7/7 a year on

Reply Thu 13 Jul, 2006 12:05 pm
I started an entire thread on Politics on the Hersch piece and the information contained within it. I hope it catches on.

Now, on to the Guardian.
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Reply Thu 13 Jul, 2006 12:27 pm
The Guardian article was fascinating, and I had certainly forgotten the history of it all, if I ever knew it.

Oh, to be at the nexus of power and knowledge between government and the press. Who would not have liked to have been Ben Bradley during the Watergate investigation?
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Steve 41oo
Reply Thu 13 Jul, 2006 02:57 pm
I've come to the conclusion that all governments lie cheat deceive and commission acts of murder...if they have to. Its always been that way, and the only constraint (a big one) is not to get caught out doing it.

I was watching a programme on Churchill's bodyguard. Churchill ordered him (a skilled mechanic) to immobilise an aircraft taking him back from N Africa. He wanted a legitimate excuse not to fly, so that they did not betray the Enigma secret. At the same time secret services 'accidentally' put out word that Churchill might be flying in cognito on a passenger plane from Lisbon. That aircraft was shot down by a Luftwaffe squadron over the Bay of Biscay.

Churchill and his bodyguard lied and lied about the incident for decades after the war. They let the passenger plane from Lisbon take off knowing it would likely be shot down, later Churchill made safe passage back to England, the Germans thought they had killed him.

When you get to a certain level, you play with other peoples lives. Nothings changed, except for the sophistication of the message and technology.
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Reply Thu 13 Jul, 2006 03:12 pm
sumac. link us to your thread.
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Reply Thu 13 Jul, 2006 06:09 pm
Nobody on it yet. Requires people to actually read the Hersch piece. I have asked Setanta, Walter Hinterer, Blatham to stop by and contribute and will ask more people tomorrow. Otherwise, I fear that the thread will go nowhere.


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Reply Mon 17 Jul, 2006 06:16 pm
Bangladeshis in east London: from secular politics to Islam
Delwar Hussain
7 - 7 - 2006

Who speaks for the mostly poor Bangladeshi community in east London? Delwar Hussain charts a long-term shift from secular leftism to Islamism - one in which British state policy has played a significant role.

Steve, Lord Ellpus e.a -- I thought this was a fascinating article.

The case study it presents of the British Bangladeshi community seems to encapsulate a lot of the background of the wider Islamist upsurge.

It sketches the competition between Bengali nationalism and leftism, "emancipatory vehicles" of the previous generation or two, and the emergingly dominant Islamist identity.

Historically, secular Bengali nationalism had a clear advantage: Bengali independence was wrested bloodily from the Pakistanis, and the Islamists, back then, collaborated with Pakistan. But even in Bangladesh itself, the Islamists have been on the rebound; they've even entered government.

When it comes to the allegiances of British Bengalis, moreover, the article describes Islamism as the current that is far more adept at using modern tools of outreach, mobilisation, and negotiation with the government. Thats how they are winning over British Bengali workers, while the parochial ethnic community groups remain stuck in the debates and tools of yesteryear.

It also describes the rise of Islamism as a consequence of the emergence of a new generation. The one that was actually born in Britain, yeah. A generation that does not easily identify anymore with the migrant identities of homeland Bangladeshi politics, but suffers enough poverty, discrimination and cultural alienation to be unable to identify with British society either.

Looking for an alternative identity that is both global/abstract enough to allow their mishmash type to feel part of it, and yet strident enough to help them to 'push back' against white-English society, many of them actually gratefully welcome the savvy advances of the Islamists.

Interesting stuff. Covers all kinds of other angles too. Here's the key passages (IMO):

[The] issues [at play in the Bangladeshi homeland] - Islamic and Bengali identity, religion and culture, political struggle and political power - are very much alive in London's Bangladeshi diaspora, centred in the Tower Hamlets area. At their forefront are organisations such as the East London Mosque (author of conspicuous and effective Islamist initiatives) and the Shadinata Trust (a secular body that seeks to increase awareness of Bengali culture and history among British Bangladeshis). [..]

The battle is an unequal one: the secular effort is faltering against the vibrancy and energy of the Islamists. For many young people in deprived Tower Hamlets, [the issues pursued by the secular Bengali organisations are] ancient history with no relevance to their lives: they regard Bangladeshi politics as distant and corrupt, and day-to-day issues of drugs, gangs and unemployment as far more relevant. The Islamists, by contrast, are sophisticated and up-to-date in their focus and appeal. The East London Mosque [..] is no fringe organisation; it was at the centre of the campaign that helped elect [..] George Galloway in the 2005 general election. [..]

