Islamophobia

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Mainstreaming the Extreme: the British Media and Far Right Islamophobia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/06/2022 - 9:47pm in

Whether through propagating theories about 'Eurabia' or the Great Replacement, mainstream publications have helped radicalise public opinion, says Julian Petley

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According to draft extracts of the Prevent review leaked to the Guardian, the government’s counter-terrorism programme has been too heavily focused on right-wing extremism and insufficiently concerned with Islamist extremism.

The leaked documents claim that “there has been a ‘double standard’ approach to tackling different forms of extremism, with individuals targeted for expressing mainstream right-wing views because the definition of neo-nazism has expanded too widely, while the focus on Islamist extremism has been too narrow”. They also argue that it has taken a view on right-wing terror which has been “so broad it has included mildly controversial or provocative forms of mainstream, right-wing-leaning commentary that have no meaningful connection to terrorism or radicalisation”.

But as Sir Peter Fahy, the former police lead for Prevent, asked: “How are the police supposed to judge what is mainstream?” As he explained,  the police are concerned primarily with the likelihood of people being drawn into violence, not whether their views are mainstream. 

Given that the review is being undertaken by William Shawcross, whose antipathy to Islam hardly needs stressing, such sentiments are entirely unsurprising. They also need to be seen in the context of the growing assault on the numerous critics of Prevent. This is being spearheaded by Policy Exchange, of which Shawcross is a senior fellow, whose recent report Delegitimising Counter-Terrorism insists that "the biggest terrorist threat still emanates from Islamist, not far-right, extremism" and that "Muslim individuals who may present a security risk are being under-represented in referrals, given that Islamist terrorism is by far the greatest security threat".

This is despite of the fact that in July 2021, Ken McCallum, the director-general of MI5, warned that extreme right-wing terror accounted for one in five of all counter-terror investigations, a threat that had ‘grown and morphed quite substantially over the last five to ten years. A particular problem he identified was the ‘high prevalence’ of teenagers in right-wing terror investigations, which he suggested was because youngsters were being swept up in a ‘toxic ideology’ of ‘online extremists and echo chambers’. 

As Nafeez Ahmed has already pinpointed the report’s authors’ own imbrication in elements of the far-right, I want here to argue that much “right-leaning commentary” in sections of the national press in Britain goes far beyond the “mildly controversial or provocative” and has long been a key conduit by means of which the idea of “Islamisation”, long associated with far-right extremism, has been enabled to enter mainstream political discourse.

As the then UK Counter Terrorism Policing Lead, Neil Basu, pointed out in an open letter in March 2019:

"The reality is that every terrorist we have dealt with has sought inspiration from the propaganda of others, and when they can’t find it on Facebook, YouTube, Telegram or Twitter they only have to turn on the TV, read the paper or go to one of a myriad of mainstream media websites struggling to compete with those platforms."

However, in order fully to understand how such ideas have entered the mainstream, we first need to make a brief detour into history.

'Islamisation'

As is abundantly clear from the “manifestos” of mass murderers such as Anders Breivik, Patrick Crusius, Peyton Gendron and Brenton Tarrant, the perpetrators of the majority of far-right terrorist attacks on people of colour, and particularly Muslims and those who support them, have all seen themselves as foot soldiers in the war against “Islamisation”, whose latest guise is the “Great Replacement”.

This was actually the title of the manifesto of the Christchurch mass murderer, Brenton Tarrant. This notion was popularised by the philosopher Renaud Camus in Le Grand Remplacement (2012), which warns against the Islamisation of Europe and strongly influenced both Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour, the latter warning of mass immigration in Le Suicide Francais (2014). 

In The Strange Death of Europe (2017) it was cited by Douglas Murray, who warned that “Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide … As a result, by the end of the lifespans of most people currently alive Europe will not be Europe and the peoples of Europe will have lost the only place in the world we had to call home”.

There is in fact nothing essentially new in such ideas, which date back at least as far as the Reconquista – the centuries-long process in which the Christian Iberian kingdoms opposed and conquered the Muslim kingdoms. Much more recently, President de Gaulle argued in 1959 that it was better to grant Algeria independence than to offer Algerians full French citizenship, as that would turn France into an “Islamic country”, famously declaring that “my village would no longer be called Colombey-les-Deux Eglises but Colombey-les-Deux Mosquées”.

Also worth noting is Jean Raspail’s 1973 novel Le Camp des Saints, in which France is overthrown by Indian refugees. Significantly, this became a best-seller in 2011, is much admired by Steve Bannon and Donald Trump and is discussed at length by Murray in The Strange Death of Europe.

In 1993, during the Muslim genocide in the Balkans, the Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic told the journalist Paul Koring that “the Islamic world does not have the atomic bomb, but it has the demographic bomb”, and in the same year the Serbian academic Darko Tanaskovich, in an article headlined “Europe Will Not Avoid the Demographic Jihad”, warned in a Serbian newspaper of “an economic, diplomatic, and especially a demographic jihad”. Nor were such sentiments limited to Serbia. For example, in America Alone (2006), Mark Steyn, who had by then been a regular columnist for the Telegraph for several years, appeared to suggest that genocide was an understandable reaction to demographic change, stating that: 

In a democratic age, you can’t buck demography except through civil war. The Serbs figured that out as other Continentals will in the years ahead: if you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ‘em. The problem that Europe faces is that Bosnia's demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.

In this respect, it is surely highly significant that Tarrant live-streamed the Christchurch assault to the backdrop of Serbian nationalist music, including a piece which glorified the Bosnian Serb nationalist leader, Radovan Karadzic.

