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  1. #1
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    Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam (OP)


    Salaam

    Event: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Recent events from the Middle East have placed the Muslim community in Britain in the public eye once more with their every word and action coming under microscopic scrutiny by the media and politicians. This is only the latest chapter in an ideological attack that has been ongoing for significantly longer.

    Whereas the attacks on Islamic concepts of war, political governance and the unity of Muslim lands are nothing new, they have now increased on an unprecedented scale in the wake of the rise of ISIS and its declaration of a Caliphate. The matter is not about supporting or opposing the version of a Caliphate as demonstrated by ISIS but rather the criminalisation of Islamic political thought and ideology. The concepts of jihad, shariah and khilafah are not the exclusive possession of ISIS but core Islamic doctrines subscribed to by almost one third's of the world's population. It is telling that the government's treatment of ISIS is similar to its treatment of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb-ut Tahrir, and the Taliban, despite the enormous differences of belief and methodology between the groups.

    The Islamophobic nature of the criminalisation of those who believe in fighting in Syria against Assad is underlined by the lack of concern for British Jews who fight in the Israeli Occupation Forces, particularly at times where they are engaged in war crimes and other atrocities, such as the recent attack on Gaza.

    On the flips side, Muslims who wish to aid their brothers and sisters through the provision of humanitarian aid via aid convoys are having their homes raided, being harassed by the security services and are effectively being accused of engaging in terrorism. Charities are having their bank accounts closed without explanation and are coming under investigation by the Charity Commission simply for being involved in crisis zones like Gaza and Syria. Witch-hunts such as the Trojan Horse hoax and the mass hysteria over issues of the niqab, halal food and conservative Muslim values demonstrate that the criminalisation is spreading beyond Middle Eastern politics. Individuals and organisations within the Muslim community who have been speaking out against these policies are now under attack. They have had their organisation, business and bank accounts arbitrarily closed. Even their children's bank accounts have been closed. They are maligned in the media as terrorist sympathisers, extremists and jihadists. Some have even been imprisoned.

    The common element across all these cases is that those targeted cared for the oppressed and for those who are suffering. They have been criminalised because they cared.

    Join CAGE at this series of events around the country to unite the Muslim communities against this criminalisation of our faith, our beliefs, our mosques and organisations, and our leaders. The following regional events will take place with the large conference taking place on 20 September at the Waterlily in London.

    Sunday 14 September - 6pm

    Pakistani Community Centre, Park Hall, London Road, Reading RG1 2PA

    Jamal Harwood
    Dr Adnan Siddiqui
    Dr Uthman Lateef
    Anas al-Tikriti
    Taji Mustafa
    Wednesday 17 September - 7pm
    East Pearl Banqueting Centre, Longsight, Manchester
    Ibrahim Hewitt
    Abdullah Andalusi
    Jahangir Mohammed

    Friday 19 September - 6.30pm

    Muslim Student House (the Daar), Moseley, Birmingham

    Dr Uthman Lateef
    Ismail Adam Patel
    Abdullah Andalusi
    Dr Abdul Wahid
    Fahad Ansari

    http://www.cageuk.org/event/it-crime-care

  2. #261
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

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    Salaam

    Another update

    The Tariq Ramadan Case: A Comprehensive Review

    Tariq Ramadan, Europe’s most influential Muslim intellectual and an international Islamic institution all by himself, has been in preventive detention and solitary confinement in France since February 2nd, 2018. Ramadan’s incarceration followed two charges of rape—allegations he has fully denied, calling them a “a smear campaign” coordinated by his old French enemies. Due to inadequate medical care in Fleury-Mérogis prison (Ramadan has multiple sclerosis and another neurobiological disease that requires substantial daily treatment), his health has rapidly deteriorated in jail. It was in an ambulance, under medical escort, that he arrived to his first appeal hearing.

    On February 17th, we learned from an Agence France Presse (AFP) news release that Ramadan’s first medical examination in prison concluded that his health condition was "incompatible with detention." The medical document specified: “Since his arrival, this patient has been experiencing unbearable pain in his lower limbs with permanent sensory trouble,” for which the treatments available in jail are drastically insufficient. This official document directly corroborated assessments by Ramadan’s private physicians (one in London, the other in Geneva).

    Despite this, the judge decided to prolong Ramadan’s detention and solitary confinement. Further, his wife and children were again denied visitation rights with neither explanation nor justification, a radical measure that falls well outside of French judicial norms, as even confirmed murderers are routinely granted visitation rights. For these reasons, the handling of Tariq Ramadan’s case involves not only the denial of basic legal rights (how could anyone properly prepare a legal defense in such conditions?); it also represents a case of human rights abuse.

    In what follows, I suggest that the truly odd legislative developments in the Ramadan case—the justice of exception we are witnessing at work, which will be addressed in the second half of this article—may be explained at least partially by the national (and to a lesser extent European) context in which they are occurring: a culture characterized by intense and pervasive Islamophobia in general (whose varied manifestations and links to France’s colonial history are beyond the scope of this piece) and more specifically, an already old French campaign to eliminate Ramadan from the intellectual, social, political and religious landscape of the nation. That campaign long predates the recent charges of rape for which Ramadan is in detention. Anyone familiar with the French political landscape knows that for years, since at least 2003, the Swiss Islamic philosopher has been the ruling elites’ Muslim Enemy Number One.

    This being said, none of what follows implies in any way that Ramadan is either innocent or guilty. It is actually important that the accusations of Henda Ayari and “Christelle” have been fully considered and heard empathically by all—media and the courts included (though one may question how they are already being treated as proven facts). While allegations of rape are frequently disregarded or taken lightly, this case has demonstrated a rare exception to the rule: the charges against Ramadan have become the center of global attention— for Islamists, Islamophobes, and everyone in between.

    The French Context

    In order to understand the Ramadan case, it is essential to contextualize it without assuming either innocence or guilt. At this point, anyone doing otherwise can only do so out of bad faith, prejudice, or disingenuity.

    The passions around Ramadan, both positive and negative, friendly and hostile, admiring and heinous, are most intense in France. For this reason it may be surprising for a non-French audience to witness the combination of contradictory emotions and reactions elicited by the Swiss Islamic intellectual: on the one hand, the immense clout, awe, gratitude and admiration he has for years enjoyed in France among much of the Muslim youth (and many of the not-so-young as well), especially the so-called “reislamized” third-generation, which often gravitates around the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF)—France’s biggest umbrella federation, which hosts Europe’s largest annual Islamic Fair, where Ramadan is every year the star speaker for impressively packed audiences in the thousands. On the other hand, we observe visceral hatred against him from the quasi totality of France’s ruling establishment including governments (both left and right), political parties (all of them, from the far right of Marine le Pen to the far left of Jean-Luc Mélenchon), state institutions, mainstream media, talking heads, and influential public intellectuals, with rare exceptions.

    In the past several decades, few individuals have been the object of such spite and hatred, the target of such violent hostility by the ruling elites, the bête noire of so many individuals and sworn enemies. The worst of whom being Caroline Fourest, a freelance journalist, essayist, media figure, and laïcist activist-feminist. Since at least the early 2000s, Fourest has made it her mission in life to discredit Ramadan by whatever means possible. Fourest has built her media notoriety and presence almost entirely around her personal crusade against Ramadan, and is herself a favorite of the political and media establishment, which has been generous in providing her with talk show host positions on public radio channels and a columnist position at the daily newspaper Le Monde (as well as commissioned work such as documentaries for the public channel Arte).

