Tag: baroness warsi

Championing racism?

By Daniel Margrain

“For too long we have ignored the race of these abusers and, worse, tried to cover it up. No more. These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage.”

These are not the words of Nigel Farage, Nick Griffin or Tommy Robinson, but allegedly those of former Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Sarah Champion, writing in the Sun (August 12, 2017) in response to the recent Operation Shelter grooming case in Newcastle.

If Champion was quoted correctly in the article, it would appear that the Labour MP implied that there is something specific among Muslims or Pakistanis that makes them more likely to commit the crime of grooming and raping of girls and young women. Over recent years, this has become a common theme that is not restricted to those on the right of the political spectrum.

Political correctness?

The previous high profile case to make the headlines that involved the systematic abuse of white girls by a gang of Muslim men occurred in Rochdale from 2008. When then Tory Children’s minister Tim Loughton was asked about the subsequent trial, he said, “Political correctness and racial sensitivities have in the past been an issue.” Echoing Champion, Loughton added that the authorities still “have to be aware of certain characteristics of various ethnic communities”.

What is being impugned with the “certain characteristics” charge is the stereotypical notion that Pakistani, and by extension Muslim, men have a cultural predilection to child abuse, grooming and rape. It’s also difficult to square the notion that a police force that was sympathetic to the National Front during the 1980s could also be operating in “politically correct” or “racially sensitive” ways.

The unproven notion that questions relating to the cultural background of perpetrators inhibit the ability of the process of law to follow its proper course resulting from “political correctness”, adds to the stereotyping. Following the Rochdale case, for example, Baroness Warsi said:… “Cultural sensitivity should never be a bar to applying the law.” 

Warsi added:

“There is a small minority of Pakistani men who believe that white girls are fair game. And we have to be prepared to say that. You can only start solving a problem if you acknowledge it first… This small minority who see women as second-class citizens, and white women probably as third-class citizens, are to be spoken out against… Communities have a responsibility to stand up and say: “This is wrong; this will not be tolerated.”

Cultural norms

Among the mainstream media liberal commentariat who have responded to the reported spate of grooming cases, is right-wing TV historian David Starkey who proclaimed:

“If you want to look at what happens when you have no sense of common identity, look at Rochdale and events in Rochdale… Those men were acting within their own cultural norms.”

It is credit to Starkey that by specifically alluding to those men he potentially raised an important issue. The same can be said of Warsi’s careful use of language. In this context, it is worth recalling that Badrul Hussain, 37, who on August 16, 2017, was found guilty as part of ‘Operation Sanctuary’, said, “White women are good for only one thing – for people like me to f*** and use as trash.”

Is there a religious and/or cultural aspect that underpins this kind of mentality and is the literal translation of specific texts within the Koran used to justify the raping of white women by Hussain and other Muslim gang rapists?

LBC broadcaster, Maajid Nawaz, himself a Muslim, argues:

“There is a disproportionate problem with rape gangs in this country coming from people like me and my cultural background. That is something we simply have to talk about.”

Nawaz continues:

“Sarah Champion’s constituency, where she’s representing people in South Yorkshire, was the home to more than 1,400 hundred child victims of sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013. A report into this grooming scandal, this rape scandal, found quote almost all of the perpetrators were of Pakistani origin. We simply cannot pretend this problem doesn’t exist and try and bury our heads in the sand.”

Whether these kinds of Muslim gangs are inspired by a literal (fundamentalist) translation of the Koran, or there are other cultural issues at play, what cannot be denied is the anti-white racism of Hussain, and by extension the other perpetrators of the crime.

This view was echoed by the head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Lord Macdonald, who following the conviction of 17 men and one woman in Newcastle, described the case as “profoundly racist.”

Despite this, however, there has not been the same denouncing of the “cultural norms” of how women are treated when it comes to non-Muslim sex attackers. Look no further than the number of footballers in cases of alleged rape. The gross custom of footballers or their representatives cruising the shops of Manchester picking up women to have sex with even has its own term, “harvesting”. These women are brought to clubs and hotels where they are then assumed to be willing to have sex with numbers of footballers—coined “roasting”, often while being filmed.

Misogyny

Following the five year jail term for the crime of rape by Welsh international footballer, Ched Evans, his sister and a group of fans tried to organize a public tribute to him as a show of support at a match. We do not see front pages devoted to denouncing the misogynist culture of football, or calls for footballers as a collective to examine why a number of their colleagues have been accused of sex crimes. Yet all the time Muslim representatives are called upon to denounce the crimes as if in some way by nature of a shared religion they are collectively responsible.

This notion of assumed collective responsibility is shared by Mail columnist, Melanie Phillips who suggested that:

“The police maintain doggedly that this has nothing to do with race. What a red herring. Of course it doesn’t! This is about religion and culture – an unwesternised Islamic culture which holds that non-Muslims are trash and women are worthless. And so white girls are worthless trash”.

