Islam

Countering Terrorism...With Racism?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/07/2018 - 5:00pm in


Most terrorist actions in the country have been committed by white, U.S.-born extremists. But our focus on anti-terrorism has targeted muslims all over the world.

The Real News on Israel’s Arming of the Fascist Azov Battalion in Ukraine

This is something that won’t surprise critics and opponents of Israel such as Tony Greenstein. But I doubt you’re going to find it reported any time soon in the mainstream news, because, according to the Israel lobby, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, reporting or repeating any of Israel’s well-documented historical connections to real, genuine Fascism and Nazism is ‘anti-Semitic’. The show notes that the mainstream press are beginning to cover Fascism in the Ukraine. But even so, it’s going to be a very long time before they cover this.

In this edition of the Real News, host Ben Norton talks to the journalist Max Blumenthal about Asa Winstanley’s article in the Electronic Intifada revealing that the Israelis have sold arms to Ukraine’s Azov Battalion. The sales were uncovered by human rights lawyers in Israel, and the guns themselves shown off by the Azov Battalion itself on their own website. These are tavor rifles, very distinctive weapons issued to Israeli squaddies. They replaced the Uzi, and were used against some of the protestors in Gaza.

Blumenthal and Norton talk about the Azov Battalion, which adopts the Wolfsangel insignia of the WW2 SS auxiliaries. It was founded by Biletsky, as part of the National Patriot movement, which was itself part of the Social Nationalist Party. Members of the Battalion also wear SS tattoos, and have been photographed giving the stiff right arm Nazi salute. The organisation runs paramilitary training camps, including for children. They are anti-Semites, islamophobic and White supremacist. They have launched attacks on Roma and Jews. The organisation has now been incorporated into the Ukrainian armed forces, which gives Israel some plausible deniability, in that they can claim they are giving aid to Ukraine, not neo-Nazis. But it’s a very specious, thin defence.

Biletsky himself has said that he intends to restore the honour of the White race. He declared that if he got into power, he would abolish the Ukrainian parliament. The ethnic cleansing of Ukraine is the first step in their campaign of ‘Reconquista’, bring the race war to the rest of Europe in order to cleanse them of Jews, Roma and non-Whites. Monto, a western Fascist was arrested when tried travelling to Ukraine to join the Battalion. He intended to return to France to launch attacks on synagogues and mosques.

The Azov Battalion has also been given aid by the Canadians. They recently sent a military attache over there to hold talks with the Battalion’s leaders. When questioned on this, they said it would increase plurality and personal tolerance. Blumenthal points out that the current Canadian foreign minister, Freeland, is a Ukrainians, whose father was a Fascist collaborator, who was recruited over here during the Cold War. When three Russian diplomats had the temerity to point it out, Justin Trudeau expelled them, rather than remove Freeland.

Blumenthal also suggests that the Israelis in this case may be just proxies for American itself. He describes how, in the 1980s, Congress tried to halt arms sales to South American Fascists, such as the Contras in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and the Fascist regime in Guatemala, by demanding that the president personally sign any order to do so. As a result, Reagan’s regime turned instead to using the Israelis to convey arms to them. And the South American Fascist were hugely appreciative. Rios Montt, one of the leaders of these truly genocidal regimes, declared fulsomely that his regime and its death squads were full participants in the ‘spirit of Israel’ and went on to praise the Israeli state.

This is the reason, Blumenthal concludes, why he is not surprised that Israel should now be sending arms to a violently anti-Semitic Nazi organisation, despite the way it purports and postures as the defenders of Jews everywhere.

Here’s the clip:

It’s been the argument of Tony Greenstein and the other principled critics of Israel, like Asa Winstanley, that Israel has never cared about defending Jews from Fascism, except when there is a possibility that some would move to Israel. There are numerous statements from the earliest Zionist leaders stating that if all the Jews in Europe moved to England to escape the Holocaust and survived, they would far prefer it if only half survived and the rest moved to Israel. During the Second World War, Kasztner, the leader of the Zionists in Hungary, made a deal to send tens of thousands of Jews to the death camps in order that the Nazis would send some few to Israel.

This is the shameful history the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Jewish Labour Movement and the rest of the Israel lobby are trying to hide when they smear decent people, who dare to talk about it. Like Red Ken and his comments about the Haavara Agreement.

The Azov Battalion and the regime it serves are Nazis. As well as Jews and Roma, they are also attacking pro-Russian Ukrainians and ethnic Russians in the east of the country. And it looks like they’re being used as proxies in a war against Putin.

Putin is a thug, no question. But these guys are worse. They’re true Nazis. And no regime or organisation that genuinely respects human rights, and cares for the safety of Jews, Muslims, Gypsies, blacks or any other ethnic minority, should be giving them any form of aid or succour.

Turkish-Syrian Border: Confusion, Destruction and Grief

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/07/2018 - 3:30am in

"One day, true leaders of the world will come, and they’ll cut off all the gas and petrol supplies to you, and you’ll find yourself in even deeper shit than the one into which you are throwing this part of the world! You’ll have to burn your designer clothes and shoes, just to stay warm. You forgot, but you will soon be reminded, Europe: we are all human beings!”

The West’s real interest in Chechnya isn’t gay rights

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/06/2018 - 7:00pm in

The start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia has seen Western media step up its anti-Russia fervor more than ever. Already we are hearing wild exaggerations of corruption behind its successful bid to host the event and witnessing a similarly overblown depiction of its cultural nationalism. It is specifically identity politics that has never been more effectively weaponized by the U.S. political establishment than in the new Cold War‘s ongoing demonization of the country and its President, Vladimir Putin. What better way to mobilize what has traditionally been America’s anti-war demographic in left-leaning liberals to support an arms race? For this reason, during the past decade the issue of LGBT rights in Russia has been seemingly inescapable.

