Posts Tagged ‘Cafod’

UKIP Candidate: Licence Islamic Clergy and Mosques

February 17, 2015

I found this piece on the Ham & High site through Hope Not Hate’s news column. Entitled, Hampstead and Kilburn Ukip candidate: ‘My great aim is to licence the mosques’ it reports the highly controversial views on Islam by Magnus Nielsen, the UKIP candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn. It describes Nielsen’s background and career, including his reasons for joining UKIP in 1993. He seems to feel that the EU is about to collapse, and that UKIP has the necessary policies for getting the country ‘back on track’ when it does.

However, the article begins with his highly controversial attitude towards Islam. It notes that he got into the news last year for describing Islam as ‘organised crime under religious camouflage,’ and that it’s founder, the Prophet Muhammad, ‘was a gang leader of criminals’.

He now declares that his ‘great aim is to licence the mosques and licence the clergy’.

“So that if the clergy are preaching doctrine that is in contravention of UK law and human rights then they lose their licences.

“If the mosque can’t find a licensed imam, they have to close down until they can.”

When asked if the same should apply to other religions, whose preaching he could find offensive, such as Roman Catholic priests or Jewish rabbis, Nielsen shrugged it off with the reply “I don’t think the other religions would present the same sort of problem”.

The interviews at http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/politics/hampstead_and_kilburn_ukip_candidate_my_great_aim_is_to_licence_the_mosques_1_3956520.

Now Nielsen should be entitled to express his view of Islam and its founder, no matter how bigoted and offensive others may find it, without fearing for his life in attacks like those against Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket in France, and Lars Vilks and a local synagogue in Copenhagen this weekend.

Nielsen’s anti-Islam Comments close to Hate Speech

His attitude to Islam is, however, extreme and some would consider that they border on the illegal. His description of the religion as ‘organised crime’ seems to me to come very close, if not actually into, hate speech. It suggests that all Muslims are criminals, or criminal sympathisers, simply because of their religion. It is illegal in Britain to make comments designed to stir up racial or religious hatred. While anti-Islam bigots like Geert Wilders are generally very careful to argue that they’re aren’t racists, because Islam is not a religion, it certainly comes close to what they act would consider as provoking religious hatred.

Licencing and the Erosion of Freedom of Belief

As for his plans to licence Islam and the mosques, this is a profoundly dangerous and deeply counterproductive policy. Firstly, gives the state the power to regulate and interfere with citizens’ private religious beliefs. While there should be limits to what is legally acceptable, such as the promotion of terrorism, this gives the state too much power to decide what their citizens may or may not believe. It brings the country close to having the same highly authoritarian attitudes towards religion, like China, where only government approved religious groups are officially tolerated. The result of this has been the vicious persecution of Falun Gong, as well as those Christians, who do not wish to submit to official government control. And this is after the vicious persecution of all religions, including Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity, by an aggressively atheist form of Communism during Mao’s bloody ‘Cultural Revolution’. If such laws are applied to one religion, it could quite easily be applied to another, or stretched to include a secular philosophy that, in the view of the authorities, presented a similar danger. It isn’t hard to see how an intolerant, fiercely nationalist regime could move from licencing and banning Islam as potentially terrorist, to prosecuting conscientious objectors and anti-War activists amongst other religions or secular Humanists for being ‘insufficiently patriotic’, or harmful to morale in wartime.

The Libertarian Alliance’s Attack on Charities for Political Liberalism

The threat presented by such legislation isn’t an exaggeration. In the 1980s what became the Libertarian Alliance carried out a long campaign to have various charities and international aid organisations deprived of their charitable status. These charities’ campaigns against hunger and poverty in the Developing World were, they argued, political. And hence they attacked respectable charities like the Roman Catholic organisation, CAFOD. And this is quite apart from the concerns American liberals had about the sweeping provisions of Bush’s Patriot Act, and the powers granted to the authorities to investigate perceived anti-American individuals and groups. Among those placed under suspicion were even Quaker anti-war protest groups.

