Legislative hunting season has started. Predictably the neocons are disseminating their versions of “truth” whilst the churnalistic media regurgitate what they have to say without much of challenge to the claims being made.
With the onset of the Counter-Extremism Bill, a press release was issued by the government on the 17th of September announcing, as part of the neoconservative “One-Nation” Toryism (a euphemism for war and the creation of a “closed society”), a new duty to stop extremists radicalising students on campuses. This duty came into force on the 21st of September 2015. It will ensure that “extremists” espousing “extremist views” would not go unchallenged and that staff are thoroughly brainwashed and bathed in the neoconservative counter-extremism discourse so that they may be able to protect students from “poisonous and pernicious ideas”. Offering some hot chocolate with an arm of comfort around the shoulders of the circa 280 academics, lawyers and public figures who slammed the counter-extremism strategy (PREVENT) and the assumptions which underpin them, Cameron stated that,
“It is not about oppressing free speech or stifling academic freedom, it is about making sure that radical views and ideas are not given the oxygen they need to flourish.”
This is the “guided” liberalism of Cameron as opposed to the university leaders’ “misguided liberalism” condemned in his Birmingham speech. By reconstituting human rights-violating measures into a “duty to protect”, the central objections to such measures are somehow magically meant to disappear. Even the establishment “independent reviewer” of terrorism laws David Anderson QC said,
“These issues matter because they concern the scope of UK discrimination, hate speech and public order laws, the limit that the state may place on some of our most basic freedoms, the proper limits of surveillance, and the acceptability of imposing suppressive measures without the protections of the criminal law…”
Putting it in slightly less diplomatic terms, Cameron and his neocon cabal are riding rough-shod over the principle of non-discrimination, free speech and freedom of belief on the basis of views that he and his nihilist neocons deem unacceptable.
Government or Quilliam/Henry Jackson Society Press Release?
The press release itself has all the hallmarks of the “think-tanks” which act as enablers for neocons in government. The government has clearly taken a position Maajid Nawaz has been articulating for some time (see here, here and here) and which can be found in Quilliam’s review of the counter-extremism policy. In summary, aspects of Islam which are incoherent with the liberal status quo are not to be made illegal, because that would be difficult for pseudo-liberals to publically endorse given the central thesis of a liberal democracy is freedom to choose, which includes one’s way of life, with minimal interference from the state. Rather, such beliefs and practices are to be categorised as “extremist”, made taboo or a “social ill” like racism, and excised from civil society. I’ll overlook the irony of a structurally discriminatory state implementing a strategy which synonymises racism with political and social philosophies. Muslims with orthodox Islamic beliefs such as the belief in an alternative system of governance, are to be discriminated against as part of the “counter-entryism” policy; they are to be prevented from taking various government posts such as the DCLG (see report p.23). Cameron and his neocon advisors have adopted this “illiberal” tabooing strategy and proceeded to “name and shame” extremists. Pressure has also been put on universities as they too are publically named. The result for adopting a view alternate to the government’s extremist version of secular liberalism, is potentially loss of reputation, stress and pecuniary losses following from litigation. Freedom from discrimination based on beliefs, however neocons dress it, is absolute and applies to the civil sector.
“Extremism”, Rule of Law and Discrimination
It is worth noting that in determining an extremist, the “Extremism Analysis Unit” (EAU) has adopted the PREVENT Strategy definition of “extremism”. Whilst the duty to safeguard against extremism has been statutorily enforced, the precise implementation of the counter-extremism strategy has yet to be thoroughly debated. This definition, having been secretly and extra-judicially applied to Muslims since 2011, has not progressed through a democratic process. Neither is the procedure overseen by a body or the judiciary. Furthermore, there is no clear way of challenging the ascription of “extremism” with the only route to recompense being an increasingly costly judicial review. Despite these gaping problems, in addition to the broad spread criticism/rejection of PREVENT from the parts of the police (see here and here), and academics specialising in education (here), sociology (see here), and counter-terrorism, the government has gone ahead and publically labelled individuals based upon this extra-legal policy. In other words, rule of law is not applicable to Muslims as they are punished without having committed a crime. To reinforce the discriminatory nature of PREVENT all those called out by the government in their press release are Muslim.
The names mentioned give an indication to who is exactly in control of the cold war era “Ministry of Truth” now renamed as the “Extremism Analysis Unit”.
The Henry Jackson Society
The bigoted, anti-Muslim Henry Jackson Society seems to be driving the discourse and indeed the decisions in determining the Muslims to be targeted. A month ago I wrote a detailed piece on a report published by HJS, which was propagated by its arm, the discredited and student-rejected Student Rights organisation. The report is astonishing in its lack of methodological veracity and weak core argument justifying censorship and suppression: associate arguments with “Islamists” and label them extremist. The shoddy HJS arguments can be found in the press release, particularly in the highlighting of Muslims who studied at university and who commit a crime (correlation but not causation).
