Mehdi hasan

Sadiq Khan, please stop playing the Muslim card

Sadiq Khan, I’m sure you and your supporters think you’re being super right-on when you say that it would send a ‘phenomenal message’ to the world if Londoners were to elect their first-ever Muslim mayor in May. But actually you’re playing an incredibly dangerous game. You’re Islamifying what ought to be a straight political contest. You’re turning the vote over who should run London into a test of Londoners’ tolerance of Islam. You’re asking voters to prove they aren’t prejudiced, when all they should be doing is expressing a political preference. Stop it. The Khan camp has been playing the Muslim card from the get-go. Last year, Khan talked up

On Question Time, will someone please ask Mehdi Hasan about his views on infidels?

Various readers have been asking if I am doing Question Time, This Week or Any Questions this week. It’s not the BBC’s fault but I’m not able to be in the country at the moment. I am particularly sorry not to be able to do Question Time now that I learn that the line-up includes Mehdi Hasan and Anna Soubry. So could someone else on the panel or in the audience please point out that Mehdi Hasan has expressed similar contempt for us infidels as Isis have? Here is a reminder of a sermon he gave in 2009: ‘The kuffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of

Speak human

The next Labour leader will have to be able to speak human, said a piece in the Observer. This, it argued, is because Ed Miliband was taunted for always speaking like a policy wonk. What short memories members of the commentariat have. In 2010 Ed Miliband was being praised by supporters on the grounds that he did ‘speak human’, unlike his technocratic brother. ‘Let us be clear: Ed M is not JFK,’ wrote Mehdi Hasan in the New Statesman in that year. ‘But he does have the all-important ability to connect with ordinary people.’ He quoted Neil Kinnock, of all people to prove it. Lord Kinnock said Ed had the

I don’t want to live under Islamic blasphemy law. That doesn’t make me racist

I have spent most of the last fortnight debating Islam and blasphemy and wanted to take the opportunity to put down a few unwritten thoughts. In the immediate aftermath of the Paris atrocities most of the people who thought the journalists and cartoonists in some sense ‘had it coming to them’ kept their heads down.  I encountered a few who did not, including Asghar Bukhari from the MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Committee).  In the aftermath of the atrocity Asghar was immediately eager to smear the cartoonists and editors of Charlie Hebdo as racists.  From what he and others of his ilk have been sending around since, they appear to have

Why Christians should stick up for atheists

Christians and Muslims in Egypt are joining forces to address the challenge of atheism, according to this news report. (It reminds me of the old headline from Northern Ireland: ‘Catholics and Protestants unite to fight ecumenism’.) Christian churches in Egypt say they are joining forces with Egypt’s Al-Azhar, a prominent centre of Sunni Muslim learning, to fight the spread of atheism in the country. ‘The Church and the Al-Azhar are drafting a constructive mechanism to address atheism,’ Poules Halim, a spokesman for Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, told Anadolu Agency. His statements came following a two-day conference, organised jointly between the Al-Azhar and the church, aimed at forging a ‘scholarly response’

Toby Young

The man feminists seemed to think was worse than the Taleban

Feature writers aren’t often acclaimed for their courage, but Neil Lyndon deserves a bronze plaque in St Bride’s. Twenty-two years ago, he wrote a book called No More Sex War in which he questioned some of the assumptions underlying the modern feminist movement. He pointed out that many of the advances made by women over the past 200 years have been made with the help of men and suggested that men should be regarded as allies in the war against injustice, not defenders of the status quo. Perfectly reasonable, you might think. Not a misogynistic tract, but a progressive critique of radical feminist ideology. Yet that wasn’t the way it

How can Jews oppose Muslim anti-Semitism without being ‘Islamophobic’?

On Sunday there was a rally in London demanding ‘zero tolerance’ of anti-Semitism. About 4,500 people gathered in front of the Royal Courts of Justice. Speakers who addressed the crowds included the Chief Rabbi, Maajid Nawaz and me. Among the things I told the crowd was to expect more and to demand more of their ‘communal leadership’. Long-term readers will know that I’ve never had much time for communal leadership of any kind. I don’t like the groups who claim to speak on behalf of all Muslims – groups which disproportionately represent a politicised and fundamentalist hard-line interpretation of their faith. And I don’t like groups that have claimed to

It’s OK to mention anti-Semitic attacks – but not who commits them

I was attacked by a swan the other day, as I walked along the bank of the River Stour in Kent. The creature climbed out of the water and lunged towards me, wings puffed up, making this guttural and hate-filled coughing noise. I kicked out at its stupid neck and told it to fuck off and the bird backed away towards the river, still making that demented hissing, like a badly maintained boiler. At first I was mystified as to how I had gained its enmity. I wasn’t near its mate and still further distant from its sallow and bedraggled idiot children. Nor had I advanced towards it, or even

It’s time to reclaim Islam from the fanatics. Here’s how

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Quilliam’s Maajid Nawaz discusses reforming Islam with Freddy Gray” startat=41] Listen [/audioplayer]I am not a moderate Muslim, I am a reformist. Rooting out corrupt practices can never be an act of mere moderation. Restoring integrity, or wholeness, is always a radical act. It transcends notions of left and right, emphasising the need to think independently. In Islam, independent thought has a strong history, not that you’d know it from the news about bombings, beheadings and bloodshed. ‘Jihad’ has become part of the West’s vocabulary and with good reason. But there is a lesser-known term in Islam — one that has the capacity to change the world for good. The

