The effect of fascist neoconservatives subverting and controlling the discourse on Muslims into a distinctly populist and discriminatory one is something which will be recorded in history and frequently recalled as a dark chapter in Britain’s history. However, history will also recall that some of the key turning points in opposing policies which erode the civil liberties of all in Britain were significantly led by Muslims who were prepared to stick their head above the parapet and sought the reinstatement of shared principles like accountability, rule of law and due process – principles which neoconservatives have systematically decimated over the past decade.
When Muslim advocacy group CAGE successfully challenged Zionist neocon William Shawcross’ Charity Commission in the High Court for pressuring charities funding the organisation, the increasingly nervous third sector welcomed it as a form of relief from a bullying regulator. Third Sector’s Stephen Cook wrote at that time,
Cage is not a charity, but it has done the charity sector an important service by applying for and, earlier this month, obtaining leave for a judicial review of the actions of the Charity Commission…
A similar critical action is taking place more specifically in the context of “extremism”.
In September 2015, I published a piece on a Number 10 press statement which announced the duty to stop “extremists” radicalising on campuses. In the release, they “named and shamed” universities and Muslim activists for allowing “extremists” on campus and being “extremists”, respectively. The Home Office-based Extremism Analysis Unit (EAU) was used to determining the list of “extremists”. I demonstrated that the government lifted chunks of its press release from a dubious report published by the Student Rights organisations, a project of the virulently anti-Muslim, hate-financed Henry Jackson Society (HJS).
Similar findings were reported in the Time Higher Education, with Professor David Miller calling for the government to publish the source of its data to show that they were “not of dubious provenance”. Four days later, another article was published in the same outlet raising questions about the press release.
To date, as far as I am aware, nothing about the secretive EAU – its composition and reporting hierarchy, its protocols, criteria in determining extremism and extremists, appeal process – has been made public.
Dr. Salman Butt, who holds a doctorate from Imperial College and is the chief editor of Islam21c, was among those designated an “extremist”. Permission has been granted to hear a judicial review action by Dr. Butt against the government to challenge the lawfulness of the Prevent Guidance and the definition of extremism as well as the lawfulness of the collection of data about him by the Home Office Extremism Analysis Unit. (For more details on the grounds, see here).
Pertinently, Channel 4’s coverage (in the YouTube video at the beginning) confirmed that the information on Dr. Butt was indeed supplied by HJS to the EAU. Further, his efforts to access these records were rebuffed.
This raises yet more disconcerting questions. It is hoped that the hearing will drag the dirty and shadowy work of the neocons into the public eye.
Who practically set up the Extremism Analysis Unit? Who are the individuals employed in this department? What legal cases, policies and ministerial statements and actions have been influenced by the EAU since its inception? Will the memos and dossiers it has produced be made public? Who allowed a blatantly bigoted, dangerous and opaque “charity” like the HJS access to this real-life Ministry of Truth? Which other organisations have access to the EAU?
We know the behind-the-scenes mutterings of the neocons as this case is made public. As William Shawcross exclaimed in his leaked emails about CAGE,
“Islamists” are skilled at lawfare!
The reality is, neocons are certainly skilled in, and possess a proclivity for, subverting democratic institutions and principles like accountability, rule of law and due process. Muslims are simply responding to this authoritarianism and defending these principles.