    In France, the violence against Ramadan has reached such a level that if one wishes to discredit someone else, say, a political opponent, all one has to do is claim that the adversary is a friend or “ally” of Tariq Ramadan, that s/he has talked to, worked with, or simply shared a stage, forum, or seat in a debate with Ramadan, or that s/he has signed a petition also signed by Ramadan. This is no exaggeration and three examples, gleaned from what are now hundreds of similar cases, aptly illustrate this reality:

    In 2013, Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Minister of Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem withdrew their participation in a European forum in Italy after they learned Ramadan had also been invited. In 2003, three top leaders of the Socialist Party, all ministers at some point (Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Vincent Peillon, and again Manuel Valls), published an open call to the organizers of the European Social Forum to cancel their invitation to the theologian, accusing him of antisemitism on the basis of ludicrous pseudo-evidence from an article he had published about a few well-known Jewish intellectuals.[1]

    In 2011, the pressure and intimidation tactics of conservative party leader Jean-François Copé pushed Socialist leaders and former ministers Martine Aubry and Laurent Fabius to withdraw their signatures from a petition denouncing the conservative party’s Islamophobia. The only thing Copé had to do to force them to cancel their support for that campaign was point out that Ramadan too had signed the petition. His two political opponents did not even argue, they simply quit—sheepishly and effectively shamed. Outside of such examples, even having a photo taken with Ramadan on a stage (even if one were debating him as an opponent) is in France enough to seriously discredit one’s reputation.

    These few cases are enough to demonstrate that many years before the two recent accusations, but also long before the emergence of ISIL or the first jihadist attacks of Mohammed Merah in 2012 and Charlie Hebdo in 2015, Ramadan had already been turned, through systematic vilification, relentless conspiracism, and smear campaigns (Fourest looms large here), into a toxic figure—a “dangerous Islamist,” a “radical fundamentalist,” an insidious “preacher” practicing “double language,” a stealth agent of the “global Islamist plot”—that mere proof of contacts of any type with him has been enough to scare away even the most established and powerful politicians.

    Ramadan’s Powerful Adversaries

    In 2016, Ramadan made public his decision to apply for French citizenship. Given his stunning accomplishments, marriage to a French citizen, French children, permanent activities in France where he has offices—but also his superb mastery of the French language, history, literature and philosophy—he fully deserved it. Further, he has demonstrated respect for France's institutions throughout this whole ordeal (despite his inhumane treatment by the French state).

    Yet, as soon as he made his intention to apply for citizenship known, France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls (a notorious islamophobe obsessed with banning hijabs everywhere) himself went public, red with rage, to declare that Ramadan’s application for naturalization was “a provocation against the French Republic” and that he would “personally make sure it gets rejected”—not hesitating, incidentally, to violate French institutions since it was not in his prerogatives as PM to do so.

    Ramadan responded by emphasizing how ironic it was for Valls to describe his citizenship application as being incompatible with “the values of the French Republic” shortly after giving the Legion of Honor (France’s highest official state honor) to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy which does not recognize the core values France claims to uphold: freedom of religion, gender equality, and freedom of expression. Ramadan’s rhetorical acumen silenced Manuel Valls, who had nothing with which to respond.

    In 2003, in another epic “Ramadan vs. French State” confrontation, it was Nicolas Sarkozy himself, then Minister of the Interior and soon-to-be Presidential candidate, who personally took the theologian head-on, making it his personal business to demonize Ramadan’s international call for a moratorium on “corporal punishment, stoning, and the death penalty in the Islamic world” on prime time live.

    One could forever multiply such examples. In short, France’s most powerful government members, Prime Ministers and Presidents like Sarkozy and Valls, backed by the mainstream media and its cohort of “anti-Islamist” columnists and talking heads, have escalated their permanent anti-Ramadan campaign, moving from mere vilification or simply avoiding any contact with him to active attempts to take him down, put him out of business for good, and destroy him politically, socially and even religiously. But, time and again, they were not able to best him in intellectual debate.[2]

    It is also important to understand that Ramadan’s critics also seek to delegitimize anything they associate with him: “Islamism,” “Salafism,” “political Islam,” the Muslim Brotherhood, the Union of Islamic Organisations of France, independent and critical journalists like Mediapart’s Edwy Plenel. In a recent column, Algerian writer and journalist Kamel Daoud[3] even claims the allegations of rape against Ramadan (which he takes for granted as proven facts) are “symptomatic of the miserable humanity of all preachers,” who “dissimulate” a similar predatory sexual perversity “behind their religious commerce.” Unlike Ramadan, Daoud is the kind of Arab intellectual the French media and political establishment absolutely adore: the easily instrumentalized type who thinks naively that he is paraded and celebrated on all television, newspaper and radio forums because of his smarts and literary talent, rather than the function he serves (that of a useful tool for Islamophobes).

    In particular, by discrediting Ramadan, by putting and keeping him in jail for as long as they can by whatever means possible, they want to end his whole project for European Muslims and roll the clocks back to the 1970s, a time when, as the French sometimes say with nostalgia, “les musulmans rasaient les murs” (Muslims would lower their heads, try not to be seen, out of shame and intimidation). More than anyone, Ramadan has incarnated this groundbreaking tide of the Euro-Islam “Muslim Pride” movement, especially among the youth. Adam Shatz aptly summarizes his powerful message:

    In the nineteen-nineties, Tariq Ramadan attracted a following among French Muslims, both in the banlieues and in the professional middle classes. His message was simple, revolutionary, and electrifying: Islam was already a part of France, and so Muslim citizens were under no obligation to choose between their identities. They could practice their faith freely, even strictly, and still be French, so long as they respected the country’s laws. French Muslims, he argued, should overcome their “victim mentality” and embrace both their faith and their Frenchness. By the same token, France should recognize that Islam is a French faith; Muslim citizens are scarcely in need of “assimilation” into a country to which they already belong, a paternalist notion with roots in France’s colonial history.

    In a nutshell: Ramadan has been cast as the Devil. The AntiChrist of the French Republic, declared by many a supreme danger to State and Nation. He has been in the crosshairs of the powerful since at least 2003 (the key moment of his first frontal confrontation with Nicolas Sarkozy). Ramadan has no friend or ally in any state institution, only hostile enemies who would be thrilled to see him disappear for good—preferably in shame.[4] From this standpoint, it is clear that the castigation of Ramadan has been less about supporting victims of rape, and more about disempowering European Muslim populations.

    Even France’s publishing industry has made it its mission to destroy Ramadan: recently, the journalist Ian Hamel, himself a sworn adversary of Ramadan who wrote a book against him, revealed during an interview how Flammarion (France’s famed publishing house) commissioned a book from him about Ramadan, which was supposed to be a fierce attack against the theologian. Hamel wrote the book, but when he sent his manuscript to the publisher, they declined it: they wanted him to describe Ramadan as a terrorist, too. Hamel declined as he did not want to publish outright and obvious lies. For that reason, Flammarion rejected his manuscript, which he had to publish elsewhere.

    The fact that one of France’s oldest, largest and most prestigious publishing houses would commission a book to an author with the specific objective to attack Ramadan and lie about him being a terrorist speaks volumes too.

    Rest here

    https://www.milestonesjournal.net/articles/2018/3/19/the-tariq-ramadan-case-a-comprehensive-review

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  4. #262
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update. Some good news.




    National Union of Teachers Unanimously Vote Against Ofsted’s Hijāb Stance


    The National Union of Teachers (“NUT”), part of the UK’s largest teachers’ union, held their annual conference over the weekend, covering a wide-range of topics from pay scales to Ofsted policy. Amongst the important topics discussed was a unified voice of condemnation of Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Speilman’s instruction to interrogate children as young as four if they go to school wearing a hijāb, under the bizarre, if not dishonest, notion that the piece of cloth represented the “sexualisation of young girls”.[1]

    The Chief Inspector, whose appointment was rejected by the House of Commons Education Committee citing her lack of vision and passion,[2] has been seen to be excessively focused on enforcing “muscular liberalism” upon schools in the UK; with particular unwarranted attention on tackling the “issue” of letting Muslim children be who they are.

