In this month’s issue of GOLDENROOM, we featured the organisation British Muslims for Secular Democracy in our Inter Faith Relations section. It included some quotes from its director, Ms. Tehmina Kazi.
The blogger, Yakoub Islam, whose blog,called the Tasneem Project Review recently included a criticism of Ms. Tehmina Kazi, in reference to the article featured in GOLDENROOM. Yakoub Islam writes, under the heading, ‘BMSD Piffle’
Not long ago, as a result of a post on this blog, I had a bit of a run in with Tehmina Kazi, Director ofBritish Muslims for Secular Democracy (BMSD), over an article which I felt made a number of tendentious claims about progressive Muslims. The debate, if you can call it that, was described by one brother on twitter as ‘bollocks masquerading as serious discussion’; indeed, as the so-called debate progressed, I recalled Mullah Dopiaza‘s definition of a fool, ‘An honest person trying to be reasonable with a dishonest person.’ Perhaps I should have known, given BMSD’s associations with the likes of Taj Hargey and Yasmin Alibi-Brain, that this was a group best deconstructed through ridicule, except I don’t need to bother: Tehmina has now resorted to self-satire, by describing BMSD as “a Muslim group with no theological position, and a political group with no political agenda.” If Tehmina wants to come and explain what that statement means, she is more than welcome. I’d suggest it’s a clever smokescreen for her Rand Corporation agenda, but that would be to take her seriously, and I don’t.
Upon being informed of these comments, as Editor in Chief, I had to take action and clarify. My ‘comment’ in the form of a letter stated:
Dear Mr. Yakoub Islam,
Thank you for reading the recent article on BMSD published in this month’s edition of GOLDENROOM Online Journal for Cross Cultural Relations, http://www.goldenroom.co.uk and for taking the time to comment.
I am the Editor in Chief of GOLDENROOM and also the author of the article in question. I need to make it clear and unequivocal that Ms. Tehmina Kazi never made the statement, ‘ a Muslim group with no theological position, and a political group with no political agenda.’ which you erroneously attributed to her. That statement was neither italicised nor in quotation marks so I fail to see how you could have made such an error, which in my professional opinion is simultaneously slanderous, libellous and hearsay.
The statement was conceived, written and wholly authored, edited, approved, published and attributable to myself.
Furthermore, it is a statement by which I stand, for both its clarity and conciseness. The charity, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, is obviously a Muslim organisation, for all Muslims, regardless of sect,legal school or any other distinction, as well as for non- Muslims. It takes no theological standpoint. It is also a political organisation, obviously, for people of all political persuasions. In promoting democracy, BMSD defends the political sphere for all.
Someone with the spectrum of identities and identity facets described in your blog will have no difficulty comprehending such a standpoint.
Quite sometime ago, in my other professional capacity, I conducted some research for British Muslims for Secular Democracy. It is because of this previous association that I know that BMSD is a credible organisation, whose conduct is of the highest standard; whose aims are admirable and essential; and who undertakes its work with sincerity and in a difficult environment. I can write without reservation, that Ms. Tehmina Kazi is a model of integrity, insight and reason; her achievements with this small, relatively young charity, in the face of factionalisation and outright hostility, are nothing short of inspiring and deeply humbling. Her example and dedication ought to be emulated, not ridiculed and rabidly criticised. That BMSD promotes a space, even for diametrically opposed identities and standpoints is of immense interest and importance to readers of a journal for cross cultural relations. It is for these reasons that BMSD was chosen to feature in our Inter Faith Relations section, coinciding with this month’s ‘Politics’ themed issue.
I hope this clarifies the matter thoroughly for you but of course, if you have any further comments or questions, it would be my pleasure to oblige.
I trust this clarifies the matter for all our GOLDENROOM readers and assures everyone that we remain committed to the highest standards of research, analysis and writing, on which they can rely for cutting edge resources in cross cultural relations.
Editor in Chief
Online Journal for Cross Cultural Relations