With the issue of extremism being at the top of the political agenda, never has it been more important to highlight the issue of the Far Right in the UK as a socio-political phenomenon, and to consider its wider and deeper implications on British society as a whole.
With government’s CST Bill to becoming law, police and security forces will be granted extra powers and more and more sections of society will feel the brunt of the implications of these new measures, leading to the risk of polarisation and demonisation increasing substantially. Hence, the challenge facing government and security authorities is to be seen to be even-handed, measured and consistent.
It is true that every group of people has its broad spectrum of ideas and stands, ranging from the right to the left, with manifestations of extreme ideas on both sides. However, it is also commonly true that those extremities represent a small minority that is usually ignored by the overwhelming majority occupying the mainstream of the spectrum. Whenever the extremes succeed in dictating or influencing the mainstream narrative or political stand, it’s a sure sign of failure on behalf of the masses.
And whilst, the Muslim community has constantly expressed willingness to act in confronting all forms of extremism within its midst, the question that always emerges from among British Muslims is on the Far Right, and why it is that they are often seen to get off easily despite what they see as clear extremism, whether verbal or physical emerging therefrom. It is often a mystery to most how prominent members of groups such as the EDL, Britain First and the BNP could escape prosecution despite their vitriol of a racist, discriminatory and inciting nature. The impact of this is further alienation of young Muslims, and an increased sense of being undermined and marginalised on the part of the community as a whole, leading to gaps and schisms which extremists and terrorist can exploit.
The worrying feature is that whilst one might expect groups on the extreme right to produce racist statements that appear to incite hatred and even violence, some of the groups have become acceptable elements within the spectrum of political discourse in modern-day Britain. The implication for British society as a whole on the short and long terms could be devastating, let alone on various ethnic and faith communities within society. Even more worrying is the apparent pandering of mainstream politicians desperately searching for floating votes, and believing that those are to be found on the right of British political narrative. The fact that such attempts proved worthy to some, threatens the very concept of co-existence and tolerance, let alone future security and prosperity within British society. As a result, Far Right groups only have to point to any one of the litany of public statements made by ‘mainstream’ politicians, journalists and public figures, to prove that they are by no means alone, isolated or even in a minority in expressing sentiments, which either feed into the racist narrative, or actually represent it.
Little doubt that the media plays a crucial role in drawing the parameters of public discourse, and it is when addressing the hot issues, topical themes and/or emotive subjects that this role becomes ever more important. Sadly, the overall impression of British media – noting some outstanding exceptions – is that rather than confronting and rejecting extremist narratives which emanate from the Far Right, it has largely played host to those lines and often provided a platform from which they have easily proliferated enjoying the false guise of reasonability and acceptability.
Governments also have a role to play which is not being fulfilled. Besides the need to understand the realities and implications of Far Right politics, racism, Islamophobia and extremism, much more responsibility needs to be shouldered regarding the stands and the statements made by politicians, and especially those who represent government. Of late, stories such as the Trojan Horse saga, which turned out to be a near figment of someone’s overactive imagination, and more recently the push to get the CST Bill passed, are not only adding to the feeling of marginalisation and demonisation among British Muslims, but are encouraging the Far Right and affording those players credibility and legitimacy which is far from deserved.
As such, The Cordoba Foundation embarked on this project in an attempt to dissect the Far Right, identify its various strands, the respective tactics employed, the funding sources, the primary figures and the overall aims and goals, for the sole reason that this element of British politics and society be more understood and countered.
The Spectre of Hate: An Examination of the Far Right in the UK, the third installment in The Cordoba Foundation’s toolkit series after the Media and the Lobbying and Campaigning guides, is an important insight into one of the pressing issues of our times, with an emphasis on the practical rather than the mere theoretical. It is an important examination of the roles of a number of players, including the government, the Muslim community, and wider British society, and how the various strands of the media have contributed towards this phenomenon, whether positively or negatively.
Manifesting Religion or Belief: A Human Rights Perspective
Tuesday, 17th November 2015 | 9:00 AM
European Parliament and Centre Espaces – Brussels, Belgium
09.00 – 12:00
At the European Parliament (Altieri Spinelli Building)
Room A5E2, Main Entrance, Place de Luxembourg, 1047 Brussels, Belgium.
13:00 – 17:00
At Centre Espaces, 40, Avenue de la Renaissance, B-1000 Brussels.
The seminar will include presentations and workshops delivered by legal experts from member-states, academics, policy-makers as well as representatives from R&B organizations and networks at grass-roots levels.
