Monthly Archives: June 2011


  Baroness Sayeeda Warsi this week delivered a speech at the Organisation for Islamic Conference’s Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, the first time a UK Minister has been invited to address the OIC.

Excerpts from Lady Warsi’s speech:

“We in Britain recognise the importance of building on our relationships with the Muslim world.

“And that is why we have appointed a new Special Representative to the OIC to be based in Jeddah.

“Our participation at this conference demonstrates that commitment. So thank you once again for giving us this opportunity.

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  The Guardian on Tuesday published an interview with Matthew Goodwin, author of a new book on the BNP, ‘New British Fascism: Rise of the British National Party’.

The interview contains interesting reflections on the BNP’s abuse and exploitation of anxieties against ethno-racial communities, particularly Muslim communities, to win support for their prejudicial and virulently anti-Muslim views.

From the Guardian interview:

“A lot of people that I interviewed believed that the white British group was in danger of becoming extinct unless they take action,” he says.

Which begs the question: what sort of action? If their only viable organisation has failed to garner enough support at the ballot box, where do they channel their grievances?

“One option is the English Defence League,” he suggests. And certainly there are signs EDL has stepped up its campaign of intimidation and violence in recent months, attacking not only Muslims but also anti-racist groups.

For his book, Goodwin interviews two Jewish members of the BNP who say they support the party, despite its Holocaust denial, because it was the only one “prepared to take on what they saw as the threat from Islam”, says Goodwin.

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  Local paper, The Argus, reports on a mosque in Brighton receiving a suspicious package akin to those that have been sent to several other mosques in the UK.

From the local paper:

“The Brighton Al-Quds Mosque in Dyke Road received a suspicious package in what police are treating as a racially or religiously motivated crime.

“Police were called to Dyke Road on June 11. Officers in protective clothing removed the package. A spokesman for the force said it was “suspicious but non-hazardous”.

“The Metropolitan Police, which is investigating the packages, said in a statement: “We are investigating malicious communications sent to a number of addresses in London and other parts of the UK. Inquiries are ongoing. No arrests have been made.” “
 


  The BBC this week covers news of four men being charged with causing racially or religiously aggravated alarm, dissent or distress and racially aggravated criminal damage for daubing racist graffiti at the site of a proposed mosque in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire.

From the BBC:

“Christopher Payne of Hucknall admitted spraying the graffiti but denied putting a pig’s head on the site in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire.

“He appeared at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court and will be sentenced on 21 July.

“Police went to the property on 23 June where the slogan “No Mosque Here” was found spray painted on the ground.

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  As the Observer this weekend covered a feature length article on Marine Le Pen, leader of the French far right party, Front National, Matthew Goodwin of Nottingham University and author of ‘New British Fascism: Rise of the British National Party’, pens an opinion piece for Policy Network exploring the question: “which groups in society are particularly receptive to the far-right narrative, and what are their underlying concerns?”

He writes:

“In terms of ‘who’, we now have lots of evidence on the socio-demographic profile of these citizens. Like their continental neighbours, these ‘angry white men’ share a distinct social profile: they are drawn from the working classes, especially the skilled working classes who have more to lose from rising diversity; they are poorly educated, after leaving school with no formal qualifications; they gather their information from xenophobic tabloid papers, such as The Sun, Daily Express or Daily Mail; and reflecting their economic insecurity, they are deeply pessimistic about their financial prospects.

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  As fashion designer John Galliano faces up to charges in court relating to his anti-Semitic outburst earlier this year, there’s an interesting piece of news in the Daily Express today on the Israeli PM’s son reportedly posting disparaging remarks about Islam and Muslims on Facebook.

From the Daily Express:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son has reportedly posted disparaging comments about Arabs and Muslims on his Facebook page.

“The newspaper Haaretz found that earlier this year 19-year-old Yair Netanyahu posted that Muslims “celebrate hate and death”.

“He wrote after Palestinians killed five members of an Israeli family that “terror has a religion and it is Islam”.

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  The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender (CRG) yesterday released a groundbreaking report on Islamophobia in the US entitled, “Same Hate, New Target”.

From the CAIR press release:

“This groundbreaking report creates a benchmark for examining the troubling growth of anti-Muslim sentiment in our society and offers a who’s who of those promoting or challenging Islamophobia,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

“As the recent GOP presidential debate demonstrated, Islamophobia is moving toward the mainstream and therefore must be challenged by all Americans who learned from those periods in our nation’s history when other minorities were similarly targeted.”

“The report lists the “worst” Islamophobes and the “best” of those pushing back against growing anti-Muslim sentiment in American society.

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The Times Higher Education Supplement this week contains a review of Peter Morey and Amina Yaqin’s new book, ‘Framing Muslims: Stereotyping and Representation After 9/11’.

The book is a comparative study, though with a predominant UK focus, on the caricatures and stereotypes used by the media to construct “frames” through which Muslims are represented.

Frames, the authors argue, that are inherently problematic for their reductive and distorting depiction of a complex reality.

Claire Chambers, reviewing the publication for TES, writes:

“Inspired by Edward Said’s 1981 work Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World, the authors argue that Muslims are usually discussed as though they constitute a recognisable, monolithic community, but that these popular post-9/11 representations are part fiction, part ideology, and only occasionally descriptive or evaluative. Drawing on their diverse backgrounds in English and Urdu literary and cultural studies, Morey and Yaqin examine the mediations castigated by Khan in which veils, beards, men at prayer and minarets stand in for Muslims in all their heterogeneity and complexity. Such metonymy, they argue, positions Muslims as authoritarian, patriarchal and irrevocably alien, and an untrustworthy fifth column within Europe and North America.

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  The BBC reports on the acquittal of Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, on charges of inciting hatred against Muslims.

From the BBC:

“Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders has been acquitted of charges of inciting hatred against Muslims.

“Mr Wilders had described Islam as “fascist”, comparing the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

“He insisted his statements were directed at Islam and not at Muslim believers – something which is legal under Dutch law.

“Judge Marcel van Oosten told him his statements were “acceptable within the context of public debate”.

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  The Planning Inspector charged with resolving the dispute arising from the Camberley mosque planning application submitted by the Bengali Welfare Association (BWA) to Surrey Heath Borough Council has concluded his inquiry rejecting the BWA’s appeal.

“Following a seven-day inquiry in April, inspector John Gray said he was dismissing the appeal by the Bengali Welfare Association to demolish a locally-listed school to make way for the new domed building.

“In his decision, released on Tuesday (June 19), Mr Gray said he did not feel the benefits the new mosque would bring the town’s Islamic congregation outweighed the potential loss of the 140-year-old Victorian structure.

“The association has been using the school on London Road as a makeshift mosque since 1996, but said it is now not fit for purpose.

“It had argued the new traditional Islamic mosque, which would have had 100ft minarets and a morgue, it wanted to build was necessary to accommodate the town’s growing Muslim population.

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