Advice to the Government on Extremism and Radicalisation
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The considerable backlash was not just borne of the hate preached by the EDL and other far right groups as some may wish for us to believe. It is also borne of the insidious narrative nurtured in the public sphere over many years that asserts ‘Muslims are a problem’. The crafted narrative inculcates a view that Muslims are uncivilised, unenlightened, disdainful of freedom, oppressive to women, sexually depraved and that they have an irrational tendency towards violence and terrorism. What occurred in Woolwich was the flame that lit the touch-paper, provided by the manufactured narrative. It is in fact this incendiary narrative, built by the continual negative stereotyping of Muslims in the media, that has radicalised the likes of Anders Breivik, the EDL and other right wing groups. It is a narrative that some in government have fostered and capitalised on with draconian legislation in the form of lopsided extradition treaties, the revoking of British citizenship, lengthy detention without charge to name just some of the anti-terror measures.
The word "terrorism" is one of the most potent in our political lexicon: it single-handedly closes down the debate, ratchets up fear levels and justifies almost anything the government wants to do in its name. In the aftermath of Woolwich we were instructed; whatever you do don’t mention sie war (Iraq and Afghanistan)! Government sanctioned indiscretions, such as the carpet bombing of Iraq - as witnessed in Falluja - or the propping up of oppressive dictators with weapons: Mubarak and Gaddafi to name but two former friends, were nothing to do with it. Taking the lead from his colleagues, the prime minister insisted the Woolwich killing was "an attack...on the British way of life".
London mayor Boris Johnson declared it was "completely wrong" to blame British foreign policy or "the actions of British forces who are risking their lives abroad for the sake of freedom."
To utter the phrase ‘foreign policy’ was appallingly, insensitive and should outcast one as a social pariah. The government understand all too well that acknowledging the role its foreign policy has played would give them a share in culpability.
Muslims and their faith were also victims of what happened in Woolwich. Subsequent to the initial crime there have been acts of violence as well as the attempted murder of innocent Muslims.
A mosque in Grimsby had petrol bombs thrown through the main entrance as well as the fire exit simultaneously whilst there was a congregation inside.
This was not declared an act of terrorism despite its indiscriminate nature and associated political motive of igniting a civil clash between communities. The label of terrorism wasn’t applied because, quite simply, it didn’t fit the narrative.
The considerable backlash was not just borne of the hate preached by the EDL and other far right groups as some may wish for us to believe. It is also borne of the insidious narrative nurtured in the public sphere over many years that asserts ‘Muslims are a problem’. The crafted narrative inculcates a view that Muslims are uncivilised, unenlightened, disdainful of freedom, oppressive to women, sexually depraved and that they have an irrational tendency towards violence and terrorism. What occurred in Woolwich was the flame that lit the touch-paper, provided by the manufactured narrative. It is in fact this incendiary narrative, built by the continual negative stereotyping of Muslims in the media, that has radicalised the likes of Anders Breivik, the EDL and other right wing groups. It is a narrative that some in government have fostered and capitalised on with draconian legislation in the form of lopsided extradition treaties,
the revoking of British citizenship,
lengthy detention without charge
to name just some of the anti-terror measures.
Despite there being in large part contrived systemic causation, that led to the events in Woolwich, the government would rather opt for simplistic arguments of direct causation. With little real consideration or assessment of the underlying factors it has already been decided that the route-cause of the Woolwich killing was solely to be levelled at extremism and radicalisation by hate preachers.
So here are some pointers for the government to consider if they really do care about the issue of violent extremism:
Firstly and most obviously, to deny the role of foreign policy is delusional and dangerous. It’s not just opponents of the war on terror who predicted from the start that it would fuel terrorism not fight it, the intelligence services both sides of the Atlantic did the same. There were no Jihadists attack in Britain before 9/11 that is an indisputable fact. You may wish to consider the verdict of Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden tracking unit and the author of three acclaimed books on al-Qaeda. “I don’t think there are a lot of people who want to blow themselves up because my daughters go to university…People are going to come and bomb us because they don’t like what we’ve done.”
Wars fought to keep Britain safe have in fact done the exact opposite. Until you recognise this fact, your foreign policy will continue to act against the best interests of the British people.
Secondly, drop the conveyor belt theory, it’s a nonsense. We seem to be heading down a rather slippery slope. You claim that ‘non-violent extremism’ - an amorphous phrase if ever there was one - is a conveyor belt to violent extremism. Yet there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that encouraging conservative values with regard to family structures, sexuality or anything else that doesn’t fall under the so called new-age conventional thinking is a conveyor belt to violence. There are many Jews who also believe and encourage such values. The theory is wholly illogical. You would do well to listen to the Ex CIA officer Marc Sageman, who also advised the New York Police Department and testified in front of the 9/11 Commission. He described the theory as "nonsense" and says there is little empirical evidence for such a 'conveyor belt' process. "It is the same nonsense that led governments a hundred years ago to claim that left-wing political protests led to violent anarchy."
