Posts Tagged ‘‘The Satanic Verses’’

Vox Political and the Critique Archives Rebut the Claim that Islamophobia Isn’t Racism

September 25, 2017

Mike yesterday put up a piece by Martin Odoni of the Critique Archives, which does a good job of refuting the claim that it’s all right to demonise Muslims, because Islam isn’t a race. Mr. Odoni points out that even Richard Dawkins made this defence when he was tackled over some of his comments about Islam. Odoni points out that, while true, the difference between Islam as a race and Islam as a religion is largely semantic. The difference still allows discrimination of Islam as something foreign and ‘other’, and most White Brits probably think of a crazed Arab suicide bomber when they think of Islam. This is offensive, not only because it is both sectarian and racist, but also because it’s inaccurate. Only a small minority of the world’s Muslims are actually Arabs.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/09/24/no-islam-is-not-a-race-but-islamophobia-is-racism-thecritique-archives/

Of course, Mr. Odoni’s entirely right. But I also think that some of this rather artificial distinction was made by some because of a real fear generated by the rantings of some of the bigots. Akhtar and the others, who led the campaign against Salman Rushdie and the Satanic Verses in the Britain wanted to extend the British blasphemy laws to cover Islam. Much of the propaganda produced by the EDL and the ‘counter-jihad’ movement is about the threat posed to western secularism by the demands of some Muslims for anti-Islamic blasphemy to be outlawed. A few years ago Muslims around the world demonstrated against the-then Pope, when he quoted the negative comments of a Byzantine emperor about Islam. There were several marches in Britain, where the demonstrators held aloft banner proclaiming ‘Behead the Pope’, ‘Free Speech Go To Hell’, and others telling us that the jihad was coming. I’ve no doubt that the offence felt by Muslims around the world was genuine, but that those demonstrators demanding violent retaliation and clamp down on free speech were also in the minority.

But there is a problem in that many Islamic countries, possibly the majority, do have laws against blasphemy, and these laws have been used to shut down free speech and criticism of these regimes. They’ve also been used to foment the vicious persecution of religious minorities, such as Christians. Before Rushdie was hit with a fatwa by the Ayatollah Khomeini for his book, the Egyptian writer Mahfouz Naguib was forced into exile for a book he wrote, where it appears that the narrator is the Almighty. In Britain the blasphemy laws have been a dead letter for a very long time. The last action brought under them was by Mary Whitehouse in the late ’60s or early ’70s against a poem which appeared in Gay News. This in turn provoked a demonstration in support of the paper by the gays. From what I’ve heard about it, the protests were held right outside her house and on her own property, so that she looked out the window to find her garden filled with angry people waving placards.

Demands for the criminalization of anti-Islamic blasphemy, and the death of those they consider responsible, have diminished over the past few years. This is probably because the government has become increasingly less tolerant of actions that may stir up racial or sectarian unrest on one hand, while the Muslim bigots on the other are probably keeping quiet so they don’t get identified as potential jihadis, or jihadi sympathisers.

Nevertheless, a distinction has to be made between the kind of speech that is racially or religiously offensive, and reasoned criticism of Islam as a religion, along with every other faith or ideology. Free speech has to preserved from those bigots of any type, who would like to close it down altogether. And this means showing that while the Islamophobic demonization of Muslims it outlawed, this does not mean that reasonable criticism is illegal. The EDL and counterjihad movement try claim that the Islamisation of the west is occurring by stealth, and that once legislation is passed against Islamphobia, this will lead to further legislation prohibiting all criticism of Islam, until finally Islam is legally established as the official and unassailable religion.

Not only should Islamophobia be tackled, but it needs to be shown that their fears are unfounded. That the free criticism of all religions and ideologies, including Islam, is still permitted, and that we are most definitely not on a steady progress to becoming an Islamic state, whatever bilge is being spouted about ‘Eurabia’. Considering the way the EDL have split up and fragmented, and the way Pegida UK massively failed to take off, I think most people in Britain are getting this point already. It’s only the bigots and morons, who haven’t.

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Vox Political on the Under-Reported Racist Terror Attacks on Muslims

July 4, 2017

Mike yesterday put up a piece commenting on a report by The Canary about rise in hate crimes against Muslims in recent months. These have included a recent acid attack on a Muslim couple in their car by a White man. There’s also a clip of another racist attack by a racist gang on a group woman and children, who were celebrating the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr in a public park. The clip was posted on Twitter by a man, who was clearly utterly disgusted by the incident. The Tweets Mike has posted about this issue are by ordinary folks, who are outraged by these attacks. One makes the point that the attack on Resham Khan was the 84th in the past six months. There’s a photograph of this poor woman, showing the terrible burns she has suffered. Other Tweets wonder what May is doing about it, and why she doesn’t ban the sale of acid.

The British public has responded generously, and a crowdfunding campaign has raised £52,000 for the victims. But he also quotes The Canary on the near absolute silence from the press, in stark contrast to the extensive coverage it would have given, had the attacker been a Muslim with a history of pasting anti-British rants and material on his Facebook page, and the victims were a White couple.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/07/03/you-probably-wont-read-this-because-its-about-terror-attacks-in-the-uk-on-muslims/#comments

Mike and The Canary are making a very good point. White racist terrorism is not taken as seriously as Islamicist terrorism. That’s particularly true in the US. The Young Turks have reported on their show that official figures from the FBI have shown that the vast majority of terrorist offences committed in America are by White supremacist groups. However, this is played down or denied outright by the American right-wing media. There’s an hour-long video by Reichwing Watch, a YouTuber, who puts up videos documenting and exposing the American racist right, which includes a section about the mainstream right’s response when someone in the media dared report this fact. They angrily denied it, and then demanded that the offending journo should issue a retraction.

