Tag Archives: Neo-con

PREVENT-SUPPORTING FIYAZ MUGHAL AND POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM

Source: PREVENT-Supporting Fiyaz Mughal and Political Opportunism

FiyazMughalTellMAMAFaithMatters

On the 8th of March, Fiyaz Mughal’s Faith Matters submitted written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee’s countering extremism inquiry. Written in an interestingly critical style, it certainly hit all the high notes from the perspective of the Muslim community.

For instance, it drew attention to the current Counter Extremism Strategy as having disproportionately focussed on the Muslim community “leading to claims that it renders Muslims a ‘suspect community’.” It highlights the problem of Home Office holding disproportionate power in defining “extremism” and that the definition should be the “product of scholarly debate”. Even the label “Islamism” comes in for criticism, noting it leads to McCarythism and alienation of partners that can “support the fight against violent extremism”.

A superficial reading certainly makes for a promising one.

But then we recall that this is a submission by Faith Matters, whose head is Fiyaz Mughal. If anything, this submission only further exposes his hypocrisy, political opportunism and the complete discrediting of his pet project Tell MAMA.

The Enemy of my Enemy

The submission notes that,

“A recent report on the Muslim Brotherhood operating in the UK identifies a number of organisations and their potential to be included as ‘non-violent extremists’. According to an article published in the RUSI Journal, such attempts to use ‘Islamism’ as an ideology that leads to terrorism reintroduces a ‘McCarthyism of the past’.”

This is all well and good except Mughal himself has perpetuated these very problems when it has suited him. In fact, Mughal last year joined ranks with notorious, discredited spin-doctor, the PREVENT-mouthpieceanti-Muslimjournalist, Andrew Gilligan, after a failed PCC complaint against him. With the article targeting Sayeeda Warsi, naming Muddassar Ahmed an “extremist”, and smearing Iftikhar Awan for having “links with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood”, Fiyaz actively contributed to the formation of the “counter-entryism” element of the counter-extremism strategy. In Gilligan’s article, Mughal stated,

“I was deeply concerned about the kinds of groups some of the members had connections with, and some of the groups they were recommending be brought into government… It seemed to me to be a form of entryism, by people with no track record in delivering projects.”

This article was subsequently referenced by the Quilliam Foundation in their report on counter-extremism as an example of entryism, in the process demonstrating how Mughal and Quilliam reinforce each other’s narratives.

Internal Conflicts?

In a further twist, Tell MAMA’s co-chair is the pro-Israeli Richard Benson. This is significant because the Muslim Brotherhood report that the submission makes note of, identified the Muslim Council of Britain as one of the organisations shaped by the Brotherhood. In 2009, the Community Security Trust in its joint submission to the PREVENT inquiry focussed on “Islamists”, and explicitly went onto state:

“In the immediate aftermath of the London bombings, the Government sought to work through Muslim umbrella groups, such as the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain, which are led byradical Islamists.”

In other words, the current co-chair of Tell MAMA was pursuing the very strategy which Faith Matters highlights as leading to McCarythism, denouncing Muslim organisations as being “radical Islamists”.

Mughal later in the year even turned to neocon-co-opted Nick Cohen to produce a puff piece attacking – you guessed it – “Islamists”.

The submission further makes a positive mention of STREET, and specifically, its funding being cut. STREET, founded by Abdul Haqq Baker was an outreach project assisting and guiding converts and Muslim gang members. Of relevance is the fact that it was the subject of Gilligan smears in 2012. The article drew on the neoconchoice Muslim Haras Rafiq, the failed businessman who is currently the managing director of Quilliam. And a friend of Mughal.

Gilligan again targeted Baker two years later in the context of Salafi “radicals” being used in the Channel deradlicalisation scheme.

No Different to Quilliam/HJS

This confusing submission however, is a smokescreen. It seems, behind closed doors, and in the right circles, Mughal is a PREVENT-supporter.

On the 3rd of March – five days before the submission – an event on Tackling Extremism in the UK was held by Westminster Briefing. Mughal was quite emphatically singing a different tune:

‘Prevent’ is becoming more problematic especially in the Muslim Community – they consider it intrusive in their daily lives – particularly with the new Govt. duty to report. I disagree – the environment is more complex, but I do think Prevent as a brand has become damaged.

In other words, for all intents and purposes, Mughal does back PREVENT, and does not regard it intrusive, nor discriminatory. These problems are merely “perceptions” and “myths” that the Muslim community seem to have. Note here that this is precisely the same spin adopted by both the Quilliam Foundation and the Henry Jackson Society.

