12.7.15

Challenging the bases of PREVENT: The Letter

This Friday (10th) a letter was published in the Independent newspaper, and signed by hundreds of leading academics and activists to express their objections to the assumptions, contents and impacts of the UK government's policies on counter-terrorism. Its a simple seven paragraph affair, which moves a consensus view which is becoming increasingly common sensical to people who think about these matters. The Paper Bird blog has a neat analysis of some early responses to it and you can sign the statement at Protecting Thought here.

It is great to see so many names behind this, which comes towards the end of Ramadhan, as Preventitude is being nationalised by an Act of Parliament, the school summer holidays are in view and the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre is being performed.

The text is a good primer for anyone wishing to orientated themselves around the core of whats the matter here. It has already provided sufficient discomfort for Birmingham City Council's Muslim PREVENT manager to offer a very lengthy facebook response that ran to 1909 words. It included such gems that even his wife doesn't support his PREVENT work, communities distrust him and his employers are too austeritied out to help him much. The Independent letter reproduced below is only 464 words.

"We, the undersigned, take issue with the government’s PREVENT strategy and its statutory implementation through the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 for the following reasons: 
1. The latest addition to the United Kingdom’s counter-terrorism framework comes in the form of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (CTS Act). The CTS Act has placed PREVENT on a statutory footing for public bodies to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism by tackling what is claimed to be ‘extremist ideology’. In practice, this will mean that individuals working within statutory organisations must report individuals suspected of being ‘potential terrorists’ to external bodies for ‘de-radicalisation’. 
2. The way that PREVENT conceptualises ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’is based on the unsubstantiated view that religious ideology is the primary driving factor for terrorism. Academic research suggests that social, economic and political factors, as well as social exclusion, play a more central role in driving political violence than ideology. Indeed, ideology only becomes appealing when social, economic and political grievances give it legitimacy. Therefore, addressing these issues would lessen the appeal of ideology. 
3. However, PREVENT remains fixated on ideology as the primary driver of terrorism. Inevitably, this has meant a focus on religious interaction and Islamic symbolism to assess radicalisation. For example, growing a beard, wearing a hijab or mixing with those who believe Islam has a comprehensive political philosophy are key markers used to identify ‘potential’ terrorism. This serves to reinforce a prejudicial world view that perceives Islam to be a retrograde and oppressive religion that threatens the West. PREVENT reinforces an ‘us’ and ‘them’ view of the world, divides communities, and sows mistrust of Muslims. 
4. While much of the PREVENT policy is aimed at those suspected of ‘Islamist extremism’ and far-right activity, there is genuine concern that other groups will also be affected by such policies, such as anti-austerity and environmental campaigners – largely those engaged in political dissent. 
5. Without due reconsideration of PREVENT’s poor reputation, the police and government have attempted to give the programme a veneer of legitimacy by expressing it in the language of ‘safeguarding’. Not only does this depoliticise the issue of radicalisation, it shifts attention away from grievances that drive individuals towards an ideology that legitimises political violence. 
6. PREVENT will have a chilling effect on open debate, free speech and political dissent. It will create an environment in which political change can no longer be discussed openly, and will withdraw to unsupervised spaces. Therefore, PREVENT will make us less safe
7. We believe that PREVENT has failed not only as a strategy but also the very communities it seeks to protect. Instead of blindly attempting to strengthen this project, we call on the government to end its ineffective PREVENT policy and rather adopt an approach that is based on dialogue and openness."

We live in interesting times, under an appalling freshly elected government willing and able to cause great havoc with impunity courtesy of House Muslims, white supremacists and confused people. So I welcome and feel encouraged by the letter and look forward to further challenges and adjustments as the summers rolls on.

Conservative Party Muslim Mohammed Amin has done his party duty to defend the policy with a post on Conservative Home on Sunday (12/07). Unfortunately, it seems preoccupied with sounding like an establishment guffaw,  and he doesn't appear to understand very much of what was written. His ill-advised launch into a discourse on logic is one for the archives though.  Lets call that one logicwash.

