Chatham House Briefing Paper Examines the Rise of “Counter-Jihad” Groups

27 March 2013

goodwinA report released this month by Chatham House entitled, “The Roots of Extremism: The English Defence League and the Counter-Jihad Challenge” examines the rise of counter-jihad groups as a particularly confrontational and unpredictable variation of right-wing extremism in Europe and North America.


The author of the paper, Dr. Matthew Goodwin, an Associate Fellow at Chatham House and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Nottingham, uses the English Defence League (EDL) as a case study to analyze the potential reasons for the emergence of counter-jihad organizations and the nature of those who support them. Using new data collected by a 2012 YouGov survey, Dr. Goodwin finds that many commonly held assumptions about right-wing extremists, specifically those pertaining to education level, socio-economic status, and age, do not accurately characterize the supporters of counter-jihad groups and that these assumptions do not serve as an adequate basis for policies meant to combat the unique threat posed by these organizations.

original report

CLEAR Project Issues Report on Impact of NYPD Surveillance on American Muslims

mapping muslimsMarch 11, 2013 – American Muslim civil liberties groups released a new report today, Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and Its Impact on American Muslims, documenting the devastating impacts of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) extensive surveillance program that targeted American Muslims throughout the Northeast and spread outrage throughout the nation.

Since 2002, the NYPD embarked on a covert domestic surveillance program that monitored American Muslims throughout the Northeast, from spying on neighborhood cafes and places of worship to infiltrating student whitewater-rafting trips – a program that continued despite the NYPD’s own acknowledgment that, over the course of six years, these efforts had not generated a single lead. The report is an unprecedented collection of voices from affected community members reflecting how the NYPD spying and infiltration creates a pervasive climate of fear and suspicion that encroaches upon every aspect of their religious, political, and community lives.

The report was prepared by the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, and its partner organizations the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project at Main Street Legal Services, Inc. of the CUNY School of Law, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). American Muslim community members delivered the report to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen today at 1 Police Plaza.


A study of Arab attitudes to sexuality reminds us of a liberal Islamic tradition

sex-and-the-citadel-intimate-life-in-a-changing-arab-world.jpgThe book Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World, by Shereen El Feki was reviewed by Roula Khalaf in the Financial Times.

The article reviews the book which aims to offer insight into this highly sensitive subject whilst also establishing that there are a multitude of views held by Muslims around the globe on the subject of sex and sexuality. The review goes on to explain the structure of the book and it’s usage of historical examples. These historical examples have a variety of uses, for example: they can be to illustrate historical precedents that contrast or compare to the current situation or how the current practice has grown out of the historical background.

UK minister issues warning against rise of Islamophia

24 January 2013


Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a senior member of the Conservative Party and a

Minister of State for Faith and Communities, has said that more Muslims are victims of hate crimes now than at any other time in Britain’s history, showing a rise in Isalmophobia which needs to be dealt with effectively.


Citing figures from a recent You Gov survey, she presented her evidence. According to the poll results just 23% of people said that Islam was not a threat to Western civilization. Further, only 24% of the respondents thought Muslims were compatible with the British way of life – with nearly half of people disagreeing that Muslims were compatible. Finally, nearly half of people polled thought there would be a clash of civilizations between and Muslims and other Britons.

She further mentioned new figures from the Association of Chief Police Officers showing that between 50 to 60 per cent of all religious hate crimes reported to police in Britain are now perpetrated against Muslims.

“My fear is that seeing one community as the ‘other’ is a slippery slope that will enable extremists to advance their twisted interests unchecked, I don’t have to remind anyone what happens when an unfounded suspicion of one people can escalate into unspeakable horror.”

Two years ago Baroness Warsi was criticized for saying that that Islamophobia in Britain “had passed the dinner table test” but the latest police figures show that she was right in raising the issue.

The Ministers of Internal Affairs of Spain, Morocco, France and Portugal sign the “Rabat Declaration”

25 January 2013

The Ministers of Internal Affairs of Morocco, France, Spain and Portugal signed in Rabat the ‘Rabat Declaration’ in which they materialize a closer police cooperation among the four countries.
The statement was expressed in four main areas: management of migration flows, counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism (with special attention to the Sahel region and its consequences), police cooperation and training.

Two thirds of French defy Islam according to poll


According to a recent survey conducted by Ipsos commissioned by the French daily Le Monde, two in three French (74%) reject Islam as “intolerant” and “incompatible” with French society.  While 70% of the survey participant judged that there are “too many foreigners in France”, 62% said they “don’t feel like at home anymore”. The results mirror French society’s sense and understanding of identity, which since three decades has intersected with the question of immigration in France. The rising Islamophobia and xenophobia exemplified by these polls reflects upon the existence of a massive populist movement, which exceeds the electorate of Le Pen’s Front Nationale.

Whilst formerly articulating their rejection against labour migrants who were alleged to “take away jobs from the French”, the rejection has now shifted to target both Islam and Muslims. Accordingly, 74% of French reject Islam and Muslims as intolerant and incompatible with the “values of French society”. The rejection entails all Muslims, whether they may be fully integrated, even assimilated or fundamentalists. Le Monde describes this poll as a rare moment of visualization of French defiance towards Islam.

