Given the toxicity of the PREVENT label, the Muslim minority is all too familiar with its problems. Its name results in an anxiety which now simply cannot be dismissed. As the highly problematic report “The Missing Muslims” published by Citizens UK recognised, the “Prevent Strategy on Muslim communities came up in most of the hearings across the country”. To deal with this breakdown, there is now a reversion to a “community-based” approach to tackling extremism and terrorism.
The “community response to terrorism” approach seeks to mask the issue that “buy-in” and trust of the community is absent and therefore the policy is not being co-opted by the community. The solution therefore operates on the assumption that PREVENT, or more accurately, a pre-criminal intervention is not necessarily the problem, and where there are problems, these are simply implementation detail which can be rectified. This is further supplemented by a co-existing effort to produce a response developed by the community in the hope that PREVENT would be rendered obsolete. Both however, posit the community and its exploitation central to the promulgation of pre-crime interventionism.
In this piece, I intend to outline a brief history of this resurgent “community-driven response” trend and highlight some of the organisations that seem to be pursuing this course of action.
1st Knight charity founder Andy Linihan
An undercover investigation by the BBC Scotland found that a military charity which raises funds for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, was selling anti-Islamic and Nazi-themed items.
According to the report, the founder of 1st Knight Military Charity, Andy Linihan, was selling a Velcro badge which is designed to be placed on uniforms or baseball caps. Underneath the picture of an assault rifle were the words “72 Virgins Express”, which meant, according to Linihan, the shooting of suicide bombers. One T-shirt had a picture of two naked women, a pint of beer and a pig. It read: ‘Pork-eating, beer-drinking, womanising infidel’. The charity volunteer explained:
“They’re not allowed to eat it are they? These Muslims. Pork-eating, beer-drinking – basically it’s against their religion. Womanising – they’re not allowed to womanise, are they? And yet they call us infidels.”
Other merchandise included Nazi-themed T-shirts and hooded jumpers emblazoned with neo-Nazi emblems.
See also: Lies, Spin and Distortion: Archive of Articles on Andrew Gilligan’s Anti-Muslim Journalism
One of the achievements anti-Muslim “journalist” Andrew Gilligan will be able to frame in his house will be “Greatest Proliferator of Lies”. When it comes to turning up the heat and smearing members of the Muslim minority, perhaps at the behest of neoconservatives, Gilligan is the go-to man for desperate “connections”, half-baked claims and in some cases, utter lies.
Earlier this year, I wrote a blog piece on the neoconservative campaign to undermine the fight against the draconian, widely lambasted PREVENT counter-extremism policy. Gilligan’s article was exposed for having number of number outlandish claims. One of the cases which was being circulated in the media to demonstrate the impact of PREVENT was the “eco-terrorisme” case. Gilligan claimed that the mother of child who had been referred via PREVENT, Ifhat Smith, was linked to campaign group Prevent Watch, and the Ennadha, which Gilligan explained was the Tunisian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
CROSSPOST: Alastair Sloan
Any visitor to the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) website will find open and informative accounts of much of the organisation’s activities. Information abounds about trips to Israel on which hundreds of activists, candidates, MPs and peers have been shown carefully around the West Bank and Israel proper. They never go to Gaza, though, where the scale of the humanitarian crisis is so grave that no amount of Israeli spin could cover up the unethical monstrosity that is the illegal blockade.
The trip which took place in late August, for example, included five Conservative MPs, named and photographed on the CFI website as Stuart Andrew, Conor Burns, Philip Davies, Jonathan Djanogly and John Howell, as well as two peers and CFI officials. In a further tribute to the transparency with which CFI organises these trips, it was happy to reference the positive coverage that the trip received in the Times of Israel, the Jewish Chronicle and the Jerusalem Post. The Electoral Commission register is subsequently populated by new entries, as each MP properly declares that the CFI covered all the travel expenses for the trip; the register is available for anyone to search for free, online. This hardly seems like a secretive organisation, at least not when it comes to organising PR trips to Israel.
Since the Trojan Hoax fiasco, project deconstruction of Islam has been complimented by project purge. Muslim teachers have had their careers and reputations ruined whilst teachers from evangelical Christian backgrounds remained unscathed despite similar allegations raised against them having been brought to light on this very blog.
Anti-Muslim Ofsted, Anti-Islam Wilshaw
Ofsted has allegedly undergone a complete change. A number of inspectors my sources have spoken to have stated that Ofsted has adopted an “Islamophobic agenda”, with a blatant focus on Islamic schools and schools in Muslim majority areas being made the focus.
My sources also state that there is a trend of Muslim inspectors who wear Islamic garb and visual cues like the beard being quietly dropped, with their contracts not being renewed.
Pro-Israel activists have been gathering momentum in their concerted effort to conflate Zionism with Judaism/Jewish identity and therefore censor particular references and discourses.
Based on dubious and deceptive conflation, several Labour MPs have been suspended. Notable organisations fronting these efforts are “feeder” groups which often forward information onto other Israel lobby groups like the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council. These grassroots organisations are linked to other organisations which have been, for instance, directly responsible for the eventual suspension of Jackie Walker – a Jewish anti-racism activist who made the “mistake” of saying “millions more Africans were killed in the African Holocaust”. Similar conflations by these organisations have been made about NUS President Malia Bouattia (see here and here, for instance).
A brief peruse down the social media timelines shows that some of their campaigns have targeted (I would argue legitimately) those instances which genuinely constitute anti-Semitism. This, however is insidiously supplemented by a concerted campaign to confuse anti-Israel views and political activism with anti-Semitism. Bullying and intimidation tactics, like in the case of Walker, are adopted to force this conflation. In doing so, boundaries on what can and cannot be articulated about Israel are redrawn and free speech – the favoured neocon invocation for anti-Islam hate – is assaulted. The organisations also profess views which are often aired from the Zionist far-right.
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.