Islamophobia

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Islamophobia

I imagine that the very first time you hear this word ‘Islamophobia’ you might be a little confused. I know I was. Having a background in psychological therapy my first reaction was to wonder how on earth it is possible to have a phobic anxiety about Islam? I can understand arachnophobia, claustrophobia, agoraphobia etc. It has to be said that I am far more familiar with the psychological problem that is phobic anxiety. But Islamophobia? I was initially somewhat baffled!

For the purposes of this discussion, it behoves us to have an understanding of the word itself. A phobia is a word used and originated within the confines of the description of psychological disorders:

In clinical psychology, a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational. In the event the phobia cannot be avoided entirely, the sufferer will endure the situation or object with marked distress and significant interference in social or occupational activities. [1]

Through the use of this word attached to ‘Islam’, it seeks to use the widely regarded and understood context of the word ‘phobia’ within the psychological distress frame of reference, to infer that use of the term Islamophobia to describe someone, indicates immediately that person to be suffering an irrational and deep seated and irrational anxiety about Islam, the inference being that such anxiety is of the form of an psychological anxiety disorder.

Immediately on hearing the word, the listener is slammed with a highly charged subliminally recognised message that feeds on a general social disquiet about psychological disorders. After all, if one suggests that a person has a psychological disorder, the inference is of someone of lesser capacity, impaired judgement, unpredictable in temperament or even just mad!

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We are hearing the term ‘Islamophobia’ more and more these days. Though not particularly new, it is being championed by certain groups as yet another politically correct weapon in an ever growing arsenal of accusations, which have words as their mechanism and inference, shame and intolerance as their ammunition.
It’s very much the case that words can, after their origination, have their meaning severely twisted and then become popular, but not for their original meaning. One example of the repetitive rants is the use of the word ‘racist’. Originally racism was used in the 19th century as “scientific racism” which was an attempt to define the human race according to its differing ethnic origins. Through the turn of the 20th century and beyond, the word has shifted significantly in its use to be an accusation of race hatred and discrimination.

The issues that surround racism are vast and complex. After all there are numerous races on our planet, and the interaction between them and the prejudices that occur are just as vast and complex. But given the nature of the diversity of humanity on Earth, these kinds of problems are unsurprising. Thus the use of a word that describes an attitude of racial supremacy or racial hatred is also unsurprising, and in many ways necessary.

What we find however, is that individuals and organisations have a tendency to hijack certain words to fit their own ideological or political agenda. Islamaphobia is just one such word. It was first used:

Alphonse Étienne Dinet and Algerian intellectual Sliman ben Ibrahim in their 1918 biography of Islam’s prophet Muhammad. Writing in French, they used the term islamophobie. Robin Richardson writes that in the English version of the book the word was not translated as “Islamophobia” but rather as “feelings inimical to Islam”.  [2]

Islamaphobia has been very infrequently used since that time, but was is very surprising is just how it came to pass that the word came into much more frequent use in more recent times.

 

The Runnymede Trust

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In 1996, the Runnymede Trust established the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, chaired by Gordon Conway, the vice Chancellor of the University of Sussex. The Commission’s report, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, was published in November 1997 by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw. In the Runnymede report, Islamophobia was defined as “an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination.”

The report went on to state that Islamophobia is the “dread or hatred of Islam and therefore, [the] fear and dislike of all Muslims,” which also includes discrimination against Muslims through their exclusion from the economic, social, and public life of the nation. The opinions that Islam has no values in common with other cultures, that it is inferior to Western cultures, and is a violent political ideology rather than a religion are also, according to the report, part of the concept of Islamophobia. [3]

So who or what is the Runnymede Trust? It says of itself:

Runnymede is the UK’s leading independent race equality thinktank. We generate intelligence for a multi-ethnic Britain through research, network building, leading debate, and policy engagement

As we can see from the quote above, the report was published by the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw. We will now take a more detailed look at this report because its publication would appear to be the single most defining action on political and public opinion, that most people have never heard of.

