Lessons from Europe’s Immigrant Wave: Douglas Murray Cautions America

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
July 24, 2017

Douglas Murray has long voiced his concern about the growing influence of Muslim culture on the West. The associate editor of Britain’s Spectator, a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal, and the founder of the Centre for Social Cohesion, a think tank on radical Islam, he has built an international reputation for his opposition to the demographic changes of the West and the threats to its traditions. In his latest book, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam(Bloomsbury, 2017), he attacks all of these subjects as they relate to the current crisis of migration from the Middle East.

It is a controversial book, particularly for Americans and Jews, but one which also makes important arguments against the multiculturalist ideal. That ideal, which once led much of domestic policy across Europe and the United States, has proven not only a failure, but a threat to the values and national security of Western civilization.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism recently spoke with Murray about his book and the concerns that drove him to write it.

Abigail R. Esman: As an American, a Jew, and an immigrant myself to the Netherlands, there are aspects of your arguments against immigration and asylum that are troublesome to me. I come from a country where we are all immigrants, or our parents or grandparents were likely immigrants. You talk for instance of families where “neither parent speaks English as a first language,” yet my husband is Australian and I am American and neither of us speaks Dutch as a first language. So naturally, I come at these arguments with some concern. Are you saying, basically, close the borders?

Douglas K . Murray: It’s only for me to diagnose what’s happening – to see the truth about what is going on. Policy makers will make their own decisions. I have obviously broad views on it, which is that I think you can’t continue at the rate we have now, and I think you have to be choosy about the people you bring in. But you are right, and there are two groups of people who have had trouble with some of the basic things in this book: one is people of Jewish background, and others who come from nations of immigrants, like America. But Britain isn’t a nation of immigrants – we have been a static society with all the benefits and ills that this brings. And I think it is dishonest to say it is the same thing. I realize people who are predominantly Jewish have a particular sensitivity to it, but I think that that’s a particular issue. And why do we say one migration is just like the other It’s like saying because two vehicles went down the same road they are the same vehicle.

ARE: How is it different?

DKM: In the UK, when Jewish migration happened more than a century ago, the main thing was integration, integration into the society, wanting desperately to be part of British society. Why do synagogues in the UK have a portrait of the Queen? And after services, they often sing the British national anthem. It’s very moving. It’s an effort to demonstrate this is what we are and this is what we want to be. You’d be hard pressed to find a mosque with a picture of the queen who sing the anthem.

ARE: That element of integration is crucial, I agree. In America, in fact, immigrants in the past and often even today are eager to give their children Anglicized names: “Michael,” not “Moishe,” “Henry,” not “Heinrich.” Yet you do not see the name changes in Muslims these days. Why do you think that is?

DKM: Because there is less of a feeling to integrate. They want to stay with the country they’ve left but not deal with its economics. Some people find it flattering – that people want to move to your country – they say well, it shows what a wonderful place we are. No, it shows that your economics work better.

ARE: You also write about Muslim enclaves in Europe where “the women all wear some form of head covering and life goes on much as it would if the people were in Turkey or Morocco.” How is that different than, say, Chinatowns, or Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in America and say, Belgium, where women wear wigs and men have peyas, or sidelocks?

DKM: The example of Chinatown-like places is a good comparison. These are places that are mini-Chinas, they are enjoyed and liked by people because they are a different place. Well, if people want to have a mini-Bangladesh, that’s one vision of a society. It’s not the vision we were sold in Europe. It was not meant to be the case that portions of our cities were meant to become totally different places. In the 1950s the British and other European authorities said we have to bring people into our countries and we will get a benefit in labor. But if they had said that the downside is that large portions of the area would be unrecognizable to their inhabitants, there would have been an outcry.

And the issue of them being different from Hasidic communities – you’re right, they are similar. You can go to Stamford Hill in North London and see most of the men in hats and so on and that’s because that’s an enclave that wants to keep to itself. That raises questions: one, people don’t mind that, for several reasons – one is the recognition that Orthodox men don’t cause troubles. We don’t have cases of Orthodox men going out and cutting off people’s heads. If four Jewish men from Stamford Hill had blown up buses some years back there would be concern about these enclaves.

And also those enclaves are not growing. If it was the case that these enclaves were becoming areas where all the city was hat-wearing Orthodox Jews, then people would say wait, what is that? You can applaud that or abhor it, but it’s important to mention.it.

ARE: In the Netherlands, which has some of the toughest immigration policies in the world, people from certain countries are required to take “citizenship” courses before they can even enter Dutch borders. They have to learn the language, they have to learn about Dutch values, and that no, you can’t throw stones at Jews and gay people and that gay marriage is legal and women wear short dresses. Would you recommend other countries take on the Dutch policy of citizenship courses?

DKM: I make this point in the book. You say we could have done more and better, but the fundamental thing is that none of it was ever expected in the first place. No one ever thought that we would be in the situation we are now in. We didn’t expect them to stay. That’s a very big misunderstanding. Why wouldyou ask people to become Dutch citizens if you expect them to go home in five years? Why if you only expect them to stay in Britain for only 10 years? But then we realized they would stay and then we said, “we have to let them practice their own culture.” But for us to have acted as you suggest we would have had to know [at the time].

