Anti-Muslim Hate Groups Have No Place in Britain
Islamophobia in the United Kingdom is once again on the rise. With statistics showing that anti-Muslim hate rose by 42%, the British government has been urged by many to take a firm stance and indicate, unabashedly, that the United Kingdom won’t tolerate Islamophobia.
Instead, and perhaps unwittingly, it has been doing exactly the opposite. Last September, Leicester saw a large group of Hindu men taking to the streets, using weapons, and committing arson against Muslim targets in the city. In response, 3 weeks ago, the UK government appointed Ian Austin, the notoriously Islamophobic former Labour MP for Dudley North, to chair an independent inquiry into the matter. Austin has a sordid history of Islamophobic remarks including one instance where a UK court forced an apology for calling UK-based Friends of Al-Aqsa “Holocaust deniers.”
Austin has similarly expressed his discontent for the UK Muslim community on Twitter, prompting the Labour Muslim Network to react stating, “This is pure Islamophobia by a former Labour MP and should be condemned by every public figure with a conscience. Islamophobia is not only rife in our society, it’s mainstream in our politics.”
Aside from these instances, Austin has been a close collaborator with Islamophobic “grassroots” organizations in the UK, including the Israeli government-funded Pinsker Centre. Pinsker, ostensibly started by a group of former students interested in advocating for Israel on college campuses, was started by similarly Israeli government-funded former Stand With Us campus director Jonathan Hunter and Elliot Miller, formerly with the Henry Jackson Society.
Hunter gained notoriety when he attempted to shut down George Galloway MP’s talk at Oxford University by, quite literally, pulling an Israeli flag out of his underwear. Pinsker, it should be stated, strongly stands against the no-platforming of speakers on college campuses. Elliot Miller became a household name among Muslim students in London when he violently attacked Muslim students demonstrating against Israeli soldiers speaking at UCL, caught on tape shoving protesters into one another while screaming, “Islam is a violent religion.”
The fallout from the protests led Miller to leave the United Kingdom and pursue a job in Los Angeles at none other than the Israeli Consulate, where he worked as Director of political affairs for a number of years before relocating to work for the Israeli government in Washington. Miller, in a recording obtained by an undercover Al Jazeera reporter exposing Israeli government influence on UK college campuses, also admitted to having previously worked for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem.
The Pinsker Centre has worked closely with Ian Austin attacking freedom of speech on UK campuses. According to a 2018 article in the Jerusalem Post, the team at Pinsker has, “Pioneered a new way of discussing Israel.” What that new methodology might be remains a mystery, but it seems to involve preventing anti-Israel activists from expressing their discontent with Pinsker’s taste in speakers with the help of Israeli government funding. Although they refer to themselves as a think tank, it is similarly unclear what policy analysis the organization publishes. The latest entry in the analysis section of their website, from May 2022, is an article from the Jewish Chronicle which appears to condemn the presence of about 50 protesters outside an event where former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor was hosted. Meridor in the past cancelled a trip to the UK due to concerns of being arrested for war crimes.
The Pinsker Centre it should be noted is primarily funded by Nina Rosenwald, whom the progressive magazine The Nation describes as the “sugar mama of anti-Muslim hate” and who, according to Max Blumenthal, “has used her millions to cement the alliance between the pro-Israel lobby and the Islamophobic fringe.” Rosenwald also funds the notoriously hateful right-wing Middle East Forum run by Daniel Pipes. Pipes has spent decades promoting anti-Muslim tropes, spreading misinformation about Muslims, and calling for the monitoring and racial profiling of Muslim citizens, claiming it was integral for “uncovering connections to terrorism.”
Most famously Pipes, in a November 1990 National Review piece titled “The Muslims are Coming!” stated that, “Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene. Muslim immigrants bring with them a chauvinism that augurs badly for their integration into the mainstream of the European societies.”
How such organizations are allowed to operate freely when they are so obviously contributing to the toxic discourse around British Muslims and others has yet to be understood. There is no issue with organizations of any persuasion operating, so long as the agenda of these does not come at the expense of the coherence of British society, especially at a time so fraught with racial intolerance.