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There is an information gap

Reader comment on item: When Conservatives Argue about Islam

Submitted by Denis MacEoin (United Kingdom), Jul 7, 2007 at 09:21

This has less to do with politiics, I think, than with information. I'm a liberal (in UK terms, meaning I'm not left-wing), but I'm working with a right-wing think tank to expose aspects of not-so-moderate Islam. This has something to do with my politiics (I believe in democracy, free speech, human rights, the rights of women, gays, religious minorities, etc.), but possibly more to do with my academic background in Islamic Studies.

I can read behind the public statements of CAIR or the MCB, because I can go to real texts in Arabic and Persian. I don't expect most people to become that well informed, but I do think there is blinding ignorance out there and that it does as much harm as political persuasion. For some people, politiics doesn't come into it at all. You mention Ken Livingstone.

As you will know, Daniel, at the time he invited al-Qaradawi here, a coalition of left-wing opponents of the shaykh was put together. This group was made up of Jews, Sikhs, feminists, moderate Muslims, gays, and others ? precisely the range of opinion and background Livingstone has built his political career on. These people were his natural constituents. They wrote to him, explaining why al-Qaradawi was bad news, and he replied with a ferocious, angry letter telling them all to bugger off. And he went off to hug al-Qaradawi, as you say.

Now, I don't know a lot about politics, but something tells me something very bad happened there. Livingstone's actions were a sort of anti-politics. Clearly, his need to shmooz his Muslim constituents was greater than his love for those whom he professed to support. In his position, given fresh information about al-Qaradawi, I would have searched about for a genuinely moderate Muslim speaker (not Tariq Ramadan), beefed him up for my Muslim friends, and helped this new speaker build a career, spreading moderate views within the Muslim community. A British journalist, Nick Cohen, recently published an excellent book which touches on this. It's called 'What's Left? where liberals went wrong'. Cohen is left-wing by upbringing and conviction, but in this book he loses friends as he tears into the British left, showing its affinity for totalitarianism, including Islamic totalitarianism today. Even American readers can learn a lot from this well-argued book. Over here, the anti-war, anti-Israel left has become powerful. But again, when 'peace' marchers wave banners saying 'We are all Hezbollah now', I have to hope they are ill-informed. So, part of the problem is politics, part is information and good argument.


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