, I can buy Mein Kampf, The God Delusion, Londonistan, Fear and Loathing, Lolita, The Satanic Verses, William Tyndales Bible and the Qur'an from amazon.co.uk today. Where's the outrage about that?
posted by seanyboy at 3:41 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


We need to close down Amazon. They are Terrorists!!!
posted by seanyboy at 3:42 AM on December 13, 2007


Paxman was not quite at his best and he let the Policy Exchange guy get away with not answering some of the important questions. The bigger question for me was not about the specific topic of the research - although that is important - but, if what Newsnight says is true, that other media outlets didn't pick up on the problem and just happily reprinted the research. As for Policy Exchange, if they have been duped I feel for them, but either way their creditability is shot.
posted by cluck at 3:49 AM on December 13, 2007


I moved from America to Germany, and I'm not sure if my "primary loyalty" is to my "community" here. Oddly enough, no-one's ever asked me about this. It's not a requirement. Obeying the laws is the only requirement.

Americans just assume. Why would your loyalty be anywhere else but with the greatest nation on earth? All Americans know that everyone dreams of immigrating to America.

But this is a national illusion. I moved to Sweden from America. I leaned the language, but beyond that my view is what's the point of assimilation? Or "community loyalty?" I'm proud to be American - I just prefer to live in Stockholm because it is such a beautiful and clean city. I like national health care. I like not having to own a car because the public transportation works. I like that women have equal opportunity here - and not just on paper. I like that this is a child-friendly country that provides 1 year of parental leave.... and so on and so forth. But I could live here 100 years and never be "Swedish." Nor do I want to. I like living here as a "foreigner" and most of my friends and colleagues (I think) appreciate this diversity.

As I often say, this is not my country, but it is my home. I live here and have no plans of going anywhere else. I obey the laws, pay my taxes, and don't complain anymore than anyone else about it. My primarily loyalty is to myself and my family. Full stop.

I get into endless discussions with Swedes about "foreigners" ruining Swedish society because they don't assimilate, only to point out that I too am an "immigrant" who refuses to assimilate. They look at me (with my white face, blue eyes, blond hair, and American accent) with a sort of funny and surprised look and then say "Yes, but YOU'RE OK." Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

At the end of the day this "they don't assimilate" crap is racism. Nothing more and nothing less.
posted by three blind mice at 3:55 AM on December 13, 2007 [11 favorites]


There is also the issue, never bought up, of why an Islamic bookshop should not stock books that are inflammatory in nature.

The problem is not extremist literature being sold in bookshops, but being sold in mosques. People don’t get day-to-day moral guidance from amazon.co.uk. If my local parish church was selling Mein Kampf, I’d be pretty worried.
posted by WPW at 3:55 AM on December 13, 2007


"Muslim!" Now available in insult form.
posted by adamvasco at 4:46 AM on December 13, 2007


The problem is not extremist literature being sold in bookshops, but being sold in mosques.
I think that the problem as defined by The Policy Exchange is that the books are being sold simply by Muslims. In several of the examples they quote, the literature was bought from book shops, or bought from traders who are allowed to sell from Mosque property.

Even if the books were being sold by the Mosques with the explicit permission of the Imams, alongside moderate literature, then this hints a flexibility of expression and an acceptance of free speech. Ironically, these are two things Islam is labelled as not having.
posted by seanyboy at 5:18 AM on December 13, 2007


Extremist literature calling for the execution of gays and the oppression of women is being distributed in British mosques.

This condemnation comes from the Daily Mail, the same publication that rails against "poofery" and abortion rights.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:19 AM on December 13, 2007


I get into endless discussions with Swedes about "foreigners" ruining Swedish society because they don't assimilate, only to point out that I too am an "immigrant" who refuses to assimilate.

Interesting point, threeblindmice, but, I suspect, a bit of a red herring. You say you "refuse" to assimilate in Sweden but you've learned the language, I'm guessing you're probably quite liberal and you have the cultural heritage that to some degree most Americans, Western Europeans, Aussies etc. share. So, while you "refuse" to assimilate, in many of the most important ways you already are.

I'm not saying that I disagree with you when you say hat talk of assimilation is often thinly veiled racism. But I do worry that in this example you may be conflating not eating pickled herring with the desire to impose Sharia law.
posted by rhymer at 5:37 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I get into endless discussions with Swedes about "foreigners" ruining Swedish society because they don't assimilate, only to point out that I too am an "immigrant" who refuses to assimilate.

The real problem, rhymer, is that the meme of foreigners ruining society is pure fantasy, like bruce's fantasy of a community under siege by barbarians above. I was visiting a relative of mine in East Germany this week-end and had to listen to his tirade about Turks, Arabs and blacks. First he starts to imagine out-loud what would happen if they build a mosque around the corner. He has no problem with a mosque, you understand, but if they yell out from on top of the mosque five times a day that would be annoying...they have to understand that it's a Christian country, they have to assimilate! Well, no-one's building a mosque in a small town in East Germany, and if they did, the European mosques don't have that yelling guy, but ok, hypothetically I guess it's true that some-one yelling from the roof would be annoying, but the real question is what this fantasy is intended to prove. Then he starts imagining what would happen if ten (10!) blacks moved next door. Well, he has no problem with blacks, but if they start throwing trash on the sidewalk, well, that's wrong, they have to assimilate. Sure, I guess hypothetically ten blacks in a house next door throwing trash on the sidewalk would be annoying, but one might ask 1) why ten? 2) in this scenario, do they not have trash cans indoors? and 3) if their skin color is irrelevant, why is it a part of the scenario in the first place? What is this fantasy supposed to prove? And instead of asking them to "assimilate", wouldn't it just be easier to ask them to stop throwing trash on the sidewalk?

