Extremism in the news: Maajid vs Tommy

Today the Times reports that the charity commission has asked Islamic Relief to explain why it is hosting Yasir Qadhi’s fundraising tour of Britain:

Yasir Qadhi, a Saudi-educated American academic, has been recorded apparently telling students that killing homosexuals and stoning adulterers was part of their religion. Dr Qadhi, who features in an eight-city tour starting this month, described Islamic punishments such as cutting off the hands of thieves as “very beneficial to society”

You can find plenty about Qadhi in the Harry’s Place archives, and here’s a handy dossier of some of his greatest hits.

MEND has also hit the headlines again:

An Islamic extremist who supported the killing of British soldiers has been made a director of a Muslim pressure group with influence over parliament and the police. …

He previously lost a libel battle with newspapers that said he was “a hardline Islamic extremist who supports the killing of British and American soldiers in Iraq by fellow Muslims as justified”.

Mr Ali’s organisation, Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend), which uses a logo similar to the jihadist hand signal adopted by Islamic State, works with politicians, police and prosecutors. An investigation by The Times discovered that:

Although I did wonder whether there was any particular reason to note that:

On Mend’s online giving page, beneath PayPal, Visa and MasterCard logos, it quotes the Koran: “And whatsoever you spend of anything (in Allah’s Cause), He will replace it”.

It didn’t come as any huge shock to read that Khalid Masood, the Westminster terrorist, had acted as a key contact for the Luton mosque, home of the vile Abdul Qadeer Baksh.

Masood was listed as a person to contact at the website, which has now been deleted.

The website previously published sermons, which were available last week, slammed Christians and Jews for their ‘greed, jealousy and fornication’ and urged worshippers to ‘make ready . . . steeds of war to threaten the enemy of Allah,’ according to The Sunday Times.

Masood’s contact details, including his phone number, were listed on a sticker attached to a leaflet for the Luton Islamic Centre mosque, which had a link to the website.

This news was the background to a recent conversation between Maajid Nawaz and Tommy Robinson on LBC.

Robinson reminded Nawaz that he had consistently criticised the Luton Mosque and, in particular, Qadeer Baksh.  He made what seemed entirely valid points about the way in which Baksh has been welcomed and encouraged by many mainstream, respectable audiences despite clear evidence of his extremist views. Maajid Nawaz was happy to acknowledge this, but picked Robinson up on his tendency to see Islam as a monolith and lump all Muslims together (an accusation which I think is earned by his twitter account, although in interview he tends to be more restrained).

Although Robinson insisted he did not see all Muslims as extremists he implied, by the way he answered, that this was only possible because many Muslims are not at all observant and not because some, while taking their faith fully seriously, abhor not just violent extremism but also Islamism.

He made what is an increasingly common move – scoffing at the term Islamism because he sees the ‘ism’ as superfluous.  Nawaz responded well and clearly to this point:

I accept and acknowledge that Islamism is a plausible reading of the scripture, but it’s one reading.

A few years ago it was people on the opposite side of the spectrum to Robinson who objected to the term ‘Islamism’, seeing it as a slur on Islam.  Now it is usually counterjihadists who shun it because they won’t acknowledge versions of Islam which are more tolerant, and liberals who embrace the word in order to demonstrate that they perceive those distinctions.  Do listen to the exchange in full.