    Speaking at the NUT conference, Ealing teacher Latifa Abouchakra described Islamophobic abuse she had faced on a recent school trip and explained that Ofsted’s stance emboldens racist groups such as the EDL and BNP.[3]

    Another teacher, Mehreen Begg, said:

    “It is wholly inappropriate for Ofsted inspectors to question primary-age Muslim girls on their choice of dress. This is an act of intimidation by a powerful adult on a young child and has no place in our education system.”[4]

    The union unanimously passed a resolution condemning Ms Speilman’s comments on the topic as beyond the remit of Ofsted. The motion argued that the Chief Inspector’s statements “have ramifications beyond the school gates and must be seen in the context of increased attacks on the Muslim community and particular stereotypes about Muslim girls and Muslim women”, further adding that “these statements could have a negative impact on local communities and lead to further marginalisation of, and increased physical and verbal attacks on, Muslim women and girls.”[5]

    Representing the views of teachers across the UK, delegate Kauser Jan put it succinctly when she said:

    “Wading in and telling our girls, saying that ‘no, you’re going to be questioned about why you are wearing that? Who has actually oppressed you?’

    “Well let me tell you Amanda Spielman, we’re not going to take it. I am so proud to be in a union that is challenging this, I am so proud that we stand shoulder to shoulder.

    “Whatever your ideas about the hijab, I’m so proud of our general secretary who has stood […] head to head with Amanda Spielman telling her our union is not going to accept her Islamophobic policies.

    “We have taken regressive steps, where our children are now being told, or made to feel, they must leave their cultural, and linguistic and religious identity at the door.”[6]

    In typical head-in-the-sand fashion, Ofsted’s response was to dismiss all criticism and instead express their disappointment the union failed to accept their “official” neo-conservative agenda.[7]

    https://www.islam21c.com/news/national-union-of-teachers-unanimously-vote-against-ofsteds-hijab-stance/

  5. #263
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam
    Another update

    Students march against Prevent at the University of Westminster

    While the method of implementing Prevent at the University of Westminster may be more severe than most, students and activists have been speaking out against the strategy for years




    Yesterday, thirty students from a group called Westminster Students Not Suspects marched from the University of Westminster’s Marylebone Campus to the Regent Street Campus, in protest at the way that the government’s Prevent anti-terrorism strategy is being implemented at their university. They occupied the Regent Street building’s lobby, and refused to leave until their demands were met.

    The students claimed that the university only installed CCTV cameras in campus prayer rooms, shredded copies of the Qur’an, postponed almost every event organised by the Palestinian or Islamic societies (sometimes as late as the day before the event was scheduled to take place), and had stricter security checks for events arranged by these societies.

    In 2015, British universities became legally obligated to implement the Prevent duty. Places like the University of Westminster must show that they are actively trying to stop students from being radicalised. However, the protesters at the march argued that the University of Westminster has been especially discriminatory in using the Prevent duty to target students according to race, religion and political orientation.

    While the method of implementing Prevent at the University of Westminster may be more severe than most, students and activists have been speaking out against the strategy for years. Since 2015, for example, the National Union of Students campaign “Students not Suspects” has been arguing that Prevent takes away students’ freedom of speech and targets minority students disproportionately.

    Nevertheless, the organisers of yesterday’s march argue that it was unique, because it was the first protest against the way that the strategy has been implemented at a particular university. According to some accounts, this was actually the first protest of any kind at the University of Westminster for almost a decade.

    The Week of Action

    According to Farah Koutteineh, one of the organisers of the protest, Westminster Students Not Suspects was created by a group of students who were originally members of the Westminster Students for Palestine society, and was a response to the restrictions that the society experienced because of Prevent.

    The students called for three days of action. The week started with a crisis meeting hosted at SOAS, University of London. The meeting was meant to educate students on the ways that Prevent was being used to silence student activists from various London universities, and prepare students for the march at the end of the week.

    Students then marched to five of the University of Westminster’s campuses: Marylebone; the Cavendish and the Cavendish 101 Campuses; the Little Titchfield Street Campus; and the Regent Street Campus. The group also stopped for a short time in front of the BBC’s Broadcasting House.

    Students held two large banners with “Students Against Prevent” written on one, and “Justice for Palestine is Not a Crime” on the other. Other slogans included, “Who told you this was okay?”, “Why are we still fighting for freedom of speech?” and “This is only the beginning”.

    At each campus, the students gave a copy of their seven demands to a member of the university’s staff. These included that the university should uphold its obligation to protect freedom of speech; re-write its risk assessment forms; stop discrimination against societies based on their political opinion, religion or ethnicity; and withdraw the external speaker policy.

    The march ended with an occupation of the Regents Street Campus lobby. The group of students sat in a row in front of the entry turnstiles and refused to leave until either their demands were met or the Vice Chancellor agreed to speak to them.

    The meeting between students and university representatives


    Shortly after the occupation started, representatives from the Student Union, Roland Dannreuther (Deputy Vice-Chancellor) and Kate Hayes (Director of Communications, Recruitment and External Affairs) agreed to meet the protesters in an adjacent café to talk about their demands and concerns. A time limit of 30 minutes was set.

    Although Dannreuther had said that he wasn’t sure why they were shredded but he knew that the Qur’ans were destroyed in a way that was “Sharia compliant”, during the meeting Hayes argued that they were destroyed because the room was going to be cleaned and the books were left by the previous year’s students. A Student Union representative added that the Qur’ans were destroyed because the prayer rooms were converted into multi-faith rooms, and they wanted to remove any religious iconography from them.

    Another issue discussed was that the university had stricter criteria for the Palestinian and Islamic societies’ events than those of other societies. For example, the official risk assessment flagged Janna Jihad, an eleven-year-old from Palestine, as a security risk, but said nothing about Katie Hopkins, who is famous for making racist comments, such as calling refugees “cockroaches” and calling for a “final solution” for Muslims.

    A Student Union representative argued that the reason that the criteria was so strict for the Palestinian and Islamic societies was because the union had to examine events through a security lens and to determine if the event would harm the university’s reputation. The rep added that because Mohammed Emwazi — the infamous “Jihadi John” — was once a student at the University of Westminster, the institution is under a lot of media scrutiny. As a result, the Students Union determines the risk of an event based on how the events might be interpreted by non-students, and if they are dangerous or have the potential to radicalise those who take part.

    By the end of the meeting, none of the demands were met. However, the Student Union and the representatives agreed to meet again on Tuesday, 10 April.

    “Today, students have stood united and defiant for the first time in ten years,” commented Farah Koutteineh. “They did this to say that the university will not shred another Qur’an, that it will not censor our freedom of speech, and that we want freedom of speech and democracy at the University of Westminster. We will accept nothing less than for all seven of our demands to be met.”

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180407-students-march-against-prevent-at-the-university-of-westminster/

  6. #264
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Usually people (men invariably) are fined for harassing women, never expected to see a man fined for not touching a women.

    Like to share


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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Quote Originally Posted by Junon View Post
    Salaam

    Usually people (men invariably) are fined for harassing women, never expected to see a man fined for not touching a women.

    Like to share

    "Superior European Civilized Values"
    Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam


    يا قافلة الخير
    "The Persian aggression against Iraq was a result of the arrogant, racialist and evil attitudes of the ruling clique in Iran."
    -Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid at-Tikriti -
    العراق جمجمة العرب ورمح الله في الأرض



  9. #266
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update

    An open letter to Muslim leaders on ‘new counter-extremism’ schemes

    Respected Ulema, Imams, and those active in the Muslim community.

    As-salâm ‘alaykum wa rahmatuAllâhi wa barakâtuhu.

    I pray my letter reaches you in the best of health and Iman.

    I am writing to update you about some of the latest developments on ‘counter-extremism’ or ‘anti-radicalisation’ schemes – due to the arrival of some that try to sell themselves as something ‘new’ or different to the widely discredited and anti-Islamic Prevent scheme.

