O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful. (Al-Qur’an, 49:6)
In Islam we have a clear principle when we receive news. The above verse of the Qur’an outlines this principle. The exegetes of the Qur’an have indicated that the application of this verse is in the general, therefore it is applicable in the case of anyone bringing you news. The watermark of veracity increases the more questionable the individual is.
Which bring us to a particularly notorious individual who claims to be a journalist: Andrew Gilligan. Gilligan was a true journalist once upon a time, underscoring the necessity of the free press. He exposed the “sexing up” of the dossier which led to the Iraq invasion.
In recent years however, he has attacked the Muslim minority in any way he can. The tactics employed include distorting the facts of a report, and compulsively lying (there is so much on this guy I have just linked a search for “Andrew Gilligan” on the Islamophobia Watch website, here) and making unsubstantiated claims which are proven wrong. When he was supporting Boris Johnson in his campaign to become the mayor of London, he was caught “sockpuppeting” a cyber-practice where an author of a post poses as someone else and posts comments in support of the post.
How far has he fallen off his mantle of integrity. And how focussed is his obsession in demonising the Muslim minority.
His “work” has clearly been appreciated by the neocon pedallers. Douglas Murray has quoted his (distorted) articles, and twisted programs in support of his vitriolic and highly offensive narrative on the Muslim minority of Britain. Robert Spencer, the Muslim-hater of the highest order, has also praised Gilligan’s “journalism”.
The motive for all his work against the Muslim minority is in line with the neoconservative narrative which has been steadily pumped into the government and its propaganda machine, the right-wing media. To understand his extreme bias and the work he is thus supporting we need to look at how insidious neoconservatism is.
The main proponent of neoconservatism in Britain is Douglas Murray who has claimed in his book on neoconservatism that,
“Islam is a proselytising faith, and one that is incompatible with British history, British law, and British society. With nearly two million Muslims currently living within Britain’s borders, no risk whatsoever should be taken… Britain must start implementing its response. For we have allowed the Straussian-nightmare end point of relativism to arrive… Our only reaction to this situation is not to allow our tolerance to destroy us – we must not allow tolerance to prove the Achilles heel of our freedom. To defend our tolerance we must be intolerant to those who oppose us, even when we express tolerance. We must not tolerate them” (Douglas Murray, Neoconservatism: Why we need it (2005) p160).
His inspiration comes from the authoritarian, major philosophical adversary of Liberalism and the father of neoconservatism, Leo Strauss. Straussian political philosophy has some noteworthy positions. Shadia Drury is a Canadian academic and political commentator and is also the author of The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss. The following excerpts from her book show the real Struassian, neoconservative threat to British values:
“…of Strauss’s ancients has to do with their insistence on the need for secrecy and the necessity of lies. In his book Persecution and the Art of Writing, Strauss outlines why secrecy is necessary. He argues that the wise must conceal their views for two reasons – to spare the people’s feelings and to protect the elite from possible reprisals. The people will not be happy to learn that there is only one natural right – the right of the superior to rule over the inferior, the master over the slave, the husband over the wife, and the wise few over the vulgar many.”
“Strauss endorsed Machiavellian tactics in politics – not just lies and manipulation of public opinion, but every manner of unscrupulous conduct necessary to keep the masses in a state of heightened alert, afraid for their lives and their families, and therefore willing to sacrifice themselves for the nation. For Strauss as for Machiavelli, only the constant threat of a common enemy can save people from becoming soft, pampered, and depraved. And if no enemy can be found, one must be invented.”(Drury, 2003) [Emphasis added]
According to Drury, “Perpetual war, not perpetual peace, is what Straussians believe in,” and that this translates into “aggressive, belligerent foreign policy,” which is existent in the neoconservatives and visible in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, Cameron’s calls to “intervene” in Libya and the latest support being afforded to Bashar Al-Asad with Britain essentially criminalising humanitarian aid work for Syria.
With regards to liberalism,
“They [the neocons] really have no use for liberalism and democracy, but they’re conquering the world in the name of liberalism and democracy,”
There is much more that can be discussed but for now this will suffice.
This brings us to Gilligan’s latest “revelations”. The notion of the “Jihadist” plot to take over Birmingham’s schools, after a robust reply from Tahir Alam and the materialisation of the fact it was a fabrication highlighted that certain strands in Britain are trying stoke the flames against Islam and the Muslim minority. This incidentally also castes doubt on Gilligan’s “sexed-up” version (a bit like the Iraq dossier he exposed years ago) of events. And it seems now that Gilligan has resorted to the need to reinforce this hoax story. In his latest report he deflects the fact that the plot had been fabricated and proceeds to quote Whatsapp messages between Muslim teachers discussing topics which reinforce the “Jihadist” plot hyperbole. He highlights Al-Hijra in particular, probably because of his obsession with Tahir Alam, as being inadequate. Will be we see Gilligan going to the same lengths to expose the state of Jewish schools in Stamford Hill, which have also been ranked as inadequate and have raised concerns over corporal punishment being practised on children? Of course not as it does not fit the neocon narrative.
As a Muslim, my principle is as per the opening verse. After an analysis of Gilligan’s journalistic endeavours which highlights lies, lack of integrity, extreme bias all in support of a neoconservative narrative which embeds within it secrecy, deception and manufacturing of an enemy to maintain control of public opinion and to perpetuate wars, it leads me to view this report with very legitimate doubt. Could it be that Gilligan is taking sockpuppeting to a whole new level? He has seemed to have indulged in a lesser form before. Could it be that he has created the Whatsapp group himself and posted messages in the group to create is story? I cannot say. It is as wild as his claims in the report.