I’m not racist but………………

Today James O’Brien quite rightly highlights the double standards of the Sun newspaper during and after the Brexit campaign and how they fanned the flames of xenophobia and racist attacks.

This is the newspaper which published “Muslims are not like you and I.” Similarly the Sun once went after the BBC by implying “the BBC isn’t friendly to white faces, because they have internships for minorities,” while the newspaper which blindly ignored the growing increase of attacks on minorities, yet today it had the audacity as O’Brien pointed out to condemn the growing xenophobia a day after a story which gloated that Britain got its country back.

Last Friday morning 52% of the electorate voted to take Britain out of the EU, from the 17 odd million who voted leave a small minority it seems took the words “we now got our country back” as literal. This has resulted in attacks on members of the Polish community, Muslims have been verbally and in some cases physically assaulted.

Examples of the attacks included the posting of laminated cards reading “Leave the EU – no more Polish vermin” to members of the Polish community in Huntingdon on Saturday. There were also reports of racist graffiti scrawled on a Polish community centre in Hammersmith, west London. The Muslim Council of Britain said it had compiled a dossier of over 100 hate crimes over the weekend alone since the vote. I myself know of three attacks where Muslim women were racially abused while walking in the streets of the UK, and today police are treating a firebomb incident inside a Halal butchers shop in my home town as a possible hate crime. In Birmingham, members of the far-right English Defence League gathered outside a mosque in Birmingham waving a flag that read: “Rapefugees Not Welcome”, as they shouted “f*****g p**dos” and “Allah, Allah, who the f*** is Allah?”. Police later made two arrests.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said it had detected a 57 per cent rise in reports to a police online hate crime reporting site between Thursday and Sunday compared to the corresponding days four weeks ago.

On Twitter there have been calls by bigots to send immigrants home:

Now, call me a cynic, but I do believe that certain elements of the media has allowed this so-called concern to grow into an inferno of fire known as racism. Yes, we expect the right-wing elements and their surrogate far-right friends to spew their filth, after all I don’t expect a condemnation or an apology from Nigel Farage, but the likes of the Sun should not patronise us with their hypocrisy at the same time.

I myself have experienced racism in the UK. Whether it was being called a p*** and being chased by BNP members in the streets of Perry Barr to facing some covert forms of racism in various work places. I do feel it is acceptable to be a racist, a xenophobe and an Islamophobe because it is now the norm. People can have these views as it is readily acceptable on social media and mentioned quite freely and unashamed.  Why? well because our politicians and media has allowed this form  of rhetoric to take place. During the Brexit debate the peddled lies of 80 Million Turks turning up at the UK borders, fear tactics that these hordes of brown Muslim refugees from Syria will destroy our very existence and put British women at risk of being raped were thrown around. So why then should we blame the pensioner who appeared on Channel 4 News a day after the vote in Barnsley saying he had voted to keep the Muslims out.

So what is the solution? Well, firstly the political class need to move their backsides from Westminster and engage with the British public but also condemn what is taking place and ensure bigotry and racism has no place in society. Words are not what is needed but action. Not all the 17 million people who voted Brexit are racists, but sadly many had made their minds up based on the propaganda but also because over the past forty years successive governments have let them down. The UK is not the leafy suburb of Hamstead but it is the grit of Hull and the liberals amongst us need to understand the United Kingdom is not a hub of multicultural free spirit. If their concerns are not met or engaged with the  Labour strongholds across the north and Wales which voted to leave will end up in the hands of Farage and his gang for a generation. The white working class have grievances and are the likliest to suffer in a post Brexit Britain. Unless the Labour party holds honest and pragmatic discussions on immigration and provide the white working class an identity of respect and understanding, it is an electorate that will be lost to a far-right politics of fear.

