Recent weeks have seen a sustained campaign of repressive bullying tactics against a Muslim doctor and vocal anti-racism, pro-Palestinian voice Dr Siema Iqbal by pro-Israel activist organisation North West Friends of Israel (NWFOI). The retweets by Dr Iqbal, which were contested as “anti-Semitic”, were clarified three years ago.
Despite this, NWFOI has resumed its harassment.
Recently, Dr Iqbal was invited to read a statement on racism at the Assembly of Greater Manchester Citizens UK. Seemingly unable to stomach a Muslim woman with strong pro-Palestinian views, NWFOI restarted its harassment, this time led by the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), an organisation which Alastair Sloan highlights has defended Israeli leaders from the principles of universal jurisdiction and therefore accountability of potential war crimes. Declaring Dr Iqbal’s tweets/retweets anti-Semitic despite being political in nature and directed in response to the Israeli government’s aggression against Palestinians in Gaza, the JLC seems to have pressured Citizens UK into distancing itself from Dr Iqbal. These statements were then circulated in the Jewish Telegraph (complete with a statement from the NWFOI), Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish News, and shared by the far-right-linked Quilliam Foundation’s Haras Rafiq.
So what do we know about the NFWOI?
The last piece analysing Hope not Hate’s (HnH) report State of Hate 2017, engaged the question of Sara Khan’s circles of influence. Her links to notorious members of the counter-Jihad movement would, at the very least, cast doubt on what was produced in the report. One of the structural flaws noted in my last piece was that Khan’s operating framework was the highly discredited PREVENT policy. The policy is based on neoconservative assumptions and promoted by those who intermingle with the worst of the far-right counter-Jihad movements.
This piece will take an epistemological account of Khan’s writing and elaborate the way in which destructive neoconservative assumptions permeate it, leading to the perpetuation of structural prejudice against the Muslim minority and control of Muslim discourse.
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?
It is that time of the year: a hectic month as the British people recover from their frenzied Christmas shopping, briefly punctuated with the peace of the annual family get together, only to be followed by scrambling over various items thanks to the hype produced by corporations eager to increase the debt through boxing day “sales”. As the recovery from these activities begins and the damage to the bank accounts dawn, we take advantage of this lull for some customary reflection.
This year has been a particularly unsettling one; the sordidly racist campaign which ultimately culminated in Brexit; the far-right terrorist attack claiming the life of Jo Cox – the first killing of an MP in 26 years; the B-movie being played in the US starring Donald Trump, the West-wide rise of the far-right and unleashing of political and social xenophobia, security globalisation via totalitarian measures like the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) agenda; Britain passing one of the world’s widest and intrusive surveillance laws; the list goes on. Sadly, it is the Muslim minority, either through scapegoating or being subjected to the fruits of this dangerous concoction of nationalism, disenfranchisement through the global neoliberal order, and neoconservative domestic and foreign policies, which has by and large, bore the brunt.
Last year, the hate-financed Henry Jackson Society published a report on how to spin away criticism of PREVENT. One of its suggestions was to recast the public surveillance programme as “safeguarding”. There has been an amplification of this spin by most government-paid PREVENT practitioners, promoters and careerists since then. This claim both from a historic and conceptual point of view, is woefully inaccurate and a continued demonstration of how the PREVENT industry is deceptively manipulating narratives.
Ignoring History? PREVENT’s Discriminatory “Influence Campaign”
As I have explicated in some detail, the counter-productive pre-crime approach to countering terrorism was not based on empirical evidence but the paradigmatically neoconservative military doctrine of pre-emption. McCulloch and Wilson (2015), in their book exploring “pre-crime” intervention state,
“The declaration of the “war on terror” was the catalyst for a more pre-emptive approach to threats.”
With the War on Terror aimed at Muslim countries, PREVENT’s focus from its very inception has been to control Islam and Muslims through what Ruth Kelly once called the “winning of hearts and minds” – a punch line which inherently denoted propaganda warfare and which usually accompanies hot war. The fundamental difference to normal propaganda warfare during military campaigns and the PREVENT Strategy is that PREVENT is being waged against Britain’s own Muslim citizens. In 2007, PREVENT funds were directed to those local authorities in England with 5 per cent or more of their population identifying as Muslim. In other words, funding was allocated based on the number of Muslims as opposed to risk. This discriminatory focus on Muslims has continued through the years, with the Guardian last year reporting that PREVENT was being prioritised to target mainly Muslim areas.
The former oil executive and Etonian Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, recently stated that there was a need to move away from the notion that ISIS has “nothing to with Islam”:
“If we treat religiously-motivated violence solely as a security issue, or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult – probably impossible – to overcome it… A theological voice needs to be part of the response, and we should not be bashful in offering that… This requires a move away from the argument that has become increasingly popular, which is to say that Isis is ‘nothing to do with Islam’, or that Christian militia in the Central African Republic are nothing to do with Christianity, or Hindu nationalist persecution of Christians in South India is nothing to do with Hinduism.. Until religious leaders stand up and take responsibility for the actions of those who do things in the name of their religion, we will see no resolution.”
The argument seems ostensibly balanced. After all, the theological element is mentioned as a factor (albeit a defining one) and Welby highlights the Christian militia in CAR, as well as the Hindu nationalist persecution, though, limiting it to Christian persecution whilst ignoring the rape and killing of Kashmiri Muslims by an army overseen by the fascist PM of India, Narendra Modi. However, the reporting, language and timing of his statements, upon closer inspection, reveal a smokescreen for a continued agenda to target Islam.
CROSSPOST: Jonathon Cook
Palestinian politicians in Israel have found an unexpected ally inside the government against a new bill banning mosques from using loudspeakers to broadcast the call to prayer.
The so-called Muezzin Bill – named after the person who calls Muslims to prayer – was approved by a ministerial committee on Sunday, on the grounds that it is needed to reduce “noise pollution” from mosques.
A first vote in the Israeli parliament on the legislation – due on Wednesday – had to be delayed, however, after a small Jewish religious party raised objections.