Sunday, July 01, 2007

Ideology and terror

This is a must read from the Observer. Former Islamist Hassan Butt writes,

When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network, a series of semi-autonomous British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology, I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.

By blaming the government for our actions, those who pushed the 'Blair's bombs' line did our propaganda work for us. More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology.

Butt passionately urges Muslims to turn away from violence and, in passing, excoriates Ken Livingstone who, he claims, 'refused to acknowledge the role of Islamist ideology in terrorism and said that the Muslim Brotherhood and those who give a religious mandate to suicide bombings in Palestine were genuinely representative of Islam'.

However, this is not just a 'bash the apologists' article but a thoughtful, brief exposition of Islamist doctrine. Butt argues that what drove him to support terrorism in the past was the sense of 'fighting for the creation of a revolutionary state that would eventually bring Islamic justice to the world'. He sounds very much like the young radicals who embarked on terrorism in Western Europe in the 1970's. Their social analysis and universal goals were as unrealistic and detached from reality as those of the Islamists. To counter this, what Butt argues for is not a secular rationalism, but for the mobilisation of Muslim scholars to contest this theology and thereby,

... come forward with a refashioned set of rules and a revised understanding of the rights and responsibilities of Muslims whose homes and souls are firmly planted in what I'd like to term the Land of Co-existence. And when this new theological territory is opened up, Western Muslims will be able to liberate themselves from defunct models of the world, rewrite the rules of interaction and perhaps we will discover that the concept of killing in the name of Islam is no more than an anachronism.

This very much echoes Tony Blair's comments about 'absurd' Islamist doctrines, but then Blair mentions a 'false sense of grievance'. He is still seeing rationalist, if deluded, sources for Islamist ideas. Butt is far more convincing, and chilling, when he describes the ideological basis of the movement as the extension of the premises of Islam by two critical steps.

Their first step has been to reason that since there is no Islamic state in existence, the whole world must be Dar ul-Kufr. Step two: since Islam must declare war on unbelief, they have declared war upon the whole world.

This revolutionary doctrine justifies an irrationalist and endless war for an unobtainable global goal and, whilst in the process of failing to obtain it, it advocates a duty to randomly kill large numbers of people and feel wholly justified in doing so. Butt is clearly right that there is an ideological challenge to be met and one hopes that the Islamic scholars will come forward and contest these doctrines effectively. The consequences of them not doing so is frightening. Those of us who are secularist non-Muslims have another duty, to contest fashionable apologism, whilst our governments (and this feels awkward from someone influenced by anarchism) act in collective self-defence.

UPDATE
This should read, "whilst our governments and baggage supervisors ... act in our collective self defence.

4 comments:

Lord Pissfoot of Strathclyde said...

I remember reading an interview with Butt 2 years ago in Prospect. Any morons who insist that he's just a mouthpiece for New Labour or an MI6 agent should read the interview:

http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=6992

I hear those fires are still raging. Any news?

The Plump said...

Thanks Lord P, but the link doesn't work here. I think that you need to use the HTML tags.

If you can email it to me I will add it to the post (email is in my profile).

Thanks for the concern about the fires. The news is a bit better. I have posted an update on the original post. However, they have been really destructive in an outstandingly beautiful area.

The Plump said...

This is the prospect article Lord P refers to.

A British jihadist

It was also discussed by Norm here

Owing and feeling nothing

Barry Larking said...

I have tried to post my recollections of living in a district of a north east English suburb with a substantial, docile, Pakistani population between 1984 - 97, but 'respectable' sites didn't want to know. Probably think I am Nick Griffin writing under a psudedonym.

It was commonplace to find stickers and posters attacking 'kuffars' - or, plain 'Christians and Jews' – and predicting the rise of "Planet Islam" around the streets in those days. In Arabic and English Moslems were urged to attend meetings in London and, curiously to me at the time, Luton, for 'enlightenement' as what being a true Moselm was all about. Flattening Israel was part of it: A gruesome poster with "Death to Israel" on it consisted simply of a photograph of an atomic mushroom cloud.

I was even unfortunate to run into a local 'organiser' who chose to belittle me in the presence of a Kasmiri friend. He smirked ceaselessly as he demonstrated his Moselm credentials and highlighted all the short comings and contradictions of my 'advanced' western ideas and beliefs (i.e. Enlightenment, European style). This was, as I say, in the days of Messrs. John Major and Neil Kinnock.

Iraq has added grist to the mill without doubt, but the outlines of the threat to the west, intellectual and physical, were all there long before 2001.

But my dismay has been centred on the appeasement of the left, my political home, to all this bonkers radicalisation of 'Moslem Youth'. A similar radicalisation of white youth by the BNP stroke Nazis never elicits quite the same 'sympathetic understanding'.