Official, Reforming Islam vs. the Islamist Counterculture

It’s also useless and counterproductive. The Egyptian-German scholar, Bassam Tibi, in his book Islam and the Cultural Accommodation of Social Change, points out that the mosques in Egypt are already strictly controlled by the state. Furthermore, the country’s westernisation and modernisation movement came from its Islamic leaders in the 19th century. These were members of the ulema – Muslim clergy – who were impressed by the great advances in the natural sciences and engineering that the West had made. They wished to introduce these to the Egypt and the Islamic world so that their people could also enjoy the benefits.

The radical Islamism of the terrorist extremists comes from outside this official milieu. It’s an underground movement that has been formed in opposition to the official, liberal Islam of the 19th century reformers and their 20th and 21st century successors. Despite the close supervision of the mosques in Egypt, and the proscription and persecution of the extremists, these groups still emerged to become a powerful, destructive force. I can’t see that licencing the mosques over here would have any effect in stamping out extremism. Most of the domestic terrorists appear to have been radicalised outside the mosques, often on-line. This form of propaganda by the extremists would continue, and it is probably that an underground Muslim counterculture would emerge, parallel but outside and beyond official, tolerated Islam.

Licensing Islam Would Drive Moderates Away

It may even have a negative effect. Lobster’s columnist, Corinne DeSouza, has written about the failure of the British intelligence agencies, particularly in Iraq. She notes that since Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq, far fewer Iraqis have offered their services to British intelligence. It’s not hard to see why. While some would be prepared to pass sensitive information on to a sympathetic foreign power in the hope of overthrowing an oppressive dictatorship, far fewer would want to take the step of becoming an active collaborator with a foreign occupying force. Similarly, if the mosques and their clergy were licenced, it would possibly drive away liberal Muslims and actively discourage them from passing on information about terrorism or extremist preaching to the authorities. Licensing the mosques would be a sign that, as far as the British authorities were concerned, Muslims did not really have a place in British society and were barely tolerated. Few Muslims would wish to co-operate with authorities in a regime that automatically viewed all Muslims, regardless of sect or shade of belief, as potential terrorists and traitors. Any Muslim that did so could easily find themselves reviled as a ‘chocolate Muslim’ – an Islamic ‘Uncle Tom’.

Bigots Also Unpopular in British Islam

There is a problem in this country with preachers of hate. Finsbury Park mosque was closed because it was a centre promoting terrorism. I also recall a number of other scandals with other extremist preachers, like Kalim Saddiqui. He was actually filmed by the Beeb back in the 1990s telling his congregation that ‘British society is a massive killing machine, and killing Muslims comes very easily to them.’ Saddiqui was one of the most notorious of the bigots, and there were demonstrations and protests against him by moderate Muslims. One of the complaints of the moderates is that you don’t hear enough of the counterdemonstrations, only of the protests and ranting of the militant firebrands.

Stress Common Britishness; Treat All Extremists with Same Rights and Contempt

Much more positive is an even-handed approach to tackling extremism, to show that it’s not Islam that is under suspicion or attack, but simply those, who would preach murder, hate and death in its name. And that those prosecuted for such offences will be treated exactly the same as their non-Muslim counterparts, demanding death and horror in the name of whatever they believe in.

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Western Goals, the Tories and Links to Fascism

March 2, 2014

Daniel Hannan

Daniel Hannan, Eurosceptic Tory MP and opponent of the NHS

Earlier this week I reblogged an article from Guy Debord’s Cat critiquing the assertion by Daniel Hanna the idea of the BNP are ‘Left-wing’. Hannan is the Conservative MEP for Dorset, who wishes Britain to leave the EU and supports the privatisation of the NHS. His claim that the BNP is Left-wing follows the line of the American and Canadian Conservatives that Fascism is a form of Socialism. It is true that both Italian Fascism and the Nazi party contained socialist elements. Mussolini was originally a radical Socialist, who broke with the Italian socialist party because of his support for Italian intervention in the First World War. Both the Nazis and the Fascists allied with traditional right-wing Conservative groups to gain and hold on to power. Mussolini declared that the Fascists were the party of pure, ‘Manchester school’ laissez-faire economics. Hitler attempted to win over German industrialists by stating that ‘private property cannot survive an age of democracy’, and so private industry needed his personal dictatorship to survive. He made it clear that he would not nationalise any industry or enterprise, unless it was extremely badly run, and declared his support for the upper classes and the industrialists, as they had proven their social and physical superiority to everyone else by achieving their social position by their own efforts. It’s a statement that very clearly demonstrates the influence of social Darwinism on Hitler.