The notion of 'Islamisation' informs in one way or another books such as Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996), Patrick Buchanan’s The Death of the West (2002), Melanie Phillips’s Londonistan (2006), Michael Gove’s Celsius 7/7 (2006) and Norman Podhoretz’s World War IV (2007). And in the first decade of the new millennium, the idea of “Eurabia” became fashionable in anti-Islamic circles. One of its most prominent early exponents was the journalist and author Oriana Fallaci, who attacked what she called “Islamofascism” in The Rage and the Pride (2002) and The Force of Reason (2004). In an interview published by the Wall Street Journal on 23 June 2005 she stated that “Europe is no longer Europe, it is ‘Eurabia’, a colony of Islam, where the Islamic invasion does not proceed only in a physical sense, but also in a mental and cultural sense”.

Eurabia

However, the notion of Eurabia found its fullest expression in Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis (2005) by Bat Ye-or (Hebrew for ‘Daughter of the Nile’), the pseudonym of an Egyptian-born Jewish woman, Gisèle Litmann, who fled Cairo for Britain after Suez and now lives in Switzerland.

This advances the truly bizarre thesis that Eurabia was a deliberate political project whose roots lie in the European Community’s establishment, during the 1973 oil crisis, of the Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD). This was intended to forge closer political, cultural and economic links between Europe and the Arab world, but to Ye’or, however, this was the sinister means whereby European politicians and civil servants willingly laid the groundwork for the subjugation of Europe and its irreversible transformation into Eurabia.

Through EAD, European media, universities and schools were converted into channels for Arab propaganda and historical disinformation that exalted the Islamic contribution to European civilisation and negated Europe’s Judeo-Christian heritage. The process allegedly begun by EAD continued with EU initiatives such as the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation on the Dialogue of Cultures and Civilizations established by the European Commission in March 2002, and, in Ye’or’s view, the results are clearly evident in Europe’s “resurgent anti-Americanism”, “Judeophobia” and, most of all, in the “cult” of “Palestinianism” which “poisons Europe”

The Eurabia thesis has been aptly described by Matt Carr in the journal Race and Class as “flat-out barking gibberish, which falls somewhere between hyper-Zionist propaganda, crude conspiracy theory and delirious fantasy”. Yet the notion rapidly percolated through to sections of the British press.

For example, the historian Niall Ferguson referred to Bat Ye’or in an article entitled 'Decline and Fall of the Christian Empire' in The Sunday Times, 11 April 2004. This concerned Europe’s “demographic decline” and warned that “a youthful Muslim society to the south and east of the Mediterranean is poised to colonise a senescent Europe to the north and west”.

Likewise, in a Mail article on 4 November 2005 about the urban disturbances in France, headed 'Ghettoes, Race Riots and the Lessons for Us All', Melanie Phillips cited Bat Ye’or to back up her claim about “the erosion of national identities across Europe”, and similarly in the Telegraph, 8 November 2005, Steyn referred to the disturbances as “an early skirmish in the Eurabian civil war”. 

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The Great Replacement

Exactly the same process of percolation and propagation can be observed in the case of the Great Replacement theory.

This is the subject of much of the sixth chapter of Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe (once promoted, incidentally, by Viktor Orbán on his Facebook page). As Peter Oborne has pointed out, “the inexorable rise of Douglas Murray tells us a great deal about public discourse in Britain. Twenty years ago he would be on the far-right fringes”, but now he has become one of our most notable “public intellectuals”’: associate editor of The Spectator, a frequent contributor to the Mail, Telegraph, Mail and The Times, a regular figure on BBC political programmes, and from 2011 to 2018, associate director of the Henry Jackson Society. 

The “theory” is only infrequently cited explicitly in Murray’s myriad articles for British publications, but it deeply informs virtually everything that he has written about Muslims and Islam. To take but one of numerous possible examples: in an article on the 2011 census in the Mail, 11 December 2012, he argues that, for the first time, “less than 90 per cent of the country is white, while the population is increasing in size at an unprecedented rate as a result of immigration”. In his view, this has “dramatically changed the cultural make-up of this country” and “spells the end of our unified national way of life”.  

The “theory” also underlies Zemmour’s remarks in a softball interview with him in The Spectator, 27 November 2021, in which he states that “immigration is war. They want to invade our European countries”  and goes on rage that “it is by destroying our cultures, our history, that they [the “woke”] make a clean sweep of all that and allow a foreign culture, history and civilisation to come and replace it”. And even though it isn’t named, the Great Replacement idea absolutely dominates the diatribe by Lionel Shriver against immigration in The Spectator, 28 August 2021, in which she draws on statistics in two highly questionable reports by Migration Watch to warn that “the country’s original inhabitants” risk “becoming a minority in the UK”, a situation that she describes as “socially and even biologically unnatural”.

Not for nothing has Otto English described Shriver as “Tommy Robinson with a thesaurus”, and as Kenan Malik pointed out in the Guardian, 5 September 2021, what she is essentially arguing here is that for Britain to remain Britain, it must remain predominantly white. 

'National Cultural Sabotage'

That such ideas, once confined to the far-right fringes, now appear in a publication such as The Spectator is less a sign that they have become mainstream and more an indication that “right-wing-leaning commentary”, to use Shawcross’s phrase, now includes, in certain publications, views which are in fact very far from mainstream, even on the Right. 

In this respect, it is instructive, as well as profoundly disturbing, to note that in his 1,500-page “manifesto”, A European Declaration of Independence, Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of the Norwegian massacre on 22 July 2011, repeatedly referenced articles in British right-wing newspapers. He also reproduced two in their entirety, one from the Mail by Melanie Phillips and the other from the Telegraph by Philip Johnston and Robert Winnett. 

The former, from 29 October 2009, is a jeremiad against what Phillips claimed was Labour’s immigration policy, and it takes up a full three pages of the manifesto.  Given that Breivik “justified” his massacre of young Norwegian Labour Party members on the grounds that their party’s immigration policies and support for multiculturalism had opened the door to the “Islamisation” of Norway, it isn’t exactly difficult to see what appealed to him in this typically overwrought and apocalyptic tirade, which accuses Labour’s immigration policy of being nothing less than “an act of unalloyed treachery to the entire nation” and “a deliberate and secret policy of national cultural sabotage”.