Despite the fact that he was entirely correct.

Worse, not only are the right-wing media actively trying to deny that the terrorist attacks occur, Donald Trump was trying to close down the very department of the FBI that was set up to monitor and counter domestic Far Right extremism.

It’s not hard to see why he would. Very many of Trump’s supporters come from the Fascist right. And right-wing talk show hosts like Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones have also been spewing violent hatred against ethnic minorities and ‘liberals’ for years. It seems that there is a sizable chunk of the Republican party that looks back with nostalgia on the era of segregation, and views with horror the empowerment of Blacks and other minorities. It’s a section that has grown more strident, more aggressive, and is determined to return America to this era of racist injustice and oppression.

The same is true to a certain extent over here. While the Tory party has tried to present itself as being open to ethnic minorities, and there have been Asian faces in the cabinet, the Tory press has been bitterly critical of non-White immigration for decades. I can remember how the Torygraph and the Express regularly carried article about attacking the growth of ‘unassimilable’ immigrant communities here. The Mail is notorious for its racism and hatred of minority and marginalised groups, which include women, as is the Scum.

Racist attacks on Muslims, and indeed on any other ethnic minority, don’t fit the narrative with which they want to indoctrinate their readers. They want to give the impression that Britain, meaning primarily its White population, is under attack, both morally and physically, from non-Whites. At the moment, it’s Muslims, because of the rise of Islamist terror in the Middle East, and militant Islam in Britain. The latter emerged as a result of the controversy over Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. Back in the 1980s, it was Blacks, who were held by the press to be anti-White racists.

Now there is clearly a problem with extremist forms of Islam in Britain. I can remember watching a BBC documentary on the dire state of the British Muslim community in the early 1990s, which included footage of Kalim Saddiqui in his mosque telling his congregation that ‘British society is a monstrous killing machine, and killing Muslims comes very easily to them.’ It’s a gross distortion, of course, and when the Beeb tackled him on it he huffed and puffed about the publication of the Satanic Verses being the preparation for ‘a holocaust of Muslims’.

Utter crap, of course. And many Muslims really didn’t want to have anything to do with his bigotry. There were marches against Saddiqui and others like him. And the people attacked have been ordinary British Muslims just going about their lives. But many members of ethnic minorities have suffered racist abuse, including Muslims, and so it gives their ranting the appearance of truth. And Saddiqui and the rest of the bigots, like ISIS, al-Qaeda and the rest of the Islamist butchers, would just love this rise in anti-Muslim violence. It’s what they want, to radicalise the Muslim population, to make them believe that all White and non-Muslim Brits really are racists bent on their harm.

Another problem, which prevents attacks like these from being identified or treated as terrorism is that proportionally only a few racist assaults are actually carried out by members of Fascist organisations. This doesn’t mean that the BNP, National Action, NF and the rest of them aren’t violent thugs. They are, and you read just how violent they are in Matthew Collins’ own account of his time in the racist right, Hate. But most racist incidents are committed by people, who don’t belong to such organisations. And so, while they fit the definition of terrorism, as violent crimes committed for religious or ideological reasons, they’re more likely to be seen, or excused, simply as ‘lone wolf’ attacks. So you have the spectacle of various right-wing pundits the other week trying to explain away the man, who killed and injured a total of 10 people, when he drove into them outside Finsbury Park mosque, as just as ordinary man with mental health problems.

White, right-wing terrorism should be called what it is, and treated with the same seriousness as Islamist terror. This should not mean declaring that all White people are somehow racist, as some anti-racist activist have, or appear to have done. The Tories feed off the resentment caused by such accusations and play them up. Way back in the middle of the last decade, the Spectator carried a piece entitled ‘Blackened Whites’, about how Whites were being unfairly maligned by equalities activists as racists. It simply means treating White racist terror as what it is – terrorism.

Outrage at Theresa May’s Refusal to Condemn Trump’s Sneer at Sadiq Khan

June 6, 2017

After Sunday’s terror attack on London, Donald Trump responded with a disgusting Tweet sneering at Sadiq Khan, the capital’s mayor. Trump said

At least 7 dead and 48 wounded and Mayor of London said “there is no reason to be alarmed.”

The Orange Buffoon then followed this with

Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his “no reason to be alarmed” statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!

In fact, Mayor Khan was misquoted. He has said London is the safest city in the world, but that’s a relative statement. It does not mean, and he made it clear that it did not mean, that there was no danger.

This would, of course, be lost on Trump, a political opportunist, islamophobe and general numbskull, who would not recognise the important point, and distinction, Khan made.

Mike over at Vox Political has asked the vital question of why his state visit should be allowed to go ahead, when he can’t even show proper respect to our capital’s mayor?

And Theresa May has added insult to injury – and shown her similar lack of backbone – by failing to rebut Trump’s slur. In a press conference, May was asked something like five times if she would had or would criticise Trump for his statement. She didn’t. Instead, she went on about how Mr Khan is ‘doing a good job.’ You can see the transcript and video of this over at Mike’s blog, as well as reading the disgusted Tweets against May’s cowardice that followed.

I will say one thing in May’s favour: she did at least acknowledge that Khan was doing a good job. But the fact that she hasn’t condemned Trump’s remarks, as the Tweeters like Owen Jone, Tom London, and others Mike has reblogged, have said, shows she isn’t fit to be Prime Minister.

Isobel Tweeted

Sadiq Khan is the Elected Mayor of London, May is an insult to her office, we have no space in the UK for Trump who insults or elected Mayor.

