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Will Baldét: As well as combating terrorism, we must tackle the underlying ideology of Islamisim

Will Baldét is a  Regional Prevent Coordinator and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right.

The threat from Islamist terrorism has evolved in both its complexity and application. Initially relying on spectacle to capture the attention of the world’s media, the degradation of Islamic State has led to a reliance on unsophisticated, self-starter attacks by individuals often inspired, rather than directed, by terrorist groups.

While the violent methodology is continually evolving, there is an underlying factor that remains largely unchanged: an extreme Islamist ideology redefines Islam though its own political prism. Just as the first victims of terrorism are often Muslims themselves, the predominant victims of Islamist extremism will be Muslim-majority countries and the religion of Islam.

Governments have united to push back the military threat from Islamic State, but amidst the carnage of a terrorist massacre it’s easy to forget that terrorism itself is merely a tactic, albeit one with horrific consequences.

Are we confident that enough is being done to tackle the ideology itself, or that Muslim-majority countries, without whom we cannot dispel the Islamist threat, are equally at the forefront of implementing Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) strategies to inoculate communities against the doctrines that underpin global terrorism? I have been involved in the UK’s CVE strategy, Prevent, for over a decade, and I have seen how vital it is to involve Muslim communities on the front line in the fight against Islamist extremism. Yet too often the approach to disengagement and de-radicalisation has been dominated by non-Muslim academics, policy-makers and practitioners.

However, last year I attended the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) in Abu Dhabi and its host, the Hedayah Centre based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is arguably the first concerted effort by the global Muslim community to face up to the deeper risks posed by Islamism and recognise its distinction from terrorism.

Tackling an evolving threat requires an equally flexible and adaptable approach, and Hedayah has developed a multi-disciplinary programme that operates across different layers of society. While Islamist extremism is a global problem, it often exploits local grievances, both real and perceived. It is increasingly clear that an effective CVE strategy must be hyper-local; that is, rooted in the very communities at risk from exploitation.

Recognising that governments are not the best actors to operate at this level, Hedayah promotes engagement with other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and communities themselves to bring young people, women, families, and local religious leaders together to include their perspectives in the application of CVE policy and equip them with the knowledge and the tools to counter Islamist narratives.

To complement this grass-roots approach to CVE, Hedayah works with governments to help them build an effective national framework, bringing together relevant sectors and ministries, within which NGOs can operate most effectively. This is crucially important for the ongoing challenge of repatriating returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). Although this is not a new phenomenon, Islamic State fighters are more likely to return in a highly radicalised and indoctrinated state and require careful reintegration back into society once countries are assured they no longer pose a threat. Such efforts require close cooperation between national governments, local municipalities and local NGOs. Hedayah’s approach is to understand the original motivations of individual fighters and utilise this knowledge to develop safe integration strategies.

My own experience has shown me that it is vital to secure the support of Muslim communities in tackling Islamist extremism, and I cannot emphasise enough the existential threat now facing them. These communities are under siege not only from the industrial-scale recruitment efforts of terrorist organisations and the alacritous rise of neo-fascist groups who see Islam as a threat to their own way of life, but also the increasingly invisible and pernicious influence of non-violent Islamist groups.

While our attention must always stay focused on preventing the next terrorist attack, we must also recognise that the difference between the tactics of violent Islamist ideologues, whose aim is to establish a Caliphate and implement their own interpretation of Sharia, and their non-violent counterparts is often one of pragmatism. More initiatives like UAE’s Hedayah Centre, involving not only Muslim communities, but entire Muslim nations and cultures, is the most effective way the world can push back against Islamist extremism.

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Mohammed Amin: I don’t like the term “Islamophobia”. But since we’re stuck with it, here’s my own definition.

Until his recent expulsion, Mohammed Amin MBE was Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum . He is writing in a personal capacity.

As explained previously, I consider that 22 years of poor-quality definitions of Islamophobia have made the word incapable of being rescued.

However, in Parliament during May, James Brokenshire committed the Government to coming up with its own definition. To save it work, I am supplying one.

In my view, the key goal of any new definition must be to make it clear that, like antisemitism and homophobia, Islamophobia is about how you treat other people, and not about your views regarding an abstract noun (Islam).

I have intentionally used the structure of the IHRA definition of anti-semitism, since it has become an industry standard. I have also added some emphasis, as there are certain words in the IHRA (Interntional Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition which many people regularly ignore or forget about.

The definition of Islamophobia

The definition below is intended as a complete, self-contained, replacement for all previous definitions. Accordingly, any commentaries on those earlier definitions should be ignored when construing this definition.

“Islamophobia is a negative perception of Muslims, which may in extreme cases be expressed as violence toward Muslims, and in less extreme cases as hatred of Muslims, discrimination against Muslims, and abusive language against Muslims.

Rhetorical and physical manifestations of Islamophobia may be directed toward Muslim individuals.

They may also be directed against non-Muslim individuals either because they are wrongly believed to be Muslims or because they are considered sympathetic to Muslims.

They may also be directed towards the property of such Muslim or non-Muslim individuals, or towards Muslim community institutions and religious facilities.”

Guidance on the use of the definition

The following examples may serve as illustrations.