Very much in the same vein as Bat Ye’Or, Phillips claims that Labour’s aim was to “destroy Britain’s identity and transform it into a multicultural society where British attributes would have no greater status than any other country’s”. 

Warped Perceptions – and Their Consequences

Of course, all of the British journalists quoted in this article would vehemently deny that they were deliberately trying to incite racial violence – but that is not what is implied here. However, what it has shown – by quoting from a very small selection of myriad possible examples – is that there is a considerable overlap between ideas which appear in sections of the British press and those which animate far-right extremists, including, at worst, street fighters, and, at the very worst, actual terrorists.

As Jonathan Portes has argued: “Intellectual, political and street-level bigotry are inseparable, both in theory and practice”. The sentiments of Enoch Powell, which frequently found house room in right-wing British newspapers, were, for all the fancy language in which they were expressed, not significantly different from that of the National Front in the late 1960s.

Similarly, the regular columns on racial matters by Roger Scruton that appeared in The Times columnist, Telegraph, Mail and Spectator from the 1980s onwards found very distinct echoes in the propaganda of first the British National Party and then the English Defence League, and helped to give them a degree of ‘intellectual’ legitimacy those who made such claims”. And the same spectrum exists today between, on the one hand, those who use the pages of mainstream publications to claim, for example, that “immigration is war” and “the native-born are effectively surrendering their territory”, and, on the other, the street fighters of Britain First.  

If readers of supposedly reputable publications are told incessantly, year after year, that Muslim immigrants are overrunning their county and destroying its national identity, and if they believe this and then use social media to spread far and wide these highly inaccurate and inflammatory assertions, this simply cannot be without consequences.

At best, these publications contribute significantly to a process whereby people’s perceptions of social reality become seriously warped – at worst, such perceptions may lead them to take violent action against those they hold responsible for what Phillips calls “national cultural sabotage”. Such articles do indeed play a significant role in the process whereby people come to over-estimate grossly the numbers of Muslims living in the UK: research by Ipsos in 2016 showed the perceived figure to be 15% whereas the actual figure is 4.8%. They also lead to people to over-estimate the numbers of those living in the UK who were not actually born here:  research by Ipsos MORI in 2014 put the perceived figure at 31%, whereas the official estimate is around 13%. Furthermore, the report noted that “newspaper readership is much more likely to be significantly related to concern about immigration, after controlling for other demographic differences, than any other issue measured (including health services, defence/terrorism, education and crime”. Because of this, the report concluded that the accuracy and balance of newspaper coverage “needs careful scrutiny”.

“Mainstream Right-Wing Views” and the Extreme Centre

This scrutiny is most certainly not going to cpme from the supine and utterly compromised IPSO, since it has repeatedly made clear that it applies Clause 12 of the Editors’ Code, which relates to discrimination, only to individuals making complaints about language directed specifically at them, and that it will not entertain complaints about the use of inflammatory language about categories of people, such as Muslims.

Former IPSO Chair Sir Alan Moses was taken apart by the Home Affairs Select Committee when he revealed to general incredulity and derision that in a year in which IPSO received 8,148 complaints under Clause 12, it upheld precisely one. 

Indeed, given its woeful record in failing to uphold complaints about the frequently extreme comments and opinions expressed by the pundits of the right-wing press, samples of which have been quoted here, it’s very difficult to avoid the conclusion that IPSO shares exactly the same view as Shawcross about “mainstream right-wing views” and “mildly controversial or provocative forms of mainstream, right-wing-leaning commentary”.

However, if the sentiments expressed by the journalists quoted in this article really are now “mainstream”, the fulcrum of political debate in this country has shifted even further to the right than when Tariq Ali wrote The Extreme Centre: A Warning in 2015. And that is extremely troubling. 

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‘A Crime Against Humanity’: New Study Finds ‘Explicit’ Proof of Live Organ Harvesting by Chinese State

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/04/2022 - 9:36pm in

CJ Werleman reviews a new Australian National University report, providing horrific new details of China’s abuse of political prisoners

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Arguably, the most outrageous human rights atrocity taking place in the world today is the forced removal of live organs from political prisoners in China – a criminal practice industrialised by the Chinese Government after carrying out the first known case of live organ harvesting in 1994, when authorities in Xinjiang removed the still-beating heart and kidneys from a Uyghur Muslim.

The oncology surgeon who was ordered to carry out the grisly operation is Dr Enver Tohti, who described to me the horrors he was forced to inflict upon the detainee.

“I was called by my chief surgeon to go to a room near the Urumqi execution grounds to remove the liver and two kidneys from an executed prisoner. It turned out he wasn’t fully dead because they [the Chinese execution squad] shot him through the right chest [intentionally] to knock him out [without killing him], so I would have time to remove his organs”.

This was an operation performed without administering the detainee with an anaesthetic drug, he said.

But despite Tohti’s testimony and that of many others, along with an array of independent investigations – including the UK-based Uyghur Tribunal, headed by British barrister Sir Geoffrey Nice, which concluded that forced organ harvesting in China constitutes “one of the worst atrocities committed in modern times” – the absence of official Chinese Government documents has denied human rights campaigners their long awaited ‘smoking gun’.

That is until now, with a newly released study conducted by Australian National University (ANU) claiming to have unearthed evidence that Chinese surgeons are executing death-row prisoners by removing their hearts before they are clinically dead, a criminal practice that improves the prospect of a successful organ transplant.

“We were shocked by what we found, not that it was happening,” said Matthew Robertson, the study’s co-author, in an interview last week. “We were surprised that the admissions were so blatant and clear, and that we actually found what we were looking for.”

After using an artificial intelligence algorithm to scan and analyse more than 120,000 published medical journal reports, the researchers found 71 “explicit” instances in which organ ‘donors’ had not been properly pronounced dead prior to the surgeries taking place. 

