As the legacy of Malcolm X became more mainstream, many people from different political backgrounds jumped out of their seats to claim he represented their political trend and their political trend alone. Among the most vocal to claim his legacy are political Islamists. The only way we can assess if Malcolm X became an Islamist or his political trajectory was heading towards that direction is to unpack what he said or did not say after his split with Elijah Muhammad’s ‘Nation of Islam’ (NOI). It goes without saying that for as long as he was a member of the NOI he was the leading advocate of its distinctive cultural, social, economic and political theology and/or ideology.
First of all what do we mean by Islamism and/or radical political Islam? According to the scholar Oliver Roy in a study for the United Nations, Islamism “is the brand of modern political Islamic fundamentalism which claims to recreate a true Islamic society, not simply by imposing sharia, or Islamic law, but by first establishing an Islamic state through political action.” Earlier in the study he had unpacked and defined ‘fundamentalism’ as “a call for the return of all Muslims to the true tenets of Islam (or what is perceived as such): this trend is usually called “salafism” (“the path of the ancestors”).” Individuals who uphold this ideology are referred to as Islamists of one variety or another.
Split with NOI
Malcolm X’s split with the NOI began with a suspension for ninety days following his now famous comment, “chickens coming home to roost” with regard to the assassination of President Kennedy on the 2nd December 1963. The NOI hierarchy had previously sent out instructions Continue reading
During the first week of General Khalifa Hiftar’s so-called “Operation Dignity” in Libya ostensibly launched with the modus operandi to military rid the country of armed Islamist militias and to establish stability, it wasn’t too difficult to find some in the British media highlighting the General’s supposed proximity to American intelligence and specifically to the CIA.
‘Operation Dignity’ was launched on Friday 16th May, by the following Monday the Financial Times (FT) was informing its readers that after the General’s defection from the Libyan army a couple of decades ago, he moved to a Washington D.C suburb where “he is said to have cultivated contacts with Western agencies seeking to undermine” Colonel Muammar Ghadhaffi, the former leader of Libya.
On Tuesday 20th May, the FT once again reminded its readers that Hiftar “is believed to have links to the U.S.” On the same day the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black referred to him as a “US-linked figure”, while Continue reading
In the first decade of this century, amidst the flames of the “War on Terror” which had hitherto taken in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the late president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez made a private visit to London to meet Ken Livingstone, the mayor. Two days earlier British Prime Minister, Tony Blair had lectured and rebuked Chavez and Evo Morales, Bolivian President on the need to use the resources of his oil rich country ‘responsibly’.
According to the Guardian, Blair “called on the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, and his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, to show some responsibility in the use of their energy resources.”
Responsibility is the act of being responsible and the Oxford English Dictionary defines “responsible” as “having an obligation to do something, or having control over or care for someone.”[i] On the other hand, what Blair actually meant by “responsibility” was not qualified or spelt out. If by chiding Chavez and Morales, Blair is arguing that the two South American leaders are using their respective countries wealth incorrectly, inappropriately and unwisely, what exactly was Blair’s prognosis? Continue reading