Caroline Cox and Michael Nazir-Ali: Assad’s British Supporters and the War on Islam

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The neoconservative effort to deform Islam, neuter Muslim thinking and create a repulsion of Islam in general has its basis in the clash of civilisations thesis.  Premising this thesis is the assumption of one particular side – the Western side – being civilised.  The permeation of this assumption has led to a “civilising” mission utilising the War on Terror paradigm and all its political and military machinery; globalised drone warfare programmes, extraordinary rendition, torture, perpetual wars, and collective punishment through targeting of Muslim minorities using policies which erode the liberties of all. Through political exploitation of fears about ISIS which exponentially increased no sooner did Britain, for instance decide to join the foray in Iraq and Syria, the impact on civil liberties in Western societies has continuously progressed.

To the neutral observer, the above can hardly be described as “civilised”.

The secular regime responsible for the explosion of brutality in Syria has largely escaped relentless coverage of its crimes backed by examinations of the ideology driving the regime. To place things into perspective, Bashar al-Assad’s killers have massacred civilians far more than ISIS, whilst Russia, which has provided aerial muscle for the secular dictatorship, has killed more civilians than ISIS and Assad combined according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

More and more images of distraught children suffering from burns and choking effects of chlorine gas exposure are surfacing. Reports are suggesting that traces of nerve gas have been found in Syria and phosphorous and incendiary thermite is being used by Assad. In the recent most incident, Assad killers dropped barrel bombs loaded with chlorine-gas on residents in an already besieged and starving Aleppo.

Appeasing Assad

Whilst the nihilistic violence under Assad continues to jar the conscious of every humane person, policies in the West have done more to appease Assad then to restrict his penchant for destruction.  In the past months the US has sought to “partner” with Putin. The same Putin whose military has perpetuated war crimes by bombing hospitals as part of its “war strategy”. News of a deal being struck between US and Russian and indirectly Assad only exemplifies the dirty politics being played at the expense of human life. Euphemistically disguised in the press as a “ceasefire”, or, as the BBC angelically termed it “peace moves”, the deal will result in Russia and the US bombing anti-Assad rebel targets which were responsible for breaking the debilitating government siege. In other words, US is bombing anti-Assad “bad people” alongside other, better armed bad people thereby assisting more bad people.  The difference is one is a superpower and the other isn’t.  Weakness is the distinctive feature which distinguishes who gets bombed and who doesn’t, much like the case of Iraq.

Again, one struggles to see civilised traits in this setup.

Assad’s British Supporters

Closer to home here in Britain, a group of peers and priests among whom are those neocons who have contributed to the “civilising” full spectrum culturalist assault on Islam and Muslims here in Britain, have taken actions which have the effect of legitimising Assad’s authority and connected actions. The delegation which met with Assad in a picturesque photo as the despotic grip on Aleppo tightened, included Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali and Anglican Christian Caroline Cox.

Cox of course was on the 2007 advisory board for Douglas Murray’s Centre for Social Cohesion, which later merged with what is now the hate-financed Henry Jackson Society. As I have highlighted in a previous blog, Cox believes that Muslims are compulsive liars, Islam is a warring faith and Jihad is the conquest of the world. Cox, since 2005, has been a co-president of the Jerusalem Summit, a hardline pro-Israel advocacy outfit, which brings together neocons, evangelicals and Zionists. She also invited anti-Islam, far-right politician Geert Wilders to screen his inflammatory film “Fitna”.

In a BBC interview with Andrew Neil, she defended her visit arguing that “if you don’t meet someone you can’t raise criticisms, you can’t raise the concerns.” Ironically, downplaying Assad’s crimes, she highlighted that militant groups had also used chemical weapons.  If the comparison with militant groups is drawn, then why not employ the excuse of diplomacy and speak to these militant groups to raise concerns too? Cox claimed she was speaking for the voice of the people.  Yet even Andrew Neil concluded that she was “essentially a mouthpiece for this [Assad] regime”. Examining the evidence (see here also), for once it was difficult not to agree with him.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali

Nazir-Ali too was on the advisory board of the Centre for Social Cohesion. David Miller and Tom Mills of Spinwatch make the following instructive observation:

“In January 2008, the then Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Aliwrote of ‘no go areas’ in an opinion piece for the Telegraph.  A leading right-wing evangelical, Nazir-Ali wrote of the decline of Christianity in Britain, mass immigration and the philosophy of ‘multiculturalism’, and went on to claim that a ‘resurgence of the ideology of Islamic extremism’ had ‘turn[ed] already separate communities into “no-go” areas where adherence to this ideology has become a mark of acceptability’.  Nazir-Ali’s claims were repeated across much of the UK and international media, and the blogosphere, and they subsequently featured in Robert Spencer’s book Stealth Jihad, published later that year.”