Dimbleby Resigns as BBC Propagandist on Question Time

Yesterday, Mike put up a piece commenting on the resignation of former Bullingdon boy David Dimbleby as the host of Question Time. The man Private Eye dubbed ‘Dimblebore’ has been presenting the show for 25 years, and now considers it the right moment to leave. Dimbleby is another BBC presenter, who is very biased towards the Conservatives. Mike’s photograph of him accompanying his piece shows him raising two fingers, with the comment that it’s probably to a Socialist. Mike also cautions against feeling too good about Dimblebore’s resignation, as we don’t know what monster’s going to replace. He wonders whether the secret of human cloning has been found, and whether the next biased presenter of the programme will be Josef Goebbels.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/06/17/if-david-dimbleby-is-leaving-the-bbcs-question-time-what-horror-will-replace-him/

Last week Dimblebore was off in Russia, presenting a documentary about the country under Putin ahead of the footie there. He wasn’t the only, or even the first person to go. The comedian Frankie Boyle got there over a week earlier, presenting a two-part show about the country, it’s people and football on Sunday evening. Dimblebore was rather more serious in tone, presenting Russia as a country in the grip of a repressive autocrat, and mired in corruption which was strangling the economy.

Dimbleby first explained that Putin was most popular with young people, the generation that everywhere else is rebelling against autocrats, dictators and tyrants. He puts this down to Russians’ experience of economic collapse under Yeltsin. Yeltsin ended communism and dismembered the economy of the Soviet Union, privatising whatever he could. The result was chaos, and massive employment. At one point it got so bad that some factories were paying their workers in the goods they produced. Putin has restored order and economic stability to the country, and so has the support of the younger generation.

He spoke to a great of young professionals, an advertising branding team who were supporters of Putin, working to promote him through images and slogans. He stated that most of the media was controlled by the Russian president, with a few exceptions. He then went to speak to someone from RT’s Moscow branch. Dimbleby explained that some of the staff were British, and asked one of the Brits there whether he was presenting propaganda. The man denied it, said that there was no one watching over him, telling him what to do, and that his conscience was clear. Dimblebore then gave a knowing smirk into the camera.

He then talked to a female presenter on one of the few dissident broadcasters Putin had allowed to remain open. She said that she had not received any threats, but she knew that she could be killed for what she did. But she was still determined to carry on.

He then talked about how those, who criticised the government were arrested and jailed, interviewing a human rights lawyer, who defended them. When asked what people could be arrested and jailed for, the lawyer explained that it could be criticism of the government, or a non-traditional understanding of the Second World War. The other year Putin passed a law criminalising the view that Stalin was partly responsible for the Nazi invasion of eastern Europe and Russia through the Nazi-Soviet pact. From what I remember, I think you can also be arrested for promoting gay rights.

He then spoke to a woman, who was protesting her treatment by the state. She had already been jailed for criticising Putin, but was determined to do so again. She had not been able to get a permit to organise a protest, and so held her own, one-woman demonstration outside the court. This is permitted under Russian law. If you can’t get a permit for a demonstration, you can still protest, so long as there is only one person involved. As she stood with her placard, she was joined by an increasing number of counter-protesters determined to disrupt her protest, and possibly send her to jail. They moved closer to her, and she moved away, telling them to keep their distance. They kept coming, and their numbers kept increasing. Then the cops turned up, and started filming things as they’d been told foreigners were involved. And someone else from one of the TV companies materialised to film the protest as well. Eventually it all ended, and the police and counter-protesters disappeared.

Dimbleby then did a piece about the police’s brutal suppression of dissent, complete with footage of the cops beating what looked like a feminist protester from Pussy Riot.

He also touched on gender roles. He talked to a hairdresser, while having his haircut, who told him that Russia still had very traditional gender roles, in which women wanted a strong man to provide for them.

Putin has also succeeded in reversing the declining Russian birthrate. Instead of falling, it is now rising, with medals and benefits given to couples who have large families. He showed one woman and her husband, who were being presented a medal by Putin for having ten children.

He also went off to talk to a youth organisation, that was set up to get children, including boys of junior school age, interested in the army. The group’s name translates as ‘Net’, and is run by army officers. The children there wear combat uniforms and learn to shoot using air rifles, which they are also taught how to strip down. They were shown blazing away at targets, and competing with each other over who could reassemble a gun while blindfolded the quickest, with Dimblebore cheering the winner. And it wasn’t all boys. One of the youngster there looked like a girl. Dimblebore asked them if they wanted to join the army, to which they gave a very enthusiastic ‘Yes’.

He then went off to speak to a prelate from the Russian Orthodox Church about its support for Putin, where he described Putin as an autocrat attacking human rights and threatening peace in Europe. The prelate responded by saying that there were those, who did not agree with his view. And that was that.

He then went off to discuss the massive corruption in Russia, and how this was undermining the economy as more and more investors and companies left the country because of it. Russia has 144 million people, but it’s economy is 2/3s that of Britain, or about the size of Italy’s, and is declining.

Now all of this is factually true. John Kampfner, in his book Freedom For Sale discusses Russia as another state, where the population has made a deal with its leader. They have absolute power, in return for which they give their people prosperity. Except that, according to Dimbleby, living standards and wages are declining. Putin has passed laws against the promotion of homosexuality, there are massive human rights violations, including the jailing of the type of people, who would have been called dissidents under Communism. Journalists, who haven’t toed the Archiplut’s line have been beaten and killed.

Other aspects of the Russian state, as revealed by this programme, would have been immediately recognisable to the generation raised by Communism. Like the corruption. It was rife under Communism. The Bulgarian journalist, Arkady Vaksberg, wrote a book about it, The Soviet Mafia. And Gogol took a shot at official corruption under the Tsars back in the 19th century in his play, The Government Inspector. So no change there.

As for the Russian Orthodox Church supporting Putin, it was always the state church under the tsars, to which it gave absolute support. The watchword of the tsarist regime was ‘Autocracy, Orthodoxy and the People’. And its support of autocratic leadership didn’t begin under Putin. After the restrictions on religion were lifted in the 1990s, the BBC journalists interviewed some of its clergy on their shows. And the clergy had the same preference for absolute state power and total obedience from the people. Putin made the relationship between the Church and his government closer by granting them a sizable share of Russia’s oil.

The youth groups designed to get children interested in joining the army are also little different from what already went on under the Soviet system. Secondary schoolchildren did ‘military-patriotic training’ to prepare them for national service as part of the school curriculum. It was led by retired army officers, who were often the butt of schoolboy jokes. They were taught to handle weapons, complete with competitions for throwing grenades the furthest.

