The neocon propaganda machine is at full tilt as the government reveals its ultimate legislative weapon to excise active Muslim political activists from civil society under the dissent-suppressing counter-extremism discourse. Andrew Gilligan has already taken a swipe at Muslim organisations through his trademark blend of Muslim “extremists”, spin and lies. Even Peter Oborne could not help but notice that his article contained “a number of unsubstantiated claims” and “a number of factual errors”.
Elsewhere, David Cameron apparently likes Muslims. Well *some* Muslims would be more accurate. In what must be the most sterile PR stunt ever, he has lent his approval to a head-scarf wearing Muslim contestant of the TV show, the Great British Bake Off. One can understand why:
- Is her politics reflective of a Muslim who needs to prove her “Britishness”? Check.
- Does the Muslim belong to a gender group which needs to be saved from Islam? Check.
- Does the show have the word “British” as part of its title? Check.
- Are the general public supporting her? Check.
It sure is a safe bet. Previously, in Eid messages, Cameron has spoken of the “good Muslims” who fought for “our freedoms” off the back of the brutal colonialism of the Muslim world. Later, in his Birmingham speech, he would go onto proclaim that he was going to “actively encourage the reforming and moderate Muslim voices.” These voices incidentally belong to “progressive Muslims” who also happen to be primed by key neoconservative officials and who support their key policies, from the discourse on Muslims and global democracy-spreading to Trident. Such promotion and support is key to maintaining the neoconservative assumptions around the Muslim context. The fundamental impediment is garnering legitimacy from the mainstream Muslim community.
Legislative hunting season has started. Predictably the neocons are disseminating their versions of “truth” whilst the churnalistic media regurgitate what they have to say without much of challenge to the claims being made.
With the onset of the Counter-Extremism Bill, a press release was issued by the government on the 17th of September announcing, as part of the neoconservative “One-Nation” Toryism (a euphemism for war and the creation of a “closed society”), a new duty to stop extremists radicalising students on campuses. This duty came into force on the 21st of September 2015. It will ensure that “extremists” espousing “extremist views” would not go unchallenged and that staff are thoroughly brainwashed and bathed in the neoconservative counter-extremism discourse so that they may be able to protect students from “poisonous and pernicious ideas”. Offering some hot chocolate with an arm of comfort around the shoulders of the circa 280 academics, lawyers and public figures who slammed the counter-extremism strategy (PREVENT) and the assumptions which underpin them, Cameron stated that,
“It is not about oppressing free speech or stifling academic freedom, it is about making sure that radical views and ideas are not given the oxygen they need to flourish.”
This is the “guided” liberalism of Cameron as opposed to the university leaders’ “misguided liberalism” condemned in his Birmingham speech. By reconstituting human rights-violating measures into a “duty to protect”, the central objections to such measures are somehow magically meant to disappear. Even the establishment “independent reviewer” of terrorism laws David Anderson QC said,
“These issues matter because they concern the scope of UK discrimination, hate speech and public order laws, the limit that the state may place on some of our most basic freedoms, the proper limits of surveillance, and the acceptability of imposing suppressive measures without the protections of the criminal law…”
Putting it in slightly less diplomatic terms, Cameron and his neocon cabal are riding rough-shod over the principle of non-discrimination, free speech and freedom of belief on the basis of views that he and his nihilist neocons deem unacceptable.
Photograph: Rob Stothard/Getty Images
The focus of PREVENT has discriminatorily targeted and resultantly profiled the Muslim minority for some time. Over the past year, I have documented how the structural discrimination at the state level has progressed pretty much unnoticed and without any furore – the type of furore that was created based upon smears and allegations last year which culminated in multiple reports being commissioned and published, which led to Muslims being associated with the far-right derogatory term, Trojan Horse (based off a fabricated letter no less).
I have challenged the skewed application of the term “extremism”. Indeed, biased, politically motivated investigations in other communities would yield interesting findings, and the government alongside complicit mouthpiece media would have little trouble turning the Jewish community for instance, into an “enemy within”. However the indifferent attitude to issues in the Jewish community, exemplifies the discrimination facing Muslim. Early last year I highlighted a school in which corporal punishment was being meted out to Jewish children by teachers. Most of the media did not even report the findings of Ofsted. Neither was there a relentless cultural attack on Jews designed to prove the inferiority of their way of life. No muscular liberalism was flexed.
And no, this is not an “Islamist lie” like Maajid Nawaz seems to have informed you. It is however, a neoconservative conspiracy, which spans the inception of the War on Terror.
David Cameron’s doublespeaking speech was incessant in its assertion that there is no conspiracy to “destroy Islam”.