In Britain it is true that some left-wingers joined the BUF because of its apparently anti-capitalist programme. Many of the British Fascist groups, however, consisted of extreme Right-wing, Die-Hard Conservatives, worried about the threat of organised labour and subversions by foreign industrialists, such as the Anglo-German Jewish industrialist, Mond. The British Fascisti in the 1920s consisted of middle class ladies and senior military officers, and supplied blackleg labour to break up strikes. They strenuously rejected Oswald Mosely’s advocacy of a corporative state on the model of Mussolini’s Italy as ‘socialism’. All of the British Fascist groups were extremely nationalistic and anti-Semitic.

Maggie’s Militant Tendency and the Union of Conservative Students

Although the Tory Die-Hards and their support for Fascism did not survive World War II, there were nevertheless individuals and groups with the Conservative party that were extremely sympathetic to the Far Right. In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher had a Panorama documentary, ‘Maggies’ Militant Tendency’, pulled from the airwaves as the programme argued that the Conservative party had been infiltrated by Fascists, just as Labour had been by the Far Left group, Militant Tendency. There was also a scandal when one of the leaders of the Union of Conservative Students in Northern Ireland, Tinnies, declared their support for Far Right policies. Tinnies stated that they were ‘all Thatcherite achievers, but if Mrs Thatcher doesn’t want us, we will go to the Far Right’. The British parapolitical magazine, Lobster, in issue 21 carried an article on another group with links to Fascism within the Tory party, Western Goals (UK).

Western Goals

Western Goals (UK) was the British branch of the American Conservative organisation, the Western Goals Foundation. During its career, Western Goals had links to and supported the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, acting as a conduit for Oliver North’s funding of them according to a report of the Tower Commission. Its British subsidiary had links with the World Anti-Communist League, the British Anti-Communist League, the American Conservative groups the Conservative Action Foundation (CAF), the Committee to Defend the Constitution (CDC) as well as CAUSA, a front organisation for the Moonies, which supplied funds to the CAF. It also had links to the pro-Apartheid South African Conservative party, and also supported the Neo-Nazi German Republican Party and the French Front National, as well as El Salvador’s ruling Arena Party. There was also contact with the BNP, the League of St. George and David Irving’s Focus Group.

Western Goals (UK) parent organisation, the Western Goals Foundation, was set up in America in 1979 by Larry McDonald, an extreme Right-wing Georgia congressman with support from General John Singlaub. It was chaired by Linda Guell with Carl ‘Spitz’ Channell as its president. Western Goals (UK) was launched six years later May 1985, when Linda Guell visited Britain. By this time Western Goals also had a branch in Germany, and had run a series of TV adverts supporting the Contras. Both McDonald and Singlaub were linked to the Conservative Action Group, and Singlaub also had ties to the World Anti-Communist League.

Western Goals (UK) first director was the Young Conservative, Paul Masson. It also had a parliamentary advisor board, whose membership included the Rev. Martin Smyth, Patrick Wall, Nicholas Winterton, Neil Hamilton, Bill Walker and Stefan Terlezki, a former MP. Patrick Wall was also president of the British Anti-Communist Council, which was at the time a branch of the World Anti-Communist League. Peter Dally, another leading figure of BACC, was also president at the launch of Western Goals (UK). Terlezki was also a leading member in the British section of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN). In March 1986 the anti-Fascist magazine, Searchlight, reported that Paul Masson had become a member of the ABN’s International Youth Committee, and that a delegation had been sent to them by the Young Monday Club consisting of Masson, David Neil-Smith, A.V.R. Smith and Adrian Lee.

‘Spitz’ Channell and Tax Fraud

In late 1986 Western Goals (UK) split with its American parent. This was partly due to the scandal over the Tower Reports finding of its funding of the Contras. More importantly, ‘Spitz’ Channell had admitted tax fraud. Western Goals (UK) therefore separated from the Western Goals Foundation, which was effectively wound up and absorbed into the Larry McDonald Trust. The split was, however, a difference without distinction, as the supposedly independent Western Goals (UK) still retained links to the Larry McDonald Trust.