This kind of crass generalization was reiterated by Labour’s Jack Straw in January 2011, after a case in which two Asian men were convicted of rape and sexual abuse in Nottingham Crown Court. Straw declared that young Muslim men were “fizzing and popping with testosterone” and saw young white women as “easy meat”.

The perpetuation of the kind of racist stereotypes and generalizations outlined are not only wrong but they do nothing to solve the broader question of why some men within all communities and from all backgrounds abuse women and girls.

Research

Sarah Champion bemoans what she perceives is the lack of research into this area. But research has been undertaken. One study in particular examines the nature of social networks of the culprits and victims in two cases that involved groups of Pakistani men. It explains that gangs and paedophile rings are rare.

It goes on to say, “Contrary to stereotypes of sinister paedophile rings, most child sex offenders act alone,” and quotes research on child sex offenders showing that “only 4 per cent were involved in an organised network and 92 per cent had no contact with other offenders prior to arrest”.

Crucially, of the cases studied, there was no evidence that white girls were targeted by offenders, adding, “though the majority were white, so too were the majority of local inhabitants.”

The same logic works in reverse. Where there are large concentrations of Muslim men, for example, it follows that this particular demographic are more likely to be the offending group. In other words, as Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood of Greater Manchester Police was careful to point out, in relation to the Rochdale case, that race was not the issue but “adults preying on vulnerable young children”.

There is no evidence that intrinsically links Pakistani men to child abuse and yet prominent figures from both the left and right like Straw, Phillips, Loughton and Champion have all used generalities in emphasizing the cultural, ethnic or religious backgrounds of the perpetrators in a way they wouldn’t if the said perpetrators happened to have been white.

Champion allegedly opined that “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls.” The Labour MP is reported to have added, “There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?”

Yes, there is a problem. But the crime of sexual abuse of women and girls in Britain is not exclusively a problem within the Pakistani community. If the Sun had accurately interpreted that Champion singled out this community in the way they reported it, it’s difficult to conclude that her comments are not racist. If she was misquoted, then she should clarify matters.

I rely on the generosity of my readers. I don’t make any money from my work and I’m not funded. If you’ve enjoyed reading this or another posting, please consider making a donation, no matter how small. You can help continue my research and write independently..… Thanks!


Donate Button with Credit Cards

Corbyn’s anti-terrorism strategy expose the flaws in Tory foreign policy

By Daniel Margrain

Image result for theresa may friends with saudi arabia, pics

 

“Bombs exported from Britain are being dropped on Yemeni children by Saudi pilots trained by Britain. Isn’t it about time this government suspended its arms sales to Saudi Arabia?” (Jeremy Corbyn, 2016).

“The causes of the Manchester atrocity, in which 22 mostly young people were murdered by a jihadist, are being suppressed to protect the secrets of British foreign policy” (John Pilger, 2017).

“If ‘our’ violence is never a justification for ‘their’ violence, why is ‘their’ violence a justification for ‘ours”? (Mark Doran, 2017)

In a 1985 speech to the American Bar Association, Margaret Thatcher said the following:

“The terrorist uses force because he knows he will never get his way by democratic means…Through calculated savagery, his aim is to induce fear in the hearts of people. And weariness towards resistance……And we must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend.”

Starving terrorists of the oxygen of media publicity was clearly not what Prime Minister, Theresa May, had in mind on the steps of Downing Street in the aftermath of the Manchester bombing. In the hours that followed what was clearly a rehearsed and scripted speech, May made the decision to replace thousands of police by uniformed soldiers as part of an orchestrated display of defiance.

This was despite the fact that the reassuring terrorist threat level was reduced from “critical” to “severe” and troops were subsequently taken off the streets. So why did May deploy the Army in the first place other than to engender the kind of publicity the terrorists thrive on by creating an invented state of emergency?

Heartfelt and genuine

In contrast to May’s robotic and staged performance which was low on substance and high on rhetoric, the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, in a much more low-key approach, not only came across as far more heartfelt and genuine than May, but also expressed a desire to deal with the political causes of terrorism:

“Protecting this country requires us to be both strong against terrorism and strong against the causes of terrorism. The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security.”

The Labour leader continued:

Those causes certainly cannot be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone. Over the past fifteen years or so, a sub-culture of often suicidal violence has developed amongst a tiny minority of, mainly young, men…No rationale based on the actions of any government can remotely excuse, or even adequately explain, outrages like this week’s massacre. But we must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.”

This was courageous stuff that confronted head-on the underlying issues that all leading British political figures since the bogus war on terror began in 2003 have been reluctant to address.