And let’s face it, it also isn’t much different from what used to go on over here. I’ve known young people, who were in the army and naval cadets. And the public schools used to have the CCF – the Combined Cadet Force – which the Tories would dearly love to bring back. And boys, and some girls, do like playing at ‘War’, so I’ve no doubt that if something like the Russian group was set up in this country, there would be many lads and girls wanting to join it.

Russia has also too been a very masculine society with very traditional ideas about gender and masculinity, despite the fact that most engineers were women, who also worked as construction workers and many other, traditionally masculine areas. One of the complaints of Russian women was that the men didn’t do their fair share of standing in queues waiting to get whatever groceries were in store.

And the medals and rewards to the women, who gave birth to the largest number of children is just another form of the Heroic Mother Awards under the Soviet Union. Putin’s Russia continues many of the same aspects of the country’s society from the age of the tsars and Communism, although Dimblebore said the country was going backward.

I’ve no doubt it is, but the programme annoyed me.

What irritated me was Dimblebore’s knowing smirk to camera when the guy from RT denied that he broadcast propaganda. Now I’m sure that RT does. There’s videos I’ve seen on YouTube from RTUK, which could fairly be described as pro-Russian propaganda.

But what annoyed me was Dimblebore’s hypocrisy about it.

The Beeb and Dimbleby himself has also broadcast it share of propaganda supporting western foreign policy interests, including imperialism. Newsnight has finally got round, after several years, to covering the Fascists running around the Ukraine under the present government. But the Beeb has emphatically not informed the British public how the pro-western regime which was put in power with the Orange Revolution, was created by the US State Department under Obama, and run by Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nuland. Far from being a grassroots movement, the revolution was orchestrated by the National Endowment for Democracy, which has been handling the US state’s foreign coups since they were taken away from the CIA, and one of George Soros’ pro-democracy outfits.

Putin is also presented as the villainous aggressor in the current war in the Ukraine, and some have compared his annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine to the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland. But Crimea had been a part of Russia before 1951, when Khrushchev, a Ukrainian, gave it to that state. And Putin is not looking to take over the country either. The population of Russia is 144 million. Ukraine’s is a little over a third of that, at 52 million. If Putin really had wanted to annex it, he would have done so by now. And under international law, as I understand it, nations are allowed to intervene in foreign countries militarily to defend members of their ethnic group that are being persecuted. That was the pretext for the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland, and it’s also the reason why Putin’s invaded eastern Ukraine. But it’s legal under international law. And I don’t doubt for a single minute that Russians, and Russian-speaking Ukrainians, were being persecuted by the new, pro-Western government.

In his documentary, Dimbleby met a very angry, patriotic Russian, who told him that the British had tried to invade Russia three times in the past three centuries. Once in the 19th century during the Crimean War; then in 1922 during the Russian Civil War. And now we were preparing to do the same. He angrily told us to ‘get out!’. Dimbleby looked shocked, and said to him that he couldn’t really believe we were ready to invade.

This was another continuation of the Soviet paranoia and hostility towards the West dating from the Communist period and before. Russia has always felt itself encircled by its enemies since the tsars. But the man has a point. We did invade Russia in 1922 in an effort to overthrow the Communist regime. Pat Mills has talked about this in his presentation on comics he gave to the SWP a few years ago. He tried to get a story about it in Charlie’s War, the anti-war strip he wrote for Battle. This is another piece of history that we aren’t told about.

And when Gorbachev made the treaty with Clinton pledging the withdrawal of Soviet troops from eastern Europe after the collapse of Communism, Clinton in turn agreed that these state would not become members of NATO. He broke his promise. They now all are, and NATO’s borders now extend to Russia. At the same time, western generals and NATO leaders have been predicting a war between Russia and NATO. One even wrote a book about it, 2017: War with Russia. Thankfully, 2017 has been and gone and there has, so far, been no war. But with this in view, I can’t say I blame any Russian, who is afraid that the West might invade at any moment, because it does look to me like a possibility.

And there are other matters that the Beeb and the rest of the lamestream news aren’t telling us about. They’re still repeating the lie that the invasion of Iraq was done for humanitarian reasons, whereas the reality was that western corporations and the neocons wanted to get their hands on Iraqi state industries and privatise the economy. And the American and Saudi oil industry wanted to get their mitts on the country’s oil reserves.

The civil war in Syria is also presented in simplistic terms: Assad as evil tyrant, who must be overthrown, and Putin as his bloodthirsty foreign ally. Assad is a tyrant, and one of the causes of the civil war was his oppression of the Sunni majority. But we are constantly being told that the rebels are ‘moderates’, while the fact is that they still have links to Islamists like the al-Nusra Front, the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, and ISIS. Nor have I seen the Beeb tell anyone how the Syrian rebels have also staged false flag chemical weapons attacks against civilians in order to draw the west into the war.

And objective reporting on Israel is hindered by the pro-Israel lobby. Any news item or documentary, which shows Israel’s horrific crimes against Palestinian civilians is immediately greeted with accusations of anti-Semitism from the Israeli state and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. I’ll be fair to the Beeb. Some of their presenters have tried to give an objective reporting of events, like Jeremy Bowen and Orla Guerin. But they’ve been accused of anti-Semitism, as was Dimblebore himself when he tried to defend them. In this instance, the bias isn’t just the fault of the Beeb. But it is there, and newsroom staff have said that they were under pressure from senior management to present a pro-Israel slant.

Domestically, the Beeb is very biased. I’ve discussed before how Nick Robinson in his report on a speech by Alex Salmond about Scots devolution carefully edited the SNP’s answer, so it falsely appeared that he had been evasive. In fact, Salmond had given a full, straight answer. Salmond’s reply was whittled down further as the day went on, until finally Robinson claimed on the evening news that he hadn’t answered the question.

And numerous left-wing bloggers and commenters, including myself, have complained about the horrendous bias against the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn in the Beeb’s reporting. Dimblebore himself has shown he has a very right-wing bias on Question Time, allowing right-wing guests and audience members to speak, while silencing those on the left. Not that he’s alone here. Andrew Marr has done exactly the same on his programme on Sundays.

