Down with hateful extremism

What do the APPG report Defining Islamophobia, the Tony Blair Foundation’s report on Far Right Worldviews in the UK and the Commission for Countering Extremism’s report Challenging Hateful Extremism have in common?

Answer: They all aim to lessen your ability to speak freely about Islam and the things Islam has brought to Britain.

The first does so by advocating the official adoption of a nonsensical and overreaching definition of Islamophobia as “a type of racism”.

The second does so by proposing that certain groups should be designated “Hate Groups” and denied some of their democratic rights.

The third, the subject of this post, does so by proposing the official and unofficial acceptance of a new term “Hateful Extremism” which will be applied to various outlooks and behaviours with the intention of countering them by means which seem as yet somewhat unclear. Perhaps you will get a different impression from the Recommendations section. At the very least the term will provide zealots with another debate paralysing insult to bring out when argument fails:

The Commission for Countering Extremism is a British government agency set up after the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017. According to the then Prime Minister Theresa May it was intended to “help fight hatred and extremism in the same way as we have fought racism”.

Sara Khan was appointed its head, a choice opposed by Baroness Warsi and Labour MP Naz Shah (both co-authors of the APPG report) and by the Muslim Council of Britain. These are, of course, all recommendations but on the downside Wikipedia informs us that she has written articles for the Guardian, the Independent and the Huffington Post which makes clear where she is coming from politically.

Among the Commission’s Expert Group are the well known mendacious greivance mongering taqqiya artist Fiyaz Mughal, head of TellMama, and Nick Lowles, head of Hope not Hate, a hard left organisation with a similarly loose relationship with the truth.

An obvious criticism of the subject of the report is that the words “hateful” and “extremism” are both entirely subjective. In fact Sara Khan has no definition of hateful extremism as yet but promises to produce one by Spring 2020. In the Executive Summary she offers only what she calls a ”summary of hateful extremism” (p6):

        Behaviours that can incite and amplify hate, or engage in persistent hatred, or equivocate about
        and make the moral case for violence;

        And that draw on hateful, hostile or supremacist beliefs directed at an out-group who are
        perceived as a threat to the wellbeing, survival or success of an in-group;

        And that cause, or are likely to cause, harm to individuals, communities or wider society.

The report asks “What does hateful extremism look like?” and gives this answer (p6):

        Hateful, hostile and supremacist beliefs are increasingly visible in our country today. The Far
        Right’s narratives of a racial or cultural threat to “natives” from “aliens” have been making their
        way into the mainstream. As are Islamists’ ideas for defending a single communal Muslim
        identity against the West’s corrupting influence. And the Far Left’s conflation of anti-imperialism
        and antisemitism.

This is an oddly unbalanced charge sheet of the three groups considering the real, demonstrable harm to individuals, communities or wider society caused by each of them, as measured by the casualty lists. According to data on terrorist incidents in Britain this century there have been 3 deaths caused by people linked to far right ideologies, 88 deaths and around 937 injuries caused by Islamists and nothing at all caused by the far left.

And yet the hateful extremism laid at the Islamists’ door is only that of “ideas for defending a single communal Muslim identity against the West’s corrupting influence”. Where are the ideas of taking the offensive against unbelievers for purely supremacist reasons as Muslims have been doing for 1400 years following Mohammed’s example?

As a crude indicator of the relative concerns shown in this report, the term “far right” appears 71 times, the terms “Islamism” and “Islamist” appear 77 times and the term “far left” appears 11 times.

Forget the contributions from the far left (and from animal rights activists who also get a mention). The real substance of the report is the competition in hateful extremism between Islamists and the far right. The impression of near equivalence between the two lends support to the widely held belief that the government some time ago decided to present the two threats as comparable (which they are not) in order to appear to be even handedly protecting the population from harm. Accordingly, groups and individuals sharing this approach are likely to be welcomed into the spotlight, and funded, while groups which do not are banished to the outer darkness.

Rather than go through the report in detail, as I did with the other two reports mentioned at the top, I want to concentrate on two questions. Firstly:

How Far Right is the “Far Right”?

What does Sara Khan mean by “far right”? It turns out that she has no clear definition for that either. The report says it is:

        not defined by a single ideology or narrative. It consists of several groups and individuals with
        different ideologies
(p36).

The Commission asked Dr Benjamin Lee of Lancaster University for an overview:

        His working definition of the Far Right as a “container term for political groups and actors
        sharing a narrative of racial and/or cultural threat to a ‘native’ group arising from perceived
        ‘alien’ groups within a society” relies on a perceived threat to a defined in-group.

        He identifies three underpinning ideologies, pointing out that there is a disconnect between how
        groups view themselves against how others view them:

        Radical right populism – Groups in this category subscribe to an ideology which combines
        nativism, authoritarianism and populism. Populism has been used to describe anti-Muslim
        protest groups. Groups such as the EDL claim to promote the concerns of “ordinary people”
        against a liberal elite establishment and political class that “silence” issues that matter to them.

        Neo-Fascism – Groups in this category advocate the need to defend the identity and culture of
        white Europeans (ethnopluralism) from what is called the “great replacement” by immigration
        and Islamisation. In the UK, these ideas are demonstrated by groups such as Generation Identity.

        Neo-Nazism – Groups in this category believe in the continuation of the fascist Nazi project,
        focusing on white supremacism and territorial separation. In the UK, several groups use Nazi
        symbols and rhetoric such as Combat 18 and National Action.

Purportedly, groups in the above categories employ some or all of the following narratives:

        Anti-minority narratives, demographic threat, collapse into ethnic or cultural strife,
        conspiracism, anti-elite narratives and historical revisionism.
[precised]

There was a time when “far right” meant Oswald Mosley and jackboots, and that was about all. Since then it has spread like a tide coming in until now it covers, laughably, UKIP (according to Dr Lee) having presumably long ago swamped those blatant nativists who fought the real far right on our behalf in World War II.

This is definition inflation on an epic scale. There may be hundreds of Neo-Nazis in Britain and thousands of Neo-Fascists but just talking to your fellow Britons in the pub will make it obvious that there must be millions of (probably quite decent) people who fall into Dr Lee’s category of radical right populism. I suggest that classifying all the three groups above as far right makes as much sense as grouping Stalin, Salvador Allende and Clement Atlee as fellow members of the far left.

I must admit there was a time when I feared I might be far right so I took the test provided by the Political Compass site and am proud to say I now have what amounts to an unfar-rightness certificate:

There I am in the lower left quadrant, as authoritarian as Ghandi and as right wing as Nelson Mandela. I must say the result was a little surprising. I would have expected to come out as centre right rather than centre left if only because the centre has lurched so dramatically to the left over the last 20 years. Never mind, I have proof of my innocence of the taint of far-rightness which I dare say is more than Benjamin Lee or Sara Khan can claim.

