Our tart MPs
So this notoriously Muslim-hostile MP Denis Macshane has had to resign – for “deceiving” Parliament’s expenses authority [November 2012]. Ironical for someone with a PhD in Economics! Where else has this gentleman been economical with the truth? Perhaps in his comments on Muslims in Britain and their institutions: ” The sanctimonious Muslim Council of Britain put out a statement yesterday condemning the Mumbai killings. Yet the MCB and Islamist extremists in Britain will not condemn the killing of Jewish civilians in the Middle East, and continue to pander to fundamentalist organisations like Hamas or Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, as they call for jihad against Jews and for the destruction of Israel [November 2008]; ” Nato soldiers are accused of brutality but the men with the most blood on their hands of fellow Muslims have been Islamist ideologues. Yet there is no outrage against the perpetrators of those attacks compared with the onslaught on Israel and on Jews….” [Feb 2009]. Given the greed in Parliament, it is ironical that he was quick to condemn the Summer 2012 attacks on shops – “What the looters wanted was for a few minutes to enter the world of Sloane Street consumption” – was not Denis Matyjaszek (MacShane’s family surname) among those Parliamentarians also on the lookout for a quick route to jam tarts?
Lady Macbeth in Djibouti
Baroness Warsi is due to attend the Foreign Ministers conference of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) in mid-November. What messages has she been charged to deliver? That she is the voice of Muslims in Britain? That Britain is a safe-haven for Muslims and does not extradite its citizens unjustly? That the only Muslim member of the Human Rights & Equalities Commission has been sacked? That her Government continues to “suspend” its relations with the Muslim Council of Britain? The MCB is unfairly derided by the likes of Christina Odone for being ‘self-appointed spokespersons’. What does this make the Baroness? And would Lady Macbeth sabotage community bodies in the UK from being formally recognised within the OIC framework because she favours her own ‘Muslim Leadership Council’ who will then crown her Queen!
The Good Shepherd General Guthrie
Our former Chief of Defence Staff once said, “Islam is difficult. Most Muslims don’ t believe in war any more than we do. But they haven’t the kind of tradition we have.” Now we know a bit more about his own ‘traditions’: General Guthrie is Knight of of the Order of Malta – requiring him to take elaborate oaths – including one of “poverty,chastity and obedience” (The Tablet, 26th May 2012). How did he manage dual loyalties – on the one hand to his sovereign the Queen and on the other to the Grand Master of the Order?
‘Caliphate’ or Islamic Government?
Salaam Blogger has been habituated to see HT’s press releases conclude with a stock phrase like “…support the inevitable re-establishment of the Caliphate” , “…work towards establishing the Islamic Caliphate that will bring a truly accountable government”. But recently it seems that references to the Caliphate have been dropped and replaced with ‘Islamic government’. For example, a recent PR called on us to multiply efforts “to establish an Islamic government in the Muslim world that will stand up for the interests of Muslims and Islam the world over”. If fetishes with particular terminology are under review, maybe now is a good time for this body to commence exploring beyond the prescribed reading lists and say delve into the writings of the pan-Islamist Said Halim Pasha (like his ‘Islamlashmak’ – see the ‘City of Islam’ chapter in Pickthall’s ‘Cultural Side of Islam’) and Abul ‘Ala Maududi? Of course these are not the last word on the subject of Islamic hukumiyat, but a basis for some badly needed fresh thinking.
Our tart Members of Parliament
Apparently Gary McKinnon’s MP – the Tory Edward Burrowes – threatened to quit if his constituent was extradited to the US. Would Babar and Talha’s MP Sadiq Khan demonstrated the same backbone! Not a chance from someone who believes that “it is better to survive to fight another day”. There will not be another day for him after the next General Election, given the mood amongst the Muslims in Tooting.
Our tart Generals
Outed in the Sunday Times [14th October 2012] for alleged lobbying on behalf of arms manufacturers while still in the so-called ‘purdah’ period – the two years after retirement when top government servants are not to engage in any work related to state contracts – our General Applegate has been linked to the Israel’s Elbit Systems – “we manufacture and integrate advanced, high-performance defense electronic and electro-optic systems”. Applegate set up Eagle Strategic Ltd. which dealt with Israel and he became head of Elbit Sytems UK. His service record includes important command responsibilities in UNPROFOR during the Balkan wars of the early 1990s. The French, who regarded the Bosnians with contempt, awarded Applegate with high honours! Much like the Israelis view the Palestinians, the French troops referred to the Bosnians with the derogatory label ‘les indigènes’. So join the dots: the British High Command was inclined to the Serbs – General Michael Rose and his fellow gentlemen officers…their policy led to a scrupulously enforced arms embargo on the Bosnian Army while the Serb militia received large quantities of weaponry from Israel. A good time for networking?