The 71 reports span a period of 35 years and include 35 hospitals, spread across 33 cities and 15 provinces, which is indicative of a practice that is systematic and widespread. Robertson described these findings as the “tip of the funnel” in the Chinese Government-sanctioned system.

“We had a suspicion that these admissions were in the database but to actually find them, again and again, was the surprising part,” Robertson said. “There were many other cases where it wasn’t as explicit. And in those cases, we just ditched them, because we wanted very clear evidence on the primary claim.”

Robertson’s co-author, Professor Jacob Lavee, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the findings, which have been reviewed with a “fine-tooth comb” by the editorial board at the esteemed American Journal of Transplantation, constitute a “smoking gun”, given they provide for “the first time testimonies made by people involved in their own language”.

The study was also reviewed by Professor Arthur Caplan, the head of medical ethics at New York University, who said that it provides “incontrovertible proof” of Chinese doctors removing vital organs from people who were not clinically dead.

Both Robertson and Lavee pointed to public health officials within the Chinese Government who have admitted that 95% of the organs used for transplantation come from prisoners, along with documentation that shows China had no voluntary organ donor system during the time when the 71 papers were published. 

An Unspeakable Horror

According to the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), Uyghur Muslims and followers of Falun Gong – a religious spiritual practice banned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – are the prisoners most at risk.

Two years ago, as reported by Byline Times, a report published in the journal BMC Medical Ethics revealed what appears to be a concerted effort by the Chinese Government to cover up its criminal organ harvesting program by falsifying organ donation data. It suggests that more than 90,000 Muslims and other political prisoners are being executed each year for the purpose of profiting from the sale of their live organs.

“A variety of evidence points to what the authors believe can only be plausibly explained by systematic falsification and manipulation of official organ transplant datasets in China,” the report states. “Some apparently non-voluntary donors also appear to be misclassified as voluntary. This takes place alongside genuine voluntary organ transplant activity, which is often incentivised by large cash payment.”

The report also blows a hole in China’s claim to be carrying out only 10,000 “legal organ transplantations” per year, with researchers able to demonstrate the number of transplantations to be upwards of 100,000 per year, based on data obtained from the country’s three largest hospitals.

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And whereas the Chinese Government claims that fewer than 100 hospitals are approved to carry out organ transplant operations, the researchers “verified and confirmed 712 hospitals which carry out liver and kidney transplants”.

The report’s authors conclude that the discrepancy between the CCP’s official figures and estimates made by researchers can only be attributed to a deliberate effort by the Chinese Government to hide what ETAC describes as an “elaborate cover-up that disguises the state-run mass murder of innocent people”.

China is the only country in the world that forcibly removes organs from executed prisoners for transplants. Robertson and Lavee’s study affirms what others have long claimed but in the words of the Chinese Government. This is an unspeakable horror, and one the international community must reckon with.

“As the son of a Holocaust survivor who was in a Nazi concentration camp, I cannot stand aside and remain silent when my professional colleagues, Chinese transplant surgeons, have for years been partners to a crime against humanity,” says Professor Lavee. We should all heed his words.

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Macron and the Long March of the French Far-Right

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/03/2022 - 10:41pm in

Radical right-wing forces in France will not be buried by a second Macron presidency, says Shafi Musaddique

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Emmanuel Macron has become a force of nature in French politics in recent years – the apparent inevitability of his continued reign defining the country’s upcoming presidential election, set to begin in less than two weeks.

Macron has barely campaigned in what many of his critics have construed to be complacency, using the war in Ukraine to avoid TV debates with rival candidates. Le Monde has described this presidential race as a “phantom campaign” – a foregone conclusion with little need for candidates other than Macron, such is the assumption that he will take back the presidency without a fight. 

While there are grounds to assume, and hope, that the French will bat away the challenge of the far-right at the voting booth, such thinking remains a fool’s game. 

Anger continues to simmer in some quarters over Macron’s iron-fisted attempt to repel anti-vaxx sentiments in the country. Public backlash over fuel prices, the cost of living, concerns over the welfare state and the continued French obsession with immigration has made politics more uncertain across the Channel – even if the result of this election seems almost guaranteed.

But, most of all, apathy is the most dangerous emotion lingering over this French presidential cycle. 

“On 10 April there could be strong abstention from moderate voters who are anti-Marine Le Pen but hostile to Emmanuel Macron and this is the largest group in the electorate,” says Dominique Reynié, head of the influential Fondapol think tank.

“If they don’t turn out for the first round, thinking it’s a foregone conclusion, we just don’t know what the consequences will be. What we do know is that high abstention creates situations that are irreversible and weaken the democratic nature of the vote.”

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The Liberal Strongman

In 2002, a combination of voter apathy and protest votes saw a surprise first-round victory for far-right Jean-Marie Le Pen over the Socialist candidate. 

Le Pen senior ultimately lost that election, but the spectre of the far-right lives on via his daughter, Marine, who may well disrupt Macron’s procession with a more sophisticated strategy than her failed 2017 campaign.

Disillusioned masses from the old left, alongside those in French industrial towns where many feel left behind, are already campaigning for Le Pen on the back of a new ‘normalisation strategy’, with less public focus on immigration and more consistent campaigning on the cost of living.

There is no hope of a renaissance from a splintered left, unable to rally around a united campaign or leader. 

The fact that the French far-right remains the biggest challenger to Macron should be a glaring alarm signal to all those who abhor its politics. Regardless of an unlikely far-right win, the implications will be far deeper, and far longer reaching, than this election.

The arrival of Eric Zemmour, a far-right ‘celebrity’ – with overtly Islamophobic ideas – has led to Macron lurching further right in a bid to appease voters. Zemmour’s ‘zero immigration’ vision and his ‘great replacement’ theory – describing the supposed Islamification of France – is poisonous, and Macron is by no means immune.

Macron sees Islam through a Christian lens, publicly stating that he believes Islam needs its own ‘Enlightenment’ period. In a televised clip that went viral last year, the French Interior Minister described Le Pen as “too soft” on Islam – a sign that within Macron's administration, a hard-line approach to religious diversity is deeply embedded.

