On the 25th of August, Hurricane Harvey struck areas in and around the US leaving 71 confirmed deaths and an estimated economic loss approaching $180 billion dollars – eclipsing Katrina – in its wake. Five days later a tropical cyclone developed into the category 5 “Hurricane Irma”, hitting the Atlantic basin and unleashing destruction. With Irma now weakening as I write, its carnage has taken at least 24 lives, with a further five people perishing in the US. Major cities including Jacksonville, Florida, and Charleston, South Carolina have been flooded, leaving millions without power.
A number of high profile attacks on the Muslim minority have surfaced lately in a relentlessly consistent fashion. The reason for the lack of writing on these events is for the simple reason that I was awaiting a particular checkpoint at which I could interject and proffer an analysis of what is exactly taking place. However the pick axes and pitch forks of the baying neocon mob did not subside and as I write, commentaries on the now infamous Channel 4 documentary (What British Muslims Really Think) continue to percolate and David Cameron slanders a Muslim scholar from the dispatch box.
Whilst macroscopic analyses of the documentary are important, and must be challenged, it is important also to tend to the implications of the subliminal question which the Channel 4 documentary through its various Machiavellian machinations and spin sought to force upon the public.
What exactly are these grand media orchestrations attempting to achieve? Interconnected intimately with this question is, in what direction is Britain heading?
These questions will be the focus of a subsequent parts. In order to better appreciate these questions, a brief recap and analysis of key anti-Islam events are needed.
Fulfilling the annual ritual of attacking the smallest minority within a minority (women in niqab – subject of a follow-up blog) came with an additional twist this year, spearheading Muslims, their beliefs and manifestations across the media spectrum. The right-wing relished in reproducing defunct diatribe of the Yasmin Alibhai Brown variety. The Guardian meanwhile comforted itself in introducing David Cameron to the concept of empathy, whilst asserting he was right to “raise the often unfavourable position” of Muslim women. The additional twist was Cameron dictating to his subjects that learning English reduces susceptibility to extremism. Whilst there have been a fair few commentaries and responses, the blatant elephant in the room has been completely ignored: structural, flagrant discrimination and racism.
The red herrings in this discourse and Cameron’s Cameronialism exhibited in his Times comment – titled We wont let women be second-class citizens – as such requires deconstruction.
Crosspost: Dilly Hussain
In light of the new recording of Islamophobia law coming into effect in April, controversial anti-Muslim hate monitoring organisation Tell Mama will inevitably be made redundant, writes Dilly Hussain.
Muslims across the UK are eagerly awaiting the publication of the much-anticipated Counter Extremism Bill.
Prolific Government statements throughout 2015 set out its intent to tackle the “extremist ideology” that apparently lurks behind “Islamist extremism”, and the justifiable counter-concerns about yet further encroachments on Muslim civil liberties, makes this as significant a political struggle as the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill at the start of 2015.
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.”
In a previous blog I set out how government proposals which scrap the Human Rights Act and propose the curtailment of legal expression via the Counter-Extremism Bill are intertwined. I have also in the past explained how the assault on civil liberties is founded in neoconservative thinking.
In this series, we will delve deeper into the views held by our new Justice Secretary, Michael Gove as articulated in his book, Celsius 7/7, with additional commentary explaining the neoconservativism underpinning the statements where appropriate and the impact it has thus far had on the good Britons of this country.
In this first part, we will briefly examine the people who shaped his disturbing worldview.
The country is in pain, it seems. The Conservatives’ return to power has brought forth a reactions from the public and media which is one of mourning. Giles Fraser described democracy post Conservatives-election as a “religion that has failed the poor”. With the party back in power fully through courting the “nastiness” which is the hallmark of the Cons, the coming five years do not bode well. Indeed, this is the party which completely eschewed the “Muslim vote”, completely in favour of other minorities.
Neoconservative Subversion of Democracy
However, the shock should be for far more serious reasons. In yet another incisive article, investigative journalist Dr. Nafeez Ahmed notes that the number of MPs in Parliament directly correlates to the amount of funding received. The Conservatives are a particular concern, with the corporate powers in the City bankrolling the party. Indeed, Tory-donors were financing both UKIP and Tory MPs in the run up to the election, with a UKIP-Conservative voting strategy being endorsed by the Conservative think-tank Bow Group. The Group has on the board of patrons the neoconservative thinker Roger Scruton, so lovingly cited by the likes of Douglas Murray in his book Neoconservatism, Why we Need it. Scruton has been a member of a previous neoconservative think-tank which has in the past hyped the threat of Marxism and left-wing infiltration of universities and schools (now that sounds familiar!). The reports, according to Scruton were “quietly encouraged by 10 Downing Street to concoct an outside pressure group to influence policy.” Furthermore, other members of the think-tank, such as Caroline Cox have been a part of reports on left-wing “radical minorities” published via think-tanks established by British and American intelligence agencies.
