Hope not Hate or Mainstreaming Hate? The Counter-Jihad Movement and the Sara Khan Connection

HnH2017QuilliamHJSClarionGatestone

The fostering of the Straussian neocon “closed society” continues to soldier on ahead. The main, but certainly not the only, conduit for this austere vision of society utilises the rhetoric of fear – “safeguarding”, “cohesion” and “counter-extremism”, augmented courtesy of puppets of the neoconservative malignancy within Government.

Despite being utterly baseless academically and broken as pre-crime tool, there has been effort to mainstream PREVENT into society. This normalisation of authoritarian PREVENT-thinking has led to the latest charade; anti-fascist group Hope not Hate (HnH) has been used to spread the tentacles of PREVENT further into civil society by using Sara Khan in its publication State of Hate 2017.

In doing so, HnH comprehensively debilitated its legitimacy.

The founder of HnH, Nick Lowles, has a history of confronting far-right racist individuals and groups. He has also campaigned for the banning of Pamella Geller and Robert Spencer for their anti-Muslim, hate filled rhetoric. The question is of course, how has such a campaign group been hoodwinked into co-opting PREVENT-thinking and allowed itself to be exploited by a cheerleader of discrimination?

In 2010, interestingly to the celebration of Jewish Chronicles Martin Bright (associated with neocon Policy Exchange and pro-Israel lobby group BICOM), Lowles shifted the focus of the historically anti-fascist movement towards “Islamist extremism” – rhetoric coined and popularised into mainstream discourse by Ed Husain of the neoconservative-enabling Quilliam Foundation (see below).  At that time, “Islamist extremists” for HnH founder Nick Lowles referred to Anjem Choudhry’s antics. However, even at that time, behind the Anjem-smokescreen, a longer-term, neo-colonialist agenda was hinted at, where “Islamist extremism” and associated Muslim behaviour and attitudes were to be judged as being against Lowles’ “progressive values and moral compass”. He declared that,

“Islamist extremism is no friend of a progressive society. Staying silent on attitudes and behaviour that is both wrong, offensive and downright dangerous is abandoning one’s own progressive values and moral compass.

The question remains, after seven years of his “focus” shifting towards Muslims, and in a world where Gaza has been since been obliterated twice (2012 and 2014) to the jubilance of Israelis; where potentially hundreds of teenage British Jews have joined a “theocratised army” to fight “for a Jewish homeland”; where a Briton has celebrated and cheered the terrorist burning of a Palestinian baby; and where Jewish children aged three and four in London are taught that non-Jews are bad and evil and that the outside world hates Jews, where is the focus on Jewish and Zionist “extremism”? These “attitudes and behaviours” do not seem to twitch Lowles’ “progressive values” and twang the needle of his “moral compass”. Considering Israel’s lurch towards fascism and racism-based politics, violence against a British MP by individuals which share the counter-Jihad narratives, and pro-Israel activists comprehensively undermining British democracy through intimidation (by “taking out MPs”) and money (million pound pots for pro-Israel activists), Lowles has been conspicuously quiet about this particular “elephant in the room” to borrow his phrase for “Islamist extremism”. Though more can be said about this blatant double standard, the broader point here is that there is a discriminatory approach taken to violence perpetrated by Muslims compared with other minorities, which is endemic of the neoconservative, culturalist narrative.

To elucidate, Khan finds it highly problematic for Muslims to travel Syria, though among them are those who have gone on humanitarian grounds. She remains silent on British-Israelis traveling to an army of state which is colonising the Palestinian people and subjecting them to generational trauma, violence and inhumane, degrading treatment.  In this context, religious (Judaism) or ideological (Zionism) analyses are not comparatively forthcoming, and consequently “Jewish extremism” and “Zionist extremism” are noticeably absent from the terrorism/extremism discourse.

Similarly, there are no spreads on “violence” perpetrated by British citizens who join Kurdish militias linked to groups that happened to be designated terrorist.  And the “freedom”-based liberal ideology is not skewered by counter-extremists for taking people to the door of violence in this case.

Does HnH believe in a hierarchy of violence where killing for certain, Western-orientated ideas are acceptable and are therefore free of a culturalist analysis?

HnH’s Omissions and Incoherence

What really raises questions concerning HnH’s credibility is the highly questionable and utterly dubious omission of neoconservatives whom have been instrumental in empowering the far-right, anti-Muslim “counter-Jihad” movement and linking directly into Donald Trump’s expressly anti-Muslim, warmongering cabinet.

Exhibiting this selective, broken analysis is Lowles’ latest post on the internationalisation of the white supremacist “alt-right” movement. He highlights the leading “counter-jihadist” Ingrid Carlqvist, who co-runs Dispatch International and has been a writer for the US-based Gatestone Institute, which has close links to  Donald Trump’s administration (more on Gatestone below). Lowles shows how she is now associating with “unrepentant Nazis”.