    ‘Counter-extremism’ schemes are like cigarettes – some are high tar, some are low tar – but regardless of these small differences or different names, most are the same and any of them can be harmful.

    Over the past few months, I have been made aware that some Muslims have considered supporting, or even launching their own, ‘counter-terrorism’ and ‘counter-extremism’ initiatives – a matter that I firmly believe could seriously harm the whole of the Muslim community.

    Some of these Muslims might believe that it is important to be seen as doing something to counter the narrative of the policymakers who claim Islam is to blame for the repeated acts of violence perpetrated around the world today. A few may believe it gives them credibility in political circles so that politicians will engage with them more – however, it is a dangerous and un-Islamic attitude to put personal gain ahead of the interests of the wider Muslim community.

    Given this background, I wanted to share some of my concerns about the issue of supporting any ‘anti-radicalisation’ programmes in the current climate.

    1. Prevent, along with similar programmes that may be proposed in future, deserve to fail.


    Prevent has generated suspicion because it was a government brand that had been exposed from the outset for spying on Muslims [1]. So its supporters have been calling for a review and a rebrand in order to save this failing policy. They do this in one of two ways:

    The first (supported by the government) is to push Prevent as it is, perhaps accepting a few small changes.

    The second also is to support the idea of ‘counter-extremism’ schemes like Prevent – but its supporters say Prevent needs rebranding and some reforms. This is a view that was expressed by Keith Vaz, former Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, as well as by others – including some Muslims. Vaz did not argue for all such programmes to be scrapped – only for a ‘rebranding’ and that these programmes should be ‘community-led’[2].

    In March 2018, a ‘new’ scheme was launched, which had a different name to Prevent and was not a government scheme. The organiser was known for criticising Prevent in the past. Yet he admitted his new scheme had the same aims as Prevent. His criticism of Prevent was not because he thought it was wrong but because it had lost the confidence of the Muslim community.

    The Muslim community should be very clear that anyone supporting Prevent, or any scheme that has adopted a Prevent-like narrative, is supporting an initiative that is aimed against Islam and Muslims – a matter I will explain shortly.

    Supporting such initiatives would be a betrayal of those Muslim [3] and non-Muslim organisations and individuals (including doctors, teachers and lawyers) [4] who have persistently argued against Prevent, and exposed its true aims and motivations.

    2. Prevent, along with similar programmes that are based on the same thinking, are clearly aimed against Islam.

    There is a lot of evidence for this statement.

    The original counter-extremism arguments made by Tony Blair in 2005 [5][6] were rejected by many Muslims at the time [7]. In addition, the pre-2004 Contest 1 policy [8]; the criteria for Contest 2 leaked in 2009 [9]; what has been said in parliament about Prevent [10]; how Prevent has worked in practice [11] – all of these illustrate the anti-Islam agenda.

    Countering ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’ all seem to be based on the lie that ‘the more Islamic a person is, the more of a risk they are’. So, ‘deradicalisation’ focuses on things like men and women sitting separately, dress codes, or whether or not children can fast in Ramadhan – i.e. it is about secularising Islam, not countering “violent extremism”!

    Any scheme that does not define ‘extremism’ in a clear way, or argues that it is some ‘extreme’ strands of religious thinking that cause violence – is a policy that follows the same thinking as Prevent.

    So, endorsing any schemes based on this thinking would be supporting policies that are working against Islam and harmful to the whole community.

    The Muslim community ought to be challenging this hostile approach, which is built upon a lie about our deen. Being anti-Prevent does not mean you are pro-terror – it simply means you are wholly against a divisive policy that doesn’t do what it claims to do, and which in truth demonises Islam.

    Instead, our community ought to be encouraging discussion of the very issues that are labelled ‘extremist’ – like Shari’ah, Khilafah and Jihad as well as a host of political issues from their Islamic perspective – and not self-censoring due to the climate – because that would create a dangerous vacuum for others to fill.

    More than that, when one looks at this secular-dominated world that is so troubled, our community ought to be championing more Islam not less and carrying that message to people in society.

    3. Prevent, and any similar programmes, are flawed from their roots.

    Aside from its clear anti-Islam agenda, the thinking that ‘anti-radicalisation’ and ‘counter-extremism’ is based upon is flawed from its roots, and should never be supported.

    In 2016 the Open Society Foundation issued a report [12] with many proofs against Prevent, like leaked British government documents from 2010 revealing “a clear assessment that individuals do not progress through non-violent extremist groups to violent groups’ and that so-called ‘extreme groups may also provide a legal ‘safety valve’ for extreme views”. Also ‘in 2008, a leaked briefing by MI5’s Behavioural Analysis Unit found that most terrorists were not “Islamic fundamentalists”.’ [13]

    4. Prevent, and any similar programmes, distract from the real cause of politically motivated-violence.

    Prevent – and similar schemes – don’t focus on the western foreign policy that has caused the backlash that they say they seek to prevent. They distract from the policies that are actually responsible for the destabilisation of vast areas of the Muslim world and which affect the whole world today.

    The Muslim community should be highlighting the real causes; and calling for an end to western-interference in the Muslim world; and argue for the establishment of legitimate Islamic governance that unites and stabilises the region after decades of colonial inspired instability.

    5. Community-led ‘counter-extremism’ schemes would backfire on the Muslim community.

    It would be naive and foolish for any section of the community to ‘own’ any ‘anti-radicalisation’ scheme.

    Whilst politicians and media overlooked failings of Prevent – for example, in failing to prevent the Parsons Green attack – they would not be so forgiving of any community-led initiative. Rather, those who ‘owned it’ and had taken responsibility to deal with the issue themselves would be blamed for not having prevented it.

    Moreover, if any section of the community owns the problem, it reinforces the false idea that the whole community is collectively to blame and that there is more we can do – which is a problem for the whole Muslim community.

    Muslim organisations should stay far away from accepting collective responsibility for the actions of individuals who are singularly responsible for what they do.

    Rather we should focus our efforts on building Islamic values in our communities and inviting others to look at Islam, countering the negative propaganda.

    Those who think we can do this while dressed up as some kind of practical elements of a counter-‘extremism’ policy would be very wrong. Firstly, because we believe that such long-term work is solely to please Allah (swt), so that it brings goodness to our community and to the wider society. Secondly, because to try to implement such community programmes by saying they are to counter-‘extremism’ will taint sincere efforts, and destroy the trust of those who you should be seeking to serve. Finally, we should be more mindful that some local and national politicians think Muslims are being two-faced when they start using counter-‘extremism’ labels for community projects.

    It should be clear that Prevent and any similar alternatives that are being proposed are based on the same thinking – and have only served to spread hysteria and irrational fear of Islam and Muslims. This distracts from the real causes of violence and attempts to intimidate the Muslim community into replacing Islam with a ‘British’ version of Islam [14] – one that removes any Islamic ideas or values that do not fit with secular liberal values. This is no different to policies in Muslim countries, where so-called ‘modernisation’ is used to counter Islamic revival.

    My concerns are about all counter-‘extremism’ initiatives based upon the dominant thinking today – not just Prevent. I am uncertain of the motivation of those behind these new schemes. They may be well-meaning but confused – but there are also those who know the growing ‘counter-extremism’ industry is very lucrative.

    http://www.hizb.org.uk/resources/leaflets/an-open-letter-to-muslim-leaders-on-new-counter-extremism-schemes/

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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update

    The Optician Case

    TI is 9 years old. He had an appointment to see an optician and was accompanied by his father. Almost immediately upon commencing the eye examination, the Optician asked TI if he had Chloe, Rebecca, Emily, Barbara and other English girls in his class. TI felt confused by the question and said he did not have these girls in his class.