A Minister for the indigènes
So Baroness Warsi has been demoted from co-chairmanship of the Tory Party with a seat in Cabinet to ‘Senior minister of state at the Foreign Office and minister for faith and communities’ who will be invited to No.10 when relevant. A few days after the reshuffle it was clarified that the latter position entailed being a Minister of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Muslims will wish the Baroness well – she is after all one of the few high-profile BME politicians in the country, though tainted by the expenses scandal. However her pleas to Cameron were abject: “We need more people from urban areas voting for us, more people who are not white and more women….’I’m a woman, I’m not white, I’m from an urban area, I’m from the north, I’m working class – I kind of fit the bill.”
Ironically, the Baroness based her case on the very same sort of representative politics she had been quick to condemn as ‘identity politics’ e.g. declaring to the Muslim community newspaper ‘The Muslim News’ in April 2010, ‘We must change the way we engage with communities and stop treating British Muslims as some sort of special interest fringe group’. She was dutifully repeating the right-wing neo-con mantra that the State should deal directly with citizens and there should be no intermediaries to bargain or negotiate on their behalf. This mantra was applied foremost to Muslims in Britain. This is the woman who recently told an MCB Secretary General that “the MCB should grow up”, because it believed in speaking on behalf of a community. The MCB is far too polite to reciprocate. What now of ‘identity politics’, Baroness Warsi?
Clearly HMG remains confused on how best to reach an accommodation with British Muslims and accept them in mainstream life. She is basically a ‘Minister for Muslim Affairs’ in all but name? Is there a Minister for Roman Catholic Affairs?
The appointment will mark just one more episode in the tortuous history of the ‘Muslim’ desk in Whitehall. At first Muslims were seen as part of an urban regeneration challenge, and so in the early 1990s the regional directorate in Department of Environment set up a forum to seek the views of faith communities, the ‘Inner Cities Religious Council’ (ICRC).
Later under new Labour this unit movement moved to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. After 9/11 the security lens became dominant. The Faith unit moved to the Home Office, under the watchful eye of civil servant Neil Frater. Blair then decided to carve out another fiefdom – Communities and Local Government – to bestow to a lucky poodle. The neo-con Ruth Kelly (she who wished to ‘recalibrate’ relationships with the MCB and launched the Sufi Muslim Council) became Secretary of State. One equally young and ambitious Mark Carroll was appointed her head of ‘Race, Cohesion and Faiths’ – the gentler and mature Neil Frater being eased away. Carroll flourished for a while in the subsequent Hazel Blears regime – at a time when CLG continued its policy of fragmenting Muslim civil society so that it would not have to negotiate and bargain with any central entity. Carroll then became a security-type guru for Charles Clarke at the Home Office, working behind the scenes to create an imams’ body in the immediate aftermath of 7/7 and by 2006 reaching the position of ‘acting Director General, Communities Group’ (sic) at the Home Office. HMG was seeking to control Muslim affairs from both CLG and the HO. Later, to confuse the situation further, an intergovernmental group drawing on representatives from CLG, HO and (mainly) FCO referred to as RICU was also established.
The public sector cuts have thankfully done away with a lot of these paper-shuffling posts. Even CLG’s senior man in its faith unit, Maqsood Ahmed, was allowed to retire. Surely it is a bit ornamental to have a Minister for the indigènes when there isn’t much of a senior team to direct. The hard-headed Secretary of State at the CLG, Eric Pickles, with years of experience in local government, probably needed someone who could stand in for him in the Commons on technical issues of housing, economic regeneration etc. No wonder the Barnoness’s office is at the FCO in Whitehall rather than Eland House in Victoria.
But why has gallant Foreign Secretary William Hague come to the damsel’s rescue with a seat at his high table and office space in his fiefdom? A case of Yorkshire camaraderie? Not in politics – more like lining up a loyal friend when it comes to the next leadership contest!
Listening to a tired/tiring record
In November 2005 Tony Blair asserted that Muslims found it easier to blame others than to look inward; that ‘given half a leadership’, Muslims would ‘face up to the extremist menace in their midst’ (18th November 2005, The Guardian)
Fast forward to September 2012 -” What, I’m afraid, is very dangerous and actually is wrong is the reaction to it (‘Innocence of Muslims’). We need both the leadership within these countries and within Islam to stand up and say, ‘Look, there is a proper modern way of reconciling religious faith, democracy in society”. (17th September 2012, BBC Radio 4)
Lord Carey’s victim mentality
Britain’s evangelist is at it again: “I have often said that Christians have acted like ‘doormats’ for too long in a culture which owes so much to the formation of Christian faith. Now is the time to stand up and be counted in support of ‘tolerance’, freedom of expression and worship, in the face of these new heresy trials” (in the Daily Mail, 4th Sept 2012). Here is someone with a acute sense of victimhood – “The Muslim voice is very strong, so politicians and others are scared of it” – the sort of exaggerations that fan Islamophobia.