How can a lifelong Labour voter – until recently – have fallen under the same designation as Generals Franco and Pinochet? The same goes for all those people I have contact with who seem to me merely fair-minded patriots. It’s a mystery, isn’t it? You can put me down for nativism and populism; nationalism too – not in the sense that my nation is superior to yours but only that the nation seems a suitable unit for grouping and governing people. Certainly more suitable than supra-national conglomerations, otherwise known as empires, like the one we are currently struggling to escape from. But what has that to do with the far right?

Perhaps the answer is that Dr Lee has not objectively defined the concept then identified groups to which it applies but has rather, obligingly, started by identifying the groups which all right thinking people know to be bad and then drawn a line round them. Yes, that’ll be it. And the two items which qualify us for inclusion within his cultural quarantine camp are concern about mass immigration and, more deplorably, opposition to Islam.

Anyone in academia knows that objecting to the teachings of that particular religion, and their consequences, really means othering and scapegoating innocent Muslims because those of us in what has become known as the counterjihad movement suffer from free floating hatefulness which must find an outlet somewhere. And anyone with a PhD who does not subscribe to that view will certainly be smart enough to keep it to themselves because if their employers don’t turn on them their students will.

You will notice that such academics, and heads of government agencies, never, ever quote Islamic scriptures or even consider the possiblity that they might have a hand in what they call Islamism. Deprivation, othering, racism, unemployment, teenage rebellion, alienation, identity problems, existential anxiety etc etc are far more obvious explanations.

But those I correspond with, and I myself, came to oppose Islam entirely because we have read, and taken seriously, those teachings and see an obvious causal connection between them and the mayhem being wrought around the world wherever Muslims and non-Muslims are in proximity.

Which leads us onto the second question:

How Hatefully Extremist is Islam?

In the Executive Summary of the report (p6) we are told that, shockingly:

        Islamists are telling Muslims that they should not associate with “worse than animals”
        non-Muslims.

Can it really be the case that Sara Khan has not come across the following two verses from the Koran which show the above Islamists to be merely passing on Allah’s instructions?

“O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them…” (5:51)
and
“For the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are those who reject Him: They will not believe.” (8:55)

She is, by all accounts, a “moderate Muslim” but she still worships a god who intends to torture me and those I love for eternity (or perhaps for just a very long time – scholars differ) simply for not believing in him. Here he is in full flow:

“Indeed, those who disbelieve in Our verses – We will drive them into a Fire. Every time their skins are roasted through We will replace them with other skins so they may taste the punishment. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted in Might and Wise” (Koran 4:56)

I would call that fairly hateful, wouldn’t you?

Here he is on the subject of hatred and othering of outgroups:

“There is for you an excellent example (to follow) in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people: ‘We are clear of you and of whatever ye worship besides Allah: we have rejected you, and there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred for ever,- unless ye believe in Allah and Him alone’ “ (60:4)

Doesn’t this, along with similar sentiments to be found throughout the Koran, make Allah himself a hateful extremist?

The same goes for Allah’s creator, Mohammed, the genocidal warlord who, according to canonical scriptures, exiled, slaughtered or sold into slavery the three Jewish tribes of Medina within five years of arriving there as a “refugee from religious persecution”.

Let us look again at the report’s summary of hateful extremism:

        Behaviours that can incite and amplify hate, or engage in persistent hatred, or equivocate about
        and make the moral case for violence;

You can find plenty of all these in the Koran and other Islamic scriptures. Indeed they are hard to avoid. Just to give one example, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves…” (48:29)

        And that draw on hateful, hostile or supremacist beliefs directed at an out-group who are
        perceived as a threat to the wellbeing, survival or success of an in-group;

Supremacism and othering of an outgroup, unbelievers, are absolutely at the heart of Islam. It was not any Islamist who said “He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion…” (48:28) and “the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are those who reject Him” but Allah himself.

        And that cause, or are likely to cause, harm to individuals, communities or wider society.

Well, we could find details of these by taking note of the harm caused to the Jews of 7th century Arabia or the millions who died in Islam’s conquests from Spain to India or the 35,000 Islamic terrorist attacks carried out worldwide since 9/11 or the 88 deaths and 937 injuries resulting from the teachings of Islam, not a spurious separate ideology called Islamism, in Britain since 2000.

Conclusions

1. We are expected to disregard all the above and accept without question the narrative that opposition to Islam, and the ever expanding presence of Islam in Britain, can only be motivated by hateful extremism and a need to scapegoat a vulnerable minority. A growing number of people, having investigated the sources, refuse to buy it.

2. The result of this report will be to shrink further the culturally, and eventually legally, allowable things you can say about Islam. The term “hateful extremism” will be weaponised, just as “Islamophobia” has been, to cow into silence those who have an inkling that there may be something wrong about a religion of peace which seems to be always at war.

3. For some people pointing out hatefulness is hateful itself.

Windows into men’s souls

It was Queen Eizabeth I who reportedly said “I would not open windows into men’s souls”.

The historical context was the 1588 Act of Uniformity which was intended to unite her subjects under a common prayer book. However she did not want to go so far as to impose ways of interpreting it, establishing the principle that the state should keep out of what goes on in the people’s minds and souls. It helped to lay the the groundwork for the secular state we came to take for granted.

But times have changed.

In 2006 Tony Blair’s Racial and Religious Hatred Act started to erode that principle. Sub section 29B (1) set the tone:

      A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is
      threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.

With this wording the Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Courts must necessarily establish the intention of the person using the words or actions concerned. It is the thought that counts.

If someone publicly burns a Koran, it is quite possible that he intends to stir up religious hatred but it is equally possible that his intentions go no further than expressing his personal contempt for the book, or the “accursed book” as Prime Minister W.E. Gladstone called it.

If someone puts a Koran in a jar of urine he might even persuade the judge that it his intentions were purely artistic.

Or if he stands outside a mosque handing out flyers detailing some of the Koran’s more hateful verses it is quite possible that his intention is only to enlighten worshippers about its contents with a view to converting them to a more benign religion.

As yet, police training does not include mind reading. What is a poor copper to do? Fortunately the Met have produced a handy guide entitled What Is Hate Crime? which relieves him of the requirement to form a judgment about the suspect’s intention. All that is required is for the “victim”, or even a passerby, to regard the hate crime as such.

Most readers will know about that. What I really want to draw your attention to is the next proposed step toward the reality of thought crimes. The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has produced a report called The Spectrum of Far-Right Worldviews in the UK which lays out the means to identify dangerous far-right groups claiming to be non-violent with the aim of “stemming their narratives” before they turn to violence or their views inspire others to do so.

Four subject groups were selected for comparison with a “convicted far-right extremist”. Three months’ worth of the groups’ tweets and similar were then analysed for overlaps with said extremist’s ideology. The groups’ real, as opposed to their claimed, views were thus determined and, following suitable changes in the law, they will be designated as Hate Groups and deprived of some of their democratic rights.

