Monday, 9 April 2012

Rashid al-Ghannushi, George Galloway and the Radical Fringe

“I am a better Pakistani than Hussain (the pro-war Labour candidate) will ever be”  George Galloway

The election victory of Rashid al-Ghannushi in Tunisia and the recent victory of George Galloway in the Bradford by-election have been scorned, by the anti-Islamic extremist brigade; the usual suspects are the likes of Melanie Phillips, Douglas Murray, the infamous Daily Mail tabloid and of course the far-right fascists. Since Galloway and Gannushi were elected by the masses in a free and fair election, does this mean, the democratic process of free election a bad thing now? When hate governs the heart, principles become irrelevant as long as you can hurt those you despise; where the end justifies the means.

However, for different reasons, the anti-Islamic brigade has found alliance amongst the Muslims - the radical fringe; they express criticism of George Galloway, because he is viewed as a rival stealing the leadership of the Muslim community, and they scorn Rashid al-Ghannushi for not turning Tunisia into a Caliphate overnight. The radical fringe cannot take leadership because they propose that Muslims should keep out of the political process in the UK, and then moan about the adverse outcome, as the best way forward! And conveniently they do not participate in the election process as they would most likely fail miserably, nor have they managed to mobilise the masses to an alternative course of action.

Their first port of complaint is that George Galloway is not a Muslim, and thus should not be trusted to represent the Muslim community; this only depicts their childish mindset. The rival Labour candidate, Imran Hussain, is a Muslim and pro-war. Moreover, almost all the Muslim MPs to date have turned out like nasty coolies serving in the British Raj. In contrast, apart from George Galloway, many other non-Muslim MPs have been better representatives of the Muslims in the UK, on domestic and foreign issues.

It is immaterial whether George Galloway is a Muslim, or a Martian from outer space; likewise what he gets up in his own private space is his business. If you want look under the hood like a peeping tom, then remember everyone has dirty linen. The only thing that matters is, he is elected as an MP, what he stands for, and will he maintain his position with consistency which is a rare quality in modern day politics.

George Galloway speaks out with a great deal of passion and charisma in support of the oppressed masses in occupied Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and in general against the colonial adventures disguised as building democracy. In that case, why do these radical fringe groups oppose Galloway, instead of supporting his campaign, since they agree with the views of Galloway?

The short answer is jealousy; they have not managed to produce a popular and charismatic leader like George Galloway. But, that is too embarrassing to admit in public, so they provide an alternative conspiracy theory. They claim George Galloway, the lefty Socialist is on a secret crusade to convert the Muslim brothers to join the socialist comrades. I attended the anti-war marches and meetings, none of the speakers ever preached that Muslims should renounce Islam and embrace socialism, and not a single individual approached me or anyone else that I knew was asked to adopt that course; they only had one agenda – “stop the war”.

Similarly, the radical fringe groups are busy condemning Rashid al-Ghannushi, instead of the people of Tunisia who have elected him. Why not go to Tunisia to convince the masses of the alternative position. Of course, they cannot do that, as they have no support base, so they give the illogical response: it’s forbidden to participate in elections. Well then you have check-mated yourself, all you can do is bark on the internet and engage in spreading negative campaigns, and remain as an unknown quantity without any real support base on the grounds. Like it or not, in the 21st century, political authority has to be acquired from the masses. If you don’t participate, then don’t complain and write theses on how you will do a better job.

The main criticism is: why is Ghannushi not forbidding alcohol and bikinis on the beaches, essentially closing down the tourist industry overnight, which is the main source of revenue for the country. That is a quick recipe for the Tunisians to bring back Ben Ali or worse the army. Such naivety reflects the difference between getting your hands dirty by taking power to run a country, where you are responsible for the security and livelihood of the masses, and sitting in the cyber-bubble just resorting to criticisms and proposing theories. That the change has to be a gradual one when it concerns millions of people is common sense; the need to replace the tourist industry with something more concrete cannot be achieved overnight. And instead of just expressing criticisms, it would be productive for the radical fringe to bring forward practical suggestions to help the En-Nahda party of Ghannushi to build home grown industries to support the masses.

Moreover, to reduce the character of an Islamic society to banning alcohol is superficial. A good friend of mine used to say, do you want an “Islamic State” or “a state of Islam”, meaning the people are manifesting the values from within rather than being coerced by fearing the law. Hence, the basic Islamic maxim states, actions are to be judged by intention; this conviction should precede action and thus precede the application of legal instruments, especially where the Muslims have lived under non-Islamic laws for some time. As conviction increases, the rate of consumption of alcohol will fall dramatically amongst the local population which in the first place is negligible. In any case, it is the non-Muslim tourists that are predominantly consuming alcohol, and inside an Islamic State they are allowed to produce and consume alcohol. Likewise, their dress code is a matter for them.

Yamin Zakaria (

Published on 09/04/2012

London, UK, http:.//

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