A Critical Overview of the Counter-Extremism Strategy

counter-extremism or counter liberties

“We will be absolutely clear about the people and groups we will not deal with because we find their views and behaviour to be so inconsistent with our own.”

~ Counter-Extremism Strategy document

Following on from my previous blog, I take brief look at the Counter-Extremism Strategy which has been published to much neocon fanfare and celebration.  Most of the measures have been either already implemented unofficially, or announced as upcoming proposals. I have covered these parts in detail in the following blogs:

In short, it’s the usual inevitable neoconservative mix of Machiavellian fear (“dangerous”, “poisonous”, “harmful”, “threat”, “extremists”, “Islamists”!), double speak (protect freedoms by curtailing them/“targeted powers” which are “flexible”/claiming “not about Islam” but advancing only “liberal” Islam), and irrationality (the Strategy is based on the PM’s assertions rather than empirical evidence, whilst conflating crime into the extremism discourse), not to mention implicit association with negative cultural practices with Islam and Muslims (or the phantom menace that are the “Islamists”), adding to the stigmatisation of the Muslim minority.

Any additional points? There are few which twiddled my whiskers as they say. Below is my elucidation of those points.

A New Level of State Paternalism

Well there is the small of issue of despotic fascism being flirted with by the neocons in this Strategy.  The state continues to treat the people like idiotic “vulgar masses” desperately in need of elitist “guiding” statesmen in the neo-Platonic mould. Insane levels of state paternalism can be seen in the following quote from the Strategy document:

 “As we have seen, important public institutions can be targeted by extremists eager to spread their ideology to an audience that can be both vulnerable and captive.”

And,

“Most of our counter-ideology work will happen pre-emptively, as we seek to protect people from extremist ideology before it gains traction and harms them and those around them”

In other words, people are stupid and dumb and the government quite clearly feels they need to protect them from “harmful ideas”.  The obvious concern is that we have a neocon government dictating to people which ideas are “harmful”; the same government which believes that interfering with the beliefs of individuals and shaping their religion for them is fine, whilst doing away with the Human Rights Act, isn’t much of a “harmful idea”.

Broadening the Channel deradicalisation

The Strategy document proposes that “Individuals further down the path to radicalisation need a particularly intensive type of support” which will necessitate mandatory “support”.  In other words, the previously voluntary Inquisitional programme known as Channel will now no longer be voluntary in certain cases. What these particular cases are and what the new deradicalisation programme is, will be revealed in spring 2016.

Born-Again PREVENT Version 1

The first version of PREVENT involved funding organisations set up to counter “violent extremism”.  Traditional scholars and Sufis were used to front an agenda to “exact control” of the Muslim community.  Neocons (like hate-preacher Douglas Murray, who’s Henry Jackson Society has been instrumental in shaping homeland and foreign security policies) in 2010 bemoaned the fact that “British values” were not being promoted whilst “extremist speakers” were being “given platforms at mosques and universities across the country”.   Also of concern for Murray was the engagement with people who were “alarmingly unhelpful”.

The current version of PREVENT with conspicuous similarity reflects much of Murray’s words.  More pertinently, the government is engaging people who are helpful to the neocon cause. The Strategy is further developing “a network, linking individuals and groups around Britain who are already standing up to extremists in their communities”.  The Community Engagement Forum is the fruit of this endeavour and £5 million the paltry reward for kowtowing to the neocon line.

Internationalisation of PREVENT

As part of the internationalisation of PREVENT, the government will also be investigating how foreign funding is influencing individuals and groups in the UK and links to extremism.

I chuckled when I read this part.  Recently, an investigative report revealed that the UAE paid a London-based public relations firm connected to an associate of David Cameron millions of pounds to lead attacks in the UK against Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other opponents of the Gulf state.

Andrew Gilligan was one of the journalists being prostituted by UAE to be their mouthpiece and accusing Qatar of funding terrorism.  David Cameron has since launched an investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood also, clearly achieving the “foreign policy objectives” of the UAE. How ironic for Cameron to unveil this proposal at a time when the curtain has drawn from secret lobbying for a State which allegedly engages in torture (opposition to human rights would constitute “extremism”) and which traces back to his Tory friends.

Cameron would do well to make a start with an investigation into the old boy’s network.