Damaged goods in Parliament
First there was the case of Bashir Khanbhai (MEP 1999-2004) who resigned over expenses; then there was the thrusting Shahid Malik (MP 2007-2010) who lost his seat after achieving the dubious distinction of claiming the highest amount in parliamentary expenses for any MP!
The conduct of our Lords Bhatia and Baroness Pola Uddin has been iffy – the latter has just returned after a long suspension. Lord Nazir has blown this way and that, sometimes accusing the security services of plotting against him and also raising eyebrows amongst his own communities for suggesting that first-cousin marriages are linked to sex crimes committed by Pakistani men!
Even Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan MP – he who claimed that the Muslim community was “his hinterland” – is facing criticism for not going the extra mile for his constituent Babar Ahmad.
And now the Tory Asian pin-up Warsi is in trouble in a mysterious case – first her co-chair of the Tory Party Lord Feldman alienated Dr Wafik Moustafa of the Conservative Arab Network (one wonders why – was it because Feldman feared a pro-Palestine lobby group?) – the same Dr Wafik is connected with Warsi’s expenses controversy.
Warsi and others will claim that they have not done anything wrong ‘technically’. That is the crux – it may not be technically wrong, but is it morally right? Why this greed? Why this difficulty in saying “I have sinned” and then Profumo-style, redeeming themselves through genuine public service? Alas for role-models for young Muslims! Let us hope the 2010 crop of MPs and Peers realise they need to be purer than Ceasar’s wife given the prejudices and powerplays to limit the Muslim voice in the Westminster village.
Jack Straw’s role and the MCB
When interviewed by a university researcher on Muslim issues, the former Home Sec and Foreign Sec Jack Straw claimed that “senior Labour ministers were heavily involved in the MCB but this causes deep division in the Government”. The interview was apparently in April 2011 – when Labour had lost the General Election. So which Government was he referring to – the outgoing Labour one or the Coalition? Could well be both! And when he says ‘involved’ it is presumably one of a destructive kind – weakening the collective bargaining strength of Muslim communities by nurturing the Quilliam Foundations of this world and similar obsequious poodles.
Airbrushing Islam out of the picture
Following the Chief Rabbi’s blanking out any references to Muslims in his public statements, Lord Carey is a kindred spirit: he warns of a drive to remove ‘Judaeo-Christian values from the public square” (Daily Telegraph, 14th April 2012). The ‘I-word’ is taboo! What to expect of someone who said (on 11th April 2010): “The Muslim voice is very strong, so politicians and others are scared of it.”
Is love a commodity?
Even the language of our young British Muslim leaders reflects the market economy paradigm. At an event recently, the case was being made for the importance of providing financial support to the umbrella body the Muslim Council of Britain. On hearing this, the young head of Britain’s best known aid charity remarked, “I don’t believe that there is ever a problem of resources – you need to have a product”. He then repeated this mantra several times in the evening to make sure the MCB supporter got the message! The question is, what can be the ‘product’ of an organisation that exists to work for the security and well-being of Muslim communities in Britain? The young leader’s management-speak brought to mind what Anthony Russell says in his remarkable short but weighty recent publication [Evolving the Spirit, Dreamstar Books]: “The ‘market’ has truly failed us because it has taken the ‘spirit’ or spiritual out of life and left us with a suspicion of anything that is not a commodity for sale. Unfortunately love is not a commodity and so has suffered as a result and left us all the poorer in our wealth”. By insisting Islamic projects must have a ‘product’ our young leader has absorbed the form of civil society work but is grasping for the essence.
Following Zakir Naik’s ban from entry in the UK in Summer 2010, the top of the range PR consultants Max Clifford Associates and legal eagles from Cherie Blair’s Chambers were hired to fight his case. The costs were astronomical – who could have supported such expense? When he addressed the Oxford Union in Feb 2011, the PR was still being handled by MCA! Hopefully there was a firewall to prevent sadaqa funds being used for this purpose? However even if that is the case, is such spending justifiable?
Many cooks spoil the broth
How many anti-Islamophobia initiatives are in the pot – Salaam blogger knows of at least three: (i) the one at Faith Matters (ii) a proposal to set up a National Muslim Hate Crime Monitoring Group at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) (iii) the ‘Data Project’ financed by some public-spirited Muslim businessmen. What matters is that the monitoring project should have community trust (not ‘CST’ trust)!
Wadah Khanfar in London
The ex-head of Al-Jazeera had a busy week in London (starting 16th Jan, organised by MEMO, Middle East Monitor) with commanding presentations at venues such as SOAS and Chatham House. His message: there has been a paradigm shift in the Arab world, and this needs to be mirrored in the West in a reshaping of foreign policies. Wadah has established the Sharq Forum to facilitate the dialogue, with offices in Tunis and Cairo. The old pro showed some nice footwork at Chatham House: Questioner from the floor: Why did you leave Al Jazeera? WK: So that I could speak to young people like you.
