Why is the left so blinkered to Islamic extremism?

The result, a new report by the One Law for All campaign: Siding with the Oppressor: The Pro-Islamist Left notes, has been an anti-war movement working enthusiastically with those advocating the murder of homosexuals, a left-wing Mayor of London embracing a man who said Adolf Hitler had been sent by Allah to punish the Jews, and a group set up ostensibly to oppose fascism warmly welcoming religious fascists into its own ranks. Because the left doesn’t police its borders in the way that the right has learned to do – social democrats like to pretend the far-left are on the same side as them – extremists regularly sneak into the mainstream on the back of ostensibly progressive front groups.

 

A good example is Unite Against Fascism. Launched in 2003 as a response to the electoral activity of the British National Party, UAF spends most of its time these days organising counter demonstrations against the EDL. An honourable way to pass the time, you might think. UAF’s definition of what constitutes fascism, however, is a peculiar one. Not only are those advocating the resurrection of a fascistic Islamic caliphate seemingly not worth opposing, they have been actively welcomed into the UAF fold by the leadership. One of UAF’s vice-chairs is Azad Ali, affairs co-ordinator for the Islamic Forum of Europe, an offshoot of the far-right Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami. As well as quoting an Islamist militant on his website in 2008 who claimed it was a religious obligation to kill British and American soldiers, Ali is on record as saying of democracy that “if it means, you know, at the expense of not implementing the Sharia, no-one’s gonna [sic] agree with that. Of course no-one agrees with that”.

 

On telephoning UAF’s office to clarify the group’s position on Islamic fascism, One Law for All was told by a UAF representative that there was “no such thing”.

 

As you make your way through the report you notice that the people who have brought Islamists inside the progressive tent crop up in various left-wing campaigns again and again – usually to accuse those expressing concern about extreme religious conservatism of Islamophobia. The individuals mentioned in the report ever been disowned by the political left. On the contrary, they remain ubiquitous and their organisations are still treated as if they were respectable progressive outfits.

 

In a disastrous irony, the pro-Islamist left has ended up in the same place as the white far-right. The perception of Muslims as synonymous with Islamism – criticism of Islamism is characterised as criticism of Muslims – is precisely the view taken by groups such as the EDL.

 

Anti-Ground Zero Mosque campaigners Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer barred from entering Britain to speak at an EDL rally

Two of the people behind a campaign against the building of the “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York have been barred from entering Britain to speak at an English Defence League rally in London this weekend, it has been announced. The Home Secretary Theresa May has told Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, both of the anti-Islamic group Stop Islamization of America, that their presence in the UK would “not be conducive to the public good”. The decision, which they cannot appeal, will stand for between three and five years.

 

Ms Geller said: “In a striking blow against freedom, the British government has banned us from entering the country. In not allowing us into the country solely because of our true and accurate statements about Islam, the British government is behaving like a de facto Islamic state. The nation that gave the world the Magna Carta is dead.”

 

Mr Spencer echoed her comments, and added: “This decision is a victory for the campaign of smears and defamation that has been waged against us in the UK since we announced we were going. In reality, our work is dedicated to the defence of the freedom of speech and equality of rights for all. If that is too hot for the U.K. now, then Britain faces a grim future.”

 

A Home Office spokesman said: “We can confirm that Pamela Geller is subject to an exclusion decision. The Home Secretary will seek to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good. We condemn all those whose behaviours and views run counter to our shared values and will not stand for extremism in any form.” EDL co-founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – aka Tommy Robinson – did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Right-wing American speakers planning to join the EDL’s Woolwich march ‘should be banned from entering the country’

The Home Secretary is understood to be considering a request to ban two of the people behind a campaign against New York’s “Ground Zero Mosque” from entering the UK. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who are among America’s most notorious anti-Muslim campaigners, have been invited to speak at an English Defence League rally in Woolwich to mark Armed Forces Day and the death of Drummer Lee Rigby. But the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz has written to Ms May expressing his concern and labelling them “incendiary speakers”. In his letter, Mr Vaz wrote: “These individuals are infamous in America for inciting racial hatred, including sponsoring discriminatory advertisements placed on public transport. “It is clear that the location, motivation and attendees at this march will incite hatred. Adding incendiary speakers such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer just fuels the fire.”

 

Mr Vaz said: “I am alarmed that the EDL is planning this type of march in Woolwich. Before we have to pay the costs for the extra policing required for this demonstration the Home Secretary should consider using her discretion to ban these two speakers from entering the country. A ban should be enforced properly and physically stop people entering our borders.” Scotland Yard said that it was aware of the march and would have an appropriate policing plan in place.

