Bringing the Shia into the Fold?

Yesterday both Blackstar  and Abu_Muqawama  posted on the UK’s attempt to open up lines of communication with Hezbollah. I don’t think its signifigant and I participated in a long 91 comment discussion at Mr. Muqawama’s site which was quite good until about the last 40 when the whackjobism of a few individuals……

Anyway, speaking of Hezbollah, I recommend this  article on Lebanese Shias at Islam Online, which seems to have recently expanded its coverage of Shias.  Readers might be wondering why this is significant?  It’s because Islam Online is affiliated with Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi so its pretty much an exclusive Sunni organization.  It’s office is in Cairo, all the employees there are Sunni, and Sheikh Al-Qaradawi caused a controversy when he made some_negative_comments about the Shia last September.   One thing that has always stuck out (at least to me) is that the section on Islamist movements totally ignores Shia groups.  But during the last week I’ve noticed two articles on the Shia ( also see here)  whereas I can’t remember reading any before.   Is this some kind of attempt by Sheikh Al-Qaradawi to repair relations with the Shia? Or am I reading way too much into it? If anyone knows, I’d be interested in hearing.

By George!

I imagine that many of my fellow constituents of Bethnal Green and Bow, East London woke up quite surprised to find that our local MP, George Galloway, had arrived in Gaza along with $1.5 million in aid to the embattled enclave. “I have entered Palestine many times but the most emotional of these is after the 22-day genocidal aggression against the Palestinian people,” Galloway told The Times.

Galloway, the leader of the Trotskyist Respect Party and MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, had led the aid convoy across Europe for the last month, finally managing to negotiate his way through Rafah after a 24 hour impasse.  Galloway’s previous declaration that Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak should be overthrown by the army may not have done him any favours.

But then again, I should be careful what I say.. My elected voice in Westminster is a hugely controversial figure in the UK, and many a national newspaper has been sued for printing stories about him.  Galloway has long been strongly pro-Palestinian and known for his pro-Arab views.  He lobbied hard for the removal of sanctions on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq:  

When he visited Baghdad in 1994, Galloway said to Hussein that “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.”   (It’s on video, George.  Please don’t sue me.)

For all of you who haven’t come across him before, Mr Galloway is certainly an interesting figure, who is said to be uniformly disliked in Westminster (reason enough for me  to like him you would think) and when campaigning for London Mayor in 2008 on an open-top bus he was knocked unconscious by a stress-ball thrown from a near-by building.

If that wasn’t enough then his interpretive dance in a one piece leotard on Celebrity Big Brother almost beggars belief –  you_need_to_watch_this.  I have really never been the same since.  No doubt the aid convoy to Gaza was and is a great thing.  But, sorry George, I won’t be voting for you any time soon.