Should he succeed, Macron would be the first President to win a second successive term in two decades. But re-election is no guarantee that liberal values will succeed under his second presidency. And so it is imperative that he, and by extension France, is closely examined on its values and ideals. 

There are two narratives of Macron at play; Macron the superhero, and Macron the vacuous meddler. 

Macron’s decision to keep talking to Vladimir Putin as the bombs rain down on Ukraine has divided opinion in Europe. It is an attempt to frame him as a liberal strongman: the one man capable of facing down Putin (despite much evidence to the contrary).

Yet, Macron’s unilateral, non-collaborative approach has alienated key Baltic and Nordic allies most at risk from Russian animosity.

Estonia Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, whose own family was deported to Siberia by Russian invaders in 1949, lifts the veil in an eye-opening interview with the Financial Times

“I feel there is a strong wish to be the hero who solves this case, but I don’t think it’s solvable like that,” she says.

Macron has adopted a similar modus operandi in his messiah-like ‘reworking’ of Islam in France. With the introduction of his ‘Charter of the Principles of Islam in France’ and the creation of a National Council of Imams, he hopes to stop “separatism” against the state.

Signatories are called to renounce ‘political Islam’ and to no longer criminalise apostasy – concepts that the vast majority of French Muslims do not believe in. Many among the French Council of the Muslim Faith have refused to sign up to the charter.

Macron’s pet projects and keynote infamous “Islam is in crisis” speech all amount to a leader who values political performance more than ideological convictions – echoing the playbook used by Boris Johnson. He wants to portray a simple version of the world and domestic affairs in which he, alone, is a vigilante fighting for justice.

Without ideological convictions, however, it seems unlikely that France will be able to halt the long march of the far-right.

On the surface, it may seem as though political dangers will recede in France if and when Macron wins a second term. But, the election distracts from the underlying forces shaping French politics, and the current President’s inability to resist the temptations of reactionary, populist ideas.

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The Global Rise of Xenophobia, the New Issue of Social Research

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/03/2022 - 6:00am in

The rise of Xenophobia, globally, has unfortunately become increasingly virulent. The latest issue of Social Research, through a set of case studies, draws connections between the personal and the political with contributions from Marci Shore, Erika Lee, Bálint Madlovics, Irena Grudzińska Gross, Sina Arnold, Jocelyne Cesari, Mehmet Kurt, Munawwar Abdulla and, Amit Chaudhuri....

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The Real Trojan Horse: Beware Russians Bearing Gifts

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/02/2022 - 2:15am in

The Real Trojan HorseBeware Russians Bearing Gifts

As Russian troops reach Kyiv, state terror is rained on innocent civilians. Peter Jukes and Hardeep Matharu explore why the British Conservative Party has ignored Putin’s violent extremism in the mother of all intelligence failures 

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It must have seemed like a good idea 20 years ago. The former Soviet Union had broken up. Russian state assets were being chaotically privatised, with millions of coupons handed out to the Russian people being hoovered up by smart young businessmen (and they were nearly all men). A new class of billionaires was born, running a raft of shiny new corporations.

Not only would the City of London act as clearing house for all those lucrative contracts and share issues, it would be a concierge to the Russian super-rich. They would fund our universities and museums. They would buy up our top-tier properties, football teams and politicians. Their children would attend our private schools and elite universities. We would convert the families of former communists into a new class of free-market entrepreneurs and philanthropists. 

And so Londongrad was born. So too was the first step of a widespread national kompromat. 

We didn’t check inside this gold matryoshka that had been wheeled through the gates of the city. We didn’t inspect the real sources of the wealth – exfiltrated from hijacked natural resources or direct from the public coffers of the Russian state – or do due diligence on the mafia or KGB connections of this new oligarch class who were anything but ‘free market’. 

But why would we? As Mayor of London, Boris Johnson wined and dined with these slavic super-rich and welcomed the hike in property prices. He even encouraged them to sue journalists in the London courts. The lawyers, the PR firms, the events managers, the lobbyists and consultants – everyone was making money. But we weren’t only laundering the dirty riches of Russian oligarchs, we were also importing their values. 

Even by 2008, as he invaded Georgia, Vladimir Putin was bringing his buccaneering oligarchs to heel, with mysterious deaths or imprisonment awaiting those who didn’t comply.  

In 2014, the mood took a darker turn. The Ukrainians had risen up to throw out their Russian proxy kleptocrat, Viktor Yanukovych. The Russian President, having returned to ensure two decades of continued power, had defied the post-war European order by annexing Crimea and invading eastern Ukraine.


Putin Holds Upa Dark Mirror toBoris Johnson
Peter Jukes and Hardeep Matharu

By this point, people should have realised there was something suspicious in this golden matryoshka that had landed in our city. 

Many did. In 2017, one of this article’s authors attended an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) hearing chaired by Labour MP Chris Bryant, where he and Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr, along with the writer Peter Pomerantzev, outlined the real nature of Vladimir Putin’s kleptocracy and its long-term agenda to undermine the rule of law, NATO and the European Union.

But the warnings fell on deaf ears. 

Instead, the Trojan horse was wheeled into the heart of the citadel, close to Conservative Party headquarters, where a riot of high-net worth dinners, political donations and lucrative job offers resulted.  

It started under David Cameron, but continued under Theresa May and accelerated under Boris Johnson.

Donors linked to Russia – some directly tied to Putin – were handed access to senior ministers in exchange for money. The Conservatives have accepted £2 million from Russia’s super-rich alone since Johnson became leader. And this is not to mention the direct intervention of the Russian Embassy, through numerous meetings with Nigel Farage’s Leave.EU campaign group, in the Brexit referendum

After the APPG in Parliament in 2017, a senior Conservative who well understood Putin’s malign intent responded to the question of why the Conservative Party was not making more of Russian interference in British politics with the answer: “You’ll make it about Brexit. Don’t make this a way of derailing Brexit.”

