CST Elections report

June 30th, 2009 by Dave Rich

CST has today published its report into the performance of the BNP in this month’s local and European elections. These were breakthrough elections for the BNP: they won two seats in the European Parliament for the first time, and three seats on County Councils, a tier of local government from which they were previously absent. Despite this, things could have been much worse. Given the combination of the recession and the expenses scandal, ideal political conditions for the BNP, their two MEPs perhaps fell short of expectations. The report draws a few conclusions about the BNP’s performance and the new reality that it has created:

The reasons for the BNP’s European success are numerous, but include the collapse of mainstream politics, the lack of political engagement in local areas and the BNP’s success at getting out on the streets in local areas. In policy terms, the BNP have been able to play on mainstream concerns about the economy, crime, housing and unemployment, while also exploiting more traditional far right subjects such as immigration and fears about Islamist extremism. Their use of the issue of migrant workers in particular combines fears about immigration with the reality of rising unemployment.

In general, the BNP benefited (as did most other parties) from the collapse in the Labour vote. However, this should not be complacently dismissed as a protest vote, which can be won back with ease. In recent years the BNP have proven adept at taking what appears to be a protest vote and turning it into a hardened and loyal local support through different electoral cycles. These results are the consequence of several years of hard work by BNP activists to build up a strong core support, particularly in the North West, Yorkshire, West Midlands and parts of the South East and East London.

Nor can some of the long-held assumptions about the dynamics of BNP electoral success be relied upon. For example, there does not appear, in these elections at least, to be a clear correlation between a low turnout and relative success for the BNP. The party did win its two European Parliament seats in regions where the turnout and the Labour vote both fell, but their total vote and their share of the vote also rose in the two regions where the overall turnout rose. In London, two of the BNP’s three best votes came in boroughs with a turnout of 36% or over, while their three worst results came in boroughs with turnouts between 29.2% and 32.4%; the average turnout in London was 33.5%, down from 37.7% in 2004. Nor does there appear to be a correlation between a fall in the UKIP vote and a rise in the vote for the BNP (or vice versa).

The election of two MEPs was a big breakthrough for the BNP and does have serious consequences, but the party failed to match the pre-election predictions of up to seven seats. Despite gaining about 135,000 more votes than four years ago, the BNP share of the vote only rose by 1.3% to 6.2%, below the Green Party’s share. The BNP spent what was for them a large amount of money on the European campaign, about £500,000, and they only just managed to get two people elected. It is possible that this was partly the effect of extensive anti-BNP campaigning, especially in areas like the West Midlands where the BNP missed out on winning a seat. Still, with their three successes in the County Council elections extending their presence in local government, in addition to a seat on the London Assembly and now two MEPs, the BNP can quite reasonably claim to be a fringe party on the right of the political spectrum that is of similar size and standing to the Green Party’s position on the left. With greater standing, though, will come greater scrutiny. Within just a few weeks of the election, the BNP already face the prospect of a legal challenge from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to the racial and ethnic basis of their membership criteria.

The election of two MEPs gives the BNP a large amount of money (Griffin and Brons could earn up to around £2 million each over the five-year term, including salaries, expenses and other allowances), which would enable them to expand their operations across the country. It has already provided them with a large amount of publicity, out of all proportion to their size and influence, and will continue to do so. They now have access to places previously barred to them, for example the House of Commons, and to platforms that were denied to them, for example, local political meetings and possibly even political programmes like BBC’s Question Time. It has given them a huge boost, with more people likely to join as members and more money available to fight more elections. The next step will be fighting seats at the next General Election, which must take place by June 2010. They are likely to concentrate on areas where they already have a large local presence, for example Barking and Dagenham and Stoke-on-Trent. However, due to the political volatility brought about by the expenses scandal and the recession they could be looking to stand in other areas.

These results will further confirm to the BNP that their elections-based approach is the most likely strategy to bring real results in pursuit of their political goals. It will also strengthen Griffin’s position within the party, despite the internal divisions caused by his leadership style. It is many years since the BNP have held a public march on the streets, or a mass rally of the type that far right groups used to hold on a regular basis in the 1970s and 1980s. While throwing eggs at BNP leaders makes a powerful statement about the offensive nature of the party, while also providing good pictures, the meaningful fight against the BNP will be won and lost on the battleground of mainstream politics. The challenge for the mainstream parties and anti-BNP campaigners is to re-engage with existing and potential BNP voters and their concerns at a local level. There are now several parts of the country where the BNP are a serious political threat and can no longer simply be dismissed as a protest vote. The concerns of their voters need to be addressed by the mainstream parties, not by developing softer versions of BNP policies, but by developing real policies to address their needs while demonstrating why the BNP’s policies do not provide any answers to their problems.

Also worth reading is this analysis from Searchlight’s Nick Lowles, with some fascinating (if rather gloomy) polling, that shows the BNP vote to be hardened, loyal, racist and extremely disaffected:

It is also important to dispel two widely (though separately) held assumptions. Firstly, this is not the protest vote against mainstream parties and useless locally elected representatives that many politicians would like us to believe. It is an increasingly hard and loyal vote which is based on political and economic insecurities and moulded by deep-rooted racial prejudice. This in turn is linked with a second myth, that the way to beat the BNP is simply to tack left and offer more socialistic policies. While this might peel off some BNP supporters who feel economically marginalised, it will not in itself address the strongly held racist views of many BNP voters.