Mike’s article concludes

This is the will of the country.

We don’t want our government to welcome a US President who insults us after we have been attacked.

And we certainly don’t need a prime minister who won’t condemn the man who utters such an insult.

That is why you should do this:

Vote Labour on Thursday – for our national pride.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/06/06/can-we-really-tolerate-a-state-visit-from-a-us-president-who-trolled-us-after-a-terror-attack/

Trump’s sneering attack on the man the people of London chose as their mayor doesn’t surprise me. A week ago after the Manchester terror attack the conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, sneered at the young victims of that atrocity as ‘liberal trendies’, many of whom ‘supported open borders to let the Islamicists’ in. He later repeated the slur, stating that they had ‘run the white flag up’ to Islamicists.

Jones has given his unswerving support to Trump, and had him several times on his programme, Infowars, when Trump was campaigning for the presidency. Jones has claimed that the US government orchestrated the Oklahoma bombing, the 9/11 attacks and that the kids killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting were actors. He claims that the incident was faked so that the American government could bring in greater gun controls.

He also believes that real babies are sacrificed to Satan at occult ceremonies attended by the global elite in Bohemian Grove; that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were satanically possessed, and that Barack Obama was going to have everyone incarcerated in FEMA camps.

In the clip below from The David Pakman Show, Pakman and his producer discuss Jones’ smears and the fact that Infowars has been given a press pass to attend Trump’s meetings. Pakman makes the point that one of the victims of the Manchester suicide bomber was an eight year old girl. How was this innocent child a ‘liberal trendie’?

Of course, Jones is an islamophobe, who believes that Britain has surrendered to Muslims by passing legislation outlawing hate speech. He thinks this makes it illegal to criticise Islam.

It doesn’t. You can still criticise Islam, just as you can any other religion or ideology. Or at least, you should. What you can’t do is spread hate against Muslims simply for being Muslims.

Now there are extremists within the Muslim community, who do want to stop criticism of Islam. The people demonstrated against Salman Rushdie’s book, The Satanic Verses in the 1980s, Mohammed Akhtar, Kalim Saddiqui and the rest, did want to make blasphemy against Islam an offence in British law. And there have been riots and screams for the deaths of those Muslims believed had blasphemed against their religion around the world. One of those, whose beheading was demanded by the bigots and the fanatics, was the previous pope after he quoted a medieval Byzantine emperor’s views on Islam.

But the legislation the British government introduced was designed to protect innocent Muslims from attack by racists and xenophobes, simply for their faith, when they were normal, peaceable people. It was designed, not to surrender to the Islamists and bigots, but to stop them creating the hatred and division they wish to exploit to radicalise more Muslims.

Jones doesn’t recognise this, and so he thinks we’re soft on them. And he’s not alone. There are plenty of extremely right-wing Republicans, who believe the same. And it looks very much like Trump is one of them. Hence the sneers.

Given these sneers from Trump and Jones, and Trump’s own vicious islamophobia, it would be an injustice and a mistake to let him enter the country on a state visit.

Report into Funders of Terrorism in UK May Be Suppressed by Tories

June 4, 2017

This is disturbing, but it really wouldn’t surprise me if the Home Office really did refuse to publish a report into the foreign sources of terrorism here in the UK.

Mike over at Vox Political has put up a piece from the Guardian, which explains how the Home Office’s extremism analysis unit was instructed by David Cameron to investigate the financing of extremist groups in the UK from abroad one and a half years ago, and to report their findings back to the PM and Theresa May.

The Home Office has now stated that the report has not been completed, and may never be published, as its contents are ‘extremely sensitive’.

The Lib Dem spokesman for foreign affairs, Tom Brake, has written to May asking her to confirm that the report will not be shelved, and commenting on the link between Islamic extremism in Britain and the Saudis’ funding for mosques. Mr Brake writes

“It is no secret that Saudi Arabia in particular provides funding to hundreds of mosques in the UK, espousing a very hardline Wahhabist interpretation of Islam. It is often in these institutions that British extremism takes root.”

The Guardian itself states

The contents of the report may prove politically as well as legally sensitive. Saudi Arabia, which has been a funding source for fundamentalist Islamist preachers and mosques, was visited by May earlier this year.

Mike states in his piece that by ‘very sensitive’ the report

seems to mean they concern the UK’s own relationship with Saudi Arabia under the Conservative governments of David Cameron and Theresa May.

Mike makes the point that we should not be selling arms to the Saudis, as we don’t know what they’re doing with them. He also cites Tweets from Tom London, who states that we need to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia and the funding of mosques by them.

Tom London also attacks May’s Tweet that the Tories will increase the powers of the police and security services, and inflict longer sentences for terrorism-related offences.

Mr London rightly asks how this is going to deter jihadis, who commit their atrocities with the intention of committing suicide.

While Rachael, another Tweeter, put up a photo of May receiving a medal from one of the Saudi princes, ironically commenting that ‘we are too tolerant of extremism in Britain.’

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/06/04/report-that-could-link-uk-to-terror-funders-may-never-be-published/

It’s been known for a very, very long time that ISIS and its predecessor, al-Qaeda, was receiving funding from very high levels in the Saudi government. This includes the current regent, Salman bin Salman, and the head of Saudi intelligence. I can remember reading a paper in one book on contemporary sources of Islamist terrorism how the Saudis financed al-Qaeda insurgents attacks and incursions into Syria and Iraq.

