David Cameron, it seems, is on a mission to prove to the world that Britain is rapidly losing its humanity. And I am not just referring to Cameron’s frankly abhorrent reluctance in responding to the mounting refugee crisis to which Britain has a hand in due its unethical and ill-conceived foreign policy.
Cameron, who is hypocritically jostling “British values” like human rights and democracy down the throats of Muslims, is also set to host the racist Benjamin Netanyahu for talks this month. A petition which has already reached 100,000 seeks his arrest for war crimes due to the Gaza massacre of 2014.
Inviting a Despot
The neoconservative amorality does not stop here. The man whose regime is responsible for slaughtering unarmed protesters (there is that democratic marker again) and overseeing the mass execution of peaceful Muslim Brotherhood members under politically abused laws, was to set foot in Britain. David Cameron invited the despotic Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a day after the democratically elected Mohammed Morsi was sentenced to death. The irony could not be greater; an equal application of the PREVENT Strategy would see Theresa May banning his entry into Britain on the basis of his violent “extremism” (i.e. active opposition to democracy, human rights and rule of law); Cameron meanwhile would be referred to the Channel deradicalisation programme for, at the very least, being vulnerable to radicalisation.
Whilst the Home Office dithered upon whether Sisi was still visiting Britain, the very fact that Cameron felt comfortable inviting a dictator speaks volumes about their synergy. A synergy which is not limited only to diplomatic invites on each other’s terrain but one which permeates through their policies also, especially upon matters connected to all things Islam and Muslims. Peter Oborne briefly alluded to this in June when he wrote,
“It is important, however, to understand that there is a strong and direct link between David Cameron’s invitation to President Sisi to visit Britain and his rebuke to British Muslims. Both announcements were essentially attacks on political Islam.”
A closer analysis reveals that their policies demonstrate a remarkable congruency differing in perhaps the level bluntness and flagrancy.
Most notable is the “intensified” relationship Sisi has forged with Israel, which exceeds his autocratic predecessor Hosni Mubarak’s rule. Their cooperation has been such that three days prior to the military coup displacing Morsi, Sisi informed Israel of his plans and even advised Israel to destroy the tunnels in Gaza. Israel in turn, propping its puppet, called on the US to maintain its troops in Sinai, fearing an imminent collapse of the regime which would jeopardise their “security cooperation”. A recent report by the Jerusalem Post notes that Israel-Egypt ties have “never been better”, specifically due to the security cooperation. Beyond this, both the Zionist and Egyptian regimes see the Muslim Brotherhood as a systemic threat to their interests.
Britain’s relationship with the Zionist entity has never been better either, with Cameron regularly reminding us that he is a “friend of Israel” who is prepared to whitewash Zionist massacre premised on false pretexts as “self-defence”. Last year, during the Gaza massacre, it was revealed that arms export licences worth £42m were granted to 130 British defence manufacturers since 2010 to sell military equipment to Israel. Snowden leaks further indicated to a trilateral agreement between the NSA, GCHQ and IDF’s signal intelligence unit.
In the context of the contemporary Muslim Brotherhood, Britain’s treatment of this peaceful and democratic organisation is to subsume it into the discourse of terrorism and “extremism”. Early last year, Cameron had ordered an investigation into the Brotherhood with the possibility of it being banned in Britain. Cameron’s statements upon announcing the inquiry were inquisitive, however, a look at his influencers, like Michael Gove, reveal their own outlook. The Muslim Association of Britain, for instance, is not “moderate”, because “it is the UK branch of the Muslim Brotherhood” (Celsius 7/7, p. 96). The neo-fascist neoconservative hate preacher, Douglas Murray – associate director of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society which influences Westminster’s security policies – similarly regards the Brotherhood as “Islamic fascists”.
For Sisi, the Brotherhood constitutes an existential threat to his power hence the group has been declared a terrorist organisation whilst it members, including the deposed President Morsi have been sentenced to death through kangaroo courts en masse.
