Islam Today

Muslims across Europe and the Middle East are today the victims of a major socio-cultural and political engineering exercise. Tony Blair and the rise of the British ‘nanny state’ was a visible attempt to socially engineer Britain while his Iraq adventure was his other infamous effort at world management. David Cameron blasted out his ‘Big Society’ mantra at the start of his term in office, maintaining the momentum of greater state interference in the lives of citizens. Of course all societies need social management to prevent chaos and conflict but there is something really dangerous about the current efforts of social control which, fuelled and justified by the threat of so-called ‘Islamist terrorism’, are rapidly eroding hard-won civil liberties and individual freedoms in Britain. The rise of ISIS has added to mainstream Britain’s fear of Muslims and the prevailing Islamophobic climate has seen over 365 reported attacks in London alone over the past six months. This climate has allowed the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to extend existing terror laws and it has been easy for the state to use this fear of terror to gain unqualified support for further managing the perceived British Muslim extremist ‘threat to Western civilisation’. These policies are victimising Muslims, rather like the Jews of Germany were singled out for blame by Hitler. Media stereotyping of these Muslim communities is now tantamount to hate propaganda and with the prospect of further British involvement in the so called ‘war on terror’ and more legislation against British Muslims in the pipeline, there is a very real danger of creating a socio-political environment which, at its worst, could result in the ethnic and religious cleansing of Muslim communities. Muslims will very likely form between 15-20% of the British population by 2070 – a frightening statistic for neoconservative and right wing Britain and in itself enough cause for developing a national strategy of Muslim containment. The fact that Muslims are identified as terrorists, and happen to be largely immigrants, merely puts the icing on the cake for groups like Britain First, BNP and UKIP. The propaganda machine is alive – ‘the Muslims are taking over Britain and we have to stop them – or as the mainstream parties would say, at least work out how to manage them! So if for a moment we agree that fear of the Muslim way of life or their political influence in Britain means that the British establishment has a vested interest in taming Muslim communities, is there any evidence to suggest this social management is taking place? If so how is it being done and how is it impacting Muslims and how are they responding? The bad news is the Muslim social engineering industry in Britain is already well established employing thousands of individuals, dozens of institutions and many government departments – all tasked with various religious or political control and regulation agendas aimed at Muslims. These various players invest in the development of strategies and policies in order to create specific narratives and outputs about, or for, the Muslim communities of Britain. These narratives are then developed into educational, socio-political or cultural programmes. These programmes are methodically piloted and projected to specific or general Muslim target groups, often through organisations or platforms trusted by Muslims, with the aim of exercising control over the direction of the targeted individuals or communities. In fact there is a raft of organisations of all shapes, sects and sizes that seem intent on engineering the Muslim community under the guise of various counter extremism narratives, mentoring programmes, anti-forced marriage initiatives, honour killing exposés, grooming network busts, domestic violence projects, Trojan horse plot investigations and so on. Universities, social services, prison services and even the interfaith industry are part of the establishment’s battle to bring Muslims to heel. However, whilst many sponsored organisations are falling over themselves to shape our Muslim futures, our narratives and our agenda, most of the independent Muslim community leadership are all too often clueless, ambivalent or scared of what is happening on the national stage. They continue to focus exclusively on maintaining micromanagement roles of their religious hubs of orthopraxy. Added to this is their reactionary, emotional and often angry responses to provocations. It is clear that the unremitting Islamophobia across Europe has left them either paralysed or in perpetual crisis management mode. The sincere, independent, professional, creative thinking Muslims of Britain who, alongside the more learned Islamic scholars could provide the necessary counter narratives have also largely been relegated to the sidelines by the tribal leaders. The result of this is of course the absence of proactive community strategies or a cohesive, robust response to the incessant attack on Muslims by mainstream media, the right wing racists and anti-religious snipers. This pattern of Muslim reactionary behaviour began in the 1980s after the Honeyford affair which raised the issue of racism against Muslims in schools and was soon followed by the infamous Rushdie affair, followed by sacrilegious Danish cartoons. Post 9/11 and 7/7 it really took off reaching new levels of media and state hysteria. The result was the government’s Prevent agenda. Within this ‘Prevention of Extremism policy’ the government dreamt up the disingenuous idea of recruiting members of the Muslim community to try and regulate them whilst also spying on them. Politically, Muslim immigrants and their second or third generation descendants have failed to grasp the way policy and power work in Britain. They have been largely marginalised both by their political representatives and the establishment. Not enough of the established Muslim community leadership are either aware of or capable of dealing with on-the ground and contextual realities of their predicament here in Britain. Most of their flock are still more concerned about material acquisition, traditional cultures and show of Muslim practice. Even more concerning is that most do not have a holistic awareness of their environment and many just do not have enough information about the establishment’s goals and strategic processes with regard to religious community control agendas. They are therefore blissfully unaware of the social engineering of their societies and also totally ill-equipped to develop any counter narratives or effective strategies. This in turn is inviting and encouraging secular atheists, neo conservatives and neo liberal do-gooders to stake an interest in controlling the destiny of Muslims in Britain. This is now being done by employing secular Muslims to champion an agenda of Islamic reform through interfaith dialogue, integration projects, mentoring schemes, helplines, surveys, university research studies and counter extremism initiatives. Today the vast majority of the Muslim community leadership is hopelessly failing to utilise its own creative social, cultural and intellectual capital and is compounding this travesty by creating religious institutions that are more or less totally lacking research and planning. Consequently there is no quality counter narrative to the plethora of non Muslim-led social engineering strategies which means we are effectively inviting others to manage our destiny. When Muslims have no story to tell, no social direction, no plan, no vision, it will inevitably be left for others to socially, politically and culturally engineer them for us.

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