The Muslim Question (4): Trevor Phillips’ and the Forging of a Closed Society

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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”.

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Inverting the Culturalist Anlaysis, Focus on Ideology and the Argument “it has *Something* to with Islam”

Source: Twitter, @CityNews

Whilst the impassioned feelings after the attacks in Paris against civilian targets are one of sadness followed by rage, it would be safe to say that for the Muslim minorities in the West, the overall reaction is one of shock followed by continued anxiety.

This anxiety has varying sources and manifests itself in different ways.  From Muslims feeling compelled to apologise for crimes they neither condone or have any part in, to being publically compelled to condemn such attacks.  The anxiety is exasperated when Muslims witness the hypocrisy in such calls and take a principled stand in order to avoid political exploitation. Muslims are witnesses to similar atrocities against people of other faiths, geography and race, yet privileged elite in Parliament are not seen to issue a condemnation against such regular terrorism – as a matter of principle, why should public and vocal condemnation be forcibly extracted on certain violence as the state eye is rendered blind when the violence is born from Western policy? I am yet to see mass condemnatory statements for Palestinian babies being burned to death by Jewish settler terrorism, or Palestinian civilians shot to death “intentionally and unlawfully” by IDF terrorists (who also happen to run over two year old toddlers), from the Cameron government or the various state-authorised counter extremism organisations for that matter. And indeed, I do not see the Jewish community being asked to condemn or apologise. This suggests such calls are ideologically and politically driven rather than rooted in humanity.  Only white/Westernised power-structures are worthy of solidarity.

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PM Goes Two for Two

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Crosspost: MEND

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.”

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Will the UK Government’s Counter-Extremism Programme Criminalise Dissent?

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Crosspost: Professor Arun Kundnani

From 1 July, a broad range of public bodies – from nursery schools to optometrists – will be legally obliged to participate in the government’s Prevent policy to identify would-be extremists. Under the fast-tracked Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, schools, universities and health service providers can no longer opt out of monitoring students and patients for supposed radicalised behaviour. Never in peacetime Britain has national security surveillance been so deeply embedded in the normal functioning of public life.

Even as those measures come into effect, the government is drafting another round of counter-terrorist legislation, reviving a set of still more authoritarian proposals first floated last year.

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