Amin chooses to dismiss the academic-and-activist letter as offering no constructive inputs, which is his political duty. However, in my reading, the letter offers several take homes for securocrats. I have coded the most obvious in green above, and that excludes the idea that saying something is wrong is also a positive contribution to the dialogical process.

22.6.15

Ramadan Resources

Five or so days into the month of Qur'an and I wanted to index some links to vitalising resources, primarily regarding the Qur'an, but also practices around Ramadan.

I found myself in a room confronted with Islam Channel just before iftari time a few days ago and it dawned on me that people might get the wrong idea. Every year it feels like the very announcement of this becomes weirder and weirder, and the channels are hogged with materialistic hair splitting talk of markets, dates and times which resemble the Bani Israel calf issue quite closely.

As ever colonial powers continue to try and territorialise this time with 'Ramadan Greetings' to their Muslim denizens (Cameron, Natanyahu).  Last year I wrote about this as Ramadamentia, this year the fashion sector and high end hotels have also entered the fray. Neoliberalistan is as neoliberalistan does.

I have nothing against trade or creativity, in many societies Ramadan and the Eids are when creative works are published. Creative socio-spiritual fervour is indeed a flame to stoke, and thats what fasting and diving into revelation intends to.

Fasting not Feasting is a tendency to counter consumerism and gluttony, in order to socially enable piety and transfromation during these times.  Starting some years back as public flashmob iftars, the reality of midsummer, and a wider cooption from the establishment invite different, deeper and perhaps more intimate forms of collectivity to express themselves.

Quranica is a Youtube channel that is providing neat Ten Minute Taraweeh videos from Sohaib Saeed, a hermeneutically grounded Scot.

Meanwhile,  an attempted Muslim by the identity of Field Muslim shares written reflections on his Qur'an readings which are nourished by an Akbarian decoloniality.

Back out of cyberspace and in the real world, the ever intrepid Mehfil Ali have an interesting looking TEDStyle talk approach to their Ramadan programming.

Online Quran tools are quite developed too, if you can stand looking at a screen.

Kais Duke's Quranic Arabic Corpus Project, is a linguistic tool that brings together the power of training artificial intelligence algorithms in league with a community of Quranic scholars who know their stuff,

Tanzil is very good for its sheer breadth of reciters and translations, while I find Quran Explorer 's interface easier for simultaneity of sound and Arabic and English text. These are all developing fast with user financing.

10.6.15

Preventitude : A Newham Case Study


What is Prevent?
CAGE analysis of PREVENT's role in the
generation of though crimes in the UK today.
The UK government's Prevent strategy is a sinister method of manipulating and undermining the Muslim community. State mouthpieces like the BBC would disagree, but even they cringe sometimes, albeit in a smug technocratic resource efficiency and Private Eye orientated fashion that never questions the political fundamentals of white privilege. For that level of analysis, Arun Kundnani has studied the government's approach to what it has called radicalisation and extremism over the past decade and formulated a constructive critique.

However, the odious ghetto of the jobsworths and securocrats responsible for Prevent is not in the business of admitting the degree to which their bogeymen are of their own making. After all, it is far easier to repress the weak than risk the truth. These individuals are paid handsomely by the state, often with competitive pensions to recruit vulnerable people to their nefarious schemes of ummahtic suffocation. What motivates them to choose this life of an open air prison warden is unclear and worth pursuing, theories range from structural learning difficulties to sexual impotence to daddy issues.

For Muslims and others with a decolonial analysis of things, Prevent is a neoliberal representation of a long tradition of coloniality stretching back hundreds of years. It surveils, fragments, disciplines and depoliticises the formation and articulation of a Muslim sense of self, place and community,. The strategy has even been reframed as a Cradle to Grave Police State.  Rendered statutory by the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015, it is something we need to understand, resist, survive and recover from.

Rather than be permanently bummed out over the latest bro to sell out, cash in and cause cringing, its high time to respond in the tradition of decolonial Ummahtic Love. To turn the gaze ( and the blade) towards the slow violence of Prevent , Establishment Extremism and the coloniality that makes them possible, is a liberating, positive and politically productive project that I am sure many would like to see operating.