Similarly there needs to be positive action and engagement outside the echo chambers of social media, interfaith groups and liberal intelligensia forums. We need to understand that change will not come about by groups of  like-minded people holding like minded conversations with like minded viewpoints to find like minded solutions. The concept of debate and winning the battle of ideas is not with your friend who agrees with you but with the neighbour who may disagree with you after all isn’t that what is politics about? Those who believe in a free and fair society of tolerance and respect also need to get out a bit more and engage with people who may not agree with their views.

One genuinely feels that those who influence the filth of hate should be challenged and exposed. More effort is needed to hold these people to account, while organisations like tell MAMA should be supported.

Yahya Birt, the British academic wrote in his piece After Brexit, where do British Muslims go from here?  wrote:”46% of British Muslims live in the bottom 10% most deprived wards in England and so are squarely among the have-nots too,” the battle for the soul of the United Kingdom should not be about race but of opportunity, hence, why politicians need to take the lead to stand up for the betterment of all. Birt went on to write:  “This requires a radical rethink because neither of the two main parties have done enough to prevent our society becoming more unequal despite Britain’s great wealth, thus creating neighbourhoods, towns and even cities of the forgotten and the left behind. And although it is clearly a delicate and controversial subject, the impact of migration on jobs, goods and services must be diagnosed and debated in a responsible way that does not play into race politics. For this change in tone and approach to have any chance of succeeding, BAME and faith communities must now play a prominent role in this debate too.”

If we don’t take this crisis and turn it into an opportunity, we are sure as hell going to get more people saying “‘I’m not racist but……..”

 

 

How best to stop radicalisation? – Two views

Recently I came across two very different narratives on how to engage in radicalisation and extremism amongst British Muslims.

One on hand a stark warning from experts, academics and grass rooted individuals who believe Government deradicalisation plan will brand Muslims with beards as terrorists, further elaborating  it as a direct assault on freedom of speech and a move towards a police state. In an unprecedented intervention, 280 academics, lawyers and public figures claim the controversial law will make Britain less safe as it will force radical political discussion underground.  Individuals like Karen Armstrong, Baroness Ruth Lister, emeritus professor of social policy at Loughborough University, Rizwaan Sabir, a lecturer in counter-terrorism, who was wrongly arrested under anti-terror laws by Nottingham Police for downloading an al-Qaeda training manual from a US Government website he we was using to research his PHD. The letter states: “Prevent will have a chilling effect on open debate, free speech and political dissent. It will create an environment in which political change can no longer be discussed openly, and will withdraw to unsupervised spaces. Therefore, Prevent will make us less safe.”

However a few days prior to this strongly worded letter another letter appeared in the Guardian titled:  “United, we can protect our young people from extremists” which urged people of all communities, religion, government and non-government to work together to stand united against extremism. With one voice – they launched a collective fightback against those who wish to do us harm, by launching a website called Fightback Starts Here. Looking at the list of people and organisations who support the fightback , they all have one thing in common, they have all been receiving directly, indirectly or through partnerships been in receipt of a Prevent funding since 2005. Organisations on the list who have been in receipt of the funding are the Leicester based Federation of Muslim Organisations, JIMAS, Inspire, Active Change Foundation and St Phillips Centre in Leicester.

In the wake of the 7/7 attacks in London, the Labour Government stepped up the programme spending tens of millions on hundreds of schemes across the country.
But many of these initiatives were regarded by people as little more than using various community organisations who were all dependent on government funding competing with each other to the bidding on behalf of the government. The funds were used on converting the converted and in some cases used as canon fodder to gather intelligence on their local communities.

So who would you rather take advice from? A group of people who are independent of any government direction and agenda who have consistently warned people about the agenda and direction of Prevent and the danger these policies will have in the long run, or take advice from people who have made careers and businesses from Prevent who have it it in their interests to make Prevent work?

I’ll let you decide.

The hatred for the ‘other’ is now towards ‘our own’.

A picture of Breivik taken from his manifesto posted just a few hours before he went on a killing spree in Norway

Europe’s worst terrorist activity in modern times, young innocent lives lost who were the future of the liberal society of Norway who embraced the values of tolerance, respect and understanding.