His issue is that PREVENT as a “brand” is “damaged” and suggests another medium to trick the Muslim community into buying into the discredited Countering Violent Extremism discourse:

“Interfaith dialogues can get people around the table… People are more relaxed in interfaith groups – they can discuss stuff that normally they wouldn’t.”

The deceptive strategies to effect CVE agendas never cease to amaze.

Concluding Remarks

With Tell MAMA aimed at the “soft-end” of counter-extremism, and his Faith Matters interfaith organisation operating further up the scale, his interfaith proposition makes for a lucrative opportunity.

The pertinent question remains however: how can someone who secretly buys into PREVENT – a strategy that has been slammed by hundreds of academics for demonizing Muslims – and colludes with neocons and anti-Muslim journalists, be involved in tackling Islamophobia?

Faith Matters, Tell MAMA and Fiyaz Mughal thoroughly devoid of credibility, are in no position, having collaborated with those who have tried unsuccessfully to marginalise mainstream organisations, and secretly advocated CVE policies, to pontificate from the side-lines at the expense of the Muslim minority.

The above discussion is important because increasingly, Mughal and Tell MAMA have moved into the role of controlling the discussion among Muslims. This function, as we shall see in the next piece, involves protecting those central to the enabling of political Islamophobia, and smearing genuine Muslim figures.

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ISLAM IS NOT THE PROBLEM, NEOCONSERVATISM IS

Taken from CoolnessofHind – https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/islam-is-not-the-problem-neoconservatism-is/

Normative Islam report.png

A report commissioned by 5Pillarsuk.com reveals some interesting insights into the beliefs and views of Muslims in Britain.  One hundred and fifty “influential” Muslim respondents across the Islamic spectrum were queried. The results demonstrate a problematic curve ball for neoconservatives and their endless efforts to target Islam and Muslims.

The questions revolved around normative Islamic beliefs, and across the board a generally high level of agreement with these beliefs was achieved. Participants rebutted dominant propaganda against Islam and Muslims. For instance, 100% agreed or strongly agreed that forced marriages are forbidden, and 100% agreed or strongly agreed that British Muslims are an “integral part of the UK”. It also established a high rate of agreement upon those beliefs and practices which are typically attacked by politicians in concert with the media, analysts and commentators:

  • Segregation of men and women in closed public, or religious settings – over 80% agreed or strongly agreed
  • There is no compulsion in Islam, no one can be forced to become Muslim – over 95% agreed/strongly agreed
  • Hijab is an obligation in Islam – over 95% agreed or strongly agreed
  • Niqab is a legitimate piece of Islamic clothing – over 90% agreed or strongly agreed (chart 16 is somewhat unclear)
  • Islam is a holistic comprehensive way of life – over 97% agreed or strongly agreed
  • Jihad as is mandated in the Qur’an is used to maintain or restore order, peace and security or to remove oppression and injustice – over 95% agreed or strongly agreed.

The above, of course, must be caveated.  Whilst the variance in theological background was broad (46% for instance, belonged to the Hanafi School of jurisprudence), extrapolating the views of one hundred and fifty “influential Muslims” to the general Muslim populace is somewhat problematic.  However, this is not a significant concern from an Islamic perspective. What is a concern is that only 9% of the respondents categorised themselves as “Islamic scholar/teacher”, with most of the respondents being “self-taught”. To be clear, were the results the complete opposite, it would have no bearing whatsoever on what constitutes Islam.  The authority of determining various beliefs and practices undoubtedly lies with those who have dedicated their lives to studying the various branches of Islamic sciences, from both the legalistic to the spiritual, thus imbuing the quality of transcendentalism in obtaining sacred knowledge. They are the Ulama – i.e. jurisconsults, scholars, the relied upon and righteous among this class.

Having said that, it is also positive to view such broad spread agreement amongst the laity on issues which have been the butt of every joke, the fodder for every political deflection and the pretext for draconian policies.

Taking the above methodological caveats into account, and enjoining the purpose of the research which is to “facilitate discussion”, it is worth deliberating upon the number one obsession for neoconservatives and their funded group of brown validators.  The findings present a problem for the “reform” deform project which has been engaged post-War on Terror on the pretext that there is, in the words of Douglas Murray, a “problem with Islam” because a Muslim has behaved in an (ironically, un-Islamic) unsavoury manner.  This is exasperated by the fact that a mere 5.3% disagreed or strongly disagreed that “Islam is in no need of reformation”, 100% agreed or strongly agreed that “Islam is the final, true religion” revealed to mankind, and nearly 100% agreed or strongly agreed that Islam is a “holistic and comprehensive way of life”.