Faux outrage

Predictably, the speech was followed by faux Tory outrage. Senior minister, James Cleverly, fell apart live on the BBC after journalist Emma Barnett confronted him over his false assertion that Corbyn “could make such an erroneous and casual connection between British foreign policy and international terrorism”.

Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson slammed the Labour leader for linking terror to foreign policy. But there was a problem. Johnson had already said something similar 12 years previously: “As the Butler report revealed, the JIC assessment in 2003 was that a war in Iraq would increase the terror threat to Britain”, he said.

In a rare display of truth-telling, Johnson acknowledged the link between foreign military interventions and terrorism which is accepted as a given by key figures within the British establishment. Former director-general of M15, Eliza Manningham-Butler, for example, has admitted that “the invasion of Iraq undoubtedly increased the terrorist threat in Britain.”

In the Tories view of the world, Islamic extremism emerged out of a metaphorical clear blue sky. According to this view, the political vacuum left as a direct result of the chaotic US-UK violent interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have played no part in the growth of terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. However, the notion that no ‘blow-back’ can be expected as the result of well over a century of Western imperialist wars of aggression and the covert support for numerous regional puppet dictators, is ludicrous.

From Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria, resource wars in the middle east continue to be a key feature of the strategy of the imperial powers, including the UK. Indeed, the corollary between UK foreign policy, the destruction of functioning states and the rise in jihadist terrorism, is supported by the evidence. As historian Mark Curtis points out:

“[The] combination of Anglo-American policies across the region has contributed to further instability and the rise of violent jihadism …While a number of factors operate to contribute to an individual’s radicalisation, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that one of these contributory factors is British direct and covert action in Iraq, Libya and Syria.”

Corbyn’s ‘crime’ was to simply acknowledge the obvious truth that Britain’s continuing duplicitous foreign policy creates the conditions in which violence flourishes. But acknowledging the need to tackle the causes of terrorism, is not the same as condoning it. As Craig Murray put it: “If I tell you that smoking causes cancer, it does not make me a supporter of cancer.”

Question Time

Predictably, the Manchester bombing issue dominated the May 25, 2017 edition of the BBCs Question Time programme. But rather than providing an opportunity for members of the panel to interrogate the government’s foreign policy, attention shifted towards addressing the symptoms. Incoherent contributions from some of the programme’s guests that totally ignored the ‘elephant in the room’ were preferred. This included a disproportionate focus on the widely discredited Prevent strategy (see below) which Craig Murray described (correctly) on twitter as providing “a major source of income to various right wing cranks.”

Rather than dealing with the root causes of terrorism, the government’s approach which is inextricably linked to it’s middle east foreign policy, is counterproductive. The discredited war on terror approach that began under Blair after 9-11, continued under David Cameron and finally his successor, Theresa May.

In a speech made in Birmingham in July, 2015, that could loosely be termed as a muddled attempt to tackle Islamist extremism in which causal factors such as the Wests endless wars in Muslim lands are ignored, Cameron outlined the Tory five-year vision. The former PM set out four major areas that needed attention: countering the ‘warped’ extremist ideology, the process of radicalisation, the ‘drowning-out’ of moderate Muslim voices and the ‘identity crisis’ among some British-born Muslims.

Cameron then spoke about the need to enforce British values citing “equal rights regardless of race, sex, sexuality or faith” as a core aspect of these values despite the fact that he voted in support of the homophobic Clause 28 as recently as 2003.

Third, the former PM claimed that Islamic extremism can have nothing to do with Western intervention since the invasion of Iraq came after 9/11. He appears to be unaware of a century of imperial interventions before that. This canard was repeated by Michael Fallon in a recent car crash interview.

Pick and choose

The most hypocritical thing is how the establishment pick and choose their Muslims. A well-worn narrative is that the latter are incapable of coping with modern values. However, a succession of British Foreign Secretaries – including the pathological liar, Philip Hammond – are only too happy to be photographed alongside the Saudi royal family who don’t accept any of the values associated with democracy such as fairness, justice and equality.

In his 2015 speech, Cameron inferred what British values were not by referencing forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The implication being that these manifestations of ‘un-Britishness’ are unique to Muslim culture which of course they are not. “No more turning a blind eye on the basis of cultural sensitivities”, he said. Fine! on the basis of consistency, I’ll now wait in eager anticipation for a similar speech by Theresa May to the Jewish community in Stamford Hill.

Cameron continued, “I want to work with you to defeat this poison [of Islamist extremism].” Presumably, ‘defeating’ ISIS doesn’t involve the counterproductive action of bombing to smithereens yet more innocent civilians as the justification for mission creep or unconditionally supporting the Sunni authoritarian regimes, the ideology and funding of which helped spawn the likes of al-Qaeda and ISIS in the first place.