As the YouGov poll (see below) clearly shows, the racism of many BNP voters goes well beyond simple opposition to current immigration and eastern European migrant workers which one might expect if their support for the BNP was prompted simply by economic insecurity. Belief in the intellectual superiority of white people over non-whites, the view of nearly half of BNP voters that black and Asian people can never be British, the almost universal dislike of even moderate Islam and the contempt and suspicion many of their voters have towards a liberal and multicultural society show how hardline much of the BNP support is and how it will take more than a more progressive economic policy to win them back fully.

More importantly, and regularly overlooked by politicians, activists and commentators alike, are issues around identity. As I have discussed before, the BNP is emerging as the voice of a forgotten working class, which increasingly feels left behind and ignored by mainstream society. As the YouGov research confirms, the majority of BNP voters feel that the Labour Party, for many their traditional political home, has moved away from them and is now dominated by a middle-class London elite who care more for Middle England and the interests of minority groups than for them.

What we can do, however, is make a difference on the ground. And we do. Results in several local authority areas in the European elections showed the BNP vote (both actual and share of the vote) down compared to 2004. Among these areas were Burnley, Pendle and Oldham in the North West, Bradford and Kirklees in West Yorkshire, and Sandwell and Dudley in the West Midlands.

A common factor in all these areas has been the intensity of local anti-BNP campaigns, which has been all year round and not just a leaflet at an election.

In the name of Moses

June 29th, 2009 by Dave Rich

It is often said, not least by CST, that criticism of Israel is perfectly legitimate, just as it is of any other state. Equally, though, people who want to criticise or campaign against Israel should exercise care that their activities do not invoke or allude to traditional antisemitic imagery or language.

What forms that traditional antisemitic imagery and language, though, is often the point of contention, not helped by a widespread ignorance, even on the anti-racist left, of anything other than Nazi antisemitism. CST does not campaign on behalf of Israel or against its detractors, but we do try to show how antisemitism sometimes slips into anti-Zionist discourse, and about the antisemitic impact of some anti-Zionist politics. So in that light, we could offer the following:

  • Do not blame Israeli policy – the bits you don’t like – on innate Jewish characteristics or beliefs. The Torah does not instruct Jews to kill, quite the opposite.
  • The central tenet of modern antisemitism is the conspiracy theory. Try to avoid allusions to overwhelming Zionist or Jewish power and control of Western governments or societies. Remember that Zionism is a movement for Jewish nationalism in Israel, not a global ideology.
  • If mainstream Jewish voices express concern about antisemitism, at least give them a fair hearing. Do not assume that they are cynically raising the issue in order to silence you.

There is a surprising illiteracy on much of the anti-racist left about basic antisemitic tropes such as these, as has been pointed out before. You would not expect this to extend to the Institute for Race Relations, but the latest edition of their journal Race & Class (not freely available online) suggests otherwise. It opens with a poem, “Gaza”, by the director of the IRR, A Sivanandan, which includes this verse:

A drone has taken Nour’s head

And Ahmed’s shred to pieces

Of flesh and bone that none can mourn –

And all in the name of Moses.

The same issue of Race & Class has an article on “Palestinian resistance and international solidarity: the BDS campaign” (BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel). At several points, the article identifies “Zionism” as playing a central role in global western power:

We argue that the effectiveness of BDS as a strategy of resistance and cross-border solidarity is intimately connected with a challenge to the hegemonic place of Zionism in western ideology.

…support for this campaign can serve as a challenge to a particular element of western elite hegemony in the form of the ideology of Zionism… We argue that the effectiveness of such a civil society initiative, as a strategy of resistance and cross-border solidarity, can be usefully framed as an anti-racist movement that contests a post-second world war hegemonic construction of state ideology, in which Zionism plays a central role and serves to enforce a racial contract that hides the apartheid-like character of the state of Israel.

The campaign is designed to be flexible in its application and adaptable to specific conditions in various international, regional and local contexts. Consistently, however, the place of Zionism as a hegemonic element in western ideology has been challenged and debates regarding the nature of racism and anti-racism have inevitably ensued. Despite facing intense lobbying and opposition to varying degrees among organised Zionist interests, the BDS campaign has continued to grow.

The BDS movement, particularly in terms of its resonance in the global north, can therefore be understood as a counter-hegemonic movement.

As Moishe Postone explains, an analysis that gives Zionism a “central role” in global hegemony leads very naturally to an antisemitic conspiracy theory that “understands the abstract domination of capital – which subjects people to the compulsion of mysterious forces they cannot perceive – as the domination of International Jewry…it appears to be antihegemonic, the expression of a movement of the little people against an intangible, global form of domination.”

What if mainstream Jewish communities, or others for that matter, believe that there is a problem with antisemitism and try to come up with measures to combat it? You would hope that the IRR would take this seriously, whatever their view of Israel and Zionism. In February of this year, the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism held its inaugural conference in London. This conference, which CST helped to organise, brought together parliamentarians, academics, anti-racist practitioners, police and other experts, to develop new policies to tackle antisemitism. But for the authors of this article, the conference had little to do with antisemitism:

“Perhaps as a tribute to the deepening influence of the campaign, a new configuration of international Parliamentarians, the Inter-parliamentary Coalition Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA), has responded with its first meeting of nearly one hundred legislators from thirtyfive countries, meeting in London, UK, in February 2009. The summit challenged ‘anti-Semitism’ by attempting to conflate racist attacks on Jewish citizens in various countries with criticisms of Israel’s policies, the latter not least associated with the UN conference against racism that took place in Durban, South Africa in 2001. See ‘Anti-Semitism world summit begins’, BBC News UK, (21 February 2009), <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_ news/7892216.stm> (accessed 21 February 2009).”