Despite Muslims feeling integral to Britain alongside their normative Islamic beliefs, the call to deform Islam into one which is concomitantly subservient to Western hegemonic interests continues unabated.

The Intellectual Failure of Deconstructing Islam

Neocons and various deformists normally associated with the counter-extremism organisations project a concerted effort to inject uncertainty in Islam through postmodernist deconstructionism, which has given rise to free-for-all hermeneutical gymnastics of Islamic source texts. Thus, established legal doctrines are undermined, creedal discourses are distorted and conflated with legal views, or, taking the Ayaan Hirsi Ali approach, calls are made to drop verses of the Qur’an because some choose to interpret them in their own destructive way (i.e. in precisely the same way deformists encourage).

The dominant Western narrative is that Islam should undergo deformation in order to comply with secular liberalism, modernity and progressivism.

In addition to the abject failure to convince Muslims of such a need, there are a series of fatal flaws with the deform notion, some of which have already been addressed on this blog. The first is that this requires twisting and distorting Islamic texts (as highlighted above) which no credible jurist will permit.  Secondly, the demand of Islam to contort or “convert” to the “universality” of human rights – being rooted in Western, Christian, Eurocentric and liberal conception of “human rights” – is hollow. As I have aptly demonstrated, such a demand is fraught with problems of a non-universal, ambivalent nature.

It would suffice here to quote political scientist Professor Joseph Massad’s pertinent comment:

“The liberal project is in effect a missionary project to convert Islam to the “highest stage” of Christianity reigning in the West [i.e. secularism rooted from Protestant Christianity], even if this is carried out under the banner of a “reformed” Islam.”[1]

“Progressive” Islam

Thirdly, uncertainty is also born from the associated “progressivism” as espoused by the likes of Nawaz (see recently here in his attacks on the Left) and the born-again neoconservative “Muslim Reform Movement”. Constitutive of modernity and Enlightenment rationalism is the doctrine of progressivism, i.e. a movement towards “civilisation”. In its blind desire to run from history – its own history of problems which did not afflict the Islamic world – it posits science and reason as the modes by which to attain and designate the “truth” of the present. Yet this truth of the present is to be superseded by a further set of truths establishing perpetuity of ever repealing truths, never fully justifying whether the forgoing truths were superior or inferior from a moral perspective. In other words, “progress” is ultimately self-referencing – its own god – which is uncertain, fluid and ultimately docile and vulnerable to the intellectual repression of the pre-reform Church variety as demonstrated by neoconservative/Quilliam attitude towards mainstream Muslims vis-à-vis the intolerant “muscular liberalism” policy, and the imposed extreme secular liberalism of the equally dogmatic counter-extremism strategy. It is, in the words of the German philosopher Max Scheler, “the Western thought-structure of domination”.[2]  Such dogmatism (contrary to Nawaz’s claim of “non-dogmatism”) intrinsically enables supremacy, thus arriving at the precipice of an undeniable reality: that the intellectual justification for imperial colonialism, which destroyed the Islamic paradigmatic structures of society unsettling the unprecedented stability in the lands it governed, are resurgent once more. The doctrine continues to destroy the natural order, from nations through past and present day imperial colonialism and the “arms race” which has brought forth devastating technology to kill, to the deregulation and unfettered growth of corporations at the expense of society, environment and wildlife. Islam was never a barrier to the pursuit of worldly, scientific knowledge, but, in stark contrast with progressivism, its moral grounding in divine scriptures ensured boundaries were maintained.

Conforming to what Neocons Reject

Perhaps the greatest of ironies in the deform project is that it is driven primarily by neoconservatives who categorically reject liberalism, modernity and progressivism. It is a spectacular display of deception and hypocrisy.

