The Usual Categories

This comprehensive Guardian Analysis piece suggests that Muslim Brotherhood theoretician and promoter of terrorism, Yusuf al-Qaradawi is not going to visit the United Kingdom after all.

The last line of the Guardian article is perhaps one of the most unwittingly insightful things the Guardian has ever published on the subject of Islamism:

He does not fit easily into any of the usual categories

This is the problem in a nutshell.

If you have no idea of how to categorise theocratic falangism, you really genuinely have no perspective on figures who say things which “do not fit easily into any of the usual categories”.

The concept of a political cleric and a political movement which operates within a religious one, should be familiar from the liberal perspective. That is, after all, what the Enlightenment was all about. We don’t have a problem in calling theocons like Rick Santorum, the United States Senator, what they are.

I suspect that it is orientalism which prevents many liberals making the same sort call about Islamists.

From the orientalist standpoint, it is really very hard to accept that the Muslim Brotherhood is a theocratic and totalitarian political movement determined to expand its influence within muslim religious and cultural institutions. It is hard to believe that the turn away from secularism in the last few decades in the muslim world and the growth of religious identity politics might have anything to do with a gradualist approach taken by theocratic political groups.

Instead, these trends are reassuringly interpreted – with the assistance of the supporters of RESPECT – as a natural exotic muslim piety, a product of racism, or a reaction against imperialism.

Put simply: if you can’t categorise it, it doesn’t exist.