Tag Archives: London

These so-called defenders of Britain are in fact one of its greatest threats

A driving component of nationalism is the perpetuation of national myths; one contemporary popular myth is to demonise Islam as an expansionist political ideology that threatens to undermine the foundations of British democracy.

For example, take the fresh-faced political party Liberty GB – according to them the threat of Islamist extremism in the 21st century is comparable to the danger that Nazism posed in the 20th century. In a recent viral video entitled “My name is Paul Weston, and I am a Racist”  Liberty GB’s party leader laments that the political establishment has tagged him as a racist for wishing to preserve his country’s culture and for daring to criticise Islam – a tag he now embraces as an ironic political stunt.

Weston slams Islam as a violent and savage political and religious ideology – one that needs to be ‘called out’ for it’s wicked ways. He cites horrors that have been done in the name of Islam and is convinced they will inevitably occur in Britain. Horrors such as the stoning of adulteresses, the beheading of babies and the hanging of homosexuals, Weston predicts, are soon to be a common sight in Britain.

Juxtaposed with this depiction of Islam as a savage force of evil is the factoid that the Islamic population is growing nine times faster than any other demographic in Britain. From this Weston reaches the logical conclusion that Britain is soon to face a ‘full blown religious civil war’ – to occur around 2040 mind you – and it is his and Liberty GB’s duty to confront Islam to stop this. At no point does Weston mention he is talking about extreme examples of fundamental Islamists – it is clear that he despises Islam as a whole and tars all Muslims as fundamentalists.

What Weston has effectively done is put two and two together to get five; he assumes Muslims are a united body hell bent on spreading the terrors practiced by jihadists and militants in the East to the West.  What he spews is based upon selective evidence, ignorance and unjustified fear. Groups such as Liberty GB instead of serving to protect British society and culture arguably do the exact opposite – they create tension based on selective evidence, spread ignorance to impressionable minds and whip up hatred based on unfounded claims and dubious conclusions.

Weston has proudly embraced the racist tag, twisting it to wear as a badge of honour. To avoid giving him what he wants, he should be labelled as not the defender of British culture and society he styles himself as, but one of the architects of its demise. He wilfully spreads misinformation and fear to demonise a minority the consequence of which will inevitably lead to less social cohesion, greater violence and a less safe society.

Half of Britain’s mosques have been attacked since 9/11 and if voices like Weston’s that tar all Muslims as savages become louder, then inevitably anti-Muslim violence in Britain is likely to grow. Violence begets more violence, instead of defending British culture; Liberty GB’s actions undermine it. You wont see people like Paul Weston tearing up your local town centre like the EDL, but a quick glance at the comments on the “I am a Racist” video and you can see the bile they spread is being picked up and inspiring the wrong sorts. Comments ranging from racist slurs to calls for violence are commonplace and there is no denouncement from Liberty GB for them, that is reserved for anyone that dares criticise them letting their true colours shine through.

It is easy to deconstruct the myths about Islam that Weston and his ilk peddle. Tired of constant smears and myths being propagated about Islam, a group made up of two Muslims and two non-Muslims (including one ex BNP member) decided to go out and conduct their own survey to find out what views the average British Muslim really holds. They did so in Alum Rock Birmingham, an area that contains a large Asian population. Alum Rock gained notoriety for being home to suspected terrorists and has been described as a “no go” area for white people. If anywhere is going to give an accurate poll on what British Muslims think, it is here.

Funnily enough the findings of the poll found Muslims in Britain to be a much more tolerant group than the likes of Liberty GB would have you believe. For example- 99% don’t support terrorist activities, 99% don’t believe the Quran justifies terrorism, 98% said they would support their child if they came out as gay, 95% said men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah and believe that Muslim men and women should mix freely. Less than 1% thinks that homosexuals should be stoned to death and 98% don’t believe that Sharia Law should apply to non-Muslims in the UK. Of course this poll is open to accusations of bias due to the motivation behind it however it offers a refreshingly stark contrast to the disgracefully selective bile spewed by Liberty GB.

As well recent events such as the uprisings in Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood are testament that not all Muslims want to enforce Islamist teachings as a political ideology. However Liberty GB like to ignore these truths, as they don’t fit in with their depiction of Islam as the greatest threat to British society and culture. This publication also further dispels widely held myths about Islam that are far too often spread and believed.

