I was drawn attention to a recent blog post on the Quilliam website by the author Jacob Kishere, which discussed the ‘problem’ of ‘Islamist’ speakers being invited to university campuses. The article lamented at this ‘ideological ‘entryism’ of non-Liberal ideologies being discussed at University campuses. It further remarked ”Entryism’ serves to both spread Islamism to those most vulnerable to it but also to reaffirm and harden the views of those already conclusively aligned’. It seems the champions of Liberalism are all for a ‘free marketplace of ideas’ as long as Liberalism is the only idea being sold.
The article then mentioned the lecture I gave at SOAS entitled ‘The Origins of ISIL’ where I provided a factual account of the rise of ISIL. The writer criticises me for my use of the line ‘I’m not a conspiracy theorist but…”, however, and quite tellingly, they do not quote my words for any actual ‘conspiracy theory’ I said – I actually just cited the facts and let the audience work out their own conclusions, namely the well documented collaboration of ISIL with Syrian government over oil sales and a temporary mutual-non-aggression pact while ISIL conveniently wiped out Assad’s enemies. I also mentioned the U.S. turning a blind eye to the rise of ISIL in Iraq until the capture of Mosul in mid-2014 (the Iraqi government had already pleaded for American support since January 2014 and the capture of Fallujah, which went relatively unreported). I also mentioned the long-awaited ‘Iraqi hydrocarbon law’ that the U.S. had been pressuring the Iraqi government for since 2007, which would effectively divide Iraq into three regions and involve the ownership of Iraqi oil fields by foreign companies. This law was *strangely* cited to the Iraqi government by the US in January 2014 in response to Iraqi pleas for weapons and assistance.
Mr Kishere bewails the inviting of ‘Islamists’ onto universities, and suggests (the usual UK government narrative) that these speakers had, at some point, a person who later went to syria, attend their lectures. The logic is extremely faulty in this, because even if it can be proved this was a common occurrence, correlation does not equal causation. If that’s the case, then I could argue that Pornography leads to Terrorism here and here.
The fact of the matter is, that people who are social misfits, sociopaths or are disenfranchised in their society, are more likely to commit acts of terrorism than those who agree with the ruling elite, or those who are successful, have good social skills and accepted in society. It’s not Islam (or ‘Islamism’) but rather psychology and sociology that can provide the answers to the causes of terrorism. Furthermore, it is highly likely that a social misfit or political dissident, who has already made up their minds to ‘rebel’, will first court non-violent organisations and speakers who are regarded as political dissidents. The reason that the individual then moves away from those speakers and organisations is BECAUSE those organisations are NOT militant. There isn’t any ‘conveyor belt’ to terrorism, but rather a ‘shopping-trip’ towards it, where the disturbed individual tries out products that they think they will like, rejecting many until they end up at the catastrophic product they do like: indiscriminate violence. We see such disturbed individuals all the time amongst non-Muslims, whether they are Craig Hicks, Anders Brevik, Elliot Rodger, Andreas Lubitz, Timothy McVeigh, Pavlo Lapshyn, Michael Piggin etc etc but no one blames ideology, rather psychology is the key issue – something not a big mystery to criminal psychologists. Being a political dissident in most cases just serves as an excuse for the individual to shroud themselves in a false cloak of self-righteousness. To blame Islam (or ‘Islamism’) is simply a politically-motivated argument used by Liberals and the UK government to suppress non-Liberal, and non-violent, dissent. I could point out that in Liberalism’s history, when it wasn’t in power, it too spawned many terrorist revolutionary movements against non-Liberal governments which killed civilians (French revolutionaries [whose actions literally let to the invention of the word ‘Terrorism’], US continental army, Carranzistas, Nicaraguan contras, Nelson Mandela’s military wing of the ANC etc).
Now Mr Kishere continues to misrepresent one of my points, he claims I argue that Osama Bin Laden was a Liberal – I do no such thing, I merely argued that Osama’s military tactics ADOPTED Liberalism’s (aka the West’s) military ethics. Go and read about Osama’s own words and judge for yourself whether Osama is following ‘Islamism’ or Liberalism in his reasons for his military tactics. Terrorism, the deliberate targeting and killing of civilians in times of ‘supreme emergency’ IS A LIBERAL BELIEF (Read more on the Liberal doctrine of the ‘Supreme Emergency Exemption’).