Preventitude and the #NewVic3

Mak Chishti threat upon the bodies, spaces and habits of all Muslim youth was not an isolated incident. There is an entire generation, particularly in the schooling system, being subjected to Preventitude. The term salutes the Francophone African Negritude movement, and articulates a rallying call  to attend to the colonial institution of Prevent. Experience of this unjust set of power relations and weaponry connects not just those trapped beneath it in the UK, but in other locations around the world as powerful governments employ weirder, meaner and more brutal forms of policing souls, minds, bodies and with them the future. After all, the counter extremism kit, of hard and softer varieties is a growing British export to many countries.

A good example is in the country of my immediate ancestry, Bangladesh. Over their the British trained and human rights violating Rapid Action Battalion headed by Benazir Ahmed (who presided over the 2013 Dhaka Massacre ) would not be possible without the UK's  multidisciplinary input into the great War on Terror Scam. Fields of diplomacy, academia, military, education, culture and media operation are integrated into this mutually useful enterprise. Therefore, it stands to reason that calling out and challenging malevolent bullshit in the UK can work towards institutionally, professionally and politically safeguarding vulnerable people and societies all over the world, whether they are in Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Bangladesh, India or Pakistan.

Yesterday, less than a fortnight after the exposure of primary school children to dubious surveillance in Waltham Forest, I heard of the suspension of three upper sixth form students from New Vic College in Newham, another east London borough. Punitive measures had been taken against them for their opposition to college Prevent policies and Islamophobia. Given that it is exam season for A-level students, the college's behaviour is disproportionate and stupid at best, if not outright malicious.

Unreal right? You may have attended a wedding
at the nearby Impressions venue.

Justifying his destructive decision, Principal Playfair (!) cites the student's circulation of a petition to students and staff and IT policy as the grounds for their suspension. He talks about a commitment to fighting Islamophobia yet has contributes to it with his actions and doesn't seem to be fighting with Islamophobia's expression through Prevent. Maybe he is one of those post-racials who thinks that because his local prevent officer is brown, that there cannot be anything wrong with it.

Needless to say, the girls' supporters' and sympathisers' at the college and around the country aren't convinced by his initial pronouncements. If inclined to, you can watch the #NewVic3 hashtag on Twitter to see and connect to outrage at this serious institutional student rights violation.  From what I can tell, their petition is legitimate and interesting. It demands honesty, transparency from the senior management and protection of their student rights from the government's Prevent policy and in particular.

Some more politically-seasoned people might have advised a slightly different course of action, had their invitation by the students not been rescinded by the college. The context of the petition was in the aftermath of the college's banning of an event they had organised to critically discuss the politics and meaning of the government's Prevent policy. NUS Black Officer Malia Bouttia and others including local councillor Unmesh Desai were scheduled to speak, but for some undisclosed reason the college students were denied an audience with them.

The Lie of 'contravening IT policy' is enforceable by white power and 'how dare they demand of us' thinking. In reality it resembles an abusive big brother punching you in the gut, throat and mouth, then branding your face with 'enemy of the state' for picking the teeth out of your mouth. I hope the governor's of New Vic are busy making justice out of this situation. This is a school where a teacher can tell a room full of female students that they are. 


“too lazy to run to Syria, carry machine guns and have sex all day.”

and get away with it

I wish these young sisters a successful political and academic education and support their cause. They have shown more leadership than a lot of the fat brown bearded males. I think they should be nominated for a Muslim News Malcolm X Award for Services against Preventitude.

Recognising and supporting courage is one important, but so are the underlying causes of the Prevent Policy Disaster and our particular situations.

Reading Moby Dick in Newham

Cabinet Meeting at Newham.
Newham is a one party state. An East London borough where every single council ward is controlled by the Labour Party presided over the elected Mayor Robin Whale.  Whale plays an effective divide and rule policy on the boroughs different ethnic minority communities, has quite hard secularist views on multiculturalism and diversity and was a key collaborator in the gentrifying orgy that was Olympic Developmentia.