The repercussions of this report, almost 20 years after its publication and the actions that have followed it can now be seen in government and public behaviour, Law and policing.

As this report is not now in print and is only available publicly as a scanned copy on .pdf, I will quote heavily from the report here.[4]

First of all let’s look at how the report defines the so called problem of Islamophobia:

Chapter 2 – Islamaphobia: The nature of anti-Muslim prejudice.

The term Islamophobia refers to the unfounded hostility towards Islam. It refers also to the practical consequences of such hostility in unfair discrimination against Muslim individuals and communities, and to the exclusion of Muslims from mainstream political and social affairs.

After a short comment that they recognise critics views about the use of the word, they do in fact say that the word in itself is not ideal, but…..

The word “Islamophobia” has been coined because there is a new reality which needs naming: anti-muslim prejudice has grown considerably and so rapidly in recent years that a new item in the vocabulary is needed so that it can be better identified and acted against.

What is this “new reality”? in 1996/7 when this report was put together and published, 9/11 had not yet happened but there was a war taking place in Iraq. Why then, all of a sudden, was there this “new reality” of anti-Muslim sentiment? I will posit a theory. Could it be that the British Muslim community were unhappy at British (and American) involvement in a war in the Muslim heartland? Could it be that the Muslims themselves became more vociferous and agitated, which in turn invoked a response from non-Muslims in Britain?

Whatever the reason, our socialist friends at Runnymede had decided that they needed to add to the current trend of political correctness and multiculturalism of Britain by bringing us into line with their new word Islamaphobia. Let’s continue with their report:

…… the mere use of the new word “Islamophobia” ….. we believe can play a valuable part in the long endeavour of correcting perceptions [sic] and improving relationships. That is why we use it continually throughout this report.

No, sorry I don’t think so. Their “correcting perceptions” is nothing more than newspeak for “thought control.” And using the word Islamophobia “throughout this report” is simply indoctrination and programming so you are not likely to forget it. Moreover, you are more likely to latch onto it as a new buzz word.  Also let’s not miss the point, that despite critics putting forward reasoned argument about why the word Islamophobia is not such a good idea, Runnymede go ahead and use it anyway! Perfect.

So let’s get on to the main thrust of this report. The whole basis of this report revolves around 8 questions, upon which they do something extremely typical of socio-fascist regimes…. they approach those 8 questions in “black and white” fashion. The reader is presented with two extreme views for each question, one being the nasty, unwanted, disgustingly wrong way, and the other the nice, fluffy and acceptable way.

You can read this 75 page report for yourself and you will see that in its entirety, there is no discussion as such. Views are put forward in a way that seems educated and considered, but there is absolutely no appraisal or investigation into any of the ideas that Islam itself and Muslim attitudes may in fact be a problem or incompatible with Western society. However I digress.

Runnymede start off with a justification for the methods they will use within the report by telling us that they wish to define and investigate what they say is the difference between legitimate criticism and disagreement versus Islamophobia [sic].They seek to do this by their exploration of what they call, “open and closed views”.

They say:

Phobic dread of Islam is the recurring characteristic of closed views. Legitimate disagreement and criticism, as also appreciation and respect, are aspects of open views.

So before we get to look at their actual comments, we need to have a look at the 8 questions they use as the basis of their appraisal of the idea of what constitutes Islamophobia:

1. Whether Islam is seen as a monolithic and static, or as diverse and dynamic.
2. Whether Islam is seen as other and separate, or as similar and interdependent.
3. Whether Islam is seen as inferior, or as different but equal.
4. Whether Islam is seen as an aggressive enemy, or a cooperative partner.
5. Whether Muslims are seen as manipulative or as sincere.
6. Whether Muslim criticisms of “the West” are rejected or debated.
7. Whether discriminatory behaviour against Muslims is defended or opposed.
8. Whether anti-Muslim discourse is seen as natural or problematic.

You will notice the total bipolar theme of each of thee questions. It’s either “right” or “wrong”.