Leo Strauss, the intellectual figurehead of neocons, laments John Locke’s conception of rights as rooted in the “individual”.[3]  Following Strauss, the “godfather of neoconservatism”, Irving Kristol categorically stated,

“…liberals were wrong, liberals are wrong, because they are liberals. What is wrong with liberalism is liberalism…”[4]

The following provides for an elucidative comment:

“Secular rationalism has been unable to produce a compelling, self-justifying moral code… and with this failure, the whole enterprise of secular humanism – the idea that man can define his humanity and shape the human future by reason and will alone – begins to lose its legitimacy.”[5]

His son, William Kristol has also stated that neoconservatism’s “more fundamental mandate is to take on the sacred cow of liberalism – choice”.  Following Strauss and Kristol senior, Douglas Murray calls equality – including racial equality – a “piece of false or bad logic”.[6]

As for the doctrine of progress, neoconservatives advocate a return to a closed society based upon fascist, imperial principles, governed by pre-modern ideas. Kristol argued that America was required to start the “long trek back” explicitly towards “pre-modern political philosophy”.[7] And by “pre-modern political philosophy” he meant the Straussian-Platonic conception of the ideal state as encapsulated in the oligarchic society marked by immanent inequality as alluded to in the allegory of the cave.

Why should Islam then be forced by neoconservatives to undergo a deformation in line with those ideologies which neocons themselves regard as obsolete? If neoconservatives see modern ideologies as producing a society which they believe is philosophically bankrupt, then by implication the call to deform Islam concordant to modernity, liberalism and progressivism, is a deliberate call to trigger failure in the faith.

Deform and Fostering Hatred of Islam

If the deform project is a failure amongst mainstream Muslims, who then is the aim of the rhetoric of the likes of Nawaz, Hasan et al? Indeed, what purpose does this deform project serve?

A brief look down the social media timelines of the deformists show that their supporters include those who hate Islam such as the far-right and hawkish pseudo-secular liberals who require affirmation of their own insecurity, superiority trips and prejudices.  In short, deformists seem to be fulfilling a very neoconservative objective as we shall now see.

Put simply, in order to manufacture the Machiavellian enemy of the West, neocons have for years attempted to create hatred of Islam. Deform efforts reinforce the suggestion that there is a problem with Islam itself.

Of pertinence is the fact that Quilliam was founded under the “advisory” of Michael Gove, who sees normative Islam as “Islamism”, and therefore an enemy open to securitisation and discrimination. Githens-Mazer and Lambert explaining the function of organisations like Quilliam state that according to Charles Moore and Dean Godson of Policy Exchange, such organisations are a “re-make of a 1980s Thatcherite counter-subversion strategy in which [Quilliam’s Ed] Husain is cast in the role of Frank Chapple the “moderate” trade union leader who was, they suggest, used to discredit and undermine the “extremist” miner’s trade union leader Arthur Scargill.”

The general themes found in the rhetoric of Quilliam and neoconservative assumptions in books like Celsius 7/7 are shared with US neoconservatives like Daniel Pipes. Githens-Mazer and Lambert noting that the focus on ideology has “no credible evidence”, state,

“…it is one that Husain shares with influential thinktanks including [Gove’s] Policy Exchange and [Douglas Murray’s] Centre for Social Cohesion in the UK and Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum in the US.”

In a revealing passage from a 2005 interview with Pipes, the aim is made clear:

“According to Daniel Pipes, it is now important to find alternative leaders and ideas that can take up the fight against militant Islam. “In the confrontations with fascism and communism, we were victorious because we managed to marginalize the enemy’s ideology, making it look repulsive in the eyes of the majority.””

This is the neoconservative objective.  To make Islam look repulsive in society. The façade of Quilliam and various other deformists as representatives of the “alternative leaders and ideas” which Pipes speaks of, are the tools to achieve this purpose.

Disconcertingly, neocons have achieved the aim of creating a “repulsion” of Islam. In the 5Pillars report, the statement “Islam teaches love for human beings what we love for ourselves” produced no disagreement at all. Yet, according to a Yougov poll last year, 56% of Britons regarded Islam as a “major” or “some” threat to Western liberal democracy – a ten percent increase from the figure taken soon after the 7/7 bombings.  Now is a climate of anti-Muslim animus, where the press and politicians can freely associate crime with Islam in a manner echoing Nazi propaganda about Jews. The manifestation of this hatred of Islam and association of criminality now sees women in Hijabs brutally attacked, and a defenceless pensioner on his way to the mosque killed by a white man as he citesstereotypes which have been endorsed at the highest level of government.  In short, neoconservatives and pro-Israel activists have successfully conditioned xenophobia, anti-Muslim hate and discrimination of the Muslim minority at the policy level, which has, to a large extent, permeated society.

Concluding Remarks

Questions must be asked.

Is argumentum ad metum as a tool of persuasion advocated by neocons, which results in fostering prejudices against a minority that result in violence against the vulnerable, a benefit or threat to social cohesion?

