British Politics and the Hate Machine

By Jason Michael

Terrorism is not the problem in the United Kingdom. The real problem is that terrorism has been manufactured by the state and used as a weapon to divide us, all to advance the ambitions and aspirations of the ruling class.

Last night in Finsbury Park, a busy inner-city stretch of north London, another vehicle was used as a weapon of terror; careering off the road into innocent pedestrians with the deliberate intention of maiming and killing in the cause of hatred. What sets this incident apart from what the British press usually highlight is that the perpetrator, 47 year old Cardiff man Darren Osborne, was a white Islamophobic extremist, radicalised – if The Telegraph is to be trusted – as a result of the London Bridge attack. His crime was no less an act of terrorism.

Why is all of this happening? This is the question on so many lips right now. We used to feel safe on the streets of our towns and cities, but now we are all on edge – all frightened. Answering this question is not easy, but before an attempt to answer it can be made we must first acknowledge that what we are experiencing is a serious social conflict in the United Kingdom. What we are seeing is the fruition of a race war that, rather than being a natural state of conflict between different racial, ethnic, and religious groups, has been wholly and cynically manufactured by the state.


Government and media pandering to the far-right breeds the politics of hate

One former Northern Irish Loyalist paramilitary commented in a televised interview that it was not the case that in the mid-1960s some sort of looney gas was dropped on Belfast, turning everyone into deranged killers and psychopaths. Conflicts develop, and they are the product of certain processes within and throughout the conflicting factions. There is nothing deterministic about conflict, but it happens because certain social, economic, and political factors are put into motion, and invariably to serve a political agenda.

It is the same in modern Britain. There is nothing essential about this “clash of civilisations,” where we have been led to believe Muslims and Christians simply do not get on. Muslims and “Christians” have been brought to the brink of open warfare in the United Kingdom to serve the purposes of the politico-economic ideology of capitalism. As such this social and sectarian conflict is but a theatre in a pre-existing British social conflict – class war. Theresa May and her government of multi-millionaires and billionaires have systematically chipped away at all the bonds that hold the fabric of our society together, turning working class neighbours against one another in order to distract them from the reality that the political ruling class is waging war on all of us.

Those at the bottom of society are not struggling by accident. Poverty in Britain is never a necessary condition of life. It is the result of decisions made by wealthy and powerful people in government to enrich themselves and their own class at the expense of everyone else. “Terrorism” is a useful distraction. It serves to divide communities and alienate scapegoats. It keeps everyone’s attention from the theft that is going on all around us. Darren Osborne had nothing to fear from terrorism. He, as we discovered only last week, was in more danger from his social housing.

Terrorism happens. It is rare, but it happens. “Islamist” terrorism never happened in the UK before Tony Blair’s illegal invasion of Iraq and the subsequent involvement of every British government since in the funding of terrorists in the Middle East and North Africa, so it may have its causes – but it is still rare. Yet the terrorism of wall-to-wall coverage and existential threat is a complete invention, a fabrication of the British government. Initially under the criminal Blairites its purpose was to legitimise Britain’s neo-imperialist Middle Eastern invasions and human rights violations, but – in the context of austerity Britain – it has been adapted to suit the purposes of domestic power.

Blair, then Brown, then Cameron used terror as an excuse to securitise the United Kingdom; turning it into the most surveilled nation-state on earth bar none, always corroding our rights and freedoms. We have less privacy, less civil, political, and human rights now than when John Major was Prime Minister. We have become a police state in the guise of a democracy, all to assist in the transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top that has been happening in the UK since Blair came to government. We are on the cusp, with Theresa May’s proposed “digital charter,” of putting Kim Jong-un’s North Korea to shame. This is not a free country.

May’s hunger for power has seen the latest mutation in the state’s use of terrorism come about. The more she loses the support of the centre the more she romances the right and the far-right, edging further to the right with every new loss at the centre. Her dalliance with the fascists – all for the sake of votes – has meant that the tail has to wag the dog. Her rhetoric and political posturing has had to reconfigure the spectre of terrorism in the public imagination, all the while giving licence to more and more acts of racist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic hate speech and hate crime. She is setting the country on fire to keep power and advance her class war.