Attacks on ‘Left-wing’ Charities

In 1986 and 1987 Western Goals played a leading role, with other Right-wing organisations such as the anti-trade union Economic League, in attacking the charities Oxfam, Cafod and War on Want. They also produced a report attacking Christian Aid. In October the same year Western Goals (UK) also held a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference attacking the charities under the title ‘Alms for the Poor or Arms for Communism?’. In 1989 they sent a report on the above charities involved in Central America Week to the Charities’ Commission. The report was produced by Michael McCrone and Gideon Sherman, the childhood friend of the Right-wing blogger, ‘Guido Fawkes’.

Claims of Communists in Labour, Liberals and Attacks on Livingstone for Pro-Gay Stance

During the 1987 election, they also produced as briefing paper containing the details of ‘Communist aligned’ Labour and Liberal candidates, which was circulated to Tory MPs and their friends in the media. It became the basis for a four page report in the Daily Mail. In August the same year the Kilburn Times reported that they had launched an attack on Ken Livingstone for his support of gay issues. They stated

Livingstone and his friends in London’s Labour councils want to encourage more homosexuals to come out of the closet and spread their perverted filth. The gay rights policy which he is preparing to put before Parliament in the Autumn is typical of someone who is working to destroy the family and traditional family values. It will mean more danger of AIDS and that is just what Britain’s enemies want.

The following year, in 1988, members of CAUSA, CAF and CDC addressed one Western Goals’ meetings. *In January 1989 there was a report that Stuart Northolt and A.V.R. Smith of Western Goals (UK) were collaborating with David Finzer, the general secretary of the World Youth Freedom League, WACL’s youth wing, and who was also linked to CAF and the CDC, to raise money for an international conference on ‘self defence for Eastern Europe’.

Jonas Savimbi and UNITA

It was also in 1988 that Western Goals (UK) claimed to have an ‘African desk’, although this was probably just a grandiose way of referring to Northolt and Smith. Western Goals (UK) also participated in organising a visit that July to Britain of Jonas Savimbi of UNITA in Angola. They held a briefing with him at the House of Commons, claiming it was attended by 20 MPs belonging to their organisation. There is some question over this, as Western Goals (UK)’s parliamentary advisory body had ceased to function by this time, and there is no evidence that the Tory MPs Winterton, Hamilton or Walker were still involved with them. Another Tory MP, Stefan Terlezki, had left the House of Commons.

Opposition to War Crimes Trials in Britain

In February 1989 Western Goals issued a press release criticising the proposal to allow war crimes’ trials in Britain. They condemned such trials as a ‘Communist disinformation ploy’. The statement was issued on notepaper listing the names of their vice-presidents, one of whom was the Unionist MP, the Rev. Martin Smyth. Smyth then resigned, as he had actively campaigned for the trial of Nazi war criminals.

UNITA and the South African Conservative Party

Later that year in June they issued a ‘discussion paper’, Namibia – What Kind of Independence?, which strongly favoured South Africa and Angola’s UNITA. They also issued the pamphlet, ANC/IRA Partners in Terror, which was timed to coincide with the visit to Britain of the leader and foreign affairs spokesman of the South African Conservative Party, Andries Treunicht and Clive Derby-Lewis. This was presented as having been organised by the Anglo-South African Fellowship. In reality it was organised by Western Goals, with A.V.R. Smith dealing with PR. The meeting’s press release also contained the contact details of Gregory Lauder-Frost and Christopher Forster. In addition to being members of Western Goals, Lauder-Frost was also chair of the Monday Club’s Foreign Affairs’ Committee, while Forster was also chair of the Anglo-South African Fellowship.

European Dawn and the Leader of El Salvador’s Death Squads

By the time of the 1989 Conservative Party conference, they had adopted an explicitly pro-Fascist stance. It was then that Western Goals (UK) launched their magazine, European Dawn. The magazine announced that it was ‘published by Western Goals (UK) on behalf of YEWF’ – the latter organisation was the Young Europeans for World Freedom, WACL’s youth organisation. So far, only two issues of European Dawn are known to have been published. The logo featured the kind of Celtic cross adopted by the British National Party. It was edited by Northolt and produced by Smith, publishing articles supporting the Front National in France and the Neo-Nazi Republican Party in Germany. The first issue was also accompanied by a covering letter by Northolt, which mentioned that the organisation’s executive committee had held a private dinner, at which the guest of honour was Major Roberto D’Aubuisson. D’Aubuisson was a member of El Salvador’s governing Arena Party, and one of the organisers of its death squads. According to Northolt, D’Aubuisson had agreed to become an honorary patron of Western Goals (UK).