His whiteness, Labour identity and compliance with corporate interest means that he hasn't been subjected to the same scrutinies, dirty tricks, boycotts and lawfare of Lutfur Rahman next door in Tower Hamlets. The lack of headlines regarding his overrepresentation of 16.7% White British community in Newham is notable.

Whale's contribution to this Case study of institutional insanity is his appointment of the much-hated Quilliam Foundation's Ghaffar Husain as the borough's Prevent Officer. Interestingly, the Foundation's founder, Essex-born Majid Nawaz went to college in Newham, where he manipulated student politics, finances and Islam to violent affect. Following the 2013 Woolwich murder he made political value for himself spinning another self aggrandising yarn about the murder of Ayotunde Obanubi at his college.


What is to be done?

To close, the classroom coloniality unfolding in every educational institution around the country is on the increase and we need to tool up. Data and case studies like this one will be plentiful because of the baseline stupidity of institutions. Looking at the situation optimistically, it is a good opportunity to hold up a mirror of coloniality to government functionaries. Intellectuals focusing on race, Islamophobia, civil liberties and human rights discourses will of course be busy.  Muslims need also to attend to the spiritual impacts and connectivities of the problem, both to safeguard young people and better understand the sicknesses inside those who design, enforce and defend preventitude.


A Decolonial Dua

Owner of Judgement, Everlasting, Protecting Friend

forgive us those foolish decisions,

which enclose noble futures,

as we make our way to the minbar.

Guide us in our knowledge adventures,
beyond the accumulation of certification
to generation, political epistemic emancipation.
Protect us from developmentors on the watchtower,
and their developmentees
Preventing us, from helping us
Selling poverty pornography and non answers.



5.6.15

When Our Ulama Rocked: Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar at the 1930 London Round Table

In the 30s there were a number of conferences held in London, the grimy heart of the British Empire, to debate the future of India. One of the characters who appears in this discussion is Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, who counted Deoband, Alighar and Oxford ( Lincoln College - History) as his alma mater.

For the alien, that's code for traditional Islamic seminary movement, modernism Muslim experiment and Imperial western academy. He had also been a leader of the Khilafat Movement that opposed the abolition of said institution and moved Indian Muslims and Hindus to restore it.

The text reproduced below is an excerpt of his contribution at the occasion, the full text may be found here. My favourite bit is the non-concentric circle theory for dual Indian and Muslim identity. Note that Maulana made this speech only 6 weeks before his death in London, after which he was buried in Jerusalem.




The iconic image of him with his Khilafat movement hat (tupi) features on the stamps of India and Pakistan shown above, though notice the difference in where they position the star!  Bangladesh, in its nationalist shame at its Islamic anti-imperialist heritage, has not as yet found the breadth of narrative to include this man, not to mention his equally interesting brothers.

Maulana came from a wealthy and well educated family, and was an experienced multilingual journalist and publisher who drew on the quick witted combat poetical tradition of char bait. He was made of steely stuff too.

His grand daughter recounts that when the British imprisoned him, they used the failing health of his two young daughters as blackmail to force him to apologise for his political views. Hearing this, his mother, a mighty Begum (mother of warriors), wrote to him with the advise that if he were to take the offer she would throttle him with her last remaining strength.  His daughters passed on, and he was unable to attend their funerals.

At a time when Muslims sell out very cheaply, to white supremacy if not its coproduced criminal gangsters, even when they have nothing substantial to sell, the example of Muhammad Ali Jauhar is an inspiring one.

Jumma Mubarak!


****



[[8]] The real problem which is upsetting us all the time has been the third problem--this Hindu-Muslim problem; but that is no problem at all. The fact is that the Hindu-Muslim difficulty, like the Army difficulty, is of your own creation. But not altogether. It is the old maxim of "divide and rule." But there is a division of labour here. We divide and you rule. The moment we decide not to divide you will not be able to rule as you are doing today. With this determination not to be divided, we have come here. Let me assure every British man and woman who thinks of shaping our destinies that the only quarrel between the Hindus and the Muslims today is [the] quarrel that the Muslim is afraid of Hindu domination and the Hindu, I suppose, is afraid of Muslim domination. (Dr. Moonje: No, the Hindu is never afraid.) Well I am very glad to hear that. In my country the she-buffalo attacks only when she is afraid; and whatever the reverence of the Hindu for the cow, I am glad he has never the fear of the she-buffalo. I want to get rid of that fear. The very fact that Hindus and Muslims are quarrelling today shows that they will not stand British domination either for one single minute. That is the point to grasp.

