The deformation of Islam has not always had its roots in what are today clearly identifiable subversive “reform Muslims” and organisations. Traditional Ulama (Islamic scholars) have been politically exploited to provide the means by which neocons can push their agenda to deconstruct Islam. These “moderate” scholars would provide the legitimising face behind which lurked an insidious agenda to deform Islam into what Cheryl Bernard’s RAND corporation publication would call a “democratised Islam”; a postmodernist faith devoid of substance or meaning.
The push for the creation of a “British Islam” during the late 2000s was rooted in an underlying aim to create an “institutionally approved, ‘mainstream’, and ‘moderate’ expression of Islam”, which, through state-funded Muslim organisations (like Radical Middle Way and National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group), would “engineer if not exact power” in the Muslim community. Of course, scholars that had initially given backing to such organisations have now distanced themselves from the counter-extremism policies which these initial projects engendered.
The effort to abuse Sufi Islam into courting a political agenda has seen a resurgence domestically and internationally. These trends and movements are, tellingly, monitored and advocated by Israel due to the somewhat misplaced assumption that it provides for a pliant Islam which is amenable to Western military escapades in Muslim lands.
Recent reports and events demonstrate an evolution of this tired trickery.
CROSSPOST: Yvonne Ridley
“Viva Palestina” is an enduring chant along with “Long Live Palestine” and “Long Live Gaza”, all of which are often used by human rights activists and others who want to show their support and goodwill for the long life and well-being of the state and its people. However, using such slogans and messages of solidarity could soon become a hate crime in Scotland, a nation which has often been praised for its refusal to give unconditional support to Israel and its brutal military occupation of Palestine.
To the astonishment of legal observers and human rights activists, a landmark trial is set to go ahead in Aberdeen after Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) member Alister Coutts, 56, was charged with “acting in a racially aggravated manner with intent to cause distress and alarm”. His “crime” was to utter “Viva Palestina” next to the Jericho Cosmetics stall in the city’s Union Square shopping mall.
His arrest, charge and impending court appearance has now fuelled speculation that pro-Israel Zionist groups in Scotland are exerting undue pressure on the authorities to “get tough” with SPSC and other Palestinian-supporting groups. Following an initial crime investigation the police will send a report to the local Procurator Fiscal, who will consider the content and decide whether to take any further action.
Cedar Riverside, credit Burhan Mohamud/arraweelo.wordpress.com
In Britain, the PREVENT counter-extremism programme is now being challenged academically and practically to the point that voices within the mainstream political spectrum are calling for it to be scrapped.
However, despite this policy failure, beyond Britain and in countries like Australia and the Unites States of America, the ideology of PREVENT is spreading like a virus.
There have been developments in Australia, where counter extremism policies are maintaining the discriminatory targeting of the Muslim minority. Australia is looking to ramp up its counter-extremism measures, both in a hard and soft capacity. The Australian measures will include the strongly-lambasted control orders to be used on individuals whom have not been convicted of a crime. Further those “high-risk extremists” whom have been convicted of a crime and have completed their prison sentence may be indefinitely detained. In other words, the rule of law is being decimated by disproportionate, authoritarian measures which will most likely be used majoritarily against Muslims.
Read my previous analysis on the HASC Radicalisation report: Home Affairs Select Committee Radicalisation Report is an Effort to Dissipate Momentum against PREVENT and a Dangerous Script for a Closed Society
The Home Affairs Select Committee report on radicalisation referred to two key organisations which have been close to the establishment and have directly or indirectly supported the lambasted PREVENT social engineering programme targeting the Muslim minority: Fiyaz Mughal’s Faith Matters which runs Tell MAMA, and Inspire, run by Sara Khan and Kalsoom Bashir.
Critiques of PREVENT raised by Faith Matters (FM) are reproduced in the Committee report. A comment piece on FM’s submission to the Committee has been published here on the blog already. I highlighted the fact that Mughal himself engages in the very issues his submission criticises. Pertinently, I revealed that the seemingly two-faced Mughal did in fact support PREVENT but believed the “brand” had become “damaged”. Moreover, the way in which Tell MAMA was being used was a cause for consternation. Far from merely recording anti-Muslim attacks, it was actively controlling Muslim discourse by indirectly defending Quilliam Foundation employees and facilitating attacks on Muslims authored by pro-Israel activists through the subtle construction of Muslim discourse as extremist – a neoconservative strategy to suppress dissent.
Under the cover of purporting to measure anti-Muslim attacks, Mughal’s organisation continues to engage in the very practice of attacking Muslims it disagrees with alongside pro-Israel outfits like Community Security Trust (CST), and gutter papers like the Daily Mail. When the pro-Israel, Mossad-linked organisation CST published a piece in which the political ideology of Zionism was dangerously conflated with anti-Semitism, credible Muslim journalist Dilly Hussain and Mend, an organisation respected in the Muslim community, were attacked, Tell MAMA tellingly Tweeted it out as a “brilliant blog”.
I have been avoiding the “burkini” debacle for a while as I have posted on the topic of veiling and the French colonialist fetish for denuding women before. But as France continues to embarrass itself by bullying women into stripping in a public spectacle, red herrings about Islam, women and “morality” have dominated the discourse. The aim of these discourses is not protecting women from such harassment, but undermining the very tenets of Islam.
The French comedy-cum-horror show reached a head with the now familiar image of a woman being forced by four courageous male police officers to remove her “burkini”. Reports state that her daughter cried and bystanders cheered. In perhaps what is the most perverse of ironies, the 34-year-old woman was fined for not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism”. Good morality, the implication is, baring all – a point I will explore further below in my discussion on morality.
Last week, Nice’s deputy mayor described the “burkini” as a “provocation from Islamists”. The hypocrisy of the French mayor requires little attention; Muslims are frequently lectured about the freedom to offend. Perhaps the deputy mayor should attend them instead.
“The colonialist administration invested great sums in this combat. After it had posited that the woman constituted the pivot of Algerian society, all efforts were made to obtain control over her.”
“This woman who sees without being seen frustrates the coloniser”
~ Frantz Fanon
The Cannes ban on the Hijab/full body suits, where politically expedient, theologised, metaphysical ideas tangibly trump a Muslim woman’s ability to attend the beach, presents yet another example of the much vaunted “tolerance” born from “secular indifference to religion”, usually postulated as an argument against Islam.
The ban is blatantly premised on reductionist, culturalist logic (“ostentatious displays of religious affiliation” referring to “an allegiance to terrorist movements” is a colonialist trope used to justify repression against a people). It is clearly discriminatory against the Muslim minority, conflicting with the ideas it seeks to protect; one can really insufflate the freedom, liberty and neutrality of religion in the French official’s words.
Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
The question needs to be raised. Muslim organisations have generally been silent. Scholars and Imams also seem to be mute on the issue. And Muslim civil society, bar a few examples, has generally been inert in its response. It seems the continuous abstraction of Muslims into the counter-terrorism discourse is taking its toll and numbing the minds to the elephant in the room.
The question relates to Muslim refugees entering Europe and subsequently converting to Christianity.