So yes, I think it’s a bare minimum for Europe to have the Dutch policy, even at this very late stage. I’m of the inclination that this is too little too late, but I wish everyone luck with it.

ARE: What about Yazidi women, Syrian Christians?

DKM: Again, it comes down to the Jewish question – because people think that every refugee is like a Jew from Nazi Germany. But if you were to think of a group that was facing an attempt to wipe them off the face of the earth then yes, you’d have the Yazidis. But there are people on all sides of the Syrian civil war, which are a minority of people coming to Europe – these are people fleeing sectarian conflict, but none of them are fleeing an effort to wipe them out as a people. So the lazy view, and it is quite often pushed by Jewish groups which I think is a mistake – is to suggest that it is similar to Nazi Germany. And I wish more care were taken in this.

ARE: Is this in your mind a way of stopping radical Islam? Because so many of the radicalized Muslims are actually converts. How would it help?

DKM: We know that people who convert to anything tend to be fundamentalist. But the important thing is, if you were pliable to be converted, available to be converted, then it raises the question of what kind of Islam do we have in these countries? If it were people finding Sufism, rather than hardcore Salafism, maybe it would be different. I have a friend who is a Muslim who was on a trip some years ago who told me the story of introducing a Muslim woman to one of the senior clerics at Al-Azhar and she wouldn’t shake his hand. He asked her why not. She said, “Because I’m Muslim.” So he asked her how long she’d been a Muslim, and she said “Six years.” He said, “I’ve been a Muslim for eight decades.” And then he turned and said to his friend in Arabic, “What kind of Muslims are you making in Britain?”

ARE: One thing the American Muslim community seems to have over its European brethren is its successful integration into society. Yet at the same time, some of the worst of the radicals are in fact American-born. We have people like Linda Sarsour, who wears the mantle of feminism, but who is really a Trojan horse for the Islamists. She has said things like “Our number one and top priority is to protect and defend our community. It is not to assimilate and lease any other people in authority.” What are the dangers of that kind of message?

DKM: I once spent an evening with Linda Sarsour. She is a very unpleasant, very radical girl. Filled with hate. I was the one having to defend America to Americans in an American audience against an American opponent. What she told that night was all lies, which you would tell either because you are dumb, which she isn’t, or because you want to spread propaganda, which she does.

I just think she is of a type. There are various sides to the issue that are important. There’s an “us” question and a “them” question. The “them” question is, what do people like that believe, what are they doing and how vile are they? But in a way, the “us” question is bigger. Why do we let them do this? What is wrong with America at this time in its history that an obvious demagogue like her can end up leading a feminist march [the 2017 Women’s March]? That’s an illness of America. She’s just a symptom of that.

ARE: And similarly, the Rushdie affair was effective in quashing further expression and criticism related to Islam. And Charlie Hebdo took that to an extreme. We haven’t had anything that severe, but there were the South Park threats and the attempted attack on the Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland. You blame European politicians and media for failing to recognize that those who were shouting “fire” were in fact the arsonists. This seems to be a global challenge – that any criticism or critique of Islam gets shouted down as inherently bigoted. In the U.S., the Southern Poverty Law Center places Maajid Nawaz on a list of “anti-Muslim extremists” for criticizing some tenets of the faith and advocating modernization and reform. In Europe the facts are very pessimism-causing. At the same time, though, there was certainly support for Charlie Hebdo, though you seem to deny it in your book, after the shootings. What’s the proper response to that form of a heckler’s veto?

DKM: I agree with the point. The only ways to reject the assassin’s veto is for civil society to be stronger on the question, for governments to ensure that people deemed to have ‘blasphemed’ are protected (as in the case of Rushdie) and that those who incite violence against them (such as Cat Stevens during the Rushdie affair) are the ones who find themselves on the receiving end of prosecutions. That and – obviously – ensuring that blasphemy laws aren’t allowed in through the back door via new ‘hate speech’ laws and the like.

ARE: In the chapter on multiculturalism, you describe interest groups which “were thrown up that claimed to represent and speak for all manner of identity groups.” These self-appointed voices then become the go-to groups for government. To keep the money flowing, they make the problems facing their community appear worse than they really are.” Is that a universal behavior for interest groups? We certainly see that in the U.S. with CAIR and ISNA.

DKM: Every group is vulnerable to that. With every human rights achievement, there are always some people left on the barricades. And the ones who linger on the barricades linger on without any home to go to. And you get these people who are stranded after it’s over and they have to hustle as if everything was as bad as it once was. Sometimes they are telling the truth; sometimes they wave a warning flag, but for the moment it seems particularly in America every group is claiming that this is basically 1938. It’s a tendency of every commune or group that wants awareness raised.

But it’s true, it’s especially prevalent of Muslim groups because if you keep claiming that you are the victim, then you never have to sort out your own house. And the groups that come to Europe and America, they never have to get their house in order if they spend all their time claiming they are victims of genocide and persecution and so on. And this is a familiar story.

ARE: So what would be your lesson, then, for America, especially in a book which clearly is about Europe?