Put to one side the astonishing egocentrism of the assumption that this unprecedented conference, hosted by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and attended by nearly 200 people from dozens of countries, was organised solely to counter the activities of the boycott campaign; just note the quotation marks around “anti-Semitism”, and the associated dismissal of the very idea that this was a genuine effort to talk about genuine antisemitism.

You can read the London Declaration of the conference here. It has 35 clauses; boycotts are mentioned just once, and Israel three times. There are lots of good ideas about hate crime legislation and monitoring, law enforcement training and other areas of international cooperation. All are ignored by the Race & Class article.

The rise in antisemitism in Britain in recent years has not been uniform. There are large parts of the country, and sectors of society, where antisemitism is entirely absent. There are other parts, though, which have proven to be hospitable environments for antisemitic notions to become established modes of thought; and the intellectual left is the most striking example. It is now quite common to find writers who think that their explanation of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict is enhanced by references to enduring Jewish traits, or conspiracies, or cod psychology about the Holocaust, or what Jews – not Israelis, but Jews – teach their children. It comes with a refusal to entertain the idea that this might generate antisemitism, or reflect it, or even by motivated by it. You might expect the IRR to know better. Or maybe, in fact, you wouldn’t.

Zionist Dollarism

June 25th, 2009 by Dave Rich

The Muslim Public Affairs Committee have been caught out plenty of times in the past lifting material from far right and neo-Nazi websites. Never let it be said, though, that they lack for a diverse range of sources to prove that there is a Zionist conspiracy behind every global menace.

Here they are just yesterday, reproducing a 1964 essay by Malcolm X on “Zionist Dollarism” and the role it plays in subjugating Africa:

These Israeli Zionists religiously believe their Jewish God has chosen them to replace the outdated European colonialism with a new form of colonialism, so well disguised that it will enable them to deceive the African masses into submitting willingly to their “divine” authority and guidance, without the African masses being aware that they are still colonized.

The modern 20th century weapon of neo-imperialism is “dollarism.” The Zionists have mastered the science of dollarism: the ability to come posing as a friend and benefactor, bearing gifts and all other forms of economic aid and offers of technical assistance. Thus, the power and influence of Zionist Israel in many of the newly “independent” African nations has fast-become even more unshakeable than that of the 18th century European colonialists… and this new kind of Zionist colonialism differs only in form and method, but never in motive or objective.

The number one weapon of 20th century imperialism is zionist dollarism, and one of the main bases for this weapon is Zionist Israel. The ever-scheming European imperialists wisely placed Israel where she could geographically divide the Arab world, infiltrate and sow the seed of dissension among African leaders and also divide the Africans against the Asians.

The imperialists always make themselves look good, but it is only because they are competing against economically crippled newly independent countries whose economies are actually crippled by the Zionist-capitalist conspiracy.

EHRC to the BNP: you might be racist

June 23rd, 2009 by Dave Rich

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has written to the BNP to question their anti-discrimination policies on membership, employment and provision of services to the public. The EHRC suggests that in these areas, the BNP’s policies may breach the Race Relations Act:

The Commission has a statutory duty, under the Equality Act 2006, to enforce the provisions of the Act and to work towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination. This duty includes preventing discrimination by political parties.

The Commission thinks that the BNP’s constitution and membership criteria may discriminate on the grounds of race and colour, contrary to the Race Relations Act.  The party’s membership criteria appear to restrict membership to those within what the BNP regards as particular “ethnic groups” and those whose skin colour is white. This exclusion is contrary to the Race Relations Act which the party is legally obliged to comply with. The Commission therefore thinks that the BNP may have acted, and be acting, illegally.

The BNP’s website states that the party is looking to recruit people and states that any applicants should supply a membership number. The Commission thinks that this requirement is contrary to the Race Relations Act, which outlaws the refusal or deliberate omission to offer employment on the basis of non-membership of an organisation. The Commission is therefore concerned that the BNP may have acted, and be acting, illegally.

The Commission is also concerned that the BNP’s elected representatives may not intend to offer or provide services on an equal basis to all their constituents and members of the public irrespective of race or colour.  The Commission thinks that this contravenes the Race Relations Act and the Local Authority Model Code of Conduct and that the BNP may have acted illegally and may act illegally in the future.

The BBC report on this story includes the key section of the BNP’s constitution:

In its constitution, the BNP says it exists to represent the “collective National, Environmental, Political, Racial, Folkish, Social, Cultural, Religious and Economic interests of the indigenous Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Norse folk communities of Britain and those we regard as closely related and ethnically assimilated or assimilable aboriginal members of the European race also resident in Britain”.

It says membership of the BNP is “strictly defined within the terms of, and our members also self define themselves within, the legal ambit of a defined ‘racial group’ this being ‘Indigenous Caucasian’ and defined ‘ethnic groups’ emanating from that Race”.

The EHRC’s warning of a possible legal injunction against the BNP is a serious threat to the party’s future in its current state. It is also a reminder that legal approaches are a useful, and often underused, tool in the anti-racist armoury.

Nick Griffin cannot claim to have been unaware that the BNP often skirts around the edges of the law in its policies and propaganda. In 2007 he announced that he had changed his mind on whether the Holocaust happened – having previously described it as “a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter witch-hysteria” – solely because of changes to European law: “If I say that now or believe that now, I’m liable to be extradited to France…I believe what the law says I must believe.”

Of course Griffin has fallen foul of the law before, in 1998, when he was convicted of distributing material likely to incite racial hatred. His experience of this trial led him to write a paper for BNP writers on how to avoid prosecution under the Race Relations Act, and it may be worth reviewing Griffin’s advice, now that the BNP is under the legal spotlight once again.