The Second Kompromat

And so the second political kompromat was born. 

The role of Russian interference was played down, even by those who opposed Putin, because it might have compromised Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. In terms of the Homeric myth and the siege of Troy, this is akin to the moment the Greeks hidden in the wooden horse were allowed to walk back through the city and open the gates to the invaders. 

The influx of Russian cash, access and influence has only increased in the past five years since that session in Parliament.

Valiant attempts to sound the warning, such as the Intelligence and Security Committee’s 2019 Russia Report, were suppressed, with Boris Johnson going through elaborate and unprecedented manoeuvres to prevent its publication. 

The report found that “Russian influence in the UK is ‘the new normal’ and there are a lot of Russians with very close links to Putin who are well integrated into the UK business and social scene, and accepted because of their wealth… This level of integration – in ‘Londongrad’ in particular – means that any measures now being taken by the Government are not preventative but rather constitute damage limitation.” 

No damage limitation was done. 

The previous year, the recommendations of a landmark report on fake news and disinformation by a parliamentary committee led by Conservative MP Damian Collins were also ignored.

The Trojan horse was wheeled into the heart of the citadel, close to Conservative Party headquarters, where a riot of high-net worth dinners, political donations and lucrative job offers resulted

They recommended the UK equivalent of the US ‘Foreign Agents Registration Act’ to stop foreign money distorting domestic politics. Not only has this never been mooted in Parliament, the Johnson Government has actively sabotaged the proposal to toughen up the investigative and legal powers of the Electoral Commission by planning to disarm it. Recent amendments to prevent foreign donations have been shot down in parliamentary votes by the Conservative Party. 

For at least five years then, Britain has allowed Vladimir Putin a free hand to interfere in domestic politics. This cannot have but been a signal to him that the UK Government was compromised, and unlikely to intervene in his other ‘military-technical’ plans. 

For five years, as his air force, special forces and mercenaries honed their skills in places such as Syria and central Africa, Britain did nothing to extirpate his influence at home or abroad. And now the cost of that is becoming clear – paid in the blood of innocent Ukrainians and the biggest conflict in Europe since the last devastating world war. 

Selective Extremism

The inability to predict or pre-empt Vladimir Putin’s plans to redraw the map of Europe is one of the greatest foreign intelligence failures of recent times – on a par with the false claims that Saddam Hussein of Iraq had immediate access to weapons of mass destruction which justified the invasion of 2003.

But what of domestic intelligence?

Given the attacks of 9/11 in the US, the bombing of London in 2005, and a worldwide surge of Islamic extremist violence, it is understandable that there was a focus on ‘homegrown’ terrorism connected with the Muslim community. But an obsession with Islam, starting with Blair’s Labour Government introducing its ‘CONTEST’ counter-terrorism strategy – including Prevent – seems to have been at the expense of countering the growing threat from Putin and his proxies. 

Amid a wider culture of blatant Islamophobia aided and abetted by Britain’s right-wing press, in the years since, the focus on extremism in the name of Islam has continued – with the controversial Prevent strategy disproportionately targeting Muslims. It has not been successful. The leader of the 2017 terror attack in London Bridge and his brother were engaged with the scheme, as was the suspect in the 2021 killing of Conservative MP David Amess.

The Islamophobia at the core of the Government’s counter-extremism is the subject of a new podcast from Serial and the New York TimesThe Trojan Horse Affair – lifting the lid on the consequences of a fake letter alleging an extremist Islamic takeover of Birmingham schools in 2013. 

Although regarded as a hoax by authorities at the time, separate concerns raised about schools in the area led to the expansion of Prevent – with the then Education Secretary Michael Gove placing a duty on public sector workers to refer any concerning behaviour to the scheme. The result included one nursery raising concerns about a four-year-old who drew a “cooker bomb” that was actually a cucumber. 


Boris Johnson AllowedRussian Interference in the UKas Putin Prepared For War
Adam Bienkov

At the same time as the narratives around the Trojan horse letter were preoccupying Britain’s national politicians and the media, Vladimir Putin was annexing Crimea and invading Donbas. 

Was this not a form of extremism? Or Putin’s previous actions in Moldova or Georgia? What about when 298 people were killed after flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine? Or when British citizen Dawn Sturgess died after spraying perfume containing a nerve agent Russia used against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury? Perhaps the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko in London was not extreme enough? Or Putin’s interference in America’s 2016 Presidential Election? Why was such a blind eye turned to the extremism of Vladimir Putin’s Russia? 

One answer seems to be the prejudice of the Conservative Party. Not only is Islamophobia rife and unpunished within the party, the obsession with Brexit and problems of the EU has blinded its leaders to real dangers. 

“If you want an example of EU foreign policy-making on the hoof and the EU’s pretensions to running a defence policy that have caused real trouble, look at what has happened in Ukraine,” Boris Johnson said two years after Donbas was invaded.

The deep ties between the ruling Conservative Party, Russian money, the City of London and oligarchy mean that any response by Johnson’s Government to the invasion of Ukraine is utterly compromised. It is too little, too late.

Vladimir Putin is an extremist. He has invaded a democratic country posing no threat. That Britain’s ruling clique allowed their own oligarchical sympathies and extreme tendencies to embolden a dictator is Britain’s real Trojan horse.

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Two-Thirds of Conservative Councillors and Chairs Accused of Islamophobia Remained in Party

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/02/2022 - 11:30pm in

Two-Thirds of Conservative Councillors and Chairs Accused of IslamophobiaRemained in Party

Max Colbert investigates the lack of action taken by the party on accusations of racism and Islamophobia

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Almost two-thirds of Conservative Party councillors and association chairs investigated or suspended in recent years for making racist or Islamophobic statements or actions have been reinstated or remained in post, an investigation by the Byline Intelligence Team and The Citizens has found.  