“Doublespeak is language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words”…so now we have Mr Cameron calling for Britain not to be constrained by the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights [Abu Qatada’s torture case] in the name of “democratic override”. Perhaps even Orwell would not have imagined a British PM associating the concept of ‘democracy’ to justify injustice!
Bakewell’s tart comment
Joan ‘the thinking man’s crumpet’ Bakewell makes a grudging appreciation of Islamic values: “we can’t be surprised by their shock and distaste for some of the West’s indulgences”. It is refreshing to find a touch of introspection sometimes appearing amongst the litterati…
The discredited Tony Blair – the man who rarely consulted his Cabinet on key decisions (and took Britain into the Iraq war on deliberate misinformation to Parliament) now has the gall to provide advice on what is ‘Democracy’: “Then you have got this Islamist movement, in the Muslim Brotherhood, which is very well organised, and where frankly, it is not clear that they want the same things as us and it is not clear that the type of democracy they would create would be a genuine [sic] democracy.”
This is the man who said ‘I think we are in a battle and I think the western world, a large part of it, is in a complete state of denial about it. Now I feel so strongly about it that I can’t back away from that. And I think that we are in real danger in a large part of the western opinion of completely misunderstanding the nature of the battle and the need to fight it, and we are really not fully appreciating the force that has been put against us, and you know this is not a set of isolated incidents, this is a global movement with an ideology that is fighting us in a very modern and clever way, and we have not got the strategy in place, sufficiently agreed across the western world, to defeat at the moment’ (interview in The Times, 2nd September 2006). http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/dec/29/tony-blair-liberals-islamist-regimes
Con Coughlin – one trash too many
Journalist Con Couglin’s trademark phrase is often ‘according to my well placed source in the security services….’ leading to some fanciful tit-bit – he is considered “an expert on Middle East and Islamic terrorism”. Now his articles on Tayeb Erdogan for the Daily Telegraph have led to a libel case which the newspaper has lost. He alleged that PM Erdogan arranged a supposed donation of £25 million to his AK Party fro a foreign power (Iran). Following the action by Carter Ruck the Daily Telegraph has paid the PM a “substantial sum in damages, together with his legal costs”. Less ‘expert’, more X-spurt! [see http://tinyurl.com/89jzhho]
My Muslim constituents!
“My constituency includes many people of the Jewish faith and the Muslim faith, whose prayer times are dictated by the rising and setting of the sun”. And who is this considerate friend of Muslims? No other than Hendon MP Matthew Offord speaking in the parliamentary debate [Hansard, 7th Dec 2011] on the Daylight Saving Bill. His Muslim constituents would rather he neuter his Israeli partisanship – this is the gentleman wiith a leading role to have the law on Universal Jurisdiction changed [to protect Israeli war criminals visiting the UK] and made offensive remarks about the Muslim Brotherhood [in Parliament in Nov 2010].
Melanie Phillips – hoisted off one’s petard?
After having the distinction of being on Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik’s reading list, perhaps Madam may have become a bit more reflective? But no – she now laments meglomaniac Mubarak’s departure: “It is hard to overstate the extent to which the UK and US governments have helped bring about the very opposite of what they declared they were promoting in Egypt. They helped oust Mubarak, a leader who was not only explicitly useful to the west but who had kept down the Muslim Brotherhood, on the crassly idiotic grounds that the ‘Arab spring’ revolt there would usher in democracy”. More birds of a feather…
Caution: Well-meaning businessmen at work!
Maulana Maudoodi once remarked that there are people who think that because they are rich, they are intelligent too! In June 2010 some City of London Muslim tycoons felt that something ought to be done about Islamophobia. A commendable initiative so an assortment from Muslim civil society visited them in Tower 24. What many found to their dismay was that the wealthy worthies greatly admired the Community Security Trust (CST) and wished to work in cooperation – looking up to an Elder Brother/Cousin. However their venture will be dead in the water if there is no community buy in – which there will not be if it means getting into bed with CST – for CST’s role in muddying community relations in Britain read the latest report from MEMO on Shaikh Raed Salah’s arrest – http://alturl.com/pcc7m
It is not just the CST about which they should be wary. The possibility of HMG ‘encouraging’ a so-called ‘Muslim Leadership Council’ has recently surfaced in the media? The worthies would be advised to stay well clear of HMG patronage if the Islamophobia recording project is to be viable and trusted within the community.
A confident Rushanara Ali MP (purple trouser suit, white blouse) addressing a meeting of the Muslim Professional Forum on Saturday 19th Nov on the August Riots spent a disproportionate amount of time on the recent news of two Muslim boys from Ilford killed in a drone attack in South Waziristan and the religious extremists in the Muslim community. Anas Al-Takriti speaking after her put her in place: while not condoning the boys actions in the least, he said that considering there were 3 million Muslims in the UK the number engaged in such violence was very low in number- but more importantly he asked Rushanara whether she would raise the issue of dual British-Israeli citizens undertaking military duties in the Occupied Territories with her parliamentary colleagues!