A State-sanction Islam
Sisi’s regime has been thoroughly exploiting the pretext of “combating religious extremism and terrorism” to pursue a policy which allows the State to stifle the only dissident opponent through the imposition of a “legitimate Islam”. Sisi has been waging what has been described as a “crusade” against extremism in which the State has been exerting greater control over mosques. Thousands of mosques have been shut down under. Imams not certified by the State have been prohibited to disseminate Islamic teachings. With the appointment of the Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb at Al-Azhar University, teachings have been sharply narrowed in order to conform with the State’s vision of “moderate Islam”, in the process “folding Al-Azhar… into its web of ministries and administrations.” In a recent report, a scholar had been barred by the deputy of the Ministry of Religious Endowments, Sheikh Mohammed Abdel Rizaq. In a statement to the press he stated,
“We will not give breathing space to anyone who wants to speak about affairs that disrupt the country’s stability.”
The Egyptian State, under Sisi, has also been taking advantage of “ambiguous laws” around the regulation of religion making it prone to political exploitation and curtailment of religious freedoms.
Turning to the counter-extremism policy under the Cameron government, the similarities between Sisi’s policies and Cameron’s are startling. The pretext of countering extremism has been used to propose measures which violate the much vaunted free speech (by banning “extremist” Muslim speakers and groups), freedom of religion and freedom to congregate (through closure orders which target “extremist” mosques). And just like Egypt’s expedient use of ambiguous laws, the British government utilises loose terms like “extremist” and “Islamist” to castigate mainly Muslims, targeting disparate aspects of thought from beliefs founded in orthodox Islamic teachings to political viewpoints which oppose Zionist and neoconservative political narratives. Even arguments against the “extremism” measures are being suppressed through the appellation of “extremist”. Commenting on these measures, Theresa May echoed the Egyptian deputy minister for religious endowments stating that these measures were designed to target those groups who “undermine democracy”.
This soft despotism is expansive thanks to the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015, which effectively enshrines the PREVENT Strategy in law and mandates enforcement of prevention of “extremism” upon all public bodies, and the upcoming Counter-Extremism Bill (see here also). In this manner, political targeting of Muslims is not limited to just scholars, activists and mosques, but other public sectors. The impact has already been felt among charities, schools and even the financial sector (see here and here).
And as Sisi is forging a “new Islam” through scholars and religious institutions, Cameron too has donned the garb of a Mufti and has told Muslims which beliefs they should not believe in. In his ignominious Birmingham speech, Cameron, whilst classifying mainstream Islamic beliefs and practices as “extremist”, explicitly stated that,
“We’re now going to actively encourage the reforming and moderate Muslim voices.”
The policy has now been set up to encourage a “Quilliam Islam”: one eviscerated of it Islamic essence, eschewing mainstream practices, and compliant with neoconservative and Zionist interests. Private Islamic schools have also been threatened with coerced PREVENT regulation. Last year, Michael Gove proposed that Islamic schools (exclusively) signed up to a code of conduct that would require the implementation of a standardised syllabus which would be “supportive of the government’s preventing-extremism strategy”.
Both Cameron and Sisi evidently share more than a passing similarity when it comes to targeting Islam and Muslims.
Secret courts have been operating in the UK for some time. Controversially, the Justice and Security Act 2013 allowed the government to show “secret evidence” to the judge, excluding the public, media and more fundamentally, the claimants, from accessing it. The recent case of Erol Incedal sheds further light on the nature of secret courts. Theresa May and William Hague issued ministerial certificates supporting an unprecedented move: for the case to be heard entirely in secret. The resultant assent of the request by the trial judge was denounced by MPs and civil rights groups, and made the subject of a court case. At the Court of Appeal it was held that select journalists would be invited to hear the bulk of the trial, albeit with stifling restrictions imposed. Incedal was acquitted of terrorism charges, however the “core information” which resulted in this outcome, and which presumably would have embarrassed the state, is shrouded in secrecy and the subject of reporting restrictions.