So yeah, I agree with you that hypothetically speaking the imposition of sharia law would ruin my day quite a bit more than three blind mice's refusal to eat pickled herring, but I think I think it's dangerous to even start playing along with these fantasies in the first place.
posted by creasy boy at 6:02 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


"I moved from America to Germany, and I'm not sure if my 'primary loyalty' is to my 'community' here. Oddly enough, no-one's ever asked me about this."

Uh-oh, one got in without taking The Oath! Get 'im!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:24 AM on December 13, 2007


Most of the radical nutbars I met as a student in London were British citizens, second or maybe even third generation descendants of immigrants, and as English as I am. They didn't really have much assimilating to do. They just espoused some pretty nauseating politics.
I'm no expert on the various currents in British Islam and associated political movements, but this was well over a decade back and it was obvious then it wasn't a monolith. Crude lumping together of everyone helps no-one but the racists on one side and the extremists on the other, as far as I can see.
posted by Abiezer at 6:42 AM on December 13, 2007


People are always wary of the unknown the unfamiliar. The more 'different' someone is the easier to demonize them.

I have a theory that every xenophobic person should have to experience life as being the visible minority in a large group. Any person commited of a hate crime - example a neo-Nazi skinhead should be forced to do community service in a black neighborhood and live there. Even ordinary law-abiding and fearful racists would benefit from this.

I'm not a racist or xenophobe, but for years my wife (who sticks out a bit where we live, in a Swiss village) told me that I should try going to a place where I stuck out. Well that moment arrived when we went to her country, Japan, for the first time. When we went to visit her aunt in a rural area, I had little kids chasing after me as if I were an alien from Mars. It was rather amusing to begin with but did get old. I have never felt so conspicuous in my life, and now whenever my wife expresses feelings of discomfort I no longer dismiss them...I didn't before vocally but in my mind perhaps I thought she was exaggerating.

Hmm, maybe about 20% of Swiss people (the ones who voted for that stupid SVP) should be sent to Japan for a field trip, now that I think of it.
posted by derMax at 6:43 AM on December 13, 2007


Most of the radical nutbars I met as a student in London were British citizens, second or maybe even third generation descendants of immigrants, and as English as I am. They didn't really have much assimilating to do.

Pretty much my experience too. I suspect most of the radicals are reacting violently against a culture they are pretty much part of by trying to leap to another, imagined culture that's actually a purely reactive simulacra of a real culture.
posted by Artw at 8:59 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Like Artw and Abiezer, I'm surprised at the surprise expressed by some that 'British-born' Muslims could be radicalised. As a second-generation immigrant, though from a white Christian nation, I can quite see that if you are born in a country where you are told you don't belong, but without the ability to go anywhere else, the temptation to look for a meaning in radicalism is pretty strong.

The number of people with foreign roots who become tub-thumping nationalists (Howard, Portillo, Sarkozy etc) is not small.
posted by athenian at 9:50 AM on December 13, 2007


Newsnight branded 'libellous and perverse'
posted by Artw at 11:47 AM on December 13, 2007


I think that the problem as defined by The Policy Exchange is that the books are being sold simply by Muslims. In several of the examples they quote, the literature was bought from book shops, or bought from traders who are allowed to sell from Mosque property.

As I understand it, the original report claimed that these materials were all bought from mosques or community education centres, which is a serious allegation. The Newsnight report, however, said that in some instances the addresses given on receipts were those of bookshops, not the mosques. So neither side has said that it's wrong for the bookshops to sell these books, but it's a smear on the mosques to say that they're selling them if they are not.

It's not clear what's going on here, but it looks like one possibility is a screw-up compounded by a cover-up - the Policy Exchange bought the books from the bookshops, screwed up and thought they were from the mosques, and the researchers tried to cover their tracks by falsifying receipts to blur the line between the shops and the mosques. Which would be reprehensible, if true.

And as others had said, extremist and violent Islam in Britain is not a question of immigration, or assimilation - the extremists are almost completely British, second or third generation. The aging first generation seems to be a powerfully moderate force, distressed by the rising radicalism of the young. Higher expectations and less social mobility l;eading to a sense of betrayal and revanchist politics? None of the purpose that the first generation had? Disenfranchisement? We've got a hell of a lot of careful research to do before we understand why that's happening - British youths with secular educations from moderate backgrounds becoming extremists in worrying numbers. It's very worrying.
posted by WPW at 1:04 PM on December 13, 2007


British youths with secular educations from moderate backgrounds becoming extremists in worrying numbers. It's very worrying.

Well at least they're not becoming goths, I suppose.
posted by Artw at 3:21 PM on December 13, 2007


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