I was invited onto Press TV in Ealing to discuss Muslim radicalisation with the controversial Swiss Islamist Tariq Ramadan, Seumas Milne of the Guardian and Superintendent Dal Babu of the Metropolitan Police.
I was resistant for two reasons:
1. Press TV is funded by the Iranian government
2. These things can often turn into an ambush
On the first point I asked for the fee to be paid to British Muslims for Secular Democracy (I like the idea that the Iranian government should be funding an anti-fundamentalist organisation). On the second I was assured that the discussion would be civilised, which it was.
The last time I went to Press TV (when I gave my fee to the GCHQ whistleblower Katharine Gun) I bumped into someone from Socialist Worker and I spotted the Muslim Association of Britain’s Azzam Tamimi in the studios. It turns out Tamimi has his own TV station up in Ealing too. I suggested that Superintendent Babu might want to look into this hive of Islamist propaganda, but he just laughed nervously.
It was an odd discussion. Seumas made the point that radicalisation should not necessarily have negative connotations and that the new political consciousness represented by the Stop the War Coalition had politicised many young Muslims. I suggested that this could turn out to be a tragic dead-end, that I felt political Islam was a route to separatism. Young British Muslims, I felt would be better off fighting racism and rooting out foreign-funded Islamists.
Babu’s position was unclear. He talked about some admirable work being done by the police with West Ham football club to bring together young Jewish and Muslim girls. But he seemed to accept the basic thesis that it was only worth talking to the Muslim Council of Britain and other “credible” voices (i.e. Islamists). Worryingly, I’m pretty sure I overheard a conversation that Ed Husein, the author of the Islamist, had been disinvited to address the Superintendents’ Association. The influence of the Islamist copper Bob Lambert is clearly still powerful despite his retirement.