At Finsbury Park last night; even after he had targeted Muslims coming from taraweeh prayers at the Finsbury Park mosque, killing one man and injuring a number of others, it was Mohammed Mahmoud – a local imam – and a handful of other Muslim men who protected Darren Osborne from an angry mob until the police arrived. Where was the clash of civilisations here? It was nowhere to be seen. What we saw was goodness and a community response to a violent, white supremacist, terrorist hate crime. This is exactly what we have witnessed in north Kensington in response to the Grenfell tower fire – another act of class war – where demonstrators like Ishmahil Blagrove are speaking out against the government’s attempts to divide his community through the weapons of poverty and terrorism.

Politics in Britain – the political hegemony of neo-Thatcherite plutocratic class warriors – has taken a dark turn, and the inter-community conflicts stemming from it; these division of the working class, are playing right into the hands of the architects of British neoliberalism and capitalism. Terrorism is nothing but a distraction, and the more we allow it to divide us in all of our communities the more we become powerless to defend ourselves from what is really going on – the wholesale theft of everything we have by those who are right now masquerading as our leaders.


Ishmahil Blagrove gives Sky reporters a little piece of his mind

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We are Funding the Terror

By Jason Michael

It is far too easy to scapegoat Islam and Muslims for the terrorism wreaking havoc on our streets. The media and the dog whistling from politicians are doing a good job of it though. Follow the money and you’ll see that we’re funding it.

As Salaam Alaikum,” said the wonderful Sister Lorraine O’Connor, an Irish convert to Islam, as she greeted us to the Muslim Sisters of Éire interfaith Iftar meal in Dublin’s Hilton Hotel on Saturday night. As Salaam Alaikum, the Arabic words of peace – “Peace be with you.” Until after midnight we broke bread together, Muslims, Jews, and Christians; people of all faiths and none from all walks of Dublin life. By the time I had walked home my Twitter feed was telling me that another terror attack had taken place in London. Not two weeks since the atrocious bombing in Manchester, people were lying dead on the streets of London – again.

Peace? Diarmuid Martin, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, spoke during the Iftar meal – the communal meal at which Muslims break their Ramadan fast after sunset – about the “scandal” of homelessness in Dublin. He thanked the Muslim Sisters for the work they have been doing in the inner city. In the aftermath of Ireland’s economic collapse and in the midst of a homeless crisis Dublin Muslims have been in the city centre every Friday night feeding the hungry. That was where I first met Lorraine. I interviewed her on a bitter December night, and she told me what inspired her to be out in the cold with soup and rolls, tea and coffee, and warm food. “It’s because I am a human being,” she said as last-minute Christmas shoppers hurried past.


Sr. Lorraine and I in a cheeky “Pope Selfie” with the Archbishop – Ramadan 1438 AH

“Islam is not a religion of peace” the internet tells me. Surely this wasn’t the same Islam that welcomes a Christian bishop as an honoured guest; that sees in Dublin’s poorest the common humanity Allah teaches in its Holy Qur’an? ۞ “They give food, for the love of Him, to the needy, the orphan, the captive (Sūrat l-Insān 76:8).” No, this is Islam. This is the Islam I know from my Muslim neighbours and friends; the same Muslims, the same human beings who knock on the doors of my neighbourhood looking for non-perishable foods for their food drives for the poor in winter.

What about this other Islam; the Islam of the murderers, the Islam of barbarous terrorism, the Islam that has brought death and destruction to the streets of London and Manchester? Is this not also Islam? At the Iftar meal Julie Saddiqi, a London Muslim and interfaith activist, said of Salman Abedi’s actions in Manchester, “I don’t need to apologise for him. No one does.” She is right. She had nothing to do with what this young man did. No one did but him. He was “radicalised” like the terrorists responsible for the violence in London tonight were radicalised. It strikes me as reasonable to look into the radicalisation of these people for their motives – Islamic motives that have nothing whatsoever in common with the Islamic motives of the people who welcomed me and fed me tonight.

There was no Islamist terrorism in Britain before Britain’s illegal invasion of Iraq. It is worth bearing this in mind as we think about radicalisation. Part of Britain and the United States’ conquest and control of Iraq and Afghanistan and now Libya and Syria has been an escalation of their arms deals with Saudi Arabia, a state well-known for propagating militant Wahhabism – the Islam of al-Qaeda and Daesh. We know that the British government has been funding and training “rebels” and mercenary takfiri fighters from Libya, across North Africa through Iraq and Syria to Afghanistan. In fact we also know that Salman Abedi was one of these fighters, aided by the UK Home Office and the security services to travel to Libya to fight alongside al-Qaeda against Gadhafi.

