Statement on my review of ‘Global Jihad’ and subsequent Barnabas Fund emails
In late January, I wrote a book review of ‘Global Jihad’ by Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of the Barnabas Fund. The response to this review, which took on a life of its own, has led to a number of claims being made about me personally. Before coming on to a particular allegation, it is useful to establish a clear sequence of events.
24 January – my book review of Patrick Sookhdeo’s ‘Global Jihad’ is published on the Fulcrum website. The review contains no personal attacks on the author, but expresses some criticisms about the particular analysis presented in the book.
7 February – an article written by David Zeidan with additional comments by Tawfik Hamid, ‘Barnabas Fund Response to Ben White’s Book Review’, is published on Fulcrum. This response is measured in tone, thorough, and engaging.
10 February – the Barnabas Fund publish on their website, and email to all their supporters, a response to my book review. This response is similar to the one published on Fulcrum (7 Feb), yet significantly different. This response, also written by David Zeidan with comments by Tawfik Hamid, is incredibly personal, vicious, and full of allegations and smears presented without any evidence. Among other things:
- It is claimed that I “glorify Bin Laden” and present him in a “heroic light”.
- It is claimed that I “accept the racist Islamist view that anything said or written by Jews or Israelis, no matter how scholarly, cannot be credible simply because of who they inherently are”.
- I am compared to “those in Britain in the 1930s that were sympathetic to Hitler and the Nazi party” who “totally ignored Mein Kampf and all other clear Nazi racist and anti-Semitic statements and actions, or else applauded them”.
There are some who threaten legal action for much less. It is ironic (presumably unintentionally) that I was accused of having used “personal slurs and innuendos”.
15 February – my reply to the Fulcrum-published ‘Barnabas Fund Response to Ben White’s Book Review’ (7 Feb) is published. I make no reference to the personal attack of 10 Feb, but stick to pertinent issues of substance.
19 February – the Barnabas Fund published online, and emailed to their supporters, a new message with the heading, ‘Please pray for Barnabas Fund staff’. This BF email referenced an anonymously-authored online article, which conspiratorially spoke of ‘betrayal’, a ‘secret’ meeting, a ‘secret’ document, and questions about ‘orchestrated’ plans against Sookhdeo. A number of allegations are made concerning other individuals and organisations. These claims have been refuted by the parties concerned and the relevant statements can be found here:
One allegation, however, specifically related to me. It was said that I had contacted a blogger who maintains a blog called ‘Indigo Jo’ in order to ‘draw his attention’ to my original book review. It was then claimed that this blogger is a “radical Muslim” and that subsequently, criticism of Sookhdeo had appeared on “other Muslim websites”, a development that apparently jeopardised the safety of Sookhdeo and his family.
I did indeed send a link to my original book review to the ‘Indigo Jo’ blog, though I do not know the author and had never contacted him previously. Moreover, this was in the context of sending the link to my review to a number of different websites/blogs and contacts. The front of the ‘Indigo Jo’ blog says that the author “writes about “religious, tech and media issues”.
I am a freelance journalist, and when my articles are published (in places like the Guardian online, New Statesman, Third Way, etc.), I always pass on the link and/or text to numerous different people and places.
This was presented as some kind of ‘betrayal’, when it patently is nothing of the sort. Moreover, as pointed out elsewhere, Sookhdeo’s views on Islam and personal activities have long been public knowledge.
It is instructive to remember that all of this began with a single book review. As many have observed, the review was not at all personal, but simply offered some criticisms of the approach taken in ‘Global Jihad’ to the phenomenon of Islamist violence. While there was a risk that the subsequent personal attack on myself (10 Feb) and second set of allegations (19 Feb) might distract from the important issues at hand, hopefully the last few weeks will instead help to focus minds and encourage further discussion.