A few inchoate observations about two of Britain’s most ardent Islam (as in what 99.9% of us believe to be Islam) haters.
I once tweeted a link to a YouTube recording of a BBC Any Questions? discussion between Murray and Nawaz and strangely enough within a week or so it was taken down and the link no longer worked. I recently chanced upon another link to the same discussion and thought I’d summarise it here for posterity.
“I’m all for people having the right to practise or believe anything they want; I don’t mind that at all…But there’s something else in this…which is the issue of sensitivities. You can have the legal right to do all sorts of things but in societies that work people make private decisions and public decisions about things that they will do which will aggravate their neighbours and so on…there are times when the offense is organised, is grotesque like this and when you are walking on, yes you do, as I repeated earlier…you do have the right to tread over very many people’s sensitivities you do have that right but I would say in this case you should not exercise it.”[Douglas Murray 2010]
At the time Nawaz called him out live on air over his hypocrisy in demanding that Muslims accept the gratuitous – “organised and grotesque” – insult of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons whilst expecting them to refrain from building a cultural centre near the 9/11 “Ground Zero” site so as not to offend the sensitivities of people such as himself. He also stated: “Douglas you know you’re a really nice person in person but when you go on air something duplicitous and strange happens..” Murray was kind enough to reciprocate the compliment. Murray had previously written a Guardian piece decrying Quilliam’s stance on personal liberty (and specifically its endorsement of spying on Muslims) in which he described Nawaz’s statments on the matter as “strange double-speak”. In a later Telegraph article he also lambasted the PREVENT programme as an attempt to engineer an “MI5 Islam” (admittedly he was quoting an imam but the context makes obvious his approval of the statement).
In 2010 Nawaz and Murray would face off in a debate in New York on the question of whether Islam was a religion of peace. It ended in a humiliating defeat for Nawaz and heralded the end of his three years long attempt to reconcile Islamic theology with liberalism and so the “reformist Muslim” taxon was born that night. Today, eight years later Nawaz and Murray are reconciled, vocal supporters of PREVENT and by all appearances the best of friends.
Last week during a panel discussion on Sky TV, Nawaz made an intervention in support of Lauren Southern, a Canadian alt-right activist who he described as a “journalist”. Southern, a 22 years old university drop-out whose journalistic credentials consist mostly of a few vlogs and a short stint with a low budget extreme alt-right YouTube channel, was recently denied entrance to the UK as Border Force officials deemed her presence in the country “not conducive to the public good”. Part of the justification for their assessment was that she had on a recent previous trip taken part in a grossly provocative stunt involving rainbow coloured flags emblazoned with the Islamic creed in Arabic subtitled with the phrase “Allah is gay”. That she and her fellow “free speech” activists chose Luton town centre for the performance of their profane theatricals was no coincidence; they undoubtedly knew it had a high concentration of Muslim inhabitants. Unsurprisingly their antics provoked the ire of several Muslim passersby forcing the police to intervene and threaten them with arrest if they didn’t pack up and move on.
Ms. Southern is not a British citizen and as such commands no automatic right to enter the country. As former Home Secretary, now (sadly) Prime Minister, Theresa May once stated, “entry to the United Kingdom [for non-citizens] is a privilege not a right”. The Home Secretary and by extension Border Force officials can lawfully exclude people whose presence is not conducive to the public good. I think any bien pensant citizen would conclude that someone with a history of invidious behaviour such as Ms Southern’s is unlikely to enhance community cohesion by her presence and is therefore a good candidate for the exercise of the ministerial power of exclusion. I wonder if Mr Nawaz would support the ‘right’ of a Canadian vlogger (“journalist”) to come to London for the purposes of distributing free bacon sandwiches in the streets of Stamford Hill on a Saturday afternoon? A perfectly legal act and not in of itself racist. A hypothetical scenario but one that I’d be interested to hear his thoughts on. On a related subject Nawaz seems to have developed something of a blind spot for Judaic rituals that contravene his secular sensibilities and conception of child rights. When it was put to him (again on Sky TV) that circumcision was a non-negotiable part of the Jewish identity he responded:
“I’m not going to speak on behalf of Jews and there are [nodding] sensitivities around that.”
Which doesn’t quite tally with his proclamation just seconds earlier that parents shouldn’t force their views on their children until they are old enough to understand them. Unless of course what he means by parents is “Muslim parents”. Aren’t Jewish children deserving of the same “protection” as Muslim children? He further talked of “his community” and “the Muslim identity” yet isn’t this the same man that previously told us that there was no such thing as “the Muslim community” and that British citizens shouldn’t divide themselves into religious communities?
Mr Nawaz and his Quilliam “foundation” have bragged in the past of getting venues to cancel the bookings of “Islamist” organisations. Freedom of speech for Mr Nawaz it would appear is a courtesy that extends only to those who would denigrate Islam, its sacrosanct beliefs and totems. And so is it with Mr Murray who in his book The Strange Death of Europe berates Luton’s police force for protecting a Muslim contingent, peacefully protesting the return of the Royal Anglian Regiment, from the violence of those (almost exclusively white non-Muslims) whom their exercise of free speech and expression had enraged.
When Nawaz “facilitated the departure” of Tommy Robinson from the English Defence League in 2013 he made it clear that he would cut ties with Robinson should he resume any joint activities with infamous hate speakers, Robert Spencer or Pamela Geller. Yet today he sits happily alongside Murray who has spoken positively of the former even appearing alongside him on a panel of speakers to “discuss” (read “spew vitriol”) the topic of the (supposed) Jihad against the West.
I find it wholly unsurprising that the Southern Poverty Law Centre have included Mr Nawaz alongside his good friend and virulent Islam hater, Ayaan Hirsi Ali in their list of anti-Muslim extremists.