DKM: Well, it is about Europe, certainly, but it’s connected to the debate America is now beginning to have. The first is to be careful with immigration. We’ve all had the same misunderstanding, the same thought that our societies are vast, immovable, unchanging things to which you could keep bringing people of every imaginable stripe and the results will always be the same. And I think that is just not the case, depending on the people who are in them. So we must take care with what kind of immigration we encourage, and at what pace, and that is something America should be thinking of, as everyone else should.

But America will have a harder time with this, because everyone in America has this vulnerability we don’t have in Europe, which is that we are all migrants. And you have the sense of ‘who am I to keep anyone out?’

ARE: I don’t think that’s the American view. I think it’s more that we all became part of this fabric, and we expect that the new immigrants will, too. But not all of them do.

DM: The whole thing actually seems to be unraveling, more than in Europe. In Europe, we don’t like to think in terms of racial terms. But all anyone in America talks about is race.

ARE: I don’t think so….

DKM: Maybe; but your vision of original sin in America seems to have become all so overwhelming. Your leading cultural figures, like Ta-Nehisi Coates, have this image of America born in terrible sin. The Atlantic’s front cover recently was all about slavery. You would get the impression that slavery only ended about 12 months ago. You are going over and over this in America – this endless sense of original sin. You are discussing reparations for slavery in 2017. You’d be hard-pressed to find publications in the UK calling for reparations to our past. Find me a mainstream publication that runs such a thing in Europe, even of WWII reparations.

So it’s symptomatic of something badly wrong at the structure of the public discussion.

ARE: Which suggests that we should do what?

DKM: What you have to listen out for is very straightforward: are the people raising such issues raising them because they want America to improve, or because they want America to end? I think this is a very central issue. Are you speaking as a critic, or as an enemy of the society in question? If you think the society can do no good, then you are speaking as an enemy. If you think there are things that have been done, that are wrong, that should be righted, campaign for them, speak out for them. Sometimes if you’re lucky you can get a posthumous rectification. But it sounds to me like a lot of this talk is from people who hate America. They don’t want to improve it. They want to end it.

So the lesson is – be careful about immigration. Be choosy. And another is a pretty straightforward one which is to work on the people who are there not to fall into the victim narratives of their special interest groups. And to focus on the “we.” I’ve always felt more optimistic for America in this regard, for the same reason I feel more optimistic than others do about France: because I think there is a very specific identity there, which it is possible to become a part of. I think it’s something other Western European countries, have not accomplished in the same way. So basically to strengthen their own identity.

ARE: Do you consider yourself a pessimist?

DKM: I think in Europe the facts are very pessimism-causing. I think it would be a strange person who would look at 12,000 people landing in Lampedusa, all young men, all without jobs, all without futures, and think, ‘That’s going to go really well. These are going to be just like the Jews of Vienna. These are going to be the receptacles of our culture.’ I don’t see it happening.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands. Follow her at @radicalstates

The New Anti-Racist Racists

Gatestone Institute, by Douglas Murray, October 28, 2016:

  • There is a trait campaigning groups have that is well known. Once they have achieved their objective, they continue. Usually it is because there are people with salaries at stake, pensions, perks and more.
  • Suddenly the SPLC seemed to spy a new fascism. The SPLC saw this new fascism in people who objected to people flying planes into skyscrapers, decapitating journalists and aid workers and blowing up the finish line of marathons.
  • One got the impression that it had become immensely useful for some people to be able to smear those concerned about Islamic fundamentalism, and try to make them akin to Nazis. The only other movements who find this equally useful are, of course, Islamic extremists.
  • Here is this “anti-racist” organisation, largely made up of white men who present themselves as being anti-racists, and yet who spend their time attacking Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a black immigrant woman. At the top of any list of “hate-groups,” the SPLC must in future be sure to place itself.
  • The SPLC’s list of “anti-Muslim activists” also includes a practising Muslim, Maajid Nawaz, one of the most principled and courageous people around calling out the extremists in his faith for their bigotry and hatred. He does so, like Hirsi Ali, at no small risk to himself.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SLPC), based in Montgomery, Alabama, has struck again. The self-appointed boundary-markers and policemen of free discussion have issued what they call a “Field Guide” to help “guide” the media in “countering prominent anti-Muslim extremists.” It is hard to know where to start with such idiocy, so let us start from the beginning.

The SPLC was founded in 1971, ostensibly to fight for civil rights among other good causes. By the end of its first decade it was targeting the KKK and other racist organisations. So far so good. But like many a campaigning organisation, they experienced the happy blow of basically winning their argument. By the 1990s, there were mercifully few racist groups in America going about unchallenged. When a member of the KKK cropped up everybody in civil society pretty much understood that here was a bad person who should not be given a free pass.

But there is an odd trait in campaigning groups that is well known. Once they have achieved their objective, they continue. Why is this so? Usually it is because there are people with salaries at stake, pensions, perks and more. Campaigning for a particular thing or against a particular thing has become their way of life and their means of earning. And so they find a way to continue. For some years, the SPLC staggered around in such a manner, as pointless and purposeless an organisation as could be imagined.