As part of the investigation, 83 reports were analysed, 56 of which were made from 2019 onwards, of active party councillors or Conservative association chairs being formally investigated or publicly apologising for racially charged activity, overwhelmingly on social media. 

Of these, 51 (61%) were not forced out of the party, 21 were permanently suspended or expelled, and 11 resigned before investigations into their actions could be completed.

Council members have remained in post after sharing, among other things, inflammatory content from far-right organisations like Britain First and the EDL, making references to British “no-go areas” practising Sharia law, calling for a worldwide ban on the hijab, and insinuating that Muslims are trying to “invade the UK”. 

Anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate had previously identified 40 cases where “prejudiced and discriminatory actions by Conservative Party officials, activists, and members have resulted in either short-term suspensions or no action at all”. 

This evidence contradicts the comments made by Boris Johnson during the 2019 General Election campaign that the Conservatives have a “zero tolerance” policy on Islamophobia. He told reporters at the time that “obviously whenever we have an incident of antisemitism or Islamophobia or whatever in the Conservative Party, we take a zero tolerance approach… We have a one bounce and we deal with it approach to this.”

The findings come shortly after Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani claimed that she was sacked from her role as Transport Minister in 2020 because party whips said that her “Muslimness” was “making colleagues uncomfortable”.

Three weeks ago, Ghani said that an unnamed official – later revealed to be former Chief Whip Mark Spencer – told her that she “wasn’t loyal enough to the party as (she) didn’t do enough to defend the party against Islamophobia allegations”. Spencer refuted Ghani’s claims as “completely false” and “defamatory”. 

Despite his disavowal, Downing Street has ordered the Cabinet Office to investigate the claims, a move welcomed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The watchdog warned that “if we are not satisfied with progress, we will not rule out the use of our legal powers”. But the EHRC also faces pressure to launch a wider investigation into Islamophobia in the party.

The Muslim Council of Britain issued a statement in late January, reiterating its earlier calls for the EHRC “to carry out a full inquiry into the party”. It said that, while it agreed with recommendations from the Conservatives’ own previous Singh investigation into discrimination in the party, which confirmed the scale of the problem, it was “disappointed that the investigation failed to address the root cause of the problem; a recognition that there is institutional Islamophobia and racism in the party”.


Islamophobia is Endemicin the Conservative Party
Adam Bienkov

The investigation highlighted that, between 2015 and 2020, the party’s central database recorded 727 incidents of anti-Muslim discrimination. It also found that, where discrimination was experienced, it was “most likely to have occurred at the level of a local party association”.

As the report highlighted: “Systems for identifying discrimination and the handling of complaints at local party association level are weak, with no common understanding of the process, and with association chairs expressing low confidence in the system.”

The findings were condemned by Conservative peer and former co-chair of the party Baroness Sayeeda Warsi as a “whitewash”. While the report highlighted that 68% of all incidents relating to protected characteristics cited anti-Muslim discrimination, it concluded that Islamophobia was not institutional. Baroness Warsi disputed these findings, claiming that anti-Muslim sentiments stretched “from top to bottom”

The Singh Report followed repeated calls for action on Islamophobia within the party after multiple dossiers compiled by groups like Hope Not Hate and the Muslim Council of Britain, which have shed light on hundreds of instances within the party, from membership level to sitting MPs.

Byline Times has already shown that, within the Conservative Party, Islamophobic rhetoric has been deployed within the senior ranks of the party – with sitting MPs and the Prime Minister himself having used Islamophobic language without consequence. Indeed, at least 18 Conservative MPs, including Boris Johnson, have faced criticism in the past for doing so.

A poll carried out by YouGov for Hope Not Hate in 2020 further found that 57% of Conservative members had a negative attitude towards Islam, that 66% of those who backed Boris Johnson in 2019 believed the conspiracy theory that ‘there are no-go areas in Britain where Sharia law dominates and non-Muslims cannot enter’. Meanwhile, 58% of Conservative members said that there is little or no discrimination against Muslims in Britain, versus 31% who disagreed.

Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) did not respond to Byline Times’ request for comment.

This article was produced by the Byline Intelligence Team – a collaborative investigative project formed by Byline Times with The Citizens. If you would like to find out more about the Intelligence Team and how to fund its work, click on the button below.

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Islamophobia is Endemic in the Conservative Party

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 24/01/2022 - 10:38pm in

Islamophobia is Endemic in the Conservative Party

New allegations made by the Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani are the latest evidence of endemic Islamophobia in Boris Johnson’s party, reports Adam Bienkov

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Boris Johnson on Monday announced that the Cabinet Office will investigate allegations of Islamophobia made by Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani against the Government.

Ghani alleges that a Government whip told her that she had been sacked from Boris Johnson’s Government in 2020 due to colleagues feeling “uncomfortable” about her Muslim identity.

The Conservative MP and prominent supporter of Johnson, Michael Fabricant, deepened the row on Sunday by making further inflammatory comments about Ghani.

Fabricant, who has previously faced allegations of Islamophobia himself, suggested that Ghanis’s claims “stinks”. He told Sky News: “For her to say that someone had said it’s because she’s a Muslim – I mean she’s barely someone who is obviously a Muslim. I had no idea what religion she is.”

Ghani’s allegations are just the latest in a long line of claims of Islamophobia levelled at the party and the Prime Minister himself.

Here are some of the key incidents that show how Islamophobia has become endemic in the Conservative Party.

Boris Johnson Called Muslim Women ‘Letter Boxes’

The Prime Minister has a long record of making bigoted comments about Muslim people and Islam.

In 2018, the then Foreign Secretary wrote a piece for the Telegraph comparing Muslim women to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”.

He wrote that “it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes”, adding that any female student who appeared at school or in a lecture “looking like a bank robber” should be asked to remove it.

There was a surge in hate crimes towards Muslim people in the UK in the weeks following his column, according to data compiled by the group Tell Mama.


