Twitter talk and feverish Facebook frenzy over the newly announced Commission for Counter Extremism (CCE) has continued for the past few days, but perhaps disproportionately for the wrong reasons. The government’s announcement of the Commission came alongside the announcement of the lead commissioner Sara Khan of Inspire, a self-styled feminist who counters “extremism” has triggered vociferous responses in the media. MEND led a petition against her appointment and whilst it opens with a question as to why the Commission is necessary, it goes onto attack Khan on the condition of it existing, rendering the opening statement somewhat incidental. Mend CEO Shazad Amin also centred on Khan, reinforcing this perception.
There are certainly problems with Khan (these will be elaborated upon in a subsequent, detailed piece), however, they are an extension of far more important concerns that need to be raised.
The 22nd May Manchester Arena bombing has etched a particularly traumatic experience into the people of Britain. The attack in Manchester has claimed the lives of young teenagers, including an eight-year old. My sympathies go out to the victims of this atrocity.
I delayed writing on this topic for two reasons; the first being in respect of the lives lost; the second because so little had been established concerning the motive. With the Westminster attack, if we recall, there was a significant internalisation of blame by the Muslim minority without establishment of key facts – a dynamic that was fully exploited by neocons. Indeed, once the motive was established, it pointed to an uncomfortable motive, which is increasingly being marginalised in the discourses that seek to analyse the “causes” of terrorism: Western violence.
To recap, Sara Khan had a written a piece for the anti-fascist group Hope not Hate’s (HnH) report State of Hate 2017. The first piece analysing it, Sara Khan’s connections with neoconservatives and the far-right counter-Jihad movement were established, demonstrating the incoherence of HnH’s decision to incorporate her writing. In the second piece, the PREVENT framework Khan employed was demonstrated to be rooted in a problematic neoconservative epistemology, the consequence of which has been the demonisation of the Muslim diaspora and an effort to control Muslim discourse. This was shown to be evident in Khan’s own writing, indicating to the fact that HnH had been used as a vehicle to promote PREVENT.
In this piece, the hypocritical exploitation of differences in various groups related to Muslims, as a mechanism to further extend the counter-terrorism framework in order to stringently regulate more facets of Muslim discourse, will be explored. Khan’s tendency to exaggerate incidents and distort cases will also be highlighted through the piece.
The fostering of the Straussian neocon “closed society” continues to soldier on ahead. The main, but certainly not the only, conduit for this austere vision of society utilises the rhetoric of fear – “safeguarding”, “cohesion” and “counter-extremism”, augmented courtesy of puppets of the neoconservative malignancy within Government.
Despite being utterly baseless academically and broken as pre-crime tool, there has been effort to mainstream PREVENT into society. This normalisation of authoritarian PREVENT-thinking has led to the latest charade; anti-fascist group Hope not Hate (HnH) has been used to spread the tentacles of PREVENT further into civil society by using Sara Khan in its publication State of Hate 2017.
In doing so, HnH comprehensively debilitated its legitimacy.
The founder of HnH, Nick Lowles, has a history of confronting far-right racist individuals and groups. He has also campaigned for the banning of Pamella Geller and Robert Spencer for their anti-Muslim, hate filled rhetoric. The question is of course, how has such a campaign group been hoodwinked into co-opting PREVENT-thinking and allowed itself to be exploited by a cheerleader of discrimination?
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.
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”.
The Sun is not exactly a paper reputed for its unbiased reporting. Rather, it has been a vehicle for the propagation of neocon policy. Take, for instance, the odd counter-extremism campaigns by Sara Khan and Inspire, that did more to damage the credibility of the counter-extremism industry given the paper’s stature as the bastion of anti-Muslim hate and hyperbole.
A recent report, however, evidenced some peculiar PREVENT politics.