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.
The interrogation and assault on Muslims and their faith is uniquely focussed, with most of the distinctly colonialist, alienation rhetoric directed towards orthodox Islam. This is ironic given that the Review claims social interaction is good because it results in “a better understanding of differences”. Further “mutual respect” (a quality which Muslims fair better than their Christian peers in the context of faiths according to the Review) is also considered by Casey as a value “integral to a cohesive nation”. Yet Casey then speaks of a “growing concern” about a “divergence of attitudes and values among minority communities”, which she then categorises as “extremist” and “regressive”. Surely, if there is conviction in the value of respecting differences, “divergence of attitudes and values” should not be problem? Not so. Whilst demanding respect of for “quintessentially British” things like queueing and the Queen, Casey weaponises the alternate beliefs of Muslims in order to render the Muslim minority an alien community.
I was experiencing some hesitation in writing on Louise Casey’s review into opportunity and integration, for there is no theme or narrative in the report which I have not deconstructed and then exposed as being underpinned by fascist, neoconservative ideas. However, bar a few incisive comment pieces on the report, many articles have barely scratched the surface in terms of articulating just how repulsively dangerous the content of this Review really is. This requires documentation.
The drums of “integration” have been beating for years as minorities, and in particular the Muslim minority, have been objectified as convenient fodder for political exploitation; they are the glutton for systemic policy failures and the problems flowing from an ever widening economic (and reality) gap between the establishment and broader society. The review into integration by Louise Casey however, has a more explicitly sharper ideological slant, which can be traced to David Cameron’s reign and in turn, his circle of psychotic neocons.
The deformation of Islam has not always had its roots in what are today clearly identifiable subversive “reform Muslims” and organisations. Traditional Ulama (Islamic scholars) have been politically exploited to provide the means by which neocons can push their agenda to deconstruct Islam. These “moderate” scholars would provide the legitimising face behind which lurked an insidious agenda to deform Islam into what Cheryl Bernard’s RAND corporation publication would call a “democratised Islam”; a postmodernist faith devoid of substance or meaning.
The push for the creation of a “British Islam” during the late 2000s was rooted in an underlying aim to create an “institutionally approved, ‘mainstream’, and ‘moderate’ expression of Islam”, which, through state-funded Muslim organisations (like Radical Middle Way and National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group), would “engineer if not exact power” in the Muslim community. Of course, scholars that had initially given backing to such organisations have now distanced themselves from the counter-extremism policies which these initial projects engendered.
The effort to abuse Sufi Islam into courting a political agenda has seen a resurgence domestically and internationally. These trends and movements are, tellingly, monitored and advocated by Israel due to the somewhat misplaced assumption that it provides for a pliant Islam which is amenable to Western military escapades in Muslim lands.
Recent reports and events demonstrate an evolution of this tired trickery.
When it comes to instituting inquiries which examine the actions of the government, the lethargy is yawningly apparent. The Chilcot inquiry has been postponed so many times one refuses to believe that after seven years, subsequent to warring in Libya, Iraq and now Syria, the due date (6 July 2016) will actually see the report published.
Theresa May’s inquiries into the alleged Westminster paedophile allegations saw similar deferrals. With documents related to the investigation spontaneously going missing from within the Home Office, inquiries being stalled and those linked to accused political figures being placed as chairs of the inquiry, towards the end of the 2014, the inquiry itself had become a scandal.
When it comes examining Islam and Muslims, however, our government is on form.
Much commentary has been written on the Counter-Extremism Bill. The journalist Dilly Hussain has done a comprehensive article addressing the key points of the Bill. CAGE has published a blog which neatly highlights the excessive, hypocritical, dangerous and completely unnecessary nature of the proposals. The organisation has further published a point by point breakdown of whatever ambiguous information has been thus far provided.
There are few articles which delve into the noxious nature of the Extremism measures on this blog too:
A Critical Overview of the Counter Extremism Strategy
Counter Extremism Strategy “Really is Counter-Islamic Strategy”
On Extremism Disruption Orders
Will the UK Government’s Counter-Extremism Programme Criminalise Dissent? (Arun Kundnani)
In this blog, I would like to elucidate some additional noteworthy points and arguments on the measures. I will also focus on other proposals, which seem at first to be disconnected to the Extremism Bill, yet also foster the neoconservative closed society.
The tranche of information provided by the Guardian and CAGE regarding the black propaganda network constituted of Home Office propaganda unit RICU, PR companies and ostensibly “independent” civil society organisations has certainly gotten the ball rolling. Information now, I suspect, will begin to percolate through various mediums and quarters exposing willing and unknowing partners in a distinctly totalitarian project.
In the past I have written extensively about Shaista Gohir’s Muslim Women’s Network (MWNUK), her links to PREVENT, her timely media interventions which propped the neoconservative government narrative against the Muslim minority, her positive association with sectarian neoconservative enablers Khalid Mahmood and her involvement with the persecutory, imperial globalised CVE agenda. The funding granted to her organisation from government after her public antics only served to represent the sour icing on a distinctly rotten cake.
MWNUK and Breaththrough Media Connection