A handful of Islamaphobes peddling dodgy anti-Islam propaganda are dominating popular discourse against Islam and Muslims in the UK
The initial guidance issued by Universities UK permitting voluntary segregation of men and women at Islamic events in British Universities has created the, now predictable, furore against the Islamisation of British society. The Prime Minister has once again even waded in on an Islamic issue forcing UUK to withdraw the guidance while they seek legal clarification.
The report that initially raised the issue of segregated Islamic events in UK Universities was issue in May 2013 by the little known Student Rights group. To call it a report is probably to give it a little too much credibility as the research appears to be based on google and facebook searches of selected Islamic events around UK campuses. Nonetheless it achieved the desired result in the eyes of the authors of putting a stop to the Islamic events taking place – censorship of Islam by the back door.
It’s a tried and tested formula: a “report” or expose on the perceived failings of Islamic practices followed by a media furore leading to ever more draconian policies instituted against Muslims. The fact of the matter is much of the anti-Islam propaganda is ideologically driven, originates from only a few Islamaphobes and is then popularised by the right-wing press.
The Student Rights group is linked to the Hendry Jackson Society, dedicated to spreading freedom and democracy, with Dr. Alan Mendoza, Founder and Executive Director of the HJS, sitting on the Advisory Board of Student Rights. According to the HJS website Mendoza “directs analysis, research focus, strategy and development for the organisation. He is also Chief Advisor to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Transatlantic & International Security and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Homeland Security, a Board Member of the British-American Project. “ A colleague of Mendoza and a better known front man for the HJS is Douglas Murray its Associate Director. In a speech to the Dutch Parliament that Paul Goodman quotes, Murray argued that “Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.” He went on to suggest that mosques be demolished in some cases, and that Muslim immigrants should be banned.
Murray previously founded the ironically named Centre for Social Cohesion – described as a think tank studying extremism and terrorism in the UK – that spurted all manner of hate material against Muslims, creating divisions between Muslims and the wider community. The CSC was founded in 2007 as part of a London think tank, Civitas, another private sector policy offering unit with a disproportionate amount of anti-Islam discourse in the form of pamphlets, research and books, and was eventually subsumed into the now familiar HJS, which keeps cropping up behind various aliases. CSC shared its Clutha House premises in London with Civitas, and another right wing think tank, Policy Exchange, which has also been behind discredited anti-Islam propaganda. Student Rights has itself been exposed by students for having no student members or links to student unions.
We can conclude from this that in contrast to the public perceptions much of the negative anti-Islam propaganda originates from a few Islamaphobic sources. The Individuals behind these organisations conceal their true anti-Islam agenda behind respectable sounding so-called think tanks, peddling little more than dogmatic, anti-Islam opinions and unrepresentative dodgy ‘research’. Some of the leading individuals behind these policy units have a national security, foreign policy background making them essentially an integral part of the British and Western foreign policy apparatus. Finally they often employ Muslims as fronts for these organisations to deflect the criticism of being Islamaphobic.
As a community we need to realise that Muslim rights are being progressively eroded from these now all too familiar episodes. Rights that are seen as perfectly legitimate for other religious communities are somehow intolerable for Muslims to hold – though Muslims are doing nothing illegal. This erosion of legitimate Muslim rights really started following the events of 9/11 under the guise of anti-terrorism laws and has now crept into curtailing everyday Muslim practices – to the extent of banning what Muslims can wear and even curbing where they can sit – very real indictments of liberal values of the west.