There was more than a tinge of déjà vu with the Prime Minister’s speech in Slovakia. Cameron’s infamous Munich speech was notable in that, at a time when the EDL were spewing their alcohol-slurred and cognitively impaired hatred of all things Muslim in the city of Luton, Cameron spoke of “core British values”, and the threat of “Islamist extremism”. If anything, Cameron’s words were taken as credence by the EDL.
Cameron’s latest comments, which now swaps “Islamist” for “Islamic”, come against the backdrop of a terrorist attack committed against black Church-goers by a young white supremacist in the US who wanted to start a civil war. The timing of the two incidents could not have been more coincidental. I will refer back to this later on in my piece.
“Chain of Causation”
Upon reading the words of David Cameron, one cannot help notice the striking semblance to Michael Gove’s book Celsius 7/7, which I have comprehensively dissected on this blog. Cameron reveals to us the process of radicalisation of those who wish to travel to Syria. It is certainly worth pointing out that, there will be those who have travelled to Syria, not to join ISIS, but to assist the civilians caught up in the strife and remove the injustices of the elephant in the room: Bashar al-Assad. However, Cameron’s personal “distress” at the numbers traveling to Syria fails to distinguish this intention. It also fails to explain why those traveling to fight ISIS, are not arrested, “with no clear chain of causation that leads someone to lose a sense of identity and then become fully radicalised” being discerned as it is in the Muslim context. In fact, Cameron’s distinct discriminatory attitude against Islam and Muslims and manifest contumely to their concerns of their co-religionists vis-à-vis the Ummah, is further accentuated with the fact that he continues to ignore the reality of radicalised Jewish Britons going to fight in an army which deliberately targets innocent civilians and blows up children on beaches.
But let’s actually take a look at his “chain of causation”. Cameron believes that Muslims who “buy into” aspects of the “critique of the west”, and believe in certain facets of Islam, which is shared ostensibly with the “extremist Islamic narrative”, are on the path to “murderous intent”. By sharing this narrative, Muslims are “quietly condoning” terrorism.
Gove’s Neoconservatism: An Attack on Islam
What does Cameron regard as “extremist Islamic”. Whilst his lurid language attempts to paint mainstream Islamic beliefs in the worst possible image by mixing them with exaggerations which conjure the caricaturisations trotted out by the Daily Fail, the fact remains that Islam, not “Islamist extremist” ideology, maintains that primacy of the Shari’ah (indeed it is the Shari’ah which orders its followers to obey the law of the land), prefers the establishment of the Caliphate, and regards homosexuality as a sin. (Ironically, Theresa May, when questioned on BBC radio 4 about “extremism” failed to categorise those who disagreed with gay marriage and regarded it as “damaging to society” as extremists – so which is it Cameron?)
Cameron has in fact postulated precisely what neoconservatism advocates about Islam. Michael Gove in his neoconservative manifesto, drafted under the watchful eye of the neocon/Zionist ideologues, and implemented by the likes of Quilliam, writes that the “Islamist belief system” comprises the “belief that Islamic law should govern human relations, that Western notions of equality between sexes are an offence against nature, that sovereignty belongs to Allah alone…”. In other words, “Islamist extremism” is Islam.
The challenge for Cameron will forever remain for him to apply the same construction of “extremism” to orthodox Jews living in Britain. The fact that the denotation is never applied to similar practises in Judaism, is telling of Cameron’s discriminatory attitude towards Islam.
The inspiration from Gove’s book does not end on the topic of Islam. The explicit mention of the “nation state” by Cameron is evidently textbook Gove-ian.
“Quietly Condoning…” Far-Right Terrorism?
As others have mentioned in their responses to Cameron’s conception of radicalisation, it is simply put, plain wrong. The brave, lone and perhaps the only sane voice in Parliament, Yasmin Qureshi MP said that Cameron had confused religious observance for “support for extremism”. She added,
“In Charleston you had a white man who went and killed nine black people in a church. I don’t hear anybody saying that the whole of the white population has to apologise for the action of one white man… So why is everyone else [having to apologise].”
The appropriate words were responded to by the Tory Peter Bone. His response was effectively whitewashing the far-right: “there is absolutely no-one in Britain who is condoning them.”
Let’s just pause here for a second. Above all the people, the Prime Minister of Britain has smeared the Muslim community by baselessly accusing it of condoning ISIS, despite replete and consistent disassociations with ISIS from across the theological spectrum of Islam, yet when the attack is consistently applied to the Prime Minister and his ilk, there is a firm rejection of such a notion. White people can possibly do no wrong. There is an automatic assumption that no one in Britain would agree with the terrorist attack in Charleston. However, if Nathan Worrell, Robert Cottage, Neil Lewington, Ian Forman, Michael Piggin, and Pavlo Lapshyn are anything to go by, Bone could not be more wrong.