Bob Lambert now targetted
The commendable Robert Lambert was heckled at the One Society Many Cultures conference on 15th October for having served as an undercover officer who infiltrated London Greenpeace. And on cue, The Guardian the next day was able to print a scoop – smells a bit fishy! However clearly Lambert’s critique of the Prevent Strategy has earned him enemies in high places, now willing to leak his service record – he retired from Met Police in 2007. He has since been vocal in criticism of counter-terrorism policies and in recent weeks publicly criticised the police officer who called on Muslims to have a dialogue with the EDL and also spoken at the book launch of ‘The Cold War and British Muslims’ – a report that examines the Neo-Con/Likkudite funding of two British ‘think tanks’.
Pushed or Jumped
Why did Al-Jazeera’s hugely talented and successful CEO Wadah Khanfar suddenly resign last month? It has now been gleaned – from a few titbits left over after a dinner given in his honour in London and picked up by a fly on the wall – was that he was more likely pushed! Apparently the Qatari princes coveted his global popularity. Let us watch the channel’s ratings in months to come….the royalists will probably be sycophantic anglophiles who will pack management with White City rejects/redundants.
Guess who accompanied PM Cameron in his July 2011 trade mission to Africa – whiz kid Alastair David Lukies, CEO of Monitise, co-founder of E-Politix [“I built up a reasonably extensive list of high-level contacts”] and devout Baptist. Monitise has awaited a decision from Nigeria’s Central Bank since December last year to upgrade its provisional license to introduce payments by mobile phone across the country – it came through a month after the visit!
Israeli Ambassador at the Labour Conference
Introducing Ed Milliband at the Labour Friends of Israel Annual Reception on 27th September, Ron Prosor apparently remarked “He is not a friend of Israel”. How ungracious!
Chief Rabbi’s blind spot
For the so erudite Jonathan Sacks, the interaction of Islamic culture and civilisation with the Britain is absent! Bypassing Prof Nabil Matar’s work on the Elizabethan interactions, or the writings of Tim Winter on Henry Stubbes or the other educational and cultural impacts – for him “the Judaeo-Christian ethics is the sole [sic] effective force capable of defeating entropy which otherwise leads to the fall of civilisations”! [writing in the Kings College alumni magazine In Touch, Autumn 2011]. In reality religious plurality in Britain has long included Muslims – as apparent in this statement by the Baptist leader Thomas Helwys in 1612 during the reign of James I: “Neither may the king be judge between God and man. Let them be heretics, Turks (ie Muslims), Jews, or whatsoever, it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure.” Sacks should take up a course in Critical Realism to understand the significance of Absence.
Shiraz Maher misses the point
Desperate-to-please Shiraz Maher [formerly of neo-Con coven Policy Exchange & now at Kings] in ‘Ties that Bind – How the Story of Britain’s Muslim soldiers can forge a national identity’ tries to explain why so many Muslim troops served in the army during WWI – “this was bound up with social Indian conventions relating to izzat ñ honour. But for some, Muslim and otherwise, they also felt a religious duty to serve…”. What he ought to have mentioned was the commitment given by the Viceroy that the ‘Holy Places of of Arabia’ – including the holy places of Mesopotamia and the Hejaz’ would be “immune from attack or molestation by the British naval and Military forces”. As Jinnah remarked in a meeting in London on 30th June 1921: “It was those representations which the Mahomedans, against their most sacred feelings of a religious character, came forward to help in this War because they felt secure that their Holy Places would not be touched, they felt secure that the homelands of Turkey would not be demolished and scatterd and broke up”. But Britain did not act with commensurate izzat and violated this covenant – occupying Constantinople, installing a puppet king in the Hejaz, fanning an insurrection with the likes of T E Lawrence – and then imposing martial law in the Punjab to quell the dissent of returning troops! Historians worthy of their salt need to present a balanced view, Mr Maher.
Torture – a shared value!