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is mentioned as an example of a person in the press release “who [has] attended a UK university and convicted of their role in terrorism and [has] likely been at least partially radicalised during their studies”. He is also mentioned in the HJS report. The Caldicott inquiry, contrary to HJS and the government’s insinuations concluded that there was no evidence to suggest either that Abdulmutallab was radicalised while a student at a university or that conditions at the university during that time or subsequently were conducive to the radicalisation of students.
Erol Incedal is another example where question marks are raised. Incedal was acquitted of terrorism charges, and the “core information” substantiating the acquittal is still a secret. My intuition coupled with the way in which the government has sought to maintain secrecy suggest that the university is not where he was radicalised and the blame lies nearer the doorstep of the government. Only time will tell whether I am proven right in this regard.
Additionally the press release seems to have copied and pasted the names of the officially designated “extremists” from the HJS report. With the exception of one individual, the names can be found in the report in a table depicting speakers considered “extremist” who spoke at university campuses in 2014.
There are particular signs which can be noted in these speakers. They are mostly Muslims of Salafi background, all seem to hold views which are critical of the government’s PREVENT Strategy and are supportive of the Palestine cause. It should be noted that though the targets here are mainly “Salafi”, they merely form the proxy for the attack on Islam through the “extremism” discourse; in one example a speaker (Ali Alomgir) is quoted in order to demonstrate the incongruence with “British values” (p.32). The “offending” quote references the Islamic conception of the Hijab and the encouragement for women to remain indoors – an encouragement which can be found in the traditional sources of Islamic law.
A further point which demonstrates the ideological slant of Zionist-funded HJS and the government is the conspicuous absence of any Jewish examples. There are no mentions of orthodox Jews “undermining British values”, or the “radicalised” Zionist youngsters travelling to join the IDF to perpetrate war crimes. Additionally, where is the Muslim-discriminating, racist, Douglas Murray who calls for Nazi policies for Muslims?
Corbyn and the Broadening of “Extremism”
The counter-extremism discourse is a state-protecting measure and therefore is susceptible to broadening; it is already suppressing critique of the PREVENT strategy (as evidenced by the incessant attacks on the NUS), and those views which oppose the neoconservative establishment and are critical of neoconservative foreign policy, especially in the context of Palestine. This cannot be better exemplified than the treatment by the Zionist lobby and Cameron government of Jeremy Corbyn – a man who has consistently opposed neocon domestic and foreign policy thus rupturing the Labour/Conservative, neoconservative/neoliberal fusion. There have been a stream of rants by Stephen Pollard (see here for instance, and compare it to Peter Oborne’s analysis of Corbyn, here), accusations of anti-Semitism to discredit Corbyn and mourning by the Israeli media at his leadership election win.
Cameron sensationally called Corbyn a “national security threat”. The above indicates that for Cameron this was in reality a “neocon security threat”, where the threat was to the neocon oligarchy and the attitude towards Israel. Pertinently, whilst it may be dismissed by some of the mainstream media through mockery, the designation of a “national security threat” for positing alternative solutions to foreign and domestic affairs is reminiscent of Egypt’s despot Abdel Fatah al-Sisi who has categorised the deposed, democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood – the only legitimate political opposition – as a terrorist organisation. It demonstrates the slippery slope of the neoconservative fascist politicians.
The “national-security threat” designation for providing the “alternate” political narrative has implications and can bring one within the domain of various counter-terrorism measures. The security discourse is restricting democratic activity. Indeed, a recent report concerning PREVENT pointed out that its remit had extended to environmental activists. Officers even highlighted MP Caroline Lucas as someone who could pose a threat under counter-terror policies because she protested against fracking.
There grave concerns here. Oligarchic neocons are forcing through fascist policies which are eroding basic civil liberties behind the smokescreen of “Islamism” and “extremism”.
The soft-despostism of the neoconservatives is being dressed up by the EAU, or, rather, the Ministry of Propaganda, as security measures necessary for the protection of our freedoms. In reality, they are behaving like Sisi. Sisi has directed an Islamic university to propound a version of Islam which protects his own regime. Cameron and his neocons too are imposing their own interpretation of liberalism upon universities and forcing their discriminatory vision of what constitutes “extremism”, premised upon a constructed nationalism which effectively protects the state.
The self-righteous proponents of “democracy” and “free speech” usually inebriated with derision when attacking Islam and Muslims seem awfully quiet. There is something worryingly undemocratic about a state dictating to the people what “extremism” is and who should be subject to the contrived label. This worry should turn into anxiety upon realisation that the ideology driving the state is one which endorses fascist principles and believes in an unequal, dualistic society guided by an elite.
Those organisations funded by the financiers of the Islamophobia industry, like the Henry Jackson Society and the neoconservative props that are the Quilliam Foundation, seem to be dramatically impacting the government discourse on Islam, Muslims and counter-extremism. Questions need to be raised. Who are the people making up the EAU? Who appointed them? And how much funding from the government is being directed into this cold-war, unaccountable, Orwellian monstrosity?