The Sun is not exactly a paper reputed for its unbiased reporting. Rather, it has been a vehicle for the propagation of neocon policy. Take, for instance, the odd counter-extremism campaigns by Sara Khan and Inspire, that did more to damage the credibility of the counter-extremism industry given the paper’s stature as the bastion of anti-Muslim hate and hyperbole.
A recent report, however, evidenced some peculiar PREVENT politics.
Leading the latest anti-Muslim, discriminatory charge on behalf of the Sun is Ben Lazarus – who describes himself on Twitter as a ‘Jew-ish hack’. Lazarus’s views on Islam and Muslims are disturbing. When the American ambassador in Libya Christopher Stevens was killed in 2012, protests were taking place across the Muslim world against the anti-Islam movie “Innocence of Muslims”. The murder of the diplomat however, even at the time of the publication of Lazarus’s piece, was said to be pre-planned and disconnected to the protests. How did Lazarus spin the death of the American Ambassador?
“This is the latest saga in Islam’s attack on our cultural freedom, and reminds us that the Islamic world is wholly incapable of rising above the bait.”
He further added that the death demonstrated that the anti-Islam movie had become a “self-fulfilling prophecy, as Nakoula’s generalising and lazy accusation that Muslims are brutal, blood-thirsty fanatics has hardly been disproved.” In other words, according to Lazarus, Muslims are “brutal, blood-thirsty fanatics”. Then again, Lazarus is “absolutely delighted to see #Blair back in the fold talking about terrorism, Islam and the EU”. Blair sees, in effect, Islam itself as something which needs to be fought. So, not only a historically bad journalist, but also one who eagerly perpetuates the clash of civilisations thesis using rabidly anti-Muslim rhetoric whilst supporting an apocalyptic loon like Blair.
The question that needs to be raised is, why is this Sun propagandist attacking a Muslim woman who happens to work on the PREVENT agenda? If you read Lazarus’s piece it would seem the angle is smear by association infinitum; associate to others that have been smeared by association to others who have been smeared by association to others and so on. Lazarus’s logic is that a Muslim woman should be castigated because someone who does not support PREVENT is her “Facebook friend”. Quite. The humanity that Lazarus displays is breath-takingly poor; media-lynching someone because someone else expressed commiserations upon a death of a family member beggars belief – but Lazarus does work for the Sun. The hypocrisy is further lost on the hack who has obtained supporting quotes from the pro-Israel, hate-financed Henry Jackson Society (HJS), and the far-right, Gatestone Institute-linked Quilliam Foundation.
The report demonstrates an intra-PREVENT discriminatory treatment of Muslims. Will Baldet is a PREVENT coordinator. Amongst those whom he follows (taking Lazarus’s pathetic logic, a follower is stronger than a “friend” as follower definitionally supports and/or admires a person) are:
- Student Rights, run by hate-financed HJS.
2. Quilliam Foundation, which is inked to “dangerous far-right movements”:
By the Sun’s logic, there are some serious concerns about Baldet’s associations, yet there is no anxiety expressed by Lazarus, HJS or Quilliam. Of course, it can be argued that Baldet is “merely” following to perhaps track developments, not explicitly praise them. However, Baldet does praise the aforementioned far-right-linked Quilliam employee Maajid Nawaz’s writing as “comprehensive, sharp and compelling”. Nawaz was recently designated an “anti-Muslim extremist” by the civil rights group Southern Poverty Law Center.
So much for the incredibly vacuous claims of tackling “all forms of extremism”!
Lazarus himself follows notorious bigots like Katie Hopkins, as well as the Quilliam Foundation. He too has praised “anti-Muslim extremist” Maajid Nawaz:
The fact that the Sun sought to only pick on a Muslim woman demonstrates the discriminatory nature of this seriously poor hatchet-job. Indeed, if Lazarus had issues with government employees pushing PREVENT and then associating with those ostensibly contravening or opposing PREVENT then surely the white, male PREVENT coordinator, Baldet, would have also featured – alas a Muslim woman provides the fodder for the putrid Sun diet.
The discriminatory report also uncovers some uncomfortable reality for Muslims working in PREVENT. They cannot freely engage with people nor express perfectly legitimate expressions of support of their choosing without being media-lynched by Murdoch journalists and neoconservative “counter-extremism think-tanks”. In other words, their private lives are being indirectly regulated by the PREVENT industry. Further, they have to live with the fact that, in reality, they are not countering “all forms of extremism”, which in turn compounds the intra-PREVENT discrimination.
Indeed, all of this is a symptom of the broader atmosphere created by the discriminatory PREVENT project.