One of the recurring themes of “counter-extremism” groups – be it the latent Radical Middle Way (RMW) and ISB, or the more overt Quilliam Foundation, and the puppeteered Humza Arshad – is that it always tracks back to an agenda to undermine Islam, “reform” it, crush dissent and deflect Western foreign policy critique. This is one of the reasons why, I believe, that our “transparent” public bodies are more resilient in disclosing the organisations they are funding from the counter-extremism pot. A link to PREVENT is all that is needed to expose the soul-destroying efforts of whichever organisation is acting as a conduit for neoconservative, anti-Islam agendas.
With the counter-extremism industry growing over the years, a cross-pollination of those neoconservative-based ideas has occurred, primarily between US, UK and Europe. The ideal for the neocons is to mount an ethnocentric, culturalist attack on Islam. History shows us two ways of doing this, as exemplified by Britain’s evolution of the PREVENT Strategy. The current strategy is one of secularisation of Islam through the “British values” social engineering programme. The previous strategy, also designed by the “sophist” (or rather supremacist) minds of neocons is one where apolitical, pacifist readings, usually through the abuse of Sufi Ulama, is posited as the “ideal” Islam. This is a temporary measure only, of course, until the next phase of the neocon agenda of aggressively promoting “progressive Muslims” and “ex-Muslims” is entered, as per the current strategy.
This strategy of promoting “moderate Islam” seems to be returning into vogue, as can be seen by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah and Imam Hamza Yusuf-endorsed ImamsOnline initiative. Another recurrent theme is the Zionist interest and involvement in influencing the counter-extremism discourse, with the likes of Mossad internationally monitoring “moderate”, pacifist Muslim movements, and domestically, organisations like the Board of deputies of Jews contributing to the counter-extremism policy.
Jumping on the deradicalisation VW Camper Van is “Abdullah-X”, a character of a graphic novel aimed at providing the “counter-narrative”. The character in the initial episodes experiences some sort of divine unveiling, all on the topic of “extremism”. He then possesses a “mind of a scholar” and the “heart of a warrior” who proceeds to provide the counter-narrative to the “extremist” discourse. Not exactly Frank Miller’s Dark Knight then.
Peter Oborne, former chief political commentator at the Daily Telegraph, in a sequence of articles for Open Democracy has shed significant light on the demise of standards at the Telegraph titles drawing attention to the paper’s refusal to publish his investigative pieces on the behaviour of the Charity Commission towards British Muslim charities and the paper’s woeful neglect in coverage of the banking scandal engulfing HSBC allegedly to avoid losing valuable advertising revenue.
In our view, Andrew Gilligan and his derisory brand of ‘investigative’ journalism is further evidence of the “fraud” by the Telegraph titles on its readers who are fed a regular diet of shoddy journalism. Gilligan’s mudslinging at British Muslim organisations is well known. Lesser attention, however, has been paid to the number of times his ‘investigative’ pieces have been shown to be lacking in substance. Unfortunately, British Muslim organisations do not possess the kind of financial clout that large business corporations may be able to exercise over the Telegraph’s print output and so spurious allegations and unfounded accusations continue to be printed.
Gilligan’s form of non-violent extremism takes the curious shape of paradox peppered with paranoia. For example, in light of the Education select committee’s report this week on the so called ‘Trojan horse plot’ in Birmingham schools, it is useful to reflect on the number of articles Gilligan wrote elaborating on the ‘extremism‘ present in the schools, the actors involved and how the Sunday Telegraph “revealed the truth behind the plot”. Contrast this to the important finding by the select committee, and affirmed by the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, in an interview with The Muslim News last year, that “ No evidence of extremism or radicalisation, apart from a single isolated incident, was found by any of the inquiries and there was no evidence of a sustained plot nor of a similar situation pertaining elsewhere in the country.” Have we seen a retraction of the specious allegations Gilligan made in relation to the schools? Of course not. Have we seen an apology from the Telegraph for allowing articles without substance to be published and thereby committing a “fraud” on its readers? Of course not.
Crosspost: Nafeez Ahmed
Behind the facade of concern about terrorism is a network of extremist neoconservative ideologues, hell-bent on promoting discrimination and violence against Muslims and political activists who criticise Israeli and Western government policies
As the “Islamic State” (IS) has racked up the body count in its brutal atrocities against Western hostages and local civilians, “terror experts” have been in high demand.
One of them, Douglas Murray, calls himself an “expert on Islamist extremism and UK foreign policy”.
An associate director of the Henry Jackson Society, a right-wing think tank in London, Murray recently dismissed the idea that British security services could have had any role in the radicalisation of IS front man Mohammad Emwazi, aka “Jihadi John”.
To be sure, the presumption that Emwazi was only radicalised due to the harassment of British security services is absurd. The role of perceived grievances, identity crises, and of course extremist Islamist networks in Britain must also be recognised. But as former shadow Home Secretary David Davis noted, the security services’ failure to stop Emwazi despite surveillance is part of a wider pattern of “ineffective” tactics where the intelligence agencies leave “known terrorists both to carry out evil deeds and to recruit more conspirators”.