• Anti Muslim Bigotry

    Claire Fox on Boris Johnson and free speech

    This article by Claire Fox seems a useful starting point for some reflections on the burka row.  First a quick note on my own reaction to Johnson’s comments.  They slotted in quite neatly to some distinctions around discussions of this topic which I briefly sketched in a recent piece on anti-Muslim bigotry: Vulgar and harsh comments about what an individual woman is wearing, assumptions about her views and motives, are one thing – but a reasoned critique of modesty codes (and some of those writing these will be Muslim women themselves) quite another Clearly Johnson’s comparisons with letterboxes and bank robbers were by no means at the crudest and most…

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    Michael White on antisemitism and Islamophobia

    The former Guardian journalist offered this surprisingly curt response to a question about the lack of coverage of alleged Islamophobia in the Conservative Party: A number of instances have been offered where Muslims have experienced a problem in the Conservative Party or where Conservative activists have made bigoted remarks. I’m not sure how deep or widespread the problem is but it should be tackled without reference to Islamist terrorism. White then offered a further response when challenged. This reminded me a little of the debating dodges used by some Corbyn supporters.  Express a concern about antisemtism – you are just trying to shut down criticism of Israel.  No one was…

  • Amnesty International,  antisemitism

    Labour and antisemitism: a (selective) weekly roundup

    Where to start? Chris Williamson has been shooting up the list of my least favourite MPs for some time.  Now the Jewish Labour Movement has called for him to be suspended from the party following his failure to challenge antisemitism, including the accusation that Corbyn’s critics are ‘foot-soldiers for Israel’.  This is a revealing little detail. He added that some in the party had “allowed their passion to run away” and expressed themselves in “a light which could be perceived as antisemitic… I don’t believe they are antisemites.” Imagine substituting ‘racist’ or ‘Islamophobic’ for antisemitic – would he ever come out with such a statement? On the topic of giving…

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    A few thoughts on MEND’s recent report on Islamophobia

    Whereas definitions of antisemitism have of course been much discussed recently, I’ve seen little coverage of this report on defining Islamophobia.  The definition – and subsequent direct commentary – can be found on pp.20-23. Here are a few first thoughts. I’ve deliberately put to one side considerations of MEND as an organisation. The short definition (p. 20) at first glance seems straightforward, describing unambiguous anti-Muslim bigotry. It’s possible to envisage ways in which it could be applied inappropriately, but this is true of all such definitions. Like many of the clauses in the key definitions of antisemitism (EUMC, IHRA) it is essentially a statement of the obvious.  It would catch…

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    Labour’s Latest: Cllr Kevin Enticott

    You are probably already aware of the key details of this case. Enticott, a Labour councillor from Bognor Regis, has been suspended from the party after apparently posting the most vile and extreme antisemitic material on his Facebook page. It called for the execution of ‘Talmud Jews’, repeated the blood libel, and called Jews ‘parasites’. You can read more details here. He claims his account was hacked – and the very fact that the material was so extreme might be said to make that claim more credible. However his response to the allegation of antisemitism was strange, to say the least: Insisting that that he is “not anti-Semitic in any…

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    Geert Wilders and freedom of speech

    Khalil Yousuf has recently published a piece in the Economist deploring Geert Wilders’ proposed Muhammed themed cartoon competition. He asserts that modern communications have made this competition equivalent to shouting fire in a crowded theatre. It’s true that the competition may further whip up anti-Islam/Muslim sentiment amongst some of those involved. Of course it may also – as a similar competition did a few years ago – result in violence from Islamists. He argues: The cartoon competition has only one purpose: to unite far right individuals into his anti-Islam cause. It has little to do with free speech. The kind of speech which needs defending is rarely just ‘about’ free…

  • antisemitism,  Labour Party

    A few thoughts on Labour’s new guidelines on antisemitism

    A great deal of anger has been caused by Labour’s 16 point code of conduct on antisemitism. I agree with some but not all of the criticisms which have been levelled at it, and will go through some of the key concerns which have been raised offering a few reflections on these. The first examples are taken from an article by Lee Harpin in the JC. [C]rucially, the new Labour Party version omits some of the explicit references to how criticism of Israel can easily stray into antisemitic discourse. … What is immediately obvious is the attempt to weaken the guidelines around how and when criticism of Israel can stray…

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    Billy Elliot cancelled in Budapest

    Following an article in an Orban-supporting newspaper claiming that the show could cause homosexuality, fifteen performances of Billy Elliot have been cancelled by the Hungarian State Opera House. “As you know, the negative campaign in recent weeks against the Billy Elliot production led to a big drop in ticket sales, and for this reason we are cancelling 15 performances in line with the decision of our management,” the director-general of the opera house, Szilveszter Ókovács, told the independent Hungarian website 444.hu. It would be bad enough if this kind of illiberal journalism were simply hitting ticket sales – and I assume that’s a factor behind the decision. But the cancellation may also…

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    Hillel Neuer on Trump and the UN Human Rights Council

    Coming in the midst of appalling reports of children being separated from their parents and detained in distressing conditions, the announcement that Trump now plans to quit the UN Human Rights Council has elicited sharply hostile responses.  Amnesty International posted the following tweet. Hillel Neuer of UN Watch responded by supplying ten good reasons for doing just this.  (You can read them here.)  He also spoke very eloquently about the problems with the UN Human Rights Council on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland earlier today (from about 47 minutes in).  He pointed out not just the glaring problems with some countries on the Council but also the way they are supported…