The ‘Mega Mosque’ and how right wingers ignore liberal Muslim women

9:57 pm - June 22nd 2014

by Sunny Hundal    

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Orthodox British Muslims are frequently accused of ignoring the voices of women, especially liberal Muslim women, for good reasons. But they aren’t the only ones doing it: liberal Muslim women are also frequently ignored and used by right-wingers with their own agenda.

It turns out that right-wingers are also happy to ally with liberal Muslim women to criticise orthodox Muslims, but will ignore these voices when it doesn’t suit their agenda. Yep, I’m as shocked as you are!

This particular case involves the long-running dispute over the proposed ‘Mega Mosque’ in East London.

Tehmina Kazi, director for British Muslims for Secular Democracy, was the ‘star witness’ against the proposed mosque in a newly opened public inquiry, because she earlier objected to the anti-woman bias of Tablighi Jamaat, the group behind it.

But a few weeks ago she withdrew from the public inquiry.

Alan Craig, director of the ‘Mega Mosque No Thanks’ campaign, also described as a Christian fundamentalist, sent out a press release saying she was “intimidated by misogynist mosque supporters”.

He repeated the claim in a video for by the homophobic and xenophobic group Christian Concern, which earlier objected to Aaqil Ahmed being appointed head of religion at the BBC just because he was Muslim.

But here’s the thing – they’re ignoring what Tehmina Kazi herself said.

The veteran religion journalist Ruth Gledhill wrote:

Alan Craig, director of the MegaMosqueNoThanks campaign, said she was ‘intimidated by misogynist mosque supporters’. But Ms Kazi said: ‘Withdrawing was a decision I did not undertake lightly. I did it after consultation with several trusted people and a number of assurances on women’s increased participation and involvement in the new facility.’

However, Ms Kazi told Lapido Media that she had been neither harried nor pressured but had accepted the reassurances she had been given about the place of women in the mega-mosque community.

The claim she was intimidated was also repeated by Douglas Murray from the Henry Jackson Society a few weeks ago, who pretty much swept aside Tehmina’s point and heavily implied she was intimidated into dropping her opposition to the mosque.

All this reflects the ugly tactics being deployed in the desperate desire to win public opinion.

The pros and cons of the proposed East London centre and mosque should be judged on its own merit by the inquiry. I’m not bothered either way.

But what shouldn’t happen, inquiry or not, is the misrepresentation and spinning of a leading liberal Muslim woman’s opinion, just because it doesn’t fit the narrative of some right-wingers.

To me, this is a reflection of the same misogyny that Douglas Murray and his compatriots rail against.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments

the mega mosque and Tablgi Jamat is something that should worry everyone.

Sunny hundal is a classic case of lefties ignoring the medieval and barbaric beliefs of Islam and Sharia and instead muddying the water by drawing peoples attention to harmless detail.

how right wingers ignore liberal Muslim women ?? Dont make me laugh – you tell us instead why you continue to ignore the grooming of thousands of young girls by Muslims and barbaric Sharia law where peoples arms and legs are chopped off.

Interesting post. I think I saw something about her being intimidated on holiday a few days ago. The fact that she is pretty outspoken in a sense makes it less likely that she was intimidated into this decision (though she may both have been intimidated AND felt the reassurances were adequate).

alan craig from christian peoples alliance is defending liberalism and inclusion! what a joke. the same guy who said gay activists were nazi paratroopers

@steve 3 words christian jimmy saville

But if Tehmina WAS silenced through intimidation, this would only be achieved through fear. And if she is now fearful, is it likely she would publicly admit she was being intimidated?

So Sunny, I have the factual evidence that she was intimidated. Where’s yours to back up your biased blue-sky guesswork?

She’s an outstanding young woman. She doesn’t need this.

Alan Craig: So Sunny, I have the factual evidence that she was intimidated.

Go on then, why not show it to all of us?

I may, especially if more people publish stuff like yours. If you’re actually interested you could start by going to the LapidoMedia post about Muddassar Ahmed:

But come on Sunny, where’s your evidence? Or is your piece just shallow ad hominem critism rather than fact-based analyis?