Twenty-four pages of the official report into 9/11, compiled by the American government, were suppressed until the families of the victims forced Obama to publish it. Again, despite security around the report, it was widely understood that these pages had been suppressed because they pointed to the Saudis as the nation behind the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

Despite the massive evidence to the contrary, the Republicans are continuing to ignore the roots of global terrorism in Saudi Arabia, and are instead blaming Iran as the major source of terrorism around the world.

You don’t need to guess very hard why this is: oil, and anti-Russian geopolitics dating from the days of the Cold War. Since the 1920s America has backed the Saudis militarily in return for the right to exploit the country’s vast oil reserves.

The Americans are also careful not to alienate the Saudis because of the massive damage the Saudi’s oil embargo inflicted on the West during the oil crisis of the 1970s. That convinced the Saudis that they had the economic power to manipulate global affairs. All they have to do is lower the price of oil, and it wipes the domestic American oil industry off the map.

The West has also cultivated the Saudis, along with Israel, as a valuable ally in the Middle East in the long, imperialist campaign to eradicate secular Arab nationalism. Secular nationalist regimes, such as Nasser’s in Egypt, were considered by the Americans to be either Communist, or linked to Communism. This is one of the reasons why the Americans are so determined to overthrow Assad in Syria. The Ba’ath regime there is secular, and an ally of the Russians. Syria is a nation of diverse sects and faiths, with a population that includes Shi’a and Sunni Muslims, and also Christians. The dominant sect politically are the Alawis, who are Shi’a. As such, the regime also has important links with Iran.

While the Ba’athist government has massacred and oppressed its Sunni opponents, and has been a police state, it is much more tolerant than Saudi Arabia. Christians enjoyed greater freedom and were able to serve in the administration, because one of the founders of the party in the 1920s had been a Christian.

Iran has funded terrorism in Europe and further abroad. However, while it is a very repressive society, it is still more tolerant than many other nations. Counterpunch and The Young Turks have produced articles and reports showing that, despite the Iranian regime’s rhetoric calling for the destruction of Israel, Jews in Iran are actually well treated. I’ve also heard scholars researching religious syncretism in the Middle East state that the regime has also been keen to show how it does not oppress the Zoroastrians, the country’s indigenous monotheistic religion.

It is very different in Saudi Arabia. The only religion tolerated in that country is Wahhabi Islam. Non-Muslim religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and so on are banned, as is Shi’a Islam. There are Shi’a Muslims in Saudi Arabia, but they live in villages without running water or electricity and with higher rates of poverty and unemployment. They are forbidden to build mosques and their religious literature is also banned. Chillingly, one of the major Saudi religious figures I can’t remember whether it was the Supreme Mufti or the Sharif of Mecca even went so far the other year as to denounce the Shi’a as enemies of the faith and ‘worthy of death’.

The Saudis have been backing very hardline, very intolerant interpretations of Islam across the world, from Muslim communities in Bosnia and the Balkans, to Chechnya and Pakistan and beyond.

And foreign funding of mosques and the influence of extremist foreign imams has been an issue since the 1990s and the demands for the execution of the novelist Salman Rushdie for blasphemy for his book, The Satanic Verses. I can remember reading in the Encyclopedia of Islam at College that foreign countries tended to finance mosques over here in blighty as a way of influencing their congregations. And the imam, who received Rushdie back into the faith when the novelist briefly tried to make his peace with the religion, also wrote in the Financial Times that there was a pressing need to train and supply more imams, who had been born and grew up over here. The lack of native British Muslim clergy meant that the immigration authorities were allowing into this country mullahs from places like Pakistan, who held extreme and intolerant views. This is why the British government has a programme to support and fund British Muslims studying for the clergy, and to promote a more liberal interpretation of the faith.

But the British government has also done its share of importing Muslims terrorists from around the world. Thatcher gave asylum to members of the Mujahideen, who had fought the Russians in Afghanistan, even though these were violent religious extremists. But they were acceptable, because they were anti-Communist. The family of Salman Abedi, who blew himself up killing 22 and injuring another 60 innocents in Manchester last Monday, were members of a Libyan Islamist terrorist group. They had been given sanctuary over here, and the warnings about them, including by members of the city’s Muslim community, were ignored, because the British government had used them in the NATO campaign to overthrow Colonel Gaddafy.

If we really want to stop terrorism, we should stop selling arms to the Saudis and block their funding of extremist mosques and groups. We should ourselves also stop supporting Islamist terror groups around the world. At the moment the American government is supplying arms and training to the rebels in Syria, despite the fact that they are all hardline terrorist groups, or connected to the hardliners, and the arms will inevitably find their way into the hands of ISIS and al-Qaeda militants.

Of all the politicians, it is Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, who have stated that they will stop arms sales to the Saudis.

May definitely will not. She and Cameron have both been to the Middle East to try and sell them more British weapons, just like Blair and then the Tory governments before him.

And Corbyn has set up a shadow minister for peace and disarmament, and promised to turn this into an official department if he gets into power.

Much of the radicalisation of the Muslim world has occurred because of the carnage inflicted on the Middle East through the western invasion of Iraq. That doesn’t excuse atrocities like that committed against the great people of Manchester and our capital. Just as it doesn’t excuse the other murders the Jihadists have committed without number against ordinary, peaceful Muslims across the Middle East – in Iraq, Syria and Turkey, and in places like Pakistan. But it is a contributing cause, which Corbyn has said he wants to stop.

As the great man has said, ‘Tough on terrorism, tough on the causes of terrorism’.

Don’t believe liars like May and Boris Johnson, who will take away more of our liberties in the campaign against terrorism, while doing nothing but give more money to the Saudis and other backers of these thugs and other like them.

