Reflections on the Paris Attacks

Reflections on the Paris Attacks

The attacks in Paris on Friday 13 November 2015 were the worst on French soil since 1945, where more than 125 people died and hundreds more injured. And among the dead and the maimed were a number of Muslims. For the first time, the country was confronted by suicide bombers in the heart of Paris.

 

Unlike the Charlie-Hebdo and the kosher store attacks in January 2015, the perpetrators this time targeted public places, chosen not for their symbolic character, but ordinary people out on a Friday night. The intent: to inflict maximum casualties and victims as well as disrupting ordinary life. Sadly, the perpetrators were largely successful.

 

Emotions in France and around the world are understandably deep and very palpable now. However as we reel from the magnitude and soreness of what just happened, we should not shy away from asking tough questions: Who stands to benefit from these attacks? What are the immediate effects and risks to us? What consequences can we anticipate and how best can we respond both at the domestic and international levels?

 

One very likely risk from the attacks is that the French may be pushed to blame Muslims in France for the actions of a few suspected deranged Muslims. Their actions will no doubt play into the hands of the National Front which is already on the ascendency in the country. With regional elections in December, the National Front has a high chance of coming out as the winner in the elections. This is especially the case in regions like the Provence Côte d’Azur or Nord, where if they succeed, they will gain considerable political and financial clout.

 

Right wing parties, and especially the Les Républicains led by Nicolas Sarkozy, are calling for proposals and laws that can only be described as draconian and undemocratic to provoke and sow divisions in French society. They are demanding that thousands of “suspected Islamists” be placed under house-arrest; they are asking for the adoption of a French version of the American Patriot Act of 2001 (“Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”).

 

The French government has already installed a “state of emergency” and put under house-arrest over a hundred people. In the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks, we have witnessed a surge in attacks targeting mosques, Islamic centres and adherents of the Islamic faith in France and in other parts of Europe.

 

It is well-known that that one of the aims of the so-called Islamic State, better termed as Daesh, is “the extinction of the grey zone” i.e. to polarise Western society by provoking Islamophobia. In Daesh’s official magazine, Dabeq, it states:

“Muslims in the crusader countries will find themselves forced to abandon their homes and live under the Khilāfa [caliphate], as the crusaders increase persecution of the Muslims residing in Western lands. [..] Eventually, the grey zone will become extinct and there will be no place for greyish calls and movements. There will only be the camp of Iman [faith in Allah] versus the camp of kufr [disbelief]”. We should not fall into this trap.

 

France is also a key target of the extremists like Daesh because it, along with the United States, is the most engaged militarily from Mali to Syria, and from the Central African Republic to Iraq. But its policy is incoherent and we should critically review the “war on terror” promulgated immediately after the September 11 attacks and re-launched after the capture of Mosul by Daesh in the summer of 2014. The failure of the War on Terror strategy is obvious: there have been more attacks, not less and very often in Muslim countries themselves. Within the last few weeks, we have witnessed bombings in the Turkish city of Ankara; the attack on a Russian-operated plane that came down over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, killing all 224 people on board; and suicide attacks in Beirut in a popular suburb.

 

Never have so many people, especially the youth, been more engaged in extremist and violent groups like al-Qaida or Daesh, committed to what they believe is a resistance to international aggression against Muslims the world-over.

 

We should try to decipher the dynamics on the ground and grasp the context that render the Middle East a complex geography and reality. In this sense, it is unhelpful for pundits to simply reduce the current crisis in the region to solely Daesh. Rather, we must address the problems of poverty, education, foreign meddling, development, etc.

 

Is it not high time to think about the region as a whole and not only in military terms? We must confront Daesh to rid the world from its menace, but this can’t be achieved through bombing only. Instead, privileging a political solution is likely to yield in better results – and hopefully more lasting for a region that has been characterised by a spiral of chaos and instability especially since the US intervention in Iraq in 2003.

 

It is time too to push all regional powers, which have in their own way, compounded the Syrian conflict. The Vienna meeting which saw the participation of all these powers is perhaps a step in the right direction. It is also high time to robustly push for the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by ending the occupation. And last but not least, we should reconsider the demands voiced by the masses during the Arab Spring and the fulfilment of these demands is the best route to stability for the long-run.

 

Prioritising diplomacy and political solutions over bombings is the best strategy for France.

 

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*A French journalist, Dr Alain Gresh is former editor of Le Monde diplomatiqueand the current editor of OrientXX1.info (online magazine). A specialist on the Middle East, he is president of the Association of French journalists specialised on the Maghreb and the Middle East (AJMO). His books include The PLO, The Struggle Within (Zed Books, London, 1986), Un péril islamiste? (Complexe, Bruxelles, 1994), Israël-Palestine, vérités sur un conflit (Fayard, Paris, 2001). He co-authored, with Dominique Vidal, An A to Z to the Middle East (Zed, 1990, and I B Tauris, 2004); Palestine 1947, un partage avorté (Complexe, Bruxelles, 1987); Golfe: Clefs pour une guerre annoncée (Le Monde éditions, Paris, 1990); andL’Islam, la république et le monde (Fayard, 2004). Gresh co-authored, with Didier Billion, Actualités de l’Etat palestinien (Complexe, Bruxelles, 2000) and, with Françoise Germain-Robin et Tariq Ramadan, L’Islam en questions (Actes-Sud/Sindbad, 2000).