1) “The truth is no defence.” That’s the ‘law’, no getting around it.

2) Any connection between sex, particularly sex crime, and members of ethnic ‘minorities’ is dynamite.

4) Emotive words, however justified they may be, must be avoided. Truth hurts, so words like ‘alien’, ‘vermin’, ‘gang’ instead of ‘group’, and such like must be avoided. A white rapist may be described as a ‘beast’ or an ‘animal’, but a black one must merely be a ‘criminal’.

5) Even more than ‘racism’, ‘anti-Semitism’ is the great taboo of our time. We can sometimes get away with criticising Zionists, but any criticism of Jews is likely to be legal and political suicide.

6) Reports of the harmful effects of immigration abroad may still be held to be likely or intended to incite racial hatred in Britain.

8) What a PC prosecutor will try to claim is “likely or intended” to incite “hatred” doesn’t necessarily have any relationship to reality or commonsense. In my own case, for instance, the ‘Crown’ complained that the words “Wanted: More white children” implied that non-white children are less wanted. An article which “extolled the virtues of Nordic life” (according to the CPS) was said by implication to decry the lifestyles of non-whites. A drawing of a noose (reproduced with paedophile murderers in mind and with no reference at all to immigration) was said to be a ‘coded’ call to “hang Black people.” The fact that I called a Black separatist friend to testify on my behalf, and that the prosecution were unable to explain what possible good it could do a political party aiming to get elected to power to issue calls, coded or otherwise, to hang black people, had no impact at all on the PC jurors.

9) In the end, a Race Act case is decided by a jury. As these trials are invariably held in multiracial areas (mine was held in North West London, with a jury catchment area including Southall, despite the fact that both me and the complainant live in rural Wales), and as jurors are drawn disproportionately from the chattering intellectual classes, this means that the chances of a fair trial are nil. So the only way to win a Race Act trial is to avoid it.

If the BNP is to avoid a legal injunction in this case, it may have to alter its character to such an extent that it ceases to serve its purpose for most BNP members. BNP spokesman John Walker told the BBC that the BNP would be prepared to change its membership rules “to remain within the law…[but] I don’t think we should be bullied by outside forces. They are asking us to change our whole political ideology.” This quote outlines perfectly the dilemma facing the BNP. It wants to be a normal political party, offering itself at election and winning seats. So far, it has had moderate success in local and European elections doing just that. But its “whole political ideology” is based on discrimination on the basis of colour, religion and ethnicity. The BNP’s efforts to ditch its extremist, racist image have so far been entirely superficial; you do not have to scratch very far beneath the surface to find the same racism that has always been there, because it is written into the constitution of the party. The EHRC seem determined to put this to the test.

When we say “Zionists”…

June 19th, 2009 by Dave Rich

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has given his verdict on the past week’s events, and it’s clear whose hand he sees behind the turmoil in his country:

The competition for the election was very clear. Enemies and dirty Zionists tried to show the election as a contest between the regime and against it. That is not true, all four candidates support the regime. [He lists the government positions of the opposition candidates]. All of the candidates are part of this system and regime. Zionists and the bad British radio said it was a challenge to the regime.

Zionists claims of corruption are not right.

Enemies try through various media, and some of these media belong to the Zionists … they try to make believe that there is a fight between supporters of the opposition and the Islamic establishment.

This is not a competition between outside and inside the establishment as Zionists, media in the UK, in the US, have been trying to say.

There has been plenty said and written about whether people sometimes use “Zionist” as a euphemism for “Jew”, and whether anti-Zionist discourse can sometimes mimic traditional conspiracy theories about Jews. I’m sure some will claim that when Khamenei talks about “Zionists”, he means Israel and various agencies of the Israeli state. So it is helpful that he has gone on record in the past, explaining exactly what he means by the word “Zionist”:

When we say “Zionists” we do not only mean the usurping Zionist government. That is only part of the Zionist entity. The Zionists form the major capitalists of some countries, including the United State (sic) of America, and dominate the politics of that country.

Today, unfortunately, the United States, its Congress and its government, are under the spell of Zionism in different financial, economic, cultural, political and propaganda arenas. The bulk of the propaganda organs of the world mass media, furthermore, are controlled by the Zionists. Most of the famous news agencies which you know of are controlled by them. The few that do not belong to them, in fact move in harmony with them.

Khamenei said this in a speech broadcast on Iranian radio in December 1997. It is possible that he has changed his views since then, and developed a more nuanced and less conspiratorial view of events. Perhaps he no longer thinks that America is controlled by a vast Zionist conspiracy; a lot can change in 12 years. Or it is possible that nothing has changed, and that when he says “Zionists”, he really doesn’t mean Israel; he has a different type of “Zionist” in mind.




There is a full, though unofficial, translation of Khamenei’s speech here.

BNP voters

June 18th, 2009 by Dave Rich

Nick Lowles has a fascinating, if rather foreboding, blog on Hope not Hate, about a set of polling done on the attitudes of BNP voters.

Next month’s Searchlight will carry a full analysis of the polling results, but it appears to confirm that the BNP vote is not simply a protest vote. This has been apparent for a while; in CST’s analysis of last year’s local election results, we wrote that:

[There are] several councils where the BNP vote is not simply a one-off protest vote that it can be assumed will disappear in future elections. Where the BNP do pick up a protest vote, it appears that this tends to be a protest against all mainstream politicians, based on a general cynicism about politics that the BNP is happy to encourage. They have proven adept at converting a protest vote into a positive BNP vote, which can only be overturned by sustained and focused campaigning; but, it is a vote that can be won back as voters generally still prefer to vote for one of the mainstream parties, if they feel their concerns are being addressed.

