Saturday, October 21, 2006

Peter Risdon Watch

Ismaeel, who was a leading light in the Muslim Action Committee, has just made this post on his blog:

Does Peter Risdon need a watch site all to himself? That is the question. After being very charming and polite to Maulana Arif and myself in Oxford all those months ago and doing the right thing in telling people not to bring the Danish cartoons to the March for Free Expression, he is now back after months of hiatus practically foaming at the mouth with Islamophobic rhetoric as well as confessing his rather murky and rather shocking past.

He has also announced he is going to launch some sort of media site to promote his rather immature understanding of freedom of expression in the near future.

So if anyone's got the time, i think a Peter Risdon watch site might be handy.

Anyways it goes without saying we won't be taking any nonsense from him lying down, or standing up or sitting down for that matter either.
Though I am intrigued by the final paragraph, and wonder what posture he plans to adopt - a crouch, perhaps - I have posted a comment as follows:
Hello Ismaeel. People say that the word "Islamophobic" is just a term of abuse designed to divert genuine and reasonable criticism, and I don't think you have done anything here to disprove that notion.

I remain polite, would aspire to be charming, and enjoyed talking with Maulana Arif and you in Oxford a few months ago. I thought we had taken a few faltering steps towards establishing a genuine dialogue, so am disappointed to see you revert to this sort of strident rhetoric.

If you do ever feel able to return to civil dialogue, the door will always be open. In Oxford, I told you that I thought we had a tendency to glare at one another in mutual hostility and suspicion from opposing trenches, hurling abuse at one another, and that I would like to help break down that pattern.

You are aware that I am a secularist, that I value secular, tolerant and liberal society and am gravely concerned at what I see as the threat posed to that by resurgent and extremist religions of all kinds, but especially Islam.

I make no criticism of you for your campaigns against freedom of expression, and indeed other freedoms, and you cannot reasonably expect me to be silent about my concerns. But you could work to break down some of the mutual suspicions and hostility instead of, on the face of it, simply trying to dominate everyone else.

When we spoke, there was an unresolved issue. I asked whether you were trying to ban people from displaying the Danish cartoons in private places. The point of principle there was discussed also: do you seek to impose Islamic religious law and mores on non-Muslims, even in private?

I invited you to make it clear that you did not, and to go further and state that you accept the validity of an exhibition of these cartoons, in the context of controversial cartoons more generally (shown together with the holocaust denial cartoons recently entered for a competition in Iran, and the arguably obscene anti-western and anti-semitic cartoons that are common currency in much of the Islamic world). You didn't answer either way then.

I invite you to consider this question again now.

In closing, let me remind you of the heated controversy on the march for free expression blogsite that followed your ideas about the minimum age at which women, or indeed girls, could be married. You realised during this exchange that you had made yourself vulnerable to criticism on a subject for which there is absolutely no tolerance in western culture. You might remember that I have never sought to capitalise on that, or other similar, subjects with you personally. I understand you have to wrestle with some difficult issues, given your beliefs, and I felt it right not to descend to ad hominem attacks based on this.

You are now aware that I have had a similar wrestling match with myself in recent months. It is such a shame that you have not felt able to reciprocate.


Ismaeel said...


i am happy as ever to continue down the road of civilised dialogue with you.

However i note several disingeneous and non-sensical things you have mentioned here. Firstly we didn't give a response to the idea of non-Muslims privatley viewing the Danish cartoons. Actually we did, on several occassions. Islam was, centuries before the west, adamant about the absolute sanctity of the private sphere, whatever went on behind closed doors was no buisness of the state. However what we also made clear is that when you noise it abroad that you are going to exhibit such socialy destructive material, then it ceases to be a private concern.

I regard the exhibition of the Danish cartoons and for that matter the exhibition of the holocaust cartoons in Iran to be uncivil and anti-social and am opposed to both.

I do not wrestle with my beliefs, I am very happy and secure in them and the discussion of the MfFE did not cause me any anxt although it may have caused others some.

My objections here on this site are to the rather silly and baseless slander that you have thrown around on your site like your description of the MCB forcing veils on women, encouraging honor killings and forced marriages etc. That kind of "critical analysis" we can do without it to facilitate better understanding. That requires you to be civil. Hopefully one day you will understand that need.
I'm sure you will seek to defend yourself by saying you were being flippant and only seeking to amuse. So was I when i wrote about the need for a watch site for you, it seems to have touched a nerve with you however, maybe you will learn from the experience and consider the importantce of tempering your critical analaysis with some civility.

I'm all for your critiques of Islam and Muslims, please and let's have our debate and many more. But don't muddy the waters by being unneccesarily insulting and distasteful which detract from the force of your arguments.

Peter Risdon said...

Hi Ismaeel,

In fact, I sensed an opportunity to get a dialogue going.

Why not take issue with things you consider innaccurate in my posts, and we can discuss them?

Ismaeel said...

Ok, maybe later, am busy at present.