Blogger Abdullah Noorudeen says media outrage at the recent visit of British ulama to Afghanistan is hypocritical in the extreme, and shows how Western imperialism towards that nation continues unabated.
Afghanistan has emerged as a focal point of global attention, with its people enduring immeasurable suffering due to humanitarian crises.
Amidst this turmoil, some individuals have chosen to stand up and make a difference, demonstrating the true essence of compassion and humanity. Yet, inexplicably, these selfless efforts have not been spared from the twisted scrutiny of hypocrisy.
In recent weeks, a delegation of ulama from Britain travelled to Afghanistan on a fact-finding journey to better understand the humanitarian condition of their co-religionists.
However, upon their return, the scholars were met with the usual negative framing which Muslims have now become accustomed to: an underlying suspicion surrounding their actions.
Pro-Israeli and neocon-associated social media accounts began circulating images and footage of the ulama meeting officials and praising the administration for their work to stabilise Afghanistan.
Shaykh Suliman Gani’s employers (the NHS) were specifically targeted on Twitter, culminating in a Daily Mail hit piece.
The manufactured, feigned indignation and economic intimidation appear to be a clear effort to deter Muslims from favourable perspectives on Afghanistan. After all, although the British neo-imperialist attempt to conquer Afghanistan resulted in abject failure, the culture war continues for some.
So the narrative of Afghanistan needing Western imperialism must be maintained as part of this war. Thus, any optimistic developments emerging from the region must be quelled through manufactured moral outrage.
“They met with Taliban officials!”
The crux of the attack against the ulama delegation hinges on their meeting with officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) and their commendation of the progress achieved, despite the formidable challenges imposed by the international community.
Undoubtedly, gaining entry into a nation recovering from four decades of conflict will inevitably attract the scrutiny of the prevailing authority. And in any case, so what if British ulama met with IEA officials?
Anthony Glees, an academic with past ties to the Social Affairs Unit, the organisation that published Douglas Murray’s “Neoconservatism: Why We Need It,” and the Islamophobic Henry Jackson Society’s go-to academic, stated that the likes of Shaykh Suliman were “useful idiots” for meeting the Taliban.
But as early as 2021, Simon Gass, then PM Boris Johnson’s High Representative for Afghanistan, met Taliban leaders, including Amir Khan Muttaqi, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Abdul Salam Hanafi. They discussed how the UK could help Afghanistan address its humanitarian crisis and eradicate terrorism.
That same year, UK Defence Chief Nick Carter said the British and the Taliban have “decent collaboration,” confirming: “We have to continue our engagement with Afghanistan.” He further described the Taliban as “more reasonable.” British Army officer Simon Conway and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace supported this view.
And earlier this year, following a visit to Afghanistan, Tobias Ellwood MP praised the Taliban: “Security has vastly improved, corruption is down, and the opium trade has all but disappeared.” Despite criticism, he repeated his call for engaging the Taliban and opening a British embassy in Kabul.
All of the above must be gay and women-hating Taliban-sympathising useful idiots, I guess. Or, alternatively, perhaps they acknowledge the main lesson from two decades of imperial adventuring – that changing the religion and culture of a people through invasion and then subsequent vociferous liberal colonialist finger-pointing with righteous indignation is futile.
Significantly, this line of criticism also suffers from a lack of moral credibility and is tainted by its own hypocrisy. The right-wing rag and the tiny cabal of neocons affronted by the Afghanistan visit have no problem with British MPs travelling to the racist apartheid regime of Israel.
And of course, they do not bat an eyelid when the racist leader of a Zionist party formed from an anti-British terrorist group engages Britons. The Conservative Friends of Israel regularly arrange free trips for MPs to the apartheid regime, with some even meeting with its racist leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Likewise, Netanyahu has visited the UK and met with Jewish leaders, including Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
The same hypocrisy applies to the broken record contention levied against the IEA regarding women and education. In the context of the delegation’s visit, this concern can be reformulated into the question: How could British ulama meet people who ban women’s education?
Firstly, nations involved in the murderous invasion of Afghanistan that left millions of Muslim women widowed and whose troops engaged in torture, sexual abuse, and child killings are in no position to lecture Afghans or those who assist them.
Secondly, the delegation repeatedly questioned IEA officials about the education of women. Their discussions show that the priority for the new Afghan government is the protection of Islam and its culture. With this objective, they are developing an Islamically-grounded curriculum.
The Afghan government has also acted against Western-backed institutions and NGOs promulgating morally vacuous liberal and feminist ideals. The concern is reasonable.
While the West seeks to save Muslim women from themselves by bombing and then starving them to death, Western countries are wrestling with the question of what a woman is. In pursuit of this question, an increasing number of women and men are self-harming and mutilating their bodies. This situation is obviously not one Muslims across the globe want.
So the precise measures to undo this component of Western imperialism and liberal hegemony may not be to everyone’s taste. But it is a policy that Afghans, not the West, must work out.
The sanctimonious faux-outrage fostered by a few neocons demonstrates weakness and extreme hypocrisy, amounting to a storm in a teacup. The British neo-imperialists need to take the humility pill. As painful as this may be to hear, West is not best and the Afghans need to carve their path forward free from external interference.
If there is any hope for steering Afghanistan toward a positive trajectory, it will assuredly stem not from those who inflicted destruction upon them but be assisted by considerate individuals within the Ummah.
Abdullah Noorudeen runs the Coolness of Hind blog.