D wrote to me asking about my views on the UK Islamic Mission:
In Leeds they are setting up a centre in Moortown. The English Defence League is trying to exploit tensions about this by having a demo. I read a post from I think your forum saying that the UKIM is linked to Jamaat-e-Islami but looking at their website they seem to be just an evangelical group like the Mormans or Jehovah’s witnesses. Peddling an outdated and misogynist world view but basically within the remit of religion rather than politically linked to Jamaat. As a secular lefty I organised people to turn out against the EDL in Leeds and Bradford but this obviously is slightly more complicated because I don’t want to gloss other genuine concerns about UKIM but neither do I want to overact and take a position of neither EDL or UKIM.
I asked Gita Sahgal of Centre for Secular Space and an authority on Jamaat-e-Islami to respond. She wrote:
Please see this old Islamic Right Key Tendencies on UK Islamic Mission. The briefing is a few years old, but will be useful in determining which groups are Islamist. According to our information which was very thoroughly researched, the UK Islamic Mission is a part of the Jamaat e Islami. Fudamentalist organisations have numerous front organisations for different purposes including proselytising, collecting money for charity and so on. They all pursue the same political agenda even if it isn’t obvious.
I think it is high time that a NO to All Fascism front was established and I think it would be great to say no to EDL and to the UK IM.
D wrote back saying:
I am slightly wary of the Oppose both Fascisms stance. The EDL are proposing to go into an area with historically a high Jewish population and shout racist slogans and threaten and scare residents. If they could they would beat up Jewish and Asian people there and seek to whip up violence against the Asian community and would make no differentiation between Hizb-ut-Tahir and secular Muslims or non-Muslims who look Asian. Meanwhile the UKIM whilst having the links with Fascists in the Subcontinent and sharing their reactionary world view are obviously not threatening people on the street or anything like that. I think the main purpose of any demo would have to be against the EDL but the literature we put out should criticise UKIM but argue for the best way to oppose them is to support Muslim people and people of a Muslim background who are politically engaged against the Islamic right (like yourselves but also LGBT Muslims and some Liberal religious groups).
And here is Gita’s must read response:
Thank you for your letter on the ‘Opposing Both Fascisms’ stance. I understand that taking this stance involves a huge change in mindset and therefore it is difficult to take. It stems from seeing Muslims as powerless, ‘other’ and therefore needing support from the left, because they have no other support. It also treats ‘Muslims’ as an undifferentiated category.
If any of your assumptions were accurate, it might be possible to argue that the EDL poses the greater threat, but unfortunately not a single one of your statements is correct.
• As our material shows, the Jamaat e Islami is a global transnational movement which has organised in Britain and in many other countries. It is MUCH more powerful than the EDL and arguably as threatening on the street. Its threat is not expressed in the same ways and remains invisible to white leftists who are not affected by it. [Read more…]