2016 Reflections: Deformation of Islam and the Neoconservative Threat to Society

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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.

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A Review of the Louise Casey Review (5) – The Conveyor-Belt Theory, PREVENT and Project Spin

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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:

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Countering Terrorism with the MCB

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study published in the Journal of Neuroscience some years ago provided insight into learning and in particular, learning from one’s mistakes. The study found that good learners demonstrated greater neural activity and would use feedback not only to check their past performance, but also to adjust their next performance accordingly.

From an Islamic perspective, of course, this not exactly a ground-breaking discovery.  The Qur’an encourages believers to take stock of history in an admonitory fashion:

“Has the news of those before you not reached you – the nation of Nuh, Aad, and Thamud?”[1]

Well before Foucault was exploring the concept of the “technologies of the self”, Islam had encouraged individual spiritual accountability by pondering over one’s deeds and actions.  Reflection is key to forging ahead in a manner where mistakes are not repeated. It contextualises the succinct narration of the Prophet, peace be upon, found in Bukhari,

“The believer is not stung from the same hole twice”.

This brings us neatly to recent events involving the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).  The MCB’s behaviour has been somewhat strangely masochistic, enjoying an impending second sting with open arms.

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The Dark Shoddy “Science” Behind PREVENT

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In July of this year, I posted a blog asking the question in relation to the revelation that PREVENT was underpinned by a theory (Extremist Risk Guidance – ERG22+) formulated by British psychiatrists, What would these US psychologists make of Britain’s PREVENT Strategy? The American professors bluntly stated that the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) agenda was “at best misguided, and at worst, vicious.”

The Pseudo-Science of PREVENT

CAGE’s devastating expose – The Science of Pre-Crime: The ‘Secret’ radicalisation study underpinning Prevent’– proves that Britain’s CVE – PREVENT – really is indeed, misguided, resulting in decisions which are vicious. The report exposes a 2010 study authored by two psychologists who are linked to the national security industry, Monica Lloyd and Christopher Dean, and used to formulate the pre-crime intervention model ERG22+.  Shockingly the authors themselves admitted that the research was lacking. Below are key quotes taken from the study:

“The current lack of demonstrated reliability and validity remains the main limitation of the ERG at this time. It remains essentially a qualitative tool that requires a level of professional judgment and experience to be effectively used.”

““The ERG is work in progress…”

“There remain important questions to be explored, most notably around reliability and validity,”

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“English Islam” and the “Wahaabi” Scapegoat

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The deformation of Islam has not always had its roots in what are today clearly identifiable subversive “reform Muslims” and organisations. Traditional Ulama (Islamic scholars) have been politically exploited to provide the means by which neocons can push their agenda to deconstruct Islam.  These “moderate” scholars would provide the legitimising face behind which lurked an insidious agenda to deform Islam into what Cheryl Bernard’s RAND corporation publication would call a “democratised Islam”; a postmodernist faith devoid of substance or meaning.

The push for the creation of a “British Islam” during the late 2000s was rooted in an underlying aim to create an “institutionally approved, ‘mainstream’, and ‘moderate’ expression of Islam”, which, through state-funded Muslim organisations (like Radical Middle Way and National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group), would “engineer if not exact power” in the Muslim community. Of course, scholars that had initially given backing to such organisations have now distanced themselves from the counter-extremism policies which these initial projects engendered.

The effort to abuse Sufi Islam into courting a political agenda has seen a resurgence domestically and internationally. These trends and movements are, tellingly, monitored and advocated by Israel due to the somewhat misplaced assumption that it provides for a pliant Islam which is amenable to Western military escapades in Muslim lands.

“English Islam”

Recent reports and events demonstrate an evolution of this tired trickery.

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Transcending Borders to Combat CVE

Cedar Riverside protest against CVE

Cedar Riverside, credit Burhan Mohamud/arraweelo.wordpress.com

In Britain, the PREVENT counter-extremism programme is now being challenged academically and practically to the point that voices within the mainstream political spectrum are calling for it to be scrapped.

However, despite this policy failure, beyond Britain and in countries like Australia and the Unites States of America, the ideology of PREVENT is spreading like a virus.

Australia

There have been developments in Australia, where counter extremism policies are maintaining the discriminatory targeting of the Muslim minority.  Australia is looking to ramp up its counter-extremism measures, both in a hard and soft capacity.  The Australian measures will include the strongly-lambasted control orders to be used on individuals whom have not been convicted of a crime. Further those “high-risk extremists” whom have been convicted of a crime and have completed their prison sentence may be indefinitely detained. In other words, the rule of law is being decimated by disproportionate, authoritarian measures which will most likely be used majoritarily against Muslims.

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The Search for Dallas Shooter’s Motive

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Alton Sterling on the ground before he was fatally shot.

CROSSPOST: Ibrahim Mohamoud

FIGURES FROM America reveal that young black men were killed by police at five times the rate of white men of the same age in 2015. In 97% of police shootings, the officers involved were not charged with a crime.

On July 6, Alton Sterling was arrested, pinned down and then shot several times at point blank range by police officers in Louisiana. Before Americans and the rest of the world had fully comprehended this killing, the next day another man, Philando Castile, was also shot dead by police while his partner and her four-year-old daughter were in the car with him in Minnesota.

The killing of Alton Sterling and Castile were both recorded and posted online and stunned black communities. Black lives were once again shown not to matter. After the shock comes grief, then protests and vigils.

But a minority react violently. These people may have untreated mental health issues or a history of violence, but the trigger for their revenge is the perception that such a wrong can only be righted with violence. To say the trigger is real, the anger justified and the concerns valid, does not however negate the fact that the violence is criminal.

But instead of focussing on these very real grievances, existing power structures shift the focus to ideology.

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