Muslims though, are open season for smears, accusations, and inaccurate sweeping generalisations, by the Prime Minister no less. The statement is a perfect example of “white privilege”, a topic I covered in my previous blog on the Charleston terrorist attack. There is a “collective, implicit acceptance of whiteness as virtuous, normal unremarkable, and expected”, and this is no better demonstrated than the comments promulgated by Bone, Cameron and the rest of his fascist neocon retinue.
The reality is, a uniform application Cameron’s thesis and conclusion would render the Tory party and UKIP as “quiet condoners” of the Charleston terrorist attack. Cameron’s rhetoric towards immigrants had harshened considerably, due to his party’s pandering for the UKIP vote. In a study which examined the effects of Cameron’s campaign on immigration, which saw the deployment of vans instructing illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest”, it found that it a contributed to a “climate where seeing people of colour as potential immigrants and not belonging” and therefore it created a “new form of racism”.
Cameron and the rest of the right-wing undeniably “share a worldview” with far-right terrorists.
The far-right terrorist, Anders Breivik in his teenage years was linked to the anti-immigration right-wing populist Progress party. According to some experts, Breivik is an extreme manifestation of the conservative mindset. In other words, the right-wing rhetoric fermented what would become his extreme hate of Muslims, whom he wished forcefully deported.
Dylann Roof, the terrorist of Charleston, justified his killing to one of his victims thusly:
“…you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
Similar views are shared by government officials like William Shawcross, who classes “Islamic populations” as “one of the most terrifying problems of our future”. Neocon extremist Douglas Murray, who shaped Michael Gove’s thinking, and who’s Henry Jackson Society has influenced domestic and international security policy, is on record for having stated that “all immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop” and that “conditions for Muslims must be made harder across the board”.
By Cameron’s own logic, he and his neocon gang of white supremacists are “quietly condoning” far-right terrorism.
A Neocon State Protecting itself From Scrutiny
It is interesting to note that Cameron felt it necessary to address the issue of failures on the part of state institutions. He states that the “blame game” is wrong, explicitly highlighting “agencies or authorities” and that “it starts with the individual”.
Reducing it to the “individual” however absolves the government of its “agency” of actions which create contexts in which radicalisation can foster. As the historian (specialising in terrorism) Mark Sedgwick argues,
“The concept of radicalisation emphasizes the individual and, to some extent, the ideology and the group, and significantly deemphasizes the wider circumstances…”
Marc Sageman, the former CIA operations officer and counter-terrorism consultant, has moved away from radicalisation models which posit religious ideology as a significant factor in causing terrorism, concluding that there is “no such thing”. In fact, I would encourage the government to heed his advice:
“Some people when they’re young acquire extreme views; many of them just grow out of them. Do not overreact – you’ll just create worse problems.”
There is a more salient point to consider in Cameron’s words. This deliberate removal of status apparatus from blame creates a socio-psychological situation which may prevent scrutiny of state actions, even where there should be. Accountability of state institutions becomes more difficult with such allegations, with the assistance of a complicit media, being dismissed as merely “passing the buck”. Failings in government bodies or actions ultra vires must be highlighted and dealt with – this is part of democracy, no? The fact remains that in the security context, scrutiny is already dismally weak. As Clare Algar, executive director of legal charity Reprieve, said,
“From UK complicity in CIA torture to mass surveillance, the ISC has missed every major security-related scandal of the past 15 years”.
Cameron, who already regards questioning official government narratives as “extremism” is edging out the accountability of government bodies by effectively adding another layer of opacity to state actions. The question which needs to be asked is: are these the democratic principles Cameron so pompously trumpets?
Colonial Puppet: Manzoor Moghal
Dangling from the strings of neocon ventriloquists is Manzoor Moghal, the “prompt” who caused Cameron to utter is divisive words. Cameron is said to have been impressed by Moghal’s statements. Cameron no doubt would be; he provides the brown face of approval for Cameron’s failed policy. Moghal has said that “there is a climate of division” amongst some towns. For some reason, I doubt he was referring to Stamford Hill. He also added that Islamophobia, foreign policy and online propaganda were being used as “scapegoats”. “Extremism” flourishes by passing the buck and communities not effectively blaming themselves.
All these points have already been addressed – his comments are uniformed and detrimental to a genuine effort in dealing with radicalisation. The point of raising them here is to highlight his view immediately after Cameron’s Munich speech. He wrote at that time that,
“…the government should also feel obliged to review our foreign policies towards Muslim countries, which have been a very significant contributory factor in the radicalisation of Muslim youth both in Britain and in other parts of the world… Simply to suggest that the illegal war against Iraq and the offensive against Afghanistan were in the past and therefore we should learn to move on… is naïve and supercilious. The alarming drift in Britain and Europe to right-wing politics should be a matter of great concern for all those who espouse democracy, liberty and equality. This alarming trend needs to be checked, and we need people of political maturity to do so.
In 2001 riots following a cricket match involving “Asians”, Moghal blamed “yob culture”, and argued that they had assimilated the worst of English culture stating that, “they are following the norms of the youth culture of this country.” Moghal was not keen on facing up to his responsibilities back then.
