Posts Tagged ‘Kalim Siddiqui’

Reichwing Watch: Trump Spokesman Cites Japanese Internment to Justify Muslim Registry

November 18, 2016

This is terrifying. It’s another clip from Reichwing Watch, from a news programme in which a spokesman for Trump tells Megan Kelly, the news anchor, to her face that Japanese internment during World War II has set a precedent for Trump’s proposal to have all Muslims entered in an official register. To her credit, Kelly tells him that he cannot use this as a precedent, and reproaches him for using it to get people frightened. The Trump surrogate laughs this off, but says that the president still needs to protect America. She argues back that the protection extends the moment you enter America.

This should terrify everyone, who is sincerely worried about the march of Fascism, including anyone with a knowledge of Roman civilisation. Firstly, the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II as enemy aliens led to horrendous suffering and deprivation, and is still naturally resented by Americans of Japanese heritage decades later. George Takei, I understand, the actor who played Mr Sulu in Star Trek, was particularly active in Japanese-American civil rights organisations. American politicos have denounced the internment, and I think the government has paid the victims reparations. And it certainly was deeply unjust that when many Japanese-American servicemen were giving their lives for America, their families, friends and other members of their community were being herded into camps. It is repulsive that Trump’s spokesman should cite this as a precedent, and it does raise the issue of what Trump will do next. If he’s prepared to cite Japanese-American internment as a precedent, is he also considering interning Muslims as well, despite his mouthpiece’s smiling denials?

The American Constitution famously promises Americans freedom of religion. And religious freedom has been at the heart of American democracy, ever since Richard Baxter argued for it, including not just Christians, but also Jews, during the British Civil War. Baxter afterwards emigrated to the nascent US, and the proud, American tradition of religious toleration begins with him in the 17th century. Now Trump’s threatening to reverse this.

Trump’s proposal for Muslims to be officially registered reminds me very strongly of the ancient Roman attitude to religion. The Roman Empire was religious pluralistic, but retained a system of religious suppression. Because the Romans were afraid of the threat of insurrection and rebellion from clubs and other associations, including religious gatherings, they operated a system in which only those religions, which were not considered dangerous to the state, were officially tolerated. The Romans persecuted Christianity because it was not one of the religio licitas – permitted religions. Christians were seen as subversive, because they worshipped Christ as God, instead of the Roman Emperor. Hence the determination to make Christians sacrifice to the Emperor’s numen, his divine spirit, and the statements in the early Christian apologists that, although Christians didn’t worship the emperor, they nevertheless were good citizens, who prayed for him and the other authorities in their services.

Trump is threatening to inflict on American Muslims the type of system that led to the terrible persecution of Christians in ancient Rome.

And where America goes today, Britain and other nations follow tomorrow. I’m not a secularist, but this threatens religious tolerance and freedom right across the modern, democratic West.

And apart from the real danger it poses to Muslims, it also threatens to give the radicals a weapon to use against us. The Islamist bigots, going all the way back to the radicals demanding the suppression of the Satanic Verses and Rushdie’s death, whipped up opposition and hatred towards non-Muslims and the secular state by telling them that they were in danger from White and non-Muslim persecution. Way back in the 1990s the Beeb filmed one of these preachers of hate, Kalim Siddiqui, in his mosque, telling his congregation that ‘British society is a monstrous killing machine, and killing Muslims comes very easily to them’. When the team questioned Siddiqui about his words, he started ranting about how the Satanic Verses was the first step towards a ‘holocaust of Muslims.’ This is sheer, poisonous bilge. The book wasn’t blasphemous, and it certainly wasn’t published in preparation for such an monstrous atrocity.

But accusations like this were used to motivate British Muslims, or some British Muslims, into political involvement and opposition to British secularism. And you can bet that ISIS and al-Qaeda will use Trump’s wretched registry to whip up support amongst Muslims by citing it as proof that western society really is intolerant and that we really do have a genocidal hatred of Muslims.

We don’t. Regardless of individual religious affiliation or lack thereof, we need to stand united against this. We can’t let Trump divide us and make the denial of our collective freedoms seem respectable policies. Because it won’t just be Muslims. After them, it’ll be other groups. No-one will be safe from this type of intolerance.

