COMMENT: Birleşik Krallık’ta İslamofobinin 20 Yıllık Bilançosu – Perspektif

perspektif_logoAs with previous months, I have today had a new comment piece published in the German-based Turkish language periodical, Perspektif. This month’s piece reflects on the 20th anniversary of the Runnymede Trust’s report, Islamophobia: A Challenge For Us All. To view the piece, click here.

For those who can read Turkish, I have reproduced the opening paragraph below.

Birleşik Krallık’ta İslamofobinin 20 Yıllık Bilançosu

Birleşik Krallık’ta 1997 yılının kasım ayında ilk İslamofobi raporu yayınlandı. 20 yılın ardından ülkede İslamofobi hâlâ herkes için önemini koruyan bir sorun.

Birleşik Krallık’ta bu kasım ayı, Runnymede Vakfı’nın “İslamofobi: Hepimiz İçin Bir Meydan Okuma” isimli raporunun yayımlanmasının 20. yıldönümü olacak. Bundan 20 yıl önce Britanya Müslümanları ve İslamofobi Komisyonu’ndan çıkan bulguları ortaya koyan Runnymede raporuyla birlikte, kamuoyu ve siyasilerin dikkati ilk kez Britanya’daki Müslüman karşıtlığı ve ayrımcılığı üzerine çekilmişti. İslamofobi’yi “İslam’a duyulan korku ya da nefretin – ve dolayısıyla Müslümanlardan korkmanın ya da nefret etmenin en kestirme yolu” olarak nitelendiren raporda, “İslamofobik söylemin, bazen apaçık ama sıklıkla da üstü örtük şekilde kendini gösterdiği ve bu söylemlerin modern Britanya’da günlük yaşamın bir parçası olduğu” ifadesi yer alıyordu.

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COMMENT: Proscribing National Action – considering the impact of banning the British far-right group – PQ Blog

PQ-blog-banner-850This was a short comment piece I was asked to write for the PQ Blog (PQ being short for Political Quarterly). It was written to coincide with the arrest of the serving British Army members for being members of the now banned neo-Nazi group, National Action and also the publication of my article in this month’s Political Quarterly journal.

The original comment piece can be viewed here but as ever, the first few paragraphs are reproduced below.

Proscribing National Action: considering the impact of banning the British far-right group

Following the news that West Midlands Police have arrested five serving members of the British army on suspicion of being members of the proscribed neo-Nazi group National Action, we should consider the extent to which the British Government’s approach to banning extremist groups has been successful.

Over the past two decades, the British Government has adopted a range of different legislative and policy measures in trying to address extremism and radicalisation, one of which is proscription. While the majority of those banned have typically adhered to extreme Islamist ideologies, those adhering to extreme far-right ideologies have begun to increasingly concern politicians and others alike. In this respect, the arrests will be far from surprising for some.

Prior to proscription under the Terrorism Act 2000 in December 2016, little was known about National Action. While those such as Britain First and the English Defence League (EDL) had courted media attention and thereby public and political reach, National Action was growing in confidence and numbers. Most concerning, however, was that as Hope Not Hate noted, its supporters were becoming increasingly provocative, ever more erratic and wholly unpredictable to the extent that its greatest threat was physical rather than political. There were also very real concerns about the group’s link with Thomas Mair, the convicted murderer of the former Labour Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox. At his trial, he spoke only to say was “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”, a slogan that featured prominently on the group’s now defunct official website.

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COMMENT: National Action – what I discovered about the ideology of Britain’s violent neo-Nazi youth movement – The Conversation

Conversation_logoThis was a short comment piece I wrote for the always interesting The Conversation following the arrest of serving British Army members that were alleged to be members of the proscribed neo-Nazi group, National Action. Based around my research into the group, the piece offers some basic insight along with some broader points to think about. In its original form, it can be read by clicking here.

The first few paragraphs from the comment piece are reproduced below.

National Action: what I discovered about the ideology of Britain’s violent neo-Nazi youth movement

The arrest of five serving members of the British army on September 5 under suspicion of being members of the banned neo-Nazi group National Action sends a worrying signal about the recruitment of young people to extremist ideology.

National Action was proscribed using terrorism legislation in December 2016 – the first time in British history that belonging to a far-right group had been outlawed. It is now a criminal offence to be a member of the group, invite support for it or help organise any meetings. It is also a criminal offence to wear clothing linked to the group, and to carry or wear its symbols or insignia.

The group was banned following an assessment that it was “concerned in terrorism”. A few months earlier, the only statement made in court by Thomas Mair – the convicted murderer of former Labour MP Jo Cox – was “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”, a slogan that featured prominently on the group’s now defunct official website.

I carried out research on National Action before the group was banned and much of its public profile was removed.

Unlike other more prominent British far-right groups, such as the English Defence League (EDL) and Britain First, National Action is committed to “traditional” Nazism. Describing itself as a National Socialist movement, the group glorified Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, routinely using quotes from Mein Kampf alongside Nazi images and symbols on its banners and publicity materials.

From this emanated overt expressions of antisemitism, homophobia, racism and discrimination against disabled people, among others. From the words of its leaders and also on its website, the group spoke candidly about the need to “save” Britain, “our” race and “our” generation, along with a stated aspiration of establishing a “white homeland” in Britain.

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COMMENT: Channel 4’s The State: disturbing and accurate reminder of idealism gone wrong – The Conversation

Conversation_logoHere’s a piece I recently wrote for the always informed The Conversation in response to criticisms directed at BAFTA award-winner Peter Kosminsky’s Channel 4 drama series, The State. You can read the piece in full by clicking here.