The one (unintended) positive that emerged from the Cameron speech was when he talked about the difference between Islamist extremism on the one hand, and the Islam religion, on the other. As such he brought into sharp focus the wider questions regarding the differing interpretations seemingly inherent to religious doctrine.

This issue was further highlighted by Jon Snow (Channel 4 News) who quoted the Muslim Council of Great Britain saying:

“We need to define tightly and closely what extremism is rather than perpetuate a deep misunderstanding of Islam and rhetoric which invariably facilitates extremists to thrive.”

Missing

In order to tackle the problem associated with certain extremist interpretations of Islam, it makes sense to want to tackle the problem at source. But crucially, this was the aspect missing from Cameron’s speech. If he was to highlight it, it would mean cutting off his nose to spite his face. That’s because Britain has a an extremely cozy relationship with the oppressive totalitarian states’ of the Arab Gulf Peninsula, all of whom without exception, adhere to the extremist theocratic Islamic ideologies described but nonetheless represent extremely good business for Great Britain PLC.

The issues that surround UK foreign policy raise serious questions about the role of Western intelligence services in the conduct of the so-called war on terror. The recent revelation that the Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi, was known by MI5 to have been part of a North African-based cell of ISIS “plotting to strike a political target in the UK”, contradicts May’s assertion that he acted as a “lone wolf”, and adds to the suspicion that operatives are being used by the deep state to foment terrorist acts in Britain in order to perpetuate the cycle of tit-for-tat violence as the justification for the continuation of the war on terror.

The above is what can reasonably be extrapolated from evidence which points to “UK covert and overt action in the region in alliance with states [who are] consistently supplying arms to terrorist groups.” In fact:

“Agencies of the British government itself have, in some senses, become part of the broader ‘terrorist network’ with which the British public is now confronted…Without these actions – by Britain and its close allies – it is conceivable that Abedi might well not have had the opportunity to become radicalised in the way he did.”

Regardless of whether the suspicion ultimately has its basis in conspiracy or cock up, the UK government must be aware that the initiation of wars in Muslim countries is bound to increase, at the very least, the risk of lone wolf attacks by those whose religious and cultural affinities tie them to many of the countries the West are seeking to ‘liberate’. Therefore, rightly or wrongly, many Muslims in Britain who may have family connections to the countries the West are ‘at war with’, regard it as their duty to rectify what they might perceive to be major injustices.

Jihad

The ideology in which perceived injustices are addressed in Islam, is through ‘Jihad’ which takes two basic forms. Some moderate Muslims like Baroness Warsi insist that Jihad is about “self-improvement, self-evaluation, questioning injustice and being prepared to raise your voice when you see injustice.” This contrasts with the extreme interpretation of Jihad in which external factors like the taking of arms are seen as the precursor to the kind of self-evaluation Warsi outlined.

If, has been suggested, “Abedi was part of an extremist group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, that thrived in Manchester and was cultivated and used by MI5 for more than 20 years”, it’s easy to understand the rationale of somebody like him who would be well aware of the foreign policy double-standards of the UK government, to want to turn the tables on his employer as his means of justifying jihad.

The UK government must be alive to the possibility that such a strategy runs the potential risk for blow-back. If this is indeed the case, it raises the question as to whether the UK political establishment regard the deaths of innocent civilians on the streets of British cities, to be ‘a price worth paying’ as part of the governments broader geopolitical and economic strategic interests?

 

None of this is to suggest that UK foreign policy duplicity is the sole motive for the kinds of terrorist attacks witnessed in Manchester and London, but it would seem to be a contributory factor. Moreover, radical interpretations of the Koran may also play a part, with the probability that in many cases violence in the name of the Islamic religion is the means by which political alienation is expressed.

One of the main problems that needs to be addressed, but tends to be overlooked, relates to the contradictory aspect of religion, in general. Christians, Jews and Muslims will often claim piety with one hand but adopt the role of arm-chair generals holding a metaphorical grenade with the other.

In relation to the latter, irrespective of whether one is a follower of ISIS, or whether one is a part of the vast majority of the wider Muslim community of Sunni or Shia, all groups and sects will self-identify with, and hence, claim accordingly they are the true representatives of Islam. All will justify their opposing positions by cherry-picking appropriate verses from their religious book.

These contradictory positions, in turn, are exploited politically by racists, Islamophobes and, more widely, by governments. Islamophobia is not just a human reaction to cultural difference. It has been purposely perpetuated as a result of the politicisation of religion of which the creation of an Islamophobia industry is a reflection.

Prevent strategy

The Prevent Strategy and the policies of the Henry Jackson Society are integral to the functioning of this industry. Cage, the London-based advocacy organisation, wrote of the Prevent strategy:

“Prevents causal analysis and theory is fundamentally flawed. According to the strategy, the cause of violence in the Muslim world is rooted in ideology. Whereas in reality the cause is the political struggle of Muslims in response to unrepresentative regimes, often aided by Western policy and occupations.”

