Hasan at a Labour conference in 2012
Mehdi Raza Hasan
July 1979 (age 39)
|Alma mater||University of Oxford|
|Organisation||Al Jazeera English, The Intercept|
|Ed: The Milibands and the making of a Labour leader|
|Television||The Café, Head To Head, UpFront|
Hasan is the co-author of a biography of Ed Miliband and the political editor of the UK version of The Huffington Post. He is the presenter of the Al Jazeera English shows: The Café, Head to Head and UpFront.
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, followed by Christ Church at the University of Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), and graduated in 2000.
Life and career
Hasan worked as a researcher and then producer on LWT's Jonathan Dimbleby programme, with a brief period in between on BBC1's The Politics Show. Following this, he became deputy executive producer on Sky's breakfast show Sunrise before moving to Channel 4 as their editor of news and current affairs. He was appointed senior editor (politics) at the New Statesman in late spring of 2009, where he stayed until May 2012, then becoming political director of The Huffington Post website.
Hasan became a presenter on Al Jazeera's English news channel in May 2012. Hasan has appeared (six times) on the BBC's Question Time programme, and the Sunday morning programmes The Big Questions and Sunday Morning Live.
In 2013, Hasan took part in a debate at the Oxford Union to consider whether Islam is a peaceful religion. Hasan vouched for Islam as a religion of peace, citing political and cultural reasons for violence in Muslim majority countries, as opposed to holding the religion of Islam responsible. In the vote on the motion, the house affirmed with Hasan and the other proposers that Islam is a religion of peace with 286 votes in favor and 168 votes against.
Recorded at the Oxford Union, Head to Head is a programme on Al Jazeera English in which Hasan interviews major public figures; it had run for three series by December 2014. Since 2015, working full-time for the network in Washington DC, Hasan has hosted a weekly interview and discussion programme.
Hasan began a podcast in 2018 entitled Deconstructed, which is featured on the investigative journal The Intercept. It considers recent news events covering topics ranging from police shooting, to inequality, to President Donald Trump activity on Twitter. The Podcast also has occasional guest star appearances, with his first podcast being with Bernie Sanders.
Views and opinions
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'.
A regular contributor to The Guardian, 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?" 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."
Hasan wrote an article in The Guardian in September 2011 condemning the Iranian regime for its proposed execution of an "apostate." "The death sentence given to Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran is an affront to universal moral values and a disservice to Muslims."
Islam and Muslims
Hasan, a Shia Muslim, has written articles about Islam and Muslims for the New Statesman and newspapers. "My Islamic faith is based on the principles of peace, moderation and mercy", he wrote in September 2012. While Muslims "have every right to be angry", such "anger, however, is not an excuse for extremism."
In April 2009, Hasan argued against the concept and idea of an Islamic state. 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."
In November 2009, Hasan wrote a column denouncing suicide bombing from an Islamic perspective. 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. 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."
In April 2012, Hasan wrote an article criticising British Muslims for being obsessed with foreign affairs and the anti-war movement. 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 2017 Westminster attack, Hasan wrote an article in The Intercept criticising what he referred to as the "common stereotype of the Middle Eastern, Muslim-born terrorist." He pointed out that the perpetrator of the attack, Khalid Masood, was born and raised in the United Kingdom and, therefore would not have been affected by any immigration ban. He also pointed out that Masood converted to Islam late in life and still had a history of criminality prior to his conversion. Hasan concluded, ergo, that while "a distorted, simplistic and politicized form of Islam" provided the justification for Masood's actions, the main motivation lied in "social networks and family ties; issues of identity and belonging; a sense of persecution; mental illness; socio-economic grievances; moral outrage over conflict and torture; a craving for glory and purpose, action and adventure." Hasan also referenced to a 2008 leaked report by researchers for MI5,[note 1] a 2010 Demos study,[note 2] and a 2016 Egmont study,[note 3] that came to similar conclusions "challeng[ing] the conventional... wisdom on the role of religion in the radicalization process."
