Tag Archives: muslimness

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

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.”

      “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
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.

Parliamentarians duped over Islamophobia part 1

I have long thought that Islamophobia is a word in search of a thing, merely a thought-paralysing device to discourage people from criticising or even investigating Islam. That being so this is an apt definition:

     “Islamophobia is the state of knowing more than one should about Islam”.

The word should have died of embarrassment long ago, but it hasn’t. In fact it has gone from strength to strength and now the great and good of the land have taken the trouble to produce a new substantive definition:

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

It appeared in the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims (APPG) Nov 2018 report
Islamophobia Defined.

One important question not addressed in it is why does Islam need its own special word when Hinduism and Sikhism do not?

Since the major populations in Britain of adherents of the three faiths originate from the same region (India/Pakistan) would it not be reasonable to ask whether the undoubted ill feeling which exists towards Islam and Muslims, but not towards Hinduism and Hindus or Sikhism and Sikhs, has something to do with Islam and Muslims?

Another question is if Islamophobia really exists and deserves examining then why not its obvious counterpart Kafirphobia?

Considering the many hateful sentiments about non-Muslims expressed by Mohammed himself in the Koran, and how seriously devout Muslims take his example, perhaps it might have been worth considering the possibility that prejudice is far from a one way street. For one example, in 2012 Lord Nazir Ahmed, a member of the APPG himself, blamed a Jewish conspiracy for a driving conviction in Britain. For another, here is the account of the racism encountered in the Muslim community of Glasgow by a half Scottish half Pakistani girl, and the racism she did not encounter after she left and lived among indigenous Glaswegians.

The really shocking thing about the report though is that after publication it soon became clear that it had been heavily influenced, even largely taken over, by Islamist activists and their allies seeking always to put Muslims in the position of victims of a hostile British society. As we shall see, the parliamentarians of the APPG were either duped or complicit in the process.

But to start at the beginning:

The APPG introduce themselves (p4)

     “The Group was established to highlight the aspirations and challenges facing British
      Muslims; to celebrate the contributions of Muslim communities to Britain and to
      investigate prejudice, discrimination and hatred against Muslims in the UK.”

So they declare their position at the outset. The existence of prejudice and hatred against Muslims is accepted uncritically with no thought given to the possibility of prejudice and hatred on the part of Muslims against non-Muslims. Some people are of the opinion that the former is largely a response to the latter.

Executive Summary (p9)

The group reassure 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.
      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.”

Here we run straight into a major problem with the APPG’s definition, the concept of Muslimness. The problem of defining one abstraction, Islamophobia, is solved by referring it to another, novel, abstraction. But Muslimness is defined nowhere in the report, only supposed examples of it are given such as skin colour, clothing, dietary rules and the “radical otherness of so-called Muslim practices” including FGM, forced marriage, veiling, electoral fraud, the imposition of shariah law and child sexual exploitation (p46).

This is a sorry list which does nothing to clarify matters. Where are the main objections to Islam, its supremacism and jihad? Clearly a new consultation process and report will be necessary sometime in the future to define Muslimness.

Even if we accept a common-sense idea of Muslimness, like those we use for Englishness or Jewishness – adequate for everyday but not for legal or educational purposes – there is still the massive problem of Islamic duality. Islam comes in two distinct forms, the Islam of Mecca and the Islam of Medina, shown graphically here.

In Mecca Mohammed, while not exactly friendly to non-Muslims, left the violent retribution for unbelief up to Allah. In Medina he became a political and military figure who took matters into his own hands and imposed Allah’s will on his neighbours by warfare. Both were expressions of Muslimness in their time and both find their supporters today. Most people couldn’t care less what Muslims eat or wear but do care about jihad which they see on their streets every few weeks in some new atrocity or other. So, can the APPG tell us, is jihad an expression of Muslimness or not? To do that they would need to go deeply into the theology of Islam and even then would not be able to agree, echoing the arguments raging within and without Islam around the globe.

Chapter 2 Arriving At A Working Definition (p23)

Chapter 2 takes us through the evolving definitions of Islamophobia from the famous 1997 version of the Runnymede Trust through to the APPG one.

Before we visit some of them I have to ask, do MP’s use terms like “intersectional” or “essentialist tropes” or “othering” or “Orientalism” which are scattered throughout the heart of the report, chapters 2 and 3? No they do not. These terms are almost exclusively used by postmodernist whatever-studies zealots and professional Islamophobia hunters such as Dr Chris Allen of Leicester University’s Center for Hate Studies.

This made me wonder, did the APPG members actually write those chapters or did they outsource them to someone “more suitable”? That is how they read both in the language used and the contributors chosen. We will see later how my suspicions were confirmed.

Here is a selection, from the report, of past definitions, starting with the Runnymede Trust one from their Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All (1997):

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

A fairly modest start, confining itself just to Islam and Muslims.