British domination is doomed over India. Is our friendship doomed also? My brother took service under the Government and served it for 17 years, but he did one thing for me. He sent me to Oxford. He was always taunting me in the non- co-operation days by saying: "You have a soft corner in your heart for that place called Oxford." I must admit that I had. I spent four years there, and I always carry with me the most pleasant recollections of that time, and I want to keep that feeling. I do have a very soft corner in my heart for my Alma Mater. But I can taunt my brother, too. When he was being tried at Karachi­-when the jury let us off, and there was a British juryman among them, they voted for our release because we were such a sporting lot--my big brother said: "Even if it becomes my duty to kill the first Englishman I come across, if he happens to have blue eyes, my knife will not work; because I shall think of the eyes of Theodore Beck, my late Principal at my old College, Aligarh." There are several Aligarh Old Boys here, and they can bear witness to the fact that we who were brought up at Aligarh by Beck could never be without a soft corner in our hearts for Engl:shmen. Therefore, even if British domination is doomed--and it must be killed here--do not let us kill British friendship. We have a soft corner in our hearts for Great Britain. Let us retain it, I beseech you.

[[9]] One word as to the Muslim position, with which I shall deal at length on some other occasion. Many people in England ask us why this question of Hindu and Muslim comes into politics and what it has to do with these things. I reply, "It is a wrong conception of religion that you have, if you exclude politics from it. It is not dogma; it is not ritual! Religion, to my mind means the interpretation of life." I have a culture, a polity, an outlook on life--a complete synthesis which is Islam. Where God commands I am a Muslim first, a Muslim second, and a Muslim last, and nothing but a Muslim. If you ask me to enter into your Empire or into your Nation by leaving that synhesis, that polity, that culture, that ethics, I will not do it. My first duty is to my Maker, not to H. M. the King, nor to my companion, Dr. Moonje; my first duty is to my maker, and that is the case with Dr. Moonje also. He must be a Hindu first, and I must be a Muslim first, so far as that duty is concerned. But where India is concerned, where India's freedom is concerned, I am an Indian first, an Indian second, an Indian last, and nothing but an Indian.

I belong to two circles of equal size, but which are not concentric. One is India, and the other is the Muslim world. When I came to England in 1920 at the head of the Khilafat Delegation, my friends said: "You must have some sort of a crest for your stationery." I decided to have it with two circles on it. In one circle was the word "India"; in the other circle was Islam, wiih the word "Khilafat." We as Indian Muslims came in both circles. We belong to these two circles, each of more than 300 millions, and we can leave neither. We are not nationalists but supernationalists, and I as a Muslim say that "God made man and the Devil made the nation." Nationalism divides; our religion binds. No religious wars,  no crusades, have seen such holocausts and have been so cruel as your last war, and that was a war of your nationalism, and not my Jehad.

But where our country is concerned, where the question of taxation is concerned, where our crops are concerned, where the weather is concerned, where all associations in those thousands of matters of ordinary life are concerned, which are for the welfare of India, how can I say "I am a Muslim and he is a Hindu"? Make no mistake about the quarrels between Hindu and Muslim; they are founded only on the fear of domination. If there is one other sin with which I charge Great Britain, in addition to the sin of emasculating India, it is the sin of making wrong histories about India and teaching them to us in our schools, with the result that our school boys have learnt wrong Indian history. The quarrels which are sometimes visible in our streets on certain holidays, or quarrels the motives of which have been instilled into the hearts of our so-called intelligentsia--I call it unintelligentsia--by the wrong history taught us in our schools for political purposes. If that feeling, which writes "Revenge" so large over the politics of certain people in India, existed as it does, and if it existed to the extent which it does today, and the Muslims were everywhere in a minority of 25 per cent and the Hindus were everywhere in a majority of 66 per cent, I could see no ray of hape today; but thanks to the gerrymandering of our saints and our soldiers, if there are Provinces like that of my friend Dr. Moonje, in which I am only 4 per cent, there are other provinces where I am 93 percent, as in the Province of my friend Nawab Sir Abdul Qaiyum, for which we demand equal freedom. There is the old Province of Sind, where the Muslims first landed, where they are 73 per cent; in the Punjab they are 56 per cent, and in Bengal 55 per cent. That gives us our safeguard, for we demand hostages as we have willingly given hostages to Hindus in the other Provinces where they form huge majorities.