So with those 8 questions in mind I will reproduce “Box 2” from the report:

BOX 2

1. MONOLITHIC /  DIVERSE
CLOSED – Islam seen as a single monolithic bloc, static and unrealistic to new ideas.
OPEN – Islam seen as diverse and progressive, with internal differences, debates and development.

2. SEPARATE / INTERACTING
CLOSED – Islam seen as separate and other
a. Not having any aims or values in common with other cultures
b. Not affected by them.
c. Not influencing them
OPEN – Islam seen as interdependent with other faiths and cultures.
a. Having certain shared values and aims.
Affected by them.
Enriching them.

3. INFERIOR / DIFFERENT
CLOSED – Islam is seen as inferior to the West – barbaric, irrational, primitive, sexist.
OPEN – Islam seen as distinctively different, but not deficient and as equally worthy of respect.

4. ENEMY / PARTNER
CLOSED – Islam seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supporting of terrorism, engaged in a “clash of civilisations”.
OPEN – Islam is seen as an actual or potential partner in joint cooperative enterprises and in the solution of shared problems.

5. MANIPULATIVE / SINCERE
CLOSED – Islam seen as a political ideology, used for political or military advantage.
OPEN – Islam seen as a genuine religious faith, practised sincerely by its adherents.

6. CRITICISM OF THE WEST REJECTED / CONSIDERED
CLOSED – Criticisms made by Islam of “The West” rejected out of hand.
OPEN –  Criticisms of “The West” and other cultures are considered and debated.

7. DISCRIMINATION DEFENDED / CRITICISED
CLOSED – Hostility towards Islam used to justify discriminatory practises towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.
OPEN – Debates and disagreements with Islam do not diminish efforts to combat discrimination and exclusion.

8. ISLAMOPHOBIA SEEN AS NATURAL / PROBLEMATIC
CLOSED – Anti-Muslim hostility accepted as natural and “normal”.
OPEN – Critical views of Islam are themselves subjected to critique, lest they be inaccurate or unfair.

If we take some little time to examine these revelations, we see quite clearly that, given that the report itself says that the above “Box 2” forms the basis for the whole report, the WHOLE report is nothing short of an elaborate attempt to identify a “correct way” to view the issue of Islam in British society, by starkly contrasting the polarised views, and framing it in such a way that there is only one way to view their recommendations.

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Excerpt from the Report – showing the depth of the “problem”

 

The Crusades Redefined

Now let’s move on to the next “new framing” of information that this report. The issue of the Crusades is fundamental history as far as both Christendom (The West) and Islam is concerned. This report deftly deals with this subject  in a very sweeping and authoritative way.

…..Either way, the task of combatting Islamophobia involves the repudiation of the power which stories about the past in general, and about the Crusades in particular , do have.

This one simple statement is saying that the stories about the past [sic] should either be rejected or reevaluated so that the ideas that fuel islamophobia are eliminated. Well, in straightforward English, that sounds a lot like taking a paintbrush over history and wiping it out!

But further than that, the tone of this part of the report is clearly indicating that it believes the problems that occur between “The West” and Islam is wholly based on how each side chooses to remember the past.

So with just a few paragraphs, Runnymede attempts to both sweep away almost one and a half thousand years of history and assumes that we base all our misguided ideas on historic events. So for Runnymede, the Crusades were unimportant and have no bearing on anything that is happening in the world today.

In contrast to that theme, I would say that some in depth reading and exploration of the true nature of the Crusades is of paramount importance. Yes, there is indeed a lot of misunderstanding of the Crusades, largely due to poorly constructed reference materials on the subject for a variety of reasons. More recent and certainly much more reliable research has been conducted on the Crusades which paint something of a different picture to the commonly held ideas of the land grabbing European nobility, slaughtering innocent Muslims and taking their land to expand their wealth. The reality paints quite a different picture [5]

So far then, this influential report has used language designed the condition the reader’s thinking and provides a framework of further conditioning to deposit the stark contrast of their belief system in such a way that to the reader, any other view than the one posited by this report, is reprehensible and would inevitably be a shameful point of view.

