Sunday, July 13, 2008

London innit?

Gis' us a sugarlump or I'll nick you

This somehow sums up the tube

Tariq Ramadan - sometimes accused of being a bit fuzzy, looking fuzzy

The thin chestnut line - helping to make Finsbury Park a bit more crappy

Knife crime, this summer's avian influenza

Just in case anyone has been wondering, I'm in London. I've been at two day conference held on the fringes of Islam Expo, along with all sorts of Islamist figures, hacks, spooks, ex-spooks, plods, professors - and finally other various lowly academic researchers and thinktankers such as myself. It has been a mixed bag, some wonderful presentations of academic clarity and objectivity - particularly from the American and Turkish professors - and then some political posturing without saying much substantive from others. My contribution from the floor was to suggest to Anas Altikriti that if Islamists parties want to be treated just like 'normal' parties they should stop whining when liberals points out they are ultra-conservative on social issues and if you are a woman or gay you have plenty of reasons to be very nervous about their politics. I think this annoyed him.

I came originally because I'm interested in the injection of Islamist politics into UK politics, and how different reactions to this have formed on both the left and the right. There were going to be various debates and discussion about these issues at the Expo and I wasn't just interested in hearing what the experts and pundits said, but how an audience of British Muslims reacted to it. But IslamExpo has become a victim of those new politics, albeit with a self inflicted wound. With rather stupid timing Mohammed Sawalha, the head of the British Muslim Initiative (one of the organisers of the whole Expo) and who is also closely linked to Hamas, threatened to sue Harry's Place for reporting his allegedly racists comments (read the whole thing on HP because it is a bit of long story around an Arabic translation). Looking from the outside it would appear that Harry's Place is in the right and Sawalha is pissing in the wind, but time and lawyers will tell. Anyway, in protest - and I think understandably - Martin Bright of the New Statesman pulled out of the debate he was to be part of, and now also Douglas Murray (Britain's own proud neo-con) has also withdrawn from another session tomorrow I was thinking of watching. It is a shame that Bright did pull out because he has done excellent work investigating British Islamist figures and we got left with Soumaya Ghannoushi ranting in circles and and no one calling her out the general innanity of her 'argument'. Her tone is also somewhat reminiscent of Thatcher which is never going to be reassuring...

On the way back to my friend's place tonight I stopped in Finsbury Park to go and see the infamous mosque, as it had been discussed this morning. Having not been to Finsbury Park before I can safely assure anyone else who hasn't that it is a shithole and you haven't missed anything. I'm sure the majority of the residents are lovely people but it has to be one of London's shabbiest boroughs.


Matthew said...

Lived near Finsbury Park for many years now and in many other regions of london at various times and can safely say that it isn't one of london's shabbiest boroughs, but it is a shithole none the less.

Quizbo said...

good commentary Toby - I'm glad to see you getting deeper into this issue and sharing your thoughts with the rest of us. Any other insights or comments you have about the issue would be much appreciated by the folks like me who care about the trends, but sit too far on the outside to keep close track of these things.