Manifestations of Islamophobia might include extreme, and repetitive attacks upon the religion of Islam, asserting that it is a uniquely violent religion, or that Muslims have historically sought to exterminate all non-Muslims or sought to compel all non-Muslims to convert to Islam.

However, criticism of Islam similar to that levelled against any other religion, including asserting that Muhammad created the Quran from available extant sources, or other academically argued challenges to the history or theology of Islam, cannot be regarded as Islamophobic. Nor is it Islamophobic to point out that at specific times in specific places some Muslim rulers have practiced forced conversion.

Islamophobia frequently charges the generality of Muslims today with seeking to harm humanity, or with seeking to impose Islam on others. It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of Islamophobia in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  1. Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Muslims in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  2. Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Muslims such as the claim that Muslims wish to take over countries into which they have immigrated by demographic expansion.
  3. Accusing Muslims as a category of religious people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Muslim person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Muslims.
  4. Denying the fact, scope, or intentionality of genocides where Muslims are the victims as in the case of Srebrenica or more recently in the case of the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar.
  5. Accusing Muslim citizens of being more loyal to Muslim majority countries, or to the alleged priorities of Muslims worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  6. Applying double standards by requiring of Muslims a behaviour not expected or demanded of other religious groups.
  7. Using the symbols and images associated with terrorists who are Muslims (e.g. swords dripping blood, images of Jihad) to characterize Muslims generally.
  8. Holding Muslims collectively responsible for the actions of terrorist groups such as ISIS or Al Qaeda.
  9. Seeking to demonise the Prophet Muhammad by using abusive language such as “paedophile”. (Simply pointing out the widely believed age of Aisha at the time of her marriage is not Islamophobic, as many Muslims also believe that she was very young when she was married. It is the type of language used, and an obsession with this issue, that is an indicator of probable Islamophobic attitudes.)

Islamophobic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law. For example, Austria has a blasphemy law which has been used to convict someone of anti-Islamic blasphemy.

Criminal acts are Islamophobic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Muslim or linked to Muslims.

Islamophobic discrimination is the denial to Muslims of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.

I am not expressing a view in this article about under what circumstances, if any, Islamophobic acts or discrimination should become criminal acts: that will be for a later piece which I hope ConservativeHome will carry.

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Dalai Lama: Sure, a female successor would be okay — if she’s hot

Westlake Legal Group dl Dalai Lama: Sure, a female successor would be okay — if she’s hot woman Vaidyanathan The Blog successor Muslims Europe Dalai Lama attractive

To cleanse the palate. Yesterday’s CW: The Dalai Lama is the world’s most enlightened man.

Today’s CW: The Dalai Lama must be deplatformed.

Or at least stripped of his Nobel Prize.

This is unexpected:

I like that he just owns it, almost cheerily, even. It’s vaguely Trumpy in its unapologetic political correctness.

In fact, upon further review, this guy sounds very Trumpy:

The 83-year-old said: ‘European countries should take these refugees and give them education and training, and the aim is – return to their own land with certain skills.’…

When asked what should happen to those who want to stay in their adopted countries, he replied: ‘A limited number is OK. But the whole of Europe [will] eventually become Muslim country – impossible. Or African country, also impossible.’…

He added: ‘They themselves, I think [are] better in their own land. Better [to] keep Europe for Europeans.’

So there’s the low-key biggest news of the week. At some point when the world wasn’t looking, the Dalai Lama got red-pilled.

Here’s a few more bits from the same interview, including some of the comments about refugees. I’m tempted to wonder if Trump will be reincarnated as his successor, but the subject of Trump is broached here and, well, it doesn’t go well.

The post Dalai Lama: Sure, a female successor would be okay — if she’s hot appeared first on Hot Air.

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Daniel Hannan: The Johnson tape, the Field incident. So much was said about both. But why the silence about the Kirklees arrests?

Daniel Hannan is an MEP for South-East England, and a journalist, author and broadcaster. His most recent book is What Next: How to Get the Best from Brexit.

We learned at the end of last week that West Yorkshire Police had arrested 44 people as part of a probe into organised sexual abuse. Not that you’ll have seen much about it on TV or in the weekend newspapers, which were instead obsessed first with the eco-protesters who had invaded the Lord Mayor’s banquet, and then with fact that Boris Johnson’s girlfriend had reportedly shouted at him.

Some columnists worked themselves into a lather about how shocking it was for an MP to manhandle a female protester. Others – and this was trickier since, in the Johnson case, the police confirmed that nothing untoward had happened – sounded off about domestic abuse in general, and how public-spirited the snooping neighbours had been. Almost no-one thought it worth talking about grooming.

It’s true, of course, that we don’t know the details of what happened in Kirklees. The presumption of innocence must apply in this as in any other case. Still, given what we know about similar cases in Yorkshire, and given the gravity of the accusations, isn’t there a pretty strong public interest in the arrests? The investigation, after all, concerns the systematic rape of underage girls. I know there is a growing list of Subjects On Which Male Columnists Are Not Allowed An Opinion, but I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that all of us, men and women, can recognise that prolonged exploitation and sexual abuse is worse than being frogmarched out of a room or having wine spilled on your sofa.