Vote for Corbyn and the Labour party on June 8th.

Secular Talk on the Iranians Raising the Bounty on Salman Rushdie by $600,000

February 27, 2016

Private Eyatollah

The cover of Private Eye for Friday 13th March 1989. If you can’t read the caption, one mullah is saying to the Ayatollah, ‘Have you read the book?’. He replies, ‘Do you think I’m mad?’

Kulinski in this clip discusses a report in the Guardian that a group of 40 newspaper and other media companies in Iran have clubbed together to raise the money offered under their government’s fatwa for killing Salman Rushdie by a further $600,000. The fatwas was imposed way back in 1988 by the leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini, for Rushdie writing the book, the Satanic Verses, which the Ayatollah considered blasphemous against Islam. Kulinski points out that it hasn’t just been Rushdie whose life has been put in danger by the fatwa. The book’s Japanese translator, Hitoshi Kirigashi was fatally stabbed in 1991. That same year, the Italian translator, Ettore Caprioli, was also the victim of a stabbing, though mercifully he survived. Aziz Nessin, the Turkish translator, survived an arson attack on an hotel in which 37 other people died in 1993. William Nyegard, the Swedish translator, was also attacked in 1993. He was shot three times in Oslo, though thankfully he too survived. And last year, 2015, Iran withdrew from the Frankfurt book fair because they had announced that Rushdie was speaking.

Kulinski states that the Iranians have the attitude that they’re being oppressed, because of their offence at Rushdie’s book. He points out that for civilised people, the solution to such a difference of opinion is to argue about it, and then move on. He states very strongly that the reason why the Iranians aren’t doing this is because they know their arguments are weak. This is why they have to force it on children when they’re young. He also points out that the younger generation in Iran is also disgusted by this. Iran is a very young country, and most of them are much more liberal than their elders. ‘Tick tock,’ he says, ‘the clock is ticking. Times running out for you.’

I’m reblogging this as there’s much more going on here than simply a revival of anti-Rushdie feeling in Iran. In fact, the evidence points the other way. If these media companies have decided to band together to add even more money to the fatwa, then it shows very effectively that few people in Iran are interested in killing the author. Again, thankfully.

The book has been a source of tension between Islam and the secular West almost from the first. Not all Muslims are as extreme as the Ayatollah, but many, perhaps the majority, do resent what they see as an attack on their religion. The book’s Islamic opponents have also pointed out that Viking Penguin was also ambivalent about publishing the book. The publisher’s advisors told them three time that it would result in serious trouble, including mass protests. These were eventually ignored and overridden. Roald Dahl, the renowned children’s author, speaking on Radio 4 several years ago, also felt that the book should not have been published given the hatred and violence that this had caused. He did not consider it great literature, and felt it should be pulped.

The outrage caused by The Satanic Verses is also a major cause of the current surge of anti-western and Islamist Muslim activism. Outrage at the book prompted Muslims to band together for pretty much the first time in protest, organising demonstrations and book burnings. And the preachers of hate used it as a pretext to attack Britons and British society in general. I can remember Kalim Saddiqui speaking in his mosque on a documentary shown late at night on the Beeb, The Trouble with Islam, in which he described Britain as ‘a terrible killing machine’ and stated that ‘killing Muslims comes very easily to them.’ When the documentary-makers picked him up on this, he blustered that it was about the Satanic Verses, which had been published in preparation for a ‘holocaust of Muslims.’ He was, of course, talking poisonous rubbish.

In fact all the people I know, who’ve actually read the book, tell me that it’s not actually blasphemous. I know a lecturer in Islam, who actually got his students to read the book when he was teaching in Pakistan. They’d been talking about how the book was blasphemous, so he asked them if they’d read it. When they said they hadn’t, he asked them if they would, and gave copies to them to read. They carried them home in brown paper bags so no-one would see them. When they’d read the book, he asked them again if they thought it was blasphemous. They said, ‘No’.

There were very cynical, political reasons for the Ayatollah’s decision to put a price on Rushdie’s head. He was afraid he was losing Iran’s position as the premier Islamic revolutionary regime to others, like Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya. In order to try and whip up some more popularity, he resorted to that classic Orwellian technique: the five minute hate. This is the episode in Orwell’s classic 1984, where ‘Big Brother’ orchestrates a wave of hatred against a traitor figure for about five minutes. It’s very, very much like the way Stalin whipped up hatred in the Soviet Union against Trotsky, who was accused of all kinds of treachery and perfidy against the state and its people. Khomeini was doing the same here, but with Rushdie as the hate figure.

The fatwa didn’t work as well as the Iranians hoped it would, though I have Iranian friends who feel that the Satanic Verses was deliberately published by the British government to sever relations with Iran. After about a decade or more, the Iranians announced that, while the fatwa couldn’t – or wouldn’t – be lifted, they weren’t going actively going to enforce it.

Then a few years ago, more money was placed on the price. This was after the rioting around the world against the film, The Innocence of Muslims, which was a genuinely blasphemous attack on Mohammed. The film, however, was the group of expatriate Egyptians and nothing to do with Salman Rushdie. Again, it looked like a cynical attempt by the Iranian revolutionary authorities to gain some kind of political advantage, which they felt they had lost.

And now this. And everything about this says exactly the same to me: that this is nothing but a cynical attempt to exploit Rushdie’s notoriety to marshal support for the regime. Except that I don’t know how successful they’ll be. Not very, is my guess. They weren’t before, despite the vicious attacks on Rushdie’s publishers and translators. After all, they had to drop it as a dead letter for several years. And Kulinski is right about the Iranian population. They are on average very young. Most of the population is under 30. This generation doesn’t remember the Shah or the Islamic Revolution, and Rushdie to them is nothing but decades old news.