The first few paragraphs are reproduced below:

Channel 4’s The State: disturbing and accurate reminder of idealism gone wrong

It seems quite unfounded that Channel 4 has had to defend its new four-part drama, The State. The series – written by BAFTA award-winner Peter Kosminsky – follows two British men and two British women who decide to go to Syria and join Islamic State. Encouraged to forget their past lives in the UK in favour of living segregated lives where the men are taught to fight and the woman become their chattels, the series is as compelling and gripping as it is disturbing and discomforting.

It is also the most accurate dramatisation of what life would appear to be like living under the Islamic State to have been produced to date.

Nevertheless, one should be unsurprised that the drama’s subject matter would earmark it for criticism. Christopher Stevens in the Daily Mail describes the drama as “pure poison”. While framing criticisms within the context of the Mail’s regular enemies – liberals (Kosminsky), publicly funded broadcasters (Channel 4), and political correctness (the alleged “racism” shown towards the white people joining Islamic State) – three themes emerge that need refuting.

The first is whether the drama accurately represents what life might be like under Islamic State. From what is known from personal testimonies of those who have either returned from fighting in Syria and Iraq or suffered at Islamic State’s hands, the drama would seem to ring true.

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COMMENT: London Nach Dem Terror, Regierung und Muslime müssen miteinander reden – IslamIQ

islamiqFollowing on from writing for the Turkish-language German-based periodical Perspektif, I now have my articles republished – and translated into German – for IslamIQ. The pieces are the same although the titles do vary. This piece is titled, “London After The Terror: the Government and Muslims must talk to each other” and can be read in full by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can read the first few paragraphs below:

London Nach Dem Terror, Regierung und Muslime müssen miteinander reden

Kurz nach dem Attentat auf der London Bridge Anfang Juni ließ Großbritanniens Premierministerin Theresa May verlauten, „genug sei genug“. Nach dem jüngsten Anschlag auf die Londoner Finsbury Park Moschee, bei dem ein weißer Brite einen Kleinbus in eine Gruppe von Muslimen gesteuert hatte, die nach dem Nachtgebet im Ramadan die Moschee gerade verließ, äußerte sie sich ähnlich, betonte diesmal allerdings die Notwendigkeit der Bekämpfung von Islamhass.

Angesichts einer Welle von Terroranschlägen, bei denen binnen vier Monaten 36 Menschen starben und 200 verletzt wurden, sagte May: „Es gibt, um es offen zu sagen, eine viel zu große Toleranz gegenüber Extremismus in unserem Land.“ Unterstützern von Extremismus müsse deutlich entschiedener entgegen getreten werden. Es sei an der Zeit, so May, „ einige schwierige und unangenehme Gespräche“ zu führen.

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COMMENT: Birleşik Krallık: Konuşulması Gereken “Zorlu” Konular – Perspektif

perspektif_logoHere’s my second piece I’ve written for the Turkish-language German-based periodical, Perspektif. Loosely translated, the piece is titled “United Kingdom: “Challenging” Needs to be Discussed” which doesn’t give much away so to help, it’s some thought in the immediate aftermath of the terror attacks at London Bridge and Borough Market. You can read the piece by clicking here.

The first few paragraphs are reproduced below:

Birleşik Krallık: Konuşulması Gereken ‘Zorlu’ Konular

Haziran ayının başlarında gerçekleşen Londra Köprüsü terör saldırılarından kısa bir süre sonra Başbakan Theresa May, “Bıçak kemiğe dayandı” dedi. İngiliz bir beyaz adam, Londra’nın kuzeyindeki Finsbury Park Camisi’ndeki teravihten çıkan Müslüman kalabalığın üzerine minibüs sürdüğünde de Theresa May aynı söylemi tekrarladı; ancak bu sefer İslamofobi ile mücadelenin altını çizdi. Başbakan ayrıca, üç aydan daha kısa bir sürede gerçekleşen, 36 kişinin hayatını kaybetmesine ve 200’den fazla kişinin yaralanmasına neden olan ve şimdiye dek eşi görülmemiş dört terör saldırısına tepki olarak, “İtiraf etmek gerekirse, ülkemizde aşırıcılığa karşı haddinden fazla müsamaha var.” dedi. Aşırıcılığa müsamahalı olanlara karşı çok daha “sert” tavır alınması gerektiğini de ekleyen May, “bazı zor ve can sıkıcı konuşmalar yapma”nın vaktinin geldiğini söyledi.

Özellikle Müslümanlara atıfta bulunmadığı hâlde, May’in söylemlerinin Britanya’daki Müslüman cemaatleri hedef aldığını düşünen pek çok kişi var. Başbakan’ın konuşmasının hemen bir gün sonrasında, Birleşik Krallık’ın tek Müslüman bakanı ve “cemaatlerden” sorumlu olan Sajid Javid de benzeri yorumlarda bulundu. Javid, “özel bir yükümlülüğe sahip olmaları” nedeniyle, Müslümanların aşırıcılıkla mücadele konusunda “daha fazla efor sarf etmesi” ve bu Müslüman cemaatlerin artık “zorlu konuları konuşmaları” gerektiğini söyledi. Benzeri düşünceler İngiliz siyasi alanında on yıldan uzun bir süredir devam etmekle birlikte Javid, daha da ileri giderek, aşırıcılığın ve aşırıcılığa müsamahanın Birleşik Krallık’taki Müslüman cemaatte yalnızca “zehirli bir azınlığı” beslemediğini, bu oranın Birleşik Krallık nüfusunda daha büyük rakamlara tekabül ettiğini ileri sürdü.

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