Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Cold War on British Muslims

David Miller, Tom Mills, and Tom Griffin
Al Jazeera
August 5, 2011.

Conservative think-tanks help fuel a culture of fear, allowing far-right groups to prosper.

In justification of his attacks in Norway, killing more than seventy civilians, mostly teenagers, Anders Breivik issued a manifesto: 2083 A European Declaration of Independence. It has been widely reported that he cited a long list of Islamophobic and "counterjihad" writers such as the Americans Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, Pamela Geller and Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy - and the Egyptian-born, Swiss-based Bat Ye'or who has popularised the concept of "Eurabia" - the supposedly secret conspiracy for the Islamic takeover of Europe. Less prominent, but also cited, was a UK think-tank that is close to the UK government and credited with influencing UK anti-terrorist policy. Policy Exchange is one of two conservative think-tanks we examine in our new Spinwatch report [PDF], that attempts to understand the current climate of fear being whipped up against Muslims in Britain - and indeed across Europe and the US.

The citation of Policy Exchange seems innocent enough, as Breivik simply cites public opinion data published by the think-tank. However, as it happens, this precise data is highlighted in our report as an indication of the potential for bias and ideology in the way think-tanks such as Policy Exchange operate. Our report also examines another key conservative think-tank that has been prominent in arguing for a counter-subversion approach to Islam, the Centre for Social Cohesion.

The Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC) was founded in 2007 as a project of the conservative think-tank Civitas. Its emphasis was in line with Civitas' previous work on the subject. A key example was The "West", Islam and Islamism: Is ideological Islam compatible with liberal democracy? - a 2003 pamphlet [PDF] whose authors Caroline Cox and John Marks would later become directors of the CSC. They argued that "Islamist terrorism" was only part of a broader ideological challenge comparable to communist propaganda efforts during the Cold War. This vision was reflected in the appointment of Douglas Murray as the centre's director; the author of Neoconservatism: Why We Need It. By the time he joined the CSC, Murray had already established a reputation as a critic of Islam, most notably in a 2006 speech in which he argued that "conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board".

The CSC's first full length report was Hate on the State: How British Libraries Encourage Extremism [PDF].  It criticised the London Borough of Tower Hamlets for stocking "several hundred books and audio tapes by radical Islamists" in its libraries  and criticised the failure to include Stephen Schwartz and Ibn Warraq, two writers associated with the counterjihad perspective.

Read the rest here.

Comment: See for more on Islamophobia in Britain.

Watch your back in these times.


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