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Embarassing endorsements?

8:56 am - April 14th 2008

by David T    

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A few weeks ago, Tory Mayoral candidate Boris Johnson was endorsed by the fascist British National Party. His response was swift, short, and sweet:

I utterly and unreservedly condemn the BNP and have no desire whatsoever to receive a single second-preference vote from a BNP supporter

This week, Labour and Liberal Democrats were placed in pretty much the same situation by the Muslim Association of Britain. Candidates should likewise reject with alacrity, the endorsement of this extreme right-wing organisation.

These are the candidates endorsed by the MAB:

MAB is advising you to vote for KEN LIVINGSTONE – Labour as your first choice and you can put the second as SIAN BERRY. MAB is advising you to vote for GEORGE GALLOWAY – Respect Party.

Labour Party:

Nicky Gavron
Alex Heslop
Navin Shah
Shafi Khan
Joanne McCartney
Len Duvall
Valerie Shawcross
Jennette Arnold

Liberal Democrats

Farrukh Islam
Shas Sheehan
Stephen Knight

Hanif Abdulmuhit

Notably absent from the endorsees, are any members of the Socialist Workers’ Party-run Left List. That is unsurprising. The Socialist Workers’ Party has recently been chucked out of RESPECT by George Galloway and his Islamist allies. The SWP’s years spent defending Islamist groups from the charge that they were on the far right have been utterly thrown away.

The MAB is the sister organisation to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. It was founded by Muslim Brotherhood activist, Dr. Kamal Helbawy, in 1997 and is, in effect, the British section of that organisation. The Muslim Brotherhood was aptly described by Tony Cliff, the founder of the Socialist Workers’ Party, as a “clerical-fascist” party. Although Cliff was wrong about most things, he was right on the money in that particular judgement.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood recently published a “blueprint” for government which amounts to an Iranian-style theocracy, in which women and Christians are to be banned from the top offices of state, and legislation overseen by a council of clerics with the power to strike down legislation incompatible with religious law.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Yusuf Al Qaradawi, authored the fatwas which made it lawful for his followers in Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian section, to commit suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. Qaradawi has been banned from entering this country by the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, much to the fury of the Muslim Association of Britain.

Like the BNP, The MAB/Muslim Brotherhood is desperate to participate in mainstream politics, and to be recognised as a moderate Islamist voice, capable of acting as a bulwark against Al Qaeda. That is rather like turning to the BNP in the hope that they’ll help hold back fascist terrorist groups like Combat 18.

In this country at least, the attempt to reposition the MAB as a non-extremist group is certain to fail. Like most fascists, they can’t help but show their true faces, when they think they’re not being watched. Have a peek at this video of former Muslim Association of Britain activist, Azzam Tamimi, and you’ll see what I mean. Moreover, the MAB/Muslim Brotherhood is essentially an arab organisation, and most Muslims in Britain are South Asian and have no time for the clerical fascists of the MAB. A recent poll indicated that only 1% of British Muslims named the Muslim Association of Britain as “best representing your views on Islam”.

This endorsement by the MAB/Muslim Brotherhood is utterly worthless. This group has little traction in this country, and few voters, if any, will be influenced by their support.

However, for two reasons, Labour and Liberal Democrats should make it clear that they utterly reject the support of this extreme right wing organisation. First, the endorsement of these candidates is part of the MAB/Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy to insinuate themselves into the political mainstream. They should not be allowed to create the false illusion that they are a respectable organisation.

Secondly, this endorsement has the ability to damage the candidates who have received, but have not publicly rejected, the MAB’s support. Imagine what would have happened to Boris Johnson – already under fire for his use of the abusive term “picaninny” – had he reacted with equanimity to the BNP’s endorsement?

My immediate response, upon reading the MAB’s list of endorsement, was to think that the candidates had asked for, or voluntarily accepted the MAB’s support. I spoke to one of the candidates on the MAB’s list this morning, and he told me that he had not asked for their support, and certainly did not welcome it: so I know that at least one candidate was ambushed by the endorsement. However, other voters may be left with the impression that there is some relationship between the supported candidates and the MAB.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Green Party should move quickly to make it clear that mainstream politics can do without the support of fascists.

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About the author
David T is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He normally blogs at Harry's Place.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Mayor election ,Religion ,Westminster

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Reader comments

1. Margin4 Error

I’m not really sure that comparing this group to he BNP works.

According to their site this group stands for what is probably a quite reasonable ambition – ie. integration of muslims in british society. They oppose human rights abuses of muslims in the war on terror. And they take part in activities against extremism and war. There is no strong history of this group existing for abhorrent aims.

The same is not true of the BNP – which was originally quite open about being a racially nationalist – and which though less open about that now, still maintains policies on the deporting of ‘descendents of immigrants’ (or ethnic minorities to you and I)

So surely this article would make more sense were it about hizb-ut-tahrir who openly seek to establish a fascist state

Of course some members of MAB might be dispicable. But so are some members of the Labour and Lib Dem Parties.

Thats not the same thing as the groups themselves being bad.

Don’t worry about David T – the Decentists just love a game of will you condemn…

David, I think its important to be nuanced about where Muslim organisations are placed. As M4E points out above, Hizb ut-Tahrir is more extremist than this “fascist” organisation. So what do you call them? And then Al-Muhajiroun is worse than Hizb ut-Tahrir, and worse still is Al-Qaeda itself. If MAB are fascist, what does that make Al-Qaeda?

I don’t have any love lost for the MAB but they’re not very different to other orgs that mix politics and religion very closely. The Indians have the RSS… while the Christians in the States have a whole load of them.

If the MAB are clerical fascists, then the Christian Zionist orgs in the States are also fascist organisations. I just think the word ‘fascist’ in this case does more harm than convey the real problem with these groups. That they’re looking for legitimacy is a real issue and that they should be ignored is also true.

David, do you ever get tired of demanding that others condemn groups that you and the decents don’t much like?

This is pretty simple: whether the BNP can any longer be accurately described as a fascist organisation is open to debate, but it certainly still is a racist organisation and a large majority of its footsoldiers are fascists, as the briefest look at Stormfront will confirm. The BNP could significantly help Johnson into power if their voters do put him down as their second choice, having won 3% of the vote last time round. It’s therefore quite right that Johnson said that he didn’t want their grubby support.

As you point out, the MAB has nothing like the sort of influence that the BNP does. The impact of its call for its supporters to vote for Labour, the Libs and Respect will be negligible, not coming anything close to turning the vote. Therefore they do not to tell them where to stick their votes; it won’t make any difference. Condemning them will just be an empty gesture, but Harry’s Place seems to love empty gestures.

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