Coverage in the media
Hasan stated that the media should be sanctioned for "dishonest, demonising press coverage" of Muslims and other minorities, stating: "I'm all in favour of free speech and the robust criticism of all religious beliefs. But it's the made-up stories and the smearing of individuals and whole communities that I have an issue with. Why isn't anti-Muslim bigotry as unacceptable in the press as anti-Jewish bigotry?".
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.
"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. 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." (He later regretted expressing himself in this way.) The article gained much attention on Twitter and Hasan debated the issue with Suzanne Moore on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.
Telegraph blogger Brendan O'Neill thought both Hasan and his pro-choice opponents shared the modern left's "instinct for paternalism" which contrasted, he asserted, with the pre-occupations of radicals a century ago, an era in which such figures, Hasan asserted, often opposed abortion. 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". Cristina Odone wrote: "There are some things no one is allowed to speak of – especially if they are men."
Hasan has made several statements in opposition to the Saudi government, including challenging a statement made by Donald Trump, in which he claimed that he himself had no financial interests in Saudi Arabia, an allegation which Trump called “fake news”. Hasan challenged Trump's statements in a video essay published by The Intercept in October 2018.
“It’s time we make clear that the West needs to cut its ties with Saudi Arabia, especially military ties, arms exports, weapons, bombs,”
The comments were made in response to the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly ordered by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Bin Salman, as well as several human rights violations which Hasan cited as also being carried out by Saudi Arabia. Hasan had previously interviewed Khashoggi about freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia.
2009 Islamic Unity Society sermon
During a sermon delivered in 2009, quoting a verse of 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."
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." Hasan returned to this issue in August 2012 following criticism from the columnist Peter Hitchens. 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".
- Hasan, Mehdi (20 May 2013). "As a Muslim, I struggle with the idea of homosexuality – but I oppose homophobia". NewStatesman. Archived from the original on 24 August 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
- Head to head – Will the internet set us free? Archived 4 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Al Jazeera English, 4 April 2014 (video, 47 mins), at 7:20 – 7:25 min
- "Mehdi Raza HASAN - Personal Appointments (free information from Companies House)". Archived from the original on 3 February 2017.
- "findmypast.co.uk". Archived from the original on 2 February 2017.
- "Mehdi Hasan". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2 April 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- "Mehdi Hasan – Profile". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- "Mehdi Hasan to host new weekly show on Al Jazeera" Archived 18 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Al Jazeera, 18 December 2014
- "OMTs". Merchant Taylors' School. Archived from the original on 29 April 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- "Question Time: as it happened 26th October". The Telegraph. 25 October 2012. Archived from the original on 29 October 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- "Mehdi Hasan joins HuffPo UK as political director" Archived 7 September 2012 at Archive.today, Press Gazette (website), 21 May 20123
- Dany Al Samad "New Statesman recruits Mehdi Hasan as senior editor (Politics)" Archived 9 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Journalism.co.uk
- "Mehdi Hasan joins Al Jazeera as host" Archived 11 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Al-Jazeera, 17 May 2012.
- On 13 May 2010, 23 September 2010, 10 February 2011, 8 December 2011, 25 October 2012 and 3 October 2013
- "The Big Questions". Archived from the original on 20 January 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- "Sunday Morning LIve". Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- Mehdi Hasan "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 March 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) New Statesman, 14 February 2013
- Mehdi Hasan Archived 1 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine contributor page, The Guardian website
- Mehdi Hasan "If you lived in Iran, wouldn't you want the nuclear bomb?" Archived 6 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian, 17 November 2011
- Mehdi Hasan "This brutality is not Islam" Archived 10 April 2017 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 30 September 2011
- Mehdi Hasan [@mehdirhasan] (20 November 2015). "To those who smear me an ISIS "apologist", let me point out that, as a Shia, I'm more likely to be killed by them than you are. So eff off" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017 – via Twitter.
- "Bahrain:Not my Problem?" - Mehdi Hasan's Speech. YouTube. 23 December 2011. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016.