Further, eight out of ten French accuse Islam to attempt to “impose its way of living upon others”. The survey also shows that more than half of the French population (54%) thinks that Muslims are either in majority (10%) or partially (44%) “fundamentalist” without “us knowing”. These figures vary according to both age and political allegiance, but remain at large majoritarian and help to illustrate the depth of rootage of such perceptions amongst the imagined collective. 61% of the left leaning voters and 66% of those who are younger than 35 years old accuse Islam to be incompatible with the “republican values”.

Le Monde concludes that survey after survey the results show how the image of Islam in France continues to drastically degrade since a number of years. The paper reasons such a decline of public opinion on Islam and Muslims with external and internal reasons that are often of imaginative but also objective nature. On the one hand there is “the increasing visibility of Muslims in French society, the rise of new group claims accompanied by a scaremongering discourse on the ‘Islamisation’ of Europe and the political instrumentalisation of these questions’.

On the other hand, beyond the issues deemed legitimate by the government like “building mosques, taking account of Islam in the military, prisons, hospitals, condemnation of anti-Muslim violence”, other questions relating to Islam and Muslims in France still face an exorbitant response in public opinion; such as the hijab (headscarf) as an attack against France’s secularism, the demand for halal food, religious practices at the workplace. As a result, the survey finds 72% of the French to oppose food at school in line with religious dietary regulations.

Geopolitical, global concerns and  acts of violence on a national scale such as those of Mohamed Merah in Tolouse in 2012, as well as public fears in relation to ‘terrorist groups fighting in the name of Islam’ are also identified by Le Monde to hold the influence on forming negative public opinion on Islam and Muslims.

The paper continues to assess that so far French Muslim authorities were content with demanding the avoidance of the “amalgam between moderate Islam and Islamism,”, which just recently made the news again when the French Council of Muslim Faith advocated the abandonment of the term in the public and media discourse (

Adennour Bidar, a scholar in Islam and Secularism, warns that “beyond the context of diffusing anxieties or irreducible intolerance, these figures are a warning to Muslims. They must critically interrogate Islam”. He continues by asserting that these figures are “also the result of the multiculturalist orthodoxy, which left the far right the opportunity to seize these subjects. Yet, the left and the Republican right can find a balance between the refusal to stigmatize Muslims to hold Islam accountable in respect of republican tradition. “

UK Census 2011

17 December 2012


The outcome of the UK Census 2011 was published last week. The census data revealed a sharp rise in the Muslim population. The Muslim population in the UK has significantly risen between 2001 and 2011 from 1.5 million to almost 3 million. Hence, Muslim proportion has increased from 2% of the population to 5%. In some towns, Muslims make up almost 50% of the population, and in large cities like London and Manchester they make up around 14% of the population.


Muslim populations in Manchester (over 100,000), Birmingham (plus 96,000), Bradford (plus 55,000) and most of the inner London boroughs, notably Newham (plus 64,000), Tower Hamlets (plus 58,000) and Haringey (plus 52,000). Tower Hamlets remains the local authority district with the greatest proportion of Muslims – 34.5%. The 2011 census estimates that there are now 2.7 million British Muslims, with nearly 40 per cent of them — a million — living in London.


The census data also revealed a sharp increase in foreign-born residents: 7.5million residents of England and Wales were foreign-born in 2011 Just 44.9 per cent of Londoners are White British. Further less than 90 per cent of country is white for the first time ever. According to the census data Christianity has been in decline: Around 59 per cent British people now call themselves Christian and a quarter say they have no religion.


Muslim Council of Britain Welcomed the Census 2011 results, and commented that “the growth in number points to the fact that Muslims play a significant part in the increasing diversity of Britain.”

Julian Bond, director of the Christian Muslim Forum, said the figures reinforced the need to “think about the best possible way to engage with Islam and think about whether people should be having days off for Eid, how Ramadan is accommodated and how religion is taught in schools”.


German Islamists and the Internet

October 31


The study of SWP – German Institute for International and Security Affairs deals with Internet activism of German Islamists. Music rappers such as Deso Dogg alias Abu Malik would release rap music and combine them with Islamist content. Religious songs with Islamist content would apotheosize Jihad. The music targets young people in urban areas of Germany. By listening to these songs, young people would be motivated to join a “leaderless Jihad”.

Dutch Muslims Report Increasing Religiosity

6 November 2012 

Dutch Muslims are visiting mosques in the Netherlands at least once a week, according to a survey conducted by the national policy unit SCP. While the previous SCP survey in 2004 suggested a decrease in religiosity among the country’s Muslims, this most recent update suggests that this is no longer the case, particularly among Muslims of Moroccan origin (a population in which the number of mosque-attending individuals rose from 9% to 33% from 1998-2011).
According to the SCP, second generation Muslims who worship regularly feel a stronger bond with their family homeland than with the Netherlands.