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Trumpocracy in the UK: Did British Conservative Lobby Group Help Shape Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’?

In the second part of its special investigation, Byline Times reveals how the man credited with inspiring Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ had close links with members of a British conservative lobby group with links to Steve Bannon and the Mercers

US President Donald Trump. Photo: PA Images

Trumpocracy in the UKDid British Conservative Lobby Group Help Shape Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’?

In the second part of its special investigation, Byline Times reveals how the man credited with inspiring Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ had close links with members of a British conservative lobby group with links to Steve Bannon and the Mercers

In December 2015, then US presidential candidate Donald Trump announced his plan for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”.

The proposal was based largely on figures from an opinion poll conducted by the Center for Security Policy – a Washington DC-based think tank founded and headed up at the time by former Ronald Reagan-era defence official Frank Gaffney Jr. Gaffney has been described by the Anti-Defamation League, a charity fighting anti-Semitism, as an anti-Muslim extremist and conspiracy theorist.

Byline Times can exclusively reveal that, just three months before Trump’s announcement, Gaffney had spoken to Douglas Murray, associate director at the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), a London-based think tank and lobbying group with close ties to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and several senior Conservative Cabinet ministers, as well as Alt-right media executive Steve Bannon.

During their conversation, Murray appeared to endorse the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s proposal for a total ban on Muslim immigration.

The official statement from the Trump campaign justified the ‘Muslim ban’ – stopping nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering America – by citing a poll by Gaffney, which claimed incorrectly that a fifth of American Muslims supported terrorism in the US and that 51% wanted to be governed under ‘Shari’ah Law’.

But, while Gaffney was a key figure in promoting anti-Muslim animus and inspiring the so-called ‘Muslim ban’, the principle appears to have had much earlier support from the UK.

In September 2015, Gaffney interviewed Douglas Murray on his Center for Security Policy radio podcast show. That year, Gaffney had overseen the publication of a major report, The Secure Freedom Strategy: A Plan for Victory Over the Global Jihad Movement, which had called for revoking the citizenship of American Muslims who practise their faith by following Islamic law. 

During the interview, Gaffney described Murray as “an old and dear friend” whose work is “truly indispensable”, particularly his output “at the Henry Jackson Society” which is “so critical and so valuable”. Gaffney began the discussion by identifying the ‘problem’ as “Muslim populations” in Europe and the UK which “have become increasingly dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamic supremacists, ghettoised” in “no-go zones” which turn into “incubators” of “jihad”.

Far from chiding Gaffney for generalising about ordinary Muslims in this way, Murray instead offered him a stark solution. “It’s very interesting that the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán caused a bit of a stir the other day when he said publicly that he didn’t particularly want very many more Muslims arriving in his country,” he said. “A lot of the people who come at any rate do not make any particular efforts to integrate. They don’t go down the local pub and drink warm bitter, and turn up to church a couple of times a year at most, they pursue a different life within Britain, and part of that for a large number of people is to pursue a life which has a parallel system of belief, and a parallel system even of laws.”

Could Murray’s work at the Henry Jackson Society, which Gaffney had praised for being “so critical and so valuable”, have also inspired Trump’s controversial policy?

Half a decade before he joined the HJS, Murray had identified Muslim populations in Europe as a growing threat and said there should a ban on immigration from Muslim countries. “It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to,” Murray declared at the Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference in 2006. “All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop.”

Murray would later disassociate from this speech, describing it as “poorly worded” – but he continued to express similar sentiments in other forums. Many of these have been catalogued by Kingston University historian Marko Hoare, a former Director of the HJS’ European Neighbourhood Section who resigned at Murray’s appointment.

In a  speech expunged from YouTube but documented by Hoare, Murray declared: “In the middle of the last century, there was an almost negligible Muslim presence in Europe. At the turn of the twenty-first, in Western Europe alone, there were 15-17 million Muslims – that’s a very fast migration, ladies and gentlemen… This is a fundamental problem, and it’s one we’re going to have to deal with.”

Libel Lawfare

Three years later, in 2009, Douglas Murray and the HJS’s co-founder Dr Alan Mendoza shared platforms at a major conference in Washington DC on so-called ‘Libel Lawfare’, hosted by the influential conservative lawyers group, the Federalist Society.  

The Federalist Society has recently played a critical role in facilitating the President’s installation of pro-Trump judges, including his Supreme Court pick to replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Justice Amy Coney Barratt. Barratt is a longstanding Federalist Society member who received extensive financial support from the group – the efforts of which, according to Harvard lawyer and legal commentator Elie Mystal “have directly resulted in the voter suppression of non-whites… and the racist immigration policies of the current administration”.