What does the report call for the government to do?

The central aim is to:

      Create a new law to designate ‘hate groups’ through an Act of Parliament. (p12)

Among other penalties to be applied to those groups:

      Under designation, hate groups would be impeded from appearing on media outlets or engaging
      with public institutions.
(p13)
and
      hate groups should always be prohibited from processions. (p13)

How does Designation relate to Proscription?

Groups can be proscribed for terrorist activities under existing legislation. Proscription comes under criminal law and requires evidence.

Designation would be a civil offence and would require no evidence beyond the say so of a committee set up to identify Hate Groups.

Who would be on that committee?

No need to worry. It would be an independent oversight committee of non-governmental experts
(p.13)

Mind you, they would be appointed by the government….just like that enquiry into Sharia courts that was headed by a Muslim theologian.

Will freedom of speech be protected?

The authors assure us it will be:

      Recognising anti-Muslim hatred is not about restricting free speech, but acknowledging the harm
      that British Muslims are experiencing when attacks on individuals are masked as criticism of
      their religion
. (p13)

This is a moot point of course. The formulation sounds eerily like that used in the recent APPG report Defining Islamophobia which promised it was not about restricting freedom of speech but on closer inspection turned out to be absolutely about that. That is why in the House of Commons debate on adopting the definition the Communities Minister James Brokenshire called it a “backdoor blasphemy law”.

Who is the “convicted far-right extremist” selected as a benchmark?

Anders Breivik….of course, although he would more accurately be described as a murderous neo-Nazi nutcase. Is it necessary to point out that he was not convicted of far-right extremism but of mass murder? Clearly the report is using the lesser term to imply that he and their target “far-right activist groups” are in the same category.

What themes from his ideology were selected?

1. Victimisation
2. Opposition between the West and Islam
3. Anti-establishment sentiment
4. Justification of violence

Which are the supposedly far-right groups selected for examination?

Generation Identity England, Britain First, For Britain and the British National Party (BNP).

What makes them far-right?

That is never made clear but it is well known that anyone to the right of the Guardian is far-right.

On what basis were they selected then?

They have all been sanctioned by UK authorities or social media companies for promoting problematic views.

Why can the groups’ future trajectory be extrapolated from past tweets?

Apparently the key is to be found in the Institute’s earlier report Islamist Extremism Research Findings: The Relationship Between Violent and Nonviolent Islamist Extremism.

Our report tells us “as our previous research has consistently highlighted, there is a complex but undeniable link between the ideas behind nonviolent and violent extremism” (p.7).

I tried the supporting link and got the message “Hmm. We’re having trouble finding that site”. What a shame. We really need to know what that complex and undeniable link is.

What were the methodology and results?

Both are summarised in graphic form on pp.9-10 using little clock like diagrams with quadrants filled in to indicate the groups’ purported levels of agreement with Breivik’s four themes from none through to full.

Are they reliable?

According to the report:

      The assessments of the level of overlap between these groups’ messaging and Anders Breivik’s
      come from hundreds of pieces of public content for each group as well as the researchers’
      judgements. This produced a rigorous framework, though one that can be open to debate
. (p8)

Who were the researchers who made the judgments?

It is not disclosed. Possibly interns. Possibly Labour Party activists. Probably not Telegraph readers.

Can we see the data?

No. Who do you think you are?

What is their predictive value?

Well, the tweets examined were taken from the period Jan to March 2018, eighteen months ago. None of the groups have spilt blood since, as I far as I have been able to ascertain.

 
Some might think this study lacks all validity and is, in fact, a laughable attempt to give a preconceived political judgment the appearance of objectivity, with the intention of handing arbitrary power to whoever controls the designation process.

However, in an attempt at fair-mindedness, I tried out the approach myself and have to admit I was impressed. I examined statements made by Jeremy Corbyn and his shadow cabinet for comparison with the ideology of Pol Pot and found a shocking overlap. Sorry, I can’t give details but you can trust me. In due course, after Tony Blair’s proposals have been made law, I intend to contact the authorities with a view to getting the Labour Party designated a Hate Group.

Let us examine one of the gang of four, For Britain, in more detail. I already knew something about it but I have been taking a closer look since Tony Blair’s report came out.

For Britain qualified for inclusion by being banned by Twitter, something many would regard as a badge of honour (p.42). Its leader Anne Marie Waters (who the report cannot bear to name) explained “I was thrown off Twitter for saying that Muslims are raping girls in Rotherham, but the police care more about tweets”.

I knew of her from her earlier work setting up and running Sharia Watch which, among other things, protested at the mistreatment of Muslim women under Sharia in Britain, something which mainstream feminists have consistently turned a blind eye to.

It was particularly surprising to see For Bitain in the dock because it is a properly set up political party which means that it would have had to pass scrutiny by the Electoral Commission.

How did For Britain score on Breivik’s four key themes?

1. Islam vs. the West – 3/4 overlap

      Sees Islam as a growing and violent threat

Can this really be controversial? Every time the Security Services tell us how things are going there are more jihadis in the country and more successful or foiled jihad attacks to be reported.

Is MI5 going to be designated a Hate Group?

2. Victimisation – 3/4 overlap

      Believes Britain is becoming unsafe for white people

I cannot find any reference to “white people” on the For Britain website or in the output I have seen, only “British people” who come in various colours. They include the Deputy Chair Kadeeja Adam and the Islam Spokesman Nissar Hussain, both Muslim apostates.

For Britain certainly does believe that Britain is becoming unsafe for British people (and British culture) not just white people. If Tony Blair could just provide a damning quote or two I am sure we would all be satisfied.

3. Anti-Establishment – 1/2 overlap

      Accuses the ‘elites’ of betraying the ‘people’

Of course. How can this be controversial either?

The ‘people’ did not ask for the mass immigration of people who revere a genocidal warlord whose teachings and example have inspired a 1400 year jihad against the non-Muslim world. Nor did they ask for the neighbourhoods they grew up in to be turned into suburbs of Lahore, unlike the leafy surroundings where the ‘elites’ live.

What could be more of a betrayal than the decades long ignoring by the elites, and their functionaries on the ground, of industrial scale rape and exploitation of indigenous girls by Muslim grooming gangs?

But it was Tony Blair himself who perpetrated the greatest betrayal against the British people by opening the floodgates to third world, and predominantly Muslim, immigration in order to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity” (and enlarge his voter base). Now he wants to deny a voice to those who object to it.

4. Justification of Violence – 1/4 overlap

      Provides some justification for violence

The following section from p.37 is worth quoting in full since it shows the preconceived conclusion which the data is used to support even though it clearly does not.

I have highlighted some important phrases in bold and have added my own comments [like this].

