Mehdi Hasan

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This article is about the British political editor. For other uses, see Mehdi Hasan (disambiguation).
Mehdi Hasan
Mehdi Hasan.jpg
Born 1979 (age 34–35)[1]
Nationality British
Ethnicity Indian[2]
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Notable work(s) Ed: The Milibands and the making of a Labour leader
Television The Café
Religion Islam
Denomination Shia

Mehdi Hasan (born 1979)[3] is a British political journalist, broadcaster and author.

As a journalist and author, Hasan is the co-author of a biography of Ed Miliband and the political editor of the UK version of The Huffington Post.[4] From a British Indian background,[2] he is the presenter of Al Jazeera English shows The Café and Head to Head.[5]

In 2015, Hasan will move to Washington DC to work full time for Al Jazeera.[6]

Education

Hasan was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, a day independent school for boys at Sandy Lodge in the Three Rivers District of Hertfordshire, near the town of Northwood in North West London,[7] followed by Christ Church at the University of Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE),[7] and graduated in 2000.

Life and career

Hasan worked as a researcher and then producer on LWT's Jonathan Dimbleby programme,[8] with a brief period in between on BBC1's The Politics Show.[8] Following this, he became deputy executive producer on Sky's breakfast show Sunrise[8] before moving to Channel 4 as their editor of news and current affairs.[9] He was appointed senior editor (politics) at the New Statesman in late spring of 2009,[10] where he stayed until May 2012, then becoming political director of The Huffington Post website.[9]

Hasan became a presenter on Al Jazeera's English News Channel in May 2012.[11] Hasan has appeared (six times) on the BBC's Question Time programme,[12] and the Sunday morning programmes The Big Questions[13] and Sunday Morning Live.[14]

Recorded at the Oxford Union, Head to Head is a programme in which Hasan has interviewed major public figures, had run for three series by December 2014 on Al Jazeera English. From 2015, working full time for the network in Washington DC, Hasan will host a weekly interview and discussion programme.[6]

Views and opinions

Iraq

In a 14 February 2013 article for the New Statesman, Hasan wrote:

The Iraq war was a strategic disaster – or, as the Tory minister Kenneth Clarke put it in a recent BBC radio discussion, 'the most disas­trous foreign policy decision of my lifetime […] worse than Suez'. The invasion and occupation of the country undermined the moral standing of the western powers; empowered Iran and its proxies; heightened the threat from al-Qaeda at home and abroad; and sent a clear signal to 'rogue' regimes that the best (the only?) means of deterring a pre-emptive, US-led attack was to acquire weapons of mass destruction. […] Iraq has been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of innocent people have lost their lives, as the direct result of an unnecessary, unprovoked war that, according to the former chief justice Lord Bingham, was a 'serious violation of international law'.[15]

Iran

A regular contributor to The Guardian,[16] Hasan argued in November 2011: "Wouldn't it be rational for Iran – geographically encircled, politically isolated, feeling threatened – to want its own arsenal of nukes, for defensive and deterrent purposes?"[17] Pointing out the difference between America, and its allies, going to "war with non-nuclear Iraq" and their "diplomacy with nuclear-armed North Korea", Hasan concluded: "The simple fact is there is no alternative to diplomacy, no matter how truculent or paranoid the leaders of Iran might seem to western eyes."[17]

Islam and Muslims

Hasan, a Shia Muslim,[18][19] has written articles about Islam and Muslims for the New Statesman and newspapers. He has written in favour of secularism, writing that a "religiously neutral model of governance" is the only way for a country like India to "prosper".[20]

In April 2009, Hasan argued against the concept and idea of an Islamic state.[21] He argues that "Today it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify a Muslim-majority nation that could plausibly be identified as a modern, viable and legitimate "Islamic state" and that "contrary to popular Muslim opinion, there is not a shred of theological, historical or empirical evidence to support the existence of such an entity."