There are many parts of the country where voters have been casting a ‘protest’ vote for the BNP in successive elections for some years now. It is time for the mainstream parties to stop dismissing it as simply a protest that can be mollified, and come up with serious political alternatives to win back those votes.

The polling also threw up this:

The research also reveals the many BNP voters share a belief that they are victims of modern society, a theme that is cleverly exploited by the BNP. Linked to that is their belief that outside forces are conspiring to undermine them and their society. A shocking 34% of BNP voters agreed that there was an international Jewish/Communist conspiracy to undermine the Christian values of British society.

Only 2% of BNP supporters believed that the Holocaust did not happen but a further 18% said that while the Holocaust occurred the number of deaths had been exaggerated.

The BNP like to play down their antisemitism nowadays, although it is easy to find if you scratch a little below the surface. Nick Griffin has only authored one book in his BNP career: Who Are the Mindbenders?, an exercise in listing every Jewish-sounding name he could find in the media, publishing, broadcasting and other ‘mindbending’ industries.


The Islamic Human Rights Commission and CST

June 17th, 2009 by Dave Rich

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) have published a briefing paper, Concerns regarding demonisation of Islam and Muslims by Community Security Trust publications[i], which accuses CST of deliberately misrepresenting and demonising Islam and Muslims, in order to generate Islamophobia. By analysing a series of articles written by CST and published on the CST website, they accuse CST of using intentionally deceptive language with the “objective of distorting the image of both Islam and Muslims.”[ii]

CST wholly denies the entirely unfounded allegations made by IHRC. The IHRC briefing is full of basic errors, distortions and misrepresentations that completely alter the meaning of the articles that it claims to analyse. It contains supposed quotes and arguments in CST articles that do not exist; and omits relevant context from the quotes and articles that it claims to analyse. Worst of all, however, the IHRC makes these claims in order to accuse CST and its staff of propagating Islamophobia, when nothing could be further from the truth. 

CST has, for many years, used its experience in community defence work to advise and help many other British communities, including Muslims. CST encourages Jewish participation in interfaith and cross-communal initiatives that help to break down barriers between communities and help diminish extremism. In particular, CST staff and volunteers serve alongside Muslim advisors on police advisory committees throughout the country, providing direct assistance of CST’s primary expertise. Indeed, one of the CST staff attacked by IHRC, Mark Gardner, received a personal award from the Metropolitan Police for his work in the defence of all London communities during the nail bombing campaign by British neo-Nazi David Copeland ten years ago.

CST has no direct contact with IHRC, and is concerned as to why a group that ostensibly fights racism should attack another anti-racist organisation in this manner. Of far greater concern, however, is the mischief and discord that IHRC’s briefing may cause if it is at all believed or repeated by others who are sincerely involved in the struggle against racism and extremism. The central allegation in the IHRC briefing – that CST’s writers employ deception in order to generate bigotry and hatred against Muslims – is as serious and damaging as it is possible to imagine. It is not CST’s practice to sue for libel. We are a community-based charity, and our time and money is better spent doing our job: combating racism and antisemitism, protecting the Jewish community and helping to build a more harmonious society for all. Rather, it is CST’s sincere hope that all concerned will take the time to compare IHRC’s claims with the reality of what is actually written by CST authors; and will appropriately dismiss IHRC’s claims and desist from repeating them.

IHRC’s errors and distortions are too numerous to all be included in this response. The following examples demonstrate the inaccuracy of their allegations.

Example 1: Terrorism from all religions

IHRC analyse an article by CST’s Michael Whine that describes the growing phenomenon of religious terrorism in the first decade of the 21st century. IHRC wrongly claim that Whine portrays terrorism as a solely Islamist phenomenon. They write:

“Whine’s article ‘The New Terrorism’ focuses on ‘Islamist’ terrorism while ignoring other forms of international terrorism. The article has no mention of international terrorism carried out by non-Muslims in the name of a vast array of causes, implying that terrorism carried out by Muslims is the only threat”[iii] (CST’s emphasis)

“Michael Whine claims that religion is a clock [sic] for revolutionaries who believe in violent theologies such as Islamism.”[iv]

CST’s response:

Michael Whine wrote about “religious terrorism” in general, not specifically about Islamist terrorism, and used examples from different religions, including Judaism. This is the relevant passage from Whine’s article:

“Religious terrorism promotes either a stark and uncompromising worldview dictated by the belief that religion has the sole key to a “messianic” age, or uses religion as a cloak for its revolutionary and violent theology. It may be anti-Western and anti-modernist, as in Islamism, or it may have developed as a reactionary response, as with Jewish and Hindu ultra-nationalists (e.g., Kahane-Chai, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bajrang Dal).[v] (CST’s emphasis)

It is difficult to know how somebody who read Michael Whine’s article could then claim that he only mentions Islamist terrorism. In addition to the above paragraph, much of the remainder of the article discusses neo-Nazi and other far right terrorist groups, especially in America, which are obviously not Islamist, and which the article points out are influenced by Christian Identity theology.

 Example 2: Do neo-Nazis and Islamists work together?

IHRC wrongly alleges that CST’s Dave Rich, in another article, “uses ‘Islamist’ opposition to Israel as evidence of a supposed coalition between ‘Islamists’ and the far right[vi]. Furthermore, they wrongly claim that he asserts, “many anti-Semites and far right sympathisers attend rallies campaigning for Palestinian rights[vii].