Indeed, are those who advocate totalitarian, closed-society policies, are subverting democracy and are actively promoting a clash of civilisations from the pulpits in Parliament a threat to Britain, or Muslims who believe themselves to be an integral part of Britain despite experiencing cold-war era subversion strategies of repression?

The report on normative Islam is a small indication to the resilience of the Muslim minority. Despite the attempts to dissect the hearts of Muslims, Islam will survive these culturalist attacks to the dislike of neocons. Introducing uncertainty into any system, be it one grounded in physics or the metaphysics of modern law would undoubtedly lead to anarchy and ultimately destruction. How then can Muslims accept such uncertainty in their faith?

The message is clear: Islam is not up for negotiation.

“[This is] the revelation of the Book about which there is no doubt from the Lord of the worlds.” (Qur’an, 32:2)

“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.” (Qur’an, 5:3).

And We sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a Mercy for all creation (Qur’an, 21:108).

“The best of people are those who bring the most benefit to the rest of mankind.” (Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, Daraqutni)

References:


 

[1] Massad, J.A, Islam in Liberalism, The University of Chicago Press: London, 2015, p.106

[2] As quoted by Hallaq, W.B., The Impossible State, New York: Columbia University Press, 2013, p.17

[3] Strauss L., Natural Right and History, London: The University of Chicago Press, 1965, p.248

[4] Kristol I., Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, New York: Free Press, 1996, p.486

[5] Ibid., p.132-133

[6] Murray D., Neoconservatism: Why We Need It, Encounter Books: New York, 2006, p.37

[7] Kristol I., Reflections of Neoconservative, p.76, as referenced in Thompson/Yaron, Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea, Boulder: Paradigm, 2010, p.87

MISUSE OF THE EXTREMIST LABEL BY MUSLIM COMMUNITY LEADERS

Posted on 
Ghulam Esposito Haydar highlights the problems with Muslim leaders and activists parroting labels such as “extremist”, which subsequently legitimises the government’s Islamophobic agenda.

It is rather concerning how many Muslims are willing to use the term “extremist” in the context of challenging beliefs, when the term itself is ill-defined, and indiscriminately used by the government to group an array of normative Islamic beliefs, ranging from the conservative to the political.

Without challenging the arbitrary use of this popular but problematic label, we are merely succumbing to the dominant narrative on terrorism. Muslim activists and leaders who do use this term, should realise that they are legitimising the government’s script that Islam is the problem, and it is a “conveyor belt” to terrorism.

To make it clearer, there are genuine “extremist” views that exist but they need to be explained by Muslim scholars and have been done in the past. The existing Islamic definition of “extremism” is “ghuluw”, i.e. extremism within religion, more specifically, the methodology of the group known as the “Khawarij”. Any intra-Muslim debate about “extremism” need only to refer to the classical orthodox understanding of Islam, and to some degree, a number of Muslims have.  It also needs to be made clear that the ideology in of itself is not the driving factor to terrorism. As Dr Salman Butt recently wrote on Islam21c:

“ISIS is a ‘perversion of Islam’, and those who support their ‘twisted ideology misinterpret the Qur’an’— which is factually correct — it is problematic if they fail to challenge the dangerous myth that the ideology or misreading of the Qur’an they condemn is what takes an otherwise ‘normal’ individual and pushes them towards political violence, in the first place. In other words, they are still blaming ideology instead of the host of actual, empirically-determined, causes of political violence, and perpetuating the same dangerous consequences as the rhetoric of the right-wing bigots.”

It is even more problematic when some Muslims regurgitate these stereotypes about their own identity, such as their religion having the propensity to cause terrorism if merely “misinterpreted”. Indeed, it is often easier to convince a non-Muslim of the fallacy of correlating non-violent “extremism” with terrorism, than it is to overturn some Muslims’ mental conditioning involving the myths surrounding “radicalisation”. Years of Islamophobic battering has taken its toll on the Muslim mind, rendering most of us automatically defensive and apologetic when it comes to “terrorism”, with very few people actually questioning statistical significance.

How can you say ideology doesn’t matter when they use ideology to justify their actions?

Many people may ask variations of the above question, since the overt displays of Islamic identity and practice is highlighted frequently by those wishing to push the fictitious conveyor belt theory. The answer is in the question itself: they use their “ideology to justify their actions”. There is a world of difference between a cause for something and a post-facto justification.