      Our analysis of the groups’ positions shows at most an apparent willingness to reason the
      violence committed by others in the cause of far-right ideals. This rhetoric was not prevalent
      within the sample period
, though our analysis of other statements shows some engagement
      with this theme. Reactions from For Britain’s leadership to the March 2019 Christchurch terror       attack exemplify this. Although they clearly condemn the violence, For Britain also find
      reasoning in it [ie find reasons for it]:

      “Only fear can prompt actions like this. People are afraid. They are afraid of the changes in our
      countries, in Western countries, to something we no longer recognise and they’re afraid of Islam…
      If this continues, what do you expect to happen? People all over the Western world have been
      ignored for years about their concerns about immigration, Islam, globalisation. This is the result.
      This is the result. And it’s time we started talking about why Western people react the way they do,
      rather than just why Muslims react the way they do.”

      This quote exemplifies how hard it is to draw the line in connection to violence. For Britain’s
      leadership also claimed that the attack would be used to silence activist groups like themselves,
      whom they believe are wrongly labelled as the far right
[how right they were].

To say “This rhetoric was not prevalent within the sample period” must mean that there was none, otherwise an example from the sample period would surely have been brought forward rather than a statement from a year later.

In that case what justification is there for claiming, from their data, that For Britain “provides some justification for violence”? We do not know because we are not allowed to see the data.

Even this later statement in no way justifies the claim that For Britain provides any justification for violence. It is merely warning about the reality of what can happen when free speech about a fear-inducing threat to our Western way of life is suppressed, something which For Britain is trying to avert not encourage or justify.

I looked up the video referenced to see whether the quote was presented fairly but was denied access. Here is another video of Anne Marie Waters speaking about the aftermath to the Christchurch attack which I hope will give readers some idea of her attitude to violence, among other things:

Tony Blair and the authors of this report start from the assumption that criticism of Islam cannot originate in genuine concerns about Islam but instead must come from a far-right ideology, and they find confirmation of that view wherever they look. The truth is that the great majority of people who object to Islam are not far-right at all. They have simply been prompted by an endless litany of atrocities to study the teachings of Islam and the actions it has inspired over 1400 years and still does today, and have concluded that it is unavoidably inimical to Western civilisation.

Tony Blair thinks he can read the minds of critics of Islam, thus anticipating their future actions. They may protest that they abhor violence but he knows better and wishes to block their access to the media before they go full Breivik.

If his proposals find their way into law then our freedom of speech about Islam will be a thing of the past. And not only that but those proposals themselves are more likely than anything to lead to violence. What does he imagine happens when people are arbitrarily prevented from using words? And that is not any kind of hidden encouragement but really, actually, honestly, just a warning.

Islamophobia, Christophobia and Kafirphobia

In December 2018 the Foreign Office commissioned a report about the scale of persecution of Christians around the world with the intention of producing recommendations for actions by the UK Government. In July 2019, just a couple of days ago in fact, details were released at a press conference held jointly by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the report’s author Philip Mountstephen, Anglican Bishop for Truro. The full report should be published later in the month.

It is indeed welcome news that HMG is moving towards recognising what people like Raymond Ibrahim and Patrick Sookhdeo of the Barnabas Fund have been saying for years but the report is compromised from the start by its reluctance to identify the main cause.

Here are some excerpts, with my comments following:

       “An estimated one-third of the world’s population suffers from religious persecution in some
        form, with 80% of them being Christians.”

Do we know who 80% of the persecutors are? I think we do but the Bishop downplays the issue.

       “Christian persecution has multiple drivers and as such it deserves special attention. More
        specifically it is certainly not limited to Islamic majority contexts. So this review is not a stalking
        horse for the Islamophobic far right, nor does it give the Islamophobic right a stick to beat Islam
        with.”

No, it is not limited to Islamic contexts but the great majority of the persecution of Christians is carried out in Islamic contexts, by Muslims. This list shows the details (it sometimes takes a couple of attempts to load it). We all know that but it seems that to acknowledge it means being automatically consigned to the “Islamophobic far right”.

The Bishop naturally finds space for a spot of nos quoque self-flagellation.

      “One thinks with shame of the Crusades, the inquisition and the pogroms….”

Those Crusades will be the belated and very limited response to several hundred years of jihad around the Mediterranean, no doubt. If you have not seen this graphic juxtaposition of jihad and the Crusades by Bill Warner, now is the time to do so.

The report recommends that:

       “The UK should be prepared to impose sanctions against perpetrators of FoRB (freedom of
        religion or belief) abuses and should seek a [UN] security council resolution urging all
        governments in the Middle East and North Africa to protect Christians and other persecuted
        minorities.”

Fine, something must be done, but it is the following two recommendations which really caught my interest:

       “Foreign Office staff should be given training in religious literacy and belief dynamics.”

What does that mean? You can bet your bottom dollar it won’t mean getting to grips with the two things in Islamic doctrine that really matter, Islamic supremacism and the means to bring it about, jihad. Without understanding those the Foreign Office staff will be as clueless as the clergy, the difference being that the latter are wilfully so.

       “The government should name the phenomenon of Christian discrimination and persecution, and
        undertake work to identify its particular character alongside similar definitions for other
        religions.”

According to the Press Association report this means giving the malice behind the persecution of Christians a name – Christophobia – to bring it into line with Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism.

The problem with this is that the overwhelming source of this malice is not identified so, for all the naive reader of this report will know, the problem is just one of free-floating Christophobia. Moreover, the reservoir of hatred in Islam is not reserved for Christians – they just happen to be on the border of Islamdom in Africa or among Muslims in the Middle East – but for all unbelievers.

Allah is quite open about it in the Koran. He made it very clear that anyone refusing to submit to him can expect unpleasantness in this life followed by extreme unpleasantness in the next. Therefore while Christians adopt and popularise the word Christophobia the rest of us should point out that it is just a subset of KAFIRPHOBIA. Lets spread the word.

*** Update *** Here is the final report.

Parliamentarians duped over Islamophobia – postscript

As if Part 1 , Part 2 and Part 3 weren’t enough about the All Party Parliamentary Group definition of Islamophobia, here comes a postcript!

There are two reasons – firstly, there have been developments since those three articles were written and, secondly, I feel bound to draw an obvious, yet everywhere undrawn, conclusion from the whole process.

1. Later Developments:

On 16th May 2019 the House of Commons debated the APPG definition and the British Government formally declined to adopt it.

During the debate Communities Secretary James Brokenshire characterised the APPG definition as a “backdoor blasphemy law” and rejected it on the grounds that it is too vague and has “potential consequences for freedom of speech”.

He also made it clear that the definition is “not in conformity with the Equality Act 2010, which defines ‘race’ as comprising color, nationality and national or ethnic origins — not religious practice”.

