Muslim activists being arrested, Muslim-hunting Government Strategies, anti-Muslim Home Secretaries and a hyperactive anti-Muslim neocon media machinery, the climate of hype and hate against Islam and Muslims is certainly still peaking. The arrest of Moazzam Begg is sending a message to the Muslims. The Muslim minority reaction is not one of being slapped on the wrist and cowering in hiding, but rather it is of increased fervour to fight this discriminatory injustice.
The Muslim leaders and Imams have always maintained that Muslims are open to dialogue, discussion and legitimate criticism. The issue is when the “discussions” become dominated by secularist or neocon narratives, end without legitimate conclusion, and at the expense of a minority, become policy and eventually law. This has happened with the PREVENT strategy, the recent private members bill banning the Niqab, the calls to ban animal slaughter and of course the arrest of Moazzam Begg. In this regard, the UK Government has failed the Muslim minority.
The other dimension however is the public effect of stirring up anti-Muslim hatred. Recently Legoland Windsor was hired out by Muslim Research and Development Foundation, a Muslim organisation dedicated to contributing to the British landscape through a classically Islamic paradigm. MRDF had organised a peaceful, family-orientated fun day with the purpose to bring families and communities from Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds together. This is a pertinent point. The event was open to all faiths and none. According to the press statement, 4000 people had already purchased their tickets. This event was cancelled:
“During the last few weeks leading up to the event, several right-wing groups including the EDL and Casuals United along with others threatened both the visitors and employees of LEGOLAND in relation to this planned event. They threatened staff at LEGOLAND, staff at MRDF and aimed to disrupt families on the day of the event.
Together with these threats, publication of several articles in the national press helped fuel further hatred and resentment towards the event resulting in further negative impact on the security of the event.”
Johnlittle’s bigoted hate-speech article provided the catalyst to this inevitable outcome, but according to MRDF sources, right-wing groups such as EDL were already harassing MRDF and Legoland. This campaign of terror by white, right-wing racist terrorists manifested itself online on the social media networks. These included calls to blow up families and children. Facebook user Lisa Swift made a comment on Facebook saying that:
“When its full in there we can blow lego land up, or is that just them who are allowed to do that”
You can view further comments made her calling for mosques to be blown up when they are full in the screen capture.
Another user, Lee Fieldhouse created a Facebook account on the 27th of January 2014 and said,
“March 9th sounds like a good day to drop a bomb on legoland”
As a result of this and more Legoland had to close their resort on the 8th and 9th of March 2014. A Muslim Legoland employee had also been harassed by right-wing extremists associated with the EDL and the neo-Nazi Casuals United. Legoland admirably expressed the reality of the situation in the media:
“Sadly it is our belief that deliberate misinformation fuelled by a small group with a clear agenda was designed expressly to achieve this outcome.”
In other words, it was a carefully architected plan to demonise and violate the rights of the Muslim minority. Rights such as those articulated in Article 27 of the ICCPR guaranteeing minorities the right to enjoy their culture and Article 22 which ensures the freedom to assemble and associate.
Due to the actions of the EDL and Casuals United, a few points can be deduced.
The first is that the right-wing extremists such as Casuals United and the EDL have had nowhere near the level of media coverage they ought to have had based upon their threats. Had those comments been made by Muslims, several raids would have been made, media would have been pre-warned and a media storm generated blaming Islam and forcing Muslim community leaders to apologise for the yet-to-be sentenced individuals. Instead all we see is a few arrests made by Thames Valley Police and no further details furnished regarding their targets. Whatever mention is made, their religious beliefs and clearly “extremist” Christian motivations are not alluded to. Based upon this treatment alone, it constitutes a clear Muslim minority discrimination.
Secondly, the hyperbolic anti-Muslim right-wing media targeting is now resulting in violence and a restriction of the rights of Muslims in Britain. The fact that despite complaints to the toothless PCC regarding the many inaccuracies and outright bigotry in reports pertaining to Muslims figures and activities and the condemnation from Muslim organisations and individuals, the government is not taking this matter seriously. No Bill is being proposed by any party to explicitly protect discrimination based on Islam as they have proposed regarding soldiers, no House of Commons debate is taking place with the same speed of other Islam-restricting motions, no PREVENT strategy is being devised to deal with “Christian Extremism” and no weigh-ins are being made by David Cameron similar to how he commented on the sex-separation issue, condemning this form of terrorism by Christian violent extremists. The UK Government’s response has virtually been non-existent in this regard and most certainly has not been encouraged or advocated by the media. This treatment of the Muslim minority violates principles of non-discrimination based upon religious beliefs. The Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, (UN Doc A/Res/47/135, 18 December 1988) Article 2(1) states,
Persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities… have the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, and to use their own language, in private and in public, freely and without interference or any form of discrimination
Thirdly, the Police have failed the Muslim minority. It is a norm of international law for authorities to provide safety and security for minorities where there is a threat to them. The Forum on minority Issues which has been authorised by the United Nations Human Rights Council, in its recommendations discussed in the Sixth session of the Forum on minority Issues on “Beyond freedom of religion or belief: Guaranteeing the rights of religious minorities”, (A/HRC/FMI/2013/3, 26–27, November 2013), stated,
Preventive measures should be taken against acts of violence directed against persons or religious sites belonging to religious minorities. In situations of extreme risk, appropriate preventive measures should be rapidly deployed by law enforcement bodies and adapted as the situation evolves. States should take all necessary measures to ensure protection for and prevent attacks and violence against advocates for religious minorities’ rights and those who fulfil leadership or community roles and may be at greater risk of violence
Where there are situations of extreme risk, as was the case for MRDF and Legoland, the police should have ensured that Muslim minority rights were safely enjoyed by instilling confidence in Legoland and attendees regarding their safety. Instead sources in MRDF suggested that the police refused to provide the necessary security to ensure the safety of the families attending. This has led to the rights of the Muslim minority being violated and the abovementioned recommendation regarding preventative measures established for acts of violence against a minority not being met.
In fact it may be the case that the authorities acted in the opposite manner. There have been confirmed reports that counter-terrorism PREVENT officers attempted to dissuade Muslims and activists from attending the Moazzam Begg protest through intimidation, lies and harassment. They even felt their presence known to activists in an unashamed manner on Facebook.
If this is the behaviour of the PREVENT officers in this scenario then it is plausible that pressure on Legoland may have been exerted by PREVENT in a similar fashion. If this is true, then this will further solidify the notion of institutionalised minority discrimination in Britain and destroy trust relationships between the Muslim minority and the law enforcement authorities.
The above analysis provides for a dark and bleak picture. In all this it has to be highlighted that the Muslim minority were not the only victims in this farce. Legoland have been bullied, harassed and forced to suffer substantial financial losses as a direct result of an architected crusade. The right-wing were able to exert their delusional and distorted falsities through threats of violence and acrimonious acts, the media thanks to Daily Mail et al, and through discriminatory governmental and enforcement responses.
The UK Government has failed the Muslim minority.