Not in my Name: the ‘Joint UK Muslim Statement’ offers no progressive solutions

I sense that the signatories of this letter would rather perpetuate problems and grievances than find solutions

 

This is quite a difficult response to write, as I am guaranteed to be labelled ‘Islamophobic’. Both I and my organisation will receive a continuous stream of ad hominem attacks, most completely untrue, but peppered with elements that are publically believed, hard to disprove or irrelevant.

But regardless of how difficult this is, it is necessary because I think Wednesday’s joint statement, headlined ‘Muslim Community rejects the State’s criminalisation of Islam and condemns moves to silence legitimate critique and dissent’, is detrimental to integration, will worsen community cohesion and offers no progressive solutions to the challenging policy area of counter-extremism.

At best, the hyperbolic language – such as the claim that the UK has criminalised Islam and that the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act is McCarthyite – is negligent, as it perpetuates the myth that there is institutionalised discrimination against Muslims in the UK and that we don’t respect Freedom of Religion here.

At worst, it is nefarious, as it serves to shut down debate, for such charged language will put Britons off speaking out and will make them feel anti-Muslim for doing so. It pushes naïve followers of the signatories to buy into a victimhood narrative, exacerbating the polarising ‘them-and-us’ construct that is so intrinsic to the radicalisation process, and a key part of its escalation to violent extremism.

But of course to say so has been pre-empted by the writers, and therefore the signatories, who have got their retaliation in first by saying “words like radicalisation and extremism [are] unacceptable”. This all shuts down debate about phenomena that clearly need to be tackled and is pretty commonplace for the self-styled anti-Prevent lobby, whose perpetual focus on the Prevent brand has added to its ‘toxicity’.

This is a difficult policy area for a number of reasons, and Quilliam is actively and independently working to improve and refine counter-extremism and present evidence-based policy advice for both the UK government and other governments internationally. Take my project to promote adherence to human rights in counter-terrorism legislation, for example, or another to work with the European Commission to improve evaluation, due diligence and cost-effectiveness of counter-extremism work across the EU.

Furthermore, look at Quilliam’s repeated calls for the separation of counter-terrorism from counter-extremism, both strategically and structurally, meaning that law enforcement agencies would have less interaction with educational institutions and stop the over-securitisation of this agenda. Or alternatively, see our pushing for a civil society approach to counter-extremism, which would involve adequate training for frontline workers who are better placed than the police to do effective values-based primary prevention work, and spot radicalisation as part of targeted prevention work.

Many of our findings and recommendations would improve the lot for British Muslims, but I sense that the signatories of this letter would rather perpetuate problems and grievances than find solutions. Only those whose currency is the politics of identity benefit from sowing tribal divisions. Moreover, improvements to counter-extremism policy are not desirable if you fundamentally oppose even the premise of counter-extremism like some of the signatories, who want to fabricate the illusion of, or indeed strive to create, critical mass in support of Islamism and in opposition to secular liberal democratic states.

The letter again pre-empts this accusation by suggesting that opposing “normative Islamic opinions” is a ploy to silence speakers. This is savvy positioning, as it simultaneously attempts to whitewash various views of its signatories that are antithetical to human rights as normative, and suggests that any opposition to this goes against our treasured liberal progressive human rights values.

In response to this, it is worth having a look at the particular views of some of the signatories, such as Abdurraheem Green’s anti-Semitism, Haitham Haddad’s support for female genital mutilation and suicide bombing in Israel or Iraq, or the views of Hizb ut-Tahrir, represented over 20 times in this 170-strong list, which include the stoning of adulteresses among the aims for their aspired-to caliphate.

I certainly don’t assume that everyone on the list shares those views, but I do question their judgement in aligning with such figures.

Here is the problem for the signatories – Quilliam has repeatedly insisted that the UK should not ban Islamist groups that stop short of committing, promoting, or preparing violent actions. Exposing and criticising bad ideas, logical fallacies, or an ideology that often creates an atmosphere conducive to terrorism, is a much better pursuit than legislating against them and does, in fact, uphold our ‘values and liberal freedoms’.

