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‘The “Dangerous Muslim” Trope is Being Weaponised to Avoid Scrutiny’

Faisal Hanif argues that increasingly desperate politicians are stoking Islamophobia for their own ends

Lee Anderson. Photo: Jeff Gilbert/Alamy

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It’s not about the women and children being massacred in Gaza, it’s about Lindsey Hoyle and UK’s elected representatives feeling scared. Somehow the House of Commons Speaker turned a motion by the Scottish National Party calling for a ceasefire in Gaza into a debate on who runs the country. According to former Home Secretary, Suella Braveman it is the “Islamists”.

It is a far-right trope that effectively defines Muslims in Britain as a ‘Trojan Horse’. Braverman and her acolytes are now puffing out their chests, determined to face down this phantom menace to the democracy which they themselves have so readily undermined.

Lee Anderson turned his fire on London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who he opined was being controlled by Islamists. Khan’s Muslimness has so offended Conservatives both in Britain and across the pond that, every few years, they accuse him of being in cahoots with undesirables. In their eyes, he is now nothing more than a puppet.

Braverman and Anderson have been joined by William Shawcross, the former extremism tsar who lamented that the Government had ignored the recommendations from his review of the counter-terrorism Prevent Strategy – a strategy considered by critics to be a mechanism to criminalise religious and political beliefs.

Shawcross cited the safety of the public, which he claimed is now at increased risk in the UK due to the war in Gaza. Official police statistics show that the arrest rate for the millions of people who have marched since October is lower than the Glastonbury Festival – a fact not reported in any mainstream media outlet.

‘The Normalisation of Politically Expedient Racism: Rishi Sunak Cannot Call Out Something He Has Been Complicit In’

Lee Anderson’s claims that the Muslim Mayor of London has handed the city to Islamists is another unsurprising example of the political culture the Conservative Party has normalised, writes Hardeep Matharu  

Both in its timing and execution, the campaign by those against Palestine employed its ‘dangerous Muslims’ card in a manner that has left journalists on right-wing radio stations aghast at how possibly “orchestrated” it is.

Academic Ben Whitham has called it a well-crafted “racist tradition”. As he posts, “politicians and journalists have worked hard over many years to perpetuate the idea that British Muslims represent a fifth column and secret cabal plotting to ‘Islamicise’ the UK”.  

The lives of Palestinians are now a political game, whereby those supporting the idea that they should not be murdered and maimed are cast as the ‘baddies’. This isn’t about the safety of MPs. Turning themselves into victims of a phantom threat is really a panic about their moral culpability in supporting the mass slaughter of civilians in Gaza – aided and abetted by the media class.

This nexus was at work again this week in the spike in online articles and broadcast mentions of the word ‘Islamist’ . The use of the word and its associated terms suggests that detractors don’t hate Muslims per se, it’s just the really, really bad ones they’re concerned about.

Yet time and again, ‘Islamist’ is used when reporting on any issue in which Muslim voices are raised, leading to debates on safety and extremism.

Democracy is great, we are told, because alongside other things, it encourages citizens to voice their concerns on issues they feel strongly about. But if you do this as a Muslim, there’s a high chance you will be labelled an Islamist; an extremist; and, in the case of Palestine, an antisemite.  

As a new study on the media’s use of language when reporting on Muslims concludes, Islamism is “represented as being totalitarian and as such is incompatible with democracy and other modernist values”.


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The Government has made no secret of its disdain for Muslims for many years.

The Prime Minister and his Deputy can’t bring themselves to use the word “Islamophobia”. Conservative MP Paul Scully joined the chorus when he claimed particular areas of Britain with large ethnic minority populations are no-go zones, citing the heavily Muslim-populated Tower Hamlets in east London and Sparkhill in Birmingham. Again, ‘no-go zones’ is a suspiciously coded phrase which most likely means areas people like Scully don’t like visiting as opposed to anyone actually being denied entry. The last time a newspaper printed such lies the press regulator ruled against the Daily Mail and forced it to publish a correction.

The tropes now being launched against Britain’s Muslims are no longer obscure fringe talking points –they are being thrust into the mainstream by Conservative politicians and the right-wing media, irate at seeing mass protests in support of the Palestinian people. The Telegraph, a pillar of Britain’s right-wing media long hostile to any Muslim protest, front-paged the absurd allegation that Islamists were now running the country.

The next time a frustrated Brit has to endure cancelled trains or can’t get a GP appointment, or an entire council goes bankrupt as many are predicted to do, remember: it’s the Muslims who have done that.

More concerning is the fact that the kind of rhetoric that was routinely found on the pages of right-wing publications now has a broadcast presence, on the likes of GB News and TalkTV.

This is not mere ‘news’ but polemic against British citizens. At a time where much of the population continues to face the challenges of a fall in living standards and the destruction of institutions, there are few if any solutions being offered to them.

Instead, they are being served an enemy.  

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