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Andrew Gilligan – 'anti-Muslim Right' not a credible threat

Andrew Gilligan –  'anti-Muslim Right' not a credible threat

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday July 26 2011

 Andrew Gilligan in the Daily Telegraph today does his best to detract from and diminish the threat posed by far right extremism in the wake of the horrific attacks in Norway.

He writes:

“Clearly, the number killed by Anders Behring Breivik is greater than in any single Islamist terror attack in the UK; and equally clearly, the murderer was motivated by hatred of Muslims. This cannot, however, have been his main motive, or he surely would have taken his assault rifle to an Oslo mosque, rather than an island of white teenagers. To even suggest equivalence between years of Islamist terror and the far Right, based on a single, awful case, is deeply dangerous and false.”

Perhaps Gilligan might avail himself of Europol’s report last year to better understand the actual threats and terrorist incidents occurring in Europe. Europol’s report illustrates that of the 249 terrorist attacks in the EU in 2010, al-Qaeda inspired terrorism accounted for 3 of these. Would Gilligan rather not deal with the facts the better to bluster an argument that fits his prejudices?

He goes on to argue that claims of an “alarming rise” in anti-Muslim hate crime are not borne out by the data. Indeed he says,

“No evidence was supplied for these broad and inflammatory claims, because there is none….nearly all the available evidence shows that it is not “rising” but diminishing.”

Were that so, one would think Gilligan able to cite the sources from which he has drawn his conclusions. Instead he tells us, “statistics are not broken down by the faith of the victim”.

How is it then that he can argue that anti-Muslim hate crimes have fallen if victims are not identified by religion?

Better recording of the “religion” category in hate crime monitoring was one of key recomMENDations in our briefing paper in support of an all party group on Islamophobia.

More significantly, take a look at these anti-Muslim hate crimes which have occurred in this month alone:

6 July 2011: Six arrests after EDL Huddersfield demo

7 July 2011: Pig’s head thrown on site of proposed mosque

13 July 2011:
Man who ripped off burqa sentenced for attack

13 July 2011: Muslims boycott Glasgow airport because of ‘racial profiling’

14 July 2011: Arson attack on Accrington mosque

15 July 2011: 71 year old Muslim attacked as he opened the mosque for prayers

16 July 2011: Three convicted after racist attack on Islamic college

17 July 2011: EDL supporters call for bombing of Dudley mosque

21 July 2011: Pig’s head thrown at Southport mosque

22 July 2011: Nottingham man in pig’s head attack on mosque sentenced

25 July 2011: Mosque in Luton vandalised with racist graffiti

Is Gilligan able to demonstrate crimes of a similar nature or scale leveled at another faith community in Britain?

He goes on to argue:

“The English Defence League, although vile, shows the British far Right’s weakness, not its strength. Two years ago, haters of Muslims had at least a semi-credible political party, the BNP, with serious hopes of winning one or more councils. Now the BNP has lost nearly all of its councillors, it has effectively collapsed, and the anti-Muslim Right has been reduced from political office to a street rabble.”

Again, a blatant dismissal of the EDL and the fear of its representing “the most significant far-right street movement since the National Front,” (according to a four month undercover investigation by Guardian reporters).

Here’s what Matthew Goodwin has to say about the EDL and the growing alarm over far right extremism – from Monday’s Guardian:

“Until now, European democracies and their security services had focused almost exclusively on the threat from al-Qaida -inspired terrorism. Rightwing extremist groups and their more violent affiliates were dismissed as a disorganised, fragmented and irrelevant movement.

“This conventional wisdom, however, ignored wider evidence of a more violent and confrontational mood that was emerging within European far right circles.

“Two years ago, anti-terrorism officers in Britain warned of a growing threat from rightwing “lone wolves”. At the same time, the US department of homeland security warned of the way in which the wider economic climate and election of the first African-American president could result in confrontations between rightwing extremists and government authorities “similar to those in the past”. These past events included the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma that killed 168 people.

“The events over the weekend directly challenged the idea that rightwing extremism is only a minor security threat.”

Goodwin concludes his article thus:

“I recently reviewed an academic book that ended with the prediction that the next wave of terrorism in Europe will come not from al-Quaida-inspired groups, but rather rightwing groups that want to respond to this threat and reassert the position of their wider group. It is far too early to tell whether Breivik’s actions will inspire copycat attacks, but one thing remains clear: the threat from rightwing extremist groups and ideas deserves far greater attention.”

Gilligan may be unwilling to hear these same sentiments echoed by Bob Lambert and Ibrahim Hewitt, both of whom he (characteristically) derides in his article, but perhaps he might remove his blinkers and put
aside his prejudice to heed the considered wisdom of Goodwin? Assuming, of course, that he’s interested in the facts and not doctrinaire polemics.
 

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