Gresh-article
An Audience with Arno Arr Michaelis IV – Former White Supremacist Leader

An Audience with Arno Arr Michaelis IV – Former White Supremacist Leader

East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre invitation to:

An Audience with Arno Arr Michaelis IV – Former White Supremacist Leader

Arno Michaelis was a leader of a worldwide racist skinhead organisation, a reverend of a self-declared Racial Holy War, and lead singer of the hate-metal band Centurion, which sold 20,000 CDs by the mid-nineties and is still popular with racists today.

Thursday 5th November, 2015
6:30pm – London Muslim Centre, 46 Whitechapel Road, London E1 

Register: www.michaelis.eventbrite.co.uk

UK government should withdraw its invitation to Abdel Fatah al-Sisi

We are concerned to hear that the government has invited the Egyptian dictator, Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, to visit the UK. We believe it violates the British values which the government claims to champion to welcome a ruler who has overthrown an elected government and instituted a regime of terror which has thrown back the cause of democracy in Egypt and the wider Middle East many years.

While not necessarily supporting deposed President Morsi or the policies of his Freedom and Justice party, we note that he was democratically elected, and that his removal from office was effected by means of a military coup led by Sisi.

Since then Sisi’s military-directed regime has massacred thousands of civilians. Hundreds of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, including President Morsi, have been sentenced to death in mass trials that were a travesty of justice. Almost all independent political activity has been suppressed, including that of liberal and leftwing organisations. Women’s rights have been violated across the country.

Sisi was “elected” president in 2014 in a vote that did not meet the most minimal democratic standards. The parliamentary elections currently taking place in the absence of any real opposition have been shunned by the vast majority of Egyptian voters with record low turnout, in the expectation that the new Egyptian parliament will be no more than a fig leaf for Sisi’s authoritarian regime.

Meanwhile, security and police forces have illegally arrested, detained and tortured Egyptian citizens, media freedoms have been suppressed and many journalists arrested and abused.

Such renunciation of democracy and human rights has surely contributed to the upsurge of terrorism in Egypt, which we repudiate but regard as a consequence of, rather than a justification for, Sisi’s barbarism.

Under these circumstances, we regard any visit to the UK by this despot as an affront to democratic values. No considerations of commerce or realpolitik can justify such an invitation. We urge the government to withdraw it.

Diane Abbott MP
Caroline Lucas MP
John McDonnell MP
Lindsey German Stop the War Coalition
John Pilger Journalist
Dr Anas Altikriti The Cordoba Foundation
Andrew Murray Chief of staff, Unite
Dr Daud Abdullah British Muslim Initiative
Ken Loach Film-maker
Dr Abdullah Faliq Islamic Forum of Europe
John Rees Counterfire
Dr Maha Azzam Egyptian Revolutionary Council
Harjinder Singh
Prof John L Esposito
Victoria Brittain Writer
Salma Yaqoob Former councillor
Peter Oborne Journalist
Bruce Kent CND peace campaigner
Aaron Kieley Student Broad Left
Kate Hudson CND
Chris Nineham Stop the War Coalition
Michael Rosen Author and political activist
Carl Arrindell Broadcaster
Dr Omar el-Hamdoon Muslim Association of Britain
Dr Farooq Bajwa Solicitor
Reverend Stephen Coles St Thomas the Apostle Church
Steve Bell Treasurer, Stop the War Coalition
Carol Turner Labour CND
Dr David Warren University of Manchester
Tanya Cariina Newbury Smith
Ibrahim Vawda Media Review Network
Nabeweya Malick Muslim Judicial Council
Hilary Aked University of Bath
Alastair Sloan Al-Jazeera columnist and investigative reporter
Dr MF ElShayyal Visiting professor, King’s College and SOAS
Asim Qureshi Author, Rules of the Game
Shaykh Abu Sayeed Da’watul Islam UK & Eire
Dr S Sayyid University of Leeds
Dr Muhammad Feyyaz University of Management and Technology, Pakistan
Dr Haider Bhuiyan University of North Georgia
Dr Osama Rushdi National Council for Human Rights, Egypt
Prof Mohammad Fadel University Toronto, Canada 
Prof Scott Poynting University of Auckland, New Zealand
Maher Ansar Sri Lankan Islamic Forum-UK
Dr Alain Gabon USA
Na’eem Jennah
Dr Muhammad Abdul-Bari
Imam Ajmal Masroor
Dr Sarah Marusek
Yahya Birt
Shanon Shah
Robina Samuddin
Sameh Shafei Stop Sisi
Anne Alexander Co-Founder, MENA Solidarity Network and Egypt Solidarity Initiative
Medea Benjamin Code Pink

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/27/uk-government-should-withdraw-its-invitation-to-abdel-fatah-al-sisi

Spectre of Hate: An Explanatory Guide to the Far Right in the UK

Spectre of Hate: An Explanatory Guide to the Far Right in the UK

The Cordoba Foundation launch a new toolkit:

Spectre of Hate: An Explanatory Guide to the Far Right in the UK 

This guide provides an overview of British far-right and populist movements active today. Whilst organised far-right networks are collapsing and fragmenting, the rise of populist movements – with their emphasis on xenophobia and crude antiimmigrant sentiment – is a worrying new reality.

