The Politicisation of "Islamophobia"

Islamic extremists and their supporters are abusing the term "Islamophobia". The real victims of anti-Muslim hate are paying the price.

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Ghaffar Hussain
On 20 April 2011 05:32

The last few years have not been kind to Britain’s Islamist activists and their fellow travellers from the far-left. Their tactics have been exposed, their propaganda has become farcical and in many cases they have lost political support.

All welcome developments I would argue since their approach has always been to divide communities and promote reactionaries. It’s all a far cry from the heady days of 2005 when they could stroll into Whitehall for tea and crumpets with Ministers. But it seems they are not taking this change of fortunes lying down. They have begun to fight back with a new, and quite frankly pathetic, tactic: accusing all of their critics of Islamophobia.

That’s right "Islamophobia". If you want to deflect criticism of your Islamist politics these days, providing your lawyers can’t sue your detractors, you just accuse them of Islamophobia. Never mind the fact that many of these detractors are devout Muslims or campaigners for equality. You don’t let small details like that get in the way. You need to shut down the debate as quickly as possible and the best way to do that is to accuse anyone who criticises you of being an Islamophobe in the hope of scaring your critics away.

On the 21st of May 2011, the London Muslim Centre (LMC), which has a long history of hosting hate speakers, will hold a conference entitled "Confronting Anti-Muslim Hatred in Britain and Europe".

Noble sounding event you may think, until you see the speaker list. Predictably almost all the speakers are your usual Islamist/far-left activists. See here, here and here for the types of individuals who’ll be speaking and their exploits.

Putting aside the fact that the above are not exactly ideal candidates for fighting bigotry, there is another troubling side effect of this strategy. Islamists are aiming to equate criticism of their politics with genuine cases of anti-Muslim hatred.

So the event will have testimonies of innocent Muslims who have been victims of hate crime followed by Islamist/far-left activists complaining about how their tactics and propaganda have been exposed. This is an extremely dangerous tactic that puts real victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the firing line, effectively using them as human shields. They have thus clearly put their discredited politics before genuine victims of hate crime who deserve better.

In my view this is a desperate last throw of the dice for Britain’s Islamist, activist hub. It is clear that they are not comfortable having their ideas scrutinised in public, nor are they advocates of open and honest debate. But the real tragedy here is the fact that genuine victims of Islamophobia will now have to work a little harder to be taken seriously.

Ghaffar Hussain is head of outreach and training at the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank

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