Dimblebore is, quite simply, another right-wing propagandist, with the Beeb backing current western imperialism. His smirk at the RT journalist’s denials of doing the same is just gross hypocrisy.

Mike Launches Crowdfunding Appeal to Help Fight Libel Battle

On Wednesday, 13th June 2018, Mike annnounced that he had set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for him to take to court the organisations and publications that have libelled him as an anti-Semite. He has had to do this, because he simply doesn’t make enough from the Vox Political page to pay the legal fees himself, and so he has turned to the generosity of his readers.

He posted up the description of his case, and why he needs the money, which he has put on his JustGiving page. This runs

“My name is Mike Sivier. You may know me as the writer of the Vox Political website.

I am probably best-known as the man who forced the Conservative government to reveal the number of sick and disabled benefit claimants who had lost their lives after being denied benefit, after a two-year campaign.

In 2017, immediately before local government elections in which I was standing as a Labour candidate, an organisation calling itself the Campaign Against Antisemitism published an article falsely alleging anti-Semitism by me. I believe the intention was to corruptly spoil my chance of being elected.

The piece ‘quotemined’ investigative articles I had written about claims of anti-Semitism against Labour Party politicians, using only those words that could present the most prejudicial impression about me, in order to falsely suggest hatred of the Jewish people. A weblink to the article was then sent to the Labour Party, in an attempt to have my membership suspended. This led to newspaper articles including one in which my local Conservative MP libelled me.

Labour obligingly suspended my membership, and subsequently launched a one-sided investigation in which I was found guilty despite being absent from the proceedings, at which none of the evidence I had presented to the party was mentioned by the investigator.

A copy of the report to the Labour Party committee that heard my case was then handed to a member of the national press. This led to further newspaper articles claiming I was not only an anti-Semite but also a Holocaust denier (an innovation by the Labour Party investigator).

I have been trying to persuade all those involved to retract their unfounded claims and apologise. These lies have harmed my main business – the Vox Political website – by encouraging readers to believe I should be avoided because of the unacceptable views they have attributed to me.

My attempts seem unlikely to produce positive results so it seems I must resort to court action.

I need your support to fund the court campaign to clear my name.

Please support this case and share. As a Labour Party member, I believe in equal opportunities for all people, no matter the colour of their skin, their religion or ethnic background, or any other accident of birth. My campaign to force the Tory government to release its sickness and disability death figures was an example of my commitment to end discrimination, prejudice and hate based on such characteristics.”

He ends his article with an appeal to readers to support him, either by donating or sharing the link, or both, which is

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mike-sivier

The article is at: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/06/13/help-vox-political-writer-fight-anti-semitism-libels-in-court/

All this is absolutely true. And I’ve written time and again that Mike is no racist, Anti-Semite or any kind of Nazi. He and I had an uncle, who was of Jewish descent, with whom our family used to go on holidays when we were children. Our father had done his national service in Germany, not far from Belsen concentration camp, and showed us the photos he’d taken of the remains of that terrible place, and the memorial the British army put up to the Jews murdered there.

He has always enjoyed the friendship of people of different cultures, religions and nationalities. One of his mates at college was a Muslim Nigerian. And while he was there, he was one of the speakers reading out the names of some of the victims of the Holocaust in a performance commemorating them and the others butchered in the Shoah. He had done this at the invitation of a female Jewish friend, who was deeply moved by his performance.

One of the books I’ve got on my shelf on the Third Reich was given to me by Mike after he went on a College trip to Berlin. It’s on the Nazi Sicherheitsdienst – the infamous ‘Security Service’, which formed a part of the apparatus of state terror in the Third Reich. It was published by the-then West German government to acccompany an exhibition on the SD and the horrors they perpetrated following the redevelopment and archaeological investigation of the organisation’s headquarters in what was then West Berlin. As well as information on the SD and the other parts of the Nazi secret police, like the Gestapo and the Krimipolizei, the ordinary criminal police, who were also responsible for persecuting political and ethnic enemies of the Nazi order, the book also gave due coverage of the Nazis’ victims. It described the network of camps, and gave the figures for the number of Jews and other victims murdered in the occupied countries. It also had a photographs and potted biographies of some of the most notable victims. It is most definitely not the kind of book Nazis, ant-Semites and Holocaust deniers want people reading, let alone give to their relatives.

Mike and I grew up in the ’80s, when the NF and BNP were very much in the news and trying to make their presence felt through terrorising and attacking people of colour and lefties. It was also the decade when Blacks and Asians also fought back against racism with the support of White sympathisers. There was a real fear at the time that the BNP or something like them could gain power, especially under Thatcher’s noxious government, with its links to South American Fasciss like Pinochet and the horrific Rios Montt. This fear was expressed in some of the comic literature that both he and I read, which dealt with issues like racism and persecution.

It shows the absolute contempt for truth or any kind of journalistic integrity that he, and so many others like him, have been smeared and libelled by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the scumbags of the right-wing press. I full support Mike in his court battle, and hope others will too.

Book Review: Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration and Identity by Akbar Ahmed

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/06/2018 - 11:40pm in

In Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration and Identity, Akbar Ahmed scrutinises the experiences of Muslims living in European nations that are facing challenge to their hegemonic position in a global age. This is no ordinary book project, writes Tahir Abbas, praising the unprecedented wealth of information contained in this gripping, engaging and immersive study.

Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration and Identity. Akbar Ahmed. Brookings Institution Press. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

Few scholars have a more detailed grasp of Islam and Muslims than the renowned social anthropologist, Akbar Ahmed. Having worked in the UK for the greater part of his formidable academic career and with a brief spell as the High Commissioner to Pakistan, he has been the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and Professor of International Relations at the American University in Washington since 2000. With the support of Brookings and a team of intrepid researchers, Ahmed has written a new 573-page tome, Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration and Identity.

