Are the British public getting more savvy to extremism?


9:25 am - June 1st 2013

by Robert Sharp    


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Here’s a brilliant story from the City of York:

The EDL posted details about a demonstration they were going to host at our mosque on Sunday on their Facebook page. My first reaction was to let the police know, which I did, but when I really started thinking about it I remembered George Bernard Shaw saying, “If the world’s problems were brought to the Prophet Muhammad, he would solve them over a cup of tea..” I knew we had a sunny forecast for Sunday, and it’s very English to have tea and biscuits in the afternoon, so I thought it would be a kind gesture to invite the EDL in to tell us about their grievances.

First, this story represents an alternative vision of multiculturalism, the one put forward by the Dalai Lama when I asked him about the concept, a few years ago: Multiculturalism is about stressing similarities between different cultures.

Second, is it me, or have the British public become savvier at dealing with extremism?

I think people have ‘wised-up’ to the power of counter-intuitive gestures. As well as this Muslim take on ‘make tea not war’, I am thinking of things like the London #RiotCleanup that arose in response to the 2011 riots.

I also recall gestures of solidarity and defiance, like We Are Not Afraid and the Iranian/Israel Facebook Love-in.

I’ve made other notes on my own blog about counter-intutive, unexpected, turn-the-other-cheek style thinking. I think the savviness, such as it is, comes from the way in which ordinary people recognise the value not just in doing something unexpected and open, but in publicising that fact!

I note this not as a criticism, just an observation about the way in which people can spread their actions, and therefore their ideologies, through social media.

I do not know for sure, my I have an inkling that Mohamed El-Gomati’s idea to invite the EDL to tea was inspired as much by the recent precedent set by the sort of social media campaigns I mentioned above, as by anything said by the Prophet Mohammed.

I will try to log more examples of public savviness when they arise in future. Can you think of any more?

Update

Re-reading this, I think it needs another paragraph. What is noteworthy about year gestures is that they do not come from politicians. Remember when Boris Johnson tried to piggy-back onto the #RiotCleanup goodwill. The examples I mentioned are also examples of leadership, progress, bold action that politicians do not seem capable of initiating. Is that because they lack imagination, or because we are so cynical that we would scoff at the same acts, if a politician tried to initiate them?

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About the author
Robert Sharp designed the Liberal Conspiracy site. He is Head of Campaigns at English PEN, a blogger, and a founder of digital design company Fifty Nine Productions. For more of this sort of thing, visit Rob's eponymous blog or follow him on Twitter @robertsharp59. All posts here are written in a personal capacity, obviously.
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Reader comments


‘I do not know for sure, my I have an inkling that Mohamed El-Gomati’s idea to invite the EDL to tea was inspired as much by the recent precedent set by the sort of social media campaigns I mentioned above, as by anything said by the Prophet Mohammed’

Actually I think it was a fairly spontaneous decision made on the day. We were all drinking tea and chatting before the EDL arrived, and when they did come we went over and started talking to them, offering them tea. From this, Mohamed and the local vicar (who was also there) decided to invite them in for dialogue. Fantastic spontaneous initiative – don’t give Twitter and Facebook all the credit! 🙂

I should also note that I think York Mosque are planning to take tea and biscuits down to today’s EDL demo (AT station rise war memorial, 1:30PM), building on last week’s event’s success. There will be a friendly counter-demo to the EDL, and hopefully we can continue to build York’s distinctive tea-inspired anti-fascist success!

2. Suburban Tory

York Mosque is run by the UK Islamic Mission who share the same ideology as the South Asian far right party Jamaat E Islami.

In presenting this heart warming tale to the media Mohammed El-Gomati is clearly very savvy.

“Second, is it me, or have the British public become savvier at dealing with extremism?”

It’s you. If you are any evidence, they are becoming more gullible.

Google york mosque ukim. Find out who UKIM are, and their relationship to Jamaat e Islami.

Then tell us what’s so great and heartening about a front for the Islamist equivalent of the Khmer Rouge giving out tea and biscuits.

What’s next? Hitler was kind to dogs?


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