Many observers, bloggers and commentators have been monitoring and logging the rise of Islamophobia in recent years. I, myself, have expressed concern on more than one occasion that unless the acceptability of anti-Muslim sentiment is challenged it will take a tragedy on a large scale to wake people up to the rise of far right extremism. I have been working on a blog post addressing what I see as an impending tipping point for the EDL at their proposed Tower Hamlets demonstration. I’ve been sitting on it due to further developments and partly because I feared my theory would be considered slightly hysterical. In light of events in Norway this week, it appears that my, and many others fears were well founded.
This is part of the post I was going to title ‘The EDL and their East end Crossroads’.
With EDL demos mainly consisting of congregating, drinking, singing the same few songs and leaving, they achieve absolutely nothing in their quest of halting the Islamic jihad. Tower Hamlets could be the one where the violent online rhetoric is transferred into actions. The consequences of this could spell the beginning of the end for them as an organisation. How much longer will they be allowed to disrupt communities, waste police time and tax payers money? The rise in their profile means that more and more members of the general public are becoming aware of their reputation and what they stand for. Some will sympathise, the majority see them for what they are and reject them.
I predict that the Tower Hamlets event will further drive a wedge between the EDL and mainstream society and many members will have to choose which direction they wish to take. If there is large scale disorder I can see harsher restrictions being put on their marches or total bans. This will lead to frustration among the more moderate members who will become disillusioned and abandon the group. If the demo passes without incident due to kettling or lack of reaction from the locals, the more extreme element within the EDL will also be frustrated that what was supposed to be their showpiece demo failed to live up to its billing. Their resentment towards the government, local authorities, the Muslim community and the ‘left’ will grow, and their already unhealthy paranoia will force them to become more militant to satisfy their appetite for action and to achieve their goals. It will be the end of the EDL as we know it.
The organisation will have shed any illusion of inclusiveness and adherence to an obsolete mission statement, and ‘ordinary’ members will be marginalised. There is a real danger that regional divisions could evolve into underground urban militias, stockpiling weapons in readiness for the civil war that will never materialise. Nevertheless the ever changing demographics of the UK will fuel their paranoia and result in sporadic violence and possibly even terrorist attacks. This may sound like pure fantasy, but it’s already happening. In the UK, the last 2 years have seen over 30 recorded incidents of arson, vandalism or attempted bombings of mosques, assaults on individuals outside mosques or vandalism of Muslim graves. This is more than one incident a month, and many incidents go unreported due to fear of reprisals. I don’t see this stopping anytime soon unless serious action is taken or something tragic happens. Islamophobia and far right extremism are on the rise in Europe, and until they are both addressed on a governmental level they will keep on growing, and only a catastrophic event will cause people to treat the issue with the seriousness it warrants.
Maybe I’m being melodramatic, maybe the EDL will just amble along on the fringes of mainstream society until they realise they serve no purpose, and the movement will fizzle out naturally. But the level of hatred and violent rhetoric that comes from a hardcore of members indicates that they won’t go down without a fight. They actually believe they are fighting a domestic war to win their country back. These people won’t just stop feeling the way they do and will exist in some shape or form, EDL or not. This is the reason I feel things will inevitably escalate before they improve. How quickly they escalate will be decided in no small part on September the 3rd 2011. Hopefully then we can help things improve.
I posted an article recently highlighting the relative scarcity of jihadist attacks in Europe and the US compared to other ideologies and how we need to change the perception regarding terrorism and terrorists. The reluctance to acknowledge the threat of domestic terrorism in order to chase the Islamic bogeyman has caused the powers that be to take their eye off the ball with catastrophic consequences.
Here’s an extract from an article I wrote back in April 2011.
In 2011, no one in the mainstream media would dare espouse openly anti-Semitic views akin to those above. No one would express their wishes to return blacks to the status they had in the Jim Crow era, whether they held them or not. Why then, in the 21st century is it acceptable to do both of these with Muslims?
It worries me to imagine how far this could go before it is seen for what it is. Where is the tipping point? What will be the catalyst that forces people to say enough is enough? Unfortunately it will likely be a tragedy on a large scale. It scares me to imagine how large. People are dying daily in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. Hundreds of detainees remain in Guantanamo Bay without charge. The civilian death toll in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is in the hundreds of thousands. The people of Palestine are still living in a state of apartheid under siege. How much suffering needs to be inflicted before a watershed occurs?
As long as the GWOT continues, as long as Palestinians resist, and as long as there is oil in the middle east, there will be a need to demonise Muslims and Arabs. In recent weeks we have seen anti-Muslim hearings being held and anti-Sharia laws being passed in America. We’ve seen France criminalise 0.003% of it’s population by banning the niqab. Belgium have already done this. Holland is considering the issue of Halal slaughter. Switzerland has already banned the erection of minarets. Gaza has lost women and children with no media outcry, western condemnation or political debate for a no fly zone.