Increasingly, it seems that practically any argument, however well referenced, even academically-backed, is to be rapidly brought into the sphere of “extremism” or “Islamism” and suppressed through State apparatus. They have become the terms through which the government is censoring counter-narratives.
For neocons, “active opposition” to their civic religion of secular liberalism and its symbols – “British values” of democracy, rule of law and human rights – is equivalent to “undermining” it. It is “an attack” no less. To protect it, the state has effectively deployed the counter-extremism and terrorism industry. However, the double-standards applied by neocons means that any effort to undermine Islam, as understood from the time of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and explained and refined through the past fourteen centuries by thousands of Ulama – scholars of impeccable learning and piety – cannot be seen as an “attack on Islam”. Nay, for David Cameron and his colonialist brown-sahibs, it is part of the “Islamist” narrative. Presumably the “extremism” policy, which imposes an extreme interpretation of secular liberalism on Muslims and an opposition to it seen as “undermining our values”, is also part of the “Islamist” narrative.
David Cameron in his speech said that in order to defeat extremism, the extreme ideology which underpins it must be confronted head on. I will confront an ideology which is already in power in Britain, and perpetuates fascism and violence in the name of values it does not believe in.
Looking back over the past decade, we witness the damage wrought by neconservatism in the US; the War on Terror which bequeathed us endless violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, civilian causalities amounting to genocide, torture, and the steady attrition of civil liberties thanks to legislation like the unconstitutional PATRIOT Act, which paved the way for unchecked power and increased surveillance. Muslim communities became the target of counter-subversion strategies and, what Professor Arun Kundnani calls, “COUNTELPRO 2.0” tactics:
“…the extensive surveillance of Muslim-American populations; the deployment of informants; the use of agents provocateurs; the widening use of material support legislation to criminalize charitable or expressive activities; and the use of community engagement to gather intelligence and effect ideological self-policing of communities. Significantly, such practices have been encouraged, organized, and legitimized by the radicalization models that law enforcement agencies adopted in the first decade of the twenty-first century.”
Over a period of time, certainly in the US, the neocons have become almost taboo for the crimes they perpetrated, and the destruction they brought to civil liberties. As one American writer notes, “Neoconservative dreams of creating a hard-edged, neo-imperial American hegemony over the world died in the rubble of Iraq and Afghanistan.” Obama’s recent diplomatic agreement with Iran has further pained the neoconservatives, who have been consistently calling for a war against Iran.
PM Cameron goes two for two today following up Ramadan greetings last month with a speech in Bratislava accusing British Muslims of “quietly condoning” extremism, and Eid greetings issued last Friday followed up with a wide ranging speech in Birmingham that demurs little from the ideas articulated in Munich in 2011.
Indeed, James Forsyth, the Daily Mail’s political commentator gave indication of Cameron’s impending speech late last month noting, “Tellingly, this speech is being referred to in Downing Street as ‘Munich 2’.”
British Muslims will be forgiven for reliving a déjà vu moment. Truth is, much of what Cameron had to say today is not ‘new,’ which is perhaps the most disturbing part of the speech delivered. After a term in office, the Government is no better informed about tackling extremism than it was five years ago. Despite promises made in opposition to review the Prevent programme and to ensure that security legislation did not impinge on hard won civil liberties, the Government is beginning to look distinctly like the Blair Government before it: in denial about foreign policy and other factors impacting on radicalisation while using the power and resources of the state to, as former Labour MP Phyllis Starkey put it in her scathing review about the earlier Prevent strategy, “engineer a ‘moderate’ form of Islam, promoting and funding only those groups which conform to this model.”
A major event targeting Muslims is set to take place in Birmingham on Monday, I am told and it involves two individuals who on the face of it, have little connection with each other: Kamal Hanif and David Cameron.
A closer look at Hanif and his mind-set (or lack thereof) reveals that he is the type of person perfect for neoconservative exploitation.
Kamal Hanif: A Proxy for the DfE
In August 2014, I drew attention to the promises of engagement which were made by the head of academies and free schools, Colin Diamond, to the parents and former governors of Park View Educational Trust (PVET), the academy which was at the centre of Michael Gove’s incursion into Birmingham schools, under the pretext of the disproved Trojan Horse Hoax.
Instead what followed was the purge of existing governors and the dictatorial instatement of hand-picked governors. I revealed that among the hand-picked governors were those who were on the board of the Birmingham Education Partnership (BEP), the organisation led by white supremacist and alleged architect of the Trojan Hoax letter Tim Boyes, which has recently received millions to “clean-up” schools in Birmingham, train governors and deal with “extremism” issues.