Vanessa Beeley, a British journalist in Syria, has exposed the use of British tax-payers’ money in the funding of the “humanitarian” Syrian Civil Defence – the “White Helmets.” UKAID and USAID – fronts for MI6 and the CIA respectively – have pumped well over $100 million into this “humanitarian” outfit. Beeley and others, including the Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett and the French humanitarian Pierre Le Corf, have proven beyond all doubt the link between the White Helmets and al-Qaeda. It’s a Western-backed from for friendly terrorism, the latest development of Britain and the US’ humanitarian-military complex – “Smart Conflict.”

One hundred million US dollars is a lot of money. It is also only the tip of the iceberg. Where did it come from? It came from the tax money paid by the mums and dads of the youngsters murdered at the Manchester Arena. It came from the tax paid by the victims in London this evening. That is atrocious. It seems callous of me to write. But it is true. This is the sort of money – when used to ignite insurgencies and to destabilise North African and Middle Eastern governments – that creates extremists. It radicalises and turns young men into “terrorists.”

So Islam is not a religion of peace? The mosque, as Julie Saddiqi reminded us this evening, is “as ordinary and as chaotic as any other place of worship.” Muslims, all 1.8 billion of them, are as likely to volunteer in homeless shelters and get involved in violent extremism as are Christians, Hindus, Jews, and atheists. They are human beings. What we have to be is smart. We have to look for the dots and the threads that link those dots together. Yes, we must hold the “terrorists” to account for their crimes. There must be justice for their victims. But what we cannot do is ignore the threads that link the clandestine activities of UK and US foreign intelligence serves to this mayhem. To do that would be stupid – because it’s costing lives, and we are paying for it.



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Pure Racism: UKIP’s “Integration” Agenda

By Jason Michael

UKIP has unveiled a policy statement on integration in the United Kingdom, a document that is unparalleled in its flagrant Islamophobic and racist rhetoric in modern British politics. This is where the lurch to the right in the UK is taking us.

Integration is a deeply problematic concept for any multicultural society. It implies, and is often used by policymakers to force, the assimilation of minority cultures into “our” – or the dominant or hegemonic – culture. Defenders of integration will argue, as they do, that multiculturalism – the racial, religious, ethnic and cultural expression of difference – is intrinsically bad for Britain, for our way of life; suggesting that it poses a challenge to our values, and may even pose a threat to our national security. It does nothing of the sort. This insistence on cultural assimilation is nothing more than a slightly more nuanced form of racism and discrimination.

It is important to recognise that when the proponents of this integration use the term “multicultural,” they are referring only to the culture of non-white foreign communities. UKIP’s Integration Agenda, launched earlier today, could not make this clearer. Germany, France, and the United States, for example, have their own distinct national and regional cultures, but no one demands that German, French, and US citizens living in the United Kingdom compromise their cultural values to accommodate us. There is no expectation that people from white majority nations assimilate to our way of life and our social and cultural values. Their whiteness gives them a free pass.

This document also, and more interestingly, ignores the fact that the UK is – by definition – multicultural. As its name suggests, the United Kingdom is a composite state polity, a political union of nations as opposed to being itself a nation. Each of its component parts is home to distinct ethnic and national cultures and local and regional cultural variations – all of which are host to other minority communities.

Moreover, integration – as a cure for “dangerous” multiculturalism does not work. Research into antisemitism in Europe and North America has shown that assimilation actually aggravates racism. Where people have expressed anti-Semitic opinions, those opinions are more intense when they are directed towards Jews who “look and act like us.” Ask an Islamophobic racist who he or she hates the most – a Muslim in “traditional” Islamic attire, speaking Arabic, or a well-paid religious Muslim professional speaking with an educated British accent?

The problem is not difference or diversity. The problem – as it has always been – is racism, and racists will be racist no matter how the target of their hatred dresses or speaks. It is that simple.


UKIP Leader Paul Nuttall

Today Paul Nuttall, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, with his deputy Peter Whittle, UKIP’s Education spokesperson David Kurten, and its Women’s and Equality spokesperson Margot Parker, launched his party’s “Integration Agenda” in London. This document – 297 words of pure unmitigated racist bile – singles out only the British Muslim communities; claiming that it “addresses a wide range of cultural issues that have worked against communities coming together.” We shall briefly examine each of its eight paragraphs below.

Pass a law against the wearing of face coverings in public places. Face coverings are a deliberate barrier to integration and, in many contexts, a security risk too. The time has come to outlaw them. People should show their face in a public place.