The hypocrisy and utter arrogance displayed in the strategy is further exasperated with the PM’s following statement:

“We will develop a clear plan of international work to reinforce our efforts to defeat extremism at home”

Bankrupt foreign policy is often a key reason for radicalisation which is conveniently ignored. Tony Blair’s recent admission over the Iraq war and its connection to ISIS is a damning and unequivocal evidence of this. Hypocrisy is what often wraps Western foreign policy. Whilst lecturing about “promoting British values” of democracy, human rights and rule of law, abroad, Cameron’s government has removed a ministerial rule which requires ministers to comply with international law and treaty obligations (this will be expounded upon in a future blog). Now we are witnessing Cameron turning a blind eye to violations of international law and hosting a mass-murdering dictator, “sucking up” to human rights-abusing ideological nemesis of yore, and constantly whitewashing and defending a belligerent terrorist state, which in the words of Shlomo Sands is “one of the most racist societies in the western world” and possesses an army equal to ISIS in derangement whilst exceeding it in fire power.

It’s quite clear from the above that the internationalisation of the counter-extremism is nothing to do with “British values”, but rather to protect the neoconservatism’s wide interpretation of “vital interests”, through the precise implementation of Tony Blair’s call for a global war on a nebulous ideology (in parts, Islam, essentially) through increased securitisation and war.

Influencing Broadcasting

Ignoring the past inefficacy of such a measure, the Tories are still pressuring broadcasters and thus influencing the content from the PREVENT prism. Broadcasters should “exercise their judgment” in way which ensures that debates are “shaped” in a “positive way”.   In other words the government is saying, you have the freedom to ensure you broadcast what we deem positive.  This is already happening; take for instance the BBC’s flagship programmes thoroughly taking Government’s PREVENT line, promoting Quilliam/Henry Jackson Society employees, whilst frequently placing Islam and its beliefs in the dock and battering it repeatedly with lies, exaggerations and spin of the neoconservative variety. It was only matter of time that these underhanded, Machiavellian machinations became official.

Entryism, Human Rights and Promoting a Societal Surveillance Culture

Using the disproven Trojan Hoax as a pretext, the Strategy also advocates rooting “extremists” from the civil services and the NHS.  In other words, the Strategy actively encourages discrimination based upon personally held beliefs. It is interesting to note at this juncture, that the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly held that, the European Convention on Human Rights protects not only those opinions “that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also … those that offend, shock or disturb”, pointing out that “[s]uch are the demands of pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no ‘democratic society’”.[1]

How this is to be squared with “extreme” views is precisely the concern of the neocons, hence the concerted drive by neocon Michael Gove to eradicate the Human Rights Act.

It is a strong indication towards the type of society being moulded by neocons. It is certainly not a “democratic society”. In what political theorist Hannah Arendt regards as marking out totalitarian societies, the people are also actively encouraged to spy on each other:

“we will introduce a new Extremism Community Trigger to guarantee that concerns about local extremism will be taken seriously.”

Given the discriminatory nature of PREVENT is already manifesting itself, with Islamic markers being consistently being used as indicators of radicalisation and children being subjected to child abuse as a result, such miscarriages of justices will only increase as overzealous members of public with an axe to grind proceed to “grass up” Muslims.

Recording Islamophobic Attacks

In the whole strategy, Islamophobia is mentioned three times (compared to the ten instances of anti-Semitism). A paragraph is also dedicated to the “action” taken by the government against Islamophobic hate crime.  It’s a crude yet poignant indication to the attitude the government has taken on doing something meaningful about anti-Muslim hatred. Aside from the tokenistic gesture designed to sweeten the deal (“we will record the crimes against you which have been fuelled by our continuous anti-Muslim rhetoric and Muslim-targeted security measures rendering you second-class citizens”), the fact that this measure constitutes a part of the counter-extremism legislation serves to prove the reality that Muslims, even when they are being attacked, can only be viewed through the prism of security.

Furthermore, by merely recording it as a category does nothing for the increases in anti-Muslim hate crime in the short-term.  If anything, the state discrimination which singularly highlights ascribed crimes only in the context of “Islamist extremism” (FGM – a North African phenomena, honour killing – a cultural malaise, child abuse – the brushed-under-the-carpet state, upper-middle class white paedophilia anyone?) has done everything to dehumanise the Muslim minority as a collective.  It is this which ferments xenophobia against a minority and produces grotesque acts of violence against the vulnerable minority within the Muslim minority.  In this regard, and in accordance with international norms regarding minority rights, the government has failed in its duty in fighting stereotyping and has actively encouraged it.

The lax attitude can be seen in the way in which the government as actually handled efforts to tackle anti-Muslim crime. Sayeeda Warsi highlighted that in contrast to engagement with Jewish leaders, a number of requests made to a number of secretaries of state including Michael Gove during the Trojan Hoax lies to engage with the cross-government anti-Muslim hatred working group were ignored. The academic Matthew Goodwin who was on the working group recently slammed the government for the same:

“… the work was painfully slow and lacked support from central government… During a generally unpleasant four years, the basic message appeared to be that the government was simply not that interested in anti-Muslim hatred. In fact, to my knowledge, and despite increased concern over extremism and disillusionment among British Muslims, the government has still not undertaken any research into what causes Islamophobia and what might be done about it.”

