I have been avoiding the “burkini” debacle for a while as I have posted on the topic of veiling and the French colonialist fetish for denuding women before. But as France continues to embarrass itself by bullying women into stripping in a public spectacle, red herrings about Islam, women and “morality” have dominated the discourse. The aim of these discourses is not protecting women from such harassment, but undermining the very tenets of Islam.
The French comedy-cum-horror show reached a head with the now familiar image of a woman being forced by four courageous male police officers to remove her “burkini”. Reports state that her daughter cried and bystanders cheered. In perhaps what is the most perverse of ironies, the 34-year-old woman was fined for not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism”. Good morality, the implication is, baring all – a point I will explore further below in my discussion on morality.
Last week, Nice’s deputy mayor described the “burkini” as a “provocation from Islamists”. The hypocrisy of the French mayor requires little attention; Muslims are frequently lectured about the freedom to offend. Perhaps the deputy mayor should attend them instead.
The Home Affairs Select Committee report on counter extremism (“Radicalisation: the counter-narrative and identifying the tipping point”) was never meant to be more than a theatrical designed to stem the gaining momentum tearing apart Britain’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) agenda. The momentum against PREVENT, constituted of Muslims on the ground, countless academics and a number of unions required arresting. The tactic was to take control of this spiralling situation through a “review” where there is token acceptance of issues that are then carefully spun away and the course set upon by neoconservatives in collectively punishing the Muslim psyche through the neo-imperialist CVE project is resumed.
The evidence for the effort to maintain the course of PREVENT is evident from the way the review was framed:
“Our concern was that families and communities were being deeply affected by recruitment of young men and women to fight in Iraq and Syria. We therefore decided to examine the Government’s strategy for tackling extremism to assess whether it is effective and reaches the members of society who are most vulnerable to radicalisation.”
Implicit within the above statement is the focus on the singular “pathway” to political violence: “extremism”. When the report’s author aver that they sought to examine the “major drivers of, and risk factors for recruitment to terrorist movements” – this analysis is firmly limited to the dominant pro-Israel/neoconservative-designed lens of ideology and extremism.
The below comments by CAGE on the Home Affairs Select committee report on PREVENT make for an imperative read. I will be posting my thoughts on this soon too.
The Home Affairs Select Committee report into radicalisation has rightly recognised the toxicity of PREVENT. Yet, instead of scrapping the failed policy, it only proposes a rebranded version of it, named ENGAGE. This programme seeks to implicate community organisations in order to gain a veneer of credibility, while the underpinning premises of PREVENT are left firmly intact.
It is an attempt to force the Muslim community to take ownership of the problem of political violence, while at the same time reinforcing the good Muslim, bad Muslim dichotomy, with the government’s overarching narrative as the determining factor. Ironically, the report refers to and quotes non-independent organisations who are state sponsored as outlined in our report “We are Completely Independent”, and gives them a semblance of legitimacy.
Reading from the blog: Sykes-Picot: A Century of Conspiratorial, Fatal Games
CROSSPOST: Professor Kamel Hawwash
The Balfour Declaration is a letter from the then British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The critical part of this short letter said: “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
This was a prime example of colonial arrogance by which Britain, which was not then in occupation of Palestine, promised the Zionist Federation, which did not represent all Jews, without the consent of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine, the Palestinians, to facilitate the creation of a homeland for Jews in Palestine. The letter was dated 2 November 1917.
The case of Muhyiddin Mire, the mentally ill knife attacker who tried to kill Lyle Zimmerman at Leytonstone tube station in December last year has been treated in a manner that would suggest Mire was a committed and hardened ‘extremist’. This demonstrates a worrying trend where the media all to readily classify acts of violence committed by Muslims as ‘Islamic extremism’. Not only does this add to the fear-charged climate of Islamophobia, but it also acts to further existing cycles of violence.
It has been well established that Mire had suffered from paranoid delusions and had missed an appointment with a community mental health team four days before the incident. Nonetheless, the Daily Mail recently led with the headline “Jihadi Attacker” and infused the headline with numerous Islamic references. Other papers lead with “ISIS attacker” and references to his apparent religiosity were made.
CROSSPOST: Professor Arun Kundnani
In Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Democratic Party seems to have found the perfect counter to Donald Trump. Since Trump proposed banning Muslims from the US, his campaign has sought to exploit the fear that Muslims are dangerous and disloyal. But who could think that of the patriotic, constitution-waving Khans, whose son died fighting for the U.S.?
Trump suggested that Ghazala Khan did not speak for Islamic reasons. But this backfired and the episode appears to have hurt him in the polls. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton has been able to establish herself as the candidate of tolerance and liberal progress.
But take a closer look and things are not that straightforward. It is easy to lose sight of why the Khans lost their son in the first place. Humayun Khan died fighting in the illegal war in Iraq, which was launched on the basis of Islamophobic lies, and supported by Hillary Clinton, as senator for New York.
“The colonialist administration invested great sums in this combat. After it had posited that the woman constituted the pivot of Algerian society, all efforts were made to obtain control over her.”
“This woman who sees without being seen frustrates the coloniser”
~ Frantz Fanon
The Cannes ban on the Hijab/full body suits, where politically expedient, theologised, metaphysical ideas tangibly trump a Muslim woman’s ability to attend the beach, presents yet another example of the much vaunted “tolerance” born from “secular indifference to religion”, usually postulated as an argument against Islam.
The ban is blatantly premised on reductionist, culturalist logic (“ostentatious displays of religious affiliation” referring to “an allegiance to terrorist movements” is a colonialist trope used to justify repression against a people). It is clearly discriminatory against the Muslim minority, conflicting with the ideas it seeks to protect; one can really insufflate the freedom, liberty and neutrality of religion in the French official’s words.