THE BLOG

Extremists Cannot Combat Extremism

04/08/2015 16:04 BST | Updated 03/08/2016 10:59 BST

What do you get when you combine an extremist who claims to be a reformed moderate Muslim and a bunch of Neocons that claim to be friends of Islam? The answer is simple - dangerous confusion, wholesale deconstruction of a sacred religion and maligning of its people.

David Cameron's five-year anti-extremism strategy is the outcome of these two lethal elements working together to create a huge blend of chaos and confusion.

We all hate extremists and we all vehemently detest hate mongers. We have these two elements advising our government at present on how to challenge extremism and radicalization in our society. No wonder, the 3million British Muslim populations, except a few rejects from the Muslim community, has overwhelmingly rejected this government's proposed strategy.

Maajid Nawaz, a self-confessed reformed extremist and co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation, who has claimed to be advising David Cameron's government on extremism. In the Muslim community his name is a swear word to describe charlatans and in the wider community his self-aggrandizement has earned him disrepute. My question is how can any serious government trust a former extremist who is loathed by his people from all background ever?

I remember Maajid very well from the time I was active in the Islamic society lecture scenes. I was invited to deliver talks at Newham College, where he was extremely rude to all those who opposed his extremist views, disrespectful to learned Muslim scholars and disruptive towards any moderate interpretation of Islam. He was hell-bent on making everyone signup to his extremist views then. Things have not changed for him even now; he is equally hell-bent on compelling people to accept his alien views. Why should anyone from the wider society in general but the Muslim community in particular take his words or advise seriously?

We also know the Neocon's grandee and guru Michael Gove and his rightwing friends from the Henry Jackson society having very strong influence on the current Tory government's policies on extremism. I remember when the Quilliam Foundation was launched and its brochure had listed its chief advisors and architects, Michael Gove's name was enlisted prominently. I was not surprised at the rightwing and neocon funfair at its inception. For the first time in the history of Muslims in the UK they had found real partners who could do their dirty work in the Muslim community.

Henry Jackson Society is another mischief-maker in our society. They are not known for their love of Islam, contrary, they have become notorious for whipping up hatred against Muslims and immigrants. They have been closely linked with rightwing extremists from America including Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. The relationship between various far right and extremist groups from across the Atlantic is extremely alarming including US-based rightwing Gatestone Institute which publishes Douglas Murray's writing alongside Geert Wilders, the founder and leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom who has declared he "hates Islam". In fact Henry Jackson Society has been accused by David Miller, a professor of sociology and co-founder of Spinwatch, who said the society was "actively avoiding transparency, preferring to ply its trade in the subterranean fashion beloved of the lobbying industry. It is time that all-party parliamentary groups came clean on their corporate and other significant funders so the public and indeed parliamentarians can be clear exactly who is trying to influence their views and behaviour" (The Guardian - Tuesday 30 December 2014). It loves running clandestine style funding of politicians and political lobby groups to disproportionately influence government policies. Michael Gove has been on its list of trustees.

Despite the popular belief that Muslims silently support extremist ideology, I am challenging this view and proposing a few stimulating thoughts, though they might seem uncomfortable at first, we all want to combat extremism urgently. It is destroying our social harmony, creating suspicion and poisoning the minds of our youth. Extremism is single handedly responsible for destroying the reputation of Islam in the 21st Century. As a Muslim, I am duty bound to join hands with honest, sincere and trustworthy people to forge alliances and create partnerships to eradicate this evil. We need genuine people from all walks of life to be part of this greater partnership - Muslims and non-Muslims who are interested in created a common, inclusive and cohesive narrative. I believe that the only way to combat extremism is to get the right people to work together and the government seriously willing to listen and engage in honest conversations.

Our government must be an honest broker of solidarity and not be the promoter of discord in our society. Our government must cut its pugnacious relationship with questionable people and wash its hands off those charlatans. It will never be considered an honest champion for moderation if it is seen to be in bed with people who have a checkered track record for embracing extremism and fomenting hatred.