Nazir-Ali’s defence was equally repugnant:

Why is Assad being demonised to this extent? In the Middle East, the choice is not between angels and monsters but between one kind of monster and another. With all my experience, I cannot say that he is the worst of all.

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“Why is Assad being demonised” ask Rev’d Nazir-Ali.

Indeed, using the same logic, Assad has killed more civilians then ISIS – why is ISIS demonised the way it is? Perhaps Nazir-Ali ought to have had a polite chat and a cup of brewed earl grey with Baghdadi while he was there too because on the killing scale, Assad is a rung higher.

To contextualise his, and consequently Cox’s visit we need to refer to an article authored by Nazir-Ali.

Targeting Islam

Earlier this month, penning for the neoconservative magazine Standpoint, his neoconservativism was at full tilt in a piece effectively outlining how to fix up Muslims.

“One of the fictions we do need to give up is that of state neutrality and the idea of a public space in which there are only formal rules of debate and decision-making.”

This is a disturbing statement. In other words, the “secular” state should be partisan to a group of people, but which group? In commending the British state’s “fundamental values” brainwashing project, he highlights that these values and others have “demonstrably emerged from Christian discourse”, which make sense “when they are related to basic Judaeo-Christian beliefs”. With expressions like these, targeting Islam and Muslims all of sudden becomes easier.

Pertinently, within the piece, the true purpose of his Assad visit is hinted at.

Implicitly concluding that “Islamist extremism” requires “elimination”, Nazir-Ali highlights the need for “partners” to realise this aim. These partners include China and Russia.  In true neocon fashion, “Islamist extremism” is a reference to Islam itself.  He firstly calls upon the rejection of “Wahhabism and Salafism” – broad labels referring to movements which are varyingly grounded in the Hanbali School of Islamic jurisprudence – before demanding “Islamic states” endorse “programmes” which include the “radical reconstruction of Sharia” and a “fresh interpretation of the sources of Islamic law”. The following statement is particularly explicit in the type of fractured and dilapidated Islam Nazir-Ali desires:

“It would also allow for peaceful relations to develop between Muslim and non-Muslim states, based not on the temporary truces and agreements of traditional sharia but on international law. Society would, once again, be free to recognise spiritual movements like Sufism, which encourage a spirituality of the heart as against a legalistic understanding of religion, as espoused by the extremists.

The only acceptable form of Islam, anywhere in the world, is one which is effectively dominated and colonised by Western thought-structures that have, as the Reverend himself avers, “demonstrably emerged from Christian discourse”. Feel Muslim spiritually, in other words, but don’t act like one.

Given the Assad-Russia alignment and Assad’s suppression of rebel groups (many of which draw on their Islamic heritage), it is highly plausible that the visit sought to bolster Nazir-Ali’s partnering plan to “eliminate” Islam. This is given further credence in his recent remarks regarding his Assad visit. He stated,

“the vast majority of Syrian people, especially religious and ethnic minorities, do not want Assad replaced by an Islamist regime”. 

Aside from the wildly outlandish claims of speaking for the “vast majority” of 22.8 million Syrians whilst having only set foot in the regime-controlled western half of Aleppo, the statement provides an indication of Nazir-Ali’s real worry: Islam.

Concluding Remarks

The spirit of those who instigated the War on Terror, acted upon the logical conclusions of the clash of civilisations claims, and brought forth endless violence in the Middle East, continues through doublespeaking “agreements” and discussions.  Indeed, two years ago, Tony Blair couched Islamic beliefs as Islamist extremism before calling to fight “Islamist extremism” wherever it originates.

His co-ideologues Cox and Nazir-Ali claim that their meeting with Assad was to protect Christian minorities. If this is the aim then it is a foolish to assume Assad’s trust.  There are anti-Assad Christian rebels in Syria backed by the European Syriac Union (ESU). On the 23rd of August, the ESU issued a statement drawing attention to the regimes “repeated aggression and attacks” against the Christian Syriacs of Hassekeh in Northern East of Syria. The ESU said this demonstrated that the Assad regime “refuses to abide [by] previously agreed ceasefires” (sic).  When conjoined with the anti-Islam agenda under the rhetorical guise of “Islamist extremism” and “Islamist regimes”, however, the “diplomacy” begins to gain a converging, unified aim: the deconstruction of Islamic self-determination. When one takes this into account, and couples it with the fact that these neocons went to a massacring despot to realise their deluded antagonistic goals, then who is civilised or uncivilised truly becomes apparent.

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