Sunday, September 04, 2005

Foreign Office fantasy over Qaradawi

Nick Cohen has revealed in today’s Observer that leaked papers show the British Foreign Office has created a fantasy land in which Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a liberal with whom they can do business.

The leaked memo says:

“Qaradawi should not be excluded from the UK given his influence in relation to our foreign policy objectives… Having individuals like Qaradawi on our side should be our aim.”

Cohen observes:

“The leaked papers show FO mandarins in a land of make-believe. Running through this thinking is an aching need to believe that Qaradawi is a liberal, a peculiar liberal, no doubt, but still a man with whom Britain can do business.”

See: Mandarins in a mess, Observer 4 September 2005.

GALHA recently co-published a dossier on Dr Qaradawi’s views, which can be read online here. The strength of the dossier is that it does not refer to third-part sources like (MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, for example, which Ken Livingstone says can’t be trusted because it is an Israeli source.) It presents Dr Qaradawi’s views in his own words, from the website he supervisors –

Cohen points out that this fuzzy thinking on Qaradawi started with Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London.

“Earlier this year, Livingstone produced a dodgy dossier which would have made Alastair Campbell blush. Al-Qaradawi defended the rights of women, Livingstone said. No he didn't. Islam Online had him supporting wife beating and genital mutilation. Along with his unbending line on the homosexual question, the alleged progressive also said the penalty for grown-up Muslims who concluded there was no god was death and, inevitably, that no criticism could be made of bombers who murdered Israeli civilians.”

Another source of illumination with regards to Dr Qaradawi’s views is his book ‘The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam’, which can also be read online here.

In a related story, Martin Bright reveals (also in The Observer) that MI6 had plans to infiltrate Islamic extremist groups.

Bright’s article outlines the plan to have MI6 agents pose as radicals to infiltrate groups and peddle a slightly softer line. However:

“The 7 July bombings were a direct challenge to the policy of engagement and have led some critics to suggest it should be abandoned. One former minister said last night: 'The strategic error is to think you can fight hot fire with cooler fire. These people still want to see sharia law extended and find it difficult to handle secularism or gay rights. You need more, genuine political engagement rather than searching for the acceptable face of Islam.'”

The memo also states:

“Qaradawi’s religious authority and fatwas – based on a long and established career in Islamic scholarship – strikes a chord throughout the Muslim world.”

Too bad that those fatwas - for women, gay people and non-believers - mean persecution, violence and death.

UPDATE: Ironically, as MI6 considers infiltrating radical Muslim groups, Hizb ut Tarir is doing the same on university campuses – according to The Independent Soon we may see the farcical scenario of undercover MI6 agents establishing radical Islamic groups on campuses to be infiltrated by other undercover MI6 agents. But seriously…

According to the Independent:

Muslim student leaders warned that Hizb would target "vulnerable" young Muslims when the new university term starts later this month.

"Before, we could stop the recruitment; we could save vulnerable people," said Faisal Hanjra, a spokesman for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies. "Now, we have no idea who is targeting whom." Hizb failed to respond when approached for comment.


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