The Muslim Question (5) The Implications of Trevor Phillips’s Documentary for Muslims

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This is the final part to a series of blogs analysing the recent Channel 4 documentary titled, “What British Muslims Really Think”

Part 1: An Orchestrated Attack on Islam

Part 2: Brief Profile of Trevor Phillips

Part 3: Trevor Phillips’ Propaganda and Normalisation of Muslim Minority Discrimination

Part 4: Trevor Phillips and the Forging of a Closed Society

Having delved into the Straussian nightmare neoconservatives are dog-whistling to implement for broader society in the previous article, here we will examine the implications of Trevor Phillips’ words for the Muslim minority by drawing parallels with particular events in history.

Evil to Outsiders

Alienating a particular minority in order to achieve neoconservative objectives necessitates an enemy.  Further, the Straussian conception of justice of the state, in the words of Shadia Drury, means doing “evil to enemies or outsiders”.[1]

By treating Muslims as the outsiders – “a nation within the nation” – the enemy is conceived and thus, evil unto them is legitimised.

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The Muslim Question (4): Trevor Phillips’ and the Forging of a Closed Society

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A series of blogs analysing the recent Channel 4 documentary titled, “What British Muslims Really Think”

Part 1: An Orchestrated Attack on Islam

Part 2: Brief Profile of Trevor Phillips

Part 3: Trevor Phillips’ Propaganda and Normalisation of Muslim Minority Discrimination


In the last article, we saw how Phillips used spin and dubious extrapolations to conclude, in an expressly discriminatory fashion, that the survey on Muslim opinion showed “a nation within the nation.”  What the implications are in specifically the Muslim context will be the subject of my next and final piece.  Here the focus will on the ramifications resulting from Phillips’ proclamations and accompanying neoconservative chorus.

Phillips, based off his exclusionary conclusion, moves to providing a (semi-final?) “solution” to this artificially constructed “Muslim problem” saturated in hypocrisy:

“It’s clear to me that we have to discourage the many Muslims who want to live a separate life according to values that are at odds with non-Muslim Britain.  But that’s not a responsibility for government, to stand a chance of success the whole of Britain may have to set aside the live and let live philosophy that’s paved the way for separate and reassert the liberal values that served our society for so long.”

Phillips then calls for “active integration” which is made up of the notion that there are some things “society” will not compromise on, and the strategy that liberal trends in all parts of society are to be supported. In order to achieve, this, the already anti-Muslim, draconian, and civil-liberties-eroding measures implemented by neocons and David Cameron “do not go far enough”. “We need”, we are instructed, “a much more muscular approach”.

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The Muslim Question (3): Trevor Phillips’ Propaganda for Neocon Policies and Normalisation of Muslim Minority Discrimination

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A series of blogs analysing the recent Channel 4 documentary titled, “What British Muslims Really Think”

Part 1: An Orchestrated Attack on Islam

Part 2: Brief Profile of Trevor Phillips

We now turn our attention to the Channel 4 documentary.

There has been much discussion on the survey from the perspective of methodological issues, with some commentators even edging on the patronising as the insinuation is made that “conservative views” are the preserve of “deprived areas” that house “Pakistani or Bangladeshi” people.

More troubling criticisms relate to the loaded question fallacies inherent in the survey, the applicability of questions to the control group, and the subsequent spin which Trevor Phillips applies. These aspects will be will be touched upon through this piece.

Accompanying the neocon propaganda documentary was a piece authored by Trevor Phillips himself in the Daily Mail. Both were a master class in spin constituted of a number of red herrings.  These will be deconstructed to reveal a concerted effort to excommunicate the Muslim minority from society, rendering them the alien upon which neoconservative policies can be predicated.

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The Muslim Question (2): Trevor Phillips

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A series of blogs analysing the recent Channel 4 documentary titled, “What British Muslims Really Think”

Part 1: An Orchestrated Attack on Islam

In the previous article, we saw how the latest of phase of a neoconservative agenda to deconstruct Islam had resulted in a relentless assault in political and media circles on the faith.

This reach its zenith with the much discussed Channel 4 documentary hosted by Trevor Phillips.

In this article, we will focus on Phillips himself, and attempt to understand his peculiar set of statements made at the beginning of the documentary.

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The Muslim Question (1): An Orchestrated Attack on Islam

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A number of high profile attacks on the Muslim minority have surfaced lately in a relentlessly consistent fashion. The reason for the lack of writing on these events is for the simple reason that I was awaiting a particular checkpoint at which I could interject and proffer an analysis of what is exactly taking place.  However the pick axes and pitch forks of the baying neocon mob did not subside and as I write, commentaries on the now infamous Channel 4 documentary (What British Muslims Really Think) continue to percolate and David Cameron slanders a Muslim scholar from the dispatch box.

Whilst macroscopic analyses of the documentary are important, and must be challenged, it is important also to tend to the implications of the subliminal question which the Channel 4 documentary through its various Machiavellian machinations and spin sought to force upon the public.

What exactly are these grand media orchestrations attempting to achieve? Interconnected intimately with this question is, in what direction is Britain heading?

These questions will be the focus of a subsequent parts. In order to better appreciate these questions, a brief recap and analysis of key anti-Islam events are needed.

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The Propaganda Genius of “What British Muslims Really Think”

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Crosspost: Ayshah Syed

On Wednesday night Channel 4 documentaries aired “What British Muslims Really Think”. According to the host, Trevor Phillips, it is a unique new survey [which] reveals how British Muslims really think. And I can honestly say it was a treat. There is so much that can be said about this thinly veiled call to arms against British Muslims and so much to comment on the political implications, criticisms on methodology of collecting findings, problems with sourcing etc. But that can be found in numerous other articles written by a great many political voices across a great many organisations.[1][2]

For me though, as I sat there aghast, watching this appalling and gross abuse of media power, my mind was reeling from the craftsmanship at work here. Maybe because the literary realm and the power of words is my field, or maybe because of my affinity for Tafsīr (the careful analysis of words, meaning and context), or maybe because it was blatantly obvious, I saw before me an artistic piece rich with persuasive conventions, suggestive language, rhetorical techniques, sensory devices and strategic cinematography all efficiently – oh so efficiently, no second to waste; no words allowed that didn’t pull their weight – pushing an agenda of moral panic, fear mongering, and purposeful damage to social and community cohesion, reinforcing stereotypes and prejudices about Muslim communities.[3]

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PREVENT-Supporting Fiyaz Mughal and Political Opportunism

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On the 8th of March, Fiyaz Mughal’s Faith Matters submitted written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee’s countering extremism inquiry. Written in an interestingly critical style, it certainly hit all the high notes from the perspective of the Muslim community.

For instance, it drew attention to the current Counter Extremism Strategy as having disproportionately focussed on the Muslim community “leading to claims that it renders Muslims a ‘suspect community’.” It highlights the problem of Home Office holding disproportionate power in defining “extremism” and that the definition should be the “product of scholarly debate”. Even the label “Islamism” comes in for criticism, noting it leads to McCarythism and alienation of partners that can “support the fight against violent extremism”.

A superficial reading certainly makes for a promising one.

But then we recall that this is a submission by Faith Matters, whose head is Fiyaz Mughal. If anything, this submission only further exposes his hypocrisy, political opportunism and the complete discrediting of his pet project Tell MAMA.

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