This is precisely why numerous academics have mentioned that ideology is incidental, not causative. If people who have decided to commit an act of political violence happen to be Christian, they will justify it using the language, imagery, metaphors, and ethical framework they are familiar with — Christianity, such as the Lord’s Resistance Army, or the other so-called “Christian terrorist” organisations which we never hear of.

If they happen to be Buddhist, such as the militias in Myanmar slaughtering the Rohingya Muslims, then they will use Buddhist justifications. If Hindu terrorism, then Hindu justifications. If secular and non-religious, then separatist terrorism will be worded in neoliberal terminologies. And if they happen to be Muslim, then they will incidentally employ “Islamic justifications”.

This leads me onto my next point; why are Muslims supporting the government’s relentless interference in Muslim affairs through the lens of “extremism” and securitisation?

For example the recent announcement to regulate madrassas, and the £20 million investment into teaching English to “foreign” Muslim mothers because it will “raise the standards of our institutes” and help with “integration”?

Muslims who support this are misinformed, naive or deliberately malicious.

The ideologically neo-con driven government doesn’t care about “raising the standards” or “integration”.

To their credit, they’ve been very open in saying it has everything to do with combating “extremism” and “radicalisation”.

If Muslims are genuinely concerned about raising the standards of our religious institutes and about integration, it is strange that they have failed to raise this matter in the past, and lobbied for some positive action internally. Why does it have to take a neo-con agenda to shape the discourse, and in the process, demonise our legitimate religious beliefs in an attempt to effectively change them for certain Muslims to be concerned about standards and integration all of a sudden?

If certain Muslims believe standards and integration to be an issue independent of it falsely being markers for “extremism” and “radicalisation”, then they shouldn’t allow the government to use them as pawns to legitimise their current crusade against Muslims. They should set out their criteria with praiseworthy intentions and go about doing it in the correct way.

Ghulam Esposito Haydar is a Muslim activist, joint founder of Manchester New Muslim Network and a director of the Myriad Foundation.

@ghulamesposito

MUSLIM PRISON CHAPLAINS AND THE NEOCONSERVATIVE ATTACK ON ISLAM

Source CoolnessofHind: Muslim Prison Chaplains and the Neoconservative Attack on Islam

opportunitytoattackislammichaelgove

A couple of years ago, I noted that the substantive content in the campaign of attacks against Shaykh Haytham al-Haddad designed to smear him as “extremist” were in fact normative Islamic beliefs which cut across the theological spectrum. Shaykh al-Haddad was the proxy for the attack on Islam.

Since then, David Cameron himself has interfered with religion, attacking Islamic beliefs and practices, promoting deformists as the face of Islam, all the while employing doublespeak and urging the Muslim minority to shun the “conspiracy theories” that Islam is under attack. Looking from the colonialist, Eurocentric lens, all manner of denigration has been hurled at Islam, as “mutual tolerance” and “respect” is simultaneously preached to the Muslim community.

Neoconservative assumptions about Islam as an intrinsic threat to the “Judeo-Christian civilisation” is driving this dangerous discourse.  Whilst it is true that Islam offers a unique paradigm which has endured for over a millennium as the modern project and accompanying imposition of the nation state crumbles across the Middle East in the less than a century, the claim that an essentially paradigmatic difference poses a threat to the people living in the West is fallacious.  Indeed, how can a Muslim both call people to Islam and at the same time threaten the same people with destruction?

Despite this fundamentally flawed piece of logic, the anti-Muslim Michael Gove continues to pursue his vendetta against Islam based on the doctrine of pre-emption, which underpins the academically baseless conveyor-belt theory of radicalisation.  Moving along various groups, from Sufis, “Wahhabis”, “Islamists”/Muslim Brotherhood and eventually terrorists, the idea as that the earlier a state can interfere and shape the beliefs of Muslims on this linear, contiguous path, the earlier a terrorist attack can be thwarted.

No longer are al-Muhajiroun the proxy for neoconservative mind control.  We have also moved on from “Islamist extremists” – the code word for Islam in general. The desideratum this year is, as Maajid Nawaz has previously made clear, the “tackling” of normative Islam “head on”.

Discriminatory Dave and Malicious Mike

In announcing prison reform, David Cameron typically spoke of dealing with extremism, and, as expected, singled out Islam and the associated “warped view of the world”.  It is Islam in the context of extremism and radicalisation for which reason, Cameron informs us, “Michael Gove has commissioned a review of this issue”.

