Talk about Newsnight

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Friday, 17 November 2006

  • Newsnight
  • 17 Nov 06, 07:05 PM

New government advice to universities to combat what is described as a "real and serious threat of violent extremism in the name of Islam".

Margaret Hodge reportedly accuses Tony Blair of "moral imperialism" and said Iraq is "his big mistake". She denies making the comments.

sudan1_203.gifSudan agrees in principle to allow a joint United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force into Darfur. We have a film from Darfur on more evidence of janjaweed atrocities.

And what's in a name?

Join Martha at 2230GMT on BBC Two and on the Newsnight website then leave your comments below.

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I am delighted to see that finally the subject of Islamic hard-line fundamentalism has found its way to TV news. I spent six years of my ministry as a Free Church Senior Chaplain to the Universities and Colleges in London. I was based at London School of Economics LSE and what used to be called London Guildhall University and now called London Metropolitan University which was mentioned in your report. During my time there I was invited to attend an Islamic Society meeting because I come from the Middle East (Syria). I went and was shocked with what I heard and saw. The speaker talked about 9/11 incidents as glorious events and I remember vividly when he hit the table and said “our aim finally is 10 dawning Street and the Whitehouse.” I expected that the university would do something about that but nothing happened. Another dangerous thing took place which really alarmed me was during a seminar the Chaplaincy organised about Citizenship. Extremists attended the seminar and were quite bullying, aggressive, and abusive. They tried to highjack the event but we could save the day after all. I was surprised that the university did absolutely nothing to address the increasing of fundamentalist teachings in the university.
I gave different talks in both educational institutions about the importance of dialogue between religions. I always highlighted the danger of leaving issues like fundamentalism and specific interpretation of the concept of Jihad which tends to encourage hostility against other religions unaddressed.
It is right that Muslim students are more and more politically involved in different ways. Some of these involvements are worrying and alarming when they promote Jihad in a militant way. Islam as a religion and politics are inseparable and therefore whenever there is a religious talk, politics is always strongly present and visa versa. We should not underestimate the infiltration of Islamic and Christian religious fundamentalism to our universities in the UK. Universities should remain beacons of awareness, respect and dialogue. Fundamentalism is destructive and dangerous because it brainwashes young people and influences their thinking and consequently their behaviours. They become less tolerant and disrespectful to other people who have different beliefs or lead a different style of life. Freedom of speech is one of the most precious values we all enjoy in this country but this should not turn into chaos and an opportunity for some people to abuse it and damage the harmony in the society.

Margaret Hodge: Margaret Hodge reportedly accuses Tony Blair of "moral imperialism" and said Iraq is "his big mistake".

Yet Margaret Hodge, Barking, voted Very strongly for the Iraq War and Very strongly against investigating the Iraq war.

  • 3.
  • At 01:09 AM on 18 Nov 2006,
  • Nilavra wrote:

So you've found another enemy within - afterall where would we be without a bogeyman?

Coverage on so called Islamic extremism is now bordering on the obsessive.

At some point, we might try and consider what makes them this way. When we did that about the IRA we finally made progress.

  • 4.
  • At 01:34 AM on 18 Nov 2006,
  • Lily Dowte wrote:

Has it not occurred to anyone that there may be 'agents provocateurs' within the Muslim community, propogating an extremist agenda in order to frighten the British public and foster Islamophobia?

  • 5.
  • At 11:07 AM on 18 Nov 2006,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

Margaret Hodge is only saying what we know already...difference is she sat at the top table at the time & could have maybe saved the day! TB is also admitting to the mistake of going to war...he wasn't duped into those words ...too cagey for that. Perhaps this is the start of an admittance by the Blairites!
"Tonic for the day" was the mental sight of Martha Kearney trying to dodge the w/a lens the night before by hiding on the floor.. behind the desk? ..."remember Martha ,if you can see the lens it can see you"!Get old fashioned deaf aid talkback re-instated.

Consulting my crystal ball, I eavesdropped on the following snatch of conversation from 17 October 2016:

"Whatever happened to all those Muslims, Mrs Jones?"

"They all went home to Pakistan of course, Mrs Smith! That nice Nick Griffin even helped them with some old rocket fuel he bought up cheap from some German engineer, what was it called? Oh yes, Cyclon Beta!"

Yes, well perhaps I should retune it to late-night Channel 4 or 5 and watch some culturally-edifying pornography instead.

  • 7.
  • At 07:03 AM on 19 Nov 2006,
  • Mahmud Ibrahim wrote:

To Rev. Nassar,

A man of God should tell the truth?

I attended the faith and citizenship seminars you referred to above. It was only on one occassion one person interrupted and questioned the late Dr. Zaki Badawi. I saw nothing like the hijacking and abuse you are talking about.

Secondly, why would an Islamic Society invite a Christian Reverend to their core meetings?

