Those with a hatred for Islām and Muslims, driven either ideologically or simply by good old-fashioned bigotry and xenophobia, have all used words like ‘extremism’, ‘radical’ and ‘Islamist’ in order to generate hostility towards normal, mainstream Islamic practices and beliefs. The seasoned Islamophobe Andrew Gilligan’s most recent conspiratorial tirade against a number of Muslim-run charities has provoked quite an unprecedented response from one of the charities he maligned in the Telegraph.
The Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) has today published an open letter (below) inviting Andrew Gilligan and the Daily Telegraph’s editor, Ian MacGregor, to an ‘open dialogue’ where they can—if they wish—learn the real beliefs of those they smeared and also put forward their own definitions of ‘extremism’. I do not think anyone is holding their breath waiting for a positive response, since those that depend on ignorance and ambiguity regarding minorities for sensationalist, attention-grabbing headlines, will seldom kill a goose that lays golden eggs. If, however, they do value journalistic integrity or a more enlightened view of ‘extremism’, then it would be an interesting conversation indeed.
Andrew Gilligan is one very persistent Islamophobe, with an oddly remarkable perseverance when it comes to smearing and demonising Muslims in the mainstream in any opportunity he gets (the Coolness of Hind blog has an impressive catalogue of his attacks ). He is one of the last few neocons that is still clutching at the dozens of exposed anti-Muslim conspiracies from the Trojan Hoax fiasco to Mayor Lutfor Rahman’s #creepingshariah in Tower Hamlets. He even frequently goes out of his way in order to downplay the seriousness of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Whilst there is always hope for anyone, it is hard to fathom that neocons in general, and Gilligan in particular, would actually engage in an open, public debate about the hate and division they fuel in Britain. They seem to have a spectacular ignorance about Islām and Muslims and an apparent reluctance to merely ‘Google’ something they do not know (for instance, in his recent article Gilligan translated ‘Da’wah’ as ‘Prayer’). A recent ambush on an apparently unsuspecting neocon from the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) on Aljazeera, where the warmongering and apocalyptic ideology of neocons was exposed by Moazzam Begg and Mohammad Shafiq, showed a rare opportunity where Muslims were able to challenge neocons in public. That and this letter are both a step in the right direction, I believe, when it comes to confronting the poisonous narratives propagated by the Islamophobia industry.
Letter from iERA to Daily Telegraph editor:
Dear Mr McGregor
I am writing to you in regards to Andrew Gilligan’s recent article published on Sunday 30th November, where he made a direct link between iERA and a Portsmouth based group who had some members leave to fight with ISIS in Syria. Without going into the details of Mr Gilligan’s unsubstantiated claims, which I have already raised with him in writing, this letter is an open invitation to you and Mr Gilligan to discuss the subject, or rather the definition of extremism with iERA.
iERA’s position as a Muslim missionary group towards extremism is very clear, and our material in the form of press releases, videos, lectures and articles are abundant. As the editor of a prominent UK newspaper, you are aware that prior to publishing an article it is ethically and principally incumbent on the publication to offer the opportunity of fair comment to an organisation or an individual when claims against it are made such as those made by Mr Gilligan in his article.
‘Extremism’ is an ambiguous term which is frequently used by the media with little regard to the wider impact it has on society, forging an ill-informed perspective on Muslims. Sadly, the term extremism has become a political tool to demonise and censor normative Islamic beliefs. By coining mainstream concepts under the umbrella term of extremism, Mr Gilligan amongst other journalists, are fuelling an atmosphere of hate and fear of Muslims, which will inevitably hinder the process of community cohesion.
Quoting speakers out of context is unprofessional and misleading. Extracts of previous lectures should not be referred to in isolation to depict certain members of our organisation as extreme, homophobic or anti-Semitic. The same speakers have clarified their theological opinions within a particular context and engaged in projects which controverts the conclusions drawn by Mr Gilligan in numerous articles on iERA, but they were clearly ignored.
We would appreciate you providing a clear and open definition of extremism from your paper’s perspective so that we can clearly understand why your paper is labeling many orthodox Islamic speakers as ‘extreme’.
The fundamental pillars of the free press is to educate the masses, to account those in authority and remain impartial at all times. Based on Mr Gilligan’s article and others published by The Telegraph, there appears no intention to advocate balanced discourse. Taking this into consideration, we would like to offer you and Mr Gilligan the opportunity to debut in an open dialogue, where you can put forward questions directly to iERA, so we can be given a fair and equal opportunity to state our position on any matter.