This does not mean that we should legitimise those who hold these views by giving them an unopposed platform, exposing vulnerable people to their poisonous ideology, or funding them from the public purse to counter violent extremism. Establishing the difference between legality and legitimacy is important, and recognises that non-legislative tools may be necessary to counter extremism of all kinds.

Lastly, we must remember that very often both the anti-Muslim far-right and the Islamist far-right see Muslims as a monolithic bloc. Sadly, the media often makes this mistake too and I don’t think it is helpful to assume that these 170 signatories speak for or represent the ‘Muslim community’, just as Quilliam never claims to.

Striving for representativeness feeds this fallacy for three reasons: firstly, it invariably prioritises religious identity over all others, perpetuating a central Islamist narrative. Secondly, the notion that Islamists might be representative is shattered when you consider their views towards women, gay people, and any Muslim who doesn’t absolutely agree with them, undeniably more than 50 per cent of the total Muslim population. Thirdly, a 2006 YouGov poll (p80) found the MCB, widely assumed to represent more British Muslims than any other group, only had 6 per cent support, and aren’t even included among the signatories.

Some newspapers, blind to such nuance, feed this with lazy headlines.

I too affirm my “commitment to robust political and ideological debate and discourse for the betterment of humanity at large”. My starting point is that Islam, secular liberal democratic values, and our work to counter extremism are all compatible.

Signed,

Jonathan Russell, political liaison officer at Quilliam

134 Responses to “Not in my Name: the ‘Joint UK Muslim Statement’ offers no progressive solutions”

  1. Guest

    Yes, your views should be broadcast, as you remember how much you hate yourself for coming here to troll, right?

    Or are you just here to prove you’re worse than any mere Islamist, by your words and deeds? As you try and censor the English language to suit your bigotry?

  2. Guest

    Keep saying that your hate is “factually correct”

    And no, I leave your kind to the courts system to deal with.

  3. Guest

    You say that bigoted hate is “accurate”, as you are the one demanding silence here, as you try and re-write English because of your Orwellian views.

    Then you claim that large numbers of English people are making excuses for you or something, as the natural conclusion is you’re a nasty little extremist.

    Keep demanding I “thank” people for being lying bigots, and as you deny your political correctness, and as you whine about your poor English.

    You could try and make false “philosophical” points, but your English is too poor for that, right. You’re too busy aiming at the Jews and Muslims.

  4. Guest

    Keep trying to excuse your hate of secular, liberal democratic values, because your hate is better than their hate, as you note you hate the very system you’ve grown up in.

    I don’t apologise for your views, which differ from what you spew about in it’s excuses get over it.

  5. Guest

    No, I don’t hold your views, and keep lashing out at the communists under your bed.

  6. Guest

    It means exactly what’s typed. You’re determined to find another reason, as you then randomly admit your life isn’t worth living.

    Religious zealots like you are the problem, as you make false claims as ever, as you scream that words commonly used are “Gibberish” because they both accurately describe your views and because you can’t take any form of criticism without going into Orwellian revisionist mode.

  7. Guest

    Ah yes, I must be you, because I’ve identified your use of multiple accounts, Lord Blagger. Your ever-shifting web of ID’s, where they take turns in pairs to post the same old insults.

    It’s transparent and shows your agenda perfectly.
    But you’re always ready to attack the Jew, of course.

  8. Guest

    Ah, you’re here to **** shit because I’m a Jew. Right.

  9. Guest

    No, I’m not you, but keep blaming me for your made-up fantasies, as you reply to yourself.

    You’re blaming me for being Jewish, of course.

  10. Guest

    So you don’t get English. At all.
    As you try and deny who backs you.

    You don’t want competion for your views, I get it. At least now you’ve slipped up and admitted the problem is Islamism, not Islam.

    Keep trying to make lies about focus, as you insult me for being Jewish, as you scream that disagreeing with you hate is and that Jewhate suits you.

    You’ve repeatedly espoused censorship and Orwellian control of the language to eliminate a word which you don’t like which fits your views, of course. You run from it, like the coward you are, because you’re afraid of democracy, freedom and tolerance.

  11. Guest

    And you find Western Civilisation 100% incompatible with your views, so you’re just whining about the competition.

