Monthly Archives: October 2009

  Liz Fekete, Executive Director of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) and author of ‘A Suitable Enemy: Racism, Migration and Islamophobia in Europe’, delivered the eighth Claudia Jones Memorial Lecture on ‘Who’s terrorising who? The media and the war on terror‘, describing the ‘new McCarthyism’ against Muslims sweeping across Europe:

Could it be that we, too, are living in a world that is being shaped by a new form of McCarthyism? Only today the “Islam scare” is replacing the “red scare”? Could it be that whereas once Communists were treated as a dangerous “fifth column” subject to “foreign allegiance”, such fears are now being transferred onto those European citizens and residents who happen to be Muslim? Could it be that just as the media in the US carried out its own “hunt for subversives”, the media in Europe are contributing to the “Islam scare”? And that some journalists are becoming embedded within intelligence services, in ways that reflect the way journalists have become embedded in the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan? Could it be that frameworks of much of media discussion are contributing to the rise of far-Right parties like the British National Party?‘.

Read her lecture here.

  The UK Youth Parliament is to hold its annual debate in the chamber of the House of Commons today for the first time.

Debating scenes in the House will depart from the customary as 300 Members of the Youth Parliament (MYPs) take to the green benches to discuss:

  • Lowering the voting age to 16
  • Youth crime and how to tackle it
  • Public transport for young people
  • Jobs for young people and the economy
  • University fees

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  As we approach Sat 31st October and British Muslim groups (Muslims4UK, ISB) prepare to counter the ridiculous ‘March for Shari’ah’ demonstration called by the Islam4UK fringe group, what groups do you suppose the Daily Express is busy promoting?

No prizes for guessing of course, the DE’s obsession with Anjem Choudary and his al-Muhajiroun (or Islam4UK as they are now known) ilk is well known to bemused British Muslims.

The paper today (image above) grants the fringe group yet another page spread, this in addition to the coverage given to Islam4UK on the 15th and 16th of this month. And yet you’ll be hard pressed to find any coverage of the counter-demonstrations in the newspaper’s pages, this despite the paper’s editorial plea for the ‘moderate Muslim majority’ to speak out.

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  Seumas Milne in his Guardian column today critiques the Government’s ‘domestic extremism’ surveillance strategy arguing that it ‘criminalises political dissent’ and assaults the fundamental principles of a democratic society; the right to protest and engage in non-violent politics.

He writes:

‘”Domestic extremism” is the subversion of the new surveillance state, though without even the spurious definition the cold war term was given. And just as MI5 used to claim it never targeted peace organisations or trade unions but the subversives within them, so the police intelligence apparatus insists it’s only interested in “extremists”, not the groups they’re part of.

‘But by blurring the lines between the civil and criminal law and publicly branding those who take part in demonstrations and direct action, the police and the Home Office are in effect criminalising political dissent.

‘That is even more true of Britain’s Muslim community, where the line the authorities are busy blurring is between political protest and terrorism.’

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  If you missed the first episode of Andrew Marr’s ‘The Making of Modern Britain’ on BBC2 yesterday, you can catch it on BBC iPlayer here.

The six part series looks at the events that shaped Britain from the death of Queen Victoria to the end of the Second World War.

The first episode, ‘A New Dawn’, begins with Britain at the cusp of the 20th century. 

  The Home Office today has responded to the story published in the Guardian on Saturday 17 October on the use of Prevent to spy on Muslims, and the report by Arun Kundnani of the Institute of Race Relations on ‘Spooked! How not to prevent violent extremism’, with what purports to be a point-by-point rebuttal. You can read the HO’s response in full here, including a letter to the Quilliam Foundation from the Director of Prevent/RICU, Debbie Gupta. 

  Another instance of a mosque playing its role as a hub of community life and activity is displayed in the example of Darul Amaan Trust Mosque in Colliers Wood, which hosted a meeting with Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond (pictured left) and London MEP Syed Kamall (pictured right) to discuss local and national issues.

Around 500 worshippers met the local politicians at the mosque in Colliers Wood last week. Topics discussed included crime, terrorism, unemployment and the families of soldiers in Afghanistan, as well as issues of local concern to the mosque community – car parking and facilities for Eid prayers.

As a general election looms, the use of mosques to complement other public squares in which citizens discuss political issues and connect with local MPs and MEPs is to be commended.

  The Guardian columnist, George Monbiot (pictured), explains his reasons for backing the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the post of EU President.

While Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, yesterday set out his vision for ‘A Strong Britain in a Strong Europe’, and David Cameron today stated that the Conservatives would not support Blair for the EU post, Monbiot defends his choice of ‘President Blair’ thus:

I contend that his presidency could do more for world peace than any appointment since the Second World War.

‘That he commissioned a crime of aggression – waging an unprovoked war, described by the Nuremberg tribunal as “the supreme international crime” – looks incontestable. …This crime has caused the death – depending on whose estimate you believe – of between 100,000 and one million people. As there was no legal justification, these people were murdered. But no one has been brought to justice.’

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  The Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, has replied to ENGAGE following our letter to him last week about the Guardian newspaper’s revelations concerning the Prevent agenda and its use to spy on innocent Muslims.

Read the Home Secretary’s reply here.

ENGAGE will respond in detail to the Home Secretary’s letter shortly, insha’ Allah.

  The man accused of stabbing Egyptian Marwa Al-Sherbini (pictured left) 18 times in a Dresden courtroom in July, killing her in front of her husband and three year old son, has appeared in court charged with her murder.

‘Alex W’, who stabbed Marwa during a hearing to appeal his fine for defamation, is said to have been motivated by a “hatred of non-Europeans and Muslims”.

He was in court in July attempting to appeal a fine for verbally abusing Ms Sherbini, calling her an ‘Islamist, a ‘Muslim bitch’’ and a ‘terrorist’, when he stabbed her to death.

The murder of 31-year-old Marwa, who was three-months pregnant with her second child, sparked large protests in Egypt at the lack of outrage and media coverage of the case in the German press.

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