Prior to this a flurry of critical responses had already appeared from people who matter, not just humble bloggers. For instance:

A group of British academics, writers and public officials signed this open letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Richard Walton, former Head of Counter-Terrorism Command of the Metropolitan Police warned here that:

     “…this deeply flawed definition – which wrongly conflates the religion of Islam with a racial group –
      could over time cripple the UK’s successful counter-terrorism strategy and counter-terrorism
      operations”.

Sir John Jenkins produced this comprehensive demolition of the definition. If I had come across it earlier I probably wouldn’t have bothered delving into the subject myself.

My efforts added only one thing to Sir John’s report. Although he points to the “radical chic of critical theory, derived from a particular reading of the Frankfurt School and largely French postmodern theorists” he does not examine the core of the definition, the bogus sociological concept of cultural racism. You can only find that in the aforementioned Part 3.

In response, Wes Streeting (that’s him, centre front row, seated between Anna Soubry and Baroness Warsi) responded in the Guardian:

     ”…it is particularly disappointing to see a noisy chorus of vocal opposition making arguments in
      bad faith that accuse us of trying to use the term Islamophobia to shut down criticism of Islam
      and introduce blasphemy laws by the back door. In fact, our report makes it crystal clear that
      our definition does not preclude criticism of Islam or Islamic theology”.

Yes, the report does make it crystal clear, in the introduction, that ”our definition does not preclude criticism of Islam or Islamic theology”. But towards the end it also makes it crystal clear that many things that we had thought came under the heading of Islam or Islamic theology, now come under the heading of Muslimness, a splendidly vague neologism which the APPG have added to the already vague enough concept of Islamophobia.

As an example of the difference, if the APPG get their way it will become an offence to call Islam an aggressively supremacist cult, which it is and has been for 1400 years.

2. Drawing an obvious conlusion:

In the House of Commons James Brokenshire said:

     ”It is vital that we get this right, that any definition reflects the experience of those who have
      experienced hatred because they are Muslims, and that we can be satisfied it will have a positive
      effect…With the best of intent, the APPG definition does not yet meet this and further work and
      consideration is needed”.

Why would anyone assume that a “backdoor blasphemy law” had been proposed “with the best of intent”?

In his report Sir John Jenkins wrote:

     “There is no doubt that the MPs involved had – and have – the best of intentions.

Why does he think there is no doubt?

Elsewhere in his report he shows that he is fully aware of the malign influence on the report of the sinister Islamist organisation MEND but merely asks:

     “Were members of the APPG and other MPs who appeared at the launch of the report fully
      informed about the connections of those who helped write this report and contribute evidence?“

I suggest that anyone with the best of intentions should have informed themselves about who was presenting information to them, and about their possible agendas. Even if the members were totally duped by MEND and their ideologically aligned academics, they were soon enlightened after the publication by the criticisms from Sir John and others but they still stand by the report.

The APPG report does not at all reflect the best of intentions. Rather, it is a determined and deceptive attempt to claim special protection from criticism for one religion, Islam, just as Sharia demands. The individual members must have been either astonishingly naive, or complicit in what can only be described as enemy action against our society. It is just the proportions which are in doubt.

Lizzie Dearden reported in the Independent:

     ”It [the APPG definition] has been adopted by parties including Labour, the Liberal Democrats,
      Plaid Cymru, Scottish National Party and Scottish Conservatives, and backed by 750 Muslim
      organistions and institutions
”.

That is an awful lot of Muslim organisations, isn’t it? Do they all understand cultural racism and Muslimness? I doubt it. I contend that all they see is the demand for special treatment, which equals Sharia, which equals power. Their immediate response of “Yes, we’ll have some of that” demonstrates more clearly than any poll what a great many Muslims actually want, and who and what they identify with above all else.

The expected response to hearing that the APPG definition is supported by 750 Muslim organisations is that it must therefore be good. Having examined the definition in detail, and found it bad, my conclusion is that a great many Muslims, beyond the ranks of the usual suspects, must wish to see Sharia trump the British values of free speech and equal treatment for all.

My “Islamophobia” has in fact been confirmed and even strengthened by this alarming report and by the whole unedifying process of its production. I wonder how many other people it has affected in the same way.

Parliamentarians duped over Islamophobia part 3

I don’t usually do box sets but there is just so much to say about the All Party Parliamentary Group on Muslims report Islamophobia Defined that it just keeps calling me back, fascinated by the brazenness of the attack on our freedom of expression.

In Part 1 I detailed the evolution of the term Islamophobia over the last 20 years from fear of Islam and Muslims to racism about Muslimness and noted the involvement in the inquiry of a sinister Islamist organisation called MEND.

In Part 2 I studied the contributions to the inquiry from various activists, sociologists and activist sociologists, and what “toilsome reading and a wearisome confused jumble” I found them to be (that was Thomas Carlyle on the Koran, by the way). I also noted the unavoidably subjective way in which the APPG definition would have to be interpreted by those attempting to apply it and, thus, the power it will put into their hands.

In this third, and hopefully final, part I want to examine more closely the concept of cultural racism, which is at the heart of the APPG’s definition of Islamophobia:

     “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of
      Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

I also want to look at some of the practical implications of the definition and to bring to your attention various responses to it, both positive and negative.

[NB There is also a Postscript]

Cultural racism examined.

Although the Group do not specify in their definition what “type of racism” they consider Islamophobia to be, it is clear from the text of the report that they mean cultural racism.

What is that? Craig Considine, very much an activist sociologist, explains here. He at least lays out the concept and its claimed link to Islamophobia clearly enough to engage with it, which is more than can be said for most of the contributors to the inquiry.

Claiming the Marxist sociologist Stuart Hall as his inspiration, Considine declares that:

     “Racism is no longer about race (skin color) but culture. People are Othered and
      discriminated against not (simply) because of the color of their skin (or other phenotypes)
      but because of their beliefs and practices associated with some imagined culture”.

This is the core of the concept but there is something obviously wrong about it. Cultural racism is actually two concepts presented as one. If racism is no longer about race then it is no longer racism. If it is about culture then it should properly be called something like culturism*, just as discrimination based on sex is sexism and discrimination based on age is ageism. Just because people are “othered and discriminated against” (assuming that they are) it does not mean that one form of discrimination is necessarily a disguised version of another, or even connected to it.

* NB It appears that there is a long established term for discrimination on the basis of culture, ethnocentrism, but I think I’ll stick with culturism because it’s snappier and because the link with culture is obvious.

So let us start from the position that what we have here is two possible forms of discrimination, racism and culturism, and then explore whether they can sensibly be fused together to form a new compound form.

I suggest that attitudes about culture may sometimes be genuinely independent of attitudes about race, something which I believe we can establish empirically with regard to Islam in Britain.

If Hall and Considine are correct, that culturism is just a disguised form of racism, I think we would expect perceptions of particular groups not to differ markedly over time when judged either by culture or by race.