Gove, who has previously been an advisor to Quilliam, is clearly the man for the job (as stated by Quilliam themselves). It is unsurprising therefore, to see sprouting forth from this love affair Quilliam “theologian” Usama Hasan in the Times. Hasan uses the medium “Deobandi Islam” – Muslims who follow the Hanafi School of jurisprudence – to cast Islam itself as a cause of radicalisation (see further below). Whilst it easy for some to fall into a sectarian binary and nod out of mindless tribalism, I would like to draw attention to the aspects which are being categorised as increasing propensity towards radicalisation and ultimately (and fallaciously) terrorism.

The Times and Daily Mail reports buttressing Cameron’s proposals identified the Islamic rulings of sex separation and the prohibition of music – a majority view in Islamic jurisprudence – as those which “challenge British values and encourage radical thinking”. In other words, religious practices are extremist. These practices, unlike the treatment of the orthodox Jewish faith, are being constructed with the bricks and mortar of security as encouraging a path towards terrorism.

The Times article had the following quote, cementing the notion that the problem is Islam itself, as opposed to its semantic alter ego, “Islamism”:

A senior Whitehall official said: “It is of great concern that the majority of Muslim chaplains in prisons propagate a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic scripture which is contrary to British values and human rights. Such imams are unlikely to aid the deradicalisation of Islamists in prisons and could potentially even make them more firm in their beliefs.”

Would any “Whitehall official” dare say that prison chaplains Rabbi Shmuel Arkush who is Lubavitch and describes some of his prisoners as “people who are aspiring to be Orthodox”, and Rabbi Michael Binstock who is also orthodox, are of “great concern” because they propagate a fundamentalist interpretation of Jewish scripture which undoubtedly runs contrary to “British values and human rights”? That they could potentially make Zionists among the Jewish prison population firmer in their desire to establish a Jewish state at the expense of Palestinian life?  Indeed, what runs counter to the secular liberal model of governance and human rights is state interference with religion and coercive creation of a state-approved faith.  It smacks of Hitler’s attempt to control Christians with the establishment of the National Reich Church, which coercively made Christianity compliant with German socialism. Today, Islam is being forced to comply with an extreme neoconservative aberration of liberalism.

The “Deoband Islam” Proxy

Gove’s brown approvers padded out the assault using Usama Hasan with a quote only visible in the Times piece:

“The Deobandi movement is generally anti-western and anti-integration in its spirit . . . Imams in the prison system have to be more progressive and open-minded in terms of being supportive of modern, multicultural and cosmopolitan Britain.”

Clearly, Hasan’s view – and by extension the neoconservative view – of Muslims is to assimilate them into an eviscerated “Islam” of the Quilliam Foundation.

Yahya Birt in his informative analysis of the prison reform proposals has already brought attention to the fact that Quilliam made the same claims in its 2009 report on prisons. He also brought to light a research study which found the contributions of the Imams were in fact positive and productive.

Barbara Daly Metcalf, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, explaining the pragmatic dynamic of the Deoband movement, has written,

“What is perhaps most striking about the Deoband-type movements is the extent to which politics is an empty “box,” filled expediently and pragmatically depending on what seems to work best in any given situation.”

A further point to note is that the broad category of “anti-Western” attitude is being used by Hasan as a precursor for “extremism”.  Where neocons are involved, anti-Western will no doubt refer to anti-neocon policies.  Metcalf provides a nuanced perspective on the general perception of Muslim concerns:

“…anger may well be very specific, for example directed at American intervention abroad and not at American “freedom” or “values” in general. Moreover, Islamic movements like the ones discussed here may have many goals and offer a range of social, moral, and spiritual satisfactions that are positive and not merely a reactionary rejection of modernity or “the West.” Quite simply, these movements may, in the end, have much less to do with “us” than is often thought.”

Quilliam, however, was born for a specific purpose.  And when an agenda to deconstruct and then destroy Islam is on the table alongside wads of cash, the likes of Hasan are on hand to provide the necessary sound-bites to appease the upper-middle class, pay-walled, Times-reading elite.

Sufis

Other Sufi communities have seen a similar attack in the hyperbole of Shari’ah courts. This is against a backdrop which sees Muslim arbitration services already being discriminatorily investigated under the “integration” premise, i.e. the “conditions for radicalisation”.  A crown court judge, Shamim Qureshi, was the subject of a Daily Mail smear piece last month for being granted permission by judicial authorities to act as the presiding judge at the “controversial” Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT). The paper then went on to describe Hijaz College’s head, Shaykh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi who set up MAT, as “hardline”, before stating that he led the protest against Charlie Hebdo. Completing the misleading picture was an embedding video of him saying “we are extreme in our values” (he actually says this in the context of the love of the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him). The Shaykh is neither “Salafist” nor “Islamist”, but of Sufi background.