    The Optician then repeated the question six or seven times. He repeated the names of the girls emphatically and asked TI whether he had “these English girls” in his class. TI was still feeling confused and started to feel uncomfortable. TI asked the Optician “why do you keep asking these questions?” The Optician proceeded to state that “you go to one of them schools” and that “you don’t go to school with English kids do you?” The Optician then appeared to smirk.

    TI felt highly apprehensive and asked what the problem was. The Optician asked TI “do you know who the Prime Minister is?” TI answered “Theresa May”. The Optician then asked “how many paragraphs of English can you write?” to which TI responded that “four or five”. The Optician stated that ‘Emily, Rebecca and other English children can write four pages, why cant you?’ The Optician proceeded to repeat this statement six or seven times, asking TI over and over “why can’t you?”

    TI was becoming extremely upset at this stage. TI’s father was standing in the room throughout this time and asked the Optician about interrogating his son. TI’s father questioned why the Optician was asking his child such irrelevant and inappropriate questions, as they had no relevance to testing his son’s eyes. The Optician appeared taken back by this and admitted that he had recently attended Prevent training.

    TI’s father then told the Optician that Prevent seemed to be a highly discriminatory policy and that it was upsetting his son. TI’s father proceeded to inform the Optician that his behaviour was highly discriminatory against a 9-year-old child. TI’s father told the Optician not to question his child like this. The Optician accepted that he was interrogating TI under Prevent.

    TI was left traumatised by the events and was tearful on his way back home from the appointment. He asked his father if he had done something wrong, why he did not have any English kids in his class and if he was not good enough. TI has always been proud of his British heritage but was made to feel like he did not belong here and had been ‘otherised’ following what should have been a simple Optical check.

    TI’s parents were shocked and appalled by the Optician’s behaviour. Prevent Watch documented the case and assisted the family with submitting a complaint to the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS). The family is now waiting for a response from the OCCS who are taking the matter seriously.

    In this case, a 9-year-old child was interrogated and traumatised without reason and based on Prevent (WRAP) training. The case demonstrates the direct consequences of the flawed and inadequate Prevent policy, which has suspicion of Muslims at the forefront, a reflection of the Prevent policy itself.

    https://www.preventwatch.org/the-optician-case/

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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    An update

    I was referred to PREVENT because I corrected my teacher




    When I first heard that PREVENT was being used on me, I felt quite upset, disrespected and violated. You are really made to feel victimised and isolated.

    Initially, I didn’t tell my parents – I thought in the beginning that if my mum found out she would have had a heart attack. But I told my friends what had happened, and we spoke through it. We decided on the best course of action to take, which would ensure that I didn’t dig myself in any deeper.

    I took my friends with me to the meeting with the teaching staff who were initiating PREVENT against me. They came to take notes and to make sure that what I was saying covered everything. They were also there for support.

    Students themselves don’t know about PREVENT, but now almost every student knows what happened to me personally and they all think what’s happened is ridiculous.

    The incident happened due to a classroom discussion we were having about Jihad; the teacher had said that Jihad is about creating a “pan-nationalistic state”.

    I had corrected her and said that “jihad” meant “to strive”, so it also referred to an internal state, struggling against yourself to do things for the sake of Allah. I said it could be associated with war and violence especially the way the media and education presents it, and that it had at times manifest itself as a physical struggle at the time of the Prophet (SAW), but that “jihad” had a much wider and deeper meaning than the way it is currently portrayed.

    I was also voicing my political views during discussions in class. Other students also expressed similar sentiments to me – for example around questions of identity and Britishness – but I guess for some my views may be deemed as “radical” or “extreme”. Perhaps how you look, has a bearing on it..

    A couple of weeks later, I found myself in the position where my teacher pulled me aside and said she had to have a word with me. This caused confusion among the students as I am not normally the type of student that is pulled aside.

    Teaching staff’s ignorance of Islamic and cultural figures

    In the meeting with the staff implementing PREVENT, the head of learner entitlement who takes the lead on issues relating to PREVENT mentioned a book I had written about in my personal statement for Islamic Studies and Arabic: “Kulliyet-e-Iqbal”.

    When they referred to Allama Iqbal in the interview, it really felt ridiculous.

    Iqbal was a poet, philosopher, and politician, as well as an academic, barrister and scholar, widely acclaimed as a modern Muslim philosophical thinker and “father of Pakistan”. His work is in Urdu and Persian, and even many native Urdu speakers find difficulty in understanding some of his works as he mixes the Farsi into his Urdu poetry.

    This book hasn’t been translated into English. They questioned me over the fact that I was reading his work and making claims on it despite them not being able to understand the book.

    Anyway, their panic around Iqbal, and their panic around my view of him, was really based on complete ignorance.

    I was questioned by senior members of staff, and the referral was made by a member of the learning support staff who is present in my lessons to make notes for me as I have a learning difficulty.

    The people questioning me came across as ignorant as they were trying to make me justify my beliefs and the content of my University personal statement without understanding the concepts around which they were questioning me in the first place.

    I suppose they also tried to recruit me into their programme. The head of learner entitlement then suggested I become a Channel ambassador, but did not explain the role.

    A censoring effect on education


    After the interview, I told my father. He found it quite ridiculous but he saw that it was positive they hadn’t taken any further action.

    The next day I felt I couldn’t voice my political views in class. This was especially caused by the fact that the person making notes for me had been the one to refer me.

    There was a kind of censoring effect on me. I explained to the teacher I had to be careful about what I said from now on and that there’s not a lot of understanding about certain Islamic figures and their role in history.

    It’s a pity, because this is a politics classroom setting. It should be a place for discussion and debate, not censorship.

    The teacher was sympathetic to an extent, though she doesn’t agree with my political views. I think she was actually quite scared to talk to me any further about it.

    After this, I would describe PREVENT as a kind of 1984 exercise where people’s beliefs are questioned and where the government is making assumptions about “radicalisation” and “extremism” based on a flawed interpretation. A lot of people are talking about it. It’s made a lot of students angry. Some people have found it funny and generally the vibe is that it’s quite ridiculous.

    If I had a say in policy, I’d tell them to start fresh and have a thoughtful and meaningful dialogue with organisations and individuals that represent real Muslim-led thought, led by the main body of Muslims, the ones that get support from the community.

    This is the only way forward. Unfortunately, at the moment we just feel like we’re being talked at not talked with. That’s just counter-productive.

    https://cage.ngo/article/i-was-referred-to-prevent-because-i-corrected-my-teacher/

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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Not this again -_-


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  14. #270
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update


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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update


  16. #272
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update

    Gary Jones has told the truth about the British media's Islamophobic reporting
    #Islamophobia

    The newly appointed editor of the Daily Express offered an honest account about his own paper's culpability in spreading hate and bigotry against Muslims. Other editors should follow suit


    That the British media is consistently Islamophobic is a well-researched and well-identified state of affairs. However, what is less expected is when a prominent newspaper editor is willing to make clear to a Parliamentary committee that this is precisely the case and that his own newspaper is culpable in spreading the hate, bigotry and intolerance that feeds into a perpetual cycle.
    Islamophobic reporting

    On Tuesday, Gary Jones, the newly appointed editor of the Daily Express, told the Home Affairs Committee in Parliament that his newspaper had been creating an "Islamophobic sentiment" based on inaccurate and misguided reporting, with some stories that are "downright offensive".

    It is undoubtedly the case that being honest is important, and especially so in the context of a public hearing on the role of the press in determining the way news stories are perceived in which editors have a direct and specific responsibility to provide an honest and fair account.

    And it is especially significant given the reality of Islamophobic reporting in the news media, in particular, is often a function of editors, senior editors and newspaper owners whose own political, cultural and ideological leanings, combined with an eye on readership numbers, are the ones, in the final analysis, which control the message and its content.

    In a competitive arena where journalists are vying to tell an accurate and meaningful story, the ultimate editorial decisions are at the whims of senior managers whose motivations reflect more than the commercial needs of the newspapers.

