The disenfranchisement of these young men

The BBC did a conversation with Asim Qureshi of CAGE this week, and before the conversation they did a clip where he makes his case on his own. I hit pause because I wanted to interrupt him. After telling us that he worked with celebrity beheader Mohammed Emwazi, starting at 1:30 he says

What role does our society play in relation to the disenfranchisement of these young men, to make them feel like they don’t have the ability to actually use the system in order to effect change in the grievances that they have with British domestic and foreign policy?

I wanted to interrupt him to say bullshit.

There is no enfranchisement that could enable “these young men” (such as Mohammed Emwazi) to “use the system” to achieve their goals, because their goals are not attainable in a liberal democracy. Their “grievances” with British domestic policy for instance have to do with all the wicked infidel freedom that women have to walk around and make their own decisions without monitoring and control by men. There is no “enfranchisement” that will allow young men like Emwazi to change that. It’s not enfranchisement that could possibly make that happen, but only ruthless violence and destruction.

Qureshi is revoltingly, unctuously adept at using the vocabulary of liberal discourse to draw a thin veil over the disgusting mess of what Islamism is really about. He’s not talking about real disenfranchisement or legitimate grievances; he’s bullshitting.


  1. quixote says

    The use of the language of civil rights and liberation in the service of their opposites is one of the many things I didn’t see coming.

    Orwell was right. Making words meaningless is an essential step on the road to lording it over people.

  2. opposablethumbs says

    (a bit like Freeze Peach means the right to abuse, harass, threaten and silence)

    He’s a clever liar, because there’s just enough of an odour of truth around what he’s talking about to make it sound slick; for some people, feeling and/or being effectively disenfranchised probably does play into the appeal of belonging somewhere else. But as Ophelia rightly points out, he’s eliding the fact that no genuine enfranchisement could ever, ever be “enough”, or could ever have anything to do with ISIS, since everything they are about is precisely disenfranchising everybody who is not them.

  3. grumpyoldfart says

    I’ve always thought of them as psychopathic control freaks who have convinced themselves that they are right up there with god himself; helping god decide who lives and who dies.

    In a normal society they are nobodies, but in fundamentalist Islam they can commit the most atrocious crimes for the most trivial reasons and instead of being condemned they are hailed as heroes of the faith.

    It gives them a huge ego boost to think they have total control over the lives of others. See that boy over there with a cigarette – cut his head off! That girl isn’t wearing a scarf – stone her to death! The more trivial the reason for the execution, the more powerful the control freak perceives himself to be. He doesn’t get that opportunity in normal society, hence his eagerness to join ISIS where he has a chance to fulfill his macabre dreams.

    The Christian inquisitors enjoyed the same degree of control over the population and they kept at it for 600 years before they were finally stopped. I wouldn’t be surprised if fundie Muslims continue for just as long.

  4. says

    I for the most part like this analysis of terrorism.

    Particularly this criterion for whether to condemn the fighters.
    “Have they a just (or at least partly just) cause? This doesn’t mean the cause justifies war. Only that it is a cause worth at least addressing. It doesn’t mean their grievances are what they say they are. It only means that there is something there that could be addressed. e.g. Wanting to convert everyone to one religion is not even worth addressing.”

  5. RJW says

    ‘These young men’ are not disenfranchised, they have they same civil rights as any citizen of a liberal democracy. To describe them as ‘disenfranchised’ is playing into the hands of the Islamist propagandists since it implies that their behaviour is a product of Western society and not their religion or individual psychopathy,
    They have an agenda. Kuffar society is a provocation and an offense to Islamists, so from their point of view and of their ‘useful idiot’ apologists, it really is all our fault.

  6. John Morales says


    ‘These young men’ are not disenfranchised, they have they same civil rights as any citizen of a liberal democracy.

    Basically what I would have noted, though the actual claim is that they “feel like they” are, not that they are.

    (Gossamer veil, not just thin)

  7. RJW says

    @7 John Morales,

    Yes, however that qualification will probably disappear with repetition and the effects of lazy journalism, I’m sure that the intended propaganda message is ‘disenfranchised young men’.

  8. lorn says

    This post makes a very good point.

    Islam, as presented in the Koran and popularly interpreted, is not compatible with a modern western, liberal, democracy. One of the key principles of Islam is that Mohammed is an exemplar and his accomplishments and pronouncements as to the correct way of running this state and being a human. This includes formation of a Caliphate and implementation of sharia law which includes subjugates women, mutilation as punishment for crimes, child rape, and the validation of slavery.

    Yes, there is an argument to be made that well adjusted people with happy relationships with friends, family and surrounding society rarely become terrorists, run off to fight holy wars, or attack people if not under direct and immediate threat. But in this case the alignment of individual to society cannot be allowed to be accomplished by moving toward the Islamic point of view. Not even a little bit.

    The surrounding society cannot compromise on the issues of slavery, child molestation, democracy, freedom of expression, or any of the other core behaviors said to be Mohammed’s, and presumably Allah’s, preference. We can’t allow just a little kiddie diddling, or hand chopping, or slavery. There can be no compromise on these subjects no matter how misunderstood and excluded it might make Muslims feel.

  9. says

    Andrew Neil did a reasonable job discrediting Qureshi though as you say he didn’t really call him out on what adjustments British society is meant to make to please these men. If they are called out they usually burble “foreign policy” & don’t say “the implementation of a theocratic state”. However CAGE has had lost its funding & presumably Amnesty International will stop co-signing letters with it – tho’ it’s still been v. cagy (ha!) about this. Those who supported Gita Saghal 5 years ago feel vindicated & those who laid into her (Sunny Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy who produced masses of posts jeering at her) are shuffling, saying, Cage wasn’t as blatant then.

    I think there has been a sea change. Deborah Orr wrote a revolting article in the Guardian yesterday which among other gems:-

    “It’s dangerous, to think of anti-Islamism as a righteous cause, or a cause at all. Being against a cause is not a cause in itself. Being right is not the same as being righteousness. (Righteousness is usually a quality seen in people who are a pain in the arse.)”

    What she’s saying is that going to fight FOR ISIS is no different to fighting AGAINST it. The Godwins fall off your fingers.

    It’s an unbelievable word salad of moral relativism & is ripped apart in the comments. The Guardian runs these things & 99% of the commenters say, WTF?

  10. says

    Here’s a very good clear-headed article about Salafism:-

    And here’s one about the vindication of Gita Saghal & the horrible cosying up of the liberal left (chiefly the Guardian) with the theocratics:-

    In 2013, the Community Security Trust warned the JRCT that CAGE were an extremist-linked and anti-Semitic organisation, but their concerns, like Gita Sahgal’s, were waved away. However, on 2 March, in the wake of the disastrous Emwazi press conference, the Charity Commission announced that it was launching an investigation into the Roddick Foundation and the JRCT, and on 6 March, the Commission announced that “both the Roddick Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust have ceased funding CAGE and will not be doing so in future.”

    CAGE have every reason to feel betrayed by this unseemly flight. Like Dilpazia Aslam, they have never been ashamed about who and what they are, and their narrative of victimhood and innocence has been remarkably consistent. Interviewed by Andrew Neil on the BBC’s This Week programme, Qureshi was unembarrassed by questions about his associations with Hizb ut-Tahrir (“a non-violent organisation”) and his support for jihad (“the right to self-defence”). It is not CAGE that has changed but the political environment.

  11. RJW says

    @11 rosiebell,

    I’d also say WTF! Verbal diarrhoea is usually a sign that people have intellectually, painted themselves into a corner.

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