A man who’s convictions led him to hate and then kill the very society he was part of, has shook the foundations of the Scandinavian society which was shown to be a model to the rest of Europe.

The 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik cites his hatred for ‘Cultural Marxists and multicultural apologists for his rationale to set of a bomb that killed eight people and also gun down 84 innocent people in a spree which lasted 90 minutes. Breivik intended to “radically change Norwegian society” with his attacks. Breivik, who is still alleged to have carried out the attacks, wanted to give a “warning” to the ruling Labour Party that “doomsday would be imminent,” said Geir Lippestad, Breivik’s lawyer.

Now say for example Breivik had converted to Islam and he’s rationale for mass-murder was directed by his conviction of a greater Jihad and his hatred from everything the West stood for, then the US security experts, the UK terrorist advisors and European sociologists all would have concluded that Islam has a problem with Europe.

The usual mouthpiece of right-tabloid analysis in the UK jumped straight into the bandwagon by proclaiming the attack was an “al-Qaeda” delivering Norway’s own 9/11. Even the much ‘loved’ Quilliam Foundation known for their analysis of anyone aspiring to have an Islamic tendency could be a possible extremist must have considered booking the first flight to Oslo to deliver a crash course of de-radicalisation.

As Inayet Bunglawala noted on his blogsite, the Quilliam Foundation tweeted on the Friday night of the attacks “@ThankUAndGnite We also cover far-right extremism but in our opinion Oslo is probably a jihadist attack. Do u disagree?”

The irony is that theories of a Somali cell in Norway, a possible Norwegian revert or even a European Jihadi cell starting the next wave of attacks in middle ranking cities across the continent were all explored.

But as the capture and arrest of a blonde blue eyed Nordic white supremacist these experts haven’t managed to digest and conclude what the causes were. Surely the Quilliam Foundation should offer courses on de-radicalisation of White, blue-eyed Aryans. Europe’s threat.

Equate terror with Europe and one would assume it would be a Muslim clad in a robe proclaiming Jihad slogans, but according to the European Union, Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2010, out of 294 foiled, executed or successful terror plots in Europe, only the solitary figure of one was connected to a Muslim plot. The vast majority of the attacks were carried out by separatist groups such as the Basque ETA. The one Muslim attack (which should be condemned) is the same number of attacks was committed by the Comite d’Action Viticole, a French groups that wanted to stop the importation of foreign wine.

Al Jazeera’s Dorothy Parvaz in her article titled “Blaming Muslims” was told by Ibrahim Hooper from the American Civil Liberties Group, CAIR, and “unless it has been committed by a Muslim, it’s not terrorism. If a non-Muslim commits an act of terrorism, they don’t call him a terrorist. They say he was ‘a madman.’” But how can someone who has been labelled as a madman when his rhetoric of the world ending is in the same league as a paid up member of Al-Qaeda, as after all they both have the ultimate aim of destroying the other.

Anders Behring Breivik, Timothy McVeigh Mohammed Siddique Khan and Baruch Goldstein all share the same rotten ideal that destroys society. But as blue eyed blonde Scandinavians aren’t being held to account, or being asked to hold peace vigils and put out adverts in the national broadsheets, so one can see why liberal organisations, academics and Muslim groups are crying foul play.

Exerted pressure now needs to be made to make Europe stand up to the rise of far-right extremism. The English Defence League in the UK are courting publicity with their monthly tours across the county, the French right-wing party of Le-Pen are making preparations for the 2012 French presidential elections – these are just two of many right-wing organisations creating small inroads within their society.

Right-wing extremism is the poison which could show its ugly face across Europe, the act by Breivik has turned him into a martyr for some right-wing neo-Nazi groups who will put his status up there with Hitler and Milosevic.

Rather than use this moment to assess why it wasn’t a Muslim this time, we should reflect on why there is a rise of this hatred not just towards the other, but to our own.