    The reality of commercialism in relation to news media leads to a situation of bias that aims to maintain an uninterrupted anxiety on the part of readers whose own fears and apprehensions are magnified on a repeated basis. Primed readers comprehend a perspective on Islam and Muslims that aligns with their own biased leanings previously determined by the very same news media outlets.

    'Project fear'

    News media Islamophobia is a continuous cycle that needs to be broken, especially as news media exists as an opportunity to inform readers, rather than misinform them.

    But the problem is not just that this news media is biased. What is called news in newspapers and on TV channels is rarely news. Rather it is a carefully packaged, presented and polished perspective on the world systematically manufactured, produced and disseminated in a process led by the motivations of profit in an otherwise competitive arena for the attention of readers.

    News has always been subject to commercial forces but especially so as advertising became part of newspapers after their establishment in the late 1800s.

    The Daily Mail, the Daily Express, and the Daily Mirror all started as checks on the workings of government, but as soon as advertising entered into the fray, the need for differentiation of news that appealed to certain segments of the population - in an attempt to compete with each other to sustain profits - became the dominant paradigm.

    In the present day, to ensure maximum readership, stylised salaciousness, gossip, voyeurism and "project fear" are tools used to maintain a dedicated readership.

    While news media is a leading culprit in this, media Islamophobia is also found in television, film, magazines and especially in social media; in fact, wherever there is sustained mass media consumption. Media Islamophobia is also a bedfellow of politics.

    Therefore, negative sentiments towards Muslims routinely feature in discourses within parts of the British government, especially on matters of integration, immigration and diversity.

    rest here

    http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/undoing-institutionalisation-media-islamophobia-1710806745

  17. #273
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update


  18. #274
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update





    Home Office forced by Netpol to release ‘counter-radicalisation’ training materials


    After a two-year battle against five police forces and the regulator dealing with freedom of information, Netpol has secured an important victory for greater transparency of the government’s ‘counter-radicalisation’ strategy, Prevent.

    After intervening in a legal action brought by Netpol at the Information Rights Tribunal over the refusal by police forces to publish this material, the Home Office has now been forced to concede that continued secrecy is untenable after tens of thousands of people have taken part in the training.

    As a result, the Home Office WRAP training materials, along with local versions provided to Netpol by Greater Manchester Police and Merseyside Police, are now public documents and available to download:

    Background

    In the autumn of 2015, we were given an audio recording made by a participant at a WRAP training event in the north-west region of England. It provides concrete evidence (at 1m 56) that counter-terrorism officers in the North West were linking anti-fracking protests to “domestic extremism” and making unsubstantiated claims about campaigners who took part in protests the previous year in Salford.

    Campaigners have vigorously contested such allegations and the inclusion of anti-fracking protests in WRAP training seemed like a political judgement intended to undermine and remove the legitimacy of their opinions and activities.

    Without further information, we were unable to corroborate whether the details revealed in the WRAP training audio was an isolated incident or whether it reflected a wider pattern of targeting opposition to fracking as a potential “extremist” threat.

    In order to safeguard and protect the anonymity of the person who had shared the recording, we decided therefore to submit identical Freedom of Information requests to all five of the English police forces (excluding the Isle of Man) that make up the North West Counter Terrorism Unit.

    We asked for the standard presentation that officers were delivering and clarification on the examples of ‘domestic extremism’ that they highlighted when talking to participants (not simply ‘left-wing extremism’ or ‘right-wing extremism’ but the specific examples of campaigns or groups), during training held since January 2015.

    Netpol made a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in June 2016, after all five forces had rejected these requests on the grounds of ‘national security’ and ‘law enforcement’.

    In five, near-identical Decision Notices issued in November 2016, however, the Information Commissioner rejected our complaint.

    Despite the general principle that public bodies are “motive blind” when releasing information, the Commissioner accepted arguments from each force that “disclosure could lead to groups or individuals who could be characterised as having an ‘anti-Prevent’ agenda, seeking to discredit or undermine the training materials”. In an extraordinary statement, she added:

    “There are individuals and groups who question its approach… and some are openly hostile to it. Amongst the latter are groups that have campaigned against it. The Commissioner accepts that such groups are likely to seek to highlight in response to disclosure what they regard as flaws or particularly controversial aspects of the training materials.”

    In our view, it is perfectly reasonable to reach a sceptical or even hostile opinion about Prevent. In 2016, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of assembly said that “by dividing, stigmatising and alienating segments of the population, Prevent could end up promoting extremism, rather than countering it.” The policy has been described by one senior former Metropolitan Police Service officer as a “toxic brand”. Even the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation has told Parliament that “the lack of confidence in aspects of the Prevent programme, particularly but not exclusively among Muslims, is undeniable”.

    Only a month after these Decision Notices were issued, in December 2016, the Home Office was forced to issue a statement saying “support for anti-fracking is not an indicator of vulnerability” to extremism, after press coverage about a council and a school in North Yorkshire including anti-fracking campaigners in their counter-terrorism advice.

    We decided, therefore, to bring a case against the Information Commissioner to the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights). The Home Office intervened because it has confidentiality agreements with each police force about the use of its training material

    Vindication

    Our suspicion back in 2015, that the statements in the WRAP audio were not an isolated incident made by an individual trainer, was vindicated in March 2017, with the decision by Merseyside Police to release its own in-house WRAP training material. This specifically mentions anti-fracking as a ‘domestic extremist’ threat, pointing to a wider pattern of targeting opposition to fracking within that force.

    This is the guidance that has potentially been provided to thousands of WRAP participants in the Merseyside area.

    Ongoing legal challenge to Prevent


    Now that the Home Office has agreed to release its WRAP materials, our legal battle continues. The First-tier Tribunal is also considering our appeal against the Information Commissioner over the release of statistics on anti-fracking campaigners referred to Channel.

    This is the Prevent strategy’s multi-agency “early intervention” programme intended to protect people allegedly at risk from radicalisation and becoming drawn into committing “terrorist-related activity”.

    We believe it is vital to know what impact, if any, falsely labelling opposition to fracking during training sessions may have had on referrals to Channel. Netpol knows, because we have been told by them, that at least two people in the north-west region of England were referred to the programme in 2015 as a result of their campaigning against the onshore oil and gas industry.

    https://netpol.org/2018/05/01/home-office-wrap-training-prevent/

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  20. #275
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update


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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update



    Last edited by Junon; 05-02-2018 at 08:00 PM.

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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update

    Last edited by Junon; 05-07-2018 at 08:26 PM.

  23. #278
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    This is related and concerning.

    UK holds at 40th in 'alarming' World Press Freedom rankings making it one of the worst for journalists in western Europe

    The UK remains 40 out of 180 countries on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index amid a “climate of hostility towards the media”.

    It was named one of the worst countries for press freedom in western Europe, while deaths in Europe “deteriorated” the safe environment for journalists. The annual index, compiled by Reporters without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières), again sees Norway and Sweden remain in first and second place respectively, with North Korea last under Kim Jong-un (pictured). The UK fell two places last year amid threats to press freedom from the Snooper’s Charter, Espionage Act and Section 40. It has dropped 18 places since the index began in 2002, when it was ranked 22nd.

    Speaking at an event to launch the 2018 index, former BBC News director James Harding said the report was “extremely alarming”, while Guardian editor Katharine Viner said the UK’s drop in the past 16 years was “quite shocking”.

    Threats this year include proposed amendments to the Data Protection Bill, currently passing through Parliament, that would leave newspapers paying both sides’ legal costs in data protection cases, win or lose. Despite a Government pledge to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, which would also force publishers to cover all legal costs in libel and copyright battles, it remains hanging over the heads of editors. RSF’s UK bureau director, Rebecca Vincent, said the UK’s position between Trinidad and Tobago in 39th place and Burkina Faso in 41st place was “frankly embarrassing” and a “questionable neighbourhood” to be in.