And then in the last decade something happened to this increasingly obscure institution. It is not for me to speculate why or how this happened, whether it had to do with new staff or new money, but the focus of the organisation changed. Suddenly the SPLC seemed to spy a new fascism. They did not spy it in people who flew planes into skyscrapers, decapitated American journalists and aid workers or blew up the finish line of marathons. No, the SPLC saw it somewhere else. The SPLC saw this new fascism in people who objected to people flying planes into skyscrapers, decapitating journalists and aid workers and blowing up the finish line of marathons. For the SPLC, the big threat on the horizon was not Islamists but those people who objected to Islamists — that is, people they called “Islamophobes.” In the same way, they did not seem to have any particular problem with jihad, but they developed a huge problem with people they called “counter-jihadists.” To their existing lists of designated “hate-groups” they now added such people.

More honest groups might have balked at such a stance. More informed groups would have walked a thousand miles from such a stance. But the SPLC did no such thing. In fact, one got the impression that it had become immensely useful for some people to be able to smear those concerned about Islamic fundamentalism and try to make them akin to Nazis. The only other movements who find this equally useful are, of course, Islamic extremists.

The media today in America are increasingly wary of Islamic extremists. Most journalists do not want the parameters of what should be discussed dictated by Islamic fanatics. Whereas an organisation such as the SPLC, which did something good forty years ago, is the sort of institution that the media is for the time-being happy to hear from. Perhaps after this latest development that will no longer be the case.

The SPLC’s latest production is disgraceful, discrediting and sloppy even by its own increasingly disgraceful, discredited and sloppy standards. For this publication, they have listed “Fifteen anti-Muslim activists,” most likely in the hope that they will scare the media off inviting them on, or the wider public from being allowed to listen to them.

Among the list is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The SPLC lists a set of allegedly outrageous things that she has said, which have appeared in such obscure and extreme venues as The Wall Street Journal and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. They mention in passing — as though it were an incidental mishap — that Hirsi Ali’s film-making partner, Theo van Gogh, was slaughtered on an Amsterdam street by a jihadist, with a death-threat to Hirsi Ali pinned into van Gogh’s dying body. But they still clearly cannot imagine why anybody would have a problem with such a thing. One wonders how the staff of the SPLC would feel if one of their colleagues was murdered in such a manner? Doubtless they would shrug it off. Yet it remains that case that here is this “anti-racist” organisation, largely made up of white men who present themselves as being anti-racists, and yet who spend their time attacking a black immigrant woman.

Hirsi Ali is of course well known for being an ex-Muslim. But the SPLC’s list of “anti-Muslim activists” also includes a practising Muslim. Of course, if Maajid Nawaz were an Islamic extremist then SPLC would have nothing to say about him. But Maajid Nawaz is not an extremist — he is one of the most principled and courageous people around calling out the extremists in his faith for their bigotry and hatred. He does so, like Hirsi Ali, at no small risk to himself. If the jihadists within Islam are ever going to be defeated, it will be because of Muslims like Nawaz, who are willing to argue for reform on liberal, progressive, pluralistic and democratic grounds.

Yet for the SPLC, this Muslim is not just not the right type of Muslim — he is “anti-Muslim.” The charges that SPLC levels against Nawaz are (this is not satire) that he has (a) co-operated with, rather than worked against, the British police (b) suggested that customers in banks should have to show their faces (c) once failed to abide by the most hardline interpretation of Islamic blasphemy law (d) once visited a strip club on his stag-night.

The Southern Poverty Law Center decided to turn itself into a racist organization, with its attacks on principled and courageous critics of radical Islamism such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali (left), a prominent ex-Muslim writer, and Maajid Nawaz (right), a moderate practising Muslim writer, radio host and politician. (Images source: Wikimedia Commons)

Who knows what lapses in personal decorum have occurred among the staff of the SPLC? Perhaps one of them once had extra-marital intercourse? Or perhaps one of them once consumed a glass of Merlot, in contravention of the hardest-line interpretations of Islamic scripture? Who knows, but who the hell would anybody else be to judge, and who the hell do the SPLC think they are? It seems that the SPLC has decided to turn itself from an anti-racist organisation into a racist one. An organisation that used to prosecute white racists has ended up attacking black and Muslim immigrants. At the top of any list of “hate-groups,” the SPLC must in future be sure to place itself.

Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England.

Also see:

UK: Clerics Who Threaten Reformers and Praise Murderers

Gatestone Institute, by Douglas Murray, August 22, 2016:

  • Anjem Choudary has gone to jail. He was the most visible part of the problem. But he was not the greatest or deepest problem in this area. That problem is shown when two extremist clerics with pre-medieval views come to Britain they are welcomed by an ignorant British establishment.
  • “These people teach murder and hate. For me personally I find it sad that a country like England would allow cowards like these men in. Why are they allowing people [in] that give fuel to the fire they are fighting against?” — Shahbaz Taseer, the son of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who was murdered for opposing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
  • “They have got hundreds of thousands of followers in the UK,” the imam of the Madina Mosque and Islamic Centre in Oldham, Zahoor Chishti, said of the two clerics.