The Cordoba Foundation and the Public Interest Investigations launch a new report:
The Henry Jackson Society and the Degeneration of British Neoconservatism: Liberal Interventionism, Islamophobia and the ‘War On Terror’.
The reports examines the history, activities and politics of the Henry Jackson Society, a leading exponent of neoconservatism in the UK that is grounded in a transatlantic tradition deeply influenced by Islamophobia and an open embrace of the ‘War on Terror’.
British Muslims, Public Policy and Securitisation: A Seminar
ORGANIZED BY: The East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre with The Centre for the Study of Religion, Conflict and Cooperation (London Metropolitan University).
A seminar examining recent policies and developments concerning British Muslims, the modalities of Muslim representation and the impact of policy decisions on extremism and securitisation, education, identity and Islamophobia. The seminar will also explore calling for a public discourse and policy approach towards British Muslims that is fair and just.
Featuring the release of Dr Shamim Miah’s new book, Muslims, Schooling and the Question of Self-Segregation.
Friday, 2nd October 2015 from 18:30 to 20:30 (BST)
The Seminar Room, London Muslim Centre, 46 Whitechapel Road, London, E11JQ
The height of the Arab Spring saw Hosni Mubarak deposed in Egypt, and for the first time, the country and its people looked forward to the implementation of the democratic process.
Free and fair elections took place, and Muhammad Morsi of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected into office. That should have been the beginning of a transitional time for Egypt, a new leader had been put into place which a recognised democratic mandate from the people. However, the situation soon deteriorated and Morsi was then overthrown in what can only be considered as a coup d’état.
During protests at the time and since, both sides have made allegations seeking to consolidate their position at the cost of the other. However, it is clear that the momentum and indeed much of the international support is behind that of the regime of el-Sisi.
The reality however is that the criticism and scaremongering of the Morsi administration and therefore the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing more than propaganda; aimed at trying to grain credibility for an illegitimate regime. Much is made of Morsi’s Islamists credentials, and the fact that he brought a brand of ‘Political Islam’ to Egypt. This is a fact seized upon by the media and political classes alike.
The Middle East seize upon such factors in an effort to de-legitimise what is seen as the most powerful opposition to their well established autocratic and intolerant regimes. The West seizes upon the issue so as to continue to foster the suspicion and mistrust which greets many Muslims.
We as a society however need to look deeper, go beyond the rhetoric and see the situation for what it is in reality
It is deeply regrettable that the euphoria that surrounded the end of the Mubarak reign was short lived. Egypt today has reverted to an autocracy back by an all-pervasive military, and any dissent or challenge to that ruling military administration will seemingly be quickly silenced. Democratic rule must return to Egypt. A process of justice, accountability and reconciliation must find a place in Egypt’s next chapter whether it be in Alexandria, Cairo or ultimately The Hague.
The immediate recent history of the Middle-East, North Africa and Gulf region right through to present day, has seen a period of extreme instability, the rise and fall of groups, of political parties, and the establishment of entities that are a cause for significant concern within those host nations, and within the international community at large.
This period of instability, highlighted by the Arab Spring, has been inappropriately characterised by many western media outlets, as being as a result of Islam and its followers, thus fostering a deep mistrust and suspicion of any of those individuals or groups who identify themselves as Muslim or following an Islamic or Islamist ideology.
The word ‘Muslim’ is no longer simply synonymous with a religion of the Middle East, as Christianity and Judaism is in the West; it has become synonymous with the emergence of radical and extremist groups that espouse a wholly warped and unrecognisable interpretation of Islam.
It appears that any action can be justified if announced that it is under the auspices of the ‘War on Terror’. Actions such as the removal of the most basic of human rights and fundamental freedoms such as a fair trial. Actions that many of us take for granted such as the freedom of speech and the freedom to protest have effectively been removed all under the anti-terror rhetoric. Rhetoric that in reality is nothing other than the thinnest of veils over a nationwide power grab; rhetoric solely designed to attempt to lend credibility to a regimes anti-civil society, anti-human rights, and ultimately anti-democratic policies.
‘Integration’ or the supposed lack of it by British Muslims has been a ubiquitous feature in political, media and policy discourses over the past decades, often with little or no evidence base. This book is particularly timely as it draws on empirical research amongst both Muslim school students and parents to examine the question of ‘self-segregation’ in the light of key policy developments around ‘race’, faith and citizenship. It aims to contribute towards a national debate on segregation, schooling and Muslims in Britain through deconstructing the received wisdom of ‘Muslim separateness’