The Council of Europe report, Islamophobia and its consequences on Young People (2005) added racism, discrimination and human rights to the mix:

     ”…the fear of or prejudiced viewpoint towards Islam, Muslims and matters pertaining to
      them…[taking] the shape of daily forms of racism and discrimination or more violent
      forms, Islamophobia is a violation of human rights.”

The UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (2007) added baseless hostility, unequal treatment, victimhood and exclusion:

     ”…a baseless hostility and fear vis-à-vis Islam, and as a result, a fear of, and aversion
      towards, all Muslims or the majority of them. [Islamophobia] also refers to the practical
      consequences of this hostility in terms of discrimination, prejudices, and unequal
      treatment of which Muslims (individuals and communities) are victims and their exclusion
      from major political and social spheres”.

The 2008 report from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Observatory on Islamophobia went with most of the above plus intolerance and stereotyping:

     ”…an irrational or very powerful fear or dislike of Islam and the feeling as if the Muslims
      are under siege and attack. Islamophobia however goes much beyond this and
      incorporates racial hatred, intolerance, prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping. The
      phenomenon of Islamophobia in its essence is a religion-based resentment.”

The writer of Chapter 2 commented:

      “This definition introduces the intersectional nature of Islamophobia by incorporating
      ‘racial hatred’ as a defining feature of anti-Muslim hostility.”

From our point of view it is worth noting that in 1990 the OIC produced the Cairo Declaration which effectively reduces Human Rights to Sharia Rights (see Article 24, “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah”). It is well known that Sharia epitomises intolerance, prejudice, discrimination and religion-based resentment…but only of non-Muslims so that’s ok.

In 2017 The Runnymede Trust revisited the issue with their “Islamophobia: Still A Challenge for Us All” report and baldly stated:

     “Islamophobia is anti-Muslim racism.”

And, to remind ourselves, in 2018 the APPG added the novel term Muslimness:

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

How has something about Islam and Muslims morphed into something about racism and Muslimness? Why does this definition make no mention of either Islam or fear of any kind, let alone the irrational kind, that the word “phobia” usually refers to?

What we have here is definition inflation, and it is possible because the word has no real meaning beyond what the definer wishes it to mean. The stripes on a tiger are limited by reality. The stripes on a unicorn are limited only by the imagination of the believer in unicorns. One thing we can be sure of is that this is not the end of the story. No doubt some Hate Studies scholar or Islamist activist will be tacking something new and unpleasant onto it within a year or two. How about fascism? No one likes fascism do they? Be my guest. I don’t even ask for a credit.

Here is one last point about the definition. Islamophobia “is a type of racism”. That’s a bit vague isn’t it? What type of racism do they mean? In fact they are talking about cultural racism. It crops up throughout the report like essentialist tropes but I suspect the APPG are a bit coy about presenting such an obvious oxymoron to the general public. They might start wondering whether the Emperor is fully clothed.

In the wonderful world of postmodernism, where words can mean whatever you want them to mean, the term makes perfect sense. Most ordinary people think racism has to involve race but that is just because they are too thick to appreciate the higher understanding. Here you go…all explained on p41:

     ”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.”

That is why thinking poorly of scholars of Islamophobia is racist.

Chapter 3 Our Findings (p27)

I will refrain from going into the contents of chapter 3 in detail. It is there in the link above for those with a taste for the intellectual equivalent of bog snorkelling. Suffice it to say that it consists of wall to wall grievance-airing by Muslim activist groups and their academic supporters. The only counterview comes in the form of a quote by Douglas Murray, an example of what not to think, to the effect that “the fear of Islam is not irrational but in fact, ‘supremely rational’, because Islam can be both violent and extremist”.

At this point I asked myself, who set the agenda here, who selected the contributors and actually wrote the report, in particular chapters 2 and 3? Checking the Acknowledgements section I found that the group gave thanks to the secretariat with particular mention of Dr Antonio Perra. Who he? This article shows him to be one of those hard left academics who hate everything about Britain, a clear Britophobe in fact.

Not only that but he was until recently a member of MEND, a group described by the Henry Jackson Society as Islamists posing as civil Libertarians. He is just the kind of person who adds fuel to my Islamophobic fantasy of an alliance between the Left and Islam designed to undermine Western civilisation.

Andrew Gilligan adds details both about Dr Perra and about a particular member of the secretariat:

     “One of the APPG’s secretariat, Muhbeen Hussain, is from Rotherham, where in 2015 he
      organised the local Muslim community to boycott the police for their ‘Islamophobic’
      behaviour after the child-sex grooming scandal.”

At this point I thought it no longer necessary to engage with the report on its own terms. It is clearly discredited by its associations. We now know who set the agenda but who put Perra and Hussain in place? Could it have been Baroness Warsi who has always got along fine with MEND? Just asking.

The APPG group have clearly been duped at best by a determined and underhand attempt to portray British Muslims as eternal victims of their host country, thereby driving a wedge between the two. That is an Islamist goal and the APPG have aided it with their nonsensical new definition of Islamophobia.