Further to Harry’s piece below, I think that what is going on is this:
1. The Muslim Association of Britain/Muslim Brotherhood know that the political fallout from the terrorist attacks has resulted in an increase in intertest in, and focus on, the parasitic nature of Islamism upon Islam. The fact that many people now know that there is such a thing as political Islam, but do not know what extreme Islamism stands for, is both a threat and an opportuntity to them.
2. The MAB/Muslim Brotherhood need to get their argument out there first, and in a form which is palatable to concerned lefties and liberals: which is essentially that extreme Islamism is no more than an anti-imperialist people’s resistance movement rather than a fascist or falangist one whose goal in its weak form is merely opposition to secular democracy and in its strong form is the abolition of democracy and the creation of a Caliphate ruled by god’s annointed (i.e. them).
(My guess is that it’s the SWP who are helping them on the PR side in this – the MAB were clueless about PR, and wandered merrily around talking about how they were going to execute apostates as recently as three years ago – but this is just a guess)
3. They see that the Muslim Council of Britain is being co-opted into the mainstream. That worries them. They know that a minor effect of giving Sacranie a knighthood, and so on, will be to alienate radicalised potential recruits from the muslim mainstream. But, as the government is clearly going to start prosecuting radical Islamist groups, they can’t safely move into the more radical territory for the purposes of recruitment. In any case, the MAB/Muslim Brotherhood talks the talk, but hasn’t really been much of a terrorist organisation itself for quite some time. So it doesn’t have the cred.
4. Although the MCB shares some of the Islamist agenda, and some common outlooks with the MAB/Muslim Brotherood, the MCB don’t prioritise the “foreign policy” aspect of extreme Islamism the way that the MAB/Muslim Brotherhood does. The MCB, for all its silliness, are more accomodationalist and cultural communalist than the MAB/Muslim Brotherhood. That is more worrying for an organisation like the MAB/Muslim Brotherhood which is essentially about political and spiritual renewal, and international muslim brotherhood: not about creating a British muslim identity.
5. The MAB/Muslim Brotherhood also think that the MCB is weak, and ripe to be replaced by them as a mainstream organisation: even though they are an Arab movement, and the british muslim community is mostly south asian.
6. The MAB/Muslim Brotherhood are also genuinely under threat by the various really extreme “house churchy” salafist jihadist and islamist groups. But they also see this as an opportunity. They are therefore presenting themselves to the government and the nation as “the mainstream Islamist organisation which can keep ‘their house’ in order”.
The “house” in question is of course, the diverse bulk of muslims who are being presented as ‘all Islamists at heart’ and therefore in need of being reigned in by “sensible” “moderate” Islamists i.e. bright, media friendly MAB-ers who look good in suits and ties.
That is their selling point.
7. The mainstreaming of the MAB/Muslim Brotherhood is, of course, assisted by the rest of the coalition of pseudo-left activists who constitute RESPECT, and who have their own political fantasies to tend to.
I think, of course, that the MAB/Muslim Brotherhood’s makeover as a mainstream organisation does terrible harm to democracy and to the muslim community internally, and externally.
It also feeds racism in this way.
First, the MAB/Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘we may blow ourselves up in Palestine but its all the fault of somebody else” rubbish appeals to many handwringy middle groundy liberals and root causers who basically think that Muslims are “noble savages”. Root causers show solidarity from afar, but don’t want to get involved in the debate because they think its all exotic and unknowable and terribly difficult and in any case it is ‘their struggle, not ours so who are we to express a view’ .
Similarly conservative isolationists respond by thinking ‘now we’ve seen the true soul of Islam, we want nothing to do with the troubles of these crazy extremist troublemakers. Keep them all out, and keep out of their squabbles‘.
And that means that there will be an increasing tendency for conservative and liberal middle grounders to disengage from something that they are being encouraged to regard as exotic and oriental and dangerous and therefore best put in a box and left alone.
In fact, the MAB/Muslim Brotherhood’s position isn’t foreign at all. Its old fashioned totalitarianism, with a theocratic flavour, and we’ve seen it before and fought it before.
We are at a crux time.
The creeping “mainstreaming” of an extremist ideology has to be resisted, and it can be resisted in part by holding firm to the basic liberal traditions of pluralism, liberty and democracy.
The MAB/Muslim Brotherhood’s greatest weakness is that they are an extreme organisation.
However and wherever they try to disguise that we need to challenge them, as we challenge Nick Griffin’s rebranded BNP.