Now I don’t share Kulinski’s atheism. I think that people have the right to bring their children up and have them educated in their faith, and I don’t see it as brainwashing. But I do share his feelings that if the Iranians are resorting to violence, or advocating it, then it does mean that they don’t have confidence in their own ability to confront and overcome Rushdie in the realm of ideas. Which is itself astonishing, considering the rich heritage of Islamic philosophy. But then, I don’t think combating Rushdie’s ideas are what the fatwas is intended for. As I said, I think it’s an appeal to raw emotion simply to bolster the regime.

So why would the Iranian state and authorities need this renewed campaign against Rushdie? It might be because the young general is much less religious, and more secular. Atheism is expanding across the Middle East, including Iran. This is pretty much what you’d expect when religion, or indeed any ideology, becomes oppressive and the source of violence instead of peace and prosperity. Christopher Hill, in one of his books on what he called the English Revolution, his term for the British Civil War notes that the religious violence in Britain in the mid-17th century led to a similar growth in atheism and unbelief. And Iran many people resent their lack of political and social freedoms, and the immense corruption of Islamic clergy, who have enriched themselves through backhanders from commerce, industry and control of the bonyads, the religious trusts, which manage about 50 per cent of the economy, including the oil industry. All this growth in atheism is very, very clandestine. Atheism and apostasy are capital crimes in many Islamic countries, and so people have to be very careful about who they talk to about this issue. Even social media is very carefully monitored. ISIS in Syria kept the facebook and twitter accounts of a female anti-Islamist activist open long after the woman herself had been captured and murdered by them, as a honey trap to catch other anti-Islamist dissidents. And Nokia sold software across the Middle East to the despots and autocrats enabling them to hack into people’s mobiles in order to spy on them. So it’s still incredibly dangerous. Nevertheless, atheism and general disaffection against these regimes is growing. So I’m very sure that the Iranians have raised the fatwa bounty once again, because they hear the ticks of the clock sounding out the final moments of their regime only too well.

The Origin of the Fear of a Muslim Holocaust in Nazi Propaganda

January 12, 2016

Yesterday I put up a piece about Paul Berman’s book, The Flight of the Intellectuals, which argues that the modern Islamist movements – al-Qaeda, but also Hamas, and the Islamic Republic of the Ayatollah Khomeini, ultimately have their origins in the writings of Hassan al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood. The book also describes the role of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj al-Husseini, in translating Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda into the Muslim and Arab worlds. Al-Husseini claimed, despite the evidence of the very limited dimensions of the Jewish state at the time, that the Jews were planning to wipe out Islam and the Arabs, and to turn all the Arab countries in the Middle East into homelands for themselves and Black Americans. He therefore urged, and organised, a genocidal war against Jews, commanding his audience to kill the Jews and their children before the Jews killed them.

It’s vile, poisonous stuff from someone, who played an enthusiastic part in the Holocaust of European Jews, as well as massacres of those in Palestine. His fear-mongering of a Jewish superstate goes far beyond the Nakba, or ‘disaster, catastrophe’, the term Palestinians have given to the eradication of their communities and their displacement at the establishment of Israe. Looking through al-Husseini’s rhetoric also makes sense of the claims of a similar genocide made by one British Muslim firebrand in the 1990s.

This was Kalim Saddiqui, who was one of the Muslim leaders involved in stirring up hatred against Salman Rushdie over the Satanic Verses. In the early 1990s the Beeb screened a documentary on the problems afflicting the Islamic community in Britain. These problems included poor academic performance, unemployment and the consequent feelings of disenfranchisement and alienation. They filmed Siddiqui preaching in his mosque. He told the assembled worshippers that ‘British society is a gigantic killing machine, and killing Muslims comes very easily to them.’ I’m aware of the racism and violence many Muslims have to face, not least from the Stormtroopers of the Far Right, like the BNP, and their successors, the English Defence League. But this went far beyond a complaint about racism to a bigoted, racist statement about non-Muslims Brits.

To their credit, the Beeb tried to tackle Siddiqui about this. His response was that it was part of his defence of Islam against the forces, of which Rushdie’s book was a part. He then claimed that the Satanic Verses was simply part of a ‘Holocaust of Muslims’ that was being prepared. It’s rubbish, of course, but such fears do now unfortunately have a certain verisimilitude now that Trump is demanding a halt to Muslim immigration, and the registration of those already in America. Against this, it needs to be noted that there are other Americans on the streets, including not just Muslim Americans, but also members of the traditional White and Black communities and Jews demonstrating against Trump’s poison. Several Jewish organisations were so horrified by Trump’s plans, which were so close to what they experienced during the Third Reich, that they organised demonstrations against the tousle-haired Nazi in 17 cities across the US. Siddiqui also made the comments at the time of the Bosnian War, when the Serbs were committing massacres against Bosnian Muslims. That might partly explain Siddiqui’s vile rant.

But mostly it seems to me now that Siddiqui had absorbed the conspiracy theories and the rhetoric of genocide against Muslims shoved out by the Grand Mufti as part of his pro-Nazi campaign. In which case, the roots of Islamism and Islamist terrorism in Britain go back at least two decades. Siddiqui and the other preachers of hate prepared a paranoid, intensely hostile mindset within the audiences, which may have made some susceptible to the teachings and propaganda of al-Qaeda and now ISIS later on.