Why, then, the imbalance in column inches? Google “West Yorkshire grooming” and you’ll mainly find advertisements for dog and cat parlours. The arrests were reported in local newspapers and on regional television, but made barely a dent in the national media.

Is it, as some will allege, a liberal conspiracy to cover up crimes committed by Muslims? Hardly. Yes, there are journalists who are squeamish about cases of this kind, and hyper-sensitivity about imagined racism was an exacerbating factor in the Rotherham abominations. But that doesn’t explain why there was so little coverage in conservative, as well as Leftist, media.

Something else – and something every bit as ugly – is going on. The reason that there was such a disproportionate focus on the Field and Johnson stories is that they could be dragged into the horrible culture war which defines our politics. In both cases, people could (and did) take sides according to their existing affiliations. In both cases, people began with their conclusions and fitted the facts to their prejudices. Depending on their politics, they saw either an MP reacting instinctively to someone who had barged in and might be armed, or a nasty Tory bullying a woman. Depending on their politics, they saw either some vaguely wrong behaviour from Johnson (no one could quite put their finger on what) or a snooping Leftie neighbour fabricating a story.

The point is, in either version, there are villains. That is what makes the culture war at once so arresting and so revolting. People can enjoy fulminating against (delete as appropriate) evil Tory MPs or awful Leftist protesters and sneaks. They can revel in their righteous indignation. In the Kirklees case, by contrast, there is no alternative interpretation. No one, however uncomfortable they might feel about stories like this coming out, is seriously going to defend rapists and abusers.

Culture wars are primarily defined by what and whom we dislike. For example, I am broadly pro-immigration, but I don’t think of people who oppose immigration as morally flawed, so fellow supporters of immigration tend to see me as being ranged against them. Similarly, I was a supporter of equality for gay people long before most Cameroons. But, again, I refuse to dismiss people who disagree with me as numbskulls and homophobes. This puts me on the other side from those for whom the rights of gay people are secondary to the delight in inveighing against imagined bigots.

The tendency to misunderstand, caricature and define yourself against others is encoded deep in our DNA. Studies show that misrepresentation of political opponents is more common among educated people, and especially among the politically active. This might seem counter-intuitive: you’d think that those who followed politics would have a clearer sense of what the other party stood for.

But no, those of us who are politicos (and that includes you, reader) tend to define “our” tribe in ideological terms rather than through, say, sports teams. We are then prompted by our Palaeolithic genes to dislike and disbelieve representatives from rival tribes. It affects, not just how we would like to see the world, but how we actually see it. Conservatives genuinely saw an MP public-spiritedly dealing with a potential terrorist; Leftists genuinely saw a man bullying a woman. (Had it been, say, a female Brexit campaigner being manhandled after shouting at Chuka Umunna, the line-up would have been different.)

This tendency is not new. But it is getting worse, here as in most developed democracies. “Yeah, because of Brexit”, some readers will say, inadvertently revealing their own confirmation bias. Actually – and you might think this a confirmation bias of mine – the polarisation came after the campaign, and has deepened with every passing day as the issue of Brexit has dominated the news. Look at how many people who, before 2016, were not especially fussed one way or the other, are now prepared to go to any lengths to hurt the other side. Witness, for example, the way the Guardian, which campaigned high-mindedly for years against tabloid intrusion, thought nothing of publishing remarks recorded from inside a private house.

What changed? In a word, the division became tribal. Brexit is no longer about trade, budgets or sovereignty. It is now about whom we dislike, caricatured respectively as elderly bigots who fell for lying demagogues or as sneering snobs who despise their own country.

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend,” said Thomas Jefferson in 1800. Neither did I. But plenty of people have withdrawn friendships since the referendum – one of many reasons that stirring it all up again with a second poll would be catastrophic.

Settling the Brexit issue – ideally by leaving the EU and becoming its closest friend and partner – will not, in itself, end this ghastly partisanship. The tribalism will transfer to something else unless we rediscover our sense of common purpose, our understanding that fellow citizens with whom we disagree are opponents rather than enemies.

“Let me now warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally,” said George Washington in his farewell address. “This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.”

Amen, General. Amen.

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Dean Godson: There are plenty of ideas on the centre-right. Here’s how it can create a new, decent, patriotric consensus.

Dean Godson is Director of Policy Exchange.

Where next? For the last two years, British politics has been stuck in paralysis. There has been a lot of noise and clamour, but no side seems capable of creating consensus and winning broad support. That is not to say that this is a dull time in our national debate – a deep ideological contest is under way for the future of our country. It will reverberate long after Brexit, in whatever form, is complete.

It is often said today that all the intellectual energy is on the Left. But is this true? There are no leaders of the quality of Clement Attlee on the Labour benches. There are no economists or thinkers of the ilk of Anthony Crosland. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have people aspiring to power in this country who are proud to call themselves Marxists – including the Shadow Chancellor.

The problem is not that there is an absence of ideas on the centre-right. It is that they have yet to coalesce into a coherent vision of national renewal. Policy Exchange, for example, identified the plight of the “just about managing” classes in our country – the JAMs – in 2015. So many in the country would put themselves in this camp. But has enough really been done for them in the four years since? Do they think the state is on their side, or that the political class is fighting for them?

