First it was the modern day Der Strumer, the Sun’s headline that “one in five Muslims sympathise with jihadis”, and now we have its upper class equivalent and fellow Murdoch paper, the Times, publishing the front page headline that Muslims are ‘silent on terror’.
The inflammatory paper headline has since been modified in the online version to “Muslims ‘stay silent’ on extremism tip-off scheme”, which remains misleading; Muslim are in fact vocal on the “extremism tip-off scheme”. The barrage of criticism of the policy – that it targets the Muslim minority, its religious manifestations and creates a surveillance state – is just now being amplified in the media. On top of this, the cacophony of inferiority-complex ridden Muslim organisations and “Imams” constantly disassociating and condemning acts of violence, reinforcing the acceptability of the collective punishment for the crimes of a few, is well-established.
To add to the negative stereotyping and dehumanisation of the Muslim minority by insinuating Muslims are endangering the country, an image of a veiled Muslim woman is plastered at the top.
The Times Article Proves Discrimination fostered by PREVENT
From headline to content, at every level, the report itself constitutes a proof that PREVENT is neo-racist and discriminates against the Muslim minority. The fact that a neocon paper runs a headline suitably attuned to the neoconservative rhetoric of those who are forcing this anti-Muslim policy down the throats of Muslims, is the ricin-laced topping on a fascist, poisonous cake.
The most obvious point of concern is the focus of the report, which remains discriminatory; why did the Times only report on the level of referrals from the Muslim community? What are the statistics of other minority groups? And given the rise of the far-right, increased anti-Muslim sentiment and violence, and the growing mutations/permutations of far-right groups, how many from the white community have been spied on and subsequently referred by the white community themselves? Given that opposition to PREVENT is brazenly being spun into “silence on terrorism”, are the National Union of Teachers, the National Union of Students, the hundreds of academics and intellectuals who oppose PREVENT, also silent on terrorism?
This leads to an operational concern; why is the religion of the referee being recorded and then profiled in the first place? Do those making the referrals from the community actually know this?
“Why aren’t Muslims Self-Harming?”
The Guardian article, reporting on the Times’ far-right-baiting add its own spin thusly:
“The collapse in referrals means that the bulk of tip-offs are originating from public services, such as schools or doctors. This in turn is breeding distrust and disillusionment among some Muslim communities, it is claimed.”
The alarmist Times headline and the above excerpt perfectly denote the colonialist thinking behind the policy. The perverted logic is that Muslim should be engaging in a policy which has resulted in religious manifestations being targeted as indicators of extremism, children being subject to child abuse, and the rendering of an entire community as suspect. Where Muslim are not engaging, they are “silent on terrorism”, and therefore increasing risk to the country. To compound this, any distrust is because Muslims themselves are not acting as the conduit for public surveillance.
It is like a racist telling the victims of racism that their failure to engage with an intrinsically failed racist policy means that the failure is their fault and they are a threat to society. Muslims are problematic and “silent on terrorism” because they are not acting like good colonial subjects, carrying out their native informant “duties” by spying or selling out their own communities based upon definitionally spurious grounds of British values, and perpetuating the securitisation of their own community.
In other words, the contention is, why on earth are these Muslims not self-harming?
The ridiculous level of spin applied is further exposed by the glaringly obvious fact that public services have a duty spy on people, not the community. Thus, the report levies an underpinning expectation that Muslims are expected to spy on their fellow Muslims; an expectation which patently does not exist, nor is publically questioned, with other communities.
The Report Reflects Discriminatory thinking of Government
These discriminatory assumptions and expectations can be traced to the highest level of government. In June this year, Yasmin Qureshi MP challenging David Cameron on his equally repugnant claims that Muslims are “quietly condoning” ISIS, stated,
“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].”
Conservative MP Peter Bone hubristically responded by whitewashing the far-right movement in Britain and saying,
“there is absolutely no-one in Britain who is condoning them.”
As I demonstrated in my comment piece at that time, this white-privilege-laden retort was ridiculously far from the truth. More pertinently, it aptly demonstrates the “shared narrative” between neoconservatives in government and their associated papers.
Concluding Remarks: A Response to Muslim Political Activism
As I mentioned in the online social sphere, the headline is a crude attempt at spinning and therefore supressing legitimate political dissent against a policy which has been criticised as counter-productive by authoritative voices and more fundamentally, the community it is discriminatorily profiling and targeting. It is a direct response to the growing Muslim resistance to closed society measures forced through by neocons. Such shoddy, agenda-driven reports make neocons happy. When Andrew Gilligan smeared CAGE, the Guantanamo Bay-supporting, anti-Muslim neocon William Shawcross celebrated the propaganda piece. The saga ended with CAGE being recognised for rendering an important service to the third sector, and Shawcross being exposed for acting beyond the powers of the Charity Commission.
Similarly, reports like that published on the front page of the Times may gratify hawkish members of the cabinet, but they only serve to vindicate and strengthen the resolve of the Muslim minority in challenging the injustices resulting from Orwellian counter-extremism measures.
The message is clear: the Muslim minority will not be the battering ram, the pretext, the expendable excuse for neocons to perpetuate their totalitarian aims.