    She said: “Maintaining our ranking is nothing to be proud of and puts us in the embarrassing position of having one of the worst records on press freedom in Western Europe.

    “This is unacceptable for a country that plays an important international standard-setting role when it comes to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    “We must examine the longer-term trend of worrying moves to restrict press freedom, and hold the UK government to account.”

    Viner said: “It’s clear that everywhere the situation around press freedom is getting worse, both in terms of rhetoric and violence.”

    In the UK, she added, journalists face “suppression and restriction from both governments and commercial interests”.

    Viner also raised concerns over the Data Protection Bill, saying it would “obviously be devastating to news organisations working in the public interest”.

    “The need to campaign for press freedom is necessary here in Britain just as it is needed in so many other countries,” she added.

    Harding said journalists in Europe need to “stand up for” the free press together, as “state news” has become more of a problem than “fake news”.

    “We have seen a change in accepted behaviour from politicians in the way they intimidate the press and the way the state encroaches on the freedom of the media,” he said.

    “It isn’t something that’s happening that far away – it’s within the family of nations that care so deeply in the freedom of the press.”

    RSF raised concerns over the implementation of the Investigatory Powers Act, dubbed the Snooper’s Charter, which it said has “insufficient protection mechanisms” for whistleblowers, journalists, and their sources.

    Meanwhile both the Conservative and Labour parties restricted journalists’ access to campaign events ahead of June’s general election, and online threats sent to BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg resulted in her being assigned bodyguards for the Labour party conference in September. In December, the offshore firm at the heart of the Paradise Papers story, Appleby, launched breach of confidence proceedings against the Guardian and the BBC – the only two publishers to face legal action over the investigation despite it involving 96 media organisations in 67 countries.

    RSF described a “continued heavy-handed approach towards the press – often in the name of national security – and a climate of hostility towards the media” as it revealed the updated index today.

    A spokesperson for the News Media Association, which represents national, regional and local publishers, said the fact the UK was “languishing” in 40th place was disappointing but not surprising.

    “We have seen repeated attempts by the House of Lords to hijack legislation, such as the current Data Protection Bill, to enforce state-backed press regulation which would have a chilling effect on investigative journalism,” the spokesperson said.

    “This is a grave threat to press freedom and could lead to the closure of newspapers. We call on all politicians to protect media freedom and safeguard a vibrant press in the UK.”

    RSF said there has been an overall decline in press freedom in democracies around the world this year.

    Malta fell 18 places to 65th in the index after the assassination of journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia which, the group said, had “lifted the veil on the judicial harassment and intimidation to which journalists are routinely subjected in the island state”.

    Slovakia fell ten places to 27th place, following the murder of a 27-year-old investigative reporter, Jan Kuciak, who had been investigating corruption and the mafia.

    RSF said the “traditionally safe” environment for journalists in Europe had begun to “deteriorate”, also citing verbal attacks against the media from international politicians on the continent and further afield. The US under President Donald Trump – who has called reporters “enemies of the people” – has fallen two places in the index to 45th. RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said: “The unleashing of hatred towards journalists is one of the worst threats to democracies.

    “Political leaders who fuel loathing for reporters bear heavy responsibility because they undermine the concept of public debate based on facts instead of propaganda.

    “To dispute the legitimacy of journalism today is to play with extremely dangerous political fire.”

    http://pressgazette.co.uk/uk-holds-at-40th-in-world-press-freedom-rankings-but-campaign-group-says-its-nothing-to-be-proud-of/

    Related


    The Bonfire Of The Liberties: New Labour, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law


    Blurb

    The Bonfire of the Liberties is a provocative book which confronts the corrosion of civil liberties under successive New Labour governments since 1997. It argues that the last decade has seen a wholesale failure of constitutional principle and exposed the futility of depending on legal rights to restrict the power of executive government.

    It considers the steps necessary to prevent the continued decline of political standards, arguing that only through rebalancing political power can civil liberties be adequately protected. Relying on extensive new research of inaccessible sources, the book examines the major battlegrounds over civil liberties under New Labour, including the growth and abuse of police power, state surveillance and counter-terrorist measures. It unfolds a compelling narrative of the major battles fought before Parliament and in the courts, and attacks the failure of the political and legal systems to offer protection to those suffering abuses of their civil liberty at the hands of an aggressive Executive.

    In doing so, it offers a definitive account of the struggle for civil liberty in modern Britain, and a controversial argument for the reforms necessary to contain executive power.



  24. #279
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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    The Telegraph caught lying again, has to pay out compensation.





    Last edited by Junon; 05-13-2018 at 08:59 AM.

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    Re: Syria, Gaza and the Criminalisation of Islam

    Salaam

    Another update. The Zionist role in fomenting discord towards Muslims.

    The Israeli Government Role in Promoting Islamophobia Internationally


    Much of the study of Islamophobia is directed at the social and political causes and manifestations, including religious and political dimensions and racist characteristics. However, Islamophobia is also used as a strategic tool or weapon; i.e., in pursuit of national agenda.

    Many of us are familiar with Islamophobic movements within the Buddhist majority in Myanmar (against the Rohingya minority), and within Hindu nationalist parties in India. It is important to note, however, that it is characteristic of these movements that they direct their Islamophobia against particular groups of Muslims within their own societies, and are less concerned with creating an international movement against Islam.

    This is what makes the case of Israel unique. Although Israel, like Myanmar and India, seeks to marginalize and ultimately eliminate a specific population of Muslims – in this case the mostly Muslim Palestinians – part of its strategy for doing so includes encouraging and fostering Islamophobia internationally. Thus, for example, Israel has successfully pursued strong military and diplomatic ties with the governments of Myanmar and India, and especially the Islamophobic movements within those countries.

    It is clear, therefore, that Islamophobia within Israel is not only a matter of organized bigotry and social hatred, which one finds in other societies, but also of instrumentalizing or weaponizing Islamophobia as a strategic tool to legitimize and justify the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the territories under Israel’s control, as well as to support Israeli aggression towards other mostly Muslim countries in the region. Promoting and fostering Islamophobia internationally helps to increase and solidify international support for the Zionist genocidal project. It is therefore treated as an important tool of Israeli and Zionist international influence.

    My attention was first brought to this fact in casual but unusual circumstances. In early 1993 my family and I were on vacation at a Club Med in France where there were also Israeli intelligence officers and their families. I got into a discussion with one in particular, who said that with the fall of the Soviet Union, Islam would replace communism as the new enemy. It sounded a bit far-fetched, but in retrospect he knew what he was talking about, and more important, he was in a position to help make it happen, which of course it did.

    The groundwork was laid much earlier. As Deepa Kumar at Rutgers University reports, the effort to tie Islam to terrorism started at a Zionist funded neoconservative conference on international terrorism in 1979. Then, after a second such conference in 1984, “both US neocons and Zionists worked together to convince Western policy makers that ‘Islamic terrorism’ would replace communism as the West’s next great threat. By tying Islam to terrorism, neocons would gain political cover for their imperialistic ambitions in the Middle East, and Zionists would benefit from garnering Western sympathies for their struggle against Palestinian ‘terrorism.’”

    Since then, researchers like Sarah Marusek, David Miller and others have cataloged international Zionist networks that sponsor Islamophobic propaganda and policies. The work of Pamela Geller and the so-called American Freedom Defense Initiative is one of the well-known examples. Geller’s anti-Islam billboards and bus advertisements are familiar to many, as well her so-called “Muhammed Art Exhibit and Contest” in Garland, Texas in 2015, resulting in the police killing of two armed men.