October 2009: MI5 chief, Jonathan Evans…we do not solicit or collude in torture. We do not practice torture. But we are operating in a difficult and complex environment.î [full text was on the University of Bristol website, 15th Oct 2009]. September 2011: “Evidence that British intelligence agencies mounted their own ‘rendition’ operation in collaboration with Muammar Gaddafi’s security services has emerged with the discovery of a cache of Libyan government papers in an abandoned office building in Tripoli…Since the ousting of Gaddafi it has become apparent that the regime’s enemies were tortured routinely while imprisoned, and at least one rendition victim, Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, later died in what the Libyans claimed was a suicide”. [Ian Cobain & Martin Chulov in The Guardian, 4th Sept]
The parochialism of leading British Jewish leaders continues to amaze! For example, Mike Whine of the Community Safety Trust, in evidence to an anti-hate crime investigation in summer 2010 observed that the CST cooperated with the ‘Hindu, Sikh and Christian communities’ in fighting racism. Not one word about Muslims! In fact, the CST ‘ did not have sufficient cooperation with British Muslims as they had not yet been able to identify key partners among this community’! It seems that bodies like the Muslim Council of Britain do not pass Mr Whine’s litmus test. Surely CST needs to find its Muslim partners pretty promptly – if the EDL is targetting Muslims today, guess who will be in the firing line tomorrow? Its a bit like when the Chief Rabbi could not countenance using the M-word [see Jonathan Sacks’s blind spot, below]
The Neo-Con network
The British-Israel Communities & Research Centre is becoming a bit of a gateway to the corridors of power! Established for “creating a more supportive environment for Israel in the UK”, it works directly with the Israeli embassy . The Tory benefactor Poju Zabludowicz, close to BICOM noted : “I was with Bibi [Netanyahu] when I brought him to a meeting with British newspaper editors. If he needs help, he can use Bicom. They can ‘tailor a suit’ for him which is suitable for transmitting the message to the British public.î BICOM’s former head of media, Mr Gabriel Milland, moved to Policy Exchange, the neo-con, Islam-bashing think tank. And now his next career move: head of the Michael Gove’s news desk at the Department of Education. Michael Gove is of course former chair of Policy Exchange and author of the polemic ‘Celsius 7/7 – ‘How the West’s Policy of Appeasement Has Provoked Yet More Fundamentalist Terror – And What Has to Be Done Now’. It is no longer ‘Yes Minister’, but ‘You have taken the words out of my mouth, Secretary of State’.
No comment, no content
Our outgoing Security Commissioner, in his end of term report notes, ” I will not disclose publicly the numbers of warrants or authorisations issued to the security and intelligence agencies or the armed forces. That is because it would, I believe, assist those unfriendly to the UK were they able to know the extent of the work of the Security Service, SIS, GCHQ and the armed forces in fulfilling their functions. The figures are, however, of interest and I have included them in the Confidential Annex to this report”. So he is telling us that he is not telling us about any abuses of power! Why produce a report with so little content?
Mr Ed Hussain, now comfortably lodged with fellow neo-cons at 58 East 68th Street, New York (Council on Foreign Relations) could be heard yesterday 15th August on the BBC pontificating on Syria – and drawing a parallel between the demonstrating tactics of the anti-Assad opposition with Al-Qaida! And what makes Ed an ex-spurt/expert on the country – by spending more time with “non-Muslim Britons than Muslims” as he says in his biography. Ed has never quite come clean on how many months precisely he spent in Damascus – often providing a date range that includes time in Saudi Arabia.
“Ironically, [Douglas] Murray himself had started out as a believing Anglican, but began to question his faith as a result of his work on Islam, writing in December 2008, ‘Gradually, scepticism of the claims made by one religion was joined by scepticism of all such claims.” – from the brilliant Spinwatch report ‘The Cold War on British Muslims’
The link between Israeli partisans and rightwing think tanks
Following the citations of Melanie Phillips by the Norwegian Christian Terrorist Anders Breivik, what other dots are waiting to be joined? For example, why are Zionist charities so compassionate towards rightwing/neo-Con think tanks? Take the Lewis Family Charitable Trust founded in 1962. Its beneficiaries have apparently included both the Zionist Federation and Policy Exchange. Or take the Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust – it donates both to the Israel-Diaspora Trust, as well as generously to Policy Exchange!
Need to probe Murdoch but also the probers
Muslim readers of The Times will not be unaware of this newspaper’s smears against Muslim scholars and institutions in Britain – often written under the pseudonym ‘Andrew Norfolk’ – for example in September 2007 with the headline: “The homegrown cleric who loathes the British” thus describing alim Riadh ul Haque….And the tabloid the ‘Sun’ of the same News Corp stable was equally vindictive – “Muslim fanatic is crack dealer” (Nov 2010), “In traditional Islamic headgear, Asian ex-gang member Amir poses with his sword….”(Feb 2010), its projection of UKIP… But what about some of the MPs now hunting with the hounds, having run with the hares! Take Tory MP Philip Davies who asked a couple of banal questions to Dauphin Murdoch. Davies should have declared his interests. After all, he has used the Sun for his rants, apparently stating [7th October 2006] “If there’s anybody who should f____ off it’s the Muslims who are doing this kind of thing. Police should pull out the stops to track down these vile thugs”. The Sun apologised for this non-story some months later – Davies has yet to apologise.
British Values & Torture
Jonathan Evans, MI5 DG in October 2009 (speech at the University of Bristol): It was “a very clear and long established principle” that MI5 did not collude in torture or solicit others to torture on its behalf. Fast forward to The Guardian, 13th July 2011: “The supreme court has outlawed intelligence services’ use of secret evidence in court to conceal allegations that detainees were tortured….The appeal was brought by lawyers for MI5 seeking to overturn an earlier appeal court ruling that prevented the service from suppressing accusations British suspects had been ill-treated at Guant·namo Bay and other foreign holding centres….The detainees’ claims for compensation have, in the meantime, been settled. Last November the government agreed to pay out millions of pounds to former Guant·namo Bay inmates”.
