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Monday, 22 November 2010

Tone down the shrill:Hope Not Hate's Letter to the Daily Star

[The Hope Not Hate open letter to the Daily Star follows the comment; after the dotted line.]

Hope Not Hate, or Searchlight, or Nick Lowles, really think they are onto a winner with this 'plague on both your houses' gimmick. That is, their new mantra is that the EDL and Muslims Against Crusades are 'as bad as each other'. But what about this Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of Searchlight, the extremist Communist group, and Muslims Against Crusades? After all, the Communists or Stalinists of the Hope Not Hate type truly are extremists. Communists generally have been responsible for tens of millions of deaths over the last century. The EDL, on the other hand, does not espouse killing and is only a single-issue group, unlike a group like Searchlight/Hope Not Hate, which is dedicated to a particular extreme Communist ideology. As an anarchist group once put it: the 'anti-racism aspect of Searchlight is just a means of getting across the extreme ideology of revolutionary socialism'.

So Nick Lowles’s Searchlight has a new strategy this Winter. Instead of only calling the English Defence League ‘extremist’, why not call extreme Muslim groups, such as Muslims Against Crusaders (MAC), ‘extremists’ too? That way they can say: 'Plague be on both your houses.' ‘They’re as bad as each other.’ ‘Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.’ Etc.

Searchlight has cleverly decided to say that ‘we have extremists on both sides’. That is, both the EDL and Muslims Against Crusaders are equally extreme. Thus if even the far-leftist Searchlight is willing to call at least one Muslim group ‘extreme’, then that must surely mean that more mainstream groups, such as the Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Association of Britain and indeed Unite Against Fascism and Searchlight itself, must not be extreme – quite simply because they have opposed one extreme Muslim group.

Now, the only difference between these groups is that Muslims Against Crusades is more honest than these more formal groups. They more or less admit to wanting the deaths of British soldiers, full sharia law, etc. And, of course, they demonstrate in violent and provocative ways. The problem is that the MCB, MPACUK and the MAB believe in more or less the same things as Muslims Against Crusades. The only difference is that they don’t march that much under the headings of their organisations. But they do march; but not as violently and honestly. Indeed how can we call the MCB and MAB ‘moderate’ when both groups support Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the Islamification of Britain through the slow introduction of sharia law? If anything, these groups are worse than Muslims Against Crusades because they are more insidious, ubiquitous and powerful. The former is just a silly little fringe group.

What about Unite Against Fascism and Searchlight? The former is run by hard-core Trotskyists, as we all know. The latter is run by hard-core Stalinists. The person who said ‘we have extremists on both sides’, Sonia Gable, is the deputy editor of Searchlight, ex-National Front and the fourth wife of the Stalinist founder and current publisher of Searchlight, Gerry Gable. He is, or was, a card-carrying member of the Communist Party. In Russia, the Communist Party was responsible for at least 50 million deaths. That is extreme. In addition, many competing leftist and anarchist groups have said that what really matters to Searchlight is not the fight against racism, but its ‘pursuit of a far-leftist agenda’.

In any case, the EDL is quite simply not extreme. It is fighting extremism - Islamist extremism. No one else is doing that job; so the EDL must do it.

The EDL believes in parliamentary democracy, free speech, equal rights for gays, blacks, etc. Muslims Against Crusaders (MAC) calls for the deaths of British soldiers, the ending of democracy and full sharia law. Indeed the people who run UAF and Searchlight don’t believe in parliamentary democracy or freedom of speech either. So which group, exactly, is really extreme?

It is just too convenient that Searchlight is saying that both Muslims Against Crusaders and the EDL are extreme. Who wants lessons in extremism from Trots and Stalinists? Not me!

So it is both a disgrace and a con that Searchlight is are saying that both Muslims Against Crusades and the EDL are ‘extremist groups’. It won’t wash. Name a policy of the EDL that is genuinely extreme. No, I don't mean the policies which only exist in the minds of Trots, Stalinists and Islamists. Name a genuine, written-down policy of the EDL which is extreme. And good luck!

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- From the Hope Not Hate website, by Nick Lowles

Dear Ms Neesom [Editor the the Daily Star]

Last week Det Supt John Larkin, head of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, claimed that the activities of the English Defence League were radicalising young Muslims and pushing them towards extremist organisations. It was a story that your own newspaper covered quite prominently on Saturday 20 November.

A few days earlier, a small group of Islamist extremists burnt poppies on a West London street. Across the road were a slightly larger number of English Defence League supporters, including their leader, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who was arrested for assaulting a police officer. On my HOPE not hate blog I wrote that these two groups were two sides of the same coin of hate. I said that they fed off each other and each needed the other to justify their own existence. Like Det Supt Larkin I argued that hatred breeds hatred.

We believe, however, that the media are partly responsible for feeding this hatred and none more so than the Daily Star. We have examined the past few years of your newspaper and found a depressing litany of negative articles about Muslims in Britain. Many of these articles over-exaggerate the importance of tiny Muslim extremist groups while ignoring more mainstream Muslim opinion and use the words of these extremists to smear an entire faith, while on other occasions inaccurate or slanted articles whip up fear and mistrust.

Freedom of speech is correctly the cornerstone of British society but with freedom comes responsibility and we fear that your reporting is actually encouraging a growth in Muslim extremism in this country.

We believe that the Daily Star regularly oversteps the boundaries of responsibility in reporting issues relating to Muslims and in doing so increases the mistrust and fear of people towards them. This helps to create a dangerous backlash among non-Muslims which in turn feeds groups such as the EDL and the British National Party. We then have the situation, as described by Det Supt John Larkin, where anti-Muslim activities increases support for Islamic extremist groups.

It is not our role to dictate what goes in your newspaper but we would urge you to take a more responsible and balanced approach. We believe that extremists such as Anjem Choudhary and Muslims Against Crusades are no more representative of the Muslim community than BNP leader Nick Griffin is of the white community. We would urge you to highlight more positive articles about the Muslim community that might increase understanding between communities and so reduce hatred and extremism rather than continually focus on negative stories.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Yours sincerely

Nick Lowles
HOPE not hate

1 comment:

  1. paragraph one of this letter is the same pradigm as blaming a woman for getting beaten up by a guy