The other sponsors of the conference included the Middle East Forum, headed up by Daniel Pipes (described as a “racist hate monger” by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society) and Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, which recorded the event on video. 

Pipes and Gaffney are now widely recognised as having been a major source of inspiration for the ‘white genocide’ theory. Pipes was cited 18 times and Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy eight times in the 1,500-page manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a terrorist attack in Norway in 2011. Breivik’s ‘white genocide’ theory drew on the thinking that native white European people were at risk of destruction due to foreigners of largely Muslim background infiltrating Western societies through mass immigration and astronomical birth rates. 

The Libel Lawfare event in 2009 was premised on the belief that lawsuits against racists by Muslims are actually part of an organised conspiracy of Islamist extremists attempting to subvert Western democratic and legal institutions. In his speech at the event, Mendoza said that “a succession of litigious individuals of Muslim origin have filed lawsuits in order to prevent discussion of Radical Islam. How have things come to this?”

Mendoza went on to say that the Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders had been “disgracefully banned from Britain under public incitement to violence legislation after threats of Muslim violence from a peer of the realm”.  Wilder was barred from entry into the UK after being invited by UKIP’s Lord Pearson of Rannoch to screen his anti-Muslim propaganda film, Fitna, in Parliament. Around that time, Wilders told Dutch television that Muslim immigration had become “such a major problem in Europe that millions of Muslims may have to be deported”. More recently, he was convicted of the ‘group assault’ of Moroccans after calling for “fewer” of them in Europe.

Mendoza was joined on his panel at the conference by Douglas Murray, then the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion in the UK, who was separately interviewed by Frank Gaffney on the sidelines of the conference to talk about the threat of ‘Shari’ah adherent’ Muslims (a term that could apply to any practising Muslim simply because ‘Shari’ah’ is a Qur’anic term denoting Islam’s system of religious practices).

Murray said that ‘Shari’ah adherent’ British Muslims were using the law to shut down criticism of Islam “as part of a much larger attempt to make everyone submit to the ideology of Islam and Islamism… So what they have to do is to stop the free society from being free.”

Two years later, in 2011, Mendoza and Murray would join forces formally. The Centre for Social Cohesion merged under the ambit of the HJS, at which Murray became associate director – a post he held until 2018.

The Muslims are Coming

In March 2013, writing in Standpoint magazine, Murray argued that “London has become a foreign country. In 23 of London’s 33 boroughs ‘white Britons’ are now in a minority”.

In the article, Murray appeared to equate Britishness with whiteness: “We long ago reached the point where the only thing white Britons can do is to remain silent about the change in their country. Ignored for a generation, they are expected to get on, silently but happily, with abolishing themselves, accepting the knocks and respecting the loss of their country… the vindictiveness with which the concerns of white British people, and the white working and middle-class in particular, have been met by politicians and pundits alike is a phenomenon in need of serious and swift attention.”

In the same month that Murray wrote this, his colleague Mendoza told a conference hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that the rise in European Muslim populations was a threat to Jews.

According to the Washington Jewish Week, he said: “The European Muslim population has doubled in the past 30 years and is predicted to double again by 2040. For all the benefits that immigration has brought, it has been difficult for European countries to absorb immigrants into their society given their failure to integrate newcomers. Regardless of their political views, Muslims in Europe will likely speak out against Israel whenever any Middle Eastern news breaks, just as they will against India in the Kashmir dispute. Muslim immigrants do this with full knowledge that they would not be allowed to speak out like that in many Middle Eastern countries.”

In the light of this consistent focus on Muslims and immigration, it should be no surprise that leading figures in the HJS appear to have found common cause with Trump’s political campaign over the same issues, which were then formulated into law by the White House’s ‘Muslim Ban’. But, as Byline Times will go on to reveal in this special investigation, the HJS had done so with funding from the Home Office. The seeds of Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ seem to have been planted in Britain with UK Government support.

As Byline Times will explore in Part 3, the legal mastermind behind that process was Trump’s senior advisor, Stephen Miller, a white nationalist mentored by David Horowitz, whose Restoration Weekend had played host to Douglas Murray many times over the past decade.

Byline Times contacted the Henry Jackson Society, Dr Alan Mendoza, Douglas Murray and the Home Office for comment but did not receive any responses.

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