The election of a new Conservative Party leader is the moment – perhaps the last chance – to get this right. One of the greatest mistakes that the Tories could make is to play the only game that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is capable of – sectional, identity politics that sets different groups of voters against each other.

Last year, Policy Exchange organised a Conservative conference event with the title ‘Can the Conservatives win in Canterbury and in Middlesbrough at the same time?’ But you could ask the same question of Labour. As it stands, the UK risks being treated as if it exists in balkanised sub-electorates, each with niche interests and obsessions. The only way to electoral victory in this model is with temporarily cobbled together coalitions of rival groups.

Yet despite polarisation on Brexit and other issues, there is more agreement – and more consensus – among voters than often appears, and therefore more cause for optimism. This is not a jingoistic nation. Instead, there is a deep tissue of patriotism in the best sense of the word – a fidelity to constitution, citizenship and community – that has too often been dismissed out of hand. Policy Exchange’s polling on the Union revealed that a clear majority of people in the UK say their support for it has remained constant or has risen in recent years – 78 per cent in England, 60 per cent in Scotland, 69 per cent in Wales, 70 per cent in Northern Ireland.

There is also, among immigrant communities in the UK, a complete rejection of the gatekeeper politics that sees putatively “national” representative organisations claim to speak on behalf of millions without their consent, in the most damaging form of identity politics. Only 20 per cent of British Muslims, for example, saw themselves as represented by such organisations. Fifty-five per cent of British Muslims felt ‘very strongly’ that they belonged to Britain and 38 per cent ‘fairly strongly’ that they belonged to Britain; only seven per cent did not feel a strong sense of belonging to the UK.

Consensus can be found elsewhere. Our work on lawfare – the unfair hounding of British troops through the courts – has had huge cut-through with the British public, whose outcry on the issue has forced our political and legal establishment to wake up.

The same goes for housing, where our research was based on the simple proposition that the way to overcome opposition to building more homes – so-called Nimbyism – is to make sure they are designed in a way that fits the tastes of local communities and makes our country more beautiful. This is a vision with massive support.  Traditional terraces with tree-lined streets, for instance, are by far the most popular option for the design and style of new homes. They may be unfashionable among “starchitects” but they are supported by 48 per cent of the public, with some of the strongest support among working-class Ds and Es. And how many want housing developments or estates in a modern style? Just 28 per cent.  Our polling shows a clear majority favour traditional design over modern developments. In housing and more, the first job of the new Prime Minister is to come up with a coherent national narrative that restores our sense of direction as a country.

There is the chance for a new Unionism, not just making sure that the individual countries of Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland breathe comfortably within the shared home of the United Kingdom, but also that the Union itself is to an extent reconceptualised – so that we build a union between young and old and address the challenge of generational justice. A union between newer arrivals in Britain and long-established communities, so that suspicions and enmities can be overcome. A union between those whose faith means so much for them, and others for whom faith is vestigial and whose values increasingly shape the public space.  In short, we need a new social contract for post-Brexit Britain.

Social care is one concrete policy example. It is increasingly plain to those involved in the care sector that the state should cover almost all of the costs of long-term complex social care, which can involve ruinous costs for individuals and families, particularly for those suffering from dementia in old age. It can lead to the forced sales of family homes and wipe out a lifetime of saving and hard work. This idea – effectively the completion of the Welfare State – was proposed in a recent Policy Exchange research paper and embraced, perhaps surprisingly for someone on the right of the Conservative Party, by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who argued in the foreword that “It is far better to pool risk and for the taxpayer, where appropriate, to step in and help those who would face ruinous costs on their own, making social care largely free at the point of use.” He is surely right.

Where else could the next Prime Minister discover a quiet majority? On the environment, perhaps, where there are strong arguments to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 – with support especially high among the young. On investment in R & D and industry, especially in the North East, which could become a leader in the high-value, green economy. Certainly, on protecting British troops from pernicious forms of lawfare, which has high levels of support because of the obvious injustices involved. On education, too, where our polling revealed that poor pupil behaviour is driving teachers from the profession and undermining children’s education – 72 per cent of teachers know a colleague who has “left the teaching profession because of bad behaviour”. On countering extremism online, 74 per cent think that the big internet companies should be more proactive in locating and deleting extremist content, with 66 per cent of people believing that the internet should be a regulated space.

There is more thinking to be done across all policy areas – People, Prosperity, Place and Patriotism, as Policy Exchange’s work is organised – as a new Prime Minister is chosen. With that in mind, we will be publishing a series of proposals under these themes in the forthcoming weeks, which will seek to answer the question: what do we want from the next Prime Minister? We will also be hosting a series of events, including one in partnership with ConservativeHome, on electoral politics, housing, the economy, education, energy and the environment, lawfare and the rise of China. Only by hunting out areas of existing consensus will the next Prime Minister be able to start bringing the country together and healing the divides of last few years.

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Mohammed Amin: How the Conservative Party should fix its Muslim problem

Mohammed Amin MBE is Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum and Co-Chair of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. He is writing in a personal capacity.

