Saturday, October 16, 2010

What's up with the "Counter-Jihad"?

I got the chance to listen to Maajid Nawaz of the Quilliam Foundation yesterday. I've read his story in the past: in brief; racist violence and police profiling in Essex where he grew up, joining Hizb ut Tahrir as 16 years old and rapidly becoming an important organiser in the UK, Pakistan and Denmark for HuT, getting arrested in Egypt and spending 4 years in prison there. Coming home to the UK, turning his back on Islamism and becoming an advocate for pluralism, secularism and democracy. He has led an interesting life and speaks about it engagingly. But he also had a solid and well argued analysis of the different forms of Islamism  and why we have to be concerned about them using social movement theory. Interestingly, he reckoned there are now four identifiable social movements resulting from the Islamist ideology, the Ikhwani (Muslim Brotherhood) network, the so-called "Shi'a Crescent"; basically the Iran-Iraq-Hezbollah axis of politicised Shi'a Islam, the Saudi Wahhabi tradition; and now - following the thesis/antithesis logic - the new European anti-Muslim politics. I think Maajid makes a really good point, and as anyone who has followed this blog for any length of times knows, all four of those strains interests me, an particularly how they relate to each other. I'm interested in the collapse of the domestic/international distinction in politics; much of political life is both local and global at the same time. Geert Wilders is speaking in NYC at the anti-Ground Zero Mega Mosque/Park 51 Islamic community centre protest one week, and then is in Berlin surfing the wake of Sarrazin's book there the next. In between, he is doing a bit king-making back home in the Hague for the Dutch government. Wilder's vilification of Muslims, his warnings to Europeans to save their own culture from them, is as often as not based on human rights abuses and terrorist crimes committed outside of Europe as much as in it. Like I said, everything is local and everything is global.

Anyway, being interested in these issues for years I have read a lot anti-Islam blogs with some regularity. Kenneth, a regular and long standing commenter here, writes Tundra Tabloids, another English language but Finland-based blog, and I hope Kenneth will take it as complement when I say it is very representative of the "Counter-Jihad" blogosphere. I don't think we really agree on anything (except that there is nothing wrong with having either too many rucksacks or flashlights), but I have found lots of other, well let's just say - "interesting" sites from starting at Tundra Tabloids and have been reading that milieux enough now to have a feel for the lay of the land. It was from reading the Counter-Jihad blogosphere that I started realising the importance of philosemitism and pro-Israeli politics to the new European anti-Islamic populist right. It is something that perhaps Vlaams Belang and the Sweden Democrats have done prominently. Also some of the Italian post-fascist parties have done this as well, although I have no great knowledge of Italian politics. This means that although still populist rightwing parties, these parties are showing they are very different to more traditional neo-fascist European far right parties like the very worrying and scary Jobbik in Hungary.

Anyway, this particular zone of the internet has been hitting the mainstream press recently, mainly as a result of Pamela Geller's central involvement in the protests against the Ground Zero Mega Mosque/Park 51 Islamic community centre (yeah, I know it's tedious trying to be neutral. Perhaps I can just call it "Stroke place" in the way that "Londonderry/Derry" became "Stroke City" to journos in NI in the bad ole' days of the Troubles). I wrote three years ago about how Little Green Footballs was taking on the rest of the Counter-Jihad blogosphere over whether Vlaams Belang were fascists or not (LGF - yes, everyone else - no). Well, amusingly LGF's main man, Charles, has completed his political odyssey right to left to write a critical screed against Pamela in the Guardian! The Guardian! It's all somewhat reminiscent of the American 60s Trots who ended up as the 90s NeoCons. But still, to blow my own trumpet (it's a special skill, are you jealous?) I blogged about it two and half years before the NYT - the "lamestream media" after all... Anyway, going back to my collapse of the international/domestic divide, it is interesting that in the Guardian (the Guardian!) Charles is citing Geller's endorsement of the EDL as one of her 'crime' (the EDL want to be part of that new right I mention above, and not seen as neo-Nazis, but this is difficult when their leadership are covered in Swastika and Celtic cross tats).

Anyway, I had a good handle on the Pam vs. Chuck blog war, but as I've been reading the main Counter-Jihad blogs recently about both the Ground Zero Mosque protests and American support for the EDL, I keep reading about other fights that are going on. This is both confusing and interesting - if many of the main players seems to be falling out with each other, is there really a "Counter-Jihad blogosphere" any more? So far, as far as I can see Debbie Schlussel hates Pamela Geller, why seems quite complicated - although Schlussel also says that Geller is involved in some insurance scam and worse crimes, you can google all that for yourself as I couldn't make much sense of it. Debs also hates Mr. Jihadwatch, Robert Spencer, and keeps calling him "Slobbert" which seems just plain mean. But then again Spencer hates Andrew Bostom, because Bostom accuses Bobby of plagiarising his books. Meanwhile Pamela doesn't like "the Baron" from the Gates of Vienna any more - he is a small, petty man reputedly. She doesn't like the Baron's friend Vlad either. The reason for all this appear to be a question over copyright of some videos. Ho hum, it's all a bit high school-esque isn't it? I don't suppose al-Qaeda is quaking in its combat boots.

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