This assessment appears to be consistent with the analysis of Stephen Holmes, who in relation to the 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, implied that the goal of ISIS and al-Qaeda is no different from other national liberation movements – to achieve independence by forcing the imperialist powers to retreat:

“The vast majority of Bin Laden’s public statements provide secular, not religious, rationales for 9/11. The principal purpose of the attack was to punish the ‘unjust and tyrannical America’. The casus belli he invokes over and over again is injustice not impiety. True, he occasionally remarks that the United States has declared war on god, but such statements would carry little conviction if not seconded by claims that the United States is tyrannising and exploiting Muslim people… Bin Laden almost never justified terrorism against the West as a means for subordinating Western unbelievers to the true faith. Instead, he almost always justified terrorism against the West as a form of legitimate self-defence.”

According to Holmes, then, whilst political objectives may be expressed in religious terms, in essence, the goal of ISIS/al-Qaeda is the same as previous secular-nationalist movements in the Middle East—the defeat of US imperialism and its allies in the region.

Complex interplay

The claim that all instances of jihadist violence exclusively involve either religious or political rationales in isolation is misleading. The truth is, Islamist fanaticism is often the result of a complex interplay between the former and the quest for political and economic justice. This is what Corbyn was brave enough to acknowledge in his speech when he said the causes of terrorism “certainly cannot be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone.”

Nonetheless, the anti-Muslim ideology of the right-wing Henry Jackson Society, alongside the creation of the illiberal Prevent Strategy, has meant that the political establishment have been quick to exploit the media’s often sensationalist reporting as well as the fear and panic Muslim’s generate for their own narrow political propaganda purposes.

The former, for example, set up Student Rights which produced a report that manufactured panic around gender segregation on campuses. Cameron weighed in. Though strangely he never spoke about gender segregation at Eton. Catherine Heseltine of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK spoke of how growth in the fear of Islam has gone along with policies pushed by governments. She said:

“Immediately after 9/11 only 10 percent of people in Britain saw Islam as a religion as a threat…Since then that figure has just about tripled.”

According to Bob Ferguson, teacher and convener for Newham Stand Up Against Racism, since the passing of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act in February, 2015, Islamophobia has been taken to a new level. Teaching staff at universities and schools now have a statutory duty to report people who may be vulnerable to “Islamic non-violent extremism”. One clause that is particularly pernicious, requires teachers and lecturers to report discussions on ‘Grievances to which terrorist organisations claim to have a solution’. That one clause wipes out any possibility of discussing imperialism.

Ferguson adds:

“There was a minute’s silence for the victims of the beach attack in Tunisia. All the Muslims I know at my school thought those murders were a vile, reactionary crime. Many also regard the slaughter of three boys playing football on the beach in Gaza by Israel as a vile, reactionary crime. Expressing the first sentiment proves you are a good Muslim, but expressing the second could get you seen as an extremist.”

In conclusion, the issues are complex and multifaceted and not one aspect, in isolation, explains why some young people join up with terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Although many moderates would deny to their last breath that any religious rationale is involved in the justification of violence undertaken by groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, these latter groups would insist on the opposite view and accuse the moderates of not representing the true tenets of the faith.

The call by moderate and peaceful Muslims (the vast majority) to condemn their violent and extremist counterparts (the small minority) on the basis that the latter are “not true Muslims” is moot since, crucially, all groups self-identify as Muslims and therefore justify their respective actions as Muslims based on the specific interpretation of passages contained within their holy book.

Some religious followers, cherry pick certain violent quotes from their religious books in order to justify to themselves their beliefs, mainly for political purposes. This is true of religious extremists whether they be Salafist Muslims, Zionist Jews or Christian fundamentalists.

The fact that the tragedy in Manchester meant that Jeremy Corbyn elevated the political dimension to the forefront of the debate on terrorism while individuals like Blair, Cameron, and now May, had sought to relegate it, is a testament to his bravery and commitment to taking on the various vested political, corporate and economic interests that constitute the industrial-military complex of the deep state and the hypocrisy of the establishment that give rise to the perpetuation of these interests.

I rely on the generosity of my readers. I don’t make any money from my work and I’m not funded. If you’ve enjoyed reading this or another posting, please consider making a donation, no matter how small. You can help continue my research and write independently..… Thanks!


Donate Button with Credit Cards

Why religion can’t be absolved of all responsibility for violence

By Daniel Margrain

Stock photo of surveillance cameras

In light of the recent spate of terror attacks, it’s worth reminding readers to this blog of a speech that former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron made in Birmingham a year ago this month. The speech, which was ostensibly low on substance and high on rhetoric, unveiled what could loosely be termed as a less than coherent strategy to tackle Islamist extremism. Cameron’s nonsense would have almost certainly gone down well with many of his core Friends of Israel Tory MPS, some of whose constituents have left the UK to fight for Israel against the occupied and oppressed Palestinian’s whilst others have gone to fight alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga.

