I am currently preparing an article analysing a neocon’s hate against Islam spun as security concerns off the back of the Westminster attacks. That will be out soon, however, I thought I’d share an interesting comment in an article I came across during my research.
Much commentary from the Muslim perspective has been written concerning the condition Muslims are in. The hasty condemnations and apologetic attitude surprised Muslims and even non-Muslims (though it seems some of these vigils by the Ahmadiyya whose leadership has been pivotal in pursuing the neocons agenda). This situation has been further rendered ridiculous by the fact that each new report about the attacker marks another step away from the idea that it anything to do “Islamist extremism”.
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.
“We could favour the birth of a new Islam, more inclined towards compromise and tolerance of Europe; to encourage the young generation of ulama who are working in that direction…” ~ French Colonialist, Edmond Douttee,  1901
“It is the modernists whose vision matches our own. Of all the groups, this one is the most congenial to the values and the spirit of modern democratic society.” ~ (Former) wife of US neocon Zalmay Khalilzad, Cheryl Bernard, 2003
“We’re now going to actively encourage the reforming and moderate Muslim voices.” ~ British PM David Cameron, Speech on Extremism, 2015
Slogans based within particular parlance and values often provide the veil for an agenda of a different kind. During the 1970s, the human rights industry was used as official US imperial policy. Prior to this, the enlightened liberalism of the west was driving colonisation of the world to bring it out of “darkness” – a psychological projection of its own “dark” past. Today, neoconservatives have taken much of the above, tweaked the rhetoric and driven a strategic policy which has now begun to gain international traction. Today, the “cure” for “backward” and “violent” Muslims remains one grounded in the European, supremacist experience. However, this prescription is administered through the now pressing lens of security and specifically the counter-extremism agenda. In other words, neocons have successfully managed to securitise human rights, allowing them to foster closed societies domestically whilst pursing their doctrine of pre-emption objectives on a global scale through war – both physical and ideological. The vehicle which provides the language set and values for this culturalist war is the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) agenda.
In a previous article, I noted how the underlying neoconservative “clash of civilisations” assumptions about Islam have premised the counter-extremism discourse. In the British context, we now a have state-coerced effort to deconstruct Islam piece by piece in order to assimilate, as opposed to integrate, Muslims. When we understand that Britain through its neocon “think-tanks” and pseudo-liberal “reformers” are at the centre of defining the counter-extremism ideology transnationally, we can appreciate, or rather, be perturbed by the extent of the influence of this dangerous thinking.
A report commissioned by 5Pillarsuk.com reveals some interesting insights into the beliefs and views of Muslims in Britain. One hundred and fifty “influential” Muslim respondents across the Islamic spectrum were queried. The results demonstrate a problematic curve ball for neoconservatives and their endless efforts to target Islam and Muslims.
The questions revolved around normative Islamic beliefs, and across the board a generally high level of agreement with these beliefs was achieved. Participants rebutted dominant propaganda against Islam and Muslims. For instance, 100% agreed or strongly agreed that forced marriages are forbidden, and 100% agreed or strongly agreed that British Muslims are an “integral part of the UK”. It also established a high rate of agreement upon those beliefs and practices which are typically attacked by politicians in concert with the media, analysts and commentators:
- Segregation of men and women in closed public, or religious settings – over 80% agreed or strongly agreed
- There is no compulsion in Islam, no one can be forced to become Muslim – over 95% agreed/strongly agreed
- Hijab is an obligation in Islam – over 95% agreed or strongly agreed
- Niqab is a legitimate piece of Islamic clothing – over 90% agreed or strongly agreed (chart 16 is somewhat unclear)
- Islam is a holistic comprehensive way of life – over 97% agreed or strongly agreed
- Jihad as is mandated in the Qur’an is used to maintain or restore order, peace and security or to remove oppression and injustice – over 95% agreed or strongly agreed.
This third and final part directly continues from the Part II:
Deforming Faith and History to Serve a Neocon Agenda Part I: Rashad Ali
Deforming Faith and History to Serve a Neocon Agenda Part II: Sara Khan
Also operating within the well-oil neocon counter-extremism machine is the Quilliam Foundation, which brings us to Adam Deen’s rather expected (see here also) announcement of joining the cold war-era style state-validator organisation. In his blog piece announcing the squandering of his faith, Deen convolutedly explains why he wants to fight “extremism” but fails to convincingly explain why he would join an organisation born in the lap of another extremism – neoconservatism – which continues to legitimise neoconservative policies.
This equivocation-ridden nucleus in his piece indicates to the pseudo-intellectualism which comes head way in the second paragraph. Deen is, like Sara Khan, a fan of the deconstructionist, Khaled Abou El Fadl. The fanboyism, though, is taken to a new level. He writes,
“It may not be coincidence that al-Hakim al-Jishumiyya al-Bayhaqi (a Hanafi Mu’tazili jurist from the 12th century) in his book ‘Satan’s Epistle’ asks: “if Satan were given the chance to speak on the Day of Judgment, whom would he pay tribute to?” Al Bayhaqi concludes that Satan would end up praising and thanking every Muslim who adapted ideas that attributed to God things that were irrational, unjust or hideous.”
This is lifted from Abou El Fadl’s The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of Books almost verbatim:
The piece continues from the first part:
Deforming Faith and History to Serve a Neocon Agenda Part I: Rashad Ali
Whilst Ali is known amongst Islamic scholarly circles for twisting texts and now history to suit the views his paymasters demand of him, there are other characters who are willing accomplices in this project.
Sara Khan seems to have been on a bit of a mission to shake off the negativity surrounding her involvement as a human rights-touting feminist who confusingly promotes the human rights-violating PREVENT Strategy through the incredibly feminist “weaponisation” of Muslim women. The Guardian’s Alex Preston penned a piece late last month looking at Khan and her work. Of pertinence is the exploitation, like her human rights and feminism discourse, of Islam.
Ignoring the fact that Islam guides on all facets of life, Khan homes in on the “fascination” of “Muslim clerics and preachers” with women’s clothing. For her, removing the veil “was about removing the authority of religious clerics”. Of course, with statements like that, considering that the Prophet of Islam was a man who designated the status of the Ulama as “heirs of the Prophets”, she might as well absolve herself of the authority Allah, and His Messenger, peace be upon him.
The War on Terror breathed life into morbid industries. Those who were the fundamental cogs in the illegal, immoral and strategically catastrophic neoconservative war machine profiteered. Over the years it has also spurned another industry at the soft end of the War on Terror: counter extremism. Pimping the discourse of rights, and using it as a stick to beat a minority with, the language has shifted from rights to one of security.
Having observed over the past decade or so the recycling of the calls to “reform” or rather, deform Islam through various charlatans like Ziauddin Sardar, Ed Husain, Taj Hargey et al, the need to freshen the line up to resurge the desperate call is necessary. This is mainly because deconstructing Islam has been a somewhat difficult affair; Muslims understand the meticulous nature of their Book, belief and disbelief, and the fact that the calls to deform conveniently serve the neoconservative War on Terror agenda. Those who force a deformation of Islam using superficial and spurious argumentation do so often incredibly poorly, without any intellectual rigour and to the wine-sipping neo-colonial glee of the unctuous neoconservatives and their supporting, superficial Twitterati.