Her material is decidedly Goebbels-esque. In a video linking increased sexual crimes to immigration cast against a clear clash of civilisation hyperbole, Carlqvist promotes the usual coterie of myths related to “no-go Zones” and “Shari’ah law” takeovers in Sweden. She argues that since 2015 over 163,000 asylum seekers have entered Sweden. Without any convincing evidence, Carlqvist implies that Muslims (she highlights Somalia Eriterea, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan) are the effective cause of this. Describing the suggestion that crime surges are because of immigration as “lies”, Jerzy Sarnecki, a criminologist at Stockholm University, says,

“What we’re hearing is a very, very extreme exaggeration based on a few isolated events, and the claim that it’s related to immigration is more or less not true at all.” 

Yet last year, when Facebook banned Carlqvist’s account, the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) shared a post from the anti-Muslim Gatestone Institute.  While this in itself is bad enough, the content of the post cited another article by Douglas Murray, also published on the Gatestone Institute website. In this article, Murray bemoaned the suspension of “Gatestone’s Swedish expert” Carlqvist’s Facebook account using the free speech excuses which usually disintegrate in the face of the obvious censorship around Israel. Murray also calls on people to come “in support of journalists such as Carlqvist. Carlqvist, meanwhile, has also promoted Murray on the topic of the ridiculously inaccurate and inflammatorily titled “Islamic rape gangs”, perpetuating Orientalist propaganda.

It is pertinent to note that Carlqvist’s and Murray’s dangerous rhetoric is based on the Eurabia conspiracy theory. Lowles condemns the Eurabia conspiracy theory yet this is openly advocated by Murray and thematically propagated by Gatestone Institute.

HnH’s incongruence continues with Lowles’ accurate categorisation of the US “Muslim Reform Movement” founder Zuhdi Jasser as a “counter-Jihadist”.

The intertwined web of Islamophobia is pervasive.

In addition to the Gatestone Institute, Jasser is on the board of the Clarion Project, a propaganda outlet financed by the international Islamophobia financier Nina Rosenwald (she is also a financier of HJS). The organisation is saturated with anti-Muslim neocons like Daniel Pipes and conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney – the brains behind Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric.

In 2015 Quilliam Foundation’s Usama Hasan flew to the US to participate in the Muslim Reform Movement’s PR initiative. When HnH categorised Jasser as an anti-Muslim counter-Jihadist, Maajid Nawaz rushed to his defence. In the same year, Nawaz and Hasan put their name to an advert for the Gatestone Institute published in the New York Times.

Hassan has also been hosted by HJS, while Nawaz has been categorised as an “anti-Muslim extremist” by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. Detailed accounts of the Quilliam Foundation through the years show that it has been funded by a number of right-wing, pro-Israel, neoconservative groups some of which are responsible for funding HJS and Gaffney’s propaganda outfit.

Sara Khan Connection

Now, this is where HnH’s report is dealt first of two fundamental blows.

Hasan has been supported by Sara Khan and was listed in 2014 as a “UK ambassador” for “Jihad against violence”.  Their close relationship is demonstrated further with Khan being a signatory to his “fatwa”, whilst Hasan has praised her latest “Home Office” book, which engages in a passionate defence of Hasan, and which seems to form the basis for Khan’s contribution to HnH’s report. In the book’s acknowledgement section Khan thanks Hasan and Rashad Ali, also a Quilliam founder associated with HJS, for “always being a phone call away”.  Ali is a “senior researcher” for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. As I have demonstrated in some detail, the organisation’s board possesses links to the counter-Jihad movement (including Gatestone Institute) and the aforementioned financier of hate, Rosenwald.

In her Home Office-linked book, Khan goes as far as defending both Quilliam as legitimate and Hasan’s association with Quilliam as unproblematic by smearing those who raise this clearly disturbing link as “Salafi-Islamist”. She writes,

“Association with Quilliam is automatically deemed to disqualify somebody speaking on Muslim issues, in the view of Salafi-Islamist ideologues. An article on 5Pillars asserted ‘Dr Hasan and the QF for whom he works have absolutely no credibility within the Muslim community to speak on issues concerning them and their beliefs’.

With an undefined term like “Salafi-Islamist” thrown around by Khan in a Machiavellian manner in order to control the discourse around her dubious friends, how can anyone take the rest of her “Salafi-Islamist” hyperventilations seriously? More fundamentally, how can HnH claim to be fighting “extremism” and “hate” when it uses individuals quite clearly ingratiated with the very hate movements it condemns?

The second fundamental, structural criticism is that Khan is a proponent of PREVENT, the widely-derided, academically baseless counter-extremism strategy which has discriminated against the Muslim minority right from its inception  to the present iteration of the policy.  The reason for this is systemic: the Quilliam Foundation, HJS and the Murray-associated Social Affairs Unit have been instrumental in shaping the blatantly ideological PREVENT policy.

Concluding Remarks

HnH has placed itself in between a rock and a hard place.

Not only is HnH’s report using a state propaganda mouthpiece connected to the groups it condemns, but it has also become a conduit for a policy forged by a cadre of those linked to the very same groups.

In the coming parts, Khan’s content will be scrutinised and the highly problematic nature of using effective state propaganda against Muslims exposed.

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