I simply point out that the reasons Osama gives for resorting to terrorism are INDISTINGUISHABLE from the arguments of mainstream Liberal philosophers, like John Rawls, Michael Walzer et at who argue that to save a people from enslavement, genocide or ethnic cleansing, ‘Political Liberalism offers the supreme emergency exemption’ [from normal morality!]. Osama felt he was waging a defensive war, and throughout all his writings he cites as his *sunnah* (source of emulation), the U.S. and UK. He argues that Muslims have to COPY the West!! I’m sorry, but its my duty as a Muslim to refute his grotesque conclusion and his grotesque (borrowed) methodology. If anything, the only ideology that justifies terrorism, is Liberalism – it seems Liberals psychologically project themselves onto others. You see, one of the reasons I’m not a Liberal, is because I simply can’t subscribe to an ideology that justifies Terrorism.
The author described me as ‘a regular face of Islamism in the media and a frequent speaker on campuses’. I represent ‘Islamism’?! (without explaining what Islamism is). Unless Mr Kishere is using word to simply mean ISLAM and harkening back to the ‘Enlightenment’s’ French philosopher Voltaire’s invention of the word as Europe’s FIRST WORD for ISLAM after they dropped ‘Mohammetanism’?
The author continued that ‘liberal students still face major obstacles in engaging with it [Islamism]…The vast majority of the student body are unaware of the concept of ‘Islamism’ and how it differs from Islam’. Perhaps the author would care to explain what he means by the term Islamism? Now, the author could argue that ‘Islamism’ is the belief that Islam should be involved in politics, but if that is so, then that would mean all Muslims in politics are Islamists! Because, in theory, Islam informs a Muslim’s sense of right and wrong, and surely they should bring a sense of right or wrong into politics?! Unless Quilliam advocate that a Muslim in politics must not bring a sense of right and wrong, and should engage hypocritically in politics for self gain and promotion? Well it certainly would explain the head of Quilliam Foundation, Maajid Nawaz’ understanding. Of course, knowing that the Quilliam Foundation consider anyone who believes in Caliphate or the Islamic concept of Jihad as ‘Islamists’, they’d probably consider Ibn Khaldun, Imam Mawardi and every single Islamic scholar down until Caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali and ultimately, Prophet Muhammed (saaw) as Islamists too.
Furthermore, the hilarious irony of the Quilliam Foundation is that the one who it is named after, a victorian British convert, Abdullah Quilliam, held beliefs that would be considered as textbook ‘Islamist‘ by the Quilliam Foundation! This is quite the irony, it’s like the KKK setting up an organisation called The Malcolm X Foundation for White Supremacy.
The author finally bemoans how Liberals are not ‘challenging’ Muslim speakers at universities, and conceding to such speakers ‘an unchallenged red carpet platform in universities’. Really? So in the ‘spirit’ of challenging ideas, should we also demand that all Liberal, Secular or Atheist speakers be challenged at universities too? Should we only enforce Liberal speakers to speak on condition that we have a Communist or Muslim speaker on the same platform to challenge them? I’m all for challenge, but one cannot have rules for one group of people, and not apply them equally for others. If lectures should be allowed to be held for one group, it should also be held for others – without demanding they must be debates instead.
Of course, no Student Islamic Society (ISOC) or MSA invites members of the Quilliam Foundation (QF), which is strange for an organisation that claims its ‘interpretations’ of Islam (i.e. Secular Liberalism) represent the ‘silent majority’ of Muslims. And if ISOCs and MSAs represent the emerging intellectuals of the wider Muslim community of whom QF claim consist of the ‘silent majority’, would QF please explain why ISOCs and MSAs consistently invite Muslims speakers and thinkers of whom the Quilliam Foundation disapproves of? Doesn’t ‘silent majority’ like higher education? Or is the case, more likely, that there is no Secular Liberal Silent majority to begin with, and QF are widely hated in the Muslim community? I’ll leave it to you to decide.
However, I’d like to assure the author that I’m happy to be challenged on a public platform, and I participate (and co-organise) many debates to that effect. If Maajid Nawaz, Usama Hasan or anyone else in the Quilliam Foundation who Ayaan Hirsi Ali praises, would be able to drum up the courage to ‘challenge’ me on a public platform and help what Mr Kishere depicts as the poor beleaguered Liberal university students out there, then my door is always open…