[[10]] I want you to realise that for the first time you are introducing a big revolution into India;for the first time majority rule is to be introduced into India. In the days of Lord Rama there was no majority rule, or he would not have been exiled. The old Pandu and Kuru rulers, who gambled their kingdoms away, did not have majority rule; Mahmud of Ghazni and Akbar and Aurangzeb did not have majority rule, nor did Shivaji; when Ranjit Singh ruled in the Punjab, he too did not have majority rule; when Warren Hastings and Clive ruled india, they did not have majority rule; and even in the days of Lord Irwin there is no majority rule. For the first time in India, we are going to introduce majority rule, and I, belonging to a minority community, accept that majority rule, although I know very well that if 51 people say that 2 and 2 make 5, and 49 people say that 2 and 2 make 4, the fact that 51 say that 2 and 2 make 5 does not cause them to make 5. Still I am prepared to submit to majority rule. Luckily, hewever, there are Muslim majorities in certain Provinces, and with the federal form of government which is suited to India, not only for the solution of the Hindu-Muslim problem, but is essential for the sake of the Princes also, this is in our favour. The centrifugal and centripetal tendencies are so well balanced in India that we are bound to have a federal system of government there, not as a distant ideal, as the Government of India says, but today, now this minute. We shall leave this conference only with federation established in India, with new treaties made with the Princes, with the consent of the crown and the Princes.

2.6.15

Stokely Carmichael responds to an uppity white liberal

at the Camden Round House during Dialectics of Liberation '67. This 30 minute documentary is a must watch for anyone on the hippy to black power spectrum

1.6.15

Five thousand miles and 95 years

An accompaniment to Salaam Blog's A Hijra to Nowhere


My dear great grandnephew
Five thousand miles and ninety five years
Down the stream of my tears
On a caravan bereft of mind
We were once at a similar place,
Clutching at straws in desperation
Following mughal capitulation,
Corporate colonisation, and failure of insurrection.

Others have been there too,
Been an awful five odd hundred years, since 1492.
Bani al insan is covered in such wounds,all over her body.
Bani al insane to add to them, so fecklessly as you do.

Remember ‘British India’ PO Box Dar ul Harb?
Those days when Hindustan was the hearth of anti-colonial endeavour.
Several partitions ago.
And the ulama were more worthy of the name

Seizing opportunity from uncertainty,
Somebody suggested Muslim exodus from India,
A hijra to Afghanistan.
Thousands followed, selling their assets for hope

The seduction of an escapist idea,
An emotionally palliative bumwave
Fiqhxed like a brick through the window of the tyrant's palace.
That simply sounds the alarm to further lobotomy

We be meat to the political cleavers
Of sold-out imbeciles bearing arabesque words.
Golden Ganders for mincers
Makers of our own annihilation
My dear great grandnephew
Five thousand miles and ninety five years
Down the stream of my tears
On a caravan bereft of mind

Moving out of coloniality
Reducing White supremacy
To its actual minority
Takes more than salafi necromancy.

The mujahids of 1857
Could sure have used your IT.
So how about a time machine?
Write back soon.

26.5.15

[New Word] Sociogenyaesthetics

The art of knowing how things (bodies, materials, discourses and performances) became this way and how they can change.

[New Word] Occidenteering

The practice of learning how to understand and navigate in a world that has been configured by white supremacy for 500 odd years.