    We need to talk about extremism. Yours, Islamists. Any enemy of civilisation.

  12. Guest

    Keep fighting the communists in your brain.
    And unlike you, I wouldn’t have death camps. And I don’t seek to be “in charge” in the first place, unlike you.

    I’m pro-democracy, so sorry about that.

  13. Guest

    Yes, let’s discuss why your political correctness towards all Muslims “doesn’t actually win any argument and adds absolutely nothing constructive to any respectful or informed debate.”

    As long as people don’t use a word which fits your views, you’ll be “polite” towards the little peon, but you go off the handle when they actually talk about your views. You don’t ignore, you go on the attack. And refuse to debate, because debate requires that people’s views be discussed.

    And you’re terrified of having the way your views line up with those you condemn be talked about openly. Same intolerance, same pro-censorship stance, same…

  14. Lesmond Nyjacks

    You hate democracy.
    you disgusting communist.

  15. Lesmond Nyjacks

    No Leon, because you are a dispicable vile communist.

  16. Stormbringer

    “Leon Wolfeson / Guest, a seemingly reasonable, untill disagreed with Leftist.”

    Ahh, the resident special needs loon.

    I see – well it certainly explains his cretinous, child-like comments and obvious inability to post anything that is even vaguely legible.

    Only a bonafide moron can even begin to believe in all that baseless guff and his demonstrable stupidity is self-evident with every single post.

    He’s probably far too thick to even realise that he biggest recruitment sergeant for everything he opposes but I doubt he will ever possess enough self-awareness to stop digging his hole even deeper. Long may he continue.

    Best ignored – just keep on posting comments that he despises and let him froth at the mouth. It will serve to remind him how utterly powerless he really is.

  17. Stormbringer

    “So you don’t get English. At all”

    Not the bizarre, broken Pigeon English that you seem to speak. I blame a Marxist education – your teachers have seriously failed you.

    “At least now you’ve slipped up and admitted the problem is Islamism, not Islam.”

    Islam is Islamism:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/16/moderate-muslim-devout-liberal-religion

    “as you insult me for being Jewish”

    Liar – the true hallmark of Marxist throwback. As any of my comments here prove to anyone who cares to read them, I’ve said absolutely nothing about anyone being Jewish. The only person here who is going on and on about being a Jew is you.

    “You’ve repeatedly espoused censorship and Orwellian control of the
    language to eliminate a word which you don’t like which fits your views,
    of course. You run from it, like the coward you are, because you’re
    afraid of democracy, freedom and tolerance.”

    Yeah, yeah, yeah – whatever. Just carry on digging your sordid little hole of pure stupidity even deeper as it will serves to make my comments look even better and far more convincing. Way to go.

  18. Stormbringer

    “because of your Orwellian views”

    Well George Orwell had very sound views so I will take that as a compliment.

    “Then you claim that large numbers of English people are making excuses for you or something”

    You do know that you’re retarded right?

  19. Lesmond Nyjacks

    Shut up Leon you moron.
    Your opinions are so ignorant, they are actually embarrassingly bad, is that why you disown them by posting as “Guest”?

    You need to get back to the circus where you belong.

    You are so foolish, you actually discredit any cause that you are involved with.

  20. Guest

    Ah yes, I should shut up and not discuss the statement you love, it embarasses you for people to rag on it, as you post under another one of your many identities, Lord Blagger.

    Keep screaming Jews belong in the Circus, as you scream that Jews magically poison causes. Because Jewhate.

  21. Guest

    Ah, so you’re an anti-disabled bigot, I see.

    Orwell was MOCKING your right, of course. You fail to realise that.

  22. Guest

    Yes yes, everyone has to be you, Lord Blagger.

    Keep whining because people are not supporting the statement you signed.

  23. Guest

    Ah, your resident anti-disabled bigotry, as you use your PC to ignore other people. You keep saying that opposing the statement is “baseless guff”, Lord Blagger, your true statement shows.

    Then it’s the standard “Jews R Thick” nonsense, as you claim that your far right views are because Jews exist, when you are to blame to your views.

    Keep screaming that you will only troll, as you demand Jews be made powerless because of your hate.