About 30 years ago, Perrier discovered that it was selling mineral water contaminated with benzene. The way the company successfully dealt with this problem has become a business school case study in crisis management.

Conversely, when Arthur Andersen encountered problems from its audit of Enron, it handled the issue so badly that the firm was destroyed. A textbook example of how not to do it.

In Britain, over the last three years, we have seen the Labour Party engulfed by accusations of anti-semitism. For a detailed explanation and analysis, I recommend reading the second edition of Dave Rich’s book “The Left’s Jewish Problem – Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism.” In my view, Labour has been unable to shake off the problem because the attitudes involved go right to the top.

Like society as a whole, the Conservative Party has always contained some members who are xenophobic generally, or anti-Muslim in particular. However, I have never believed that this extended to the Party’s leadership. Otherwise I would not have been a Party member for 36 years. Nevertheless, we have seen a growing problem with significant numbers of Conservative Party members making anti-Muslim comments. Occasionally, this has extended higher up, for example with Boris Johnson denigrating Muslim women who wear the burqa by comparing them to letterboxes and bank robbers.

Despite the Party Chairman asserting a zero tolerance approach on ConservativeHome, the bad news continues to emerge. In the time-honoured words of Lenin, “What is to be done?”

I have some specific advice.

Get serious about transparency

I recommend watching Brandon Lewis being interviewed on the Andrew Marr Show on 28 April 2019. At 43:57 Mishal Husain asks him some very straightforward questions about cases of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party. Despite claiming to be transparent, the only demonstrated transparency in Lewis’s replies is that the Conservative Party has a code of conduct visible to the world on its website.

The Party should:

  • Publish monthly on its website the number of Islamophobia complaints that Conservative Campaign Headquarters are dealing with.
  • Publish the tariff of sanctions that are applied, with some illustrations of what types of violation qualify for different levels of sanction. At present we get vilified because people are suspended and then unsuspended. Making it clear that temporary suspension is a normal sanction, and setting out what needs to happen before unsuspension is the only way for the Party to stop looking as if it is guilty when it is actually acting perfectly reasonably.
  • When people are found guilty by the disciplinary process, their names should be published with details of their offense and the sanctions applied.
  • Publish details of the diversity training which needs to be undergone before qualifying for unsuspension. (I am available pro-bono if the Party wants me to talk 1-1 with any suspended Conservatives as part of their re-education. Talking to someone as boring as me might also be seen as a severe penalty!)

Commission an independent enquiry into anti-Muslim bigotry and how the Party has dealt with it

In 2018 a former Party Chairman who is a Muslim, alongside the Party’s longest serving Muslim Peer, and also the Conservative Muslim Forum, all called for such an enquiry. The refusal to respond positively to these requests from senior Muslims within the Party has not been well received by British Muslims generally.

In the context of Islamist extremism, Michael Gove has pointed out that you cannot manage by shooting the crocodiles one by one as you spot them. You have to drain the swamp. That is why an enquiry is essential.

More active celebration of Islam’s contribution to Britain

In 2007 David Cameron wrote a Guardian column called “What I learnt from my stay with a Muslim family.” While I am happy to be corrected, I cannot remember a single speech since then from either him or Theresa May focusing entirely on the positive contribution of Muslims to Britain. I do not count positive comments which may have been included speeches focusing primarily on radicalisation.

What is needed is not just a single speech, but a series of speeches to celebrate the contribution to our country of Muslims who are by now five per cent of Britain’s population, and highlighting individual role models. In particular, all Britons need to hear repeatedly about the very large and vital contribution Muslims made to Britain’s armed forces in both World Wars.

Respond to calls for the adoption of a definition of Islamophobia

Many leading British Muslims and Muslim organisations have called on the Government to formally adopt the definition of Islamophobia published in November 2018 by the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims.

The Government has ignored these calls.

In my view, the Government is right not to adopt the definition. As I explained on this site in February, “It is time to abandon the word “Islamophobia”

However I cannot find anywhere an actual statement from the Government saying why it is not adopting the definition. Silence is not a good strategy in this case. It simply makes the Government, and therefore the Conservative Party, look as if it does not care about anti-Muslim hatred.

What is needed is a clear explanation of why the definition is not a good one, and that adopting any definition of Islamophobia would add nothing to the existing protections in hate crime and equalities legislation. At the same time, the Government should outline what it is doing to combat anti-Muslim discrimination and anti-Muslim hatred.

Closing comments

Problems don’t go away unless you tackle them. At present, the Conservative Party’s only perceived strategy for this problem is dealing with cases one by one, as quietly as possible. It is not working.

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‘Seriously, WTF is this headline’ – Katie Pavlich’s Response to Washington Post’s Preposterous Analysis of Sri Lankan Bombings

Westlake Legal Group political-correctness-SCREENSHOT-620x347 ‘Seriously, WTF is this headline’ – Katie Pavlich’s Response to Washington Post’s Preposterous Analysis of Sri Lankan Bombings Sri Lankan bombing religion political correctness Muslims Media Front Page Stories Featured Story Christians Christchurch mosque shootings Allow Media Exception


Two Washington Post writers published their “analysis” of the Easter Sunday church bombings in Sri Lanka. Unlike their sensitive ‘analysis’ of the murders of 50 Muslims during Friday worship services at two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques last month, this article focused on the outrage from far-right individuals and groups. Their ‘analysis’ can be viewed here.