Hasan has been criticised for his remarks on religion.[22] During a sermon delivered in 2009,[23] quoting the Quran, Hasan said to an audience: "The kuffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, the rational message of the Koran; they are described in the Koran as “a people of no intelligence”, Allah describes them as not of no morality, not as people of no belief – people of “no intelligence” – because they’re incapable of the intellectual effort it requires to shake off those blind prejudices, to shake off those easy assumptions about this world, about the existence of God. In this respect, the Koran describes the atheists as “cattle”, as cattle of those who grow the crops and do not stop and wonder about this world."[22]

In response to criticism over the use of the term "cattle" to describe non-believers, Hasan wrote in his New Statesman blog: "The Quranic phrase 'people of no intelligence' simply and narrowly refers to the fact that Muslims regard their views on God as the only intellectually tenable position, just as atheists (like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris) regard believers as fundamentally irrational and, even, mentally deficient."[24] The Islamophobia Watch website argued Hasan was the victim of a "witch-hunt", writing that these allegations of extremism were "aimed at getting him dismissed from his job".[25] Hasan returned to this issue in August 2012 following criticism from the columnist Peter Hitchens.[22] Hasan wrote: "the entire 45-minute speech is primarily an attack on Muslim extremists who try and justify violence against non-Muslims on an 'ends justify the means' basis", but noted of his 2009 comments that his "phraseology was ill-judged, ill-advised and, even, inappropriate".[26]

In November 2009, Hasan wrote a column denouncing suicide bombing from an Islamic perspective.[27] Hasan argued that "There is, in fact, nothing Islamic about so-called Islamic terrorism… So why are many Muslims so reluctant to condemn such cold-blooded tactics of terror?"

In April 2010, Hasan wrote a piece condemning the controversial Islamic advocacy of the death penalty for apostasy in the New Statesman.[28] He states that "The sharia (or Islamic law), it is claimed, sanctions the death penalty for any adult Muslim who chooses to leave the faith, or apostatise. This is an intellectually, morally and, perhaps above all, theologically unsustainable position."

Hasan wrote an article in The Guardian in September 2011 condemning the Iranian regime for its proposed execution of an "apostate."[29] "The death sentence given to Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran is an affront to universal moral values and a disservice to Muslims."

In April 2012, Hasan wrote an article criticising British Muslims for being obsessed with foreign affairs and the anti-war movement.[30] He criticised British Muslims' apparent apathy towards national issues, "why is it that most British Muslims get so excited and aroused by foreign affairs, yet seem so bored by and uninterested in domestic politics and the economy?"

Following the allegation of antisemitism against Lord Ahmed in March 2013, Hasan referred to antisemitism in some sections of the British Muslim community as "our dirty little secret."[31]

In May 2013, he appeared at an Oxford Union Debate proposing a motion arguing that Islam is a religion of peace. The motion was carried.[32]

In October 2013, on BBC Question Time, Hasan claimed that The Daily Mail was, among other accusations, "Muslim-smearing". The paper responded by claiming that he had applied to them for a column in 2010, praising their editorial standards and some of their positions.[33]

Abortion

"What I would like is for my fellow lefties and liberals to try to understand and respect the views of those of us who are pro-life," Hasan wrote in an October 2012 online column for the New Statesman.[34] Hasan argued that the issue of abortion "is one of those rare political issues on which left and right seem to have swapped ideologies: right-wingers talk of equality, human rights and 'defending the innocent', while left-wingers fetishise 'choice', selfishness and unbridled individualism."[34] (He later regretted expressing himself in this way.)[35] The article gained much attention on Twitter[36] and Hasan was invited onto the Today programme (BBC Radio 4) to debate the issue with Suzanne Moore.[37]

Telegraph blogger Brendan O'Neill thought both Hasan and his pro-choice opponents shared the modern left's "instinct for paternalism"[38] which contrasted, he asserted, with the pre-occupations of radicals a century ago, an era in which such figures, Hasan asserted, often opposed abortion.[34] Labour MP Diane Abbott thought that "any feminist, worth the name, knows that control over [our] own bodies is ground zero for every educational, social and economic advance that women have made in the last century".[39] Cristina Odone wrote: "There are some things no one is allowed to speak of – especially if they are men."[40]

Bibliography

  • With James Macintyre. ED: The Milibands and the making of a Labour leader, London, Biteback Publishing, 2011. ISBN 978-1-84954-102-2
  • Summer of Unrest: The Debt Delusion: Exposing ten Tory myths about debts, deficits and spending cuts, Vintage Digital, 28 July 2011.

