Wadah Kanfar promotes the progressive virtues of radical Islam at ‘Comment is Free’

November 27th saw the publication on CiF of yet another promotion of ‘moderate, democratic Islamism’, this time written by Wadah Kanfar who resigned from his eight year post as director general of Al Jazeera in September – but not before collaborating with the Guardian on the Palestine Papers affair last January.

Kanfar’s Muslim Brotherhood sympathies and affiliations are well known and indeed were the cause of the resignations of numerous journalists from Al Jazeera under his directorship.

It was also Kanfar who brought the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘spiritual leader’ Sheikh Qaradawi to Al Jazeera and gave him a regular slot where he promotes his anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic ideologies.

The Guardian’s provision of a platform for Kanfar to extol the virtues and advantages of the work-in-progress rise of Islamists to power throughout the Middle East and North Africa is therefore akin to inviting the Master of the Hunt to write an article on how absolutely spiffing fox-hunting really is.

I’m not going to deconstruct Kanfar’s arguments here myself because as it happens, the Azure magazine recently published an excellent must-read article by Dr. Uriya Shavit – a lecturer in Islamic history and theology at Tel Aviv University – which explains at length precisely why Islamist rule is inherently incompatible with democracy.

“According to the Islamist worldview, Allah has given mankind a complete and perfect doctrine of life: Islam. Democracy and individual rights follow from and are mandated by this doctrine—and are consequently subordinate to its divine injunctions.

Since Islamists believe that the legitimacy of the political order is founded on a divine decree, they utterly reject any possibility of rebellion, whether in the name of democracy or individual rights, against other religious precepts. Hence, they would not allow a parliament to pass laws that contradicted the explicit commands of Allah, as conveyed to humanity through the Koran and the example set by the prophet. As al-Qaradawi and others have explained repeatedly, human beings cannot permit what Allah has forbidden, nor can they ban what Allah permits. For example, the Koran denounces abortion and the consumption of alcohol; consequently, a human parliament has no authority to grant them legislative sanction. Similarly, for particular offenses the Koran stipulates harsh penalties—capital punishment or amputation of a hand, for example—that no human legislator may repeal, nor may the prohibition of idol worship be overturned in the name of freedom of religion.”


“Western observers therefore miss the point when they wonder whether the Muslim Brotherhood supports free elections and civil liberties. To predict the character of the regime that the Islamists will establish, if and when they are given the opportunity, only one question is relevant: Will Islamic democracy take the Koran as its highest authority, with religious scholars as its sole authorized interpreters? An answer in the affirmative—whether clear or implicit—carries within it the unmistakable seeds of theological despotism.”


“The challenge facing the Arab Spring can thus be summarized as follows: Democracy without the Muslim Brotherhood is impossible, but so is democracy under its leadership. There is no doubt that the Brotherhood enjoys broad support in every Arab country that has undergone democratic revolutions or uprisings in the last year. Elections in which the movement is not allowed to participate will therefore lack popular legitimacy. Moreover, the Brotherhood’s liberal and democratic rhetoric will make it difficult for the legal establishment to disqualify the movement. The inevitable result of its electoral victory, however, will be the formation of a theocracy. It will not permit the scientific and technological revolution of which Arab societies are in such dire need. Simply put, the future of Arab democracy hangs by a thread: The Muslim Brotherhood must be permitted to run in elections, but not gain power.”

However, as we are already seeing across North Africa, the Islamists are gaining power and any hope of the emergence of true democracies from the upheaval of the ‘Arab Spring’ is fast waning.

Rather than confront that fact, the Guardian elects to sell out the real liberals in the MENA regions who risked their lives in the attempt to achieve genuine democracy and to bury its editorial head in the sands of the Islamist double-speak.

As Dr. Shavit points out:

“For democracy to strike real and lasting roots in the Arab world, the United States and its allies must free themselves of the influence of multi-cultural and post-colonial theories and determine—first for themselves, and then for others—the distinction between truly enlightened regimes and their imitators.”

The Guardian remains mired in its own long tradition of failing to do precisely that, and therefore aids and abets existing and future religious tyrannies rather than being the beacon of liberalism it claims to aspire to be.

24 replies »

  1. It seems that, quite often now, The Guardian makes itself the laughing stock of all but the extreme irrational anarchist left.

  2. The Guardian’s intellectual bankruptcy is plain to see.

    Anyone proposing a prominent role for Christian values in European politics would be denounced as a fascist, yet Islamism is defended as progressive.

  3. “Since Islamists believe that the legitimacy of the political order is founded on a divine decree, they utterly reject any possibility of rebellion, whether in the name of democracy or individual rights, against other religious precepts.”

    This is a ridiculously absolutist position to take on Islamism. There is an association between Muslim countries and undemocratic governments, yet there are Muslim countries that are relatively democratic (Bangladesh, Mali, Senegal, and Turkey, for example).
    The association may be to do with differing stages of historical development. Homophobia and hostility to abortion are often quoted as immutable characteristics of Islamic countries, but only half a century ago both homosexuality and abortion were criminal offences in the UK. Go back 500 years and we were cheerfully burning heretics and bible publishers by the score. Even Saudi Arabia can’t match that today.
    There are Imams who take a fundamentalist view of the Koran just as there are Rabbis who take their holy books literally. Why is it that the poster can’t accept the possibility of more moderate Islamists, when the idea of moderate Christians and Jews is taken for granted?