And Sisi? Some two months after the above case, he approved an anti-terrorism law establishing secret courts.
In yet another “anti-terror” law, Sisi has targeted journalists for “false” reporting in Egypt, clearly aimed at protecting the state. Although it could be argued that this level of insanity has yet to be unleashed by nihilist, power hungry neocons here in Britain, GCHQ is already reported to have intercepted journalistic communications. UK intelligence documents revealed by Snowden also show that a GCHQ information security assessment listed “investigative journalists” as a threat in a hierarchy alongside terrorists/hackers. The slippery slope towards Egyptian levels of authoritarianism was recently noted in an Index on Censorship piece:
“Tobias Ellwood, the UK Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, said he was, “deeply concerned by the sentences handed down” against the journalists in Egypt. But what should also be concerning us is how easily that could happen in the UK as the government seeks ever broader powers, and definitions of terrorism that uses language little different to that being used to charge journalists like those of Vice News and Al Jazeera.”
The capacity in Britain for a caged “free press” is certainly there.
What is the Connection?
The parallels between the Sisi and British government’s narratives, policies and laws raise pointed questions. Where is “democratic” Britain heading? Is there security cooperation between the UK and Egypt? Is the UK advising Sisi’s government? Indeed, what is the connection?
The “Heir to Blair”
One cannot help but notice that Tony Blair is the one individual under whom the attrition of human rights and draconian counter-terrorism and neoconservative policies similarly bloomed. In fact, as espoused in a detailed series of blogs, his views are in perfect harmony with what has been thus far expounded. Additionally, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation has been funded by the California-based Milken Family Foundation, an organisation which has financed the usual coterie of Zionist/neoconservative initiatives, from illegal Zionist settlements in Palestine, to virulent anti-Muslim and Islamophobic organisations. He is “the original neocon”.
This mind-set has been advising Cameron for some time. Cameron, clearly showing his admiration for the vile man, once claimed he was the “heir to Blair”. In 2011, it was reported that the two men had discussed the Palestinian bid to be recognised by the United Nations as a full member over the phone and at Cameron’s residence. In 2013, it emerged that Cameron was taking advice from Blair about waging a “new war on terror” in North Africa, and the renewed threat from al-Qa’ida affiliates in Algeria, Libya and Mali. Shedding further light, Peter Oborne recently wrote that,
“Mr Cameron regularly seeks advice from Tony Blair. Mr Blair was one of the circle of advisors urging David Cameron to bomb Libya. In foreign policy terms, David Cameron should indeed be seen as a protege of the former prime minister. Both men have been steadfast supporters of the Gulf dictatorships and of Netanyahu’s Israel, and both men are unbendingly hostile to democratic movements within Islam, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Moving to Egypt, reports in July last year revealed that Blair was advising Sisi on “economic reform” and how to “polish up his image”. According to Seumas Milnes, a former political associate of Blair said that, “Blair has become Sisi’s éminence grise [advisor behind the scenes] and is working on the economic plan that the UAE is paying for. For him, it combines both an existential battle against Islamism and mouth-watering business opportunities in return for the kind of persuasive advocacy he provided George Bush over Iraq.” The effect of Blair’s role was that he was nourishing a dictator’s brutal crackdown through counter-terrorism measures.
“It is massively to our advantage that President Sisi succeeds. We should help him.”
Cameron’s invitation of a mass-murdering dictator that is Sisi was not incidental; it was meant to be a meeting of similar minds. Both of their “éminence grise” is another individual responsible for propounding similar unethical, undemocratic foreign and domestic policies. With Blair priming both Sisi and Cameron, is there any surprise that we are witnessing an eerie congruency between their policies?
If anything, the above raises more questions than answers. The connection between the UK and Sisi’s regime demands greater transparency and scrutiny. The extent of Britain’s involvement in strengthening blood-soaked hands needs to be determined.