In the late 1960s, Ahmed was a social sciences student at the University of Birmingham, having been taught by the late John Rex, a key figure of sociology in Britain. Not my own teacher as such, as he had retired long before, Rex remained active at Warwick University, where I undertook my doctoral studies. I would walk into his office for long chats about local and global affairs as the world embraced a new millennium. John would recall fond stories of Ahmed, who had just published his book Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity: The Search for Saladin (Routledge, 1997) and scripted and executive-produced the film biography of Jinnah (Jamil Dehaliv, 1998), starring the late Christopher Lee in the lead role. Earlier, in 1993, Living Islam was a four-part series broadcast on the BBC, written and presented by Ahmed. It was the first time that I had seen such a programme on Islam. It unlocked an enormous opening onto a faith tradition that I had only seen in the microcosm of local community settings in the UK and in Pakistan.

Max Weber and Ibn Khaldun, both historians, economists and sociologists, are two scholars who have remained extremely important to Ahmed’s scholarship over the years. Weber emphasised the importance of religion in the formation and development of capitalist societies at the end of the nineteenth century, while Ibn Khaldun discussed the rise and fall of civilisations almost 700 years before him. For Weber, the modern nation is the height of civilisation. However, tribalism neither ended with modernity nor with the transformation of rural to urban societies in antiquity. This modernity-transformation conundrum remains in play today: a dialectic that runs throughout Ahmed’s intellectual contributions. These range from understanding tribal societies in the north-west frontier of Pakistan and Afghanistan to exploring the decline of social cohesion, or asabiyah as Ibn Khaldun would put it, as the pretext for the ‘war on terror’ and its effects on human relations worldwide. His latest book, Journey into Europe, surveys themes relating to Muslim minorities in the post-war period who are living in European nation states that are facing challenges to their hegemonic positions in a global age.

Image Credit: Al-Jamia Suffa-Tul-Islam Central Mosque, Horton Park Avenue, Bradford (Tim Green CC BY 2.0)

Journey into Europe is a book in three parts. The first looks at Europe and the tests it faces as different nations come to terms with various aspects of their formation and their futures. Europe is facing its own problems of tribalism, where identity is of central importance. Ahmed considers the importance of pluralism (as unity within diversity) and identity (classifying the differences between primordial and predator identities, with the third being pluralist identity). Questions of memory are important to these notions in a historical context, but also in the present age of populism, racism and economic protectionism.

Historically, pluralism gave Europe ‘La Convivencia’, notably exemplified during the Andalusian period more than 1,000 years ago. Christians, Jews and Muslims lived and worked together, maintaining harmonious relations and advancing human civilisation, but now racism and nationalism recreate re-imagined memories of the nation protected by violent conflict. This results in a primordialism that attacks minorities as somehow diluting the very essence of the nation itself. The historical model of pluralism gave Europe the foundations of the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Renaissance. In today’s milieu, the migration of individuals forced and displaced from their countries of birth through strife and war, a growing intolerance of differences and a fear of Islam as akin to terrorism and violence have led to instability, ‘project fear’ as the norm and the undermining of pluralism as a universal political and cultural model. Islam is no longer the originator of science, intellectualism or worldly knowledge that it once was. Pluralism today, Ahmed argues, therefore must live up to the ideals of a New Andalusia.

The second part of the book probes the notion of Islam in Europe. Many contributions to this area of thought necessarily focus on post-war groups and their migration stories in terms of integration, belonging and citizenship at one level, or identity, intergenerational change and multiculturalism at another. Ahmed explores both indigenous Muslims – those who have always been part of Europe – as well as Muslim minorities who have ended up in their ‘mother countries’ in the northern and western parts of Europe: places that until the post-war period were once the colonial overseers of much of the Muslim world for the greater part of three centuries. This section primarily focuses on the trials of being Muslim in Europe, and the anxieties of identity, belonging, becoming, knowing and understanding what it is to be a European Muslim in today’s world.

The subjects of immigration, identity and belonging are unconsciously significant for minorities experiencing dislocation – but also for a Europe reconfiguring and re-imagining itself, which forms the essence of Part Three. This investigates these matters in detail, including the enigma of terrorism and Islamophobia and the uncertainties these raise for modernity and postmodernity for both European nations and the Muslim minorities contained within them.

Given the immensity of the task, has Ahmed spread himself over too wide a canvas with not enough ink for what is undoubtedly an almighty project? Fortunately, through the diligence of Ahmed’s pen, he manages to avoid the pitfalls that might have flummoxed others. The concise but comprehensive vignettes throughout the book are windows into a world, offering insightful glimpses and making the book readable in short bursts. The interview material is rich and the analysis is meticulous. Ultimately, Ahmed agonises intensely over the plight of Muslims in Europe, for he was once one of them, and he understands only too well the complex challenges facing this body of people, characterised by his own personal experiences from the 1960s onwards, through to his academic scholarship, public intellectualism and his thoughtful commitment to inter-faith dialogue and engagement.

Journey into Europe contains tremendously insightful observations with rich and colourful examples, but the dilemma remains as to what needs to alter in a world divided by the very problems identified in this important volume. Tribalism, individualism and ethnocentrism are running amok throughout Europe, with little by way of an alternative provided by those who have the power and means to create the changes necessary to deliver the New Andalusia. Europe remains under threat because the idea of Europe is a challenging notion for those who have retreated into ethnic cleavages defined by a distorted memory of an illusory nation and a fear of the ‘other’ singled out by a global religion reduced to a virulent ‘other’. These doubts are both incontrovertible and profound. Here, Ahmed identifies the need for Muslims in Europe to take charge of their own realm of possibilities within this domain of conflict and containment. There is a roadmap for Muslims, as Ahmed provides his ten steps for change at the end of the book. These include Muslims taking the onus to change themselves for the better, which is fair and correct; however, it is not without certain limitations.

There is a clear omission in the roadmap. Perhaps it is deliberate. Without necessarily affecting the political paradigms that mould the current epoch, what are the means to generate a collective struggle to resolve the deeply political riddles that remain unanswered in this book? What are the roles of the majority society and institutions shaped by those who wield power at the very pinnacle of these establishments? These questions require more than introspection and a desire to relive a glorious past. For this, scholars engaged in a critical left-realism present greater penetrative, challenging and defiant diagnoses of the state of affairs afflicting Muslims in Europe today, including the problem of Islamophobia, which is cultural but also structural, affecting state institutions, media and the dominant hegemonic political discourses of a number of ‘old’ and ‘new’ European nations.

