Luke, in the Daily Ablution comments thread, notes that Dilpazier Aslam, the Guardian journalist with links to the fascist Islamist group, Hizb’ut Tahrir, was the reporter who produced a sanitised, liberal friendly account of the Shabina Begum “jilbab” case. The words you read in the title of this piece are the title of Dilpazier Aslam’s interview with Shabina Begum
Now, I am personally equivocal on the political sense in making a stand against Islamism on the issue of religious dress. It is certainly the case that when family members – typically brothers – turn to extreme Islamist beliefs, they bully their siblings into wearing religious dress. However, an individual might equally choose to wear religious dress as a matter of pure personal preference. If threats and intimidation is to be prevented, I am inclined to think that the law should respond by punishing those who threaten, not by banning a particular style of clothing. I’m a liberal. What can I say?
There is, however, a counterargument that prohibiting certain manifestations of religious dress from school protects the vulnerable in a manner in the most simple and effective manner possible.
You will recall that the school which Shabina Begum attended permitted a form of dress for pupils which was approved by the Muslim Council of Britain. However 13 year old Shabina Begum expressed a preference for wearing a form of dress which was one step away from a burqa.
If you cast your mind back to the Begum case, you will recall that it became pretty clear, very quickly, that Hizb’ut Tahir chose the “jilbab” issue, and ran Shabina Begum’s case for purely political reasons:
At home, Miss Begum was in an increasingly vulnerable position. Her father had died in 1992, and her mother died in April 2003. Her main source of protection and support was her brother, Shuweb, who has been frequently reported as being a supporter of Hizb ut-Tharir, a fundamentalist Islamic organisation which is banned in much of the Middle East, and which has admitted advising Miss Begum on her case.
It is now clear that the role of Dilpazier Aslam was Hizb’ut Tahir’s propagandist. The Guardian was its mouthpiece.
Hizb’ut Tahir has two faces. Internally, they are a racist theocratic and absolutist political organisation which uses fiery rhetoric to glorify terrorism and actively recruits to its fascist cause. Externally, when interviewed on Radio 4, they express themselves in the most anodine and uncontroversial terms and are usually unchallenged.
This is precisely the technique used by Dilpazier Aslam and Hizb’ut Tahir in his exclusive interview with Shabina Begum in the case:
She said the school’s decision has been “a consequence of an atmosphere that has been created in western societies post-9/11, an atmosphere in which Islam has been made a target for vilification in the name of the ‘war on terror’.”
She told the Guardian: “I hope in years to come policy-makers will take note of a growing number of young Muslims who, like me, have turned back to our faith after years of being taught that we needed to be liberated from it.
“Our belief in our faith is the one thing that makes sense of a world gone mad, a world where Muslim women, from Uzbekistan to Turkey, are feeling the brunt of policies guided by western governments. I feel I’ve made people question the jilbab issue again.
This is extremist political propaganda of the crudest sort, and the Guardian fell for it.
Is it any wonder that the grieving parents of suicide bombers from Yorkshire do not recognise the signs of political extremism when even liberal newspapers like the Guardian routinely normalise and peddle it?
It is time that the Guardian took a hard look at itself.
Update: I am also directed to this article in The Times which considers the role of Hizb’ut Tahrir in the Jilbab case.
Hat tip: Scott Burgess and Luke