Listening to the Today Programme this morning I heard Ross Hawkins’s alarming vox-pop cameo, which was clearly designed to advance the absurd hypothesis that the threat of violence from the “extreme far-right” is equal to, if not in excess of, the violence (terrorism) motivated by Islamic extremism. While he was at it, he also managed to belittle Sara Khan, who was in the studio talking to Mishal Husain, who conducted this interview in her ‘impatient-schoolmarm’ voice. (No saccharine tones for Sara Khan this morning.)
I know full transcriptions can be dull, but since
you’re here I’ve made one for you, you might as well read it. (Emphases: italics=theirs; bold=mine)
Let’s start with your own position and the question about how effective you can be when there was so much criticism of your appointment because you were perceived by so many people as insufficiently independent of government.
Well, I would contest that. I have criticised government in the past when I believed government policy is wrong and the best example I can give actually is my opposition to the government’s counter-extremism bill itself. If I agree with government policy, if I believe that one of their policy is correct then I will support it. That’s the approach I’ve taken in the past and that’s the approach I’ll continue to take in the future.
But the central government policy in this area is the Prevent policy, which is widely regarded as being stigmatising to Muslims, even a UN special rapporteur said that it could actually end up promoting extremism, by dividing, stigmatising and alienating segments of the population, now the organisation you used to run took money from Prevent, didn’t it?
I think it’s really important to make clear that my remit as lead commissioner is not Prevent. I have no remit with Prevent whatsoever. My focus is looking at extremism in this country and I think Ross’s piece is very interesting because it actually highlights the challenge of extremism today and in particular what does modern day extremism look like.
Yes we’ll come to that in a minute, but the point about your credentials, it is correct isn’t it, that your organisation did benefit from money that came from Prevent.
So one of my campaigns that “Inspire’ ran was an anti-ISIS campaign called ‘making a stand’; that was one campaign that the Home Office funded over ten years’ worth of work. I’m very proud of that campaign, if I was with Inspire again I would do that campaign again. The campaign benefited Muslim women from across the country. It taught them theological counter-narratives to extremist ideology. It taught them who they can go to for support, and the Home Office, I believe has a responsibility and a duty to support Muslim communities, to support other communities who are facing extremism and how to safeguard their children.
But some of those who’ve been very worried about your appointment, a Labour MP Naz Shah, the Conservative Peer Lady Sayeeda Warsi, the Muslim Women’s Collective, the Muslim Women’s Network UK, you have a really important job to do and these are all people and organisations that you need to work with, don’t you, and it doesn’t seem as if you’ve had them onside at the moment.
I would disagree with that I mean from day one I’ve made it very clear that I’m going to engage widely and that’s what I’ve done. Over the…
Which parts do you disagree with, needing to work with them….
…over the last few months I’ve engaged with over three hundred people, experts, academics, I’ve visited ten cities, just last week I was in Liverpool at meeting with different faith leaders which included ten Imams from ten different mosques. I’ve engaged with different Muslim women’s organisations ..
…I’ve had a very constructive meeting…
With the aim of doing what? You’re going about doing these meetings and you are planning to write a report I think, about the evidence you’re gathering..if you need to gather evidence, now, on extremism, does it suggest that we haven’t properly defined what extremism is, as yet.
Well, government has defined extremism, and there is a definition, now what’s been interesting for me as I’ve toured the country and I’ve spoken to faith leaders, I’ve spoken to women’s organisations, I’ve spoken to ordinary people, is how they see extremism. They have described it to me with crystal clarity. They can see extremism and they know what it is when they see it, so, far-right demonstrations in their cities, the extremism they’re seeing on social media - I was in Leicester for example….
Has that, I mean, on far-right extremism, do you think we as a country have underestimated that?
Well think we’re underestimating the scale of all forms of extremism and i want to be clear, my extreme - my commission is looking at all forms of extremism, that’s why I’ve been meeting people who specialise in far right extremism, islamist extremism, hard left extremism, I’ve spoken to Hindu and Sikh activists who are concerned about extremism within their own communities, and so looking at that and understanding the scale of that is what I’ve set out to do which is why we want to do a comprehensive study looking at the scale of extremism, the harm it’s causing - we don’t talk enough about the harm it’s causing, the tactics that extremists are using, and understanding the changing face of extremism in 2018. If we don’t understand extremism Michelle (sic) we’re not going to be able to effectively counter it.
Sara, thank you very much.
Hmm. That got me thinking. I wonder what the government’s definition of far-right extremism is?
Demos starts its study on this topic by stating:
“In tandem with, and partially as a result of national political and social differences, there is no clear definition of far-right extremism.”
I haven’t read the whole thing because my attention-span has dwindled to negligible, but a quick skim led me to surmise that they believe the far-right extremism of today has much to do with opposition to Islamic terrorism.
(Do correct me if I’m jumping to my own pre-conceived hypothesis.)
Since we’re allowing folks to meddle with internationally recognised definitions of racism and bigotry, and since internationally recognised definitions are evidently susceptible to the pick’n’mix approach, perhaps we don’t need definitive guidelines after all.
We already tend to thoughtlessly label each other ‘bigot’ ‘extremist’ ‘hard left’ or far-right. Or Zio.
If I’m not mistaken, the kind of far-right extremism to which everyone, including Sara Khan, the government, the BBC and the liberal consensus appears to be alluding, is vociferous opposition to all manifestations of Islam that are ‘incompatible-with-our-values’ i.e., far-right extremism merely means opposition to the creeping Islamisation of the west.
All that nonsense about extreme Hinduism and Sikhism, not forgetting that silent spectre in the room, ultra-orthodox Judaism - most of whom appear to be religious fanatics who confine their abusive practices to insiders - and the inflated threat of violence (against whom?) from the far-right - all that bluster seems very much like a smokescreen, set up purely as a cover. Why? To avoid being accused of that terrible crime, Islamophobia.
Perhaps they’re correct to fear that “far-right rallies” will whip up unrest, thus endangering the elusive (or non-existent) condition called ‘social cohesion’. But one has to ask, which came first, the establishment’s deliberate social engineering project designed to acclimatise the irreligious majority to an unmanageable influx of Muslim immigration by stealth, with the media frantically endeavouring to normalise Islamic religious and cultural practices - or the existing population’s resistance to it?
I’m saying that the particular kind of ‘far-right extremism’ that these organisations, including Khan’s, are referring to is a reactive phenomenon. It wouldn’t exist without its cause.
To muddy the waters further, the problem has been turned on its head; but we’re still stuck with Islamic terrorism now, whether or not Sara Khan and her team are able to shut down the opposition, or if the state keeps Tommy Robinson behind bars in perpetuity.
Who was it who said “If British Muslims renounced their religion, there would be no more violence; but if they silenced the “far-right” Britain would be Islamic." I might have mixed up that quote with one about another intractable conflict.
If the government’s definition of far-right extremism is that elastic, I’m a far-right extremist; and so, probably, are you.
A bit of a general rant rather than a take-down of a specific piece of BBC bias this time, but at least you had the transcript. Sorry about the football.