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The fight against extremism and authoritarianism

9 June 2011

10:50 AM

9 June 2011

10:50 AM

It is now nearly five years since I wrote When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries for the think tank Policy Exchange.

It was a plea for sanity in the debate on radical Islam, which had become poisoned by the belief in parts of government that Islamists of the Muslim Council of Britain were the genuine
representative voice of British Muslims.

At the time, few people had heard of the Muslim Brotherhood and still fewer knew that its South Asian offshoot Jamaat-i-Islami had a stranglehold on the MCB and other self-appointed
“representative” bodies.

[Alt-Text]


At the time it was depressing how eager the Labour Party had been to rush into the arms of religious reactionaries (a problem that Tony Blair, Gordon Brown both failed to full address and Ed
Miliband appears not to have even thought about). I wrote:

“There are signs that the reformist Cameron wing of the Conservative Party is beginning to grasp the urgency of the issue. On the opposition benches Michael Gove, the Conservative MP
for Surrey Heath, has made it his business to harry the government over its relationship with radical Islamism.”

This week’s new Prevent counter-terrorism strategy marks a victory for the Gove tendency in government. Despite
resistance from civil servants and elements within the Liberal Democrats, the new strategy recognises that the totalitarian ideology of the radicals is a danger in itself. It is not enough simply
to target violent extremism.

It is astonishing that it has taken so long, but I salute the government for finally publishing this strategy.

But there remains a problem. Thanks to the patronage of the Labour government, institutions inspired by the austere authoritarianism of Brotherhood/Jamaat ideology are still the most well-developed
Muslim political institutions in the UK. The Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Association of Britain, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, East London Mosque and Islamic Forum Europe
are better-funded and better-organised than any equivalent moderate institution.

It is good news that these supporters of totalitarianism will no longer be the first port of call for ministers, but they will need to develop new mechanisms of dialogue with Muslim communities.
Five years ago I would have proposed an old-fashioned democratic solution and suggested ministers begin by speaking to MPs and councillors in the key constituencies. The trouble is that the
Islamists have now made serious inroads into those democratic institutions too. 


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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Nice think.

  • Trundlemaster

    Erica Blair said:”Read the latest JC to see how Martin ‘Hasbara’ Bright has ignored calls from liberal Jews to end his witch-hunt against London Citizens.”

    I’m a Liberal Jew from a synagogue in London and I’m extremely concerned about the inclusion of Islamist extremists within London Citizens.

    Those Liberal Jews who are decrying what they call a witch hunt against London Citizens because of LC’s actions do NOT speak for me. For too long LC has provided political cover for Jihadist extremists and it is time that this political cover ended.

    I think that some loud and influential Liberal Jews are lining up behind LC on the grounds that they think that as regards social action LC is the only game in town which in reality it is not. There is plenty to be done in our communities that do not involve sitting down with those who would wish to kill us.

    My point of view is that confederations that include violent extremists should be exposed to the light. Keep up the good work Mr Bright.

    I have been shocked at the naivety over the issue of London Citizens.

    I have been told by some Liberal Jews that
    the inclusion of theocratic fascists in LC is no different from sitting down with a conservative Christian. I disagree as (at least here and now) the Christian would not want to decapitate someone for being gay or Jewish or deprive someone of their rights because of their gender.

    There is a world of difference between having a conservative religious view and theocratic fascism. I’m shocked that some people seem to not be able to tell the difference.

    I truly believe that those of all religions or none should be able to work together in mutual respect but kow towing to extremists as LC is doing does nothing to increase mutual respect between those of different faiths.

  • Erica Blair

    Martin Bright
    June 11th, 2011 10:51am
    writes
    <“Erica”, you clearly follow my activities very closely. I don’t know whether to be flattered or freaked out>

    Bright asked me for evidence of his links with far-right Zionist groups. I did so. No wonder he is ‘freaked out’.

