There has been a flurry of commentary and articles on both sides of the pond seeking to fathom and comprehend the somewhat diabolical outcome over in the US. Donald Trump, the orange hued caricature of the volatile white supremacy movement, is to step into the Whitehouse to take the reins of a country which has for over a decade defined itself by secular creedal beliefs like freedom and democracy which have been militarily imposed upon the rest of the peoples of the world.
The reaction from the commentariat and Twitterati has been one of shock, followed by attempts to understand the rise of Trump. From disenchantment of the people with the elite, to the interconnected rise of neoliberalism and globalised greed, to even questioning liberal democracy itself (PREVENT anyone?), the reasons have been varied. A further explanation is that this is historic white supremacy reasserting itself – a racist institution recalibrating in the aftermath of a black president and excessive equality. For this reassertion, however, here has had to be a catalyst.
Culture wars are a neoconservative forte which is born from neoconservatism’s societal prescription of nationalism of the type which actively creates enemies, Otherises “aliens”, courts the religious/nationalist fanatic, and champions wars abroad. This is done under the overarching aim of creating an authoritarian closed society based on fascist principles, which is for neocons the solution for America’s liberalism-based cultural decline. To facilitate the “enemy” aspect of neocon policies, the clash of civilisations thesis is used along with the military doctrine of pre-emption to normalise the culture war against Islam and Muslims within the upper echelons of government. It is pumped through a multi-million-dollar, sophisticated network of hatemongers, think-tanks, propagandists and “alt-right” racist papers. Neoconservatives, in other words, are key in fostering the climate in which people have chosen Trump.
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.
Over the past month a major change in the Muslim socio-political landscape took place. The Guardian reported some shocking incidents which have taken place in Newham, with Muslims raising their concerns about the Council’s Quilliam connection.
The report notes that since former Quilliam Foundation director Ghaffar Hussain joined Newham Council as a PREVENT officer, Islamic practices have been targeted as the basis for intervention:
“Imams point out that earlier this year a school attempted to ban the wearing of the jilbab, a long and loose-fit coat or garment worn by Muslim women, and had to back down after appeals from parents. Another free school, with 200 Muslim students, closed down its prayer room – forcing pupils to pray on Friday in the local parks.”
Similar trends have taken place since the PREVENT duty in Birmingham, where schools have attempted to change or already have changed long established dress codes and Friday prayer arrangements.
In the context of Hussain, this is unsurprising; Maajid Nawaz of Quilliam has targeted traditional Islam as the focus of attack after Islamism, while David Cameron himself has placed deformist reformists alongside “moderate Muslim voices”. Usama Hasan, meanwhile, participated in the far-right/neoconservative-linked “Muslim Reform Movement”, whose Muslim-profiling, Quran-tearing, “mainstream moderate Muslim” Asra Nomani recently declared the hijab to be “Islamist” and called on Muslim women to abandon the headscarf. Of course, bringing the hijab into the discourse of “Islamism” in neoconservative circles also makes it “extremist”.
For much of the Muslim minority and from the perceptions garnered from my contacts working in the third sector, the impartiality of the Charity Commission and specifically the head, William Shawcross, is, to put it mildly, a running joke. A recent find by the journalist, Ben White, (posted on Facebook) has further added fuel to the pro-Israel, anti-Muslim fire.
William Shawcross the current chair of the Charity Commission and Peter Clarke, the individual who headed the investigations into Trojan Hoax allegations at Birmingham schools at the behest of Michael Gove, have been invited to a conference held in the Zionist entity. The Commission has confirmed that Shawcross has “politely declined” the invite, however this is unsurprising given the fact that he has had to come out and publically state he is not targeting Muslim charities and now needs to respond to a legal action which alleges that his Commission has exceeded its powers. The fact that he has made the itinerary of the conference does indicate that he may have initially accepted the invitation. Regardless, the fact that the conference organisers sought him fit to speak on a provocative topic speaks volumes about Shawcross and his neocon companion Clarke.