Sunny, did you ever stop to think that perhaps Tehmina Kazi wanted the matter left alone for the time being?

Alan Craig dismisses the quote that appears to show he’s misrepresented Tehmina Kazi; declines to show the evidence that he says he has unless “more people publish stuff”; and then demands “evidence” from Sunny to prove the real existence of the contradiction which anyone can see for themselves. This is transparent blustering.

Craig and Murray have put Kazi in a difficult position: the suggestion that she would be willing to make a statement on a matter of public interest that does not reflect what she truly believes is potentially very damaging.

Still awaiting comment from Sunny. Maybe he is coming to accept his was just shallow ad hominem criticism with no factual basis. Shallow journalism.I can hope…

Murray and I have not put Tehmina Kazi “in a difficult position”, nor has LapidoMedia come to that. Muddassar Ahmed put her in a distressingly impossible one first. What she truly believes about Tablighi Jamaat and the mega-mosque is what she has (now twice, in Feb 2011 and in June 2014)submitted as Proof of Evidence to two semi-juducial Public Inquiries; regretably the second time round she was forced by pressure and intimidation from Ahmed and his Newham Peoples Alliance to abruptly withdraw the weekend before the Inquiry started.

But she hasn’t just withdrawn – she’s explained that she withdrew after “consultation with several trusted people and a number of assurances”. This heavily implies that she’s changed her mind as a result of giving the matter further thought and perhaps looking at more evidence. Now, you’re accusing named individuals of forcing her to say something that she doesn’t really mean. These are extraordinarily serious allegations.

A Public Inquiry is a serious quaisi-judicial civil process, and Ahmed and NPA should not interfere with – or even approach – our opposition witness.

But they did, while Tehmina was abroad on holiday. I think even Ahmed would admit he did that, by phone to be exact, on Saturday 31st May, three days before the Inquiry started.

Like I say, that facts are there.

BTW, has Sunny gone to ground? Are these truths proving a bit too inconvenient for his sloppy journalism?

Hi Craig – Richard above has said it all really. You’re just blustering. Either show your evidence or shut up.

I’m taking Tehmina’s word for what she says. You’re the one who is ignoring her voice.

Sunny, will do so if I must.
But maybe you should first see 9. Bobby, above. What about the effect on Tehmina? Hasn’t she had enough already?

16. David Johns

Alan, It so hypocritical that you are now showing concern for Tehmina! You’re the one that put her in this position by going public with the news of her withdrawal from this inquiry. You forced her to take a public position by asking her to give evidence in the first place and when she didn’t agree with your position you cried wolf very publicly. Tehmina is no shrinking violet and doesn’t need your ‘concern’.

So much naivety on display here. So many agendas at play.

I doubt Douglas Murray cares very much about the opinions of liberal Muslims. He just wants to use them for his own agenda. That he cherry picks in terms of what he wants to listen to is what makes him a terrible journalist and commentator

19. Isabella R

Why do people want to ignore Kazi’s voice? If she claims that she wasn’t intimated and that her opinion was formed by her individual research, who are we to doubt her.

I agree with the above comment. Of course Murray chooses to ignore things that rebuke his argument. It’s the reason why his commentary on issues are so one-sided. That, despite his constant presence on rubbish shows like Question Time and the Big Questions and on papers such as the spectator and the daily fail, he only has a mere 9000 or so followers demonstrates that people don’t have time for his bombastic arguments in which he only listens to what he wants to hear. This particular trait of his is something he probably picked up at Eton and the private schools he was educated before that. He’s full of his own self-importance, and is a walking talking advertisement for educating people within the mainstream state system in which people are exposed to a variety of opinions and aren’t made to think that they are the most important person in the room.

20. Isabella R

I should clarify: that’s 9000 followers on twitter. I also read somewhere that he got a 2:2 at Oxford in English which just goes to show how, despite mediocre academic results, old Etonians somehow manage to infiltrate the increasingly competitive journalist profession purely based on who they know, not what they know.