Your inference that it is because you are from the ME that your were welcomed, shows your are ignorant of Muslim demography even though you describe yourself as a Syrian Christian Arab Rev!

Since Arabs only make about 13%-15% of the Muslims in the world, not all Muslims are automatically Arabs. To the contrary, 85%-87% of Muslims are not Arabs!!!


As Tony Blair starts his work towards peace in the Middle East, I am reminded that the one worthwhile concession he very publicly wrung out of George Bush - in return for his support in Iraq – was progress on the road map to such peace. While Conan Powell, Blair’s co-worker towards peace, was in office some brave noises were made; but even then no significant progress was made on the ground – and indeed Israel was discretely allowed to continue with its destruction of the Palestinian state. Once Conan Powell was edged out of office even the pretence of suitable noises disappeared, and Tony Blair was totally betrayed.

His UK critics accuse Blair of abusing trust but there is little evidence that he ever reneged on the substance of his public promises; though he has often spun out those promises to seem more than he was able to deliver. Bush, though, has had no compunction in simply abandoning anything he later decided was inconvenient – no matter how public his original promise. But, to be fair, perhaps it was Cheney – the real power behind the throne ever pulling the strings of the son – who has been truly perfidious.

Tony Blair’s one remaining offset may, however, be that - while he surely must totally distrust the Bush administration – George Bush probably still trusts him. Until a Democrat president arrives, who is willing to work alongside him and conclude any deal for peace, this ‘trust’ may be Blair’s one ace in the hole. It will let him work on the foundations for the peace without this work being once more sabotaged by the neo-cons.

  • 9.
  • At 07:57 PM on 19 Nov 2006,
  • Harry42 wrote:

To Rev Nadim Nassar:
You complain about 'hard-line fundamentalism' and the abuse of free speech as you see it, however Rev Nassar get real and be as vocal on the slaughter of thousands in the Arab world. Why don't you 'highlight the dangers' of American military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. Israeli slaughter of children might also warrant a mention. If you have a 'hotline' to Jesus and co., ask them to give the resistance in these countries the power to 'smite the invader'. I am neither Arab nor Muslim but I am a human being.

  • 10.
  • At 10:08 PM on 19 Nov 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref Rev. Nadim Nassar #1

An interesting & alarming recollection of events.

Sadly, this seems much the pattern, regarding radical political Islam, as I am learning.

I look with interest at your current work in an impressive organisation of varied representation & sponsorship across faith groups [1]

Ref Mahmud Ibrahim #7

"#1 …...Your inference that it is because you are from the ME that your were welcomed, shows your are ignorant of Muslim demography even though you describe yourself as a Syrian Christian Arab Rev!"

A simple review of the Rev bio will update you? [1] & given your rather obvious bias, far more than happy to accept the words of this widely travelled, established & experienced religious man.

Meantime, were you born in the ME or are you a Brit born in the UK who has read about and/or even visited the ME?

Ref Harry42 #9

Regarding your criticism of Rev Nadim Nassar #1 - " ...however Rev Nassar get real and be as vocal on the slaughter of thousands in the Arab world"

Q. is that all dying in the ME on all sides by the hand of all sides or just the biggest amount dying (Muslims) ironically & sadly by the hand of …… other Muslims?

Please clarify :)




  • 11.
  • At 10:44 PM on 19 Nov 2006,
  • Conspiracy theorist wrote:

I found the Rev. Nadim Nassar's post very interesting; but even more interesting is the fact that almost immediately another person who said he had been present ON THE SAME OCCASION(S) wrote in to challenge Nassar's facts. And there are only ten posts in all. Coincidence, or what? Is someone monitoring these posts and orchestrating replies?

  • 12.
  • At 06:29 PM on 20 Nov 2006,
  • Harry42 wrote:

Ref vikingar #10:
No clarification needed Norseman! There are none so blind who will not see..........

  • 13.
  • At 07:25 PM on 20 Nov 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref Harry42 #12

“Men in the game are blind to what men looking on see clearly”

- chinese proverb


  • 14.
  • At 11:06 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Jackie David wrote:

What on earth is Richard D North banging on about? The BBC should be more like the print media? You mean it should tap private phone lines in the hope of a salacious scoop? Quite frankly, apart from the FT and Private Eye, I can find very little in today's print media except pages and pages of lifestyle and celebrity claptrap. I'm sick of upper class twits telling me what to cook, what to wear and how to decorate my bedsit - especially when I haven't got two pennies to rub together most of the time. And how dare he presume that intellectual programming is only of interest to the rich? Working class people aren't all like Jade Goody - some of us have a brain and dread the day the BBC slides towards total commercialism. The likes of Dacre would get more marekt share if they produced a product worth reading. North is a snob and should try pulling his snotty nose out of the Daily Mail and tuning his ears into Radio a bit more often. And Newsnight, of course.

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