No fear, this is not the proposal of a law against motorcycle helmets, wedding veils, or sun glasses. This is about religious face coverings – specifically the niqāb worn by a tiny minority of Muslim women in the UK. Like everything else in this rancid policy proposal, it is thinly veiled racism – intended to target Muslim women.

Abolish postal voting on demand and return to a higher threshold of demonstrable need before a postal vote is granted. Postal votes on demand have led to a boom in electoral fraud and vote-stealing, especially among minority communities.

Only minority communities, according to UKIP, are guilty of electoral fraud. Again we find that this is a pointed reference to Muslim communities – namely the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities accused of defrauding the postal voting system by Eric Pickles in 2016. While such a claim does need to be investigated by the authorities, as all electoral fraud should, it is far from representative of how the overwhelming majority of British Muslims behave during elections. Yet it has become a trope of Islamophobic racist ill-opinion in far-right discourse across the UK, and so has been taken up by UKIP in its appeal to the racist sentiment of its supporters.

Explicitly ban sharia – which is intended as a rival legal system and which undermines women’s rights – from being applied in the UK and establish a legal commission to draw up proposals to disband sharia courts.

Okay. In no sense is Islamic sharia law a “rival legal system” to British law. Sharia is a customary religious law derived from the Quran and the Hadith, and as such it is not entirely dissimilar to the Jewish religious law of halakha and Christian canon law, and its courts not unlike the Jewish beth din or a Christian ecclesiastical court.

Yes, law derived from the Quran – an ancient religious text – can be pretty barbaric, but, as is the case in Judaism and Christianity with their laws derived from a 2,500 year old religious text, reason and modernity trump strict adherence to the letter of the law. Just as it is in Christianity and Judaism, interpretation is what it’s all about, but – playing on people’s ignorance of Islamic theology and practice – UKIP is again whipping up racist opinion.

Implement school-based medical checks on girls from groups at high risk of suffering FGM. These should take place annually and whenever they return from trips overseas.

Mr Nuttall, concerned as he is for the wellbeing of little Muslim girls, would like to see their vaginas every time they have wandered out of his inspectorial sight. Female genital mutilation (FGM) or female circumcision is a custom stemming from pre-Islamic central-north Africa and – while it is not mentioned in either the Bible or the Quran – has been practiced by some African and Middle Eastern Christian, Muslim, and Jewish groups. In the main all three religions have condemned the practice, with the Islamic al-Azhar Supreme Council in Cairo ruling in 2007 that the practice has “no basis in core Islamic law or any of its partial provisions.”

That’s not good enough for Paul Nuttall, because – obviously – what Muslims do and say in the absence of good white men has to be inspected. Like little girls’ nether regions. In 1997 the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and UNFPA defined FGM as the “partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” In this respect it is no different to MGM or male circumcision, still practiced by both Muslims and Jews – even in the UK. One gets the impression that had this practice been abandoned by Judaism – a far more well-established and, in some places, well-connected, minority community – Paul Nuttall would be down on this too.

Of course FGM is abhorrent – like MGM – and should be challenged by the law. But UKIP’s reasons for being on this bandwagon have precious little to do with the health and wellbeing of girls and women, and everything to do with finding yet another excuse to single out and victimise Muslims.

Make failure to report an instance of FGM by someone who has knowledge that it has taken place a criminal offence itself. The CPS to operate under a presumption of prosecution of any parent whose daughter has undergone FGM.

See above.

In cases where the victims of grooming gangs are of a different racial or religious group than the offenders, the CPS should cite this as an aggravating feature of the offence when prosecuting, opening the way to a longer sentence.

“Paki Grooming Gangs,” à la the coverage of a series of arrests of Pakistani men in Bradford in 2012 by the far-right’s favourite online forum Vanguard News Network, is another favourite trope in the mythological canon of racism in the UK. Making a reference to this incident is a real vote winner for UKIP, but it bears no resemblance to the morality of most Muslims in Britain or anywhere else. But this is Brexit Britain – the right-wing media has made it impossible for a great many people to differentiate Islam from child rape and predatory grooming. Nuttall is merely capitalising on another moral panic surrounding a tiny criminal element. It just so happens that the bad guys in this case were Muslims.

Knowing what we know of the culture of silence in the BBC pertaining to the behaviour of Jimmy Savile – where even Esther Rantzen knew what he was doing and said nothing – we have to ask why UKIP hasn’t asked that such grooming in contexts where the perpetrators belong to a different social class from their victims or who are media celebrities also be considered “an aggravating feature of the offence.” We know why – they’re not Muslims.