A letter to the Editor of the New Statesman

I have a letter in this week’s New Statesman. It is a response to an article in last week’s magazine by Mehdi Hasan. As NS Letters appear not to be published online I am pasting it here: Sir, The piece by Mehdi Hasan in last week’s magazine (‘Who needs Tommy Robinson and the EDL, when Islamophobia has gone mainstream?’) tries to infer that statements by various writers, including myself, are identical to those on show at some EDL demonstrations.   For instance he quotes some EDL supporters caught on camera chanting: “Burn the mosque!” and then quotes me as calling for ‘mosques accused of spreading “hate” to be “pulled down”.’  Mehdi then

Thanks Mehdi, for making me understand ‘ROTFLMAO’

I had never really understood the acronym ROTFLMAO properly until I read about the wretched Mehdi Hasan and his hypocritical denunciation of the Daily Mail, after having applied with cringing desperation to the same paper for a job. (Dacre told him to get lost, which is to his credit). My colleague Nick Cohen has filed an excellent analysis of this business, to which you should be directed if you yourself haven’t also had the opportunity to ROTFLMAO. But at least Mehdi will be in no trouble with his religion. He is, of course, famous for quoting the Koran to the effect that unbelievers are regarded as “cattle”. And by the

Sketch: Question Time is no longer an honest debating chamber

A good honest debating chamber. That’s how Question Time is billed. In fact it’s an unseemly gold-rush for applause. The panelists are a set of needy egos with semi-fictionalised hairdos. And the audience is composed of wonks and party activists posing as disinterested voters. Last night’s episode was particularly fractious. The crowd was keen to hear about the Daily Mail’s attack on Ralph Miliband ‘as the man who hated Britain.’ But the first question concerned benefit reductions for the under-25s. Quentin Letts, of the Mail, seemed uncharacteristically nervous. He said his ‘prejudice’ would be to target cuts on the young rather than the elderly. He meant ‘preference’. Rather a shaky

Mehdi Hasan and the EDL

At the weekend I was on the BBC TV programme Sunday Morning Live. We discussed pilgrimages and the ethics of the banking industry. But the first debate was the most heated. It was titled, ‘Are Muslims being demonised?’ The Huffington Post’s UK political director, Mehdi Hasan, claimed that Muslims are indeed being demonised. For my part I argued that while there are serious reasons – principally terrorism and murder – to be concerned about some strands of Islam, those who would tar all Muslims with the brush of the extremists are doing something very wrong. I thought it an interesting and lively discussion. However at the very end Mehdi Hasan

The next Spectator Debate: too much immigration, too little integration?

When David Cameron announced ‘state multiculturalism has failed’, the chattering classes gasped in disbelief. Here was a Prime Minister, bull dozing his way into  the tricky area of immigration — one his predecessors had shied away from. The speech was praised by the right, and lambasted by those on the left — including his coalition partners. David Goodhart received a similar reaction with the publication of his book  The British Dream. In it, he examines the success and failures of post-war immigration in Britain. On the right, the book was welcomed as a thorough examination into multiculturalism. When the former Tory leader Michael Howard reviewed Goodhart’s book in the Spectator, he explained why he backs

The blurry line between Islam and Islamism

There’s an Islamic school in Birmingham which is very highly regarded. It’s called Darul Uloom — the same name as the school in Chislehurst which was recently the subject of an arson attack. In fact, that’s how I stumbled across it. Anyway, Darul Uloom in Birmingham is a good school not only academically, but also for the emphasis it puts upon neighbourliness, integration, and decent and friendly dealings with non-Muslims. In short it is a model school of its kind; it will surely not turn out furious jihadis, will it? The school encourages multi-faith dialogue, it urges upon its pupils the need to treat all members of the community with respect.

Somehow, I’m agreeing with Mehdi Hasan

I won’t often say this, but there is a must-read article at the Huffington Post today. Titled ‘The Sorry Truth Is That the Virus of Anti-Semitism Has Infected the British Muslim Community’ it is a reflection on the recent anti-Semitic outburst by Lord Ahmed of Rotherham. It an admirably honest piece of writing the author says: ‘It pains me to have to admit this but anti-Semitism isn’t just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it’s routine and commonplace Sounds like the writing of some terrible ‘Islamophobe’ doesn’t it?  Except that you’ll be relived to know that as author goes on he writes: ‘Any Muslims reading this article – if they

Steerpike at Labour: No such thing as a free glass of wine

David Miliband blasted New Statesman columnist Mehdi Hasan’s updated Ed Miliband biography yesterday afternoon: ‘Judging by extracts about me in the Mail on Sunday, updates to Ed’s biography should be filed in the fiction section’. The former foreign secretary took umbrage at the suggestion that he had said his brother would ‘crash and burn’. And, just in case we had missed the point, he added ‘i.e. made up’ for good measure. Despite these manifold grievances, the elder Miliband graced the New Statesman’s Labour conference party later in the evening. He waited until Ed had done the rounds and left before entering, tieless. Given that David has pulled in over half

Peter Hitchens vs Mehdi Hasan

A fascinating column in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday by Peter Hitchens asks ‘Am I an “animal”, a “cow” — or just another victim of BBC bias.’ The spur for asking this otherwise surprising question is a BBC radio programme presented by the former New Stateman writer, Mehdi Hasan. While presenting ‘What the Papers Say’ a couple of weeks ago Hasan found the opportunity to misquote a column by Hitchens, who promptly complained to the BBC. For its part, the BBC seems to have accepted that the quote was doctored and has tried to make up for this. But now Hitchens asks some questions about Hasan’s own opinions. For, as Hitchens