    • Oh sencar you really do enjoy putting both your feet in your mouth don’t you?
      “yet there are Muslim countries that are relatively democratic (Bangladesh”

      Now if you tell me that Human Rights Watch is a Zionist or Mossad controlled organisation, then I will fall out of my chair laughing.

    • Why is it that the poster can’t accept the possibility of more moderate Islamists?

      Same reason he can’t accept the possibility of more moderate Nazis I suppose.

      • On the contrary, I think he understands the term perfectly. He just tries to throw sand in our eyes hoping that WE won’t understand it.

        He supports the extreme positions of the Islamists.

    • Dare you deny the supremacist nature of Islam sencar? Do you even know enough about Islam to speak with any authority about it? It seems not, otherwise you would not mention moderateness and Islamism in the same sentence.

      Muslims are supposed to emulate their prophet as the “perfect” specimen of humanity. He was a vicious, murderous, at times psychotic, specimen, who advocated violence and murder of his enemies and particularly of the Jews who rejected him as a prophet. This animus is central to Islam today. Muslims are not allowed to change Islam in any way they are only allowed to imitate scholars who themselves imitate their prophet.

      The Muslim prophet’s teachings form the basis of the enduring paranoia of Islam which stunts it and cripples its advancement.

      There can be no moderate Islamism given what is written in the Koran. Indeed, to be a moderate Muslim would be enough to get oneself killed by devout Muslims in some societies.

      And whether or not homophobia and abortion were criminal in the civilised West no-one was hanged or “honour” killed because of them, unlike what happens in Arab/Muslim societies today. Women didn’t have to go covered from head to toe for fear of being killed for immodesty either.

      And even though some, (thankfully few), Rabbis take their holy books literally, give me an idea of the last time they rioted, ran amok, burned down mosques or churches and yelled in a mob for the murder of non-Jews in the name of their religion.

      Israel is the only state in the Middle East where ALL religions, particularly those persecuted by the slaves of allah, can follow their faiths freely and without let or hindrance.

      I would accept the notion of “moderate” Islamism if Islamists came out and spoke out during Friday prayers in favour of peaceful coexistence rather than stayed silent when their swivel-eyed brethren preach “death to the Jews” or such like.

      It’s quite simple really if you take time to think about it.

      The Koran is predicated upon war with others until it alone remains, and hatred. It emphasises fitna (discord) and has not advanced beyond the tribalism of the desert. Muslims are taught that nothing in their earthly life, however good and devout they are, can save them from their prophet’s version of hell fire and its punishments (a fact which Islamist recruiters take into account when recruiting lunatics for suicide and other terror). This leads to a depressive, fearful, hopeless view of life.

      Christianity and Judaism preach humanity, reciprocity and hopefulness. They are based on lovingkindness and collaboration and prize scholarship, which is why there was a Reformation for Christianity and Judaism has contributed so much to whichever society it has found itself in

      • Serendipity, your post reads like that of an irrational bigot. As such I will not dignify it with a detailed response. However, just in case your mind is still open to reason, I suggest you google ‘moderate Islam’, or something similar. You will find numerous examples of both religious muslims and muslim politicians debating what it means to be muslim and democratic, muslim and liberal etc.
        Now you can either believe that most of these people mean what they say, or that they are all part of of a world conspiracy dedicated to misleading us until they can take power and impose a religious tyrrany. If you take the latter view I revert to my diagnosis of ‘irrational bigot’.

      • Choudhury described his newspaper as “the only paper in the Muslim world in which you can find untwisted news about Israel… We have tremendous adversity, though we have 37,000 readers of the print version… I believe that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and as a Muslim, I believe that the only problem is political Islam and the hate speech, and if these can stop, then all Muslims will be like me…”

  4. He promotes radical Islamic clerics,he promotes the Muslim Brotherhood,has AntiSemitic Homophobic and misogynistic ideologies.

    A perfect writer for the racist anti-Semitic anti Israeli anti Zionist rag called the Guardian,

  5. Sencar didn’t just manage to get both his feet into his mouth he managed to get his bum in there too……No mean feat……

  6. This is not some act of silliness or a joke.

    The Guardian is an agent of political Islam.

    This is part of a long pattern of promotion, whitewash, praise and outright propagation of the vilest of ideologies since the Nazis.

    The Guardian is the vanguard of the new attack on civilization. They promoted Stalin so who is shocked that they are pimping this shit now.

  7. Political Christianity tried to make a comeback under Bush and failed. That’s because democracy rejects religious interference of any kind in politica. so this guy is full of shit, and someone should tell him that to his fat ugly muslim face.

  8. The Guardian, the Times, the BBC and many others are too ready to see the Muslim Brotherhood as short-term firefighters rather than what they in fact are: long-term arsonists.

    The British Establishment has invested too much intellectual, moral, ethical capital into its project of ‘mainstreaming’ political Islam for it to retreat any time soon without a colossal loss of face. (Deeply entrenched anti-Semitism perhaps makes the cognitive dissonance of supporting theological despotism palatable through a sort of screening effect?)

  9. I quite agree. Fundamentalist Islam is a threat to democracy. Just like fundamentalist Judaism and Zionism, of the type espoused on this site, are.