They described the angry reactions from Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), Marine Le Pen, president of France’s far-right National Rally party, and even some American far-right activists. They wrote that these “far-right groups and activists began to describe the attacks in specifically religious terms.”

First, outrage over the persecution of Christians is not confined to the far-right. Many conservatives condemned the attacks and likely many independents as well.

But the $64 million question is, shouldn’t the left be as outraged as the right? The death toll from Sunday’s bombing has climbed to 290 and there are over 500 injured. Why has the response from the left been so restrained in comparison to the outpouring of love and support following the murder of 50 Muslims in New Zealand?

Gerard Batten, the current leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party and a member of the European Parliament offers his take. He explains that “Western officials pay less attention to Christian deaths because they worry about how Muslims would react. It’s not because the World thinks [Christians] matter less but because the World does not fear them, as it does the ‘religion of peace.” 

Democratic politicians can hardly bring themselves to utter the word “Christian.” Instead, Obama, Hillary Clinton and others were using the term “Easter Worshippers?” (My colleague, Streiff, posted about this earlier here.)

Well, needless to say, the blowback from conservatives to this piece has been rather negative. My personal favorite response came from Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich who tweeted, “Seriously, WTF is this headline.” Twitchy compiled the best of the others.

Wow. That’s your “analysis”? Westlake Legal Group 1f644 ‘Seriously, WTF is this headline’ – Katie Pavlich’s Response to Washington Post’s Preposterous Analysis of Sri Lankan Bombings Sri Lankan bombing religion political correctness Muslims Media Front Page Stories Featured Story Christians Christchurch mosque shootings Allow Media Exception

What a garbage headline.

You’re really trying to use more than a hundred dead Christians on the other side of the world as a wedge to demonize the Christian right here?

Only far-right anger. No one else. Nothing to see here, move along.

I mean, a whole religion/philosophy of living was attacked. Kind of a big deal.

“To some, it was further proof that Christians in many parts of the world are under attack.” To some???

Is there someone, anyone, that is not angered by the slaughter of Christians on Easter Sunday. Whoever wrote this analysis is truly a dope.

To me it implies that the left in the West doesn’t give a damn.

Just far-right anger? No one else cares?

Question. Why isn’t the far left angry also?

So the WaPo wasn’t angered by this atrocity.

So are you saying the left is ok with terrorism?

Congrats, idiots. You played yourself again.

Craptastic headlines like this are why people hate the press.

The Washington Post has managed to disgrace themselves again.

The post ‘Seriously, WTF is this headline’ – Katie Pavlich’s Response to Washington Post’s Preposterous Analysis of Sri Lankan Bombings appeared first on RedState.

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Benedict Rogers: Britain must cultivate its links with Indonesia post-Brexit

Benedict Rogers is East Asia Team Leader at human rights organisation CSW, and author of ‘Indonesia: Pluralism in Peril – the rise of religious intolerance across the archipelago’ (2014). He is also co-founder and Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission.

Thirteen per cent of the world’s Muslims live in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. With a population of 251 million people, it is the world’s fourth most populous nation, and with an estimated 17,508 islands stretching across the Indian Pacific Oceans, it is the world’s largest archipelago and south-east Asia’s largest economy.

It is the world’s sixteenth-largest economy, predicted to be the seventh largest in the next twenty years. It is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), headquartered in Jakarta, a member of the G20, and the Organization of Islamic Co-operation (OIC), and the UN Security Council.

Indonesia is also the world’s third-largest democracy and last week completed the world’s biggest election. In a single day, over 190 million voters went to the polls to choose the President, the national parliament, provincial legislatures, and local councils. Despite a deeply divisive and hotly contested campaign, the atmosphere on election day was calm. It is quite a feat, in such a diverse and enormous terrain.

It should also be remembered that Indonesia has only been a democracy for twenty years, but it has made a remarkable transition from decades of military dictatorship. It is not perfect – democratisation is not complete and it is not without lingering human rights questions – but nevertheless it deserves greater recognition than it receives in order to learn lessons about peaceful change.

I have spent the past three weeks in Indonesia, a country I have followed for more than a decade. Every time I come here, it fascinates me further. I am perplexed as to why, given all its credentials listed above, it does not receive more attention.

In a post-Brexit age, Indonesia matters. We cannot simply be thinking China. Indeed, as China turns ever more repressive towards its own people and ever more aggressive towards the rest of the world, we should not be putting our eggs in Xi Jinping’s basket. We should be looking beyond to other emerging powers.

We should, of course, be deepening our relationship with the United States, as Tobias Ellwood rightly argues. But we should also be looking to deepen friendships and trading relationships with countries beyond Europe which share similar values, have growing influence and offer potential for trade. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Malaysia are such countries. But so too is Indonesia.

Although official confirmation of results is not expected for several weeks, preliminary results give a clear victory to incumbent Joko Widodo, with 55 per cent of the vote, ten points ahead of his rival. This is a clear victory for democracy over a return to authoritarianism. It is a vote for the future and against a return to the past. And after a campaign where it became clear that religion matters, it is nevertheless a rejection of hardline Islamism.