CST’s response:

Dave Rich makes the opposite point – that there is no coalition between Islamists and neo-Nazis in the UK, and that it is extremely unlikely that one could emerge:

“Unsurprisingly, the history of friendly contact and cooperation between the British far right on the one hand, and either the far left or Muslim and Islamist organisations on the other, is minimal to say the least. Nor is this likely to change, given the Islamophobic nature of contemporary far right propaganda, and the centrality of anti-fascism to the far left’s self-definition. But what has happened is that the rhetoric of far left and Islamist organisations is increasingly similar to that of the far right whenever Israel, Zionism, Jewish political activity and the Iraq war are mentioned.”[viii] (CST’s emphasis)

The IHRC make no reference to this passage and instead ascribe to the article the opposite opinion, while providing no evidence.

Example 3: Who perpetrates antisemitic attacks?

Here is another example of the IHRC imputing to a CST article the opposite of what it actually means. IHRC’s “briefing” wrongly accuses CST’s Mark Gardner of trying to imply “that younger Muslims are most likely to be the perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks”:

Gardner suggests that younger Muslims are more likely to commit anti-Semitic attacks than those in their peer group who come from other backgrounds. Before going on to write that ‘younger age cohorts are more likely to perpetuate anti-Semitic incidents as they are more likely to be on the streets,’ he states that ‘Muslim population are younger [sic] than most other ethnic groups’ implying that younger Muslims are most likely to be the perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks.”[ix] (CST’s emphasis)


IHRC’s claims relate to a section of an article in which Mark Gardner explicitly states that Muslims are not the most likely perpetrators of antisemitic attacks. Furthermore, Gardner stresses that Muslims perpetrate a smaller proportion of antisemitic attacks in the UK than some commentators allege:

“The vast majority of interlocutors who want to discuss “new” antisemitic perpetrators really mean “new” as a supposedly polite metaphor for Muslim. “New” or “different” have become coda for alleging that it is Muslims who are now largely responsible for antisemitism.

In Britain, the statistics of actual antisemitic incidents – hate crimes displaying antisemitic intent – show that Muslims are considerably over-represented as perpetrators per head of population. Muslims, however, are manifestly not the majority perpetrators. In 2006, for instance, the (Jewish) Community Security Trust knew of 205 incidents where a perpetrator had been identified. (11) In those cases, 49 percent of the perpetrators appeared to be white; 29 percent appeared to be Pakistani, Indian or Bangladeshi; 8 percent appeared Arab; and 14 percent appeared black. This suggests Muslims are approximately 10 times over-represented as perpetrators (based on the fact that Muslims comprise 3.1 percent of the UK population.)

Closer analysis reveals that Muslims are less over-represented than first appears. Most antisemitic incidents occur in neighbourhoods that are far less white than the average, as those are often the neighbourhoods in which most Jews live. For example, the highest number of antisemitic incidents occurs in the London local authority area of Barnet, where 14.8 percent of the population is Jewish, and 6.2 percent of the population is Muslim. Additionally, the Muslim population is younger than most other ethnic groups, and younger age cohorts are most likely to perpetrate antisemitic incidents, as they are more likely to be on the streets. So, Muslims are over-represented as perpetrators, but they are certainly not the majority of perpetrators. Most certainly, they are not as starkly over-represented as a superficial analysis of the UK population would initially imply – and as some commentators would like to allege.[x] (CST’s emphasis)

Example 4: Confusing Islam and Islamism

One of the main allegations made by IHRC is that CST employs a “casual interchange of the words Islam, fundamentalist, Muslims and Islamist [which] serves to merge these labels and confuse the reader.[xi]


CST’s analysis is very carefully focused on the political ideology and movement known as ‘Islamism’. CST’s writers take great care not to direct criticisms at Islam per se, which is a religion as heterogeneous and diverse as any other, or at Muslims as a general group.

This is explicitly set out by Michael Whine in one of the articles the IHRC analyse, where he makes it very clear that, by the term ‘Islamism’, he is referring to a specific political ideology and movement, and not Islam or Muslims in general:

“First, we must define our terms. I understand Islamism to mean the religio – political ideology constructed by Hassan al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al Muslimoon), Maulana Maududi, the founder of the Jamaat e Islami, and  especially by their successor Sayid Qutb.

They made a clear distinction between what we might term fundamentalism and revivalism, which is marked by an adherence to, or return to, a strict interpretation of the Shariah.

On the other hand, the Islamists’ influences are anti – colonialism, anti – imperialism and anti- westernism fused in a symbiotic fashion with Western leftist ideologies and grafted onto a radicalised and political religious world outlook. Unlike fundamentalists and revivalists, for example the Tablighi Jamaat, Islamists they (sic) are not rejecting the ideas and symbols of modernity, they are adapting and using them.”[xii] (CST’s emphasis)

Tellingly, the IHRC omit this section from their briefing and make no mention of it, despite the fact that it answers directly their charge that CST attacks the entire faith of Islam and all of its adherents.

When IHRC try to evidence their charge, they in fact employ exactly the “casual interchange” of which they accuse CST. In this passage from their briefing, IHRC take a reference in a CST article to ‘Islamism’ and ‘Islamist ideology’ and use it to claim that CST deliberately attacks Islam and Muslims:

“In almost all of the CST publications, there is a wilful misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Islam that plays heavily on the post September 11 political climate. The writers utilise the violent actions of a minority of Muslims to present a monolithic and demonic Islam that stands opposed to the West. Via constructed misrepresentations and knowledgeable ignorance, their writings distort the Islamic faith and present it as being a right wing political ideology akin to Nazism, Fascism and totalitarianism.