A Bangladeshi [Islamist] Jamaat MP, Delwar Hossain Sayedee, has regularly appeared at the mosque [..]. These visits are controversial: older Bangladeshis accuse him of involvement in the massacres of Bengalis during the liberation war. But the Jamaat has made strenuous [..] efforts to distance itself from its extremist and anti-Bengali past, and young, third-generation, British-born Bengalis have demonstrated in support of Sayedee's presence. [..]

In south Asia, the [Islamist] party has drawn support from those both promoted and dislocated by modernisation - middle-class people (teachers, lawyers, and engineers among them) repelled by western ideas and attracted to the ideological rigour of fundamentalism. Indeed, societies in transition often generate fundamentalism. In London, [in] the absence of a Bangladeshi middle-class [..], it has discovered another constituency: the British-educated Bengali working class, those at the bottom of Britain's social pyramid [..]. The path of social advancement may be closed to them elsewhere, but the doorway to rightwing, fundamentalist theology is broad and always open. [..]

The social policies of successive British governments have played a part in the long-term trend away from secularism and towards Islamism. The British state has since the early 1990s deferred to a generic idea of the "Muslim community". This has increasingly enabled mosques to enter into partnership with local authorities to deliver social-welfare programmes. [By now,] to end the funding of [explicitly faith-based youth associations] would result in the disappearance of crucial social safety-nets of the kind once provided (but no longer) by the state. [..]

In [the] aftermath [of the Rushdie affair and the Gulf War], Britain's political establishment realised that British Muslims could not be ignored, believed that gestures towards fighting poverty and social exclusion would undercut support for specifically "Muslim"' causes, and at the same time sought (for economic and ideological reasons) to cut government funding to voluntary organisations. The result of these combined processes was the rapid emergence of faith-based alternatives in the social arena. [..]

While in earlier periods British Bengalis were known by their national origin, today they are seen as part of a homogeneous "Muslim community". This is the irony of multiculturalism: policies aimed to create diversity in British society opened spaces for fundamentalist intolerance and homogeneity. [..]

The phenomenon seems supportive of an argument based on the idea of young people being "in-between two cultures" (alienated both from the cultural "traditions" of their parents and "modern" western culture). This led them, the idea runs, to an embrace of an Islam that allows individuals to transcend this separation by linking them into the global "culture-free" identity of the umma. [..]

Bengalis are among the poorest in Britain, and among those most exposed to racial discrimination. This is not new; but the response of the maturing third generation of indigenous British Bangladeshis is. Between the 1960s and the 1980s, Bangladeshis in London used secular, socialist ideology to combat injustice - a system of thinking that could then still lay plausible claim to the future. There also remained at that time the option of return [..].

Today, [..] Bengal is distant from their [children's and grandchildren's] daily lives [and] Bengali secularists appear today as archaic as the political left. Islamic brotherhood is a more potent tool in the fight against discrimination. [..]

"Islam stands as a psychological barricade behind whichÂ…Bangladeshi young people (usually men) can hide their lack of self-esteem and proclaim a functional strength through the imagination of the umma". [..]

An older generation of British Bangladeshis saw Islam as one aspect of a plural, many-layered identity; for their children and grandchildren it has become the basis of a monolithic ideology, the supreme identity in the struggle for political and socio-economic interests. [..]

The Islamists have managed both to articulate and project a persuasive political meta-narrative after 9/11, and to appeal to young people in east London by focusing on issues of drugs, crime and unemployment. [..]

The impulses and actions of what might in another age have been seen as working-class anger have thus acquired a more plausible emancipatory narrative in Islamic fundamentalism. That this has been facilitated by state funding along faith lines is a fact few are ready to confront. [..]

The fight of secularists against racism and poverty appears bland compared to the ardent certainties of religion. [..] While the [ruling] Bangladesh Nationalist Party - and George Galloway in London - seek to ride the Jamaat-e-Islami tiger for political gain, [..] Jamaat and other fundamentalist groups are sowing the seeds of future conflict [..].
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Reply Tue 18 Jul, 2006 03:46 am
Fascinating and disturbing article, nimh. Hardly confined to groups with a previous, or current, association with Islamic thought. ".....what in previous years might be seen as working-class anger..." to paraphrase.

And how very ironic. The very same things which have been said to lead to a rise in Islamic fundamentalism in Muslim countries, occurs in other societies for the same reasons (primarily poverty, lack of economic opportunity and hope). And even if similar groups do not have Islam to fall back on, they can identify and support efforts in loose alliances.