If I am correct, that culturism is a distinct phenomenon and that racism has been spuriously attached to it, then we shouldn’t be surprised to see perceptions of particular groups based on culture diverge significantly from earlier perceptions based on race.

I claim that Considine is wrong to ascribe negative perceptions of Islam and Muslims to a form of racism and I can demonstrate it. All I need is a subject group (Muslims) and a control group to compare over time.

In Britain we are fortunate in having not one but two control groups. There are three culturally (but not racially) distinct populations originating from the Indian subcontinent: Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. The three groups all share similar pigmentation and ancestry, the same history of British colonialism and similar histories of immigration and settlement. But they do have radically differing cultures centred around three very different religions, the implications of which only started to dawn on the British people after the Ayatollah’s fatwa on Salman Rushdie in 1989.

The first two generations of post-war immigrants from the subcontinent were barely distinguished from each other by the native population. Going for an Indian (meal) was a very standard end to a Saturday night out with almost no awareness that the cooks and waiters might in fact be Pakistani and Muslim rather than Indian and Hindu. I remember, I was there. Any negative feeling there might have been toward them was uniform.

How things have changed. Today there are street organisations and even political parties devoted to stopping the increasing Islamisation of Britain while Sikhs and Hindus rub along with the natives just fine.

Why do Muslims today attract so much more hostility than Sikhs and Hindus? I did what any good social scientist would do and conducted a survey. I might add that academics in the field would do well to get out of the mosque and their Hate Studies departments, and spend some time in pubs and betting shops…it would give them a whole different slant on the issue.

It turned out that people are not at all concerned about Muslims’ pigmentation or their clothing or their “perceived Muslimness”. What really concerns them is that periodically some members of the Muslim community take it into their heads to blow us up or mow us down or chop our heads off, claiming religious sanction.

My respondents were also angered by the long standing rape on an industrial scale of vulnerable indigenous girls. At this point it may, or may not, be relevant to mention that APPG member Lord Ahmed (back row, third from the right) is currently awaiting trial, along with his two brothers, charged with historic sexual abuse of minors in – you guessed it – Rotherham.

This is not to say that anyone thought that all Muslims are jihadis or paedophiles, just that some are…enough to establish a pattern. Put it this way: if members of the Women’s Institute (a much loved organisation primarily known for jam-making and nude calenders) started blowing up children at pop concerts, claiming parts of the W.I. constitution as justification, it would be disingenuous not to expect people to regard both the W.I. and W.I. members with suspicion or worse.

But my respondents were particularly infuriated that Muslim representatives routinely respond to these assaults on the host population by claiming that Muslims are the real victims. They give the impression of caring only about Muslims, with a pulled hijab or a nasty look carrying as much weight as someone’s child blown to bits. Perhaps this is not surprising when you consider that their god tells Muslims that they are “the best of peoples” and the rest of us are “the worst of creatures” who deserve to be tortured for eternity.

Sikhs and Hindus have not become associated with similar behaviours and attitudes and therefore do not excite similar animosity. Accordingly they do not need their own special words to deflect attention from, and avoid the consequences of, their own or their fellow religionists’ actions. The very act of attempting to play the victim and blame the very understandable hostility which exists towards Muslims on the indigenous population only intensifies the mutual resentment which drives the Muslim and non-Muslim populations ever further apart.

I therefore contend that the differing current levels of negativity towards Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims are wholly explained by their differing cultures, at the centre of which sit their respective religions, and not at all by any residual racism.

Can Considine explain this puzzling discrepancy by means of cultural racism? Until such time as he does I claim that the hybrid concept of cultural racism, specifically in relation to Islam, is bogus, a mere mixing together of two unconnected concepts for the dishonest purpose of producing the race card where it is not relevant. That being so, the APPG’s definition of Islamophobia, which is based on it, must also be bogus.

If you disagree with this analysis and conclusion please explain why in the comments below, preferably without using the words “trope”, “essentialised”, “narrative”, “intersectional” or “orientalism”.

Other reasons to be sceptical about the application of cultural racism to Islamophobia.

Firstly, we only have to look at Wikipedia to find that there are academics who oppose the validity of the concept, but unfortunately none of them made it to the inquiry. The Group heard only one side of the story, repeatedly presented as fact by professor after professor, so it is perhaps not surprising that they swallowed it whole. Who selected such a one-sided presentation of views? Well, we do know that the secretariat contained a member of MEND and also an activist who loudly complained about Islamophobia on the part of the police after the horrors of Rotherham were exposed (see Part 1) so I think we know where to start looking.

If you read the contributions to the inquiry, accepting the speciousness of the central concept, it appears very much like a prolonged sales pitch to gullible buyers of the cloth so fine that only the most intelligent can see it. Some people have already noticed that the new definition is a perfect set of Emperor’s new clothes. Hopefully more will raise their voices when those in authority attempt to use it to curb our free speech, and it will become the laughing stock it deserves to be.

Secondly, When do we ever hear of cultural racism being applied to Muslims rather than non-Muslims? Islam is absolutely built on discrimination against, and othering of, non-Muslims. No one “others” like Allah. Just read his book and see how he encourages his followers to view Jews, Christians and any other unbelievers. Not surprisingly, these attitudes are acted out wherever non-Muslims, or even the wrong kind of Muslims, find themselves in proximity to those who take Allah’s words seriously.

Consider all those Muslim activists and their sociologist supporters contributing to the inquiry. When do any of them protest at the obvious “cultural racism” practised by Muslims upon Copts in Egypt, Ahmadiyya in Pakistan, Anglicans in Nigeria, Catholics in Sri Lanka, Jews anywhere and Kafir girls in Northern England? The answer is never. “Cultural racism” serves solely to boost the effectiveness of “Islamophobia”, and the APPG, in their innocence or otherwise, have given it their blessing.

Implications for Free Speech.

The report claims that the definition of Islamophobia has become more robust. This is not so. It has actually become flakier, but at the same time more controlling.

The group tell us that:

      “the aim of establishing a working definition of Islamophobia has neither been motivated by,
      nor is intended to curtail, free speech or criticism of Islam as a religion…”

but is only aimed at:

      “the victimisation of Muslims through the targeting of expressions of Muslimness”.

It turns out though that Muslimness covers so much that we had thought of merely as religious issues, or questions of fact, that there is very little left that we can say about Islam or Muslims that will not fall foul of the APPG’s strictures.

On pages 56 and 57 of the report there appears a list of things we may not say, for instance,

That Muslim identity has a unique propensity for terrorism
That there is a demographic ‘threat’ posed by Muslims
That there is a threat of of a ‘Muslim takeover’
That Muslims invent or exaggerate Islamophobia
That Muslims are more loyal to the Ummah or to their countries of origin, than to the interests of their own nations.
That Muslims should be expected to take loyalty tests
That Muhammed was a paedophile
That Muslims spread Islam by the sword and subjugated minority groups under their control
That Muslims are ‘sex groomers’, inherently violent or incapable of living harmoniously in plural societies

I would say that there is good factual evidence for most of these assertions (what else would you call a 53 year old man who had sex with a 9 year old girl?) But facticity here is trumped by the religious sensibilities of Muslims.