References

  1. ^ Hasan, Mehdi (20 May 2013). "As a Muslim, I struggle with the idea of homosexuality – but I oppose homophobia". NewStatesman. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Hasan's tweet on his ethnicity on Twitter
  3. ^ Head to head – Will the internet set us free?. Al Jazeera English, 4 April 2014 (video, 47 mins), at 7:20 – 7:25 min
  4. ^ "Mehdi Hasan". Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Mehdi Hasan – Profile". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Mehdi Hasan to host new weekly show on Al Jazeera", Al Jazeera, 18 December 2014
  7. ^ a b "OMTs". Merchant Taylors' School. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c "Question Time: as it happened 26th October". The Telegraph. 25 October 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Mehdi Hasan joins HuffPo UK as political director", Press Gazette (website), 21 May 20123
  10. ^ Dany Al Samad "New Statesman recruits Mehdi Hasan as senior editor (Politics)", Journalism.co.uk
  11. ^ "Mehdi Hasan joins Al Jazeera as host", Al-Jazeera, 17 May 2012.
  12. ^ On 13 May 2010, 23 September 2010, 10 February 2011, 8 December 2011, 25 October 2012 and 3 October 2013
  13. ^ "The Big Questions". Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "Sunday Morning LIve". Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  15. ^ Mehdi Hasan [1] New Statesman, 14 February 2013
  16. ^ Mehdi Hasan contributor page, The Guardian website
  17. ^ a b Mehdi Hasan "If you lived in Iran, wouldn't you want the nuclear bomb?" The Guardian, 17 November 2011
  18. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAUVQ_EXgME
  19. ^ Mehdi Hasan and Ida Glaser "We could both be wrong about God: Introductions", The Guardian, 30 March 2010
  20. ^ Mehdi Hasan "Enshrined in law", New Statesman, 19 July 2010
  21. ^ Mehdi Hasan "'There's nothing Islamic about a state'", New Statesman, 2 April 2009.
  22. ^ a b c Peter Hitchens "Am I an 'animal', a 'cow' – or just another victim of BBC bias?" Mail on Suinday, 4 August 2012
  23. ^ Islamic Unity Society "Arbaeen Majlis 2009 (Mehdi Hassan)", Islamic Unity Society, 2009
  24. ^ Mehdi Hasan "Who are you calling an Islamist?" New Statesman, 28 July 2009
  25. ^ Martin Sullivan "Harry's Place and the smearing of Mehdi Hasan", Islamophobia Watch, 25 July 2009
  26. ^ Mehdi Hasan "Anatomy of a Hitchens Hatchet Job", The Huffington Post, 5 August 2012
  27. ^ Mehdi Hasan "Suicide attacks are un-Islamic", New Statesman, 5 November 2009
  28. ^ Mehdi Hasan "Islam can do without Simon Cowell", New Statesman, 2 April 2010
  29. ^ Mehdi Hasan "This brutality is not Islam", The Guardian, 30 September 2011
  30. ^ Mehdi Hasan "British Muslims must step outside this anti-war comfort zone", The Guardian, 2 April 2012
  31. ^ "The sorry truth is that the virus of anti-Semitism has infected the British Muslim community". New Statesman. 21 March 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  32. ^ Rachel Goddard-Bernstein "Debate: This House believes Islam is a religion of peace", Oxford Student [30 May 2013]
  33. ^ Tim Stanley "Mehdi Hasan, the Daily Mail, Ralph Miliband and the scary moral hypocrisy of the Left", telegraph.co,uk, 7 October 2013
  34. ^ a b c Mehdi Hasan "Being pro-life doesn’t make me any less of a lefty", New Statesman (blog), 11 October 2012. Hasan's two articles on the abortion debate were cross-posted at The Huffington Post.
  35. ^ Mehdi Hasan "10 things I learned from debating abortion on Twitter", New Statesman (blog), 16 October 2012
  36. ^ "Has pro-lifer Mehdi Hasan been victimised on Twitter?" The Independent (website), 16 October 2012
  37. ^ "Can the left be anti-abortion?" Today, BBC News, 16 October 2012. This website includes a link to the discussion.
  38. ^ Brendan O'Neill "Mehdi Hasan and his shrill critics have more in common than they are willing to admit", telegraph.co.uk, 17 October 2012
  39. ^ Diane Abbott "We Must Recognise That Real Women's Lives Are at Stake in All of This", The Huffington Post, 17 October 2012
  40. ^ Cristina Odone "Why won't feminists let men debate abortion?" telegraph.co.uk, 16 October 2012

External links