This suppressive attitude makes perfect sense in light of PREVENT. Actually dealing with anti-Muslim hatred would impact the PREVENT script, as I noted in Andrew Gilligan’s propaganda piece.

The Omissions

Sometimes the omissions send a louder message than what is stated. We are consistently told that all types of extremism are to be dealt with under the Strategy. However, it only identifies “Islamist extremist” and neo-Nazi or fascist extremism, with the former constituting for the neocons the “greatest” of all threats – a gloriously exaggerated claim rebutted by a recent Europol report finding less than 1% of attacks classified as religiously inspired.

The reductionist and skewed explanation given about “Islamist extremism” seems to be ripped wholesale from Michael Gove’s anti-Muslim, neoconservative manual Celsius 7/7.

The elucidation of fascism is intriguing. It states that “in the UK, there are numerous active extreme right-wing groups, sharing an ideology centring on an intense hostility to minorities”. This description would fit our government most aptly. Given the fact that neocons adhere to the “clash of civilisations” hypothesis demonstrated through their abject hostility towards Islam and Muslims as minorities in Europe; given the fact that Leo Strauss actively believed that a fascist, closed society was the best society; and given the fact that loons adhering to this philosophy are currently in power, it is striking to note that neoconservatism is absent as an “extremist” ideology. After all, it advocates lies against the people, use of deception to subvert democratic structures, staunch philosophic opposition to liberalism/equality and looks to Mao and Hitler as model examples of Machiavellian rule. Nope. Muslims are the major threat to democracy.

Missing also is the mention of Jewish extremism/Zionist state terrorism.

Pandering to the far-right counter-Jihad movement, we are forcefully told that:

“There is only one rule of law in our country, which provides rights and security for every citizen. We will never countenance allowing an alternative, informal system of law, informed by religious principles, to operate in competition with it”

Shari’ah courts are then mentioned in the report. As mentioned in a previous blog, Beth Din courts, in accordance with the scandalous assurances given to the Jewish community by the Home Office, will not be investigated.

Neither are Orthodox Jews being subjected to State pressure to conform to a “liberal, tolerant and inclusive” Judaism, despite women being told they cannot drive, enforcement of sex separation in the streets of London, and Talmudic schools remaining free of female students.

For Cameron, “it is a worry for the world that some feel allegiance only to a religious brotherhood, instead of to their fellow citizens in nation states,” attacking the Islamic conception of Ummah. However, there is deafening silence on the issue of those Jewish Britons who identify with the colonisation of Palestine, preferring Israel over Britain. Given the government’s position that ideological extremism leads to violent extremism, this should be incredibly pressing especially when one considers that young Jewish men and women travel to and lend support to the racist and terrorist state of Israel, which is currently bravely extra-judicially executing unarmed 18 year-old women, deliberately killing Palestinians, and using excessive deadly force against Palestinian children.

Despite this, Jewish “extremism” and Zionist terrorism is curiously absent from the Strategy document. There is a pertinent reason for this. Key pro-Israelis and neoconservatives connected to the anti-Muslim Henry Jackson Society oversaw Michael Gove’s neoconservative, Muslim securitisation bible Celsius 7/7. The Mossad-linked Community Security Trust’s loudly aired its concerns in 2010 that the Conservatives were not doing enough to tackle “extremism” as it is presently understood. CST followed this up by submitting written evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee reinforcing them same focus on ideology. When one considers the above, the Zionist influence in shaping the counter-extremism policies is undeniable. To cement this notion, the Jewish Chronicle recently reported that the government consulted CST in formulating the latest draconian extremism strategy, which has incidentally “pleased” CST’s director of communications Mark Gardner.

Concluding Remarks

The Counter-Extremism Strategy is a dangerous manifestation of an ideological agenda. The only option left is to reject and resist such unjust and unequitable proposals which contradict everything they purport to protect. There is hope. Islington Council is set to challenge the PREVENT Strategy in the wake of the child abuse which resulted from a Muslim pupil being profiled under the scheme.

More public bodies and civil society organisations must challenge this Orwellian neocon fantasy. Otherwise we will be acquiescing our existence to a life in which every aspect of lives will be state-maintained producing a society far bereft of the liberties we claim to cherish.


Reference:

[1] See, among other authorities, Mouvement raëlien suisse v. Switzerland [GC], no. 16354/06, § 48, ECHR 2012, and Stoll v. Switzerland [GC], no. 69698/01, § 101, ECHR 2007-V

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