There is an entire industry built on the back of Muslim demonisation. This “counter-extremism” industry utilises the rhetoric of preventing terrorism, but perpetuates structural terrorism against the Muslim minority through policies and rhetoric which have the cumulative effect of producing a “suspect community”. This reinforces Islamophobic stereotypes that Muslims are inherently, potentially violent unless “civilised” (assimilated) into “British values” as defined for everyone by neocons. Whether victims or criminals, it is their culture and religion which is to blame. It is a demonising narrative that has recently subsumed into its toxic discourse the attacks Muslims are currently enduring.
Muslims have been experiencing an increased intensity of anti-Muslim hate over the years and through various rhetorical and physical transformations, from the Paki-bashing by skin-heads, BNP, EDL and now Britain First and National Action, to the elderly man/woman walking across the road whilst angrily pointing a finger at a veil mumbling – like Sayeeda Warsi – that it has no place here. In recent days, it has been reported that hate crime targeting masaajid more than doubled in the last year.
Taking the privileged approach on this, a discussion should ensue on the failure in the state’s responsibility to adequately protect its minorities concordant to international law and recommended norms. Questions should be raised as to whether this state is exacerbating the problem instead of dispelling stereotypes and taking measures to reduce demonisation. Or, if one follows the callous, culturalist neoconservative discussions, there would be a rapid focus on the Western ideologies and white culture of the perpetrator as well as frequent reports about how everything connected to the Western lifestyle is somehow linked to white folk becoming violent.
This, of course, did not happen. Instead, we saw treacherous opportunists rising to the lucrative occasion to spin the story in a way which deflected blame directly back onto the Muslim community.
Fiyaz Mughal made such an interjection recently. He stated that “terrorism was the driving factor” in mosque attacks and unequivocally added that,
“We have to reduce terrorist attacks in order to reduce fractures in our community.”
Mughal confidently concludes this after adducing a correlation between the rise of anti-Muslim attacks soon after an attack. When this dubious conclusion was questioned on social media, Tell MAMA responded with a graph to prove this very point. In other words, the self-proclaimed “monitor” on anti-Muslim attacks justified its Islamophobic position.
To elucidate, whilst this correlation is perhaps undeniable – the tense atmosphere gauged by the stern looks on public transport lends credence to this – the claim that it is a “driving factor” in the attacks on Muslims demonstrates reductionism and abject hypocrisy on the part of Mughal:
- When it comes to Muslims, their identity and consequently their beliefs are placed in the public dock. And with Mughal being a proponentof CVE and PREVENT, he also believes in this demonising approach, which also elides foreign/domestic policy.
- Where white people terrorise Muslim communities by attacking mosques, political factors such as terrorism are the“driving factor”, with other dominant factors, such as media complicity in Muslim minority demonisation, dismissed as being“very much an Islamist narrative”.
Fiyaz Mughal and PREVENT for Victimised Muslims
It is not difficult to see where Mughal’s statements fit when assessing the impact on the Muslim minority. To conclude that “we have to reduce the attacks” to prevent white people from becoming violent makes implicit an assumption that Muslims have some sort of control over criminals that engage in crime. Mughal subtly implants the need for structurally racist and Islamophobic policies like PREVENT into his solution. For the current way in which the neocons have chosen to “reduce the attacks” is through pre-crime intervention. And as I have elaborated in some detail, pre-crime policies like PREVENT inherently work by targeting a demonised, enemy identity (a warring approach derived from colonialism), thus mechanically embedding collective culpability.
In short, Muslims must adopt PREVENT both to stop becoming violent and to stop white people becoming violent and attacking mosques and Muslim women. The onus in both circumstances is on Muslims. It is a particularly insidious way to embed structural Islamophobia among Muslims as a response to violent Islamophobia.
It maybe that Mughal is cognisant of his stupid outpourings. Hence, he perhaps intercepts criticism by asserting that the highlighting of other factors such as the media is an “Islamist” narrative. Presumably, academic research which concludes that “evidence shows an overwhelmingly negative picture, where threat, otherness, fear and danger posed or caused by Muslims and Islam underpins a considerable majority of the media’s coverage” is also an “Islamist” narrative. Mughal uses the discourse of terrorism (“Islamists” are considered “extremists” and extremism causes terrorism according to PREVENT theory) to inhibit alternative, more credible narratives. This totalitarian behaviour is not exactly unpredictable, as Mughal has previously attempted to regulate and control Muslim discourse through the repressive policy of PREVENT.
How can such a man be taken seriously when it comes to monitoring Islamophobic attacks and increasing “community cohesion”? If anything, Mughal, a brown mascot for toxic neocon politics, represents a model example of Islamophobia and social inflammation.
Tell MAMA’s Associations with Network of Hate
Incidentally, Tell MAMA/Mughal’s efforts to construct itself as the de facto Community Security Trust of the Muslims suffered a further blow. Peter Tatchell is the patron of Tell MAMA. He is also an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, which hosts fascist anti-Islam neocon Douglas Murray (along with other quislings like Maajid Nawaz and Tehmina Kazi, complete with propaganda from the Clarion Project – identified as part of the multi-million dollar American Islamophobia Network). When asked to denounce Douglas Murray due to his vitriolic Islamophobic rants, he was unable to do so, and instead deflected this by claiming he supported human rights not Murray. His intolerance was further pointed out to him by Twitter users who posted images of him brandishing placards which equated Islam to Nazis. Tell MAMA still put out tweets supporting Tatchell (see here).
Identity-based demonisation does not end here, however. Nazir Afzal weighed-in using similar logic to Mughal claiming – without any evidence – that grooming-gangs were the “biggest recruiter for far-right in UK”. Of course, the rise of the far right/white supremacist movements is a Europe-wide problem that has little to do with the Western philosophy of fascism and Nazism (per the culturalist perspective); the banking crisis of 2007 and ensuing austerity measures which ground the lower social economic classes into poverty as happened in the 1930s during the recession – a period that made Jews the target of social anxiety; a previously dormant but now emergent transnational fascist network that is producing propaganda to exploit fears, penetrating armies and going to the extent of conducting false flags to see its agenda through; and fascist neoconservative ideologues penetrating media and government through their think-tanks that are connected to a well-funded transatlantic hate network. The Jews were subject to a genocide not because of their steady demonisation and the rise of Schmittian governance and race-based philosophy against the backdrop of a stifling financial crisis but because some amongst the Jews committed crimes that drove intolerance.
When the explanation for crimes without concrete evidence focusses on the identity of an already targeted minority group, history recalls that the results are often savage. With Mughal and Tell MAMA’s milieu delving deep into the heart of the hate industry, the question is asked, how can any Muslim entertain cooperation with such an organisation? This is particularly pertinent as Tell MAMA spread’s its tentacles into the Muslim community through community meetings. Questions ought to be also raised of Mend, which continues to platform the likes of Afzal.
Structural discrimination and Islamophobia continues to manifest in subtle and overt ways. It is for Muslims, and more so for credible organisations dedicated to eradicating Islamophobia, to recognise them and challenge them without compromise.