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The Origin of the Fear of a Muslim Holocaust in Nazi Propaganda

January 12, 2016

Yesterday I put up a piece about Paul Berman’s book, The Flight of the Intellectuals, which argues that the modern Islamist movements – al-Qaeda, but also Hamas, and the Islamic Republic of the Ayatollah Khomeini, ultimately have their origins in the writings of Hassan al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood. The book also describes the role of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj al-Husseini, in translating Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda into the Muslim and Arab worlds. Al-Husseini claimed, despite the evidence of the very limited dimensions of the Jewish state at the time, that the Jews were planning to wipe out Islam and the Arabs, and to turn all the Arab countries in the Middle East into homelands for themselves and Black Americans. He therefore urged, and organised, a genocidal war against Jews, commanding his audience to kill the Jews and their children before the Jews killed them.

It’s vile, poisonous stuff from someone, who played an enthusiastic part in the Holocaust of European Jews, as well as massacres of those in Palestine. His fear-mongering of a Jewish superstate goes far beyond the Nakba, or ‘disaster, catastrophe’, the term Palestinians have given to the eradication of their communities and their displacement at the establishment of Israe. Looking through al-Husseini’s rhetoric also makes sense of the claims of a similar genocide made by one British Muslim firebrand in the 1990s.

This was Kalim Saddiqui, who was one of the Muslim leaders involved in stirring up hatred against Salman Rushdie over the Satanic Verses. In the early 1990s the Beeb screened a documentary on the problems afflicting the Islamic community in Britain. These problems included poor academic performance, unemployment and the consequent feelings of disenfranchisement and alienation. They filmed Siddiqui preaching in his mosque. He told the assembled worshippers that ‘British society is a gigantic killing machine, and killing Muslims comes very easily to them.’ I’m aware of the racism and violence many Muslims have to face, not least from the Stormtroopers of the Far Right, like the BNP, and their successors, the English Defence League. But this went far beyond a complaint about racism to a bigoted, racist statement about non-Muslims Brits.

To their credit, the Beeb tried to tackle Siddiqui about this. His response was that it was part of his defence of Islam against the forces, of which Rushdie’s book was a part. He then claimed that the Satanic Verses was simply part of a ‘Holocaust of Muslims’ that was being prepared. It’s rubbish, of course, but such fears do now unfortunately have a certain verisimilitude now that Trump is demanding a halt to Muslim immigration, and the registration of those already in America. Against this, it needs to be noted that there are other Americans on the streets, including not just Muslim Americans, but also members of the traditional White and Black communities and Jews demonstrating against Trump’s poison. Several Jewish organisations were so horrified by Trump’s plans, which were so close to what they experienced during the Third Reich, that they organised demonstrations against the tousle-haired Nazi in 17 cities across the US. Siddiqui also made the comments at the time of the Bosnian War, when the Serbs were committing massacres against Bosnian Muslims. That might partly explain Siddiqui’s vile rant.

But mostly it seems to me now that Siddiqui had absorbed the conspiracy theories and the rhetoric of genocide against Muslims shoved out by the Grand Mufti as part of his pro-Nazi campaign. In which case, the roots of Islamism and Islamist terrorism in Britain go back at least two decades. Siddiqui and the other preachers of hate prepared a paranoid, intensely hostile mindset within the audiences, which may have made some susceptible to the teachings and propaganda of al-Qaeda and now ISIS later on.

Siddiqui and his fellows, like Anjem Chaudhury, do not represent all Muslims in Britain by any means. They’re extremely controversial, and there have been demonstrations against them as bigots, who pervert the message of Islam, by liberal Muslims. There are a number of books and Muslim organisations, like Imams Online, which exist to tackle the Islamism and hate they promote. If you go over to the anti-racist organisation’s Hope Not Hate site, there are also numerous articles on events that have been organised around the country to bring Muslims and non-Muslims together, with pictures of Muslim imams talking and laughing with Christian vicars, and members of the other faiths. Siddiqui’s rhetoric is part of the Nazi distortion of Islam, and doesn’t represent the whole of the ‘umma or its history.