@Isabella – I agree that the default position should be to accept TK’s word on this. That doesn’t mean one can’t *disagree* with her decision, and I’ve seen people criticising it because of their views about Tablighi Jamaat. I also agree that Douglas Murray has an agenda. However I don’t think his 2.2 reflects his ability – he wrote a biography of Lord Alfred Douglas while at Oxford, which is pretty good going for someone so young, and it was well-received.

22. Isabella R

I only made that comment about Douglas Murray’s terrible academic results because he wrote an awful article about Hundal a while back. Dougie Murray claimed that Sunny apparently wasn’t the appropriate candidate for the Kingston University job because he only wrote a ‘pointless’ blog and apparently ‘didn’t have much of a career’. He also made comments about Sunny Hundal’s finances and implicitly claimed that Sunny’s rather modest income was a testament to the fact that he does not have a career. Such banal bitching is testament to the fact that Dougie doesn’t really have much to say. Furthermore, Doug is also from a very wealthy background with very well connected parents. His very limited success in journalism (Like many unemployable journalists he joined a think tank a many years ago that actually does very little research. They basically just go on The Big Questions every now and then and state opinions that, frankly, anyone could do. What this country needs is more science organisations and less of these banal political ‘think tanks’. At least half of them are useless and a waste of money) is very much due to such connections. He’s not a proper journalist. Peter Greste is a proper journalist. Mishal Husain, Christiane Amanpour, Glenn Greenwald, Kevin Maguire, Alan Johnstone, Jon Snow etc. are all proper journalists. Douglas Murray is merely a very overrated commentator and frankly he should thank his parents every hour of every day for sending him to Eton. He wouldn’t have much airtime otherwise.

The fact that Murray and co are ignoring Kazi blatantly demonstrates that they’re not interested in letting liberal muslim women voice their own opinions. As much as I despise Murray (I agree with the claims above that he is a lousy journo) I would never suggest that he is as bad as the conservative Muslims that wish to stifle women’s voices. The truth is, however, that Douglas Murray is just another egotistical man who’s full of his own self importance. He has an agenda, and likes to manipulate every fact and opinion in order to suit that agenda. I don’t think he actually realises how people can see through him.

24. A Paterson

Apparently the Henry Jackson society is a registered charity. As is Eton.

I actually wonder who it is that actually donates money to these think tanks. It’s money that could, as Isabella R correctly argues, be spent on funding more worthwhile projects. The Henry Jackson society doesn’t really do much research, so the money donated probably goes into the pockets of rich men like Murray as they do nothing but spout their ideological nonsense. Although, if Murray did get a 2:2 from Oxford, it’s no wonder he has to resort to this as this sort of ‘career’.

Acutally, come to think of it, HJS IS probably funded by the mega millionaire Tony Blair.

25. Mikael Ibrahim

Alan Craig is a lost cause… MS Tahmina Kazhi has finally accepted
the truth… Well done.

Sunny, here you go. Here’s the evidence:

I’ve just read this evidence. Alan, you made an accusation, a very serious one about intimidation that you claim muddasar was responsible for. You then claimed you would be presenting ‘evidence’ that proved his guilt. However, what you’ve actually come up seems to fall quite a bit short. The text that tehmina apparently sent you says that she’d rather not make an enemy of someone she thought was well-connected in the community. It said nothing at all about his conduct, or of any intimidating bullying behaviour he had used (which is what you’ve been claiming all along).

if Mudassar’s standing in the community and his public stance in favour of the mosque was a strong influence on Tehmina’s behavior, then should this in itself really be something he’s held responsible for?

Irrespective of the whole mega-mosque idea (which btw, I don’t think is the best idea), you probably shouldn’t be making serious allegations in the absence of real evidence.

28. ManonClaphamOmnibus

I am amazed that Sunny bothered to write this in the first place. Religion in its its most banal form is an odious ideology devoted to the desecration of truth and freedoms particularly those of women. Why the chat about one individual?. Should we care?

Perhaps if you have time on your hands Sunny you could write about the deplorable state of Labour and of things pertinent to the lives of the majority.

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