To Mehdi Hasan: my offer of a deal

July 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm (Anti-Racism, anti-semitism, Guardian, Islam, islamism, israel, Jim D, Libya, Middle East, Racism, Syria)

The outgoing Political Editor of the New Statesman (now joining the Huffington Post), Mehdi Hasan, begins a cri de coeur (“We mustn’t allow Muslims in public life to be silenced”),  in today’s Graun, with this:

“Have you ever been called an Islamist? How about a jihadist or a terrorist? Extremist, maybe? Welcome to my world. It’s pretty depressing. Every morning, I take a deep breath and then go online to discover what new insult or smear has been thrown in my direction. Whether it’s tweets, blogposts or comment threads, the abuse is as relentless as it is vicious.

“You might think I’d have become used to it by now. Well, I haven’t. When I started writing for a living, I never imagined I’d be the victim of such personal, such Islamophobic, attacks, on a near-daily basis.”

Now, I’ve never been called any of those things (except for “extremist”) and I’m sure that Mehdi Hasan is telling the truth about the abuse he’s had to put up with. It’s called racism and should be dealt with as such. “Islamophobia” is a slippery, ill-defined term that as Rumy Hasan has explained, is all too often used by religious conservatives to try to stifle criticism of their cultural edicts. Therefore the left should avoid using the term.

But Mehdi Hasan goes further, and suggests that criticism of his politics is generally motivated by hatred of his religion:

“A recent interview of mine with the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, elicited the following response: “Get out of my country, goatfucker.” How many other political columnists have to deal with such “feedback”? And how many of my fellow pundits in the British media get death threats in the post, warning them that “there will not be 1 live Muslim left in Europe when we have finished”?

Now I wouldn’t for one single moment want to excuse or “contextualise” such racist abuse, but I can state that the criticism that I’ve made of, and also a lot that I’ve  read about, Mehdi Hasan, has been nothing to do with his personal religious faith, but everything to do with:

1/ On-the-record religious bigotry:

(and I don’t see how that can be explained away as “selectively edited”);

2/ Dishonest and evasive writing on a range of issues, including Syria and Libya, where he hides the fact that he is in principle against Western intervention, under all circumstances, and regardless of the consequences (except, perhaps, retrospectively, in Bosnia).

3/ An easy tolerence of the Muslim Brotherhood, as opposed to an apparently serious comparison between Merkel and Hitler;

4/ Repeated justifications of Iran’s nuclear programme (and not just the fact that he “once praised a fatwa from…Ayatollah Ali Khamenie, forbidding the production of nuclear weapons“) and denial that Iran poses any sort of threat to Israel.

Now, Mehdi, to return to your opening point: no, I have not been accused of being “an Islamist” or a “terrorist.” But I have been accused, on-line, of being a “Zionist,” told that I support the murder of Palestinian youths, and compared with the mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik.

As far as I can make out, all because I defend Israel’s right to exist (behind 1967 borders) as a Jewish state.

In my experience, as well, it is not only Muslims about whom (as you put it, Mehdi) “you can can now say things…in polite society and even among card-carrying liberal lefties that you cannot say about any other group”… but also a quite different ethnic group. Guess who? Still, I have no wish to enter into a victimhood competition with you: let’s just agree that all racism and ethnic hostility must be opposed.

So, Mehdi,  I do know what it’s like to be subjected to “personal abuse” and “monstrous comments”. You close by asking, “Who’s with me?” My answer: “I am, Mehdi – if you’re with me and other people (Jews and non-Jews) who support Israel’s right to exist : deal?”

P.S: I am all too well aware, Mehdi, that you are a well-established political journalist and media “personality”, whereas I’m just a small-time blogger. So there’s no pressure on you to reply. But I would hope, in view of your comments about racist/”Islamophobic” abuse, and your call “Who’s with me?” that you do.

4 Comments

  1. Sarah AB said,

    Although I agree with plenty of what you say, and think MH conflates reasonable criticisms of his (sometimes bigoted) views with horrible abuse, I don’t think it is enough just to say he is subjected to *racism*. I think he and others are targeted because they are Muslims, not just because of their ethnicity, though these prejudices can be hard to disentangle. I think Islamophobia is a problematic word, but if all he’d done was to use that word to describe threats and abuse against him, as a Muslim, then I wouldn’t have had a problem with the post. As I posted briefly on HP last night, a perfectly fair comment about the ‘cattle’ stuff was, not simply deleted, but deleted without trace. Someone with an unrefreshed screen supplied a copy though.

  2. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

    ps mehdi hassan – who gives a fuck. pointless shite. fuck him.

    he is obviously a loon and racist cunt

  3. Why Mehdi Hasan is probably on to something…….. « Representing the Mambo said,

    […] to the Huffington Post. It has generated quite a lot of comment, much of it critical. For example, over at Shiraz Socialist it has been analysed in pretty negative […]

  4. Babz Badasbab Rahman said,

    Interesting video of Hasan, first I’ve seen it. Calling non Muslims animals eh?

    Anyway, Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish State? Based on the vile Hebrew Bible? Are you serious?! What about the 1 million Arabs that live there and have lived there well before European Jews fled European persecution? What about the Palestinians Right of Return? Surely as a man of the left you should be supporting Israel as a secular liberal democratic state inclusive of all it’s citizens.

    Also the concept of ‘right to exist’ is an inaccurate term used by Israel for propaganda purposes. Countries recognise one another and in many instances agree to the borders but they don’t recognise each others right to exist. It’s not a right recognised in international law.

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