 

A government source indicated that the Home Secretary was looking into the proposal to ban the pair. However, a spokesman refused to confirm this, saying that it would not be appropriate to discuss individual cases.

 

EDL co-founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – who also goes by the name ‘Tommy Robinson’ – said: “It is ridiculous. We want other extremists to be banned from entering the country. These two people have never been arrested, they are well-respected in America. It is fascism, to me.”

 

Neither Ms Geller nor Mr Spencer responded to requests for comment.

Why Charles Moore is wrong about British Muslims by Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan is the MP for Tooting, Shadow Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor and Shadow Minister for London

 

Much has been written in the past month in the aftermath of the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. One unifying message has been the importance of communities standing together, in the face of the threats posed by those claiming to follow a particularly violent political version of Islam, and from far-right groups such as the EDL and BNP. One recent contribution to the debate came from the esteemed journalist Charles Moore, whose recent biography of Margaret Thatcher is a mighty tome of diligence and detail. In contrast, his words in last Saturday’s Telegraph were a clumsy foray into a territory about which he appears to know very little.

 

In his piece, Moore states that “the EDL is merely reactive” as if that’s OK. It’s far from OK. Many of the darkest chapters in recent human history have sprung from reactionary movements gaining a foothold in society. But to go on and equate the EDL with groups like Tell Mama, the charity that records incidents against the Muslim community as well as providing advice and support on how to deal with Islamophobia, as Charles Moore’s piece does, is ridiculous. I don’t recall seeing those running Tell Mama flicking fascist salutes while standing next to memorials for the war dead.

 

For decades, the British Jewish community has had to contend with the belittling of anti-Semitic attacks, whether they be on headstones in cemeteries or to Synagogues or schools. While we cannot be complacent, there is, rightly, a zero tolerance to anti-Semitism whether it be oral, viral or physical. Would we be comfortable with a respected journalist writing about the Community Security Trust the way Tell Mama has been written about? Or aspersions being cast on a politician due to their Jewish faith? Would we accept the Jewish community being talked about the way the Muslim community are? The piece would be roundly criticised, and rightly so. And that’s the point – in a tolerant society that won’t stand for division and hatred, attacks on any particular part of our society are an attack on all of our society. I don’t meet “young people taught to detest the freedom in which they live”, as Charles Moore claims. I meet British Muslims proud to be both British and Muslim, in many cases living their lives freer of the shackles of prejudice and social inequality than did their parents, or their parents before them. That is a real positive that living in Britain has fostered.

 

As a British Muslim, I understand that “Islam” and “Britishness” are not incompatible and, according to polling, 83 per cent of my fellow Muslims would agree – they are “proud” to be British, compared to 79 per cent of the wider public. And who could fail to be heartened by the custard cream diplomacy of the mosque in York when faced by an EDL protest, a very British response to a difficult situation. Like “Britishness”, Islam is about respect, tolerance and understanding.

The best way to fight the EDL’s anti-Muslim bigotry is by showing solidarity on the streets

Before the renewed wave of anti-Muslim bile after the horrendous murder of Lee Rigby, the EDL seemed to be staring into the abyss. Their rallies attracted increasingly derisory turnouts, notable for punch-ups between drunk racists: impressive shows of force by anti-racists in Walthamstow and elsewhere humiliated them.

 

But last week, their leader – who operates under the pseudonym “Tommy Robinson”– was treated to a reprehensibly soft interview on BBC’s Today programme: the activities and beliefs of Robinson and his gangs were barely scrutinised. Such appearances do nothing but help legitimise racism, treating it as just another valid political perspective that can be calmly engaged and debated with just like any other set of beliefs. A bunch of thuggish racists are running rings around the Establishment. In the Daily Telegraph, its former editor Charles Moore defends the EDL as “merely reactive”, as non-violent, as “the instinctive reaction of elements of an indigenous working class which rightly perceives itself [as] marginalised by authority, whereas Muslim groups are subsidised and excused by it”. Allegations of racism or fascism “are not strictly accurate”, he reassures us. Tommy Robinson himself demands that Muslims follow British law: odd from someone who struggles with the same advice, having served a 12-month prison sentence for assaulting an off-duty police officer who tried to stop a domestic incident with his partner, as well as convictions for “threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour.” He once warned “every single Muslim watching” that the “Islamic community” would face “the full force of the English Defence League” if any British citizen was hurt or killed. Here are Moore’s non-racist, non-violent “reactive” band.