That presents us with a remarkable juxtaposition. In British law the truth of a statement is a defence against slander whereas in Islamic law it is not because slander is only “what someone may not wish to hear”. Is it not ironic, and shameful, that British lawyers (well represented in the APPG group) should propose giving Muslims the benefit of Sharia level protection against criticism while non-Muslims will have to do what we have always done, to counter criticism with facts and argument?

No doubt the non-Muslim lawyers in the group had no clue about slander in Sharia, but I suspect that the Muslim ones likely did.

Reactions from the usual suspects.

When I wrote Part 1 three local Councils had adopted the APPG definition. As we see here there are now four. The Greater London Authority under Sadiq Khan (who appears to prioritise seeking out hate speech over sorting out the bloodbath that London has become) has also recently adopted it, with Khan calling on the Government to do likewise. Three national political parties have done the same.

Here are the 60 odd Muslim organisations which naturally think it a jolly good idea. One of them is particularly interesting. MAB, the Muslim Association of Britain, is, according to a British Government report, a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot. In this press release about the definition they make clear what they see as the next click of the ratchet of sharia compliance:

“Alluding to only racial and cultural aspects of Islam, rather than the religious and symbolic elements, is problematic and must be developed through an ongoing broad and extensive discussion”.

The “racial and cultural aspects of Islam” are taken care of by the de facto Sharia slander law referred to above. To protect the “religious and symbolic elements” would also require a full blown de facto Sharia blasphemy law. Take note what some of those among us actually plan for our future!

Here is another interesting MAB press release congratulating the NUS (representing 7 million students) on adopting the APPG definition and Zamzam Ibrahim on being elected as President.

It has emerged that Ms Ibrahim once posted online that she wanted to see “an Islamic takeover”.

What…one of those things the APPG want us not to mention because it would be a racist attack on Muslimness? Yes, the same. Naturally it was taken out of context and she was only a mixed up teenager and she no longer holds those sorts of views. Well, that’s a relief but one has to wonder where did they come from in the first place…her parents perhaps, or the mosque or the community? Or maybe straight from Allah who declared in his best seller, the Koran, “He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion”.

But the news is not all bad.

The Government have so far refused to have anything to do with it.

The National Secular Society and Maajid Nawaz of Quilliam have called the APPG definition unworkable.

Trevor Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (under whose leadership the original Runnymede definition was produced), has written that:

     “despite the undoubted good intentions of the MPs and peers who wrote the definition, they
      appear to understand neither the concept of racism nor the meaning of Islamophobia”

and that:

     “the definition reduces the lives of British Muslims to the status of perpetual victims and pawns
      in some wider battle”.

Here anti-extremism Czar Sarah Khan points out that an increasing amount of hatred towards Muslims comes from other Muslims. She wishes for the definition of Islamophobia to be enlarged to include such hostility however the examples she gives only show her confusion over the matter.

Jalal Uddin was killed in Rochdale by an ISIS supporter who believed that Uddin’s practice of an Islamic form of faith healing was blasphemy, and therefore apostasy. Kahn rightly points out that this is takfir, the act of a Muslim declaring another Muslim not a Muslim, and therefore a Kafir. She also cites Muslim persecution of Ahmadiyyah Muslims (who are not allowed to call themselves Muslims in their native Pakistan).

In both cases Muslims are not being attacked for their “perceived Muslimness” but their “perceived non-Muslimness”. Therefore the hostility Kahn identifies does not constitute Islamophobia but merely another category of Kafirphobia alongside the Judeophobia, Christophobia and Polytheophobia which appear so frequently in the Koran and among the Ummah.

Various journalists, and even the occasional blogger, have pointed out the definition’s shortcomings.

But the most surprising, and welcome, ray of sanity in all this came all the way from Indonesia and from an astonishing source. Yahya Cholil Staquf is apparently the head of the largest Muslim organisation in the world, the Nahdlatul Ulama with 90 million members. He recently wrote an article in the Daily Telegraph entitled “To prevent another Christchurch, Islam must confront the attacks in its name that have radicalised the West”. It is behind a paywall but a filleted version can be found here.

In a display of shockingly unIslamic self-reflection he suggests that hostility to Islam and Muslims may have something to do with Islamic teachings and Muslim actions. This is what he has to say about the APPG definition:

     “There is a desperate need for honest discussion of these matters. This is why it worries me to
      see Western political and intellectual elites weaponise the term “Islamophobia,” to short-circuit
      analysis of a complex phenomenon that threatens all humanity. For example, it is factually
      incorrect and counter-productive to define Islamophobia as “rooted in racism,” as proposed by
      the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. In reality, it is the spread of Islamist
      extremism and terror that primarily contributes to the rise of Islamophobia throughout the
      non-Muslim world.”

If only the members of the APPG had such clarity of vision.

Parliamentarians duped over Islamophobia part 2

In Nov 2018 the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims (APPG) published their report Islamophobia Defined. This was the definition they came up with:

     “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness
      or perceived Muslimness.”

There are many shortcomings both in the definition itself and the process of arriving at it, as pointed out in Part 1. This post will look in more detail at two aspects (my highlighting in bold type throughout):

1. The confused and confusing relation between religion (but only one religion) and race.

2. The unavoidably subjective distinctions which will have to be made by those in a position to apply the definition in practice, between free speech and “a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness”.

1. Religion and Race

In chapter 2 of the report we see how definitions of Islamophobia evolved from the original Runnymede Trust definition of 1997:

     ”…a useful shorthand way of referring to dread or hatred of Islam – and, therefore, to fear or
      dislike all or most Muslims.”

to their 2017 update in which they baldly stated that:

     “Islamophobia is anti-Muslim racism.”

In 2018, as we have seen, the APPG declared that:

     “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism….”

At the start of chapter 3 the group say this of their contributors:

     “The contributors – academics, activists, NGOs, think tanks, experts and practitioners – tend to
      agree that the term Islamophobia is the most appropriate one, as it encompasses a variety of
      manifestations and practices that can comfortably be localised within what is generally
      understood as anti-Muslim racism.”

I contend that Islamophobia certainly is not generally understood as anti-Muslim racism but only by Muslim activists and certain academics within the field. Here is a small but very representative selection of their contributions to the inquiry:

On p29 Dr Imran Awan and Dr Irene Zempi say Islamophobia is:

     ”…motivated by institutional, ideological, political and religious hostility that transcends
      into structural and cultural racism
which targets the symbols and markers of a being a
      Muslim.”

