Michael Gove, Celsius 7/7, And The Mainstreaming Of The Counter Jihad
Hope not Hate recently released a report about the Counter-Jihad movement, perhaps not by accident on the eve of the trial of Anders Behring Breivik. There has been a systematic effort since last July to try to implicate the Counter-Jihad movement in Breivik’s reprehensible actions. Such efforts have been acts of political opportunism undertaken in the poorest possible taste and those who have tried and continued to try to score cheap political points on the back of tragedy and suffering should be ashamed of themselves. This has happened despite the fact that the concerns of the Counter-Jihad are a matter of mainstream political discussion.
The Counter-Jihad is primarily concerned about the growing political power of those who want to make our societies sharia compliant. Organisations like the International Civil Liberties Alliance are concerned about the human rights implications of the rise of sharia compliance in the West and the actual exercise of sharia law elsewhere in the world. The efforts of those who seek to demonise and misrepresent Counter Jihad activists may therefore have sinister motives of their own for doing so.
Western Governments seem to be actively promoting the agenda of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) whose campaigns implies that it wants to institute a new order of global sharia compliance which could adversely affect the freedoms of the whole of society including those of Muslim minority communities. Later this year the European Union plans to host a meeting of the ‘Istanbul Process’ that seeks to make freedom of speech sharia compliant. Of course, reasonable mainstream opinion would rightly label the idea of sharia compliant free speech as an oxymoron but this does not seem to deter some Western political leaders. Outlawing freedom of speech has huge implications for society but discussions with the OIC will of course more than likely focus on how to shut up dissidents who ask awkward questions.
A stifled atmosphere has been created since 9/11 in which expressing concern about sharia has become taboo. Fear rather than reason has begun to permeate our society and sensible policy making is rendered impossible. Some factions within the Western elite clearly do not want to discuss the issues, and opinion formers have been unleashed to conduct campaigns of demonization, misrepresentation, and outright nastiness against those who acknowledge the pressing need to discuss them.
However, some members of the political elite have had the courage to speak out and this illustrates how Counter-Jihad ideas have had a place in the political mainstream for many years. The current Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, wrote a book called Celsius 7/7: How The West’s Policy of Appeasement Has Provoked Yet More Fundamentalist Terror – And What Has To Be Done Now back in 2006. The Counter-Jihad was in its infancy at that time and its ideology was not yet developed. Books like Celsius 7/7 had an impact on the formation of that ideology, an ideology that, contrary to the rantings of the modern day Torquemadas who revel in hunting down an demonising the heretics of our age, is peaceful and law abiding. Counter-Jihad ideology is treated as new heresy by some factions in the establishment and that is why there are well funded efforts to link it and its advocates to the appalling and inhuman actions of Anders Behring Breivik. It is much easier for opponents of the Counter-Jihad to actively demonise it than it is to openly discuss the issues raised, issues that they want to cover up. Back in 2006 Mr Gove himself identified this serious problem – on page 3 of Celsius 7/7 he wrote:
“Instead, in a curious inversion, the energy that should be devoted to analysing and combating a totalitarian challenge is directed towards those campaigning against those who dare to take the threat seriously.”
Perhaps the energies of Hope Not Hate should be directed against the real purveyors of hate rather than the innocent Counter-Jihad that has merely raised matters of social concern. However, it would appear that Hope Not Hate has its own agenda and would be unwilling to do so. Mr Gove made some very important observations in Celsius 7/7 that Hope Not Hate should consider:
“The West faces a challenge to its values, culture and freedoms as profound, in its way, as the threat posed by fascism and communism. But the response to that challenge from many in the West is all too often confused, temporizing, weak and compromised.” (p2-3)
“Christians and Jews lived in a tolerated second-class existence as dhimmis, able to follow their own, more primitive faiths, but without the rights of citizenship enjoyed by followers of the Prophet.” (p15).
Michael Gove’s colleague in Government, Prime Minister David Cameron has adopted elements of Counter-Jihad ideology. In his ‘State Multiculturalism Has Failed Speech’ he made some very pertinent observations. In reference to some Muslim advocacy groups that the UK Government had worked with in the past he said:
“Let’s properly judge these organisations: Do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism?”
He effectively summarised exactly what the Counter-Jihad movement stands for thus confirming its mainstream credentials. The Counter Jihad is concerned about the development of sharia compliance because it believes that such compliance had an adverse affect on universal human rights, the equality of men and women, freedom of worship, democracy, and integration. The Counter-Jihad movement is effectively a living breathing example of the ‘muscular liberalism’ that Mr Cameron also referred to in that speech. Of course, the Prime Minister was criticised by those who do not want such issues to be raised, but a Muslim Peer, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi came to his defence, and in a way to the defence of the Counter-Jihad ideology he was articulating, when she said “to smear the Prime Minister as a right wing extremist is outrageous and irresponsible.” She was right.
Another mainstream politician, Conservative MP for The Wrekin and member of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission – Mark Pritchard, articulated what could effectively be described as a Counter Jihad position when he expressed fears that Sharia Councils could undermine social cohesion in 2010. He also wrote:
“Since the 1996 Arbitration Act, Government ministers have allowed Islamic tribunals around Britain to rule on a range of financial disputes, provided both parties agree to accept the court’s decision. But in recent years, these tribunals have developed into fully fledged Sharia Councils – allowed to settle new disputes, such as divorce, family law, and faith issues. These powers go well beyond the letter and spirit of the original legislation and whilst they provide new ways of dispensing cheap justice they do not always dispense fair justice.”
He went on to write:
“Sharia Councils shine an embarrassing light on how ministers have increasingly relegated and downgraded thousands of Muslim women to defacto second class British citizens, perversely in the name of tolerance and understanding.”
Concern for women, including Muslim women, is a central concern of the Counter-Jihad and a legitimate mainstream concern that should not be ignored. Thankfully, The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill sponsored by Baroness Caroline Cox is currently progressing through Parliament to address this important issue. This shows quite clearly that the concerns of the Counter-Jihad are mainstream concerns of such importance as to be worthy of consideration by the UK parliament.
It is quite clear that Counter-Jihad ideology, rightly, has a good degree of mainstream support. It is unfortunate that those who are bringing important matters to public attention are frequently demonised and misrepresented, even by politicians who effectively support Counter-Jihad ideology in all but name. It seems that ‘Counter-Jihad’ has become a bogeyman term despite the ideas behind it being socially and morally acceptable by the political mainstream. It is unfortunate that organisations such as Hope Not Hate apparently has its own campaign of hatred against the Counter-Jihad movement.
Michael Gove discusses Celsius 7/7 in the video clips below: