[Marxism] Re: George Galloway Redux

Sayan Bhattacharyya ok.president+marxmail at gmail.com
Mon Jul 10 14:05:33 MDT 2006

jscotlive wrote:

"RESPECT is a coalition responsible for attracting a sizable share of the vote
at the last election. It has given a political voice to the antiwar movement,
and has brought into the political mainstream a large segment of the hitherto
disenfranchised British Muslim community."

But, on the other hand, consider also that this has meant turning many
British Muslims (Nuslims of Bangladeshi origin for example) away from a
potentially secular-left politics to a primerily  Islamic political
identity. Is that a good thing?

Consider the following interesting article:


July 7, 2006

by Delwar Hussain

Who speaks for the mostly poor Bangladeshi
community in east London? Delwar Hussain charts a
long-term shift from secular leftism to Islamism
- one in which British state policy has played a
significant role.

The connection between events in Bangladesh and
the large Bangladeshi community in east London is
intimate but not static. The influence of
economic, political and generational change on
the transformation of personal and public
identities is profound. In particular, there has
been a significant movement in recent years from
alignment with secular politics as a vehicle of
representation and empowerment towards
Islamic-based organisation.


An article on the website of the Islamic Forum
Europe (IFE), an organisation associated with the
mosque, urged voters to vote for Galloway;
although it said he was "unlikely to establish
khalifah in East London", and he has
"passionately (campaigned) for Muslim political
prisoners far more than some of our Muslim
community elders who are still living in the days
of the subservient maharajas in British India."


While in earlier periods British Bengalis were
known by their national origin, today they are
seen as part of a homogeneous "Muslim community".


Between the 1960s and the 1980s, Bangladeshis in
London used secular, socialist ideology to combat
injustice - a system of thinking that could then
still lay plausible claim to the future.


Today, most of those born in London still refer
to Bangladesh as "home", but in practice Bengal
is distant from their daily lives and probable
futures. Within the community, Bengali
secularists appear today as archaic as the
political left. Islamic brotherhood is a more
potent tool in the fight against discrimination.
Claire Alexander, author of The Asian Gang:
contesting Britishness, writes: "Islam stands as
a psychological barricade behind
which�Bangladeshi young people (usually men) can
hide their lack of self-esteem and proclaim a
functional strength through the imagination of
the umma".

An older generation of British Bangladeshis saw
Islam as one aspect of a plural, many-layered
identity; for their children and grandchildren it
has become the basis of a monolithic ideology,
the supreme identity in the struggle for
political and socio-economic interests. It is
also both reaction to and defence against the
experience of poverty and racism.


The impulses and actions of what might in another
age have been seen as working-class anger have
thus acquired a more plausible emancipatory
narrative in Islamic fundamentalism.


The fight of secularists against racism and
poverty appears bland compared to the ardent
certainties of religion. In Bangladesh,
secularists and the left have been marginalised
and suppressed by the post-2001 ruling coalition.
While the Bangladesh Nationalist Party - and
George Galloway in London - seek to ride the
Jamaat-e-Islami tiger for political gain, the
prospects of this strategy for resolving the
enduring questions of social justice, equality
and diversity are dim. Jamaat and other
fundamentalist groups are sowing the seeds of
future conflict, as well as obscuring more
hopeful and humane pathways to equity and harmony
for Bengalis, in both Britain and Bangladesh.

Delwar Hussain is a researcher in Bangladeshi
politics and the Bangladeshi diaspora

Full article at:


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