European Dawn, the Tories and the Front National

European Dawn was also one of the joint sponsors of Western Goals (UK) fringe meeting on October 12 1989 of that year’s Tory party conference. In their press, Western Goals (UK) described themselves as ‘a London-based right-wing organisation devoted to the preservation of traditional Western values and European culture, and it opposes communism, liberalism, internationalism and the “multi-cultural society”.’ The meetings main speaker was Derby-Lewis of the South African Conservative Party. One of the other speakers was Yvan Blot, of the French Front National.

Derby-Lewis and British Conservatives

When Derby-Lewis again visited Britain the following year, 1990, A.V.R. Smith arranged for him to attend WACL’s 22nd conference in Brussels as a Western Goals Institute delegate. Western Goals (UK) also claimed that he had met leading members of the Conservative party such as Lord Hailsham, the tennis player and Buster Motram, who had formerly supported the NF. They also claimed that he had addressed a meeting of the House of Lords Monday Club under Lord Sudely and a banquet of the South West Essex Monday Club, attended by Teresa Gorman, Teddy Taylor and Tim Janman. His speech at the banquet was praised for its ‘robust defence of European values and civilisation in Southern Africa’. He was also a guest at a ‘select’ dinner in Whitehall for Conservative MPs, Conservative candidates, councillors and party officials. European Dawn also became more overtly anti-Semitic. It has been alleged that there was at least one meeting between Northolt and Smith and the Fascist League of St. George. However, both A.V.R. Smith and Keith Thompson of the League of St. George have denied them.

Western Goals and the BNP

The BNP certainly appear to have had links to Western Goals, discussing them in an issue of their magazine, Spearhead. The article described how a group of BNP members had arrived at a meeting between the South African Conservatives’ Andries Treunicht and Western Goals (UK) at the Royal Commonwealth Society, where they attempted to sell copies of Spearhead. Prevented from doing so, the BNP criticised Western Goals’ members for their squeamishness in not owning up to their Nationalist convictions:

Their line was the familiar one: “Oh yes, I agree with all you say, but keep it quiet”… Their greatest fear is that of being embarrassed by their nationalist acquaintances turning to their gatherings and compromising their “respectable” credentials’. Just how many Western Goals members were sympathetic to the BNP is open to question. However, one of early members of Western Goals (UK), and an associated of Smith and Northolt, Stuart Millson, left the organisation to join the BNP. Millson had been a member of the Young Monday Club and Conservative Student while at Exeter University in 1985. By 1991, however, he claimed to have left the BNP and was once more a member of the Tories. Another BNP activist, Sean Pearson, was also a member of the Yorkshire branch of the Monday Club run by Anthony Murphy, who was also Western Goal’s main contact in the region. He was thrown out of his local branch of the Conservative party after Leeds Other Paper, Searchlight and City Limits revealed that he had been distributing racist leaflets in Bradford. However, he joined Thurrock Conservative Association, thus remaining a member of the party. In April 1991 he was one of the Party’s election agents in Bradford.

Conclusion: Western Goals example of Fascism in Conservative Party, not Socialism

Hughe’s article predicts that the organisation and the Monday Club would find themselves under increasing pressure from the party’s leadership under John Major, who was an opponent of White supremacism. Certainly Western Goals and its links to the BNP and German and French extreme Right would now be acutely embarrassing for David Cameron. Cameron has, after all, attempted to present the party as pro-gay and anti-racist. One of the first things he did as leader was sever links to the Monday Club. Nevertheless, Western Goals and its extreme Right-wing stance, which can certainly be considered Fascist, does refute the claim of Daniel Hannan and other Conservatives, on both sides of the Atlantic, that somehow Fascism is a form of Socialism and the BNP are ‘left-wing’.