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.

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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.

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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.

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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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WHITE HELMETS: LIVING NEXT DOOR TO AL QAEDA IN ALEPPO


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Manchester


By Jason Michael

It isn’t easy writing a journal post after what happened. Like so many others I feel sick to my stomach. I’m angry. I’m – I don’t know the word – feeling sore for the kids and their mums and dads. I think this is collective grief.


It wasn’t until after six in the morning I learned about Manchester. At that time the news reports were talking about nineteen dead and many more wounded. A concert venue packed to the gunwales with kids, teenagers, and parents having the time of their lives, targeted and bombed. Twitter was full of images of happy looking youngsters, pictures taken from their social media profiles, with words begging a helpless internet to help find them; asking us to tell them to call home, to check in. The panic was palpable. Unable to look at tweets with video clips, I raced past them – helpless.

There are so many young people in my life. Some of them are daft, pure roasters, but they’re wee. Seeing a picture of a young girl being supported as she heads out of the arena, jeans torn and bleeding, I finally arrived at the panic. In that lassie I saw almost every young lassie I know; nieces, neighbours’ kids, students – then the same for the lads. I thought of all the mams and dads at home or separated from their wains in the chaos of the venue. Frantic! Twitter was already chock-a-block with noise, all hashtaged “Manchester.” I wasn’t going to add to it. I was upset.

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It being a public campaign account, I opened up the Butterfly Rebellion account and tweeted something, I don’t know, routine, numb: “Our love goes out to all affected by the attack on the Manchester Arena last night, to the dead and injured, their families and friends,” with the weird-to-add “x” at the end. What can you say? “…the dead,” Christ! We’re talking about children.

An hour or so later I checked Twitter again. It’s a habit. It was full of the same. It had become an emotional no-go area – a stream of really distressing messages I could do nothing about. I have a cousin with a young family in Manchester. He and the family were safe. Good. Then, before turning it back off I saw “AJ.” AJ was just this guy, a taxi driver who someone – I don’t know who – posted a picture of because he ran his taxi free of charge all night for frightened kids trying to get home. Look for the helpers, eh? He looked sad, shocked maybe. Maybe – probably – exhausted.


This guy did something. He really did something. So I copied the picture and tweeted it with my thoughts about him, “Men like AJ. Working his taxi free of charge through the night in Manchester. A beautiful soul.” I thought the world should know that I think the world hasn’t completely turned to rot because there are men like AJ kicking around with their taxis, the real lamedvavniks. He was a blessing.

Once I had “done my bit” – you know, fecking tweeting, I turned Twitter off and tried to refocus for the day ahead. In the meantime the tweet got picked up in the storm and got a few retweets, something like 14,000 by lunchtime. I always wanted a super-viral tweet, but, God, not like this. But I suppose I was happy so many other people obviously saw him and felt the same. He deserved the recognition. All the helpers do. After it started trending in Birmingham and Edinburgh I got a message from Charles at the BBC. He wanted to find AJ, and I couldn’t help. He got back in touch later to let me know they found him. I hope I’ll be able to see him on the news.

But looking over the responses to the tweet there was something ugly going on. Okay, let’s be clear, the positive response to what AJ did was mind-blowingly massive, but there was an undercurrent that did tempt me to delete the tweet altogether. Out of nowhere a few commenters started making an issue about his religion, which was – or seemed to be – made obvious by the black dastaar he is wearing. Apparently, according to these eejits, it was somehow important that he wasn’t a Muslim. We’re meant to believe that Muslims are somehow less human; less inclined to drop whatever else they are doing and help others when something as awful as this happens.


Others decided to attack me for tweeting it. Their little minds were convinced I was trying to make a big point about Muslims being good people too, assuming I saw a brown man with a beard and thought – bingo – “a Muslim.” Four years of study and a first class honours degree in religion and theology, and I can’t spot an Amritdhari Sikh man? Ach, you have to love the internet. My big agenda in tweeting the picture of AJ was that there was no agenda, his religion wasn’t what I saw when I shared it. At first I saw a miracle – a Camatakāra, then a taxi driver, an outstanding Mancunian, a great Englishman, and an example of the sort of excellent human being I wish I could be.

No matter where it is – in the West of course – terror attacks have this nasty effect of permitting racists and bigots to open full salvo on the people they hate, something they don’t feel as comfortable doing at other times. It’s less acceptable. What they don’t, perhaps, see is that they and their hatred are very much part of the violence of terrorism. Their words tear our communities apart every bit as effectively as the actions of the murderers.