Now add to that a view that any views that are based on historic beliefs are invalid and should be eradicated and what we have in disguise is a report which can only be described as propaganda. But there’s more to come!

 

The Icing on the Cake

Please bear in mind that Runnymede’s stated purpose for producing this report in the first place is to highlight Islamophobia in British society and then provide suggestions as to what to do about it. So let’s take a look at their “suggestions”.

The best way to do that is to quote parts of the conclusion of the report. So here is the first part of Chapter 10: The Conclusion.

Key Ideas into the Future

In order to take the first steps in the long journey towards the realisation of the vision sketched in Box 27 (see below), Britain needs to be guided we suggest, by 5 main key ideas.

(First 2 presented here only for brevity)

1. A Sense of Urgency – Islamophobia is a serious and dangerous feature of contemporary affairs and culture. It is urgent that substantial measures should be adopted to confront it and reduce it.

2. The Role of Opinion Leaders – Opinion leaders have significant roles to play, both nationally and locally and in individual institutions as well as public forums. They include politicians, journalists, leaders, managers and policy makers.

The above quotations should speak volumes. First of all they are recommending “substantial measures” be taken to combat Islamophobia. To those in government reading this report, that kind of wording is very serious indeed. The warnings above use words like “serious” and “dangerous” which are deliberately used as “red light” warning signs, indicating the level and depth of any “substantial measures” they might consider. Please remember that this report is supposed to be about consideration of methods to try to deal with just one aspect of what has been until then, and aspect of free speech.

The second item above then goes on to stipulate just who should be taking notice of their report. In short, everyone in any form of leadership or position of power in the whole country. You will notice that journalists are included (you may be surprised) but they are indeed powerful as they have the position and power to reach people with the written or spoken word.

What is also quite noticeable is the flavour of all this is to have everyone in high public office or place of public influence, to be working together, singing the same tune and yes, with a common purpose!

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Common Purpose UK

Common Purpose runs a range of leadership development courses which it claims offer participants the inspiration, knowledge and connections to help them become more active and engaged in society. These courses ran in 11 countries worldwide as at 2010 and seek to build organizational capacity by increasing the number of individuals who are actively involved in shaping the future of the area in which they work and who subscribe to Common Purposes’s values.

The courses are conducted under the Chatham House Rule to encourage free discussion amongst participants.This has caused some people to voice suspicions that the organisation has a hidden agenda.

Participants

Common Purpose works with a wide range of organisations and individuals across business, public, voluntary and political sectors.By January 2010, according to a video prepared by Common Purpose, 12,000 participants were involved in Common Purpose programmes.[6]

This “charity” has in fact now been significantly discredited as a result of being suspected of having a highly influential role (undisclosed) with Government, as well as working under a strict nondisclosure regime. The founder Julia Middleton is an experienced Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Therapist, and has been exposed as having covertly used NLP techniques as part of her training programs and videos.
Huge financial irregularities have come to light, as well as the highly suspect method of candidate selection, which was performed by use of an internal (secret) vetting system).

As their name suggests, their agenda is to train leaders up to the highest levels of government with a “common Purpose” agenda. Due to the secretive nature of their courses, the details of their courses are sketchy, but the results can be seen in today’s widespread attitudes of “blind eye” management to certain issues, and the high levels of politically correct actions and inactions across all walks of Government, Civil Service, Police and even business life.

You may wonder what this has to do with Islamophobia. I bring in Common Purpose because the connection between the Runnymede Group and Common Purpose UK is the Socialist connection. They are both left wing organisations with an agenda. On this subject I leave you to draw your own conclusions. Suffice it to say that the creation of yet another way to control the thinking of the public is very much in line with socialist philosophy.

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Let us return to the Runnymede report now and we will finish with the recommendations from the report. Next is Box 27 which rather than sounding like recommendations, sound more like a list of requirements or blueprint for action.

Box 27: Our Vision

1. Islamophobic discourse will be recognised as unacceptable and will be no longer tolerated in public. Whenever it occurs people in positions of leadership and influence will speak out and condemn it.

