The Blears fallacy

Soumaya Ghannoushi2“The communities’ secretary seems to be pursuing an increasingly hawkish policy towards the Muslim minority. A few days ago, she gave a provocative and rather bizarre speech fittingly delivered from the rightwing thinktank Policy Exchange, which was last year discredited by the BBC’s Newsnight for its fabricated mosque report. Blears announced a long list of conditions which Muslim organisations must meet if they are to enjoy government recognition, or ‘legitimisation’.

“Hearing Blears demand the recognition of Israel, it was difficult to tell whether one was listening to a foreign, or communities’ secretary, and whether those she had been targeting were diplomats and foreign ministers, or communities and British citizens. And when she echoed former Policy Exchange chairman Charles Moore’s criticisms of the IslamExpo, recently held in Olympia, for giving floor space to the ‘genocidal’ government of Iran – one of 15 Muslim countries represented at the event – one couldn’t help wondering if her government had just cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran, and closed its embassy in London.

“Brown’s government, like its predecessor, seems unable to relinquish the old approach to communities based on the systems and methods of the colonial era. Minorities are to be managed through many sticks, a few carrots, and a handful of engineered political and religious representatives. These are the modern-day versions of the local intermediaries on whom colonial administrations relied in the control of indigenous populations. The rule is simple. To win recognition, you must lose any independence. You must turn into the government’s eyes, ears and arms in your community, nothing more.”

Soumaya Ghannoushi at Comment is Free, 25 July 2008