    Perhaps he might now have the decency to explain his cosy chats with the fascist-friendly Shire Network News,

  • ndm

    Due to an editing error and the inability to correct it

    “the decades long appeasement of the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people has been the greatest moral failure since Munich”

    should have been

    “the decades long appeasement of the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people has been the greatest moral failure of the West since Munich”

    Our continued appeasement of that oppression has led a once-proud Zionism to degenerate, like so many other nationalist movements before it, into ZioNazism. That, not an editing error, is what is truly sick.

  • DavidDP

    “the decades long appeasement of the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people has been the greatest moral failure since Munich.”

    So, the current situation in Israel and Palestine is worst than the Holocaust? You’re sick.

  • elixelx

    Erica has posted four times on this thread. Can it be said that Erica stands accused of conducting a witch-hunt against MB?
    See how that works Erica. Not every accusation by every self-serving body (myself and yourself manifestly obviously included!) is, not every accusation bears weight; in fact some are so puerile as to be beneath contempt.
    Yours, and the IJV’s accusations are truly beneath the dignity of this site; and were I Martin I should be very very afraid that his accuser is actually stalking him!
    4 times on one thread, and on Melanie’s and on Nick’s! Don’t you have a life or any other overwhelming obsessions?

  • Martin Bright

    “Erica”, you clearly follow my activities very closely. I don’t know whether to be flattered or freaked out

  • HairyNoddy

    A couple of years ago the Israeli embassy was besieged by thuggish islamist imbeciles because of the attack on gaza. But why are the same thuggish islamist imbeciles not besieging the Syrian embassy? Don’t Syrian lives count for as much?

  • Erica Blair

    Stop Press

    Read the latest JC to see how Martin ‘Hasbara’ Bright has ignored calls from liberal Jews to end his witch-hunt against London Citizens.

    And he has the nerve to accuse others of extremism.

    ps In the piece above he includes FOSIS of being ‘supporters of totalitarianism’. Now he is smearing potential witnesses against him at any possible libel action.

  • ndm

    ndm is very aware that the fight against racist oppression continues unabated – and that the decades long appeasement of the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people has been the greatest moral failure since Munich.

    The most pervasive and pernicious form of anti-semitism among the Western elite is its appeasement and apology for the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people BECAUSE Israel is a “Jewish state.” This is anti-semitic because it seeks to share the blame for Israeli atrocities among all Jews.

  • Stewie

    @ NDM
    Seems to be unaware that the Arabs in the Middle East, of whom the so called Palestinians are but part, were content with the concept of Holocaust and I’m quite sure would have visited a second on the Jews had they prevailed in the wars commencing 1948.
    I’m also quite sure that there is a significant body of opinion amongst Arabs now who would still like to do same.
    And there is the difference.

  • Stewie

    Serious question.
    Is it not reasonable to suggest that an organised religious movement in the UK should have to formally sign up to a modern agenda supporting: personal freedom of speech, action and sexuality. Equality of the sexes. Secular human rights.

    We would simply not accept a political party or commercial entity in this country which failed to do so.

    So ownership of property, formal preachers, organised meetings, publications, media releases would all be out of reach.

    The Roman Catholic Church still looks pretty exposed. The CoE has a little more headway to make. Islam has about 400 years of catching to do. I just find the existence of Mosques and Islamic preachers deeply concerning and worrying.

    They threaten my life and the lives of relatives in another part of the world and would do so here given an inch.

  • C Powell

    “they will need to develop new mechanisms of dialogue with Muslim communities.”

    Why? Why do they need to speak to a “community” at all? They don’t feel the need to speak to the Irish community or the Italian community. Every citizen has a vote. If they feel strongly about an issue, they can contact their MP. That applies to Muslims as it does to anyone else.

    There is no need – other than the damaging “multicultural / communitarian” doctrine developed by the Left – to engage with arbitrarily defined groups, in a manner reminiscent of colonial masters dealing with various tribes under his control.

    One man/one woman – one vote: representation by your MP. That should apply to Muslims as it does to everyone else and we should stop immediately the funding and “dialogue” with self-appointed “community leaders”.