The conviction of radical Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary — the most prominent extremist in Britain — has been widely welcomed in the UK. For years his followers and he have infuriated the vast majority of the British public (including most British Muslims) with their inflammatory and hate-filled rhetoric. They have also provided a constant stream of people willing to follow through the words with actions. More people around Choudary have been convicted of terrorism offences in the UK than any other Islamist group — including al-Qaeda.

But Choudary’s conviction for encouraging people to join ISIS should not be greeted as though that is the end of a matter.

The conviction of radical Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary (centre) — the most prominent extremist in Britain — has been widely welcomed in the UK.

Last week we noted here how, after the murder of an Ahmadiyya Muslim in the UK at the hands of another Muslim, some Muslims are “more Muslim than others” and that those outside a particular theological group can be killed is not an idea held only by the murderer. It is an idea with a significant following in the UK Muslim community, as well as among Muslims worldwide. A recent test of this issue was the execution in January this year in Pakistan of Mumtaz Qadri. This was the man who murdered Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province in Pakistan. Taseer had opposed the strict blasphemy laws which operate in his country. In Qadri’s eyes, Taseer was an apostate for even thinking of watering down the blasphemy laws that jihadists and Islamists such as the Taliban wish to preserve. And so Qadri killed the governor.

Of course one would like to think that everyone could unite in condemning the actions of a man such as Mumtaz Qadri. What is striking is how many people fail to do so, and how many Muslim clerics and religious leaders — even in the West — not only fail to do so but have been open in their praise of Qadri and their condemnation of Pakistan for putting him to death. Prominent among the latter group is the imam of the largest mosque in Scotland — the Glasgow central mosque.

This past month, however, an even more significant event occurred. In July, two Pakistani clerics started a tour of the UK. Their seven-week expedition, called “Sacred Journey,” goes on until September 4, and includes appearances in Oldham, Rochdale, Rotherham and the Prime Minister’s own constituency of Maidenhead. One of the first things that Muhammad Naqib ur Rehman and Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman did when they arrived in the UK was to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop welcomed them in Lambeth Palace and claimed that the meeting would strengthen “interfaith relations,” as well as address “the narrative of extremism and terrorism.” One wonders how far the Archbishop got in this task?

If there is a “narrative of extremism and terrorism,” Muhammad Naqib ur Rehman and Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman can take some serious credit for the fact. Both men took an enthusiastic stand in Pakistan in support of Mumtaz Qadri. That is, they supported the murderer of a progressive Pakistani official. Listen here, for instance, to Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman delivering a hysterical speech in support of Mumtaz Qadri while his fellow cleric, Muhammad Naqib ur Rehman, looks on approvingly from the platform.

Here is Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman whipping up the vast crowd of mourners after the funeral of Mumtaz Qadri in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. During his speech he repeatedly refers to Qadri as ashaheed [martyr]. Tens of thousands of people attended the funeral, and afterwards rioted, chanting slogans such as “Qadri, your blood will bring the revolution” and “the punishment for a blasphemer is beheading.”

After Qadri’s execution, Haseeb ur Rehman said on social media “Every person who loves Islam and Prophet is in grief for the martyrdom of Mumtaz Qadri.”

So what are two clerics who approve of murdering reformers and mourn the death of fanatics and assassins doing touring the UK? Shahbaz Taseer, the son of the Salman Taseer, is among those who has criticised the UK authorities for allowing the two men into the country. “These people teach murder and hate,” he has said.

“For me personally I find it sad that a country like England would allow cowards like these men in. It’s countries like the UK and the US that claim they are leading the way in the war against terror [and] setting a standard. Why are they allowing people [in] that give fuel to the fire they are fighting against?”

“They have got hundreds of thousands of followers in the UK,” the imam of the Madina Mosque and Islamic Centre in Oldham, Zahoor Chishti, said of the two clerics. Chishti denied that the event was organised by his mosque and said that he was not aware of the views of the speakers. “When I found out I was upset. I think it was really upsetting and wrong. They come to the UK every year and give messages of love, so that’s why they’re booked on that basis.’

Elsewhere, the “Sacred Journey” tour has already thrown up another interesting connection. Mohammed Shafiq runs a one-man outfit called the “Ramadan Foundation” in the UK, and is regularly called upon by the British media. He appears to be viewed as a “moderate” Muslim because he has been outspoken in opposition to the mass rape of children by gangs of Muslim men. Despite this heroism, his own liberal credentials (not least as a member of the Liberal Democrat party) have often come into question. Several years ago, for instance, when the Liberal Democrat candidate and genuine anti-extremism campaigner Maajid Nawaz re-Tweeted an innocuous cartoon from the “Jesus and Mo” series, Shafiq was among those who tried to get up a lynch-mob against Nawaz. Shafiq wrote on social media that Nawaz was a “Ghustaki Rasool,” Urdu for “defamer of the prophet.” He warned that he would “notify Islamic countries.” Shafiq angrily denied that these and other messages constituted incitement against Nawaz.

But now, on the visit of two clerics to the UK who applaud and mourn Mumtaz Qadri, where is Mohammed Shafiq to be found? Why, warmly greeting the cleric who praises the murderers of reformers and glad-handing with the terrorist-apologists and blasphemy lynch-mob, of course.

