"...I find religious behaviour endlessly fascinating in its multi-faceted cultural manifestations..." - Professor Ron Geaves, University of Chester
Hey, I didn't say it was a demo, it was Prof Geaves! Don't believe me? Said the prof during a University lecture, the first week of April:
"I have included, rather controversially, the events in London as primarily an extreme form of demonstration and assess what these events actually mean in terms of their significance in the Muslim community. The word terrorism is a political word which always seems to be used to demonise people."
UK Blogger Scott Burgess just recently had a post on the good man, and was himself encouraged to save Mr. Geaves from anonymity by another blogger, Oliver Kamm. After all, while the icCheshireOnline apparently attracts Daily Kos types, as yet it does not attract Daily Kos numbers - although that may change soon. Professor Geaves, working at Chester University since 2001, teaches Study of Religion including Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Sociology as well as Anthropology of Religion. The academic's bio states that he "concentrates on field work, and enjoys meeting religions in the flesh and the embodied spirit rather than in texts". Too bad then the prof didn't happen to be on board of that 7/7 bus on Tavistock Square because he would have had the research opportunity of his lifetime. Now, about that lecture he gave: it was titled "Twenty years of fieldwork: reflections on "reflexivity" in the study of British Muslims". It was attended by a.o. local dignitaries and representatives from muslim organizations from England's north-west. According to Mr. Geaves, "The title refers to the personal transformation that has taken place over the last two decades in which I have moved from a position of academic neutrality to one of active engagement with the Muslim community in Britain."
Leaving academic neutrality huh? Yes indeed, Mr. Geaves thinks that one way in which demonstrations such as the 7/7 one should absolutely not be described is as "terrorist acts", because, according to Prof Geaves, "The word terrorism is a political word which always seems to be used to demonise people." In the words of the Honourable Airhead, Shehzad Tanweer & Co. were simply carrying out "an extreme form of demonstration". And the attacks that killed 52 people and threw the country into shock last July were simply "part of a long history of demonstrations sparked by British Muslims." I suppose 9/11 was just an airborne demonstration, then.
Btw, Prof Geaves is also pioneering the UK's first ever Muslim Youth Work degree programme. From 2007, Muslim students can gain professional youth work credentials at the only course of its kind. I bet twenty years of field work has taught the Prof that it's ECONOMIC MISERY that inspires young muslims to demonstrate. See, he goes on: "Youth work has a part to play in terms of making sure youths don't become despondent, particularly in areas of low unemployment and bad housing."
Well, I am just a nutty Beljun and not an enlightened Prof on some Cheddar Cheese University, nor did I do twenty years of field work on Islamic communities, but I did pick up somewhere that Shehzad Tanweer was the son of a local businessman, had a Sports Science Degree, lived in a fancy villa and drove around in a shiny Red Mercedes. Possibly Professor Geaves during his research stumbled over some caliph's rusty sword, landed face down in a stinky pool and had too much kaka in his eyes to notice articles like that.
OK, maybe you think Geaves is just one lonely nutter. One drooling idiot among the legions of respectable academics populating Europes fine centuries-old universities and scientific institutions.
NOT! How about this? In The Netherlands, there's an outfit called the WRR, I guess that's an acronym for Wetenschappelijke Raad voor Regeringsadvies, somewhat loosely translated as Scientific Council for Government Policy. It's meant as an independent think tank studying socio-economic developments, the labour market, infrastructure, climate policy, the future of the welfare state etc etc. Its task is to thereupon advise the government on its policy in these matters.
Dutch blogger in Canada Peaktalk points to the latest WRR-issued report, "Dynamiek in Islamitisch Activisme" (Dynamics in Islamic Activism), which came out on Wednesday April 12th of this year. If you click on this link, there's a summary, plus at the bottom another link to a pdf-file with the report.
One of the key authors, a certain fella by the name of drs. Jan Schoonenboom, was kind enough to talk to the press just before the report's release. Mind you, Schoonenboom is not just a humble staff member. He's one of the 8 Council Members in the WRR's executive committee. Below are some key excerpts:
"...we should not be so spastic about the Sharia...We must support the moderate Islamic powers much more, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hezbollah in Lebanon..." - drs. Jan Schoonenboom, WRR
"An unjustified fear of and aversion to Islam exists in the Netherlands. Instead of continuing to drag the name of that faith through the mud, there should be far more criticism of friendly countries such as the US, Israel and Russia, the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) concludes."
(according to Schoonenboom) "we should not be so spastic about the Sharia." It may be that the system leads to corporal punishment in countries like Saudi Arabia and Sudan, "but under the Sharia in Morocco, family law has been reformed, very much to the advantage of women's rights." The Sharia for Muslims is comparable to the Ten Commandments for Christians, in the researcher's view. "It is God's plan for human nature."
The WRR researcher accuses Islam critics such as MPs Hirsi Ali, Wilders and Verhagen, law philosopher Afshin Ellian and Rotterdam politician Marco Pastors, of playing "on gut feelings in the debate. On fear of Islam and of Muslims. You also see that in the debate on the accession of Turkey to the EU, this country is made out to be much more Islamic than it is, and Europe much more Christian that it really is."
So, according to the good doctorandus there exists "an unjustified fear of and aversion to Islam in The Netherlands". Funny, I just had a glimpse of an article about a hell of a fight between some 30 native Dutchmen and Moroccans last Friday in a MacDonald's restaurant in Tilburg, south Holland (hat tip: Dutch Disease Report). And, a tipsy more south, in my own beloved Belgium's Brussels Central Station, 17-year old Joe Van Holsbeeck was stabbed to death by a Moroccan teenager because he did not want to give the young fuckface his mp3-player. Hold your fire, you may ask what Moroccan nationality has to do with Islam. Well, I suppose the teenage killer is not (yet) whacking his forehead five times a day in the direction of Mecca. But what I am certain of is that utter disrespect of filthy kafirs - like the native Dutchies in the Tilburg McDonalds, and like poor Joe Van Holsbeeck - is one of the basic tenets of what passes for Islamic "Culture". Furthermore, Dutch MP Geert Wilders , to name but one, is living round the clock under police protection and travelling around in an armoured car since receiving gazilions of death threats. S'ppose Wilders too is having "unjustified fears of Islam".
But I digress. Mr. Van Schoonenboom would say I'm playing on people's guts here. Possibly. Meanwhile, Moroccan 15-year old creeps are stabbing in people's guts. Or slitting throats. Whatever.
OK, on to the following revelation from Dynamics in Islamic Activism. More precisely, drs. Van Schoonenboom has some sound advice for Dutch foreign policy. In the words of Peaktalk, hold on to your jaws for this one:
Schoonenboom advises "an adventurous foreign policy" for the Dutch government. "We must support the moderate Islamic powers much more, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hezbollah in Lebanon, instead of secular movements without prospects in Muslim countries. We must talk to the Palestinian regime of Hamas. Dare the adventure! They are democratically elected. It is a terrorist movement, but so was Arafat's PLO. And the IRA in Ireland."
AFAIK it was Sinn Fein which was talked to. And the least one can say about the west's talks with the PLO is that they at least yielded fascinating results. I don't know on what planet Jan lives, but judging from his labeling the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah "moderate Islamic powers" I don't think it's one in this solar system. Schoonenboom is translated literally as "Beautifultree" in English. From the onset I knew it was a tree hugger.