  • Davey L.S

    The Prevent agenda was poorly thought out and rushed when initially introduced, easily being the weakest part of the Contest strategy. The government review still leaves it rather vague on how local authorities should engage with the relevant groups, but does seek to bring in a degree of control on who they talk to and to ensure that the money allocated can be accounted for, both of which were needed. What the post has to do with Israeli politics is beyond me.

  • Erica Blair

    From The Times
    July 20, 2006

    British anger at terror celebration
    The commemoration of Israeli bombings that killing 92 people has caused offence
    By Ned Parker and Stephen Farrell
    The rightwingers, including Binyamin Netanyahu, the former Prime Minister, are commemorating the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, the headquarters of British rule, that killed 92 people and helped to drive the British from Palestine.

    They have erected a plaque outside the restored building, and are holding a two-day seminar with speeches and a tour of the hotel by one of the Jewish resistance fighters involved in the attack.

    Simon McDonald, the British Ambassador in Tel Aviv, and John Jenkins, the Consul-General in Jerusalem, have written to the municipality, stating: “We do not think that it is right for an act of terrorism, which led to the loss of many lives, to be commemorated.”

  • Ian Walker

    I find it depressing that the government listens to the views of people suffering from the debilitating mental illness that is religion, no matter what creed they profess to be true.

  • ndm

    Martin Bright writes:

    — As Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out during a recent visit to the UK when asked precisely this question about Hamas, the history of the Jewish people has demonstrated how important it is to be suspicious of authoritarians elected through the democratic process.

    Of course, Netanyahu and his predecessors in office remind the rest of us why we should be suspicious of authoritarians elected through the democratic process. Even if the people of Israel elected them, their rule over the Palestinian people has been both unelected and authoritarian. And, given Israeli callousness about the value of a Palestinian life, it has also been deadly with Israli politicians willing to perform killing on an industrial scale merely for the hope of electoral victory. Even that was not enough for the Israeli people. Their real peril they face is that the Western World is finally starting to held them accountable for their choices.

  • Derek Pasquill

    If I may be permitted to heighten the tone of this below the line discussion, the problem isn’t one of Islamic extremism, rather it is the pathological hatred of Jews at the FCO and other elite institutions in the UK which sells the pass to the beardy fanatics amongst us (no, not you Archbishop – you belong in a different category!).

  • Erica Blair

    Bright sidesteps the depiction of him as a witch-hunter by Independent Jewish Voices.

    As for his dodgy links, he might like to start explaining his (and Nick Cohen’s) cosy chats with the loopy Zionist website Shire Network News.

    ps SNN have Martin and Nick on their blogroll – they’re also fans of the Belgian fascist Vlaams Belang.

  • Erica Blair

    First, Martin might like to explain his (and Nick Cohen’s) cosy chats with Shire Network News.

  • Martin Bright

    Perhaps “Erica” would like to tell me about my links to the Zionist far-right. I would be fascinated to find out.

  • Martin Bright

    If Islamists are elected to councils and parliament, are they the genuine voice of British Muslims? If they are elected they are supposed to be the genuine voice of all their constituents. We already have an Islamist mayor in Tower Hamlets in London and he was elected in a fair contest as far as anyone can tell.
    But the whole point of democracy is that we can disagree will those who are elected. As Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out during a recent visit to the UK when asked precisely this question about Hamas, the history of the Jewish people has demonstrated how important it is to be suspicious of authoritarians elected through the democratic process.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    You have it backwards. Where the funding goes, there will go the entryists, and the extremism will follow. It is fundamentally wrong for government, any kind, any colour, to fund minority groups for whatever purpose. It is always going to be divisive. If they were serious about equality, they would not look at a person’s religion, gender or skin colour before deciding whether they were worthy of subsidy. And that’s why I never fill in the race question on the census.

  • Erica Blair

    Martin Bright has been accused of carrying out a witch-hunt.

    By Islamists?

    No

    By a liberal Jewish organisation called Independent Jewish Voices.

    Perhaps Martin Bright might like to tell his readers about his own links with far-right Zionists.

  • English Electric

    But if Islamists are now democratically elected, doesn’t that make them the genuine representative voice of British Muslims?

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