On p30 Akeela Ahmed MBE points out:

     ”…the ‘structural nature of Islamophobia’ – which concerns “every aspect of a British Muslim
      person’s life” such as education, employment and representation in the Criminal Justice System
      – and the ‘intersectional nature of Islamophobia’ – which concerns its intersection with
      racism and sexism – would not to be captured if we were to understand and define
      Islamophobia solely as religious hate crime.”

On p39 Dr Omar Khan of the Runnymede Trust explains that:

     “Islamophobia is positioned within a social and cultural space that homogenises Muslims and
      places them at disadvantage vis-à-vis society, on the basis of their belonging to a specific group
      perceived to carry certain characteristics. The process is known as ‘racialisation’ and, as
      Massoumi, Miller, Mills, and Aked argue: “Racialisation describes process by which certain groups
      become signified as ‘races’ within specific social contexts. European colonisation relied on
      pseudo-scientific theories of races to categorise people into different racial hierarchies, today we
      rely on more culturalist explanations. Muslim appearances, behaviours and assumed
      practices are taken as a sign of inferiority – this is the process of racialisation. If ‘race’ is a
      fiction created when certain ethnic heritage or cultural practices attach to social
      advantage or disadvantage, it is hard to see religious identity as ontologically distinct from
      ‘race’. For good reason then, racialisation is increasingly used to explain Islamophobia as a
      form of racism.”

On p41 Professor Kallis declares that:

     “Race is not about phenotype, race exists first and foremost in the eyes of the racist. Race
      is a group that is defined by the person that makes a generalisation.”

and
      “It is the racist who creates the race”.

What this boils down to is the claim that A looks like B therefore A is B (or a kind of B). This is plain bad logic to anyone but academics who beguile themselves with ten dollar words. If a person disparages groups because of their culture rather than their race then their attitude should properly be called something like “culturism”*, not “racism” or the hybrid “cultural racism”. One can see why people seeking enhanced victim status on account of one form of discrimination might want to link it to the gold standard of discriminations, racism, but it only works if you can persuade enough people to believe something which is simply not true.

* NB It appears that there is a long established term for discrimination on the basis of culture, ethnocentrism, but I think I’ll stick with culturism because it’s snappier and because the link with culture is obvious.

To spread the idea wider, is discrimination against gay people racist? Why not? To paraphrase one of the statements above:

     “Gay appearances, behaviours and assumed practices are taken as a sign of inferiority
      – this is the process of racialisation. If ‘race’ is a fiction created when certain ethnic
      heritage or cultural practices attach to social advantage or disadvantage, it is hard to see
      sexual identity as ontologically distinct from ‘race’. For good reason then, racialisation
      is increasingly used to explain homophobia as a form of racism.”

It works just as well, or badly, doesn’t it?

Here is another aspect to all this. No other racially heterogeneous group attempts to claim that discrimination against themselves is racist, not even other religions. When Christians are persecuted in Nigeria, Egypt or Pakistan – or derided in Britain – they never make this claim. The fact that Muslims do makes one suspect something less than straightforward is going on. The phobes among us will see this inquiry as merely another example of what Muslims do best, claiming victim status in order to gain special treatment and therefore political advantage, summed up in the Arabic saying “Show a victim’s face and you will take over”. It is exactly what Mohammed did in Medina when he fled there as a “refugee”, after all. The extraordinary thing is how the APPG members lapped it up, although perhaps not quite so extraordinary when you consider that the majority of them are Muslims themselves.

Also, Muslims should be careful what they ascribe to others because it can be turned back on them and their religion. For instance, it is surely beyond doubt that Allah is a hateful religious bigot. How else can you describe a being who refers to those who don’t believe in him as “the vilest of creatures” and who boasts throughout the Koran of the hideous tortures they will suffer once he gets his hands on them? Clearly, according to this new concept of “cultural racism”, he must now also be a racist.

Which brings us on to:

2. The unavoidably subjective distinctions which will have to be made by those in a position to apply the definition in practice, between free speech and “a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness”.

On p11 of the Executive summary the APPG tell us:

     “…the aim of establishing a working definition of Islamophobia has neither been motivated by,
      nor is intended to curtail, free speech or criticism of Islam as a religion. Evidence read
      and heard by the group clearly delineated between the desirability of criticism, debate and free
      discussion of Islam as a religion – by Muslims and non-Muslim participants in the inquiry
      – and the victimisation of Muslims through the targeting of expressions of Muslimness to deny or
      impair their fundamental freedoms and human rights.”

So that’s okay then, I can criticise Islam, presumably including its god, as long as I do not target Muslims’ expressions of Muslimness.

Except that on p35 they endorse these views from two of their contributors:

      “Ali and Witham further their concern about the boundaries between Islamophobia and free
      speech by arguing that “there is no ‘good faith’ criticism of Islam”. Central in their argument is
      the concept of inseparability of race and religion, whereby an attack on the religion cannot
      be separated from an attack on the race
because both concepts are constructs adopted “as a
      means of categorising colonial subjects”. As such, the recourse to the notion of free speech
      and a supposed right to criticise Islam results in nothing more than another subtle form of
      anti-Muslim racism, whereby the criticism humiliates, marginalises, and stigmatises
      Muslims.
One, real life example of this concerns the issue of ‘grooming gangs’: “Participants
      reported being told that ‘Mohammed is a paedophile’, for instance. This comment does
      not,in a strictly grammatical sense, have the victim themselves as subject, but is rather an
      example of the ‘criticism of Islam’ as it is actually articulated and experienced. Yet, clearly,
      it is aimed at (and can achieve) harm to individual Muslims, and is not rooted in any
      meaningful theological debate but rather in a racist attempt to ‘other’ Muslims in general
,
      associating them with the crime our society sees as most abhorrent of all.”

and on p57 of the Conclusion they describe calling Mohammed a paedophile (along with several other arguably factual statements about Islam and Muslims) as a “symbol associated with classic Islamophobia”.

I maintain that the characters of both Allah and Mohammed are central to the theological debate about the truth or falsity of the religion of Islam. In my view Allah’s all too human character flaws make him an unlikely candidate for the position of Creator of the Universe. Likewise Mohammed’s rap sheet, including much more than paedophilia, is an indication of his untrustworthiness as the sole witness to the supposed Creator’s revelation.

But the APPG appear to regard making such claims as unavoidably directed at Muslims and therefore Islamophobic. I wonder what criticisms I can make of Islam that are not trumped by concern for the sensibilities of Muslims.

At best, the verdict on such criticisms will depend on the judgment of the individuals in authority armed with this definition. If it becomes officially accepted, and some councils have already accepted it, your fate, if you dare to express an opinion about Islam, will depend on the subjective interpretation of any social workers, teachers, policemen, employers etc you have dealings with.

At worst, despite the APPG’s protestations about free speech, we could find ourselves subject to official sanctions, and their enforcers, against any criticism of Islam. There is a word for such an arrangement…Sharia.