 

Anti-Muslim prejudice, however, remains worryingly widespread. Over a third of Britons think they pose a serious threat to democracy; and while the number who believe Muslims are compatible with the “British way of life” has increased, just one in three believe that. The EDL threat has to be taken seriously, but it needs careful thought. The truth is the EDL are simply a striking symptom of a society where anti-Muslim bigotry is acceptable: it passes the “dinner table test”, as Tory minister Sayeeda Warsi has put it. Now it’s Muslims; once it was Irish people who faced racist scapegoating after terrorist attacks: a twisted irony, then, that Tommy Robinson is himself the son of Irish immigrant parents. But this prejudice is not confined to the right. Some on the left seem to believe defending Muslims  is somehow a betrayal of secularism. Studies show newspapers routinely portray Muslims in a negative light. And so here is the dark truth. After a month in which the EDL have enjoyed a resurgence; Muslims abused on the streets and online; mosques firebombed – all those who have fanned bigotry, take responsibility, because these thugs are your children.

‘I am not a Nazi’, says EDL leader Tommy Robinson

 

Tommy Robinson, who is the organisation’s co-founder, was grilled about the EDL in a highly charged interview on the BBC’s Sunday Politics. Confronted by images of EDL supporters giving what appeared to be Nazi salutes, Mr Robinson said it was a “manipulated photo”. Asked by presenter Andrew Neil if it was a “fascist Nazi salute by any definition” he said: “I am not a Nazi, I hate Nazis, I hate fascism.” Mr Robinson said that the EDL had now advised that “whenever people hold their hands up like that we have told them to give the V” to avoid any misunderstanding. He said: “Nazism and Islamism are on the opposite sides of the same coin – we oppose both. Nazism has been defeated and Islamism is spreading across the country.” Mr Robinson said it was “political correctness gone mad” that the Help the Heroes charity had turned down a donation from the EDL in the wake of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich. He added that the EDL had support among serving British soldiers: “Ordinary British squaddies support us – I know they do.” Last week serving soldiers were warned that taking part in any EDL activities could result in their dismissal. Asked if Britons were expected to believe that the EDL was “no more menacing than the Girl Guides”, he said: “Has anyone from the English Defence League blown anything up, has anyone from the English Defence League killed anyone, has anyone planned to bomb anything? “What you have to understand is there is a massive undercurrent of anger across this country – I have got my finger on the pulse, people are angry, you need to harness and channel that anger which is what we are trying to do.”

Anti-fascists fuel the fire of hate

Last weekend, Tony Brett, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Oxford and the city’s deputy lord mayor, found what he called a “disgraceful rabble” of people climbing on the city’s main war memorial — squashing, he said, the flowers that mourners had placed there, then trying to remove half of them altogether and “jeering” other visitors as they paid their respects. That day, the memorial was supposed to be the scene of a wreath-laying by the far-Right, racist English Defence League. But neither Mr Brett, nor a local newspaper reporter on the scene, saw any sign of any EDL presence. All the hate Mr Brett said came from the self-appointed opponents of bigotry, a group called Unite Against Fascism (UAF). “It seemed to me they were doing exactly the kind of thing they were supposed to be protesting against,” said Mr Brett. “I will absolutely not support any hint of racism, Islamophobia or any other form of hate, be it from the EDL or any other group. That day I saw it from another group.” The Oxford branch of UAF said its members climbed on the memorial at the request of a photographer. “The EDL’s use of war memorials is an offence to all those who died fighting fascism,” it said in a statement. Since the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby last month, there have reportedly been at least 107 arrests during BNP, EDL and UAF demonstrations. At least 69 of those arrested, just under two thirds, were anti-fascist demonstrators, at least 58 of them UAF.

 

Prominent campaigners such as the gay rights activist Peter Tatchell accuse UAF of a selective approach to bigotry. “UAF commendably opposes the BNP and EDL but it is silent about Islamist fascists who promote anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism and sectarian attacks on non-extremist Muslims,” said Mr Tatchell. “It is time the UAF campaigned against the Islamist far Right as well as against the EDL and BNP far Right.”

 

One reason why UAF will not campaign against Islamist extremists is that one of its own vice-chairmen, Azad Ali, is one. Mr Ali is also community affairs coordinator of the Islamic Forum of Europe, a Muslim supremacist group dedicated to changing “the very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed from ignorance to Islam”. Mr Ali has written on his blog of his “love” for Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda cleric closely linked to many terrorist plots, including the September 11 attacks, and used to attend talks by Abu Qatada, the extremist cleric whom Britain is seeking to deport. He has described al-Qaeda as a “myth” and denied that the Mumbai attacks were terrorism. On his blog, he also advocated the killing of British troops in Iraq. He sued a newspaper for reporting that he had said this, and lost.