President Widodo’s rival, former General Prabowo Subianto, son-in-law of former dictator Suharto, is accused of grave human rights violations and was backed by a coalition of radical Islamists. On election day I spoke to one, from the vigilante Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), a thuggish mob known for attacks on minorities, who told me: “Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country. We want Islamic teachings to be implemented in full in every area of life. Those who do not implement them, we give them a warning, and then we send in our Islamic Defenders Army.” When asked why FPI supported Mr Prabowo, he replied: “Because he has promised us he will implement our vision”. Thank goodness he didn’t win.

Indonesia has long been held up as a role model for tolerance. In recent years that reputation has been under increasing pressure. Religious intolerance has been rising. The Wahid Foundation reported 265 incidents in 2017. In May last year three churches in Surabaya were attacked by a family of suicide bombers. The imprisonment of Jakarta’s former governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (‘Ahok’), an ethnic Chinese Christian and friend of Widodo, on charges of blasphemy in 2017 was a wake-up call. And the imprisonment of a Buddhist woman, Meliana, simply for asking a local mosque to reduce the volume on its loudspeakers, has shocked many.

Yet although threatened, Indonesia’s pluralism is not lost. I spent Easter with one of the churches in Surabaya that was attacked in May last year, and the church was filled with thousands of people on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil, protected by police and Muslim security guards. Good Friday is a public holiday, in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

Exactly a week before election day, the family of former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, a respected Muslim cleric known as a defender of religious minorities, organised a conference of religious leaders from all major communities in support of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together agreed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi in February.

And just two days before polling day, when they were busy preparing for the vote, local government leaders in Panongan, a sub-district of Tangerang in Banten province, just outside Jakarta, joined Muslim clerics to discuss inter-faith harmony with me. It was hosted by a Catholic priest, Fr Felix Supranto, who has turned a previously hostile situation into a “unity in diversity village”, working to build inter-faith relations.

Britain has every reason to deepen its friendship with Indonesia – for trade, security, and for the promotion of democracy and human rights. We are well positioned, with the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Indonesia, Richard Graham, being the only Member of Parliament to be fluent in Indonesian. The Westminster Foundation for Democracy, which he also chairs, is increasing its engagement. Indonesia’s current ambassador in London, Rizal Sukma, is a truly outstanding envoy for his country and one who I know shares our values.

But we must do more. We must encourage President Widodo to use his second term to defend the rights of minorities, promote pluralism, and counter intolerance. Under Indonesia’s constitution he cannot seek a third term, so he has nothing to lose. He must be bold in defending and reinvigorating Indonesia’s tradition of pluralism against the voices of hate. We must also urge Indonesia to be more pro-active on the world stage in defending human rights, especially for persecuted minorities in its region such as Burma’s Rohingyas and China’s Uyghurs.

Indonesia has an important story to tell, of how it transitioned from dictatorship to democracy, and under a re-elected president who comes not from the country’s ruling elites but from the slums, it is time for Indonesia to be heard.

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NY Post Was Not Playing Around With Its Take Down Of Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 Comments

Many are rightfully outraged by Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments about the terrorists that attacked on 9/11 taking the lives of some 3,000 innocent people, with Omar describing it as “some people” who “did something.”

As Ed Morrisey highlighted at Town Hall, hardly anyone in the mainstream media covered this overtly horrid way of describing one of the worst tragedies to befall the United States. The New York Post, however, did cover Omar’s comments.

Not only did they cover the comments, but they also made it their front page story, and pulled zero punches in their takedown of Omar.

Inside, the New York Post’s editorial board eviscerated Omar for not only her comment, but her response to the outrage by pointing at those angry of her making light of the deaths of 3,000 American civilians by claiming those expressing anger were guilty of “incitement.”

Some people did something? Wow. What a way to describe the heinous surprise attack on America that claimed 3,000 lives. …

Yet Omar upped the obscure-the-facts ante Wednesday, declaring criticism of her “some people did something” line to be “incitement,” on the grounds that she has received death threats.

Huh? She’d rightly be outraged if anyone minimized those threats as merely “some words from some people.”

Omar’s cavalier brushing off of the murder of thousands of innocents on 9/11 should shock all Americans, Muslims included.

She even tripled down on her comments while appearing on CBS’ Late Night with Stephen Colbert, saying that the only reason people are as angry with her as they are is that she’s a Muslim.

“It is very much embedded in a lot of our culture these days, where you will have people come after minorities for things that they say, that they might have insinuated,” she said according to the NYP.

I have to agree with Morrisey about how to view Omar’s comments, at least if we’re to go by her own rules. The death threats coming at Omar could be viewed as “some people” who are “doing something.” It’s gross that Omar believes that the only time we should take death seriously is when it pertains to her in some way, and that racism is totally okay if it’s directed at Jewish people, but not Muslims.

I applaud the New York Post for this massive verbal slap. Every publication should show a bit of bravery and call out horrific things like the kind Omar did.