All I could do, all most of us who witnessed all this from a distance could do, was tweet. Yes, it seems silly, pointless; pathetic even. It’s so much a part of the new social we live online, a little absurd. Still, it’s an echo of the cards we used to send. I’d like to think I sent two cards; one of speechless heartache and sorrow, and one just saying thank you to one of the helpers. In all my life before the internet I’ve never sent an “I hate you” card. I’m not going to start now. Manchester, a kiss.


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Thank you too Ariana


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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.

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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.

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


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Theresa May’s Easter Message


By Jason Michael

At a time when the eyes of the world are on Britain, at a time when those in charge should be doing everything in their power to look as though they are in control, Theresa May gets into a tizzy about an Easter egg hunt. How did it ever get this bad?

Prime Minister Theresa May is a vicar’s daughter and we all know – in the Church of England – that more than qualifies one to preach sermons on the importance of Easter while off selling weapons to one of the world’s greatest human rights violators. Where can we begin to get our heads around the furore that has broken around the National Trust dropping the word “Easter” from its egg hunt poster – especially when it turns out it is the biggest word on the poster? The Prime Minister’s outrage has about as much to do with a poster campaign as chocolate eggs have to do with Easter.

No one remembers the scene in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ where, after being flogged down to rashers by a Roman, Jesus hurriedly opened up his Cadbury egg and stole a cheeky nibble before the end of Lent. No one remembers this bit in the film because it wasn’t in the film. It isn’t even in the book. Admittedly, eggs are a nice touch for an Easter tradition – chocolate eggs even more so – but they have squat to do with the life, death, and resurrection of a man in Palestine two thousand years ago. But when someone trolls the Archbishop of York, convincing him someone has pinched Easter from the egg hunt, England is up in arms.


I am one of those Christians who still says his prayer and reads his Bible. Every year I remember the Passion through Holy Week and light the wee bonfire at the Easter vigil. These things are important to me. So too is chocolate, mind you. But nothing of this has anything to do with Christianity or with a National Trust Easter egg hunt. It is all to do with Brexit – yes, Brexit – and what Theresa May is helping Britain to become. Little England’s idea of self-determination is all wrapped up in its fantasies of reclaiming its British identity and British values; coded xenophobia for reasserting white British supremacy over and against Europe and the immigrants they hate so much.

None of this is any different from the carry on we see in the fly-over states of the US with people getting upset over seasonal Starbucks cup designs and nativity scenes being removed from public spaces. It has nothing to do with religion whatsoever. This is a theatre of the great white culture war. Jesus has been appropriated in all of this is a symbol – a nationalistic and cultural symbol of white privilege and power, the very things the white majority in Brexit Britain and Tea Party America believe to be under threat from not-so-white outsiders.

The news flash here is that Jesus of Nazareth is more likely to have resembled Osama bin Laden than he was Theresa May’s old man. Okay, he never wore a bullet belt, carried an assault rifle, and gave orders to have people and things blown up. But, then, neither did he have a daughter who grew up to profess her Christian faith while on an arms industry junket to Saudi Arabia – a country that imprisons, tortures, and executes Christians, funds people like Osama bin Laden, and uses British munitions to murder innocent civilians in neighbouring Yemen.


Theresa May’s Christianity is paper thin. So thin and hypocritical, in fact, it makes the baby Jesus cry. She headed up the department that sent vans around London boroughs sided with billboards telling illegal immigrants to go home. What Christian can see another human being – made in the image and likeness of God – as “illegal?” Theresa May knows more than most how this populist rhetoric appeals to the new British values lobby – people who haven’t darkened the door of a church their entire lives – and how symbols like Easter can be used to great effect against victim communities.

Since religion has been brought into this, and since my own Christianity has been brought into this, I’ll say this of Theresa: There is much in the tradition of my faith I have rejected. I don’t believe the Bible is a scientific manual of how the world was created, and the whole “God is love (1 John 4:8)” thing led me to ditch ideas like hell and purgatory a long time ago. But the more I come to understand people like Theresa May, her Brexiteers, and the thugs they inspire, the more I truly wish I had the faith to believe in a place like hell – a molten, fiery abyss to where the hand of eternal justice will consign those who visit real suffering and misery upon the heads of the innocent.

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Theresa May outraged at the word ‘Easter’ being dropped from eggs!


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