Will Gordon Brown have any scruples about honouring Islamist sectarians? Why do I still need to ask after all the years I've wasted watching the wretched man? Of course he wouldn't and it looks like he is going to honour Muhammad Abdul Bari.In my Observer column on Sunday I described how a purge of moderate Muslim advisers was underway in Whitehall. Labour is now trying to secure a segment of the inner-city by abandoning what few liberal principles it has left and cosying up to the Muslim Brotherhood and Jammat-i-Islami. To be specific, Brown and John Denham are driving out Azhar Ali a special adviser who has opposed the religious right, and are instead welcoming the Muslim Council of Britain's into the Labour tent. From a conventional left wing perspective - which admittedly does not seem to be widely shared at the moment - Brown's behaviour is a shocking act of treachery. Ali comes from the heart of the Labour movement and shares its values. The Brownites don't care, and are throwing him out so that they can hug fellow travellers with ultra-reaction.
As I wrote
After Daud Abdullah, the deputy general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, signed a declaration advocating attacks on the Royal Navy if Gordon Brown sent ships to impose an arms blockade on Gaza, Ali told his comrades to cut all links. He might have said that a centre-left party should never have had links with the MCB in the first place. It contains supporters of the Arab Muslim Brotherhood and the south Asian Jamaat-e-Islami. Arab liberals know the Brotherhood to be the enemy of every enlightened value they hold, while their Bangladeshi equivalents regard Jamaat in the same way Observer readers regard the BNP, only worse because Jamaat murderers collaborated in the Pakistani army's crimes during the Bangladeshi war of independence.
That brief moment of principled politics is over. There's talk of the government giving the MCB's Sir Iqbal "death perhaps is a bit too easy for Salman Rushdie" Sacranie a peerage. Meanwhile, ministers are about to cut financial support for Sufi Muslims who, like the majority of Britain's Muslims, Sunni or Shia, are not represented by the MCB.
The fix is in and Islamists are all over Whitehall again. Denham is entertaining Inayat Bunglawala of the MCB, who gave a taste of the "progressive" policies Labour is encouraging when he wrote an article defending Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a preacher who recommends wife-beating, genital mutilation of girls and the murder of apostates and homosexuals. Earlier this year, the sheikh said of Adolf Hitler's massacre's of the Jews: "This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers."
Astute outsiders look at people who were on the 20th-century left and notice that they have gone from calling themselves "socialists" to "social democrats" to "third wayers" to "progressives" in rapid succession. They might have wondered what the new "progressive" label means. Now they know.
My sources tell me that Brown's goons hauled civil servants into Downing Street to find out the names of my sources. They failed miserably but they did let slip that the peerage may not be going to Sacranie now I'd blown the whistle but to the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Muhammad Abdul Bari. (Read all about this charmer here)
I was faintly bemused by the reaction to my book What's Left? Mainstream leftists tut-tutted and said that I was tilting at straw men. Some extremists such as Ken Livingstone and George Galloway may have gone over from far left to far right, they accepted, but the mainstream was as principled as ever. Now a Labour prime minister is firing leftish Muslims and promoting bigots. As David Cameron seemed to grasp when he attacked Gordon Brown for funding the schools run as front organisations for Hizb ut-Tahrir in Prime Minister's Questions today, the left's indifference to or support of clerical reaction represents this government's final descent into decadence.
Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer and author of You Can't Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom (Fourth Estate) and What's Left? How The Left Lost Its Way (Harper Perennial). Living With Lies, a collection of his writing for Standpoint, is available as an ebook.
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