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.

Continue reading here.

COMMENT: Müslümanlar’ın Entegrasyonunda “Çözülmesi Gerekenler” – Perspektif

perspektif_logoHere’s a link to my most recent contribution to the German-published, Turkish language periodical, Perspektif. This month’s contribution is titled “Müslümanlar’ın Entegrasyonunda ‘Çözülmesi Gerekenler'” which loosely translates as “Solving the Needs of Muslim Integration” and focuses on the findings from the Commission on Islam, Participation and Public Life that were published in the report, “Missing Muslims: Unlocking British Muslim Potential for the Benefit of All”.

The article can be viewed by clicking here.

The report can be downloaded for free here.

Below is the first few paragraphs:

Müslümanlar’ın Entegrasyonunda ‘Çözülmesi Gerekenler’

Birleşik Krallık’ta İslam, Katılım ve Kamusal Yaşam Komisyonu’nun (İng. “Citizens Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life”) bulguları temmuz ayında yayımlandı. Komisyon raporunun yayımlanmasının ardından Birleşik Krallık’taki Müslümanların entegrasyon konusu kamusal ve siyasi tartışmalarda yeniden gündeme geldi. “Kayıp Müslümanlar: İngiltereli Müslümanların Potansiyelinin Hepimizin Yararına Ortaya Çıkarılması” başlıklı raporda 18 aylık bir araştırma sürecinin sonuçları yer alıyor. Bu süre boyunca, Muhafazakâr Parti Meclis Üyesi Dominic Grieve öncülüğündeki komisyon üyeleri Birleşik Krallık’taki birçok şehir ve kasabayı gezerek, toplantılar düzenledi. Bu toplantılarda 500 saati aşkın bir süre zarfında, 21. yüzyılda Birleşik Krallık’ta Müslüman olmanın ne anlama geldiğine dair katılımcıların beyanları dinlendi. Ben de bu araştırmanın bir parçası olarak, Birmingham’da düzenlenen bir toplantıda yazılı ve sözlü ifadelerde bulundum. İfadelerimde, özellikle sokak düzeyinde İslamofobik nefret suçlarına maruz kalan kurbanların yaşadıkları ve Birleşik Krallık’taki “truva atı” skandalına vurgu yaptım. Birleşik Krallık’taki “truva atı skandalı” 2014 yılının mart ayında, aşırıcı Müslümanların birden fazla devlet okulunu ele geçirmeyi planladıklarının iddia edilmesiyle literatüre geçmişti. Çok değil yalnızca birkaç ay önce, hükûmet bu çılgın öfke seline karıştığı iddia edilen öğretmenlerin meslekten atılmaları yönünde iki yıldır süren çabalarına son verdi. Gerekçe olarak da bu iddiaların mesnetsiz olduğunu ileri sürdü.

Continue reading here.

COMMENT: Müslümanlar’ın Entegrasyonunda ‘Çözülmesi Gerekenler’ – Perspektif

perspektif_logoAs you may be aware, I now write regularly for the German-based Turkish language periodical Perspektif. When I do, I write about issues relating to Muslim communities or the religion of Islam in the British setting. This is a piece I recently had published titled, “Müslümanlar’ın Entegrasyonunda ‘Çözülmesi Gerekenler'” which (loosely) translates as “‘Solving’ the Needs of Muslim Integration” and focuses on the recently published report by the Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life entitled, “The Missing Muslims – Unlocking British Muslim Potential for the Benefit of All” (download here).

While the first few paragraphs are reproduced below, the full comment piece can be read by clicking here.

Müslümanlar’ın Entegrasyonunda “Çözülmesi Gerekenler”

Birleşik Krallık’ta İslam, Katılım ve Kamusal Yaşam Komisyonu’nun (İng. “Citizens Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life”) bulguları temmuz ayında yayımlandı. Komisyon raporunun yayımlanmasının ardından Birleşik Krallık’taki Müslümanların entegrasyon konusu kamusal ve siyasi tartışmalarda yeniden gündeme geldi. “Kayıp Müslümanlar: İngiltereli Müslümanların Potansiyelinin Hepimizin Yararına Ortaya Çıkarılması” başlıklı raporda 18 aylık bir araştırma sürecinin sonuçları yer alıyor. Bu süre boyunca, Muhafazakâr Parti Meclis Üyesi Dominic Grieve öncülüğündeki komisyon üyeleri Birleşik Krallık’taki birçok şehir ve kasabayı gezerek, toplantılar düzenledi. Bu toplantılarda 500 saati aşkın bir süre zarfında, 21. yüzyılda Birleşik Krallık’ta Müslüman olmanın ne anlama geldiğine dair katılımcıların beyanları dinlendi. Ben de bu araştırmanın bir parçası olarak, Birmingham’da düzenlenen bir toplantıda yazılı ve sözlü ifadelerde bulundum. İfadelerimde, özellikle sokak düzeyinde İslamofobik nefret suçlarına maruz kalan kurbanların yaşadıkları ve Birleşik Krallık’taki “truva atı” skandalına vurgu yaptım. Birleşik Krallık’taki “truva atı skandalı” 2014 yılının mart ayında, aşırıcı Müslümanların birden fazla devlet okulunu ele geçirmeyi planladıklarının iddia edilmesiyle literatüre geçmişti. Çok değil yalnızca birkaç ay önce, hükûmet bu çılgın öfke seline karıştığı iddia edilen öğretmenlerin meslekten atılmaları yönünde iki yıldır süren çabalarına son verdi. Gerekçe olarak da bu iddiaların mesnetsiz olduğunu ileri sürdü.

Bir yandan, İngiltereli Müslümanların “sanıldığından daha çok çeşitliliğe sahip olduğunu” -şaşırtıcı bir şekilde- kabul eden “Kayıp Müslümanlar” raporu, “uygulanabilir ve eyleme geçirilebilir on sekiz adet öneri”nin de altını çiziyordu. Her ne kadar sivil toplum, yerel ve ulusal yönetimlere hitap ediyor gibi görünse de, bu öneriler aslında cemaatleri ve inanç kurumlarını, yani Müslümanların bizzat kendilerini harekete geçirmeye yönelikti.

Söz konusu rapordaki kimi öneri maddelerinin doğru ve zaman açısından uygun olduğunu belirtmek gerek. Örneğin, İngiltere hükûmetinin terörle mücadele programı olan “Prevent” programının tarafsız bir şekilde yeniden gözden geçirilmesi ve İslamofobi’ye bir “çalışma tanımı” kazandırılması gibi çağrıların üzerinden hayli zaman geçti. Diğer maddeler ise eskiden beri dile getirilen ancak çok da etkili olmayan önerileri kapsıyordu. Bunların arasında, medya kuruluşlarının İslam ve Müslümanlar hakkındaki yayınlarında, daha dengeli ve hassas haberler yapmaları yönünde öneriler bulunuyordu. Başka bir madde ise, camilerin İngiltere doğumlu, İngiliz kültürünü ve hükûmet tarafından belirlenen –tartışmalı- İngiliz değerlerini daha iyi bilen imamları işe alması gerektiğini öneriyordu.

Continue reading by clicking here.

 

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.

You can continue reading by clicking here.

ARTICLE: Brexit, Birmingham and Belonging: Anxieties About ‘Home’ Among Secondary Migrant Somali Families – Sociological Review Blog

sociological+reviewHere’s a link to a piece recently published by the Sociological Review that was co-written with my long-term friend and collaborator Özlem Young. Focusing on new research we undertook in Birmingham with Somali families in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum, the full piece can be read by clicking here.

The first few paragraphs are reproduced below too:

Brexit, Birmingham and Belonging: Anxieties About ‘Home’ Among Secondary Migrant Somali Families

Having obtained full EU citizenship status elsewhere (including in Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden), a significant number of Somalis have arrived in Britain since the year 2000. Research suggests that Britain was preferred as a destination of secondary migration on the basis that it was perceived to be more tolerant of cultural and religious difference. Maybe unsurprisingly, many settled in Birmingham, a city that not only has a long history of welcoming and being home to many diverse communities but one that has also been referred to as being the best place in Europe to be ‘pure Muslim’.

In making Birmingham their home, many of those that have settled have had families while at the same time creating organisations and services that support their cultural, theological and political needs. In doing so, they have established themselves as a distinct ‘community’. Birmingham is most definitely seen to be ‘home’; their sense of belonging to the city being routinely conveyed to us when we began to engage Somali families in the city as part of a research project that sought to explore the impact of Brexit on a number of different minority communities. As one of those we engaged put it:

“The number one factor here is the social life. I grew up in Sweden and Sweden was a very secluded environment where people kept themselves to themselves… But here in the UK, especially Birmingham, people do more outdoor activities, go to restaurants… whether it is sheesha, whether it is the gym, people are always outside. So that’s what I like…And the mosque community in the UK, especially Birmingham, is very active. There are always activities. Not necessarily religious, they could be any sort. People can come from outside, say government or schools, and you can have awareness of different issues. So you’re never bored in terms of that aspect.”

Because the Somalis we spoke to were European rather than British citizens however, the vote for Britain to leave the European Union threw any sense of ‘home’ or belonging they had into disarray.

Continue reading by clicking here.

ARTICLE: Political Approaches to Tackling Islamophobia: An ‘Insider/Outsider’ Analysis of the British Coalition Government’s Approach between 2010–15 – Social Sciences

socsci-logoYou can download my new article “Political Approaches to Tackling Islamophobia: An ‘Insider/Outsider’ Analysis of the British Coalition Government’s Approach between 2010–15” by clicking here.

As you will be aware, I try to ensure that as many of my outputs are freely available whenever possible. The good news is that Social Sciences – the journal this is published in – is entirely free to everyone !

Below is the abstract:

Soon after the Conservative-led Coalition government came to power in 2010, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi announced that Islamophobia had passed the ‘dinner-table test’ in contemporary Britain. Resultantly, the need to address Islamophobia was identified as a priority for the Coalition. This article critically analyses how the Coalition sought to achieve this and the extent to which it was successful. Focusing on the period 2010–15, this article initially frames what is meant by Islamophobia, before briefly setting out how it had been responded to by previous British governments. Regarding the Coalition, a threefold approach is adopted that considers the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia, the Cross-Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hate, and the political discourses used by the Coalition about Muslims and Islam more generally. Concluding that the Coalition failed to meet the high expectations set by Warsi’s speech, this article considers why this might have been so.

Download here.