Monthly Archives: August 2009


  Progress Online carries details of a fringe meeting to be organised by the Quilliam Foundation at the Labour Party conference next month on ‘How should the Left engage with British Muslims’.

The speaker line up includes: Rt Hon John Denham MP, Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government; Ed Husain, Co-director, Quilliam Foundation; Martin Bright, Tahir Abbas, Birkbeck, University of London.

The choice of Martin Bright (pictured) is a very notable one. Martin Bright is, of course, an enthusiastic supporter of the Quilliam Foundation.

ENGAGE readers will be aware that Bright also happens to be the notorious author of the very ill-informed, highly offensive and deeply mischievous 2001 New Statesman cover story ‘The Great Koran Con Trick’. Bright’s arguments were openly ridiculed and debunked by the very scholars – including his own former SOAS tutor, Professor Gerald Hawting – whose work he drew upon to support his crude hatchet job on the Qur’an. 

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There’s a typically irresponsible piece in the Daily Star (Proprietor: Richard Desmond) today. On the front page the paper prints ‘Muslims: We’ll kill Mourinho’ (pictured) and it devotes most of page 7 to a story titled, ‘Muslim fiends: we’ll kill Jose for fast blast’. The entire story appears based on comments left on fringe websites.

And yet nowhere in the paper today or yesterday is there any mention of the kidnapping at knifepoint of Noor Ramjanally, or the firebombing of his home, by suspected far right extremists who threatened to kill him unless he stopped organizing Friday prayers at a local community centre for Muslims living in that part of Loughton.

For journalists at the Daily Star, who seem to have made a habit of trailing through comments posted on fringe websites to splash across pages of the paper almost always relating to ‘Muslim extremists’, one wonders why the paper should fail to print a story of such alarming significance involving far right extremists? On account of consistent anti-Muslim prejudice perhaps?


  The Committees on Arms Export Controls, which consists of four select committees (Business and Enterprise, Defence, Foreign Affairs and International Development Committees), and is chaired by Roger Berry MP (pictured), published its first Joint Report of session 2008-09, on ‘Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls’, last week.

Repeating the observation and recommendation of the Foreign Affairs select committee in its earlier report Global Security: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Joint report states:

We conclude that it is regrettable that components supplied by the UK were almost certainly used in a variety of ways by Israeli forces during the recent conflict in Gaza and that the Government should continue to do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen in future.’

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  A Spinwatch investigation by Tom Mills and David Miller, ‘The British amateur terror trackers: A case study in dubious politics’ uncovers the motives and ideological leanings of so called ‘terrorism experts’, like the discredited Glen Jenvey, who have falsely exaggerated the threat from violent Muslim extremists.

You will recall that Glen Jenvey was the man behind the Sun’s fabricated ‘Hate Hit List’ front page story earlier this year (pictured).


  A Muslim in Loughton, Noor Ramjanally (pictured), who has been at the forefront of organizing Jum’uah prayers at a local community centre for Muslims living in Loughton was kidnapped at knife point and threatened by two men who demanded he stop organizing the weekly prayer session according to a story in the Guardian today.

Mr Ramjanally, whose flat was recently firebombed and his family threatened in hate mail sent to his home, was ‘abducted from his home in daylight by two white men who threatened him with a knife, bundled him into a car then drove him into woodland. They demanded he stop organising the Friday prayer sessions at Murray hall community centre’, the Guardian reports.

Ramjanally said that the words spoken by his abductors matched the BNP propaganda that had been distributed to homes in the area, titled ‘No mosques in Loughton’, and which claims that ‘In parts of neighbouring Redbridge and east London the Islamification process is almost complete. We’ll do all in our power to prevent Islam creeping into our town.

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  The Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, currently on a visit to the UK, has called on EU governments, including Britain, to end their support for the Israeli human rights organisation Breaking the Silence.

The group published a report earlier this year on the IDF’s ‘permissive rules of engagement’ in Gaza, printing the testimonies of around thirty IDF soldiers that served in Operation Cast Lead.

According to Ha’aretz, Netanyahu, speaking to reporters following his meeting with the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said:

They are breaking their silence about the only democracy in the Middle East that has an independent legal system and an investigative press that does not cease dealing with these issues.”

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Harry’s Place carries an announcement on the creation of a new website, CiF Watch, to monitor alleged antisemitism on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website.

The announcement states the purpose of the new CiF monitoring website as: ‘Created to address the endemic problem of antisemitic discourse on the Guardian newspaper’s ‘Comment is Free’ blog, one of the most popular mainstream blogs of its type. CiF Watch documents manifestations of antisemitism both “above the line” in the Guardian-approved editorials and “below the line” in the post-moderated comment threads.

CiF Watch is similar to initiatives that have been set up in recent years (Campus Watch, to name one) to malign scholars and writers on Middle East politics whose views fall foul of Zionists and pro-Israel lobbyists. The end result is often intimidation and the stifling of free expression as critics are smeared as antisemites for their views on Israel and Israeli policies.

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  As the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, prepares for a visit to the UK this week to meet with the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and US special envoy George Mitchell, amid speculation that a deal may be struck on ceasing – for a fixed period – Israel’s illegal settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem,

the Guardian reveals the degree of pressure being exerted by pro-Israel and Zionist lobby groups in the US to turn the focus of public opinion away from Israel’s settlement building as an obstacle to peace.

The Israel Project has produced and distributed a document offering “the best settlement argument“, and which claims that ‘those who back the removal of the settlements should be told they are supporting ethnic cleansing and antisemitism.’

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  Paul Richards – the ex-special advisor to the disgraced former Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears – writes about the wedding segregation row in an article for Progress Online.

Richards uses the opportunity to hark on in similar vein to the articles he recently wrote for the Jewish Chronicle which reveal his particular distaste for the Muslim Council of Britain. 

Richards writes of the former secretary general of the MCB:

Iqbal Sacranie was swift to condemn Jim Fitzpatrick last weekend. He said Fitzpatrick’s action ‘reflects badly’ on him. He ignored the fact that Mrs Fitzpatrick also left the wedding. Sir Iqbal has a long and illustrious CV. He appears in those lists of ‘most powerful’ and ‘most influential’ people in Britain. He has served on this board and that, advised our Labour government, was secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), and has been knighted by the Queen. But looking at the CV, you are hard-pressed to find any evidence of having been elected by anyone to anything. Not even a parish council. He reminds me of those five questions Tony Benn has for people in power: ‘What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you use it? To whom are you accountable? How do we get rid of you?’ The answers would seem to be: lots, unknown, not clear, no one and we can’t. When an unelected community leader attacks a Labour minister, it is obvious whose side we should be on.

The fact that Iqbal Sacranie was elected to his post of secretary general of the MCB by the organisation’s own affiliates is something Richards prefers to ignore simply because it doesn’t fit his argument. Better to brush over facts and focus on the fictitious, particularly when you’ve an ideological axe to grind.

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  The author Sebastian Faulks (pictured), in an interview with the Sunday Times magazine this week, disparagingly referred to to the Holy Qur’an as a “a depressing book” and compared it to the “rantings of a schizophrenic”.

Faulks, speaking of his reading the Qur’an for research into a character for his new book, says, “It’s very one-dimensional, and people talk about the beauty of the Arabic and so on, but the English translation I read was, from a literary point of view, very disappointing.”

Update: Sebastian Faulks writes in the Daily Telegraph, apologizing if his comments on the Qur’an have offended Muslims.

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