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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School uses PREVENT to Threaten Muslim Parent Who Requested Pupil Removal from Christmas Assembly

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Christmas, it seems is another issue which annually crops up to force the “Muslim Question”, whilst curiously obviating the uncomfortable issue of religious rights to hold, and by implication exclude particular beliefs and practices. Of course, this discriminatory focus on Muslims (the Jewish minority, for instance, are comparatively absent from this discourse) has consequences. Over a week ago, it was reported that a Muslim woman in Australia was subjected to a brutal verbal and physical attack after she replied “happy holidays” to the attacker’s “merry Christmas”. Incidentally, I doubt Louise Casey would regarding uttering “merry Christmas” as a sign of vulnerability to “extremism” and consequently, “violent extremism”.

There are milder but still manifestly detrimental consequences here in Britain too.  Last year, Police Commander Mak Chishty moronically stated that children who regarded Christmas as religiously prohibited were subscribing to an “Islamist” view.  They were therefore not “moderate”. As I highlighted at that time, this absurd notion was discriminatory as other religious groups, such as orthodox Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses, whom regard Christmas as deriving from pagan customs, held similar views, but were not tarnished with the rhetoric of securitisation.  It seems however, that this dangerously irresponsible statement is seeing some manifestation in the education context.

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A Review of the Casey Review (6) – PREVENT and the Blueprint for a Neocon Closed Society

 

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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

Part 5: The Conveyor-Belt Theory, PREVENT and Project Spin


In this final piece in the series reviewing the Casey Review, the elements of PREVENT, thought assimilation and nationalism will be brought together and the totalitarian implications of Casey’s statements and comments determined.

Reconstituting “Integration”

Whilst noting the variations on the definition of integration such as sharing common values, respect and allowing diverse people to attach to Britain in their own way, Casey homes in on a reconstituted, highly ideological, and profoundly neoconservative understanding of integration “based on the benefits that the United Kingdom has to offer”, echoing neocon David Goodhart’s “mental integration”.  These include:[1]

“our values of democracy, fairness, the rule of law, freedom of speech, inclusiveness, tolerance and equality between citizens regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion or sexuality.

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A Review of the Louise Casey Review (2): A Paper Influenced by the Transatlantic Neocon Hate-Network

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Part 1: A Review of the Casey review (1)


As the introductory part of this series showed, a timeline of events and the PM’s proclamations had pretty much predetermined the outcomes of the Casey Review. The government now needed a person who could see this agenda through to its toxically racist end. Casey, based on her history, was the right person to get this done.

Louise Casey – Violently Averse to Evidence-Based Policy

Casey is referred to as a “Tsar”. A 2009 Commons Select Committee noted that a “Tsar” differs from a civil servant in two respects; “first the direct appointment by the minister or Prime Minister and second a degree of public personal identification with a particular policy or piece of work which would not normally be expected from a civil servant or special adviser.” In effect, the process shuns Parliamentary parties, and therefore potential opposition in the formulation of a policy in favour of individuals that operate as cronies.  In written evidence submitted to the Committee, Professor Martin Smith of Sheffield University highlighted that Tzars like Casey “are not morally neutral; they have an explicit function to achieve particular government objectives”.

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Is the government’s PREVENT ‘science’ really peer-reviewed?

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Last month, CAGE published a report critiquing the flawed “science” underpinning the British government’s Prevent strategy.

Among the many criticisms in the report, some attention was given to the nature of the peer review process. At the time of writing, we did not envisage the importance of this single issue, particularly in light of the more substantive points we were making.

In conjunction with the launch of the report, the Guardian published a news article detailing how 140 academics had written an open letter to the government asking for the flawed science to be made available to academics and psychologists, in order for it to be scrutinised. In that very article, the Home Office responded to the report by stating that the study, used as a basis for Prevent, had been through a “peer review” process.

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Deconstructing the “PREVENT is Safeguarding” Spin

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Last year, the hate-financed Henry Jackson Society published a report on how to spin away criticism of PREVENT. One of its suggestions was to recast the public surveillance programme as “safeguarding”.  There has been an amplification of this spin by most government-paid PREVENT practitioners, promoters and careerists since then.  This claim both from a historic and conceptual point of view, is woefully inaccurate and a continued demonstration of how the PREVENT industry is deceptively manipulating narratives.

Ignoring History? PREVENT’s Discriminatory “Influence Campaign

As I have explicated in some detail, the counter-productive pre-crime approach to countering terrorism was not based on empirical evidence but the paradigmatically neoconservative military doctrine of pre-emption.  McCulloch and Wilson (2015), in their book exploring “pre-crime” intervention state,

“The declaration of the “war on terror” was the catalyst for a more pre-emptive approach to threats.

With the War on Terror aimed at Muslim countries, PREVENT’s focus from its very inception has been to control Islam and Muslims through what Ruth Kelly once called the “winning of hearts and minds” – a punch line which inherently denoted propaganda warfare and which usually accompanies hot war.  The fundamental difference to normal propaganda warfare during military campaigns and the PREVENT Strategy is that PREVENT is being waged against Britain’s own Muslim citizens.  In 2007, PREVENT funds were directed to those local authorities in England with 5 per cent or more of their population identifying as Muslim. In other words, funding was allocated based on the number of Muslims as opposed to risk.[1] This discriminatory focus on Muslims has continued through the years, with the Guardian last year reporting that PREVENT was being prioritised to target mainly Muslim areas.

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Waverley School in Birmingham hosting BBC film Crew to Shoot PREVENT Propaganda

KamalHanifPREVENTDavidCameron Those promoting PREVENT are getting desperate, it seems. Sources in Birmingham forwarded a letter from Waverley School (Birmingham) directed to parents, stating that the school will participate in a BBC Panorama documentary promoting PREVENT. The letter reads that the BBC programme will “showcase some of the excellent work we do around Safeguarding and the Prevent Duty”.   The film crew will be in the school tomorrow (25th November) and requests the parents to fill in a consent form.

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Letter to parents

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BBC Consent Form

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