2. Legal sanctions against religious discrimination, violence and incitement to hatred will be on the statute book.

3. British Muslims will participate fully and confidently at all levels in the political, cultural, social and economic life of the country……

The above are the first few of the Runnymede “recommendations”. What they appear to do is to set the scene for what we see today – hate speech laws, a greater lack of free speech due to vastly increased political correctness. We see cultural blindness occurring when it comes to Muslims, allowing them to get away with behaviour that gets non-Muslims prosecuted, resulting in double standards of policing and justice. Also no doubt, the recent comments by David Cameron (Prime Minister) that he wants to see a Muslim Prime Minister are very likely the direct result of long term influence of this report on the psyche of every Whitehall politician.

The Report conclusions continue with a very telling section, which is a detailed 60 point checklist that details what should be done in the following agencies in Britain. (the following quote only shows the headings for each section)

Box 28: Checklist of Recommendations

All Government departments, bodies & agencies
– Education
– Employment
– Health
– Law
– Monitoring & Statistics
– The Prime Ministers Office
– Social Exclusion
– All local and Statutory Bodies
– Education Authorities
– Housing Authorities
– Health Care Organisations
– Police Forces
– Voluntary and Private Bodies
– Employers & Employer’s Organisations & Unions
– Funding Organisations
– National Union of Journalists
– Muslim Organisations
– Non Muslim Faith Communities
– Political Parties
– Press Complaints Commission
– Race Equality Organisations & Monitoring Groups

Items 59 & 60 on this list I will reproduce here in full…..

The Runnymede Trust
59 – Ensure that the recommendations in this report are brought to the attention of all relevant bodies.

60 – Ensure that actions over the years to implement the recommendations in this report are clearly monitored.

If ever there was a report that was less like a set of instructions, I haven’t seen it. As you can see from the list above, this report has been seen in every single department of Government, both central and local. In fact I defy anyone to find a section of society that’s missing from the list in Box 28!

This report is essentially a blueprint for how the country must start to deal with the dislike of Islam in Britain. Quite clearly the general public were starting to make noises of dissent and this report has quickly been brought out to “educate”.

If, like me, you have been wondering over recent years, why is it that increasingly people are being detained, arrested and charged for speaking out, or why it is that any form of opposition to Islamic behaviour is jumped on by the police from a dizzy height, or indeed why the nationwide epidemic of Muslim rape gangs have been largely ignored by the police and social services, then I believe this report provides the answers.

While the term Islamaphobia was originally invented and intended in a different way, It has been re-invented, reconstituted and regurgitated into an abhorrent misuse of political and legal powers to take away the rights of individuals to speak out against a fascist group (Islam) that will use any method, stoop to any level, manipulate any system or person to meet their own goal, which is ultimately, no matter how many hundreds of years it takes, the worldwide domination of Islam and the abolition of anyone who does not agree.

That said, then to a large extent, under the “rules” imposed by the Runnymede document, I am well and truly, an Islamophobe!

 

References:

[1] Bourne, Edmund J. (2011). The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook 5th ed. New Harbinger Publications. pp. 50–51 (Via Wikipedia)
[2] Dinet, Alphonse Étienne; ben Ibrahim, Sliman (1918). La Vie de Mohammed, Prophète d’Allah. Paris. cited from Otterbeck, Jonas; Bevelander, Pieter (2006). Islamofobi — en studie av begreppet, ungdomars attityder och unga muslimars utsatthet (PDF) (in Swedish). Anders Lange. Stockholm: Forum för levande historia. ISBN 91-976073-6-3 (Via Wikipedia)
[3] “Islamaphobia” (Wikipedia)
[4] The Runnymede Commission Report “Islamaphobia: a challenge to us all” can be downloaded here http://www.runnymedetrust.org/publications/17/32.html
[5] The Concise History of the Crusades Third Student Edition Thomas F. Madden (ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD), 2013
[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Purpose_UK