  24. Guest

    Ah yes, the Queen English’s – to you, “bizarre, broken Pigeon English”.. As you blame your “Marxist” education then my teachers.

    You then make false equivalences to try and hide the fact you know what the real problem is, as you admit you’re a liar and try and claim to a Marxist. You’re obsessed, Lord Blagger, with me being Jewish.

    Keep claiming that discussing opposition to the statement, which you can’t stand is a “sordid little statement”, and that you think I’m making your signature on it look more “convincing”…nope, that you and your shilling for the values on it.

  25. Guest

    No, I’m not you, cry more.
    As you fight the communists under your bed and in your brain.

    Keep hating on democracy and demanding death camps.

  26. Gafto

    Hi Leon, I see that now you are banned from Labourlist you are touting your badly written childish rubbish all over this site too. What a clown you are. Like I kept telling you over on Labourlist, you need to read what is written, digest it, try to understand the point being made, then form your own coherent post. Try reading your post to yourself before posting, it might filter some of the gibberish.

  27. Patrick Nelson

    Only supporters of neoconservative imperialistic violence use the term ‘islamofascist’.

  28. Patrick Nelson

    yes.

  29. Patrick Nelson

    When you say that there is only one Islam and then talk about Ayatollah Khomeini who belonged to a revolutionary version of a tiny sect that most Muslims consider heretical then you are revealing just how little you know about this subject.

  30. Patrick Nelson

    Muslims do not say that Jews are the sons of apes and pigs unless they are very silly. The Apes and pigs things comes from a narration in the Quran that is the same as a story in the Bible/Torah that concerns some people who broke the Sabbath and were transformed into apes and pigs as a punishment. Muslims who now anything about their religion categorically do not believe that Jews living today are the sons of apes and pig.

  31. occupant 9

    Is there another Koran that doesn’t denigrate ALL other faith groups that you know about or is your hobby splitting hairs at the most forensic and asinine level? Was there another “prophet” of Islam called Mo who didn’t rape all ages, pillage, plunder and mass murder that you are keeping from us … from history? Please don’t hold back as I’m sure the 270 million victims of Islamic violence over the past 1400 years would like an explanation, however late … and useless. And wrong.

    Islam paints us all (unless you’re a Muslim) with the broad brush the free get accused of using all the time, yet Islam is never held to account for it. Furthermore, this broad brush Islam uses against all non-Muslims, for 1400 years, is theological and proscriptive. I can’t see how you would care to know this for it IS work and does take time away from posting knee-jerk Idiotisms, as you like to do.

    Surely, it is fair to understand Islam using the same texts they use to incite, to gain insight? Or, do you subscribe to the Islamic position that non-Muslims be forbidden from knowing how someone who plans to murder you just might be capable of telling you a lie? Are you good with dhimmitude? Do you even know what that is?

    Look it up; it’s time you learned something.

  32. Fugstar

    Jonathan Russel writes with the headline ‘Not in my name’, which is ripped off most recently, the anti Iraq war movement. I am not sure what the ‘my’ refers to hear considering his organisation is a complete pariah within the faith. Does he write from an internal Muslim standpoint or a white supremacist one?

  33. Patrick Nelson

    You know occupant 9 The person who tries to argue with an ignorant idiot is a bigger idiot still, so have fun with your Islamophobic rants.

  34. occupant 9

    So, what you’re saying is you’re content to go with how you feel, rather than read the Koran, Suras and Hadith for yourself, which admittedly is tiresome and tedious and takes away from far more pleasurable pasttimes.

    If you really have genuine doubt whether or not Mo raped, pillaged and plundered … how have you managed to be so insulated from basic history?!

    Here’s a source for 270 million victims of Islam that is a compilation of historical research etc with egads, historical context (I know, “Lies! All lies!”): http://www.politicalislam.com/tears-of-jihad/

    You’re a bit late bringing up the evil deeds of Christianity which are usually introduced much earlier as a means of deflecting for the evil theology AND deeds Islam. You can’t say you didn’t try.

    Once you’re done with equivocating, read the Koran, unless, again, you acquiesce to the dictates of Islam and forbid yourself, as a filthy infidel, from doing so. Your choice, for now. Exercise it.

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