Almost everyone in Britain is pleased that the loudmouth Anjem Choudary has gone to jail. Like the hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza before him, Choudary was — as a case — almost too easy. He was the most visible part of the problem. But he was not the greatest or deepest problem in this area. That problem is shown when two extremist clerics with pre-medieval views come to Britain, they are welcomed by an ignorant British establishment. The problem is shown when they tour mosques, they do so to packed houses because they have “hundreds of thousands” of followers of Pakistani origin in the UK. The problem is shown when you scratch the surface of one of the self-proclaimed “moderates” like Mohammed Shafiq and discover that he is happy to pal around with the people who threaten reformers and praise murderers.

That is the problem for British Islam in a nutshell. And that is a problem we still remain woefully unable to confront.

Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England.

Also see:

VIDEO: Is Europe Doomed by Migrants?

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

Gatestone Institute,  June 18, 2016:

Most of the millions of overwhelmingly male migrants who have come to Europe in the past two years are not refugees fleeing war zones. Douglas Murray, in our latest video, discusses the total failure of Germany and other countries to integrate the migrants, and what the consequences will be. “If you have jobs in Germany that need filling, why on earth wouldn’t you fill them with the young people from Italy, Greece, Portugal and other European countries, who are unemployed at the moment?”

Also see:

The EU is Coming to Close Down Your Free Speech

1455Gatestone Institute, by Douglas Murray, June 11, 2016:

  • The German Chancellor was not interested in the reinforcement of Europe’s external borders, the re-erection of its internal borders, the institution of a workable asylum vetting system and the repatriation of people who had lied to gain entry into Europe. Instead, Chancellor Merkel wanted to know how Facebook’s founder could help her restrict the free speech of Europeans, on Facebook and on other social media.
  • Then, on May 31, the European Union announced a new online speech code to be enforced by four major tech companies, including Facebook and YouTube.
  • It was clear from the outset that Facebook has a definitional problem as well as a political bias in deciding on these targets. What is Facebook’s definition of ‘racism’? What is its definition of ‘xenophobia’? What, come to that, is its definition of ‘hate speech’?
  • Of course the EU is a government — and an unelected government at that — so its desire not just to avoid replying to its critics — but to criminalise their views and ban their contrary expressions — is as bad as the government of any country banning or criminalising the expression of opinion which is not adulatory of the government.
  • People must speak up — must speak up now, and must speak up fast — in support of freedom of speech before it is taken away from them. It is, sadly, not an overstatement to say that our entire future depends on it.

It is nine months since Angela Merkel and Mark Zuckerberg tried to solve Europe’s migrant crisis. Of course having caused the migrant crisis by announcing the doors of Europe as open to the entire third-world, Angela Merkel particularly would have been in a good position actually to try to solve this crisis.

But the German Chancellor was not interested in the reinforcement of Europe’s external borders, the re-erection of its internal borders, the institution of a workable asylum vetting system and the repatriation of people who had lied to gain entry into Europe. Instead, Chancellor Merkel was interested in Facebook.

When seated with Mark Zuckerberg, Frau Merkel wanted to know how the Facebook founder could help her restrict the free speech of Europeans, on Facebook and on other social media.Speaking to Zuckerberg at a UN summit last September (and not aware that the microphones were picking her up) she asked what could be done to restrict people writing things on Facebook which were critical of her migration policy. ‘Are you working on this?’ she asked him. ‘Yeah’, Zuckerberg replied.

In the months that followed, we learned that this was not idle chatter over lunch. In January of this year, Facebook launched its ‘Initiative for civil courage online’, committing a million Euros to fund non-governmental organisations in its work to counter ‘racist’ and ‘xenophobic’ posts online. It also promised to remove ‘hate speech’ and expressions of ‘xenophobia’ from the Facebook website.

It was clear from the outset that Facebook has a definitional problem as well as a political bias in deciding on these targets. What is Facebook’s definition of ‘racism’? What is its definition of ‘xenophobia’? What, come to that, is its definition of ‘hate speech’? As for the political bias, why had Facebook not previously considered how, for instance, to stifle expressions of open-borders sentiments on Facebook? There are many people in Europe who have argued that the world should have no borders and that Europe in particular should be able to be lived in by anyone who so wishes. Why have people expressing such views on Facebook (and there are many) not found their views censored and their posts removed? Are such views not ‘extreme’?

One problem with this whole area — and a problem which has clearly not occurred to Facebook — is that these are questions which do not even have the same answer from country to country. Any informed thinker on politics knows that there are laws that apply in some countries that do not — and often should not — apply in others. Contrary to the views of many transnational ‘progressives’, the world does not have one set of universal laws and certainly does not have universal customs. Hate-speech laws are to a very great extent an enforcement of the realm of customs.

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Will Britain Pass the Choudary Test?

Gatestone Institute, by Douglas Murray, August 12, 2015:

  • The long-term consequences of allowing Choudary to be free constitute a terrible mistake: the main impact of Choudary on the wider public has been colossally to exacerbate suspicions of Muslims as a whole.
  • Broadcasters have for years introduced him as a “sheikh” or a “cleric,” without often casting doubt on his qualifications to such titles, or noting the comparative paucity of his following.
  • It is perfectly possible that Anjem Choudary will slip between the UK’s terrorism laws once again. Or perhaps now it is he that has slipped up, and the most visible chink in the UK’s counter-extremism policy has finally resolved itself.