Immediate closure of schools where there is evidence of Islamist ideology being taught or imposed on children. A moratorium on new Islamic faith schools until substantial progress has been demonstrated in integrating Muslims into mainstream British society.

Muslims in the UK make up a meagre 4.4% of the population, but somehow it is Muslim faith schools and Muslim children that we should be most concerned about. Nuttall isn’t at all worried about the millions of other faith schools teaching children that it is a sin to be homosexual, that God made the world in six days, or that the world will soon be ending when the Jewish people take back their land in Palestine. There are far more biblical fundamentalist Christian faith schools in the UK, and what they are teaching their children is dangerous and has real world, geopolitical consequences. But they are white, or at least they’re not Muslim. UKIP isn’t interested in them.

Fundamentalism, fanaticism, and extremism exist in all religions, but this is only a tiny percentage of the religious expression of Islam and Christianity in Britain. Where it does exist, yes, we must have safeguards and laws in place. But by singling out Muslim schools UKIP is deliberately playing on the popular fears of Islam that have been manufactured by the British tabloid media. It is all directed to the ends of racism and intolerance.

CPS and police to be instructed to treat a so-called “honour” dimension of any act of violence as an aggravating factor, leading to it being accorded a higher priority for investigation and prosecution and not a lower one.

“Honour killings” and acts of violence with an “honour” dimension are only ever committed by Muslims and dark skinned people, have you noticed that? Good Christian white men are only ever charged and convicted of domestic violence in which they assault and sometimes kill their spouses or female relatives. “Honour” sounds that little bit more savage – so that’s what brown and Muslim men do. But, in reality, these are the same things, and – regardless of the term UKIP is using – we should all be in favour of protecting women and girls from abusive people; people like Paul Nuttall who want to peek beneath their underwear and people like Nigel Farage who has been reported to have given his wife a good ol’ British thrashing on a few occasions.

UKIP’s new policy agenda is nothing short of Islamophobic racism and an incitement to violence; cynically pointing out spurious charges against obscure Islamic teachings, and against individual and small groups of Muslims to create a general impression of the faith – and Muslim communities – as dangerous.


UKIP’s Paul Nuttall Wants Burka Ban | Good Morning Britain

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Islam and Christianity are Not at War

By Jason Michael

A suicide bomber has taken the lives of 24 woman and children in the city of Cairo. Like the bombing of mosques and synagogues this reminds us that hate remains a powerful force in the world. It should remind us also of the need for peace and reconciliation.

After decades of anti-Christian violence in Egypt the Coptic Orthodox Christians have once again become the victims of a terrorist attack in Cairo. As people prayed this morning at St. Peter and St. Paul church, adjoining St. Mark’s cathedral, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device killing 24 worshippers – mainly women and children. There can be no doubt that those responsible for this heartless and cowardly act believe that they are doing the work of God, but what they believe is irrelevant. Murder driven by sectarian hatred and intolerance has no place in Islam and no place in a civilised world. As Christians and Muslims reflect on this crime we can agree, as we pray for the victims and the perpetrators, that this was not an Islamic assault against Christians. It was the work of deluded and tormented souls, lost in the darkness of their own ignorance and fear.

It has been the goal of religious extremists for centuries to create a conflict between people of different faiths – as though God is partial and as though the extremists themselves are in possession of the absolute truth. Christians and Muslims have been guilty of this over the centuries, but this upsetting history nowhere indicates that Islam and Christianity are at war. All it means is that there are and have been people of almost every faith and religious tradition who have been prepared to do terrible and murderous things in the name of God. Today we have seen this happen yet another time, and again we are reminded of the importance and the urgency of peace.

Religion has become a cover behind which violent people have sought to hide. Like all badges of identity and signs of difference, the structures of tradition and faith have been used as a pretext to divide one person from another. This is not the message of our Christianity – a faith of uncompromising, indiscriminate, and unlimited love – and neither is it the message of the Islam I know. Our common abhorrence of this hatred and violence unites us in grief and indeed prayer. As much as this was an attack on Christians, it was an attack on the beauty of Islam and on the whole of Egyptian society.