Radical Islam has been responsible for atrocities in Britain; the obvious ones that spring to mind are the London bombings in 2005 and the murder of Lee Rigby in May of this year. These events are deplorable yet they are also so sporadic that to argue they are evidence that Islam is threatening the stability of British civil society is farcical. Groups like Liberty GB that are spreading fear and misinformation are far more likely to create a climate of terror in this country rather than the overwhelmingly moderate Muslim population.

There are legitimate concerns and debates to be had concerning radical Islam but if you believe movements like Liberty GB have the answer, then you don’t understand the question.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Borrowing slogans from the far-right, what could go wrong!?

When the leader of UKIP – a party that feels the need to define itself as ‘non-racist’ on its official website – describes your immigration policy as ‘nasty and unpleasant,’ chances are that there’s something wrong with it.

This week the Home Office launched a billboard campaign aiming to increase the number of illegal immigrants voluntarily handing themselves in. The large billboards placed on the back of vans feature the slogan “Go home or face arrest” and are currently on a trial tour around 6 London boroughs with high immigrant populations.

Illegal immigrants are told to text “HOME” to a number for free advice and help with travel documents. Immigration Minister Mark Harper describes the initiative as “an alternative to being led away in handcuffs.”

Recently David Cameron appears to be taking more and more leaves out of the handbook of right wing populism,  and is increasingly more keen to shadow the behaviour of the party he once dismissed as a collection of ‘fruitcakes’ and ‘closet racists’. With the prospect of UKIP repeating their recent electoral success in next year’s European elections, Cameron is trying to out-populist the champions of populism.

Irony died when Nigel Farage condemned this hard-line approach to immigration as nasty but whilst his criticisms are ironic, there is truth in what he is saying. This campaign simply is nasty, divisive and pointless. Sure it hammers home the message that the ‘Conservatives are tough on immigration’ but is it the right sort of tactic a responsible government should humour, and the costs are sure to outweigh the short term electoral benefits.

Firstly, the ad campaign is easily lamentable as ‘nasty’ racist propaganda. Sunny Hundal draws obvious similarities between the Home Office’s ‘Go Home’ slogan and the rhetoric of the National Front and BNP. Whilst the adverts are not racist themselves, should the government be so brazen about promoting and pandering to the voices of the fringe right?

Secondly, why is a subject as delicate as immigration being handled so coldly and with such brashness? Instead of approaching with some tactfulness the government has made a habit recently of trying to look tough on immigration, and coming across divisive. Earlier this month the Home Office controversially tweeted ‘there will be no hiding place for illegal immigrants with the new immigration bill’ alongside a picture of a dark skinned man being led in to the back of a van by some armoured policemen. Are whistle-dog tactics such as this wise at a time when British institutions are still accused of being racist? 

In response to the launch of the billboard campaign, the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London held an ’emergency tension-monitoring’ meeting with Home Office officials and warned that the initiative had created ‘a sense of apprehension, tension and confusion’ amongst its clients. For a ‘compassionate conservative’, Cameron has acted consistently callously in regards to immigration

As well as being nasty and divisive, the effectiveness of such a campaign is doubtful. As Bishop Patrick Lynch identifies, the demographics of undocumented migration have changed in recent years. The vast majority of illegal immigrants are people who overstay the terms of their visas, especially students. So instead of parading around fascist slogans in ethnically diverse boroughs of London to pick up the odd dissatisfied voter, the government should focus on working with institutions dealing with immigrants and our own border control to solve this issue.

In face of all this, prominent Conservatives Boris Johnson and Nadhim Zahawi back a one-off amnesty policy that would provide a boost to the economy coinciding with tougher border policies.  There are ways to solve the illegal immigration puzzle without resorting to the language and the tactics of the far right, unfortunately this suggestion was rejected by the party hierarchy, who’ll have next years European elections in mind and irrationally fear a repeat of UKIP’s 2013 summer surge.

Finally, the absurdness of the government’s approach has led to ridicule. On twitter, the #racistvan hashtag displays what little authority the campaign holds and is a testament to the government’s incompetence.  The UK’s online wind-up merchants have been trolling the government’s campaign by flooding the billboard’s text number with prank requests for taxis home, free holidays and lifts across the country. The idea that illegal immigrants aren’t aware what they are doing is illegal and will be punished with a prison sentence as well is laughable. All this campaign does is play on the fears of disgruntled right wing voters and spark tensions in ethnically diverse areas.

So whilst trying to appear strong and tough on illegal immigrants the government in reality has come across nasty, divisive and incompetent. Theresa May once bemoaned that some people called The Conservative Party, ‘the nasty party.’ One way of rectifying this would be to avoid decrepit political stunts such as this.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,