 

The racist Right thrives on two things: publicity and the politics of victimhood. The mob outrage practised by UAF gets the fascists more of both. Mr Brett added: “It just antagonises the situation. The way to deal with this stuff is not to fight it aggressively. That’s exactly what they want you to do.” Nobody has denied that there has been an increase in tensions since the murder of Drummer Rigby. The danger is that by exaggerating it, and by the politics of confrontation, supposedly anti-racist groups fuel the very division, polarisation and tension they are supposed to counter.

The EDL and Islamic extremists are two different problems – but the solution is the same

One is the utter criminality cloaked in the guise of politics or religion by a few deranged individuals on the periphery of the Muslim community who are putting the whole community on the dock. The second is the violent response from far right activists combined with a divisive narrative from some columnists that poisons ordinary people’s mind against the Muslim community. Both are dangerous and they feed on each other. The author argues that in order to defeat this twin menace we need to be careful of our words and language; they matter, especially if they come from senior public figures. The root cause that separates people in any society is ignorance leading to fear of unknown. The local communities across the country generally get on well with one another, due to the fact that there is less ignorance of each other’s lives and more public interaction in their daily life. They are served by the local police, religious or community centres and other civic organisations. But, nationally and regionally, we very much need to find creative ways to bring our diverse people together. Pragmatic political decisions by our politicians, more constructive input from our media and judicious commentary from powerful individuals are what we need today to spread the message of realistic hope and allay the fear of the other; we all have a duty to dispel myths surrounding other communities. This needs a clear strategy and inclusive approach by people in authority – political and civil, Muslims and non-Muslims, religious and non-religious.

EDL leader Tommy Robinson ‘utterly condemns’ attacks on Muslims

The leader of the English Defence League has said he “utterly condemns” attacks on Muslims, and called for the internment of Islamic extremists. Tommy Robinson’s comments, made on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, come the day after six extremists were jailed for a total of more than 100 years for plotting a gun and bomb attack on an EDL rally in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. He also denied claims his group had firebombed an Islamic community centre in north London on which “EDL” was spray-painted. He called for the internment of Islamist extremists and the outlawing of all aspects of Sharia law. “I’d stop the building of mosques in this country until Islam reforms in such a way and works in this country with Western democracy and freedom,” he added.

Islamist gang of six jailed for at least 18 years each for plotting bomb attack on EDL rally

Six Islamist extremists have been jailed for a total of more than 100 years for plotting a gun and bomb attack on an English Defence League rally that could have sparked spiralling communal violence in Britain. The Islamist extremists planned a bomb and gun attack on an English Defence League rally in the knowledge that it would spark a tit-for-tat spiral of violence, a court heard. The plot to bomb the rally in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in June last year failed only because of a mixture of incompetence and chance after the plotters turned up late. One of their cars was then impounded following a traffic check on their way home. The bungling group had planned the attack for eight weeks, including research to find the telephone number of the EDL’s leader Tommy Robinson and tracking the location of EDL rallies. The Old Bailey heard that it had planned “terrible vengeance” on the EDL for what it saw as blasphemous words and actions against Islam.

 

The six men being sentenced, all from the West Midlands, admitted planning the attack in April 2012. Jewel Uddin, 27, Omar Mohammed Khan, 31, and Zohaib Ahmed, 22, were jailed for 19-and-a-half years. Mohammed Hasseen, 24, Anzal Hussain, 25, and Mohammed Saud, 23, were given jail terms of 18 years and nine months.

 

All of the men except Hasseen travelled to Dewsbury on the day of the rally but arrived at around 4pm, while the event had finished earlier than expected, at 2pm. They were armed with two shotguns, swords, knives, a nail bomb containing 458 pieces of shrapnel, and a partially assembled pipe bomb.

 

As they drove home to Birmingham, one of their cars was pulled over by police because a plotter failed to fill out an online application form properly and the car showed up as having no insurance. The weapons were found several days later along with declarations of war addressed to the “kafir (non-believer) female and self-proclaimed Queen Elizabeth” and David Cameron. The plotters were rounded up by West Midlands officers after a huge anti-terrorism operation.

 

Bobbie Cheema QC, prosecuting, told the court: “They intended to bring about a violent confrontation with the EDL during which they intended to use weapons to cause serious injuries and they anticipated, each one of them, that some victims may have died.”

Mr Robinson briefly watched proceedings from the public gallery of the Old Bailey and called out “God Save the Queen” when the sentences were announced. Outside, police stepped up security as dozens of EDL members gathered at a pub close to the court. One man was held on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly.