The last piece examining Sara Khan’s contribution to the Hope not Hate (HnH) report highlighted the sectarian exploitation by the very policies Khan advocates. In addition to noting the dangerous smearing of whole groups, it was identified that the Ahmadiyya were being used to force a deformation of Islam agenda.
This piece will examine how Khan, continuing the neocon trait of double standards and hypocrisy, has overlooked the “extremism” – as defined by the PREVENT Strategy – within the Ahmadiyya community, reflecting a broader concerted, ideological political effort to attack and subdue orthodox Islam. The Ahmadiyya, therefore, provide a useful example of both HnH’s incoherent approach, and Khan’s selective social-cohesion concerns.
In stark contrast with the Muslim minority as a whole, the politicians and media have given an amplified and prioritised platform to project the Ahmadiyya persecution narrative. Whilst addressing such grievances is important for the state, the Ahmadiyya leadership dynamic in Britain echoes a colonial past where the emergence of the Ahmadiyya movement meshed with the British colonial power structure and aided it against colonial resistance.
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.
Click to enlarge
Christmas, it seems is another issue which annually crops up to force the “Muslim Question”, whilst curiously obviating the uncomfortable issue of religious rights to hold, and by implication exclude particular beliefs and practices. Of course, this discriminatory focus on Muslims (the Jewish minority, for instance, are comparatively absent from this discourse) has consequences. Over a week ago, it was reported that a Muslim woman in Australia was subjected to a brutal verbal and physical attack after she replied “happy holidays” to the attacker’s “merry Christmas”. Incidentally, I doubt Louise Casey would regarding uttering “merry Christmas” as a sign of vulnerability to “extremism” and consequently, “violent extremism”.
There are milder but still manifestly detrimental consequences here in Britain too. Last year, Police Commander Mak Chishty moronically stated that children who regarded Christmas as religiously prohibited were subscribing to an “Islamist” view. They were therefore not “moderate”. As I highlighted at that time, this absurd notion was discriminatory as other religious groups, such as orthodox Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses, whom regard Christmas as deriving from pagan customs, held similar views, but were not tarnished with the rhetoric of securitisation. It seems however, that this dangerously irresponsible statement is seeing some manifestation in the education context.
Part 1 (Introduction): A Review of the Casey review (1)
Part 2: A Review of the Louise Casey Review (2) – A Paper Influenced by the Transatlantic Neocon Hate-network
Part 3: A Supremacist Far-Right, Neoconservative Screed of Double Standards and Muslim Minority Stigmatisation
Part 4: The Deformation of Islam and Muslim Minority Rights
The ideological slant of the Casey Review is manifest in its discourse on PREVENT. In this part, the interlinking between social cohesion, extremism and terrorism will be analysed, along with the Review’s determined agenda to manage the negative perceptions of the crisis-stricken PREVENT policy.
Conveyor Belt theory in all but Name
The Casey Review extends the notion of controlling ideas (a topic thoroughly explored in the next part) from potential threats to the state to whole communities which are “not integrated”, by leveraging PREVENT-based “British values” from the Counter Extremism Strategy:
The interrogation and assault on Muslims and their faith is uniquely focussed, with most of the distinctly colonialist, alienation rhetoric directed towards orthodox Islam. This is ironic given that the Review claims social interaction is good because it results in “a better understanding of differences”. Further “mutual respect” (a quality which Muslims fair better than their Christian peers in the context of faiths according to the Review) is also considered by Casey as a value “integral to a cohesive nation”. Yet Casey then speaks of a “growing concern” about a “divergence of attitudes and values among minority communities”, which she then categorises as “extremist” and “regressive”. Surely, if there is conviction in the value of respecting differences, “divergence of attitudes and values” should not be problem? Not so. Whilst demanding respect of for “quintessentially British” things like queueing and the Queen, Casey weaponises the alternate beliefs of Muslims in order to render the Muslim minority an alien community.
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.
Those promoting PREVENT are getting desperate, it seems. Sources in Birmingham forwarded a letter from Waverley School (Birmingham) directed to parents, stating that the school will participate in a BBC Panorama documentary promoting PREVENT. The letter reads that the BBC programme will “showcase some of the excellent work we do around Safeguarding and the Prevent Duty”. The film crew will be in the school tomorrow (25th November) and requests the parents to fill in a consent form.
Letter to parents
BBC Consent Form