When George Bush infamously announced to the world that “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”, it set policies in motion which have detrimentally impacted the landscape of Western politics and law. The thinking representing the group of men who advised disastrous foreign policies and civil liberties-eroding domestic policies, slowly but surely permeated across the Atlantic to Britain through Tony Blair and later, Michael Gove under the auspices of neocon/pro-Israel advocates. That original, reductionist, warring “us and them” narrative, courtesy of neoconservatism, has since become the normalised discourse around Islam, Muslims and foreign wars.
There is a little-known but important indication to the type of politics being played upon hearing the terms “violent and non-violent extremism”. Indeed these terms have crystallises under the previous and current British neocon regimes. The terms can be traced to the rhetoric of zealous neoconservatives. During Bush’s second term, neocon architect of the Iraq war Donald Rumsfeld promoted a change in wording from War on Terror to “global struggle against violent extremism” or GSAVE. Those familiar with the neocon-linked, pro-Israel global counter-extremism complex will recognise the “AVE” acronym often employed to denote this politicised, agenda-driven, hegemonic effort.
From “violent extremism” there grows a superficial and empirically unsubstantiated assumption of “extremism” which gives rise to the “violence” – i.e the conveyor-belt theory of radicalisation. Since then, there has been much prancing around this theory and assumptions drawn primarily from neoconservative/pro-Israel thinkers and think-tanks. Rooted in “clash of civilisation” hypothesis, the emphasis upon ideology allows for culturalist attacks upon “the other”, as the “racialisation” of religious behaviour and manifestation operate as indicators for radicalisation, whilst conveniently focussing away from other major drivers such as foreign policy.
Recently, the Cameron government released the Counter Extremism Strategy. It is interesting to note the language employed by the PM upon revealing the Strategy.
Like Bush, Cameron has chosen to demarcate the “us” from the “them”. The neocon “godfather” Irving Kristol asserted the position of neocons stating that “what rules the world is ideas”. Cameron like the apocalyptic Bush’s call for a “long war”, defines his struggle as a “generational battle”, in which we will “confront them wherever we find them”. It is a “defining one” we are told. And at its heart, is “the battle of ideas”. Then comes the “us and them” ultimatum:
“On one side sit the extremists, with a deliberate strategy to infect public debate, divide our communities and advance their warped worldview. On the other side must sit everyone else – not just the institutions of the state, such as the government, police and security services; but community groups and the rest of society.”
This disturbing, totalitarian statement is an open declaration for the enforcement of state ideology and policy compliance, leaving little room for dissent. Failure to comply will result in being labelled an extremist, and subject to a plethora of draconian measures the State has prepared for one’s political, intellectual or religious malfeasance.
Whilst the actual Strategy document refers to “all forms of extremism” (a point I will further explore later blog), Cameron’s blog solely and discriminatorily refers to the context of the Muslim minority and specifically, the smokescreen that are “Islamist extremists”. Manufacturing through exaggeration the perfect Machiavellian enemy necessary to justify closed-society measures domestically and foreign militarism abroad, we find Cameron employing fear-inducing rhetoric to accentuate the threat. Thus the enemy is a formidable one: “subversive, well-organised and sophisticated in their methods”.
The rest of the rhetoric repeats his previous speeches and calls for colonialist tactics to be mounted upon the Muslim minority. The challenge “for all Islam” – whatever “all Islam” is – is that a “perverted, illiberal and hostile interpretation” has been allowed to grow. Such puerile, unrefined wording to denote effectively variant views (seeing the West as an oppressor, feeling allegiance to “only religious brotherhood”), are attributed to Islam without nuance or credibility in claim, setting the scene for what neocons see as their solution to the “Islam” problem: “reformation” of Islam into a set of rituals spiritually defunct and politically inert, singing and dancing to their hegemonic tune.
Cameron’s Policy Endorsement Forum
Cameron informs us that he had convened a meeting with the “Community Engagement Forum”. My sources have forwarded me list of those who were invited. Among the notable names were the discredited Fiyaz Mughal, who’s Tell MAMA has been a front for deforming traditional Islamic views, acting as the “soft-end” of the government’s counter-extremism strategy, and has strong associations with Quilliam Foundation; his wife Sajda Mughal who is the project manager for the PREVENT-touting, Muslim women-exploiting Jan Trust; and his friend, Haras Rafiq of Quilliam, another PREVENT-pusher and Michael Gove’s ideal “moderate Muslim”, and neocon policy-peddler, particularly known for making exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims to assist the government narrative. Also present was another women-abusing, PREVENT-pushing “feminist” Sara Khan, and her partnered counter-extremism consultant (who has no expertise in the field), Kamal Hanif – the head who was placed in charge of Park View Academy during the immediate Trojan Hoax aftermath allegedly as a proxy for Gove’s Department for Education. Also present were heads of non-Muslim, Ismaili, and Qadiyani/Ahmadi centres and the “Muslim no-go zones” Bishop Nazir-Ali. That is quite the line-up for the PM’s “community”. The forum evidently needs to be renamed the “Neocon Policy Endorsement Forum”.
Perhaps if the government actually engaged the Muslim community they would find that the people they are “engaging” with are despised for aiding in the persecution of the Muslim minority, have no credibility or influence in the community, and the colonial, fascist policies Cameron is looking to enforce are despised by and a great source of consternation for the Muslim minority. A number of large and small Muslim organisations from disparate theological backgrounds have aired their opposition to the plans (I have also seen Manchester Council of Mosques’ Qadir Ahmad Chohan, which represents 70 mosques rejecting the policies). More, I suspect are to follow.
The government has announced £5million for the development of a coalition of state-approved, societally-rejected counter-extremists and their organisations. According to a study by Poverty and Social Inclusion, 6 million young people are working on low wages, 33% of all UK households go without three or more “basic necessities of life”, 5.5 million adults go without essential clothing, 2.5 million children live in damp homes, 1.5 million children live in households that cannot afford to heat them, and it is estimated by 2020 5 million children will be living in poverty. Yet, on top of Cameron’s bid to endorse £4.4 billion tax credit cuts, we have the government splashing £5million of taxpayers’ money on funding failed individuals to push a failed strategy destined for further failures, all to further ideological objectives which benefits in substance, very few, and persecutes an entire minority.
Falsely taking ideology (“extremism”) as the sole premise for the destructive heights of terrorism, we have a strategy that forces regulation and state conformity in every facet of civil society. The Muslim minority and the forced associations of negativity are the battering ram to effectuate this regulation. The neoconservatism which brought destruction to the Middle East, perpetual warfare, normalised deceiving the public, obliterated basic peremptory norms of international law, and gutted the human rights discourse, replacing it with “security” to mask wholesale erosions of civil liberties, is rearing its ugly head with full force in both rhetoric and action through the current British government. The totalitarian, “with us or against us” proposals must be challenged and rejected. We can do without a British version of Bush’s legacy.