Twitter talk and feverish Facebook frenzy over the newly announced Commission for Counter Extremism (CCE) has continued for the past few days, but perhaps disproportionately for the wrong reasons. The government’s announcement of the Commission came alongside the announcement of the lead commissioner Sara Khan of Inspire, a self-styled feminist who counters “extremism” has triggered vociferous responses in the media. MEND led a petition against her appointment and whilst it opens with a question as to why the Commission is necessary, it goes onto attack Khan on the condition of it existing, rendering the opening statement somewhat incidental. Mend CEO Shazad Amin also centred on Khan, reinforcing this perception.
There are certainly problems with Khan (these will be elaborated upon in a subsequent, detailed piece), however, they are an extension of far more important concerns that need to be raised.
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:
Counter-extremism and terrorism strategies and laws have decimated the rule of law. The Countering Violent Extremism agenda is being slated by the professoriate and resisted by Muslim minorities in the West. Calls are being made to scrap PREVENT.
Despite this picture, it is “business as usual” in Britain. The scandalous nature of PREVENT peaks as taxi-drivers are now being trained to become the “eyes and ears” of local authorities and police. One can envisage the scenario of an overzealous taxi driver reporting individuals heading to protests, a mosque or a get together at the local Arab restaurant. The insidiously suppressive nature of counter-extremism makes this all possible.
Prisons have been the latest theatre of ideological war for the neocon counter-extremism craze. With the imprisonment of Anjem Choudhry came proposals which were last dog-whistled by original Quilliamite and current Tony Blair Faith Foundation senior advisor Ed Husain. It has been suggested that in order to combat the “pernicious” ideology of “Islamist extremism”, prisoners ought to be kept apart from the rest of the prison population. As I commented back in March, such measures are counter-productive and not needed.
It has reached a point where elements of the government, in their efforts to salvage whatever they can, are resorting obvious spin tactics. From seemingly planted stories (Sara Khan’s incredibly artificial efforts to sell PREVENT, her Home Office-approved book, along with vague success stories – which cannot be corroborated – to an incredibly welcoming media comes to mind), to sham select committee “reviews” of PREVENT, which far from questioning PREVENT’s basis, strengthened it, the methods demonstrate signs of desperate.
Despite these manoeuvres, there have been several key reports over the past few weeks which have indicated to the final throes of Britain’s PREVENT counter-extremism strategy.
When it comes to instituting inquiries which examine the actions of the government, the lethargy is yawningly apparent. The Chilcot inquiry has been postponed so many times one refuses to believe that after seven years, subsequent to warring in Libya, Iraq and now Syria, the due date (6 July 2016) will actually see the report published.
Theresa May’s inquiries into the alleged Westminster paedophile allegations saw similar deferrals. With documents related to the investigation spontaneously going missing from within the Home Office, inquiries being stalled and those linked to accused political figures being placed as chairs of the inquiry, towards the end of the 2014, the inquiry itself had become a scandal.
When it comes examining Islam and Muslims, however, our government is on form.
The Cameron government has suffered a number of set-backs and U-turns in the past year in terms of policy. In most of these cases, the policies have been challenged by the public due to their adverse impact. What fiascos like the junior doctors pay have demonstrated is that a well-informed public, which has not pandered to the government’s fear mongering, or smoke-and-mirrors tactics, is one of the best checks on state excesses.
A further frontier is to be established with the Queen’s Speech setting out the Counter-Extremism Bill. With this area too, the public must stand up and see through the “terrorism” façade which is being used to justify spurious, draconian legislation.
A series of blogs analysing the recent Channel 4 documentary titled, “What British Muslims Really Think”
Part 1: An Orchestrated Attack on Islam
Part 2: Brief Profile of Trevor Phillips
Part 3: Trevor Phillips’ Propaganda and Normalisation of Muslim Minority Discrimination
In the last article, we saw how Phillips used spin and dubious extrapolations to conclude, in an expressly discriminatory fashion, that the survey on Muslim opinion showed “a nation within the nation.” What the implications are in specifically the Muslim context will be the subject of my next and final piece. Here the focus will on the ramifications resulting from Phillips’ proclamations and accompanying neoconservative chorus.
Phillips, based off his exclusionary conclusion, moves to providing a (semi-final?) “solution” to this artificially constructed “Muslim problem” saturated in hypocrisy:
“It’s clear to me that we have to discourage the many Muslims who want to live a separate life according to values that are at odds with non-Muslim Britain. But that’s not a responsibility for government, to stand a chance of success the whole of Britain may have to set aside the live and let live philosophy that’s paved the way for separate and reassert the liberal values that served our society for so long.”
Phillips then calls for “active integration” which is made up of the notion that there are some things “society” will not compromise on, and the strategy that liberal trends in all parts of society are to be supported. In order to achieve, this, the already anti-Muslim, draconian, and civil-liberties-eroding measures implemented by neocons and David Cameron “do not go far enough”. “We need”, we are instructed, “a much more muscular approach”.
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.
In a word we must segment Islam… weaken Islam, make it restless, numb it, and render it forever incapable of great awakenings. ~ French liberal colonialist Edmond Fazy
I have often highlighted that neoconservative assumptions about Islam have driven much of the counter-extremism discourse. The implementation of the doctrine of pre-emption by neocons means that orthodox Muslims are purged from public sector jobs, and Muslim children for instance, are now the subject of counter-extremism measures for requesting prayer space, or campaigning for Palestine.
Whilst outrageous to the reasonable mind, and condemned by hundreds of leading academics, the neocons have successfully engineered an atmosphere where Islam and Muslims have become despised, thus allowing for secular interference of private religion to produce a secularised, government-compliant Muslim whose connection to Islam is merely incidental and historic. Whilst Orthodox Jews are engaged with by the government freely and have yet to attract the label of extremism for their manners and mores which are at odds with the secular liberal status quo, Muslims have only government-produced, neocon-connected individuals as the “approved” representatives of Islam. Gone are the days when MCB was consulted, or the Sufis were used and abused as tools to deal with “fundamentalist” Muslims. Today the attack on Islam is wholesale and open thanks to the counter-extremism agenda, and neocon-co-opted, state-funded individuals and organisations, officially supported and promoted by the head of state. It seems the failure in instigating a deformation of Islam means that the weight of the state is now being used to force it.
“Journalists need to check basic facts and ask simple questions about the identity and motivations of the people making these claims…”
So says Hannah Stuart of the Henry Jackson Society in Andrew Gilligan latest article attacking those critiquing the PREVENT Strategy. The irony could not be more profound.
It has been a while since I have given some space here on the blog to our favourite neocon propagandist, Andrew Gilligan. Perhaps it is because his role has been lately filled by David Daily Mail Cameron.
It seems the momentum against the civil-liberties violating, discriminatory PREVENT Strategy which has roused Muslims up and down the country to reject it outright, has unsettled some in the Home Office. RICU, its propaganda department has gone into over drive and the right-wing press have been all too happy implement the Henry Jackson Society’s spin bible for damage limiting the reputation of a failed policy.
He certainly delivered the trademark Gilligan goods: spin, distortion and unconvincing attempts to smear. His target this time is a relatively new organisation which has been documenting abuse cases resulting from PREVENT, Prevent Watch (PW).