Journey into Europe is at once an intellectual inquiry, critical commentary, social observation, part-autobiography and case-study-focused, all skillfully interwoven by an expert social anthropologist and storyteller. For this reason, the book will appeal to a diverse audience, from the lay to the specialist, from the seasoned intellectual to the novice apprentice learning about Muslims for the first time beyond the coarse headlines of national dailies and online chatter. It is also important to remember that this is no ordinary book project. It took at least four years to complete, and the range and breadth of the layers of Muslim experiences scrutinised throughout the corners of Europe are unprecedented. For this alone, this book is an important contribution, because it is detailed, informative and often written in a manner that is gripping, engaging and immersive. Few scholars have the capacity to manage all of this – even fewer would have the gall or the strength to attempt it.

Professor Tahir Abbas FRSA is currently Visiting Senior Fellow at the LSE Department of Government, and Senior Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. His forthcoming book is Beyond Islamophobia, Radicalisation and the Culture of Violence, published by Hurst in 2018. Read more by Tahir Abbas.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


Hope Not Hate on Anti-Semitism, Homophobia and the Islamophobes Speaking in Support of Tommy Robinson

On Saturday the islamophobic far right held a march to protest against the arrest and jailing of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the EDL, and former member of the BNP and Pegida UK, for contempt of court. Robinson had been livestreaming his coverage of the trial of a group of Pakistani Muslim men accused of child abuse. There are very strict laws governing press coverage of trials, which Robinson broke, just as he had broken them a year or so before in Canterbury. This had earned him a suspended sentence, which automatically kicked in when he repeated the offence last week in Leeds. Robinson was arrested, convicted and jailed.

The laws Robinson broke are there to make sure that everyone gets a fair trial, and apply to all cases, not just those of Muslims accused of paedophilia. But Robinson’s supporters decided that he had been the victim of state censorship and imprisoned for his political beliefs by an establishment determined to protect paedophile Muslims and persecute Whites, hence the march. This was addressed by some of the most notorious islamophobes in Britain and the Netherlands.

Hope Not Hate have an article at their site identifying the speakers, and giving a brief description of their political careers and their very racist views on Islam and Muslims. They included the notorious anti-Islamic Dutch politician Gert Wilders; Anne-Marie Waters, who was formerly a Labour party member before joining Pegida with Tommy Robinson. In October last year, 2017, she launched another far right party, the For Britain Movement; Raheem Kassam, a former advisor to Nigel Farage and editor of Breitbart’s London branch. He’s also the direct of Student Rights, which claimed to be a campus monitoring group dedicated to combating extremism. In fact, it has no student members or links to student unions, though it is linked to the extreme rightwing American group, the Henry Jackson Society. It has also been criticised by several London student unions for targeting Muslim students, and the Institute of Race Relations also noted that its work was used by far right groups to target a Nuslim student event. He’s also the editor of another, Neoconservative news site, The Commentator.

And then there’s the extremely islamophobic UKIP MEP, Gerard Batten, who in 2011 addressed the Traditional Britain Group, the far right outfit that invited Jacob Rees-Mogg to their dinner. Mogg attended, but now claims he only did so because he didn’t really known what they were like. Which sounds very unlikely to me.

As well as vile views on Muslims, the article also describes the vicious hatred towards other groups of some of those associated with the speakers. Like Mandy Baldwin, a member of Waters’ For Britain Movement, who posted homophobic material from a Nazi website on a social media site. For Britain also includes several former members of the BNP and other Fascists, such as Sam Melia, who was a former member of the banned terrorist group, National Action. Another member, Stuart Nicholson, posted extremely anti-Semitic material on his Twitter account before it was withdrawn. In one of these, he retweeted a post that read “National Socialism is the alternative to degeneracy we currently face. It is a pathway to freedom and prosperity. It is an escape from Jewish Tyranny. It is the Future of our people.”

https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/2018/06/08/march-tommy-robinson-extreme-anti-muslim-activists-line-speak/

It’s probably no surprise that some of those, who joined the anti-Islam movement also have a bitter hatred of gays and Jews, and openly support Nazism. All the stuff Nazis write about ‘Jewish tyranny’ is a vile lie, responsible for justifying the Holocaust under the Nazis. And Nazism never brought freedom and prosperity. For the German working class, is meant low wages and complete subordination of the workforce to the bosses as part of Hitler’s Fuhrerprinzip, or Leader Principle. Just as it meant the absolute political, social and economic dominance of the Nazi party and the proscription of all competing parties and organisations, whose members were rounded up and sent to the concentration camps.

I don’t doubt that not all members of the anti-Islam movement have views as extreme as these. But it does seem to show that if these people have their way and ban Islam and persecute or expel Muslims, sooner or later they will move on to attack other groups. Like gays and Jews.

Far Right Watch Explain Why Tommy Robinson Is Not a Martyr for Free Speech

Last month, Tommy Robinson, or to give him his real name, Steven Yaxley Lennon, was arrested and jailed for contempt of court. Robinson is the former leader of the Islamophobic EDL, and has also been a member of PEGIDA UK, as well as the BNP. He’d been covering the trial of a group of Pakistani Muslims in Leeds on the internet outside the court. Robinson already had a suspended sentence for doing the same thing about a year ago in Canterbury. The rozzers swooped, Robinson pleaded guilty, and is now enjoying a holiday at her majesty’s pleasure.

His supporters have gone berserk, claiming that he’s been persecuted for his beliefs and that this is a serious breach of free speech by the multicultural establishment to protect Muslims. They’ve also been on the internet claiming that this is all part of the establishment’s campaign to make Whites extinct through immigration and racial mixing. The Islamophobic Dutch politician, Gert Wilders, who is himself no stranger to prosecution for racism, has condemned Robinson’s arrest and imprisonment. As has Pauline Hanson, the head of the minuscule Australian anti-immigration party, the One Nation Party. Hanson runs a fish and chip shop in Western Australia, and she’s made herself president for life of her outfit, so there are definitely no overtones of Fascist dictatorship there.

Last Sunday, 4th June 2018, Robinson’s supporters held a rally in London demanding his release. This has alarmed anti-racist activists and organisations. Hope Not Hate have released a video telling the truth about Robinson and what he really stands for and why he was jailed. As have Kevin Logan, the male feminist and anti-Fascist, and Far Right Watch. RT also covered the demonstration, and their short clip shows some of Robinson’s supporters trying fighting or attempting to fight the police.