Are we ever likely to have a future UK Prime Minister talking condescendingly to the Jewish community in the Golder’s Green district of North London about strategies to tackle Jewish-Zionist extremism? Moreover, is a future leader likely to debate in leafy Surrey, the Christian-Zionist fundamentalism of Blair and Bush which resulted in the deaths of at least half a million Iraqi’s on the basis of a pack of lies? The questions of course are rhetorical since we know the answer.

Unlike the Tory-voting wealthy middle classes and Friends of Israel, mostly anti-Tory Muslims within a de–industrialized urban landscapes like Birmingham are regarded as political fair game for Tory shenanigans. Ignoring many of the causal factors that drive a small minority of mainly young Muslims to ISIS, such as the Wests endless wars in Muslim lands, Cameron outlined the Tory five-year vision to defeat home-grown extremism. The former PM set out four major areas that needed attention: countering the ‘warped’ extremist ideology, the process of radicalisation, the ‘drowning-out’ of moderate Muslim voices and the ‘identity crisis’ among some British-born Muslims.

The then PM spoke about the need to enforce British values citing “equal rights regardless of race, sex, sexuality or faith” as a core aspect of these values despite the fact that he voted in support of the homophobic Clause 28 as recently as 2003. Cameron then claimed that Islamic extremism can have nothing to do with Western intervention since the invasion of Iraq came after 9/11. He appears to be unaware of a century of imperial intervention before that. In the Tories vision ISIS popped out of thin air. It had nothing to do with a vacuum left as a direct result of US-British intervention in Iraq.

The most hypocritical thing is how the establishment pick and choose their Muslims. A well-worn narrative is that Muslims are incapable of coping with modern values. However, a succession of British Foreign Secretaries – including the latest, the pathological liar, Philip Hammond – are only too happy to be photographed and dined alongside the Saudi royal family who don’t accept any of the values the establishment call British. And when the likes of the current PM, Theresa May, talk about the British values we should accept, she’s not talking about the values her lot used to build an empire on.

In his speech, Cameron went on to conflate what British values were not by referencing forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The implication being that these manifestations of ‘un-Britishness’ are unique to Muslim culture which of course they are not. “No more turning a blind eye on the basis of cultural sensitivities”he said. Fine! I’ll now wait in eager anticipation for a similar speech by Theresa May to the Jewish community in Stamford Hill.

Cameron continued, “I want to work with you to defeat this poison [of Islamist extremism]”he said. Presumably, ‘defeating’ ISIS doesn’t involve the counterproductive action of bombing to smithereens yet more innocent civilians as the justification for mission creep or unconditionally supporting the Sunni authoritarian regimes, the ideology and funding of which helped spawn the likes of Al-Qaida and ISIS in the first place.

The one (unintended) positive that emerged from his speech was when he talked about the differentiation between Islamist extremism on the one hand, and Islam the religion, on the other. As such he brought into focus the wider questions regarding the differing interpretations seemingly inherent to religious doctrine.

Jon Snow of Channel 4 News quoted the Muslim Council of Great Britain saying:

“We need to define tightly and closely what extremism is rather than perpetuate a deep misunderstanding of Islam and rhetoric which invariably facilitates extremists to thrive.”

Do we know what Islamic extremism is exactly? Is there a distinction between Islam and extremism peddled in the name of Islam? Can a distinction be made between the Wahabbi version of Islam in Saudi Arabia and extremism? Surely the former is indistinguishable from the latter?

In order to tackle the problem associated with certain extremist interpretations of Islam, it makes sense to want to tackle the problem at source. But crucially, this was the aspect missing from Cameron’s speech. For if he was to highlight it, he would have been cutting off his nose to spite his face. That’s because Britain has a an extremely cozy relationship with the oppressive totalitarian states’ of the Arab Gulf Peninsula, all of whom without exception, adhere to the extremist theocratic Islamic ideologies.described but nevertheless represent extremely good business for Great Britain PLC.

Is it the duty of Muslims living, in say, Birmingham to defend other Muslims living, in say, Baghdad? Conversely, can the killing of innocent people in Western liberal democracies’ ever be considered justifiable on the basis that theoretically the populations within these nations often elect governments’ who initiate wars of aggression against Muslims in their name? Can violent acts in these circumstances ever be justified? Does this, in the minds of extremists, justify Jihad against Westerners by Muslims irrespective of where either reside in the world?