The Runnymede report on Islamophobia asserted that integral to Islamophobia was a deliberate attempt to depict Islam as being a political ideology, used for political or military advantage. Throughout the CST articles there is a conscious attempt to compare Islam, a 1430 year old faith of over 1.4 billion adherents to racist and intolerant modern political ideologies. In his article ‘Islamism and Totalitarianism: Similarities and Differences,’ Whine via a comparison of the two subjects, draws the conclusion that the ‘Islamist‘ ideology is akin to Communism and Fascism.(xiii) He bases this conclusion on the works of Martin Kramer, a right-wing Zionist who directed the Moshe Dayan Centre for Middle Eastern and African studies at Tel-Aviv University.”[xiii] (CST’s emphasis)

Despite the number of quotes cited by IHRC on other issues, it is telling that they could not find a single quote from a CST author that criticised ‘Islam’. Instead, they quote Michael Whine analysing ‘Islamism’, and present it as a criticism of ‘Islam’, which it is not. In doing so, IHRC therefore equate ‘Islam’ and ‘Islamism’, while wrongly accusing Michael Whine of maliciously conflating the two subjects.

As an anti-racist organisation, CST distinguishes scrupulously between Islam and Islamism. IHRC, however, appear to do no such thing.

Example 5: Does CST accuse Islam of being a violent faith?

IHRC accuses Michael Whine of promoting the idea that Islam is a violent faith and Muslims are disloyal citizens:

“In this same article, Whine defines jihad, a word that translates into struggle and striving as being a religious war against the West. This blatantly incorrect definition and explanation of jihad serves only to portray Islam as an agent for violence. ‘Calls for jihad,’ writes Whine, ‘and the recent revelations of a worldwide Islamist network… suggest that Islam has declared a religious war.’ Such alarming claims and conclusions based on severe generalisations serve to represent Islam as being engaged in a war against the West, and by extension in a war against ordinary innocent people. This representation of Islam plays on post September 11 fears, and positions Muslims as being dangerous ‘fifth columnists’.”[xiv] (CST’s emphasis)


Taking the relevant paragraph in full, it is clear that Michael Whine is making the opposite point to that ascribed to him by IHRC. Whine’s final sentences, which are omitted by IHRC, explicitly state that it is inaccurate to view Islam as a monolithic or violent faith; and show that fundamentalism and Islamism are distinct from Islam per se:

“Threats of jihad (religious war) against the West, or statements supporting Islamist supremacy over other religions provide a picture of an Islam almost at war with itself, and in conflict with the rest of the world.(1) Expressed in harsh and uncompromising language these threats convey an impression that Islam is a monolithic triumphalist creed. Certainly the spread of Islam across Arabia, the repulsion of the Crusades and the occupation of southern Europe in the latter part of the first millennium were all achieved by force of arms, marking out Islam as an agent for violence, at least in Christian eyes. Calls for jihad and the recent revelations of a worldwide Islamist network dedicated not just to removing the US presence in the Middle East, but also to attacking the very symbols of ‘Western economic and political supremacy in the West itself, suggest that Islam has declared a religious war. Osama bin Laden’s networked mutual aid umbrella for Islamist terrorism is also called The Front For Jihad Against The Crusaders and the Jews, harking back to an earlier age when Islam fought religious wars against, or defended itself against, Christianity and Judaism. The impression, though, is an incomplete one, the historical perspective seen through Western eyes is a skewed one, and Islam is not the monolithic religion that some of its spokesmen would argue. However, it is fundamentalism and Islamism rather than Islam the religion which concerns us now.”[xv] (CST’s emphasis).

Example 6: Definition of jihad

When IHRC write, above, that “Whine defines jihad, a word that translates into struggle and striving as being a religious war against the West[xvi], they make no mention of the more extensive definition of jihad he provides in the relevant footnote to that very sentence. The footnote also reinforces Whine’s distinction between Islamists and Islam and Muslims per se. The footnote is as follows:

Jihad (holy struggle) has two aspects: the mystical act of sacrifice as an act of devotion; the struggle for an Islamic state. It is not counted among the Five Pillars of the faith (profession of faith, prayers, fasting, almsgiving, pilgrimage) but to Islamists it now constitutes an additional sixth pillar. For them jihad almost invariably means armed struggle against the impious, the heretic or the declared enemy. Jihad need not operate within a territorialised state; it applies throughout the ummah.”[xvii] (CST’s emphasis)

Example 7: The invented quote

The IHRC briefing includes the following passage, which appears to quote from one of the articles by Michael Whine on the CST website:

“By continuously interchanging terms and playing on Islamophobic stereotypes, Whine presents Islam as the antithesis to democracy. He compares Islamism to totalitarianism and argues that they are similar as ‘both seek to mobilise- both aim at the elimination of opposition- and both believe in sacrifice, either for God or for the process.’[xviii] (CST’s emphasis)


The quote highlighted in bold, which clearly appears in quotation marks in the IHRC briefing, does not appear anywhere in the article referenced by IHRC, nor in any of the other articles reviewed in their briefing. It appears to have been invented by IHRC.

Example 8: The Nation of Islam

The IHRC claim that “Mark Gardner’s article entitled ‘‘Old” and “New”, Contemporary British Anti-Semitism,’ presents the racial views of the Nation of Islam as being representative of the majority Muslim view.[xix] (CST’s emphasis)


The article by Mark Gardner, which is given as a reference by IHRC for this allegation, does not contain any mention of the Nation of Islam or any similar group.[xx] It is very difficult to know where the IHRC got the idea that it does. It is possible that it is a misattribution, as one of the other articles they analyse, by Michael Whine, includes a comparison of the racial segregation policies of American neo-Nazi groups and the Nation of Islam[xxi]; however, even this would not fully explain the IHRC’s error, as Whine’s article makes no mention of the “majority Muslim view” and does not present the Nation of Islam as representative of that majority. Otherwise, it appears that, as with Example 7, this allegation has simply been invented by IHRC.