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Iain Dale: Anti-semitism – and how Corbyn is vanishing into the deep pit he has dug for himself

Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, a commentator with CNN and the author/editor of over 30 books.

When you’re in a political hole, it’s generally best to stop digging. Yet Jeremy Corbyn keeps buying new shovels. Nothing can get him out of the hole he has dug for himself on anti-semitism. Every day, it seems, there is a new revelation which demonstrates his attitude to the subject.

And still there are some of his diehard supporters who continue to believe that there’s nothing to see, and we should just move along. The fact that there are dozens to Labour MPs who are horrified by what is happening means little to Corbyn’s true believers. They are blind to any apparent failing their hero has, and instead think that those who call him out should be expelled from the party.

There’s no way back for Corbyn from this sorry debacle. He’s shown himself to be weak, indecisive and the opposite of a leader. Hodge believes Corbyn to actually be anti-semitic himself. I don’t. But I believe that he tolerates anti-semitism, and has no real comprehension of what the word even means.

His hatred of the state of Israel trumps everything. It’s also more proof of the hold Seumas Milne has over him. You just have to read the latter’s rantings in The Guardian over the years to understand where he’s coming from on the subject. I suspect that he drafted Corbyn’s non-apology on Wednesday, which memorably couldn’t even utter the word Israel. Instead, it was called ‘Israel/Palestine’. Criticism of Israel does not mean automatically that someone is anti-semitic, but in context it often does.

Many Corbyn supporters accuse the media of launching a witch-hunt against him. Just by covering the story we are ‘smearing him’. It’s apparently a non-story. They say we should be covering Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

When that story broke, I did a phone-in on it. If you remember, the self-appointed Muslim Council of Britain alleged there was widespread Islamaphobia in the Tory Party. But they could only produce nine examples over a number of years.

I have a lot of Muslim listeners, so I decided to test it out. I did an hour-long phone-in, and asked Muslims to phone into the programme if they could cite any examples. Not one could. That’s not to say that it doesn’t exist but, in the two months since then, if it was indeed widespread, you’d think we’d have had a drip-drip of examples.

Unless of course the media wouldn’t print or broadcast them. Don’t make me laugh. I don’t doubt that there are Islamophobes in the the Tory Party. They exist in all political parties and across society. It’s an issue which needs to be addressed.

But let’s not try to conflate a small problem in one party with an endemic problem in another. There are masses of cases of anti-semitism which have been reported to Labour Party HQ, and masses too that have been reported in the media.

And yet there are still people, such as NEC member Peter Willsman, who say they have never seen an example on it. And this man sits on the Labour Party’s National Executive. Not only that, but he sits on their disciplinary panel. Has he been asleep during their meetings?

– – – – – – – – – –

My heart aches for Zimbabwe. I’ve never been there, but it’s clear it is the most amazing country, which has been completely ruined by Robert Mugabe and his acolytes. Its GDP per person is now only $2300, lower than that of Yemen. Only six pent of its adults are in full time formal work. Its currency is worthless. I could go on.

When Mugabe was toppled, there was a real hope that things would change. I spoke to a lot of Zimbabwean expats on my radio show, and many of them said that if the new regime proved things would change they would go back to help rebuild their proud nation.

The truth is that little has changed. Emmerson Mnangagwa – known as The Crocodile – has tried to put a new sheen on the Zanu PF government, and declared to the outside world that the country is ‘open for business’, but in reality things haven’t really changed at all.

We saw that in the election on Monday. It’s clear there was widespread electoral fraud and ballot-stuffing. In one town, with a population of 28,000 people, 35,000 ballot papers were counted. Zanu PF won all the seats in Matabeleland – the very area where Mnangagwa is alleged to have led the slaughter of 20,000 people during the 1980s. It hardly seems likely that they would have voted for him.

Meanwhile, it has to be asked what on earth the EU election observers were doing. Their only comment so far has been to regret the delay in announcing the result. What a waste of space they have been.

– – – – – – – – – –

On Wednesday, an Appeal Court Judge unwittingly made Tommy Robinson a hero. He was freed on bail over a technicality.

His supporters, who had been accusing the judicial establishment of a plot to lock up their hero, rather had the wind taken out of their sails when the judicial system actually worked as it should. They rather ignored that he hadn’t been found not guilty. A retrial will be held shortly.

But make no mistake, a new far-right hero has been born. The wretched Steve Bannon sees Robinson as someone who can lead a new so-called Alt-Right movement in this country. Ignore the fact that Robinson is a thuggish criminal and an Islamophobic bully.  Bannon sees him as articulate, with an eye for catching the media’s attention, and capable of galvanising people.

He’s right in that judgement, and I suspect there will be a lot of American money flowing into the Robinson coffers. His supporters are true believers. They worship at this altar, and see him as their true saviour. UKIP and its current leadership are going along with this. Gerard Batten is obsessed by Islam, to the exclusion of virtually everything else.

He’s made UKIP an irrelevance in the Brexit debate, but instead has gone out of his way to defend Robinson. He’s leading UKIP down a very dangerous path. The only way it can be reversed is if Nigel Farage returns to the political fray. I’m not sure he wants to, but many people are urging him to take up the cudgels again. Time will tell if he’s up for it.

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