Again, poverty and rigidly heirarchical Western capitalism, unmodified by any consideration about "the common good".
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Reply Sun 27 Aug, 2006 06:36 pm
Despite the woolly title, I thought the below an insightful / thought-provoking take.

Apart from that, I liked this strident bit:

"For too many young Muslims integration means the emergence into a subculture of gangs, crime, drugs and alcohol. .. Those who speak glowingly of "our way of life" rarely have any great insight into how poor and marginalised people actually live."

Article doesnt focus only on the poor/marginalised though (as we know that some of the terrorists/plotters came from middle-class backgrounds as well):

Alienation can be a humane response to globalisation

Jeremy Seabrook
Friday August 25, 2006
The Guardian

Home-grown terrorism has been bred from social dislocation as well as the destruction of alternative ideologies of hope

My summary (about half the size of the real thing):

Attempts to understand why young people may grow up in Britain so profoundly estranged from its values that they become home-grown terrorists have been prohibited by politicians and media under the pretext that to do so would represent justification for acts of terrible violence. In this way, those committed to the war on terror immediately disarm themselves of the most useful instrument to tackle the phenomenon.

The British government vehemently repudiates the suggestion that its foreign policy regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine and Lebanon has contributed towards the making of fanatics. The motivating factor in the official view is that some suggestible young Muslims have fallen under the sway of powerful preachers of hate, brainwashed and promised a lurid caricature of paradise as a reward for the cult of death.

Part of the problem of alienation is that globalisation has a profound impact on local lives, not just economically but socially, culturally and spiritually. Secretary for Communities Ruth Kelly recognised this when she acknowledged that "global tensions are reflected on the streets of local communities". National borders are increasingly fragile defences against the influence of events outside.

That many actual and potential terrorists have received a good education and have promising prospects has puzzled observers. This reckons without the widespread psychic disturbance that accompanies social dislocation, particularly mass migration, which brings contradictory belief systems into stark and sudden proximity - a shock exacerbated for people who, detached from majority status in their place of origin, become a stigmatised minority at their destination.

Nevertheless, poverty and discrimination are a significant contributor to the home-growing of alienated people. For too many young Muslims integration means the emergence into a subculture of gangs, crime, drugs and alcohol. If Islam offers redemption from this ugly version of social absorption, we should rejoice that some young men escape the embrace of the prison system. Those who speak glowingly of "our way of life" rarely have any great insight into how poor and marginalised people actually live.

Many people have expressed repugnance at the excesses of globalism. You don't have to be young or Muslim to be alienated by a society that spreads its rewards with promiscuous and random detachment from anything recognisable as worth or merit. But since all secular alternatives have been annulled - thanks, in large measure, to the triumph of the west over communism - it is inevitable that people should now seek divine succour. It is partly a consequence of the destruction of alternative ideologies of social hope.

Unfortunately, the powerful are unlikely to engage with such complex questions. The demand that Muslims police themselves, that "moderates" restrain "extremists", that "true" representatives and "real" community leaders present themselves to authority, suggests not a strategy for integration but reversion to anachronistic imperial attitudes.
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Reply Wed 13 Sep, 2006 11:07 am
The EU is approaching the danger of terrorism with action on different fronts, including the 'soft' issue of culture:



A six-point package unveiled by the EU's interior ministers marked a new phase in the Union's counter-terror plans.

The ministers want airlines to provide advance passenger lists for all flights inside, to and from Europe, including domestic routes.

Websites that incite others to commit terrorist actions will be blocked, and the EU Commission will report next month on satellite channels that propagate extremism with a view to possible diplomatic steps.

Tackling radicalisation will include the development of the idea of a "European Islam" with training of imams at a European level in an attempt to reduce the reliance on foreign imams.

France's Sarkozy proposed a rapid response team to deal with the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
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Reply Wed 13 Sep, 2006 11:09 am
Merry Andrew wrote:
Not a thing has changed in the US since 9/11 nor in the UK since 7/7. Not one thing.

I suppose the creation of the Department of Homeland Security or the security on flights doesn't qualify as anything.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 13 Sep, 2006 11:12 am
Airline/airport security has been discussed (in the final version) yesterday.
The new rules must be discussed with EU member states in the coming weeks.
A meeting of aviation experts is scheduled for September 27.
After that a formal decision will be taken by the executive European Commission.
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Reply Wed 13 Sep, 2006 08:34 pm

I awaited the passage of life events here to respond tto those very pertinent articles. Alas, I awaited too long. Events overtook.
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