If there was a single flaw in the British Prime Minister’s recent speech on countering extremism in the UK, it might be encapsulated in the name “Anjem Choudary.” His speech went into terrific detail on the significance of tacking radicalism through the education system, the Charity Commission, the broadcasting license authority and numerous other means. But it failed the Choudary test.

That test is: What do you do about a British-born man who is qualified to work but appears never to have done so, and who instead spends his time taking his “dole” money and using it to fund a lifestyle devoted solely to preaching against the state?

 

Anjem Choudary (center).

The problem is not quite as straightforward as some commentators make out. The fact that Choudary is British-born and a British citizen makes it legally impossible for Britain to withdraw his citizenship or otherwise render him “stateless.” He has a young family who cannot be allowed to starve on the streets, even if he could. These are admittedly late liberalism problems, but they are problems nonetheless.

On the other hand, what the state has allowed from Choudary in recent years looks more like a late Weimar problem. Choudary is not merely a blowhard pseudo-cleric with perhaps never more than a hundred followers at any one time — although this is certainly the part of his persona that has garnered most attention. Indeed, his attention-seeking is perhaps the only first-rate skill he has. For instance, there was the time he claimed he was planning a “March for Sharia” through the centre of London, culminating at the gates of Buckingham Palace with a demand that the Queen submit to Islam. Having garnered the publicity he desired, Choudary cancelled his march not because there was a fairly measly counter-demo (of which this author was a part) but because his “March for Sharia” would have been unlikely to gather more than a few dozen attendees, and would most likely have descended into a “stroll inviting ridicule,” at best.

The reason Choudary is more than just an attention-seeker is that over many years he has been involved with innumerable people who have shown themselves to be more than blowhards. They have attempted to bring serious sectarian conflict — as well as murder — to the streets of Britain. A number of Choudary’s associates, for instance, were imprisoned a few years back for attempting a Mumbai-style attack on London landmarks, including the London Stock Exchange. Other of his associates have been to prison for incitement and countless terrorist-recruitment offenses; and since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, a number of his followers have gone to Syria and Iraq to join and fight with ISIS.

Choudary himself is a trained lawyer and has a sufficiently adept mind to know on just which side of the law to keep his remarks. The last Labour government’s creation of a new offense of “glorifying terror” ought to have caught Choudary within it, but it appeared not to have done. He has remained a frustratingly free man.

That said, there are other possible explanations for this. One theory — not beyond the realm of possibility — is that Choudary has been, to some extent (knowingly or unknowingly), used as a “fly-trap” by the police or intelligence services. He is well known enough to have anyone seriously interested in the most radical forms of Islamic extremism come to him. And despite the paranoia of his group, thinking that they are being infiltrated (described not least by the former radical Morten Storm in his excellent memoir, “Agent Storm”), it is possible that this is what has been going on all along. It would mean that there was some agreement to allow Choudary to get away with what he does because it is better for such extremism to have an observable and open meeting-point than to be more clandestine.

There are certainly many defences of such a policy — if such a policy there has been. In the short term, it might have stopped several significant attacks. But the long-term consequences of allowing Choudary to be free constitute a terrible mistake: the main impact of Choudary on the wider public has been colossally to exacerbate suspicions of Muslims as a whole. Broadcasters have for years introduced him as a “sheikh” or a “cleric,” without often casting doubt on his qualifications to such titles, or noting the comparative paucity of his following. The police failure to stop one Choudary demonstration in particular (and indeed to protect his followers) also led to the creation of the English Defence League — an extraordinary negative double-whammy for one person to achieve.

But last week Anjem Choudary was arrested, detained and charged with terror offenses relating to attempts to persuade Muslims in Britain to join ISIS; he now finally faces trial. So far, there has been a muted response in the British media. Part of that is the simple and rightful caution due to reporting restrictions of an upcoming trial. But part of it may also be an “I’ll believe it when I see it” cynicism. It is worth recalling that just last year Choudary was arrested and detained for terror offenses, only to walk free before the bunting was even half up. There are unlikely to be any premature celebrations this time. Perhaps reporters and commentators also have in mind the murky dropping of all terrorism charges before the opening of the trial of former Guantanamo inmate Moazzem Begg last autumn.

It is perfectly possible that Anjem Choudary will slip between the UK’s terrorism laws once again. Or perhaps now it is he that has slipped up, and the most visible chink in the UK’s counter-extremism policy has finally resolved itself.

UK: Whatever Happened to that Muslim Brotherhood Review?

Gatestone Institute, by Douglas Murray, March 30, 2015:

The former head of MI6, Richard Dearlove, has described the Muslim Brotherhood as “at heart a terrorist organization.”

Officials who are soft on extremism hope that both the extremism strategy and the Muslim Brotherhood review are not merely being kicked into the long grass but will, in fact, never see the light of day.

This is, it must be said, politics at its very worst. The Muslim Brotherhood has wreaked havoc for decades. Its desire to carry our coups and to rule Middle Eastern countries according to the rule of a hardline interpretation of Islamic law is not ancient history — it is very recent history.