Some moderate Muslims like Baroness Warsi insist that Jihad is about “self-improvement, self-evaluation, questioning injustice and being prepared to raise your voice when you see injustice.” This contrasts with the more extreme interpretation of Jihad in which external factors like the taking of arms are seen as the precursor to the kind of self-evaluation outlined by Warsi. How can these seemingly irreconcilable differences be reconciled?

One of the main problems that needs to be addressed, but tends to be constantly evaded, relates to the contradictory aspect of religion itself. Christians, Jews and others of all denominations will often claim piety with one hand but adopt the role of arm-chair generals holding a metaphorical grenade with the other. Moreover, irrespective of whether one is a follower of ISIS, or whether one is a part of the vast majority of the wider Muslim community of Sunni or Shia, all groups and sects will self-identify with, and hence, claim they are the true representatives of Islam and all will justify their opposing positions by cherry-picking appropriate verses from their religious book.

These contradictory positions, in turn, are exploited politically by racists and Islamophobes. Islamophobia is not just a human reaction to cultural difference. It has been purposely perpetuated as a result of the politicisation of religion of which the creation of an Islamophobia industry is a reflection. The governments Prevent Strategy and the policies of the Henry Jackson Society are integral to the functioning of this industry. Cage, the London-based advocacy organisation, wrote of the Prevent strategy:

“Prevents causal analysis and theory is fundamentally flawed. According to the strategy, the cause of violence in the Muslim world is rooted in ideology. Whereas in reality the cause is the political struggle of Muslims in response to unrepresentative regimes, often aided by Western policy and occupations.”

This assessment appears to be consistent with the analysis of Stephen Holmes, who in relation to the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, implied that the goal of ISIS and Al Qaida is no different from other national liberation movements – to achieve independence by forcing the imperialist powers to retreat:

“The vast majority of Bin Laden’s public statements provide secular, not religious, rationales for 9/11. The principal purpose of the attack was to punish the ‘unjust and tyrannical America’. The casus belli he invokes over and over again is injustice not impiety. True, he occasionally remarks that the United States has declared war on god, but such statements would carry little conviction if not seconded by claims that the United States is tyrannising and exploiting Muslim people… Bin Laden almost never justified terrorism against the West as a means for subordinating Western unbelievers to the true faith. Instead, he almost always justified terrorism against the West as a form of legitimate self-defence.”

According to Holmes then, whilst political objectives maybe expressed in religious terms, in essence, the goal of ISIS/Al Qaida is the same as previous secular-nationalist movements in the Middle East—the defeat of US imperialism and its allies in the region.

However, as I will outline below, to claim that that all instances of jihadist violence do not have religious rationales is misleading. Nevertheless, the anti-Muslim ideology of the right-wing Henry Jackson Society, alongside the creation of the illiberal Prevent Strategy, meant that the establishment have been quick to exploit the media’s often sensationalist reporting as well as the fear and panic Muslim’s generate for their own narrow political propaganda purposes.

The former, for example, set up Student Rights which produced a report that manufactured panic around gender segregation on campuses. Cameron weighed in. Though strangely he never spoke about gender segregation at Eton. Catherine Heseltine of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK spoke of how growth in the fear of Islam has gone along with policies pushed by governments. She said:

“Immediately after 9/11 only 10 percent of people in Britain saw Islam as a religion as a threat…Since then that figure has just about tripled.”

According to Bob Ferguson, teacher and convener for Newham Stand Up Against Racism, since the passing of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act in February last year, Islamophobia has been taken to a new level. Teaching staff at universities and schools now have a statutory duty to report people who may be vulnerable to “Islamic non-violent extremism”. One clause that is particularly pernicious, requires teachers and lecturers to report discussions on ‘Grievances to which terrorist organisations claim to have a solution’. That one clause wipes out any possibility of discussing imperialism.

Ferguson says :

“There was a minute’s silence for the victims of the beach attack in Tunisia. All the Muslims I know at my school thought those murders were a vile, reactionary crime. Many also regard the slaughter of three boys playing football on the beach in Gaza by Israel as a vile, reactionary crime. Expressing the first sentiment proves you are a good Muslim, but expressing the second could get you seen as an extremist.”

In conclusion, the issues are complex and multifaceted and not one aspect by itself is the reason why some young people join up with groups like ISIS. Although many moderates would deny to their last breath the religious rationale that underpins the violence of groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda, these groups would make similar claims against them. Whether moderate and peaceful Muslims disagree with their violent counterparts is a moot point since all groups self-identify as Muslims and justify their respective actions as Muslims based on the interpretation of passages contained within the holy book.

In Iraq, religious Sunni/Shia sectarian violence was unleashed following the illegal allied invasion of that country. Saddam had kept a lid on it up until that point. That’s just one example where religion is a major contributory cause of violence. Similarly, Zionist Jews justify continued illegal settlement building predicated on the Biblical imperative, and Bush and Blair were alleged to have got down on their knees in the name of their Christian God prior to the invasion of Iraq.