We await a response at your earliest convenience.
Vice-Chairman | iERA
Loool. I doubt Samy Merchant is American, he just likes to come on here dribbling the same dribble, coz he ain’t got anything better to do…!! Sad
“Dribble”? ANSWER my question that I have been asking for weeks, Sister Jamilah.
Why does Shaykh Haitham see nothing wrong with educated BRITISH born Muslim ladies, living in Britain, in the 21st century, wearing the ladies dress of Saudi Arabia? Why does Shaykh Haitham see nothing wrong with educated BRITISH born men, living in Britain, in the 21st century, wearing the dress of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan? Did not Prophet Muhammad (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), and every single Sahabi, wear the dress of the pagans around them? Didn’t they wear the dress of Abu jahal and Abu Lahab? Answer me NOW because if you don’t, then that is sad!!!
And Islam21c, please don’t throw a Gora Desi at me to avoid answering this question.
DR Yasir Qadhi refers to him as “Shaikh al Islam” of the West? I didn’t know that and will check this info out. That is the title of the boss man and a big thing for him to say. But if it its true, I will have to reconsider some of my ideas. Thanks for the this info.
Wow! Every time I open this website, there is something negative against Islam. Do they really hate Islam so much in Britain? It’s hard to believe! I do want to ask a psychiatrist about the psychlogical effects so much negativity can have on British/Salafi Muslims. Maybe this is the reason why British/Salafi Muslims are so negative, dull and depressed all the time as compared to the cheerful American Muslims. No wonder ISIS contains so many British/Salafi Muslims! Maybe this is why so many radical Islamic scholars are British Muslims. Maybe it’s the dull and rainy British weather that causes Britishers to become so dull and morose!!!
Your powers of argumentation are impressive. Who knew that disparate, irrelevant propositions barely strung together with a random conclusion could be so successful…
The reason why “Britishers” (I think you mean Britons) are so ‘dull’ and ‘boring’ and always kicking up a fuss over little things like bigotry, racism, xenophobia and general discrimination is because we’ve seen what a fine example a brain-dead mass populace over the Atlantic has set when they are too fat and distracted to hold oppressors to account. Just go back to eating and entertaining yourself into a coma…
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) faced far more bigotry than the British Muslims ever faced. But he was never known to have “kicked up a fuss” or play the victim card. Nor did he stand out and dress different from his non-Muslim people, like the British Salafees have chosen to do. The prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) was always calm and collected, and remained a noble member of his non-Muslim society.
Muslims in America like to follow their Prophet’s (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) role model. Compare American scholars like ShaykhYasir Qadhi and how he interacts with the non-Muslim Americans to the fiery British Muslim scholars, and of course, I won’t mention any names. No wonder British Muslims keep calling Shaykh Yasir Qadhi “over the Atlantic” to Britain!
Mr. Mathew, “kicking up a fuss” is not the sunnah, and it will never work. You are digging yourself a big hole!
Maybe British Muslims need to import ‘Cool Aid’ from “over the Atlantic”. Might actually help!
I mean…Kool Aid!
I was actually toying with the thought of bursting your little bubble of compounded ignorance in praising Yasir Qadhi whilst simultaneously dispraising his teacher and mentor, Shaikh Haitham, the one whom he frequently refers to as “Shaikh al-Islam of the West”. You are ignorant of the fact that you are ignorant. Not that this advice will get through to you but for the record, whenever you feel that you have 100% certainty and that everyone else is wrong, then just think: maybe I’m missing something. The difference between an ignoramus (who finds one hadith and jumps at everyone’s throat with it) and a wise person, is that the latter looks at EVERY angle of a situation not just the one he happened to come across first. It is clear that you have failed to implement this simple principle in every single comment you seem to have ever made on this site.
PS Would be nice if you worked on your manners a bit!
I need evidence that Shaikh Haitham was ShaikhYasir Qadhi’s “mentor” and “teacher.” Let’s have it, please. Yasir Qadhi is not a Salafi, let alone a British Salafi.
“I was actually toying with the thought of bursting your little bubble of compounded ignorance…”
“You are ignorant of the fact that you are ignorant…”
“The difference between an ignoramus (who finds one hadith and jumps at everyone’s throat with it) and a wise person…”
Doesn’t seem like you recieved a good education to be talking so rudely! Appears to me that Islam21c just put up a gora desi front using you because no one else has been able to refute my arguments!