I had not intended to write in the context of the most recent attacks. Ramadan is upon on us and hearts are in dire need of purification, especially when one can see the policies that are on the political horizon. However, a brief interjection into the incredibly loud echo chamber that has been created, if I may.
No doubt the lurch of the government will be authoritarian in the best of neoconservative moulds, with more calls to implement closed society measures. Hilariously, the precarious Theresa May has just announced that she will tear up “human rights laws” to fight terrorism. In doing so she will become the very PREVENT-defined “extremist” she and mafia of neocons endlessly harp on about. PREVENT officers, you may need to refer this unstable lady as she has very publicly and vocally opposed “British values”.
As for the Muslim response, much can be said on a number of alarming behaviours. However, I will for now limit it to a statement by some 200 Muslims scholars and activists urging Imams to refuse the burial of terror suspects.
With the greatest of respect to our dear Ulama and organisations that have signed the statement (excluding of course the CVE/PREVENT propagating opportunists like Shaukat Warraich, Manwar Ali and Qari Asim), with great consternation, I am struggling to see the benefit of this statement.
I have briefly outlined six points in this regard.
- If the aim is to deter future attacks, the “khawarij”, “takfiri” attackers don’t take you as a source of authority, frankly.
- If the aim is to send out a message of rejection of the attack, then Muslims have been doing this for over a decade and it has only sought to cement the notion that Muslims as a collective are responsible for a nut job. And herein lies the damaging effect: the realm of the political as understood in the modern context. This assumption of collective guilt feeds the virulent neoconservative clash of civilisations dogma that Muslims are potential terrorists and Islam is inherently problematic. It divides the Muslim community further as those who take a different theological view or indeed take steps to ensure the religious burial rites are fulfilled are going to be framed as supporters of terrorists and therefore “extremists”.
- In relation to point 2, if Muslims proceed to bury the suspects and are persecuted as a result through the draconian counter-terrorism/extremism frameworks, have the signatories to the statement unwittingly aided in their persecution?
- A further comment with regards to point two: my question is, are the “moral reasons” outlined cryptically in MCB’s statement genuinely part of theological discussions or is the stance a PR exercise driven by political convenience as point 2 indicates? This question is perhaps better understood with a further question: notwithstanding the variant contextual assumption of utilising a classical opinion in the present context, would everyone on the statement be so readily willing to put their name to a statement which espouses a similar call against Muslims that join the British army and contribute to the terrorising of civilian populations in the Middle East and Afghanistan over the past fifteen years? The answer to this question will give a good indication as to whether the statement is political posturing.
- If particular reporting around this statement are analysed, it swiftly becomes evident that this exercise is being framed in a manner which makes it concordant to a corrosive narrative set by Theresa May. This narrative is against the backdrop of shocking calls for internment of extremists, which will no doubt be framed in a manner that respects superficial liberal sensibilities.
- In relation to point 5, the counter-extremism agenda is intrinsically linked to Muslim cognitive change and ultimately a deformation of Islam. The purpose of state repression is to psychologically and physically modify the behaviour of the target. The fact remains that we have ourselves modified our own behaviour to the detriment of the Muslim diaspora. The issue of “condemnation” is an example of effected behavioural change, with neocons and crusader Anglicans demanding extractions of condemnations from Muslims over 10 years ago, explicitly as the first step to the deformation of Islam. Indeed, if our behaviour can be changed little by little, the deformation of Islam agenda can be implemented little by little. Placing aside the fact a loon like Katie Hopkins has endorsed the statement signed by scholars, it is telling that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also welcomed the move. Tillerson has supported ardent neocons like Iraq war architect and signatory to the warmongering Project for a New American Century Elliot Abrams. He has failed to rule out the obnoxious “Muslim registry”, and explicitly stated that “radical Islam” – which includes the Muslim Brotherhood – would be his “top priority” when he became the Secretary of State. Whilst welcoming the Imams’ statement, Tillerson added,
“We have to win this fight in the ideological sense as well, and that means getting into the social media space, getting into the mosque, getting into the majlis, getting into the conversation… Now, only the Muslim faith can handle this. And in the discussions with the Muslim countries in Riyadh this was one of the commitments we asked, and there was a center created to counter extremism.”
In other words, for the likes of Tillerson and their discriminatory policies of persecution targeting Muslims, such statements dovetail counter-extremism efforts as exemplified by the counter-extremism centre that was inaugurated infamously with Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Trump and Salman bin Abdul Aziz placing their hands on an illuminated globe. Sisi, backed by the likes of Tony Blair, US neocons and white supremacists, is at the forefront of driving a deformation of Islam as part of his “counter-terrorism” efforts. Saudi Arabia, to the chagrin of Trump, has entered into a diplomatic spat with Qatar demanding that it ends its support for the Muslim Brotherhood. And per form, the compromised Al-Azhar University has given the isolation of Qatar its religious approval.
Whilst there is no doubting the sincerity of the respected Ulama, I fail to see the benefit of this statement. In fact, the harms reverberate both in terms of time and space; long-term for the Muslim diaspora, and geopolitically in relation to Muslims. This politicisation of Islam is detrimental to the Muslim minority and strategically a bad move.