Tuesday, August 16, 2005
They Shall Not Parse posted by ChinaPosted by China.
Charles Clarke, that man-shaped coagulum of viciousness and mediocrity, named two main candidates for Blair's new muscular Keep Britain Tolerant on Pain of Expulsion and Torture campaign: Omar Bakri Mohammed and Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Now Bakri does possess certain (if absurd) boo-hiss qualities, as even those of us fundamentally opposed to this whole sorry policy will grant. He's a bit camp and overdetermined for my taste, but if you're trolling for bogeymen, I can see why you might give Bakri a second look.
Qaradawi is very different, as the government knows. Their naming him signals a ratcheting up of the ideological assault on Islam - and, I suspect, a wrist-slap for Ken Livingstone, who (in)famously hosted Qaradawi a little while back. The stiff exchange of dossiers by Livingstone and his opponents that followed (J'Accuse followed by Tu Can't M'Accuse Because Je T'Accuse First) was all over the blogosphere. The point here is that while, duh, those of us on the left have huge, sometimes fundamental disagreements with Qaradawi (etc etc - tedious to point that out but given the bad faith of our opponents (of which more below), it's as well to dot is and cross ts), he's an influential, mainstream Islamic cleric, who even took flak from some 'jihadis' (how I loathe that term) for his condemnation of 9/11. In ostentatiously flaunting Qaradawi as an enemy, the government moves beyond saying '"Jihadis" not welcome here' (which is, of course, hardly unproblematic anyway) and says instead 'Devout Muslims not welcome here.'
Now on the bad faith question. There's no doubt that Qaradawi's views on homosexuality are highly reactionary and thoroughly objectionable. (A bit like the Pope's. (Or the Dalai Lama's, depending on his mood).) But as banning Ratzinger's not really on anyone's agenda, the Send 'Em Bak crowd needs more of a smoking gun, and OutRage! - an organisation the degeneration of which I sincerely mourn - has been energetically pistol-hunting, to prove that Qaradawi advocates the murder of gays. And it's found what arguably looks like, literally, a killer quote.
For the full job of excavation, which you will see proves the vital political importance of punctuation, we have to thank Tempestua, Bionic Octopus's guest blogger. The snippet below starts with an OutRage! press release, before Tempy pipes in.
Aljazeera quotes Dr Qaradawi as saying:
"The scholars of Islam, such as Malik, Ash-Shafi`i, Ahmad and Ishaaq said that (the person guilty of this crime [homosexual activity]) should be stoned, whether he is married or unmarried."
This news is an absolute gift for Mr Tatchell, who has been squabbling endlessly with Mr Livingstone over whether or not the good doctor actually throws his weight behind stoning to death as an appropriate sanction for gay men (far more severe, certainly, as OutRage! notes, than the current legal penalty in Qatar, 5-10 years imprisonment). Previously, the best direct quote from Sheikh Qaradawi that he could find on the subject was this rather equivocal waffle [...]Muslim jurists hold different opinions concerning the punishment for this abominable practice. Should it be the same as the punishment for fornication, or should both the active and passive participants be put to death? While such punishments may seem cruel, they have been suggested to maintain the purity of the Islamic society and to keep it clean of perverted elements.
Now, when that was all OutRage! had, they certainly did their level best to milk the stone for all it was worth:The death penalty only seems cruel, he argues, until we understand that it is actually necessary “to keep [Islamic society] clean of perverted elements”
But all of that fun sophistry is now rendered happily redundant by the Aljazeera (a magazine, not the TV channel) article upon which OutRage! bases its press release. After all the article itself clearly says, as Mr Tatchell relates:The eminent Qatari based scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi also quoted:
"The scholars of Islam, such as Malik, Ash-Shafi`i, Ahmad and Ishaaq said that (the person guilty of this crime) should be stoned, whether he is married or unmarried.”
At last: no more beating about the bush. The double-tongued doctor, so elusive in conversations with Western media, has gone and said what he really thinks to an Arabic newspaper. (Actually, he's apparently gone and said what some other people think, the named 'scholars of Islam', think, and even here voiced no clear opinion himself. But hey-ho.) [...] Well, that's all sorted out then. Naughty Ken. Evil, duplicitous Doctor. Vindicated OutRage!
Except Dr Qaradawi never said it.
As a fan of Pulp Fiction, I'll leave you with that cliffhanger. To find out how the deed was done, I urge you to check out Tempestua's full story. There may be those who find her, um, rather languid and louche delivery startling - she's quite the refugee from Absolute Beginners. But stick with it and count your blessings: she could have performed her investigative journalism in Polari. As it is, believe me, it's a bonaroo piece of screeve, so go and have a varda.