Siddiqui and his fellows, like Anjem Chaudhury, do not represent all Muslims in Britain by any means. They’re extremely controversial, and there have been demonstrations against them as bigots, who pervert the message of Islam, by liberal Muslims. There are a number of books and Muslim organisations, like Imams Online, which exist to tackle the Islamism and hate they promote. If you go over to the anti-racist organisation’s Hope Not Hate site, there are also numerous articles on events that have been organised around the country to bring Muslims and non-Muslims together, with pictures of Muslim imams talking and laughing with Christian vicars, and members of the other faiths. Siddiqui’s rhetoric is part of the Nazi distortion of Islam, and doesn’t represent the whole of the ‘umma or its history.

Cameron Wins Vote to Bomb Syria

December 3, 2015

Okay, Cameron’s finally got his way, and MPS have voted by something like a majority of 179 to bomb Syria. Mike and very many other bloggers, activists and journalists have repeatedly stated that this will not make Britain safe, or end the tyranny of ISIS in Syria. My fear is that it will only play into their hands. By killing civilians – innocent men, women and children, who just happen to live in the enclaves taken over by the Islamist State – we will just increase radicalisation by seeming to bear out ISIS’ claim that they are really the defenders of Muslims and Islam against Western aggression, while everything is the complete opposite.

Cameron has been so desperate to join the ten other countries in bombing Syria, that he libelled Corbyn, and the rest of the opponents of bombing, as ‘terrorist sympathisers’. This also includes the 65 or so members of his own party, who held fast to their opposition to Blairite wars and voted against it.

Mike’s written an excellent piece taking apart Cameron’s slander here, at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/02/tis-the-season-to-be-jolly-cameron-insults-half-the-uk-slanders-mps-in-eagerness-to-bomb-syria/.

He also produced this little meme, showing how closely his rhetoric resembles the tactics used by Hermann Goering and the Nazis to whip up popular enthusiasm in Germany for war.

Goering War and Pacifism

Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric. This will not keep us safe, and it will be used by ISIS and their sympathisers to radicalise young and disaffected Muslims. The Iraq invasion was supposed to keep us safe from al-Qaeda. It has done everything but. The country has been seriously destabilised and is riven by sectarian fighting, out of which has come ISIS. And the Islamists have also used the war to promote themselves as Islam’s true defenders. Various radical Islamic groups have declared that the war was ‘a war on Islam’ or a ‘war on Muslims’.

This simply wasn’t true, except in the limited sense that it was supposed to be part of the war against al-Qaeda and Islamism, Islam as practiced and distorted by murderous fanatics. Even George Bush, who authorised and promoted it, denied that it was a war on Islam. Indeed, parts of the Christian Right in America were angry that Bush refused to let certain Christian charities and organisations in to help in the work of reconstruction, or to try to gain converts after the invasion.

Greg Palast in his book, Armed Madhouse, makes it very clear that the reasons were chiefly economic: the Libertarians wanted to create a free market utopia, where they could try out their stupid and fallacious ideas of transforming the country into a low tax, free trade zone. And the American and Saudi oil companies simply wanted to steal the country’s large oil reserves. There were also geopolitical considerations. Back in the 1990s, the Repugs in America and the Likud in Israel planned an invasion of Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein supplying arms and other aid to the Palestinians.

Unfortunately, the Islamist claim does have a kind of specious validity due to the very vocal support of some Republicans, who do seem to see it as part of a general campaign against Islam, and who make little difference between ordinary Muslims and violent extremists. You can bet that their words will be used in Islamist propaganda.

I can remember reading Akhthar’s article, Be Careful with Mohammed, back in the 1990s during the controversy over Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Akhthar was one of the leaders of the groups demanding the book’s suppression. The article is basically one long rant against Christianity, democracy, and western society in general. There were other pieces written by Muslims explaining why they found it offensive and arguing for its banning, which took a much more conciliatory approach to wider, non-Muslim society. Akhthar’s book wasn’t one of them. At the end was a short appendix with the title, ‘What Western Intellectuals Think About Islam’. This consisted of a series of quotes from leading western intellectual figures criticising or denouncing Islam. These were presented in isolation, and without any context. They were deliberately included to try and persuade his readers that western society and its leaders uniformly despised Islam, and that they should stop listening to them and support him and his clique as the Prophet’s righteous defenders.

From what I remember of the quotes, some of them were probably responses to atrocities committed in the name of Islam by terrorist groups or despotic states like Gadaffi’s Libya or Iran. Or Saudi Arabia. Regardless of their original context, Akhthar cited them purely for his own political, radical Islamic agenda. Now I don’t recall Akhthar himself demanding Muslims take part in a terror campaign. He was simply trying to make his Muslim audience hate non-Muslim, mainstream British society, and create further alienation and disaffection. I think it’s because of this, and similar radical Islamic propaganda, that the term ‘Islamism’ was devised: to make a distinction between Islam and the terrorists. This was to protect ordinary Muslims on the one hand, and prevent the words uttered by politicians and other public figures on the other being twisted to add specious verisimilitude to the Islamists’ own propaganda. The anti-Islamic Right have also criticised Western intellectuals and political leaders for not criticising or denouncing Islam in the wake of successive terrorist attacks, as they do not share the belief that there is a difference between Islam and Islamism. Indeed, they are extremely critical of the use of the term, and the promotion of the distinction between the two.

Unfortunately, even such linguistic delicacy has not prevented the growth of Islamist terror, intolerance and murder. Part of the reasons for the growth has been the continued military campaigns by the West in Iraq and the Middle East. I am not saying by any means that we should not strike back against ISIS with our armed forces. I am saying that we need to be extremely careful to avoid playing into their hands. And I’m afraid that Cameron and the supporters of the bombing campaign against Syria have just done so.