Britain has for some years now been the major global hub of for these revolutionaries to fundraise, organize and dip in and out of whenever they are in or out of power.

When countries harbor Britain’s enemies, we rightly regard those countries as less than friendly toward us. If Britain fails to publish the Muslim Brotherhood review, it will not just show that the country is unreliable to its friends and even to its own citizens.

What has happened to the British government’s “review” into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK?

The “review” (officials have been careful not to refer to it as an ‘”inquiry”) into the Muslim Brotherhood’s “philosophy and values and alleged connections with extremism and violence” was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron almost a year ago. At a press conference, he said that Britain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins, would lead the review. Explaining the need for such a process, Mr. Cameron said:

“What I think is important about the Muslim Brotherhood is that we understand what this organisation is, what it stands for, what its beliefs are in terms of the path of extremism and violent extremism, what its connections are with other groups, what its presence is here in the United Kingdom. Our policies should be informed by a complete picture of that knowledge.”

This is indeed something that is important. So why, a year later, have the findings of this review still not been published?

From the outset, the whole process has been subject to considerable public and private criticism, not to say opposition. Those people in the commentariat and political class who are generally uncritical of non-violent extremism (or rather “not violent, here, for the time-being” extremism) protested against conducting the Muslim Brotherhood review from the outset. Last year, for instance, the Financial Times quoted a “senior government figure,” saying that the investigation “Cuts against what the FCO has already been doing in this area… It risks turning supporters of a moderate, non-violent organisation that campaigns for democracy into radicals.”

This was a particularly revealing statement: it showed that apart from anything else, there were, from the outset, people at the very top of government who think that the Muslim Brotherhood is a harmless, pro-democracy group that is being unfairly and unhelpfully maligned. This is not the view of many experts on Middle Eastern politics. And it is certainly not the view of the former head of MI6, Richard Dearlove, who has described the Muslim Brotherhood as “at heart a terrorist organisation.” It also revealed the thinking in at least part of Britain’s political class.

There were also complaints from those who saw the review as only having been ordered because it was in fact some type of political or religious sectarian set-up. There were claims that the UK government had only ordered this process at the behest of the Egyptian government – which branded the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group again in 2013, after the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-run government. Others claimed that the review had been ordered at the behest of the Saudis – a line bolstered by the appointment of Sir John Jenkins.

Despite these objections, Sir John got on with his review. Experts were called in over the course of several months and the review itself was finished some months ago. So why has nobody seen it?

For some time, the stalling has been put down to an issue of “sensitivity.” There are allied countries, potentially banks and certain figures in authority in allied countries, who may not come out well from Sir John’s review. It is also likely that prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures in the UK have been identified by name. Any and all of these people could have objected to being identified. One rumour in Westminster for some time has been that Muslim Brotherhood leaders, or the organisation as a whole, had considered issuing an injunction against the Prime Minister to prevent the publication of the report. How the Muslim Brotherhood could issue an injunction against a British Prime Minister in the British courts is uncertain, but there are certainly likely to be libel and other issues around.

Of course, these problems are fairly easy to get around by issuing a heavily redacted version of the report while keeping the full version for official use only. Indeed, before the latest stall it was expected that there would be a publication only of a two-page summary of the review’s main findings. But now it seems that even this will not be able to be released. So what is going on?

The UK government is running close to the period in which no more releases of potentially political information can be presented from Whitehall. This period, before the election, is generally referred to as “purdah.” The UK is about to enter this period, and the Muslim Brotherhood review is not the only document likely to become a victim. The British government has yet to release its new counter-extremism strategy. This long-awaited document was meant to be launched in January, but infighting at the top of the coalition government has delayed it. Credible reports say that the coalition has stalled over the refusal of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (leader of the Liberal Democrats) to endorse measures which would, among other things, stop extremist preachers and recruiters touring UK universities.

The counter-extremism strategy was meant to be released on the same day as the Muslim Brotherhood review. But now both are about to fall afoul of the pre-election deadline, and thus fall into post-election publication. That, of course, is precisely what Nick Clegg and other officials who are soft on extremism would like. Their hope is that the Conservative Party does not become the largest party after May 5th, so that both the extremism strategy and the Muslim Brotherhood review are not merely being kicked into the long grass but will, in fact, never see the light of day.

This is, it must be said, politics at its very worst. The Muslim Brotherhood has wreaked havoc for decades. Its desire to carry out coups and to rule Middle Eastern countries according to the rule of a hardline interpretation of Islamic law is not ancient history – it is very recent history. Britain has for some years now been the major global hub for these revolutionaries to fundraise, organize and dip in and out of whenever they are in or out of power.

Muhammad Ghanem, the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK, is shown here speaking on live television from London, in 2011. (Image source: MEMRI)

A decent democracy would not behave towards its public, allies and friends like this. When countries harbour Britain’s enemies, we rightly regard those countries as less than friendly toward us. If Britain fails to publish the Muslim Brotherhood review, it will not just show that the country is unreliable to its friends and even to its own citizens. It will show that it is outstandingly weak in the face of our society’s most obvious enemies.