HMG downgrades faith consultation
The Faith Communities Consultative Council has been the only formal forum through which Government and faith groups could exchange views – it grew out of the 1990s Inner Cities Religious Council. In June 2011 CLG minister Andrew Stunell has informed members that the FCCC is going to be dissolved – so there will no longer be a formal consultative mechanism – but instead “ad hoc meetings to discuss policy as appropriate”. We will call you – you don’t call us! Not very reassuring for the Muslim community – its national representative bodies will only be consulted at times of crisis, not normalcy. We lack access to the corridors of power, and one more avenue has been slammed shut.
Who’s been leaning on MINAB
While 99% of Musliim civil society has been critical of the recently launched Home Office’s Prevent Strategy [even Quilliam Foundation noted that “there are many problems in the strategy…the strategy is plagued by muddled thinking”] one group’s unquestioning endorsement stands out like a sore thumb – The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) – whose press release stated that it “welcome the refocused Prevent Strategy”. According to the grapevine the MINAB press release was drafted by individuals associated with the department for Communities & Local Government – which of course includes one or two Muslims tasked with selling HMG policies. Names are not difficult to work out!
Jonathan Sacks’s blind spot
“A powerful store of social capital still exists. It is called religion: the churches, synagogues and other places of worship that still bring people together in shared belonging and mutual responsibility. The evidence shows that religious people ñ defined by regular attendance at a place of worship ñ actually do make better neighbours”. Chief Rabbi – why this allergy to the word ‘mosques’ – surely it could have been included in your listing!? There are more Muslims in the UK than all the other non-Christian faiths put together.
In our image
Catholic bishops meeting in Turin wish to “encourage the birth of an Islam more purely and typically religious than political”; a bit rich considering there remains a Vatican State in which the Pope is both temporal and spiritual leader; in fact Britain appoints an Italian ambassador to Rome and a separate one to the Holy See!
Shutting up the debate
Martin Bright et al hounded the Muslim Council of Britain in early 2010 when its then Deputy Secretary General Dr Daud Abdullah signed the Istanbul Declaration on Gaza – it callled on resistance if there was a naval blockage. Now Bright writing in the JC has the excellent London Citizens in the crosshairs – because its trustee Junaid Ahmed gave a speech at a public meeting in 2009 (during Israel’s brutal Operation Cast Lead) in which he paid respects to the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Why raise this issue now? And how long will it be before the JC plays the Pope Pius card – and raise the issue of anti-semitsm – which will sting the Catholic Social Teaching (CST) inspired London Citizens’ activists?
It felt like a scene from a Le CarrÈ novel. Former South African Intelligence boss Ronnie Kasrils speaking a stone’s throw from the British Library – among the audience a scattering from the Muslim embassies – all their ‘first secretaries’ one presumes. Including a wary friend from the Malaysian High Commission – Ronnie slipped in the occasional ‘Assalaamu ‘Alaikum’ when appropriate.
The Royal Wedding. RSVP
There were two Muslim invitees to Prince William’s wedding – one a distinguished maulana from Leicester. But as the event clashed with Juma prayers, he chose to be with his congregation. Doff the cap to a man of principle.
In the cross-hair?
Apparently the new Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation David Anderson, a distinguished QC, is working on various reports relating to Muslims in Britain. With the Tories’ sounding off again on HT as a possible proscribed group, is this an opportunity for the Reviewer to show his mettle i.e. independence from the political masters – or will he go native like his undistinguished predecessor Lord Carlile? Wait and see.
Dr Stranglelove lives on…
Double dealings galore – Independent newspaper’s report: “An al-Qa’ida operative accused of bombing Christian churches and a luxury hotel in Pakistan in 2002 was working for British intelligence at the same time….” Interestingly – the hotel incident features in France’s ‘Karachigate’ scandal – bombing of the Sheraton and death of French engineers – in retribution for withholding of paybacks to finance Baladur’s presidential campaign!
If I had a hammer, I would hammer in the morning…
Objecting to a sacrilegous depiction of Christ in a museum gallery in Avignon, France, two young Frenchmen destroyed the montage by artist Andres Sarrano. They entered the museum gallery on Sunday morning [17th April 2011], and with a hammer and pick-axe, destroyed the art work. This followed demonstrations on Saturday organised by Catholic associations that had denounced the work as blasphemous. During the Danish Cartoons affair Muslims were lectured on Enlightenment values of freedom of expression and called cultural terrorists – will French Catholics receive the same treatment?
Can you be serious?
Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6 (1999-2004) and ‘uncle’ to Saif Gaddafi was heard to declare at a recent London foreign policy event – referring to the Egyptian Ikhwan – “they have many appearances, political and social, but we know in their heart of hearts they are essentially terroristsî. What appallingly poor judgement. Dearlove was much miffed when John Sawers emerged as SIS head in 2009 – calling it a “wrong choice” by an “impulsive” Foreign Secretary. It seems that not much credence was put on Dearlove’s views on succession planning.
British Muslims for Israel!
So 22 year old Mr Hasan Afzal would like to spearhead those British Muslims who wish to “advocate for Israel”. He also writes for Conservative Home disparaging Muslim efforts such as the ‘Inspired by Muhammad’ campaign. Let us watch his next career moves when he graduates from Birmingham University in 2012 with a degree in Political Economy.
Emerging from the debate initiated by Paul Goggins MP in support of Quilliam Foundation: that this organisation received more “Home Office Prevent funding than any other single organisation-nearly £1.2 million over the past three financial years. The Foreign Office has provided nearly £1.5 million in project funding over the same period.” Those speaking in favour of continued funding [usual suspects Hazel Blears, Michael Gapes, Patrick Mercer, Julian Lewis, Pat McFadden, Jerry Sutcliffe, Denis MacShane ] vastly over-rated QF’s influence amongst Muslims in Britain – ask the man on the Cricklewood omnibus – he would laugh with derision.
Guess who’s here?
There was one unexpected member of the audience when Kemal Helbawy, Anas Takriti and others briefed an open meeting organised by IFE last Tuesday (8th March 2011) at East London Mosque. Why no other than a mandarin from the Home Office – Tony Heal, Deputy Head of Prevent Unit! Now, Now, is this a sign of personal interest, or at the behest of boss Charles Farr? The speakers did not pull any punches, so hopefully HMG now knows what many think about the West’s double-standards of propping up dictators, while also pontificating about human rights and democratic values.
Musharaff’s double negative
‘General Pervez Musharraf, who is now living in Britain, alleges that he was not told about Britainís disapproval of torture‘. What to make of this – that Britain approved the torture carried out under his regime’s auspices?
Why this vendetta against Foreign Secretary William Hague
Is there a link between (a) Britain’ stand in the Security Council resolution of 22nd Feb 2011 condemning Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories as an obstacle to peace (UK support, US veto) (b) the decision to upgrade the Palestinian General Delegation in London to the level of a mission AND the very loud whispering campaign to declare the FS unfit for his post? For example the Daily Telegraph story:”Mr Hague’s commitment to his Cabinet career has waned since last year”. Guess who might be scheming for his job – Liam Fox, or even Michael Gove?
Worrying feedback for Mr Hague…..
Explaining their decision to arrest the SAS team in Libya, one member of the interim ruling council in Benghazi noted that on finding they were British their suspicions were heightened “by Britain’s role in training Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in recent years.” No doubt many Egyptians will similarly remember the way Tories have slighted Qaradawi when it comes to dealing with Britain once the dust settles.
Bahrain’s London PR company
Lord Bell (of Margaret Thatcher times) heads up the PR company Pottinger Bell – his company is now acting for the Bahraini government. Among Lord Bell’s earlier work was on behalf of the Saudi government to discontinue the Serious Fraud Office investigation into alleged bribes in the Al Yamamah arms deal. The firm recently issued a statement ëThe UK backs all initiatives taken by the kingdomís leadership to safeguard the country from extremism and internal division, promote national unity and protect the legitimate ruling system advocated by the Bahraini people.í The FCO quickly denied this!
Mr Dearlove and the dirty shilling
Among UK organisations receiving their shilling from Saif Gaddafi was Monitor Group – he used them to interview the heads of non-government organisations for a paper that argued the ‘central failing’ of current global institutions was that the set-up was ‘highly undemocratic.’ And guess who worked at the time for MG: Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and Sir Mark Allen, ‘the intelligence agent who brought Col Gaddafi’s regime in from the cold’.” Perhaps this duo’s texts may even have found their way in Schizo Junior’s LSE PhD thesis!
Now who was recently cosying up to Saif al-Qaddafi?
The RICU-compliant Quilliam Foundation has just published a document ëUnderstanding the Libyan uprisingí written by one Noman Benotman, “a senior analyst at Quilliam, who arrived back in London yesterday after spending two weeks in Tripoli” . In it, he calls for a safe passage to the Colonel and hiis family “into exile”! Please QF, could you tell us how many times your distinguished analyst was entertained by Schizo Jr?
extremum vitae spiritum edere
An international Afghanistan conference held in June 2010 in Kabul has decided to call its operation to transfer the ëlead security responsibilityí to the Afghan government as ‘Operation Inteqal’. This may mean ‘transfer’ in Dari, but in Urdu it is more like the transfer from the realm of the living to that of the dead!
Qaradawi, Scylla and Charybdis Will Odysseus break free?
There is no doubt