UK Politics,  Your View

‘Don’t criticise extremism, Alex, it’s not polite’

This is a guest post by Tom Harris, Labour MP for Glasgow South and blogger

HITLER managed to “put the Jews in their place”, according to this video of radical Islamist scholar, Yusuf Qaradawi.

According to this paper, written by Qaradawi, the beating of wives is acceptable. And here, Qaradawi writes that western tolerance of homosexuality “put man in a position even worse than animals” and suggests that capital punishment is an appropriate response to homosexuality.

But, according to Osama Saeed, who leads the Scottish Islamic Foundation, Qaradawi is an “eminent scholar”. Saeed has complained that the BBC accurately reported Qaradawi’s relelant views of violence against women and homosexuals.

Oh, and did I mention that Saeed was last week formally endorsed as a parliamentary candidate for the nationalists in Scotland?

In doing so, the nationalists have become the first “mainstream” party in the United Kingdom to endorse an Islamist candidate.

Saeed, a former aide to Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, and whose organisation was given £400,000 of public money by Salmond shortly after it was set up, subscribes to the fundamental principle of Islamists throughout the world: the re-establishment of a worldwide caliphate.

Why has a party which has made such strides in establishing its “moderate” credentials allowed itself to become the only party in the country trying to elect an Islamist to parliament?

I suspect that if you were to speak to nationalists at every level in the party, from leafleter to Salmond himself, you would find an ignorance, or even apathy, about Islamism and the threat it poses. It’s more important, they will claim (probably only privately), to have an articulate young Muslim fighting a seat that is currently held by Scotland’s only Muslim MP, Mohammad Sarwar, and which will be fought at the next election by Sarwar’s son, Anas, as Labour’s candidate.

Perhaps Saeed’s views on separate state-funded Islamic schools and his support for clerics’ extremist views will play well in the seat which has a high population of Muslim voters, they have concluded. If so, then endorsing an Islamist is a small price to pay for the prospect of winning the seat, surely? That’s a very patronising and ignorant view, of course, so highly likely to be held by the SNP.

Salmond and the rest of his party are turning a blind eye to Saeed’s views. Either that or they fully understand the illiberal and intolerant nature of Islamism and wish deliberately to entrench it in Scottish and British society, or see such infection of the body politic as a small price to pay for winning some votes.

Or perhaps, like the Scottish media, they believe that different standards should be applied to Muslim and non-Muslim candidates, or at least tolerated? This is a dangerous and sensitive area to write about, after all, and no-one wants even to risk being accused of racism. “Islamism? Isn’t that the same as Islam? Well, it’s a cultural thing, isn’t it? All very complicated…”

No electoral prize could justify the endorsement of an Islamist as a Parliamentary candidate. There is a huge difference between Islam and Islamism. Islamism, the view that Islam is a political as well as a religious movement, has found its voice in controversial organisations such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim Association of Britain (for which Saeed acted as spokesman for a number of years) and Al-Quaeda.

No socially liberal, progressive, democratic party would ever have endorsed Osama Saeed as a parliamentary candidate. Following his endorsement by the SNP, it’s fair to say that no socially liberal, progressive, democratic party yet has.