    Geller is hardly alone, however. According to the Center for American Progress, the US has six major organizations that manipulate Islamophobia in order to further US support for Israel. These are the Center for Security Policy, the Society of Americans for National Existence, the Middle East Forum, Jihad Watch, Stop Islamization of America, and the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Sarah Marusek includes even more groups in her paper entitled “The Transatlantic Network: Funding Islamophobia and Israeli Settlements”, published in the anthology, What is Islamophobia?

    These organizations constitute a network, as Marusek says, but the complete network is much wider and more diverse than the assets concerned with promoting Islamophobia. They are known as the sayanim, the Hebrew word for helpers or assistants, and are composed of Zionists who have achieved important and useful positions in societies from which they can exercise powerful initiatives, especially when they operate in concert. Thus, for example, friendly journalists can work with lobbyists and others to quickly and massively spread influence, information, analysis and disinformation that are useful to Israel.

    Such initiatives require coordination, intelligence, strategic planning, covert action, technical assistance, and other expertise. For many years, the sayanimwere coordinated by the Mossad. However, following a 2010 report from the influential Reut Institute (a prestigious strategic think tank in Israel), organizational changes were made that moved such responsibility to the Ministry of International Relations, Intelligence and Strategic Affairs – better known as the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The report also notes that there are as many as 4000 sayanim in each of the major centers of power and influence, such as London and New York. A concentration of sayanim in important sectors of society that inform the public, such as film, entertainment, journalism, education and social media permits them to help shape public opinion.

    In line with Reut Institute recommendations, the Strategic Affairs Ministry has grown in size and secrecy over the last decade. Reut projected that Israel’s main strategic threat would no longer be to its military security but rather to its image and influence in other countries, especially the US and Europe. According to this view, BDS was to be regarded as a serious threat, as well as the human rights NGOs, Palestine solidarity groups and the critical alternative press. The Ministry of Strategic Affairs was therefore selected to coordinate a major new effort to combat this perceived threat.

    The Strategic Affairs Ministry has informally been called the HasbaraMinistry, using the Hebrew word for explanation or propaganda. It certainly is that, but also much more. The reorganization of the Strategic Affairs Ministry can be compared in scope to that of the Homeland Security Department. A lot of security and intelligence functions were transferred from or shared with Mossad. The Ministry became responsible for propaganda, influence and manipulation in other countries. Coordination of the sayanim became part of its purview, as did thousands of students who were paid or received scholarships in return for haunting social media and the comments sections of websites. The purpose was to dominate the media, insofar as possible, in countries vital to Israel’s plans and intentions, and to sway public opinion toward outcomes determined by Israel’s strategic goals.

    Many readers are familiar with the “Brand Israel” campaign. Its function, suggested by the Reut Institute, is to mold Israel’s image in the media of the US and other countries. Its tactics are PR on steroids, such as, for example, slipping subliminal questions into the Jeopardy quiz program and idyllic holy land vacations into Wheel of Fortune, but permeating nearly everything we see, hear and read in film, entertainment, journalism, education and social media for the purpose of molding public opinion. With enough effort of this kind, we will presumably think of Israel as Disneyland.

    Another example is Facebook and the personal collaboration between Mark Zuckerberg and Benjamin Netanyahu. After a meeting with Netanyahu, Zuckerberg hired a former employee at the Israeli embassy in Washington to be in charge of censoring so-called “fake news” on Facebook. Only Facebook has the actual figures of who gets censored, but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that a lot more anti-Zionists than Zionists are affected. Similarly, Islamophobic postings and Tweets seem to be at least somewhat resistant to censorship compared to ones that are labeled anti-Semitic (which are often merely critical of Israel).

    But it’s not just about making Israel look like the good guys. Demonizing and dehumanizing Muslims also helps to justify Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians, as well as its belligerent policies toward its mainly Muslim neighboring countries. A successful program of Islamophobia helps to support Israel’s pogroms of Palestinians in Gaza, its settlements in and economic strangulation of the West Bank, its invasions of Lebanon, its attacks against Syria, and its promotion of US wars against Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Making the US military a proxy for Israel greatly multiplies Israel’s capability, which is why Israel and its US lobby are working hard to create a new international war against Iran.

    In order to provide the Strategic Affairs Ministry with all possible means of making such operations possible and successful, it has been assigned some important intelligence functions, including black ops and psy-ops capabilities, which used to be the exclusive purview of the Mossad. This gives the ministry greater capability to engage in digging up or inventing dirt about people it wants to harm or discredit, especially in the BDS movement and other pro-Palestinian groups.

    The hand of the Strategic Affairs Ministry is not always obvious, and it takes care to shun the light. But occasionally its actions become known, as with the Aljazeera exposé of Israeli operative Shai Masot, working from the Israeli embassy in London and coordinating the actions of British citizens working with Israel. He coached them on how to demonize and “take down” members of parliament, including the Foreign Office Minister, Alan Duncan, who was considered insufficiently supportive of the effort to suppress BDS.

    Al Jazeera has produced a similar exposé on the workings of Israel and its US lobby, but the release has been indefinitely delayed, which may be an indication of Israel’s power and influence and the effectiveness of the operations coordinated by the Strategic Affairs Ministry. Nevertheless, a glimpse of such operations can be seen in the 2004 espionage indictmentsagainst AIPAC lobbyists Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman. The indictments were ultimately dropped, partly because sensitive information would have to be revealed in order to successfully prosecute the cases (or perhaps that was just the excuse used to cover the fact that Tel Aviv gets to decide who gets prosecuted, not Washington).

    France can be considered an extreme case. People have been arrested there for wearing a Free Palestine T-shirt. PayPal and several large banks in France recently closed the accounts of all organizations that support BDS, which has been ruled anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism is broadly defined, as you can see, and it is illegal in France. You can be fined or jailed for practicing it.

    But not for Islamophobia. Islamophobia is free speech but anti-Semitism is racism. In fact, the French equivalent of AIPAC, known as CRIF, has publically declared that “Islamophobia is not a form of racism. We have long drawn attention to the danger of conflating Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. To do so would impede all criticism of Islam, such that the fundamental rights of [other] religions could not be respected. The CRIF will therefore block all resolutions against Islamophobia”.

    The writings of Jacob Cohen are instructive in this regard. He has published a remarkable and very comprehensive exposé on the promotion of Islamophobia in France, including the actions of Israeli operatives and French Zionist organizations. But there’s a catch. In order to publish it in France without being arrested or sued, he has to disguise it as very thinly veiled fiction, in this case O.P.A. Kabbalistique sur les Nouveaux Indigènes. It is available only in French, but even in that language you have to know the persons and groups to which he refers with pseudonyms, and few outsiders know the French scene well enough to recognize more than a handful of them.

    So what can we conclude from all this information about the involvement of Israel and the Zionist movement in sponsoring Islamophobia? The point is that some sources of Islamophobia are not attitudes or social structures. We have to face the fact that there is a very potent, resourceful, well organized and well funded international movement that sees Islamophobia as a strategic tool in pursuit of its national interest. For this reason, it is largely impervious to education or negotiation or legal considerations.

    In fact, Israel is also pursuing an apparently contradictory effort to encourage interfaith cooperation between Jews, Muslims and Christians, but with the same goal in mind. That goal is to blunt criticism of Israel, whether by getting people to hate Muslims and thereby endorse Israel’s belligerence and ethnic cleansing, or by pressuring Muslims not to criticize Israel out of concern for potentially offending their Jewish brothers and sisters. Since the two strategies are aimed at different populations, I suppose that they might be able to work simultaneously. This is often how PR campaigns work.

    The point is that in all the efforts at fostering tolerance and understanding we are faced with an adversary that is working quite diligently in the opposite direction for reasons that have nothing to do with how they view Islam as a religion or Muslims. This is therefore a different type of challenge in trying to overcome Islamophobia.

    http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/2018/5/11/the-israeli-government-role-in-promoting-islamophobia-internationally


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