My hope is that making it as uncomfortable as possible to carry out this demonising will go some way to accelerating it’s demise. Don’t let anyone tell you they can’t be racist towards Muslims, because they can and they are. From the lowliest EDL member, to Republican Senators and Heads of State. Let’s not allow them to hide behind the false claims and propaganda. It’s a huge challenge due to the semantics and misinformation in use and the political implications. The influence of the Conservative Christian right and Pro Israel lobby also cannot be underestimated. But the court of public opinion will always hold considerable power. Public opinion needs to be informed to be able to pass judgement. That’s where we come in. Let’s take this opportunity in the age of social networks and internet revolutions to help raise awareness and stop the hate. Forward, share, join, like, tweet and retweet. Let’s become the generation that said ‘Never Again’ and really meant it.
I blogged this in June 2011.
The acquittal of Geert Wilders in an Amsterdam court yesterday was a victory for free speech. It was also a victory for hate and hypocrisy……What will this mean for Muslims in Holland, across Europe and the West? A report from Belgium shows that Islamophobia is at an all time high there, while anti-Muslim attacks are on the rise in the UK and US, ranging from verbal abuse, to mosque vandalism and physical attacks. France and Switzerland have also introduced legislation that infringe on Muslims practicing their faith. This legal victory will no doubt fortify those who share his views, and I would venture that we can expect some attention seekers to attempt to capitalise on it.
It seems insensitive to say I told you so at a time like this, but many of us did. The only surprise for me was the fact that the attack didn’t focus on Muslims. But something else that has struck me recently is that if there is one set of people the far right despise more than Muslims, it’s ‘the left’. Whether it’s because they see them as dhimmis, traitors, enablers or the manufacturers of the multicultural society they abhor. In some perverse way, the fact that white Europeans were the victims could be less damaging in the long term. It may sound callous, but with Caucasian natives being murdered it may bring home the gravity of the threat to the ruling elite, the media and general public in a way that the deaths of immigrants couldn’t. Also, the bombing of a mosque or immigration centre, with an equal number of Muslim casualties could spark continent wide race riots with dire implications for community relations which could take a generation to rebuild. The most fitting tribute the people of Europe could pay to these innocent kids and their families is to promise not to let this happen again, to anyone.
The only way we can do this is by ensuring that politicians, the media and anyone else with influence are aware of the problem. A good start would be to shine the spotlight as brightly as possible on the anti-Muslim ideologues that inspired Breivik’s imagination and actions. Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Geert Wilders, Daniel Pipes, Fjordman, Bat Ye’or, Brigitte Gabriel, Frank Gaffney, Walid Shoebat, Andrew Bostom, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Melanie Phillips, David Horowitz and Front Page, Steve Emerson, Ibn Warraq, Gate of Vienna, SIOE among others all need to feel the heat. Whilst not directly responsible for the atrocity, their influence is undeniable. Whilst each and every one of them attempts to distance themselves from Breivik’s actions, their words of hate towards Muslims and liberals are freely available to observe on the world wide web.
Robert Spencer – “The girl is right: do not fear. Fight back against the jihad. Fear hands the jihadis a weapon.”
Pamela Geller – “And I pray dearly that in the ungodly event that Tehran or its jihadi proxies (Hez’ballah, Hamas etc) target Israel with a nuke, that she retaliate with everything she has at Tehran, Mecca, and Medina…………… Not to mention Europe.”
Geert Wilders – “We need a spirit of resistance, because resistance to evil is our moral duty.”
Daniel Pipes – “Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene…. All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”
Walid Shoebat – “Kill them (Muslims)… including the children … “
Bat Ye’or – “Those churches know perfectly well the dire condition of Christians in Muslim lands. But instead of denouncing it, they adopt the militancy of the Janissaries, those Christian slave militias that were the spearhead of the Islamic war against Christianity.”
Mark Steyn – “The Serbs figured that out–as other Continentals will in the years ahead: If you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ’em. The problem that Europe faces is that Bosnia’s demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.”
David Horowitz – “What other people wouldn’t be stringing up the people who were responsible or who they thought to be responsible.”
Brigitte Gabriel – “America and the West are doomed to failure in this war unless they stand up and identify the real enemy: Islam.”
“It is not yet politically correct to talk about a religious war. But this is exactly what we are facing: a religious war declared by devout Muslims….It’s not radical Islam. It’s what Islam is at its core.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali – “No. Islam, period. Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace. I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. You look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.”
This is just the tip of the Islamophobic iceberg. So far, this warmongering rhetoric has gone without the disapproval that would greet similar sentiments about blacks or Jews. Despite the rise in Islamophobic incidents, this brand of hate speech has been tolerated or ignored. Many of us who have been casting a more critical and analytical eye over developments have suspected it would only be a matter of time before some radicalised extremist took the only step left to take. Now it’s happened, we’ll see whether they will continue their irresponsible hate mongering. The attack by Breivik is seen by him as the start of a war, one that the aforementioned ‘counter jihadists’ have been using to spread fear and paranoia for years. The reaction of many of them has been one of surprise, as if the holy war they predicted was just a propaganda tool that they never seriously envisaged happening. Well, whether it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy or not, it’s here now and the words and actions of these figureheads and their disciples will be scrutinised to the nth degree. They need to be held accountable and made to answer. If they truly condemn and regret the horrific events of last Friday, they must now enter meaningful dialogue to prove it. Does their humanity outweigh their hate? Are they willing to put their selfish agenda’s aside for the sake of peace? We shall see, as somehow I doubt this is the last I’ll blog on this subject.
For more articles on the threat of the far right and its ideologues I’ve linked some below.