The guide examines the origins of the Far Right today, the history and recent misfortunes of most high-profile far-right groups – including the British National Party and the English Defence League – and covers the growth of a burgeoning number of fringe movements, most of which are the result of splits within larger extremist organisations.

As well as examining the common beliefs and ideologies shared by white supremacists (notably antisemitism), we look at the rise of the ‘Counter-Jihad’ movement, opposed to Islam entire. In examining the rise of the ‘lone wolf’, we examine the backlash which has taken place against Muslims post – the Woolwich murders of 2013.

We also profile the Far Right across Europe and provide positive alternatives to hate, with a series of case studies highlighting the important work undertaken to fight the spread of hate groups.

Click here to DOWNLOADDownload this file

NEW RELEASE… Spectre of Hate: An Explanatory Guide to the Far Right in the UK

NEW RELEASE… Spectre of Hate: An Explanatory Guide to the Far Right in the UK

spectre of Hate: An Explanatory Guide to the Far Right in the UK 

 

This guide provides an overview of British far-right and populist movements active today. Whilst organised far-right networks are collapsing and fragmenting, the rise of populist movements – with their emphasis on xenophobia and crude antiimmigrant sentiment – is a worrying new reality.

 

The guide examines the origins of the Far Right today, the history and recent misfortunes of most high-profile far-right groups – including the British National Party and the English Defence League – and covers the growth of a burgeoning number of fringe movements, most of which are the result of splits within larger extremist organisations.

 

As well as examining the common beliefs and ideologies shared by white supremacists (notably antisemitism), we look at the rise of the ‘Counter-Jihad’ movement, opposed to Islam entire. In examining the rise of the ‘lone wolf’, we examine the backlash which has taken place against Muslims post – the Woolwich murders of 2013.

 

We also profile the Far Right across Europe and provide positive alternatives to hate, with a series of case studies highlighting the important work undertaken to fight the spread of hate groups.

tcfl
The Scourge of Islamophobia in Britain

The Scourge of Islamophobia in Britain

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.

 

 

Dr Anas Altikriti

CEO,  The Cordoba Foundation

Manifesting Religion or Belief: A Human Rights Perspective

Manifesting Religion or Belief: A Human Rights Perspective

EUROPEAN SEMINAR

Manifesting Religion or Belief: A Human Rights Perspective

Tuesday, 17th November 2015 | 9:00 AM

European Parliament and Centre Espaces – Brussels, Belgium

MORNING SESSION
09.00 – 12:00
At the European Parliament (Altieri Spinelli Building)
Room A5E2, Main Entrance, Place de Luxembourg, 1047 Brussels, Belgium.

AFTERNOON SESSION
13:00 – 17:00
At Centre Espaces, 40, Avenue de la Renaissance, B-1000 Brussels.

SPEAKERS:
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 Henry Jackson Society and the Degeneration of British Neoconservatism

The Henry Jackson Society and the Degeneration of British Neoconservatism

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’.
(Spectre of Hate) An Explanatory Guide to the Far Right in the UK

(Spectre of Hate) An Explanatory Guide to the Far Right in the UK

The Cordoba Foundation

Launch of a new toolkit:

“Spectre of Hate” An Explanatory Guide to the Far Right in the UK

– Provides an overview of British Far Right and populist movements active today.

– Examines the origins of the Far Right, the recent misfortunes of most high-profile Far Right groups including the growth of fringe movements.

– Analyses the common beliefs and ideologies shared by white supremacists, and the rise of the ‘Counter-Jihad’ movement, opposed to Islam entire.

– Profiles the Far Right across Europe.

– Offers a series of case studies as positive alternatives to the spread of hate.

MAIN SPEAKERS:

  1. CATHERINE WEST MP

Member of Parliament for Hornsey and Wood Green, London.

  1. ALAIN GRESH

French journalist and the current editor of Le Monde Diplomatique.

  1. DR CHRIS ALLEN

Lecturer in Social Policy, University of Birmingham; author of Islamophobia (2010).

  1. SHENAZ BUNGLAWALA

Head of Research, Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

 

  1. Moderator:

Dr Anas Altikriti CEO The Cordoba Foundation

 

Thursday 22 October, 2015 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Holiday Inn London – Commercial Rd 5 Cavell Street, London E1 2BP Tube: Whitechapel DLR: Shadwell

 

REGISTER via Eventbrite: http://spectreofhate.eventbrite.co.uk

British Muslims, Public Policy and Securitisation: A Seminar

British Muslims, Public Policy and Securitisation: A Seminar

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

REGISTER HERE:

http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/british-muslims-public-policy-securitisation-tickets-18474515774