Presumably this “passing the buck” is “wrongheaded” and “hypocritical” too.
By 2013, it seems he became sold on PREVENT narrative and the fad of attacking Islam and Muslims. Writing in the Daily Fail (of all papers) he describes “American foreign policy” and the “plight of the Palestinians” as part of “supposed victimhood”. Michael Gove, interestingly, gives the same examples when lamenting Western commentators for not focussing on ideology.
Like Cameron and Gove, he attacks the notion of a “Muslim Caliphate”, where apparently, according to Moghal (and following familiar neocon tropes), “there is no room for dissent or democracy, no space for compromise or conciliation.”
His views on Muslims and their rights is a further cause for concern. He has attacked Muslim faith schools for having an Islamic ethos in their policies, arguing that it is against “British traditions”, yet he ignores the fact that the historic British tradition has allowed other minorities, like the Orthodox Jewish community, to do exactly the same – yet they are not being blamed for being “superstitious and divisive”, or “imposing alien values” which “undermine harmony” – a conclusion he draws against Muslims.
He then attacks Shari’ah courts arguing that “such tribunals should not be allowed to operate. Muslims do not need separate judicial institutions.” In other words, the rights of Muslims to personally arbitrate according to Islamic law in civil matters, like the Beth Din Courts of Jewish community, which is protected by the Home Office from scrutiny, is to be restricted.
Echoing Michael Gove, who believes that people who wear religious clothing should be viewed through the lens of security, Moghal trots forth his disdain of the niqab saying that he “personally dislikes the growing fashion for wearing it”, dismissing the choice of those women who wear it. He also feeds the piece of fabric into the PREVENT discourse thus politicising a religious expression by saying that “nothing imposes that sense of alienation more powerfully than the full veil”.
Imposing his own view on women and their motivations (after complaining of other Muslims imposing their view) he proclaims that, “there is certainly no religious requirement to wear it” and that “crucially, to me, the veil is a highly politicised refutation of Western values”, bolstering the “us and them” narrative, which is crucial in linking it to radicalisation. It is good to know that this community leader has the concern of a minority (niqabi women), within a minority (women), within a minority (Muslim) at heart.
Placing legitimate Islamic viewpoints into the category of “fundamentalism”, he connects them to a terrorist attack in Nairobi as the “true face of Islamic fundamentalism” and argues that “we should never appease such a mentality”, thus reinforcing the stereotype which views traditional wear from the perspective of terrorism. His entire piece exactly fits the neoconservative narrative which pulsates through the books of neocons like Michael Gove and Douglas Murray: conflating the freedom of religion, with the terrorism discourse.
No wonder Cameron was so impressed with Moghal; not only does Moghal pedal their defunct radicalisation models, they share their joy in attacking Islamic beliefs and practices!
Let’s ignore the obvious discrimination against the Muslim minority in Cameron’s speech and the implication of Muslim-profiling it has. Cameron’s words in his Ramadan message were telling; he celebrated those Indian Muslims who were ordered to dismantle something central to their religious sentiments, the Ottoman Caliphate. Of course he failed to mention that the British would kill those Muslims who disobeyed their command and refused to kill their fellow Muslims. More pertinently, his message reveals his supremacist mentality. Those Muslims who bend to the will of the State and compromise their faith in pursuit of neocon aims, even if it is self-defeating, are the choice Muslims.
We know where this is heading. The human-rights violating Counter-Extremism Bill is a neocon fantasy which needs to be realised. Cue first the brown face of Mak Chishty, who set the ground for Cameron’s speech by suggesting that there was a need for “a move into the private space” of Muslims to spot radical Muslims, placing the responsibility of this on Muslim families. We then had serving of the PREVENT-supporting Manwar Ali, who comes from a circle which includes the Quilliam Foundation and the Henry Jackson Society, crying in a documentary about “British Jihad”, once again providing fodder for the flawed government narrative that dissonant men are radicalised by ideology. And now we have the fallacious arguments of a prejudiced anti-Muslim man being used to propel the neoconservative agenda via Cameron. The path to closed-society laws is evident.
The discourse of “extremism” is the backdoor by which the State is able to interfere with Muslims and their religion. Their policy of giving “Ramadan Mubarak” one day and attacking Islam, and smearing Muslims for being closet ISIS supporters the next, only reveals the reality of those in power: that it is lobby groups connected to the US and Israel which determine the treatment of the Muslim minority and not democratic engagement as forged by the will of the people being affected. Indeed beneath the blanked of security Muslims are forced to choose between an Islam which has been defined by charlatans who have absolutely no credibility in the Muslim minority of Britain, and therefore have entire tracts of their Islamic faith jettisoned, or to remain as they are and treated by the oppressive State as a pariah to be cornered and attacked.
The only outcome of such a policy is resentment and eventual failure.
 Gove writes, “our security depends crucially on a recognition of the vital importance of maintaining the nations state, as ideal and reality… [It] is central to Western thought and achievement…” Gove, M., Celsius 7/7, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2006, p.74
 Ibid. p.11