Far Right Watch are an unpaid, volunteer group of nine people dedicated to exposing Fascism and the Far Right on the internet. In this video, which is about 28 minutes long, they answer five questions about Robinson and bust seven myths about him.

They start out by making the point that Robinson is a racist, and has been a member of a series of racist organisations, including the BNP. He’s also a criminal, having been convicted 12 times of various offences, including fraud. They go into great detail, including citing the official court document explaining to Robinson why he is being jailed, showing that his arrest is certainly not political censorship but was done as part of the ordinary legislation designed to give defendants a fair trial.

They point out that under English law since the 13th century, a person is innocent until proven guilty. This is unique to English law and the legal systems that are derived from it, and it’s a cornerstone of British justice. Robinson broke that in his coverage of the case, because his commentary on the trial assumed that the men being tried were guilty.

This is serious because it threatened to prejudice their trial, meaning that if the judge considered that the accused couldn’t get a fair trial because of Robinson, the trial would be abandoned or the accused acquitted. And if the accused were guilty of the heinous crimes with which they were charged, it would be a serious miscarriage of justice. Hence the mass of legislation surrounding the reporting of criminal cases which bind real journalists.

Robinson also violated accepted journalistic procedures by broadcasting live. When the professional broadcasters cover cases from outside a courthouse, it’s always recorded, and the report is then examined by legal experts to make sure that it complies with the law. Robinson did not none of that. He had no control over what was occurring, and was simply filming events as they happened. Furthermore, there were other people also coming to court for their trials, and his cavalier contempt for the law could have placed their cases in jeopardy.

His followers have also claimed that Robinson was all right to present his commentary on the case, as it was over. This video reveals that it wasn’t. The case Robinson was covering was only one of a number of trial, which were ongoing. They have also claimed that the ruling of contempt of court doesn’t apply to him, because he was outside the courtroom. That isn’t the case. The documents state that Robinson was still subject to the laws about contempt of court because he was still in the precincts of the court. Mike, who is a professional journalist, and who knows the law, told me that the precincts of the court are wherever the judge decides they are. So that excuse for him doesn’t hold up.

As for Robinson’s swift arrest, it’s so fast because he was given a 13 month suspended sentence for doing the same thing in Canterbury last year, which he didn’t contest. This sentence would immediately have started the moment Robinson broke the law again, regardless of any additional sentence he would be given for this offence. And while the speed of his arrest is unusual, it’s not unknown. Plus the fact that Robinson actually pleaded guilty to contempt when he was tried for it, so there’s absolutely no reason for the whole process to be prolonged with a lengthy trial and prosecution.

The video also makes the point that Robinson’s own interest in the trial was cynically racist. He wasn’t interested so much in the welfare of the children these people are accused of violating and exploiting. He was only interested in it as a way of generating further hatred against Muslims. He hadn’t covered a string of similar trials up and down England and Wales, for the simple reason that the paedophile gangs being tried in these cases were all White. Just like he also wasn’t interested in talking about Jimmy Savile or the allegations against the former Tory leader, Edward Heath.

As for Wilders and Pauline ‘President for Life’ Hanson fulminating against his arrest and sentencing as a travesty of British justice, or words to that effect, the same laws against contempt of court are in force everywhere, including the Netherlands and Australia. So if Robinson had broken the law in those countries, as he has here, he’d still have been jailed.

In short, Robinson is in no way a martyr for free speech, as the document outlining the reasons why he has been jailed states very clearly. This wasn’t about politics. It was about justice, giving the accused a fair trial, under laws which go all the way back to the Middle Ages. It was definitely not about protecting Muslim paedophiles, or the elites advancing the cause of ‘White genocide’ or any of the stupid and vile conspiracy theories that the Far Right may choose to believe or make up about it. And Robinson himself is hardly a high-minded, principled political activist. He’s a convicted criminal and a racist, who knowingly violated the law in order to generate more anti-Muslim hatred.

Israel Based Journo Shows How Censorship of Steve Bell Cartoon Plays into Hands of Real Anti-Semites

Last week the editor of the Groaniad, Kath Viner, spiked a cartoon by the paper’s Steve Bell for supposed anti-Semitism. The cartoon commented on the complete indifference to the murder of 21 year old Palestinian medic, Razan al-Najjar by the IDF shown by Netanyahu and Tweezer. Bell depicted the two having a cosy chat by the fire, in which al-Najjar was burning. This was too much for Viner, who immediately did what the Israel lobby always does whenever the country is criticised for its brutal treatment of the Palestinians: she immediately accused the critic of anti-Semitism. The cartoon was anti-Semitic, apparently, because al-Najjar’s place in the fire was supposedly a reference to the Holocaust and the murder of the Jews in the Nazi gas ovens. Despite the fact that Bell denied that there was any such intention in his work, or indeed, any overt references to the Holocaust at all.

Bell was naturally outraged, and issued a strong denial. I’ve blogged about this issue, as has Mike, and Bell’s denial was also covered by that notorious pro-Putin propaganda channel, RT. And an Israel-based journalist, Jonathan Cook, has also come down solidly on Bell’s side and against censorship.

Mike posted a piece reporting and commenting on Mr Cook’s view and analysis of the case on Saturday. Cook is a former Guardian journalist, who now lives in Nazareth, the capital of Israel’s Palestinian minority. Cook praised Bell’s cartoon because of the way it held power to account, and indicted the powerful and their calculations at the expense of the powerless. He stated

In other words, it represents all that is best about political cartoons, or what might be termed graphic journalism. It holds power – and us – to account.

He then went on to describe how, by siding with Israel over the cartoon, the Guardian was siding with the powerful against the powerless; with a nuclear-armed state against its stateless minority. He then goes on to make the point that when criticism of Israel is silenced, the country benefits from a kind of reverse anti-Semitism, or philo-Semitism, which turns Israel into a special case. He writes

When a standard caricature of Netanyahu – far less crude than the caricatures of British and American leaders like Blair and Trump – is denounced as anti-Semitic, we are likely to infer that Israeli leaders expect and receive preferential treatment. When showing Netanyahu steeped in blood – as so many other world leaders have been – is savaged as a blood libel, we are likely to conclude that Israeli war crimes are uniquely sanctioned. When Netanyahu cannot be shown holding a missile, we may assume that Israel has dispensation to bombard Gaza, whatever the toll on civilians.

