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Far-Right on the March: Revelations Show Islamophobia Industry Operating in the Heart of Westminster

Far-Right on the March: Revelations Show Islamophobia Industry Operating in the Heart of Westminster

Categories: Latest News

Monday March 06 2023

It has been revealed as of late that, over the last decade, the upper house of the British Parliament, the House of Lords, has become a hub for the Islamophobia Industry.

Those tuned into the Islamophobic statements that have echoed from Britain’s corridors of power in recent years may not greet the news with much surprise. Yet, a recent exposé by anti-fascist campaign group, Hope Not Hate (HNH), paints a more sinister picture than the kind of everyday  bigotry that, unfortunately, has become a familiar feature in some quarters of British politics.

It has shown that, through a shadowy entity which calls itself the New Issues Group (NIG), an organised effort has been made to pump explicitly Islamophobic messaging into parliament, and perhaps even more disturbingly, onto the country’s streets through the creation of right-wing protest movements. The NIG, which was established in 2012 and has remained active ever since, should not be seen as an isolated phenomenon. Rather, it is doubtlessly a feature of the broader Islamophobia Industry; a transatlantic network of right-wing politicians, ‘think tanks,’ pundits, funding streams and pressure groups who share a deep-seated aversion to Islam.

More specifically, the belief at the heart of this movement is that the Western world is undergoing a process of ‘Islamisation,’ supported by the liberal political class, who it accuses of allowing mass immigration from Muslim-majority countries. At the same time, they argue that Western governments have for too long surrendered to Islam’s alleged encroachments on civil liberties. In one recent example, the suspension of four boys from a school in Wakefield for damaging a copy of The Qur’an evoked exaggerated cries that Muslims are trying to impose blasphemy laws in the UK. Even the UK’s own Home Secretary, Suella Braverman joined the chorus, writing in an article for the Times that, “[t]here is no right not to be offended. There is no legal obligation to be reverent towards any religion.” This argument is ridiculous because Muslims are not asking non-Muslims to be “reverent” towards their faith. Rather, they are simply asking that their most sacred beliefs be shown a bit of respect.

For the Islamophobia Industry, public opinion and the legislative process must be captured in order to reverse the above-mentioned trends. By influencing the former, the industry is able to make space for its ideologically-driven agenda by spreading fear of Islam and Muslims amongst Western audiences. Through the latter, it can then enact policies that better control the socio-cultural role of Muslims and Islam in the West. A prime example of this is the UK government’s supposed counter-extremism strategy, Prevent, which has long been accused by human rights critics of discriminating against Muslim communities.

The revelations surrounding the NIG are concerning precisely because the key figures involved in it are part of the same Islamophobia Industry while occupying seats of power in the British parliament. The two founders of the NIG, Lord Malcom Pearson and Baroness Caroline Cox, are both figures who have been under the spotlight previously for their lobbying against Islam in the UK. Perhaps most famously, it was Pearson and Cox who invited Dutch xenophobe, Geert Wilders, to show his anti-Muslim film, Fitna, to the British parliament in 2009, causing much protest from concerned politicians and civil society groups. Needless to say, the danger of such senior officials cosying up to Islamophobes like Wilders is that naked racism becomes wrapped within a veneer of political legitimacy, giving it a degree of social respectability.

Lord Pearson, who is also a former leader of UKIP, is no stranger to Islamophobic dog-whistling. He once incorrectly stated that UK Muslim communities hosted “thousands of potential home-grown terrorists,” who “are set against integration with the rest of us.” Such confused thinking is undermined by serious research which shows that far from being opposed to integration in Britain, Muslim communities, on average, harbour strong feelings of belonging toward the country. For example, a Channel 4 commissioned ICM poll in 2016 showed that 86% of British Muslims feel a strong sense of belonging to Britain, higher than the national average of 83%. More concerning than his uninformed remarks however, Pearson appears to be well-plugged into the apparatus of the Islamophobia Industry. For example, Pearson spoke in 2015 at the US-based ‘Counter Jihad Summit,’ during which he proclaimed that “it is wrong to call Islam a religion of peace.” The event featured a who’s who of the Islamophobic far-right, including the above-mentioned Geert Wilders.

Interestingly, also in attendance at the 2015 summit with Lord Pearson was future Trump Administration Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Pompeo has a past of nurturing the Islamophobia Industry not only in the US, but also here in the UK. In fact, in 2020 in his official capacity as the US’ chief diplomat, he delivered a speech at The Henry Jackson Society (HJS), a London-based neoconservative think tank whose Islamophobic credentials are beyond dispute. Thickening the plot, there common link  between NIG and HJS in the person of Stanley Kalms, another member of the House of Lords who, it appears, provided donations worth thousands of pounds to the NIG. Kalms is previously reported to have also donated £100,000 to HJS, and has served as the Chairman of its Strategy Committee.

The other half of the founding NIG duo, Baroness Cox, widely recognised as a Christian Zionist, moves in similar circles. Aside from her own egregious statements about Muslims, in 2014 she hosted in parliament far-right activist Anne Marie Waters for the launch of her pressure group, ‘Sharia Watch UK,’ whose entire existence is based on the delusion that Sharia advisory councils are somehow being used to subvert the British legal process. Such nonsense is easily debunked by the facts that the councils are not courts themselves, operate under the 1996 Arbitration Act and do not have the power to enforce legally binding decisions. Beyond the UK, Cox also sat on the board of the Gatestone Institute alongside the infamous John Bolton, a former Trump Administration official and a key player in the planning for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Gatestone has long been accused of publishing what can only been described as anti-Muslim propaganda. In one example of its highly divisive work, Gatestone warned that the spectre of Muslim immigration presented Europe with the prospect of a “Great White Death,” a not-so-subtle play on the ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory.

What all of this demonstrates is that these various right-wing actors are part of a global network whose whole purpose appears to be the vilification of Muslims in the eyes of Western audiences. The NIG is simply a British cog in a larger global wheel. More disturbingly, the NIG’s presence in the House of Lords signifies that this movement is very serious about attempting to infiltrate our democratic political processes. While its ambitions may still exceed its social impact, the reality of the NIG should be a cause of alarm for all who wish to see racism vanquished from our society.


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