Murdering people at prayer is an act of such diabolical depravity and sinfulness; a crime against people, dignity, love, and God, that it merits only the most severe punishment of heaven and earth, and yet it affords all people of faith the opportunity to come together. Here we have a chance to be reconciled and together overcome the deep darkness of these times, and by our shared witness to hope and love bring even the most hate-filled soul back from the hell to which their ignorance has led them. While we pray for those whose lives have been taken and for their loved ones, we must also pray for them that seek to do this evil and work towards building a world of peace. This we must do because we are Christians, because we are Muslims, because we are human beings.

Make me a channel of your peace

Author: Jason Michael (@Jeggit)

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Islam and the Gods of War

Another terror attack has resulted in a fresh round of demands for a Reformation of Islam, a religion that is increasingly presented in the West as a violent ideology. So far as we ignore all the facts we can justifiably label Islam and Muslims as violent.

Yesterday’s atrocious massacre in Orlando, as a disgusting homophobic hate crime with no demonstrable connections with terror organisations – Islamic or otherwise, has once again ignited the debate over Islam. Omar Seddique Mateen, the son of a former Afghan presidential hopeful, was a Muslim. He was born into a moderate Muslim family, and despite having gone on hajj to Mecca he was not known to be particularly religious, but to the media what matters is that he was a Muslim. It is merely incidental to the media agenda that the target of his murderous crime was the LGBT community. News and social media hacks have used this as another opportunity to open fresh attacks on the Islamic religion as an ideology of hate and violence.

It is worth noting that modern European and United States intervention in the Middle East did not begin as a means of tackling radical Islam. In Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 the CIA worked tirelessly to radicalise Muslims around their faith as a focus of resistence against the decade-long Soviet invasion of the country. The United States armed and trained the Mujahideen (“those engaged in Jihad” – or “the Jihadis”) in their struggle against the USSR, and ultimately contributed to the evolution of the Afghan rebels into the Taliban. During the Cold War there was no mistaking the fact that moderate Muslims were of little use to US foreign policy, and no expense was spared in the radicalisation of a more useful, friendly radical Islam throughout the Middle East.

Europe’s involvement in the region has a far longer history, and, beginning with the Crusades, was never directed against Islam but to the ends of Western (as opposed to Eastern) Christian militaristic expansion. This period of European and Middle Eastern history has profoundly shaped how Europe and Europeans imagine the “Islamic World” and the religion of the “Muhammadans.” More recently European exploits in the region have been colonial and imperial adventures intent on the subjugation and domination of people and nations, a series of invasions that have embittered many Muslim nationalists towards the West. In the past, when European colonial powers considered the religion of their Muslim subjects it was as a backward and uncivilised superstition, unworthy of the respect of a religion like Christianity that could mobilise the effective political and cultural resistance of a conquered people.

Both European and US meddling in the Middle East have affected within Islam the development of a politicised identity of nationhood and resistance that has returned to haunt the Western present. Unable to understand this plethora of Islamic nationalist movements, subjugate them, or defeat them, the West has resorted to more Westernisation in its demand for a “Reformation” in Islam – an irredeemably violence religion. Given the millennia-old history of Christian nationalism and imperialism, this demand for a Reformation in religious Islam is odd – odd in the fact that the overwhelming majority of the world’s non-Protestant Christians manages quite well without a Reformation.

Of course there are passages in the Quran that read to the modern reader as primitive, barbaric, and violent. The same is true of all ancient texts – the Bible included, and few demand a revision of the Old Testament on the grounds of Israel’s primitive, barbaric, and violent behaviour in the occupied West Bank or in Gaza. No one calls for a rewrite of the Gospels when the US or Britain wipe out whole families in drone strikes. Islam, if it is violent, is violent as a result of political and social developments in response to Christian and Jewish violence. Yet none of these religions is inherently violent. People are violent, and people will use any mark of difference – religion included – to justify their violence and cruelty towards other people.

What is being missed here is that Islam is being wrongly painted as a violent and oppressive ideology for a reason. European and American news corporations, deeply implicated in multiple wars and occupations in the Middle East, are working to fabricate the consent of Western democracies for unwinnable petroleum wars. Islam – like Christianity, Hinduism, and Judaism – is more than a religion. It is a nexus of national and cultural ideologies and social traditions that have and continue to form the basis of unity against invasion and oppression. In its demonisation of Islam the Western media is aiming to weaken the legitimate resistance in the Middle East to further imperialism, and it is for this reason alone that the attack on the Pulse nightclub cannot be seen as anything more than yet another American mass shooting and a homophobic hate crime. Spin is everything.

Reza Aslan on Islam and Violence

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