- Mehdi Hasan and Ida Glaser "We could both be wrong about God: Introductions" Archived 8 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 30 March 2010
- Mehdi Hasan "Islam and blasphemy: Muhammad survived Dante’s Inferno. He’ll survive a YouTube clip Archived 24 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine, New Statesman, 27 September 2012
- Mehdi Hasan "'There's nothing Islamic about a state'" Archived 17 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine, New Statesman, 2 April 2009.
- Mehdi Hasan "Suicide attacks are un-Islamic" Archived 7 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, New Statesman, 5 November 2009
- Mehdi Hasan "Islam can do without Simon Cowell" Archived 1 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, New Statesman, 2 April 2010
- Mehdi Hasan "British Muslims must step outside this anti-war comfort zone" Archived 16 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 2 April 2012
- "The sorry truth is that the virus of anti-Semitism has infected the British Muslim community". New Statesman. 21 March 2013. Archived from the original on 23 March 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- Rachel Goddard-Bernstein "Debate: This House believes Islam is a religion of peace" Archived 23 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Oxford Student [30 May 2013]
- Hasan, Mehdi (29 March 2017). "You Shouldn't Blame Islam for Terrorism. Religion Isn't a Crucial Factor in Attacks". The Intercept. Archived from the original on 9 April 2017. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
- Williams, Oscar. (14 November 2014). "Mehdi Hasan: sanctions for 'dishonest, demonising press coverage' of Muslims". Archived 19 January 2017 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- Tim Stanley "Mehdi Hasan, the Daily Mail, Ralph Miliband and the scary moral hypocrisy of the Left" Archived 7 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, telegraph.co,uk, 7 October 2013
- Mehdi Hasan "Being pro-life doesn’t make me any less of a lefty", Archived 5 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine New Statesman (blog), 11 October 2012. Hasan's two articles on the abortion debate were cross-posted at The Huffington Post.
- Mehdi Hasan "10 things I learned from debating abortion on Twitter", Archived 18 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine New Statesman (blog), 16 October 2012
- "Has pro-lifer Mehdi Hasan been victimised on Twitter?" Archived 27 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine The Independent (website), 16 October 2012
- "Can the left be anti-abortion?" Archived 3 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine Today, BBC News, 16 October 2012. This website includes a link to the discussion.
- Brendan O'Neill "Mehdi Hasan and his shrill critics have more in common than they are willing to admit" Archived 26 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine, telegraph.co.uk, 17 October 2012
- Diane Abbott "We Must Recognise That Real Women's Lives Are at Stake in All of This", Archived 21 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine The Huffington Post, 17 October 2012
- Cristina Odone "Why won't feminists let men debate abortion?" Archived 29 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine telegraph.co.uk, 16 October 2012
- CNN, Kevin Liptak and Erica Orden. "No financial interests in Saudi Arabia? Trump has said differently before". CNN. Archived from the original on 20 February 2019. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
- Hasan, Mehdi (16 October 2018). "Does Saudi Arabia Own Donald Trump?". The Intercept. Archived from the original on 20 February 2019. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
- Şafak, Yeni. "'West needs to cut all ties with Saudi Arabia'". Yeni Şafak (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 20 February 2019. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
- "Mehdi Hasan argues that the West should cut ties with Saudi Arabia". Middle East Eye. Archived from the original on 20 February 2019. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
- "Khashoggi on life under MBS: 'Nobody dares to speak'". www.aljazeera.com. Archived from the original on 6 February 2019. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
- Islamic Unity Society "Arbaeen Majlis 2009 (Mehdi Hassan)" Archived 7 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Islamic Unity Society, 2009
- Peter Hitchens "Am I an 'animal', a 'cow' – or just another victim of BBC bias?" Archived 27 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine Mail on Suinday, 4 August 2012
- Mehdi Hasan "Who are you calling an Islamist?" Archived 23 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine New Statesman, 28 July 2009
- Mehdi Hasan "Anatomy of a Hitchens Hatchet Job", Archived 14 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine The Huffington Post, 5 August 2012
- "British Muslim Awards 2014 winners". Asian Image. 31 January 2014. Archived from the original on 22 November 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.