Some religious followers who interpret their books literally, cherry pick certain violent quotes from them in order to justify to themselves their beliefs, mainly for political purposes. This is true of religious extremists whether they be Salafist Muslims, Zionist Jews or Christian fundamentalists.

 

 

Is It Time To Say That Religion Is The Problem?

Low on substance and high on rhetoric, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech in Birmingham today (July 20) unveiled what could loosely be termed as a less than coherent strategy to tackle Islamist extremism that would have likely gone down well with many of his core Friends of Israel Tory MPS some of whose constituents have left the UK to fight against the occupied and oppressed Palestinian’s, whilst others have gone to fight alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga.

Are we ever likely to have the likes of Cameron talking condescendingly to the Jewish community in the Golder’s Green district of North London about strategies to tackle Jewish-Zionist extremism? Moreover, is Cameron likely to debate in leafy Surrey, the Christian-Zionist fundamentalism of Blair and Bush which resulted in the death of at least half a million Iraqi’s on the basis of a pack of lies.

The questions of course are rhetorical since we know the answer. Unlike the Tory voting wealthy middle classes and Friends of Israel, likely anti-Tory Muslims within a de–industrialized urban landscapes like Birmingham are regarded as political fair game for Cameron’s shananagans.

Ignoring many of the causal factors that drive a small minority of mainly young Muslims to ISIS such as our endless wars in Muslim lands, Cameron outlined his government’s five-year plan to defeat home-grown extremism. Cameron set out four major areas that needed attention: countering the “warped” extremist ideology, the process of radicalisation, the “drowning out” of moderate Muslim voices, and the “identity crisis” among some British-born Muslims.

He spoke about the need to enforce British values without specifying what these ‘values’ are. He went on to conflate what British values were not by referencing forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The implication being that these manifestations of un-Britishness are unique to Muslim culture which of course they are not. “No more turning a blind eye on the basis of cultural sensitivities,” he said. Fine. I’ll now wait in eager anticipation for a similar speech by Cameron to the Jewish community in Stamford Hill.

“I want to work with you to defeat this poison [of Islamist extremism]”, he said. Presumably, ‘defeating’ ISIS doesn’t involve the counterproductive action of bombing to smithereens yet more innocent civilians as the justification for mission creep.

The one (unintended) positive that emerged from his speech was when he talked about the differentiation between Islamist extremism on the one hand, and Islam the religion, on the other. As such he brought into focus the wider questions regarding the differing interpretations seemingly inherent to religious doctrine.

Jon Snow of Channel 4 News quoted the Muslim Council of Great Britain saying: “We need to define tightly and closely what extremism is rather than perpetuate a deep misunderstanding of Islam and rhetoric which inevitably facilitates extremists to thrive.

Do we know what Islamic extremism is exactly? Is there a distinction between Islam and extremism peddled in the name of Islam? Can a distinction be made between the Wahabbi version of Islam in Saudi Arabia and extremism? Surely the former is indistinguishable from the latter.

In order to tackle the problem associated with certain extremist interpretations of Islam it makes sense to want to tackle the problem at source. But crucially, this was the aspect missing from Cameron’s speech. For if he was to highlight it, he would have been cutting off his nose to spite his face.That’s because Britain has a an extremely cozy relationship with the oppressive totalitarian states’ of the Arab Gulf Peninsula, all of who without exception, adhere to the extremist theocratic Islamic ideologies.described but nevertheless represent extremely good business for Great Britain PLC.

Is it the duty of Muslims living, in say, Birmingham to defend other Muslims living, in say, Baghdad? Conversely, can the killing of innocent people in Western liberal democracies’ ever be considered as justifiable on the basis that theoretically the populations’ within these nations’ often elect governments’ who initiate wars of aggression against Muslims in their name? Can violent acts in these circumstances ever be justified? Does this, in the minds of extremists, justify Jihad against Westerners by Muslims irrespective of where either reside in the world?

Some moderate Muslims like Baroness Warsi insist that Jihad is about self-improvement, self-evaluation, questioning injustice and being prepared to raise your voice when you see injustice. This contrasts with the more extreme interpretation of Jihad in which external factors like the taking of arms are seen as the precursor to the kind of self-evaluation outlined by Warsi.

One of the main problems that needs to be addressed, but tends to be constantly evaded, relates to the contradictory aspect of religion itself. Irrespective of whether one is a follower of ISIS, or whether one is a part of the vast majority of the wider Muslim community of Sunni or Shia, all groups and sects will self-identify with, and hence, claim they are the true representatives of Islam and all will justify their opposing positions with recourse to the Koran.