Hoisted by their Own Petard: Tories Embarrassed by Food Banks and Muslim Alienation

June 12, 2014

A few days ago, Mike over at Vox Political reported that attack on food banks, and the religious organisations that ran them, by Nick Couling. Couling is one of Iain Duncan Smith’s underlings over at the DWP. According to Couling, the rise in food banks was not due to an increase in underlying poverty. No! It was all due to Christian evangelisation, as the Christian charities and churches that run them attempt to use them as a tool for reaching out to the wider, secular community. Mike said in his article that it was a peculiar attitude to take, considering that RTU Smith himself strongly connected his welfare reforms in quasi-religious terms with his own Roman Catholicism. And going further, David Cameron managed to cause outrage at Easter by trying to give his ‘Big Society’ policies are religious justification, not least amongst Christians objecting to the Tories’ increasing impoverishment of millions of citizens through wage restraint and their programme of savage cuts. However, the religious motivation behind the government’s programme of increasing benefit cuts and the dismantlement of the welfare state goes all the way back to that icon of modern Toryism, Maggie Thatcher.

The French researcher, Jean Kepel, in his book on the rise of militant, fundamentalist religion, The Revenge of God, notes that one of Thatcher’s reasons for attacking the welfare state was to strengthen organised religion. She wanted to counter increasing secularisation and the drift away from the churches by cutting down on state welfare provision. This would, she believed, result in the poor and needy having to turn to religious organisations – the churches – for help instead.

And this has indeed occurred, to the great embarrassment of the Tories. The numbers of people using food banks, and the amount of food and meals they provide, are an independent source of statistics for the massive growth of poverty in this country. The unemployment figures can be massaged and doctored by the DWP, which only counts those in receipt of particular types of benefit, while ignoring others. Similarly, Kittysjones in an article, which I reblogged earlier this week, showed how Cameron used the Gini Coefficient to manipulate the figures on inqueality of wealth, and so purport to show that this was a less unequal society than it is. And if that doesn’t work, you can always block the publication of statistics altogether, as RTU has done with the number of people, who’ve died since being assessed as fit and well by Atos. He won’t release the information, and petulantly denounces anyone who demands it as ‘vexatious’, as Mike and the other welfare activists have repeatedly found out.

As Mike reported this morning, IDS tried it on the Trussell Trust back in 2011. The Trust’s head got a phone call from someone in his office stating that Smith was very angry with them. It was another attempt to silence an independent, embarrassing source of information.

It didn’t work. And so this week, after trying to promote themselves as pillars of Christian morality, Couling and his masters apparently decided that they were all militant Dawkinite atheists, determined to protect secular Tory Britain from the march of evil, Left-wing Christian evangelism. Presumably they’ll all go back now and try to erase the bits where Thatcher prates in her speeches about ‘Judeo-Christian values’, and show her instead meeting A.C. Grayling and brandishing copies of Dawkins’ The God Delusion.

That’s determination to strengthen religious organisations through the destruction of secular alternatives is also, according to Kepel, one of the factors in the growth of Islamic Fundamentalism in the UK. It’s not the only, or main one by any means. For Kepel and other researchers into the emergence of militant Islam in the UK, the immediate catalyst was the Satanic Verses controversy in the 1980s. The sense of outrage at the book’s perceived blasphemy shocked and infuriated a very sizable proportion of the country’s Muslim community, and allowed a platform for some deeply intolerant and violently bigoted religious leaders, as well as ordinary, far less radical Muslims, who simply found the book immensely offensive. Kepel notes that what Thatcher failed to appreciate, was that the Muslim community would be in a better position to provide these welfare services than the Christian churches. One of the Five Pillars of Islam, the fundamentals of Muslim faith and practice, is the zakat, or alms tax. Muslims are expected to give a tenth of their income to the mosque, which in turn is supposed to distribute this money to the community’s poor. The Muslim community thus possessed as an integral part of their faith an independent source of support for their community. As a result, as state support was cut down and removed, many Muslim communities became more inward-looking and alienated as their poor turned to this and other more traditional forms of support.

And so it gave yet greater impetus to the kind of militants, that have now surfaced allegedly trying to undermine secular education in Birmingham through ‘Operation Trojan Horse’.

Of course, that isn’t the only assistance Maggie gave to the bigots and fundamentalists. Some of the worst firebrands were deliberately allowed to enter Britain as a reward for their services in resisting the Russians in Afghanistan. This included one deeply unpleasant mujahid, who blew up an airliner carrying military staff from Afghanistan back to Moscow. The plan also happened to be full of schoolchildren, heading back to Russia for the vacation. But this atrocity was perfectly acceptable to Thatcher, because, after all, Communist Russia was ‘the evil Empire’.

And so the poverty, despair and alienation caused by Thatcher’s attack on the welfare state has come back to haunt them. Not that his will cause any embarrassment for the Tory leadership, who have a time-honoured policy of blaming anyone and everyone but themselves. And so the widespread use of food banks is blamed on Christian evangelism – no, but that is party what Maggie wanted – and is silent on their role in promoting and giving material assistance to militant Islam.

And before people start blaming the Muslim community as a whole, just remember that in many cases the authorities repeatedly ignored the warnings of moderate Muslims, shocked at the intolerance and violent hatred coming out of the radical mullahs. The police were repeatedly tipped off about the nature of the Finchley Mosque and its preaching of the jihad by an Algerian Muslim, but did nothing until it became unavoidable. Probably because this would cause official embarrassment and contradict Maggie’s own policy. And so the country’s own security suffered, because Maggie wanted to bring down Communism.