Sajjad Khan

Posted Aug 23, 2005      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Following the London bombs, the word on most commentators lips has been denial.The bombings have thrown a merciless spotlight on the Muslim community, with all and sundry seeking not just an immediate apology (as if all doctors were asked to apologise for Harold Shipman) but for Muslims to engage in a battle to confront the extremists and in Tony Blair’s words their ‘evil ideology.’ Of course the Muslim community faces its challenges, the first generation of Muslims had come to Britain for one reason, to make money and go back to the motherland. For them opening up mosques, promoting Islam to Non Muslims and ensuring Islam could be made relevant to succeeding generations was not on their list of urgent priorities.These challenges despite the more corrosive environment remain key ones for the Muslim community to engage in irrespective of what happened on the 7th July.

However denial as a charge should not be merely confined to the Muslim community. For example take western intervention in the Muslim world.Tony Blair criticises those who attempt to link foreign policy to the London bombings as people justifying the ‘terrorists perverted logic’ and their ever changing and opportunistic reasons for attacks.Yet very few question the ever changing reasons for western intervention in the Muslim world. During the period of colonialism it was about increasing trade, in 1956 it was about the nationalisation of the Suez canal, in the post war period it was about defeating communism, after 1991 it was about containing Saddam, and currently it is about winning the War on Terror. No matter what decade or century we are in, western governments always seem to find a new reason for interfering in the Muslim world. Indeed many Muslims scratch their heads at why seeking western states to withdraw their military forces from the Islamic world or asking them to stop propping up Muslim dictators is considered such a non-negotiable demand. Over Iraq,Tony Blair has constantly changed his rationale for the war, citing WMD, enforcing UN resolutions, removing a tyrant and promoting western democracy at various times. Opportunism and perverted logic by the Prime Minister, surely not!

Of course denial is not confined to the Prime Minister, it has spread to the whole of the body politic, including the mainstream media. In their reporting of the allegations of war crimes made against British soldiers, many UK newspapers sought numerous justifications for their plight citing the heat of the battle (as if war was ever tranquil) and the difficult political context. Yet these same newspapers metaphorically lynched any Muslim who attempted to provide any such political context when explaining the 7 July bombings. Denial about soldiers committing atrocities has led us to avoid tackling the serious problem of abuse in places ranging from Deepcut in the UK, to Bagram in Afghanistan, to Guantanomo Bay, to Abu Ghraib and to British jurisdiction in Basra.These are not cases of a few rotten apples, but a more myriad number enmeshed energetically in dehumanisation and barbarisation. Denial overlooks the mounting evidence of a degenerate and apartheid culture (the higher value of a western life vs. a non western one) that has been engendered in the ranks of today’s military. Needless to say there are no calls to close down the military ‘madrassahs’ these soldiers have graduated from or to examine what causes ordinary western soldiers to mete out such degrading and often lethal treatment.

Denial is not confined to foreign policy, a few days after the 7-7 bombings a 14 year old boy in Manchester was charged with multiple rapes of four young girls aged between 7 and 10 in a local park. Britain’s rapists are getting younger and younger, yet the liberal consensus still believes society’s permissive attitude to sex and its ubiquitous nature in popular culture have nothing to do with the increasing rise of sexual crime. Or what links the fertility time bomb, an ageing population, increasing abortion rates, yobbish behaviour and binge drinking, if you believe the liberal consensus, not a lot.Yet most people point to the collapse of the family, the breakdown of the institution of marriage, the prioritisation of work over having children, a culture of lost respect for elders, and a hedonistic attitude towards sex, consumerism and alcohol are symptoms of a more worrying degradation of the glue that should hold societies together. As Melanie Philips a prominent British commentator recently wrote ‘our
hedonistic culture appears to have lost any sense of its collective and long-term interests. Instead too many young women and men live in this affluent consumer society as if there is no tomorrow- and by doing so are helping ensure that that is precisely what is increasingly coming to pass.’

In this latest issue we try to avoid the politics of denial, we lead with a timely article on what the Caliphate is and more importantly what it is not. Many commentators have done a disservice to western society in their discussions surrounding the Caliphate, preferring to cite the usual stereotypes of a medieval, misogynist and Taliban type state. Akmal Asghar attacks these myths head on, articulating a 21st century vision for the Caliphate a state he argues would be characterised by representative government, an independent judiciary, where the ruling elite is subject to the rule of law, technology is embraced, minorities are treated as full citizens as they were in the past and where men and women are provided with a set of roles and responsibilities that do not engender a superiority of one sex over the other. Of course the Caliphate is not built on the western secular model, yet to dismiss it as some fanciful medieval notion as Tony Blair recently did is another example of the relentless disinformation campaign mounted since 9-11. If we are to have a real debate about ideas, then this should be one carried out with sincerity and a rational rigour, not based on spin, soundbites and a false sense of superiority.

The key point surrounding denial is that sometimes the people most close to the issue are the least able to see what is wrong. In that sense the Muslim community should accept the many deficiencies it has head on, most of them pre-dating 7th July. However is western society ready to re-examine the suitability of its own core secular and liberal values and their failure in building a stable society. Or will western commentators continue its paranoid path that all Muslims who support the caliphate and not western secularism are medieval extremists, will it persevere in its mourning of innocents in London while not even bothering to count those that die daily in Iraq, will it keep on attacking terrorism while at the same time justifying Dresden, Hiroshima, Gaza and Fallujah. Will it continue to condemn Islam’s treatment of women, while presiding over a society where women’s sexuality remains a sleazy advertising commodity and where unbelievably in the 21st centurywomen are still paid less than a man for performing the same job.Will it begin to see the absurdity of attacking the caliphate for having trans-national aspirations while simultaneously supporting imperialism and the imposition of western values across the globe. Will it ask itself why if the presumption of innocence is such a bedrock principle, why the alleged bombers of 7/7 and 7/21 have already been tried and convicted by politicians and media alike. Will western society finally realise that its core literalist teaching of materialism has created a failing ideology which is simultaneously melancholic, avaricious and coercive.

As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous German poet and novelist stated ‘Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint.’ Translated this means ‘I am the spirit that always denies’, an apt comment for our current plight.

Sajjad Khan

Originally published on the New Civilization website at