‘A Sikh Man Standing Up for Muslim Women Mattered in Exposing Boris Johnson’s Divide and Rule Dog Whistle Politics’
Hardeep Matharu

Boris Johnson said ‘Islam is the Problem’

In the wake of the London bombings in 2005, Johnson questioned the loyalty of British Muslims and insisted that the country must accept that “Islam is the problem.”

“It will take a huge effort of courage and skill to win round the many thousands of British Muslims who are in a similar state of alienation, and to make them see that their faith must be compatible with British values and with loyalty to Britain,” he wrote.

“That means disposing of the first taboo, and accepting that the problem is Islam. Islam is the problem.”

In particularly inflammatory comments he added: “What is going on in these mosques and madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th Century on Islam’s medieval ass?”

Boris Johnson said Islamophobia is ‘Natural’

In 2005, Johnson wrote in the Spectator magazine that he believed it was only “natural” for the public to be scared of Islam.

“To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia – fear of Islam – seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke,” he said.

“Judged purely on its scripture – to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques – it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers.”

Zac Goldsmith’s ‘Dog Whistle’ Campaign Against Sadiq Khan

In 2016, the then Conservative candidate for London Mayor Zac Goldsmith ran what some Muslim colleagues in his party labelled a “disgusting” campaign against Labour’s Sadiq Khan.

During the course of the campaign, senior Conservatives accused Khan of associating with supporters of ISIS, labelled him “radical” and even suggested that he supported Sharia law.

Goldsmith, whose campaign sent out leaflets to other ethnic minority groups falsely suggesting that Khan would put their family jewellery at risk, described the Labour candidate as a “real danger to London”.

On the eve of the election, an editorial by Goldsmith was published in the Mail with a headline urging Londoners not to hand victory to a party “that believes terrorists are its friends” – accompanied by a photo of a blown-up London bus.

This attempt to play on fears about Khan’s Muslim identity was pushed by senior figures in the party, including David Cameron and Theresa May.

Following criticism of the tactics, the current Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch dismissed them, posting on Twitter: “Why should Sadiq Khan get a free pass from hanging out with extremists just because he is a Muslim?”

Goldsmith was later made a life peer in the House of Lords by Boris Johnson.

Islamophobia Goes ‘Right Up to the Top’ of the Conservative Party

In an interview with me in 2018, the Conservative peer and former co-chair of the party said that Islamophobia goes “right up to the top” of the Tory Party.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who served in David Cameron’s Government, said that Islamophobia was “very widespread” in the party but was being deliberately ignored for electoral reasons.

In comments that echo those made by Ghani at the weekend, Baroness Warsi also said that she was told that her Cabinet colleagues felt “uncomfortable” with her presence in Government.

“I remember being told once in Cabinet [that] ‘colleagues are uncomfortable with the amount of notes you’re taking around the Cabinet table. You seem to take a lot more notes than anybody else’,” she said.

Later, when Baroness Warsi became a minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, one of her aides was taken aside by an official working for the Conservative Party and told to “keep an eye” on her due to unspecified concerns the party had.

At the time, Baroness Warsi’s claims were dismissed by Theresa May’s Government.


‘An Extremely Dangerous Precedent’Are the Conservatives Institutionalising Islamophobia?
Hamza Ali Shah

Anti-Muslim Content Shared By Conservative MP

The Conservative MP Bob Blackman faced no action from the Conservative Party after sharing an anti-Muslim article on Facebook.

Blackman shared the article headlined ‘Muslim Somali Sex Gang Say Raping White British Children “Part of their Culture”’ back in 2018.

The MP, who previously said that he had retweeted another anti-Islam post “in error”, later deleted his post and said that he regretted “any upset” he had caused.

Conservative Party Members Believe Racist Myths About Muslims

Anti-Muslim bigotry is widespread among Conservative Party members, a poll conducted in 2019 suggested.

Among other things, the YouGov poll found that of those surveyed:

  • 43% of Conservative Party members “would prefer to not have the country led by a Muslim”
  • 45% believe that “there are areas in Britain in which non-Muslims are not able to enter”
  • 67% believe that “there are areas in Britain that operate under Sharia law”
  • 39% believe that “Islamist terrorists reflect a widespread hostility to Britain amongst the Muslim community”

Responding to the findings, Hope Not Hate’s campaign director Matthew McGregor said: “From the grassroots to the great offices of state, Conservative members buy into racist myths”.

An Endemic Problem

The above claims are just some of those that have been levelled against the Conservative Party in recent years. However, rather than take them seriously and work to solve the problem, both Boris Johnson and his predecessors have dismissed the issue and sought to attack those making allegations.

In the hours following Nusrat Ghani’s revelations, Johnson’s Government also sought to do this. The Chief Whip, Mark Spencer, identified himself as the individual alleged to have made the comments to Ghani and denied the allegations as “defamatory”. Downing Street also released a statement seeking to undermine her claims by saying that she had failed to make a formal complaint when she first raised the issue.

However, the fact that Ghani chose not choose to make a formal complaint is unsurprising, given that she says she was also warned that doing so would see her career destroyed.

Of course racism and Islamophobia exists in all parts of the public sphere. However, it is exactly this sort of dismissive reaction at the highest levels of Government which suggests that there is an institutional problem within the Conservative Party.

At the time of writing, it is still unclear exactly what the terms are of the Cabinet Office inquiry that has been launched into Ghani’s claims or how rigorous it will be.

The results of previous investigations into the party are not encouraging however.

The Conservative Party’s own 2021 investigation was critical of its handling of the issue and identified remarks made by Johnson and Goldsmith that were problematic. The report, produced by Professor Swaran Singh into how the party deals with discrimination complaints, found that there was “evidence of discrimination” in the Conservative Party, but that it was “not systemic”. It also specifically dismissed claims that the party was “institutionally Islamophobic”.

It remains to be seen whether this latest investigation will go any further.

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