Thirdly, stop listening to the right wing neo-conservative think tanks. It was these think tanks who gifted you the bogus conveyor belt theory. It was the neoconservative ideology these think tanks imbue that gifted you the disastrous wars. Douglas Murray currently associate director of the right wing think tank at the Henry Jackson Society himself described the war in Iraq as the ‘first neoconservative war’. In a speech delivered in 2006 Murray said: "Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board..”
Murray effectively endorsed UKIP not long ago in an article for the Wall Street Journal.
The same UKIP that the prime minister referred to as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists".
It is no wonder that Murray spills his discourse on multiculturalism into skin colour when he says "We long ago reached the point where the only thing white Britons can do is to remain silent about the change in their country. Ignored for a generation, they are expected to get on, silently but happily, with abolishing themselves, accepting the knocks and respecting the loss of their country. 'Get over it. It's nothing new. You're terrible. You're nothing'."
It was the same Douglas Murray who in 2009 described Robert Spencer, the leader of a group calling itself "Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA)", as a "very brilliant scholar and writer".
A number of years before Murray saw fit to praise this "brilliant scholar", the latter wrote that there was "no distinction in the American Muslim community between peaceful Muslims and jihadists".
Douglas Murray was formerly part of another right wing think tank called the Centre for social cohesion (CSC). As Prof David Miller at the university of Strathclyde has pointed out “The CSC has not focused solely on Islam and has produced two reports on the British far-right: The BNP and the Online Fascist Network
(2009) and Blood & Honour: Britain’s Far-Right Militants
(2010). The British National Party (BNP) report underplays the extent to which the BNP has been influenced by other Islamophobic currents. The BNP's alliance with the counterjihad movement and the subsequent emergence of the English Defence League were among the most significant developments on the British far right in recent years. Yet neither of the CSC’s reports on the far right addressed them. This is perhaps not surprising in the light of the CSC's own contacts with the counterjihad movement.”
Prof Miller also points out that Anders Breivik references opinion data from another right wing neoconservative think tank called ‘Policy Exchange’.
The data collected is of questionable veracity and indicates how their pre-determined ideology gets in the way of objectivity. CSC has argued for a counter-subversion approach to dealing with Islam in what has been described as a cold-war on British Muslims by the spinwatch report. Their misinformation offers a veneer of respectability to those against immigration and multiculturalism and moreover feeds racism and Islamophobia. It seems these are precisely the wrong people for the government to take counsel from.
Fourthly, stop promoting ‘muscular liberalism’. True liberalism has afforded a space for Muslims to practice their faith and be part of the fabric of Britain. However there are some attempting to un-knit and redefine it into an intolerant ‘muscular-liberalism’, imposing greater homogeneity, defining more aggressively that which is ‘tolerant’ and that which isn’t and as such is an enemy to liberal notions of ‘freedom of thought’. It is a heresy to true liberal values, but is yet again a product of a neoconservative worldview. It is this warped vision that has took us into disastrous wars. It is these people who were the architects of the war on terror.
Fifthly, get rid of your stooges like the Quilliam Foundation. They are discredited and unwanted trolls within the Muslim community. Let’s not pretend they represent Muslims.
Sixthly, stop the unhelpful rhetoric. The war on terror has been defined to be a threat that can never disappear. You full well know that the Americans have been carrying out false flag operations in various parts of the world to give credibility to their fraudulent claims.
You ratchet up the fear factor and then tell people that to be ‘safe’ you have to be ‘less-free’. Do you really want a society like this? Do you consider this to be a truly liberal society?
Seventhly, stop giving credence to an insidious narrative about Islam, shariah and Muslims. Stop connecting every crime committed by any Muslim with the value system of the shariah and then tell the Muslim community to start soul searching. Were ‘white’ Britons asked to start soul-searching after the attacks by the EDL. Were they told that perhaps there is something in white culture that gives them a propensity towards violence? Or were white Britons asked to start soul searching after the recent flurry of middle aged white TV celebrities were charged over child abuse crimes?
Eighthly, stop forcing the hand of Muslim organisations to express condemnation. We do not believe in guilt by association and nor should you. Your best tool against violent extremism are independent Muslim organisations that are not de-legitimised by seeming as if they are in the pocket of the government. Again Marc Sageman offer some wise words, he is scathing: "Does your Conservative Party have to apologise each time the [far right] does something nasty? You're asking the same thing of the Muslim population."
Let independent Muslim organisations be a mechanism for verbalising their discontent and anger, before they become frustrated and physicalize their anger.
Finally, you need to promote a form of Britishness that is more inclusive. Stop considering mosques and niqabs as anti-British? We will always struggle to enjoy a cohesive society if Muslims are told they do not really belong here. They should be afforded equal citizenship with equal rights in institution building and equal rights to express an opinion. This is in line with the liberal values that we as a country claim to follow, and as such let us not create conflict where there should be none.
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