The past few years has seen the emergence of a unified set of voices in various media and political institutions. They preach an extreme philosophy that would appear to many to foster hatred and division in society. They project themselves in an arrogant manner that seems to assume that their political ideology is superior to all others. They have a supremacist view, although they claim to be non-violent, they breed an atmosphere that allows violence to occur. They are the neo-conservatives, amongst who are members of the Policy Exchange and think tank and the Henry Jackson Society. Their supremacist view is one that is best summarised as advocating a pro-active approach to spread their extreme interpretation of liberal democracy in the world. The Henry Jackson Society is linked to many influential American neo-conservatives and its members have been enthusiastic supporters of U.S. President Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq. Hence, one could argue that they fostered an atmosphere that potentially led to the deaths, or at least justified the deaths, of over half a million civilians. As we will see, many of the key figures in these circles are linked to the current Conservative Party leadership.
This week, the Policy Exchange issued a report, titled ‘The Hijacking of British Islam’. It reads more like a document where the evidence has been sought to fit an argument than a piece of serious research. The author is Dr. Denis MacEoin, who according to Wikipedia is a novelist and former lecturer in Islamic studies. He sometimes writes under the pseudonyms Daniel Easterman and Jonathan Aycliffe. Under the pseudonym Easterman, he wrote ‘The Name of the Beast’ published by HarperCollins and described as a ‘millenial occult horror of the emergence of the Antichrist in modern Egypt.’ Again, according to Wikipedia, in recent years, he has become active in pro-Israel advocacy (hasbara).
The ‘The Hijacking of British Islam’ report was published by the Policy Exchange, who are often described as a centre-right think tank. Many would describe them as far-right, and certainly they contain people who amongst Muslims are (in) famously viewed as some of the most anti-Muslim and anti-Islam personalities in the UK. Their current chairman is Charles Moore, a leading conservative commentator who frequently writes hostile articles. He has written some of the most offensive and provocative questions about the Prophet Muhammad (saw) in an artcile in the Telegraph. Moore also described the Muslim woman’s veil as "a hostile statement about the society in which the wearer lives", thereby potentially whipping up hatred against Muslim women.
Their former director was Michael Gove, a self-confessed neo-conservative once described as a "venomous media voice who thinks no Muslim is worth talking to" – which he of course denied. He is the author of Celsius 7/7, which has been described as ‘pernicious’ and ‘paranoid’. In it, he plays on the fears of the British public, trying to focus on the political aspects of Islam as the causes for violence in the world. Gove is widely believed to be one of the ideologues behind Cameron’s Conservative party and its policies. He was unashamedly in favour of the massacre of hundreds of thousands in Iraq in order to remove Saddam Hussein.
Along with these two are Nicholas Boles MP, another of Cameron’s lieutenants, and Dean Godson, the director of research. Mr Godson has written articles such as ‘Do we have to treat Muslims as Muslims?’ and ‘You’ll never guess who’s to blame for 7/7’ in which he tries to counter the idea that either Tariq Ramadhan or the MCB are moderates. He sensationally suggests that there is an ‘Arabising’ of Britain’s Muslim community.
Many of these people are linked to the Henry Jackson Society, described by some as a neo-conservative think tank – a label they deny – who are dedicated to the spread of their interpretation of free market capitalism and liberal democracy across the entire planet. Whilst many view this as totalitarian and supremacist, their ranks include prominent neo-conservative supporters, and ‘liberal interventionists’.
It has many high-profile signatories to its statement of principles, Michael Gove, Edward Vaizey, David Willetts, Denis MacShane, Fabian Hamilton, Gisela Stuart, former MPs David Trimble, Jackie Lawrence, as well as Sir Richard Dearlove – former head of the British Secret Intelligence Service – and Irwin Stelzer, Rupert Murdoch’s friend. Notable patrons include Richard Perle and William Kristol, two of the leading lights in the American neo-conservative movement, James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA and Tsakhiagiyn Elbegdorj, former Prime Minister of Mongolia.
These two organisations have echoes of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a US think tank that was extremely well co-ordinated and unified in purpose, which then in turn influenced the Republican leadership, in particular President George W. Bush. It was PNAC that led the call for the war in Iraq, and the US has paid the price ever since.
The Policy Exchange is more media savvy than most think tanks. It now has an impressive track record of co-ordinating its controvertial and some would say sensationalist ‘research’ with political events and policy timetable. This report emerged in the week that Hazel Blears will address the governments position on ‘extremism’. A previous report on Islam and Muslims was released in the week Cameron set out his views on the subject about a year ago. A report commissioned by them from Martin Bright attacked the government’s position on engagement with the MCB and promoted the Sufi Muslim Council (SMC) only days before the official launch of the SMC.
One wonders when the moderates amongst advocates of liberal democracy will denounce these extreme voices, or when the world will wake up to the threat posed by people whom some will see as ‘hate-filled radicals’ bent on spreading their ideology across the world, even at the cost of innocent life.