Once regarded as the solution to “extremism”, Sufi, traditional orthodox Islamic groups are now being hung by the noose gripped by neoconservatives and their aiders and abettors in the Quilliam Foundation.

ISB and Ahtsham Ali

In fact, even those with deformist tendencies have not been spared.   Positively portrayed for his decontructionist views by the Times in the past, Ahtsham Ali, whose rhetoric I have analysed before, was the subject of both aforementioned Daily Mail and Times articles.  Despite being the former head of the deformist Islamic Society of Britain, which has defended the disgraced Usama Hasan’s deconstruction of Islam and signed his “fatwas”, Hasan had no qualms slating the “advice” of the Muslim adviser to the National Offender Management Service. Will ISB now condemn Hasan’s sectarian, colonialist games? Or will they continue attempting to prove its pseudo-Quilliam worth before a people of hate at the expense of the Muslim minority?

Neocon Subversion

The gradualism advocated by the likes of Leo Strauss means that neocon subversion of governmental organs has been occurring for a while.  In the past, the Department for Education has been the subject of a neocon coup. Ofsted was similarly compromised. Guantanamo Bay-supporter William Shawcross took charge of the Charity Commission despite his clear bias, and was controversially re-appointed again months ahead of the end of his tenure.

Michael Gove’s neoconservative lackey Peter Clarke was commissioned to officially marginalise Muslims of Birmingham for their faith in 2014. Clarke was also on the board of the Charity Commission, which has since been disproportionately targeting Muslim charities. Last year, Peter Clarke and Shawcross were listed as attendees of the pro-Israel Herziliya conference of neocons, apartheid-supporters and anti-Muslim bigots.

Muslims have been in the crosshairs of all these government organs.

Gove has now brought in Peter Clarke as Chief Inspector of Prisons. In November 2015, Clarke stated that Gove had phoned him to draw his attention to the upcoming vacancy of chief inspector of prisons.

If the Trojan Hoax fiasco is anything to go by, Muslims will be the subject of a purge based on their orthodox religious beliefs once more.

The Scruton Test of Secularism and Hypocrisy

At this point, it is important to highlight the hypocrisy of secularism as exemplified by neocons. The British neoconservative thinker and philosopher – or as neocons see it, the philosopher behind the neocon statesmen – Roger Scruton is the intellectual reference for the likes of the bigoted Douglas Murray. In a revealing interview with Murray, Scruton, thoroughly articulating a civilizational clash thesis, says,

“I think that our society has gone terribly wrong because people have not been confronting the great issues — the loss of the Christian faith, the inability to confront Islam…”

In a condescending discussion about Islam, Scruton highlights the “problems” that Muslims, due to their Islam, have in terms of European secular compatibility.  Scruton lists some of the things which Muslims must jettison or believe in in order to conform to ontologically Christian “Western values”.  Among them he notes,

“[we need to look at], are people who don’t have the faith free to occupy positions in the government or positions in society which bring the best rewards, that I think is much more important for our vision of secular government than any formal democratic procedures”.

Clearly, as neocons deploy their counter-Islamic, counter-entryism strategy, move along the Muslim “conveyor belt” categorising Muslims as a whole as potential terrorists and picking off various Islamic groups from public service jobs on the basis of their religious beliefs, the “most important” aspect of the secular government is being shredded to pieces as it struggles to maintain its “indifference to religion” (in the words of Scruton) and not discriminate against Islam and Muslims.

Concluding Remarks

The position of Muslims in society has rapidly become one of explicit, demeaning marginalisation. Muslim must begin to set aside their differences, assert the positive message of Islam and deal with a far greater threat to Islam and broader societythat is neoconservatism.  Now is the time to turn towards the timeless guidance of the Qur’an which straightens our sails in a storm of suppression and provides the spiritual strength to withstand the riptide of extreme secularism.

“And when My servants ask You (O Muhammad) about Me, then indeed I am near, I answer the invocation of the supplicant when he asks of Me. So let them hear My call, and believe in Me, so that they may be guided.” (Qur’an 2:186)

“And those whom you call upon other than Him (Allah) are unable to help you, nor can they help themselves.” (Qur’an 7:197)

“A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands other Muslims are safe. A Mu’min (true believer) is one in whom all mankind has a sanctuary for life and property.” (Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, Bukhari/Muslim)