And when we see the furore created over a cartoon like Bell’s, we can only surmise that other, less established cartoonists will draw the appropriate conclusion: keep away from criticising Israel because it will harm your personal and professional reputation.

He then makes the point that doing so plays into the hands of real anti-Semites, and generates more:

When we fail to hold Israel to account; when we concede to Israel, a nuclear-armed garrison state, the sensitivities of a Holocaust victim; when we so mistake moral priorities that we elevate the rights of a state over the rights of the Palestinians it victimises, we not only fuel the prejudices of the anti-Semite but we make his arguments appealing to others. We do not help to stamp out anti-Semitism, we encourage it to spread. That is why Viner and the Guardian have transgressed not just against Bell, and against the art of political cartoons, and against justice for the Palestinians, but also against Jews and their long-term safety.

Mike goes on to make the point that we need to be more critical about the raving paranoiacs, who see anti-Semitism in Steve Bell’s cartoon, and also in Gerald Scarfe’s depiction of Netanyahu building his anti-Palestinian wall using the blood and bodies of the Palestinians themselves. This was attacked by Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador, as ‘anti-Semitic’, who claimed that it was a reference to the Blood Libel. It wasn’t, but the I apologised anyway. Mike goes on to say that there is no such thing as an unintentional anti-Semite, but authorial intentions are routinely ignored in these cases.

He then goes to state very clearly that as the authorial intentions of these cartoons weren’t anti-Semitic, Viner was wrong about Bell’s cartoon. Just as the Sunset Times, as Private Eye dubbed the rag, was wrong about Scarfe and Mike himself, as was the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. And so are the people, who’ve accused Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and so many others of anti-Semitism. And in the meantime, Netanyahu gets away with mass murder.

Mike concludes

But Mr Cook is right – these attitudes only fuel real anti-Semitism among those who draw the only logical conclusion about what’s going on in the media, which is that the Establishment is protecting the Israeli government against censure for its crimes.

It suggests to me that all those involved in this charade have been creating problems that will come back to harm all of us in the future.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/06/09/israel-based-journo-shows-how-guardian-editor-helped-anti-semites-by-censoring-steve-bell/

Now part of the problem here could be certain developments in anti-racism and postmodernist literary theory. For example, some anti-racist activists have argued that there is such a thing as unconscious racism, and have used it to accuse people and material they have seen as spreading or legitimising racism, but without any conscious intent to do so.

In postmodernist literary theory, the author’s intent is irrelevant. In the words of one French postmodernist literary theorist, ‘all that exists is the text’. And one person’s interpretation of the text is as good as another’s.

Hence, those arguing that the above cartoons are anti-Semitic, could do so citing these ideas above.

Now there clearly is something to unconscious racism. If you look back at some of the discussions and depictions of racial issues in 1970s popular culture, they are often horrendously racist by today’s standards. But they weren’t seen as such then, and I dare say many of those responsible for some of them genuinely didn’t believe they were being racist, nor intended to do so. And unconscious racism is irrelevant in this case too. The accusers have not argued that these cartoons are unconsciously racist. They’ve simply declared that they are, without any kind of qualification. Which implies that their authors must be deliberately anti-Semitic, which is a gross slur.

As for postmodernist literary theory, the accusers haven’t cited that either. And if they did, it could also easily be turned against them. If there are no privileged readings of a particular text, then the view of someone, who thought Bell’s cartoon was anti-Semitic, is no more valid than the person, who didn’t. Which cuts the ground out from such accusations. That argument doesn’t stand up either, though here again, the people making the accusations of anti-Semitism haven’t used it.

Nevertheless, their arguments about the anti-Semitic content of these cartoons and the strained parallels they find with the Holocaust, or anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, are very reminiscent of the postmodernist texts the American mathematician Sokal, and the Belgian philosopher Bricmont, used to demolish the intellectual pretensions of postmodernism in their 1990s book, Intellectual Impostures. One of the texts they cited was by a French feminist arguing that women were being prevented from taking up careers in science. It’s a fair point, albeit still controversial amongst some people on the right. However, part of her evidence for this didn’t come from studies showing that girls start off with a strong interest in science like boys, only to have it crushed out of them later in their schooling. No! This strange individual based part of her argument on the medieval coat of arms for Brussels, which shows frogs in a marsh. Which somehow represents the feminine. Or at least, it did to her. For most of us, the depiction of frogs in a marsh in the coat of arms for Brussels is a depiction of precisely that: frogs in a marsh. Because, I have no doubt, the land Brussels was founded on was marshy.

But Cook and Mike are right about these accusations, and the favouritism shown to Israel, playing into the hands of anti-Semites.

The storm troopers of the right are very fond of a quote from Voltaire: ‘If you want to know who rules over you, ask who it is you can’t criticise’. Or words to that effect. Depending on whether the person using the quote is an anti-Semite or an Islamophobe, the answer they’ll give will be ‘the Jews’ or ‘the Muslims’.

Of course, their choice of the French Enlightenment philosopher is more than somewhat hypocritical. Voltaire hated intolerance, and in the early stages before it became aggressively anti-religious, the French Revolution stood for religious toleration. A set of playing cards made to celebrate it showed on one card the Bible with the Talmud, the Jewish holy book containing extra-Biblical lore and guidance, and the Qu’ran.

But by ruling that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, the Israel lobby very much appears to show – entirely falsely – that the anti-Semites are right, and that the Jews really are in control of the rest of us. It gives an utterly false, specious confirmation of the very conspiracy theories they claim to have found in the works of the people they denounce. The same conspiracy theories they claim to oppose, and which have been responsible for the horrific suffering of millions of innocent Jews.

It’s high time this was stopped, and accusations of anti-Semitism treated with the same impartial judgement as other claims of bias or racism. And false accusations should be firmly rejected as a slur, and apologies and restitution demanded from the libellers.

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