There are many other, smaller distortions, omissions, misrepresentations and plain errors of fact in the IHRC briefing; so many that it is not possible to list them all here. For the record, though, the following should be noted:

  • IHRC mistakenly name Mark Gardner as the author of the article “An Unholy Alliance – Nazi Links with Arab Totalitarianism”, which is in fact written by Mike Whine.[xxii]
  • IHRC name both Michael Whine and Mark Gardner as authors of “Islamism and Totalitarianism: Similarities and Differences”, while only naming Whine as the author in the relevant endnote. Michael Whine is the sole author of this article, not Mark Gardner.[xxiii]
  • The IHRC briefing references a quote to the article “The Aftermath of 7 July: New Trends in Terror” that in fact appears in “The New Terrorism”.[xxiv]


As shown above, the IHRC “briefing” repeatedly inverts the meaning of what CST’s authors have written and even attributes quotes and ideas to the relevant articles that do not exist. The “briefing” is full of errors, distortions and misrepresentations. This is ironic, given that IHRC accuses CST of writing with “little academic rigor”[xxv] (sic) and produce work “steeped in ungrounded allegations and weak evidence.”[xxvi]

Given the hostile thrust of the “briefing”, it is no surprise that IHRC should ascribe hateful motivations to CST’s authors. These hateful motivations are the opposite of what the authors believe, and indeed, are the opposite of what they are on record as having written and said.

CST does not know why IHRC should misrepresent its staff in so comprehensive a manner, and does not accuse IHRC of intentionally misconstruing our work or of racist motivations, as they accuse us. Nevertheless, those who now choose to spread IHRC’s allegations should be aware that they are inaccurate; and that there is no longer an excuse for being ignorant of this fact.


[i] Islamic Human Rights Commission, “BRIEFING: Concerns regarding demonisation of Islam and Muslims by Community Security Trust publications” 19 May 2009; available at http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=4112 (accessed June 2009)

[ii] IHRC Briefing, section “CST Language: A Deceptive Tool” paragraph 1

[iii] IHRC Briefing, section “Islam: A Religion not an Ideology”, paragraph 4

[iv] IHRC Briefing, section “Islam, Muslims and Anti-Zionism” paragraph 1

[v] Michael Whine, “The New Terrorism”, Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism 2001; http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/asw2000-1/whine.htm (accessed June 2009)

[vi] IHRC Briefing, section “Islam, Muslims and Anti-Zionism” paragraph 2

[vii] IHRC Briefing, section “Islam, Muslims and Anti-Zionism” paragraph 3

[viii] Dave Rich, “The Barriers Come Down: Antisemitism and Coalitions of Extremes”, 2004; http://www.thecst.org.uk/docs/rich_essay_nov_04.pdf (accessed June 2009)

[ix] IHRC Briefing, section “Islam, Muslims and Anti-Zionism” paragraph 6

[x] Mark Gardner, “’Old’ and ‘New’: Contemporary British Antisemitism”, Engage Journal issue 5 September 2007; http://www.engageonline.org.uk/journal/index.php?journal_id=16&article_id=65 (accessed June 2009)

[xi] IHRC Briefing, section “CST Language: A Deceptive Tool” paragraph 4

[xii] Michael Whine, “Islamist Recruitment and Antisemitism on British Campuses”, RUSI Homeland Security & Resilience Department Workshop 23 January 2006; http://www.thecst.org.uk/docs/RUSI%20Homeland%20Security.doc (accessed June 2009)

[xiii] IHRC Briefing, section “Islam: A Religion not an Ideology” paragraphs 1 & 2. This analysis of these two paragraphs was first made by The Spittoon blog at http://www.spittoon.org/archives/543

[xiv] IHRC Briefing, section “CST Language: A Deceptive Tool” paragraph 2

[xv] Michael Whine, “Islamism and Totalitarianism: Similarities and Differences”, Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions vol. 2 no. 2, p.55 Autumn 2001 (Frank Cass, London); http://www.thecst.org.uk/docs/Islamism_and_Totalitarianism.PDF (accessed June 2009)

[xvi] IHRC Briefing, section “CST Language: A Deceptive Tool” paragraph 2

[xvii] Whine, “Islamism and Totalitarianism: Similarities and Differences”, p.71, footnote 1

[xviii] IHRC Briefing, section “Islam: A Religion not an Ideology” paragraph 5

[xix] IHRC Briefing, section “Islam, Muslims and Anti-Zionism” paragraph 2

[xx] Gardner, “’Old’ and ‘New’: Contemporary British Antisemitism”

[xxi] Michael Whine, “An Unholy Alliance – Nazi Links with Arab Totalitarianism”, Antisemitismus und radikaler Islamismus, Wolfgang Benz, Juliane Wetzel (Hrsg.) 2007 Klartext (Essen); http://www.thecst.org.uk/docs/An%20unholy%20alliance%201801%20original.doc (accessed June 2009)

[xxii] IHRC Briefing, section “CST Language: A Deceptive Tool” paragraph 4

[xxiii] IHRC Briefing, section “Islam: A Religion not an Ideology” paragraph 5

[xxiv] IHRC Briefing, section “Islam, Muslims and Anti-Zionism” paragraph 1 and Endnote (xxv)

[xxv] IHRC Briefing, Foreword paragraph 1

[xxvi] IHRC Briefing, section “Islam, Muslims and Anti-Zionism” paragraph 2

« Previous Entries