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What links eugenics, failed egos and Norway? The answer is Toby Young, Donald Trump and Nigel Farage. No prizes for guessing the right answer. Not spending enough time doing proper reading and writing because of news story distractions about useless prominent men has made me somewhat agitated – which is a good enough reason to…Continue reading When a week in politics is always a long time
I finally saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi last night. I am not going to provide any spoilers for those of you who still want to see it, but I want to tell you what I thought about what I did see last night. As a young boy, aged seven, I went to see Star…Continue reading Star Wars: The Last Jedi-A Review … of sorts (spoiler free)
There is something disturbing about the Harvey Weinstein case as someone who has finally been revealed as one of the most predatory monsters of the Hollywood scene. There is a litany of cases, settlements and how silence was bought, stretching back at least thirty years. Weinstein, now confined to the dustbin of history, reputation in tatters,…Continue reading A Sordid Reality
In the early hours of Saturday morning in Small Heath, Birmingham, a young boy was brutally attacked, leaving him in a critical condition in hospital, fighting for his life. As news of the attack broke on Saturday afternon, rumours quickly circulated that this was an act of sectarian violence, with hot-headed young Sunnis behaving aggressively…Continue reading Rumours, sectarianism and trust
I have now managed to watch all four episodes of The State. I want to take this opportunity to reflect on my thoughts and observations. First, one must state at the outset that watching this programme was not easy. But while there is clearly some attempt to normalise existence, with depictions of life as wholesome…Continue reading Leaving ‘The State’
I watched the first episode of The State on Channel 4, aired on 20 August. I was mildly satisfied with the details in relation to aspects of life in the so-called Islamic State, but, after all, it a drama, which means that fictionalisation is necessary in order to introduce character development and change. While some reporting suggests…Continue reading Inside ‘The State’
In the minds of so many security and terrorism experts, to evoke the notion that there is a genuine problem with masculinity in relation to the radicalised, including from those of Muslim minority backgrounds as well as in Muslim-majority settings, raises eyebrows galore. Certainly, there has been a great deal of work on the far…Continue reading Sex and Violence – not enough of one, too much of the other…
In January 2016, the group called Academics for Peace issued a petition. It is an initiative run predominantly by intellectuals in Turkey concerned with the need to prevent further conflict in south-east Turkey, supporting the return to a peace process as soon as possible. This particular petition, however, dubbed ‘we will not be party to this…Continue reading What Academic Freedom in Turkey
Much of the media and political responses to the Finsbury Park attack have been lame. This is because Islamophobia has been normalised in Britain. I argue that this Islamophobia is fuelled by the media, acting as a driver of far right extremism inasmuch as far right extremism thrives on Islamist radicalisation. Arguably, Darren Osborne would…Continue reading Islamophobia as the cause of far right extremism
This is the morning after the night before. It was not quite the tsunami but a huge wave has just swept over British politics. There will be long-term impacts because of this not-so-surprising change in the political weather. Under the UK system, the Tories needed 326 seats to form a majority government. They fell short…Continue reading A victory for decent politics, but it’s the not all clear yet
It was another night in London and another terrorist attack on the UK. Last night witnessed a horrific act of brutality and violence. This time it was at the hands of three assailants, who started their deadly assault at 2208 on London Bridge by driving their van into innocent civilians. These attackers then moved to…Continue reading Responding Strongly to Terror
Last night I did a rare thing. I felt I had to. I switched on the television to watch segments of Newsnight, Question Time and This Week, all of which focused on the implications raised by the Manchester attack. It was a ‘Prevent’-fest. On these programmes were people from all backgrounds, variously emotionally and intellectually…Continue reading Preventing spinning plates from falling
Reports emerging this morning reflect on instances of radicalisation among the Libyan community in Manchester. Although this not a group that has raised any interest among security services in the past, Manchester has the third highest concentration of British Muslims after London and Birmingham. As these other cities also demonstrate, these concentrations tend to be…Continue reading Can terrorism ever be defeated?
It is always disconcerting to wake up to the news of terrorism, causalities, pictures of screaming children, ambulances, solemn looking police officers making official comments, and jumpy radio and television journalists speaking on the topic. The scenes from the Manchester concert hall suggest utter carnage, fear and shock. These images will have reverberated around the…Continue reading Murder in Manchester
Last night the renowned Lord Professor Bhikhu Parekh spoke at the annual Ibn Rushd Lecture of the Muslim Institute, held at the Art Workers’ Guild Hall in Holborn. The blog post below is part review, part conversation and part social commentary – the full audio recording of the lecture can be found here The first…Continue reading Multiculturalism in the Age of Brexit and Trump
Waking up on a Saturday morning, there is always the experience of getting up early, sinking a strong coffee with breakfast and open-endedly reading the pages of news stories while thinking through how to best utilise the weekend. The themes of Brexit, Europe, the upcoming UK General Election and the recent local elections fill many…Continue reading What future now?
How can we ensure differing approaches to preventing and countering radicalisation include effective critical community engagement? This was the question put to me by the conference organisers of the Counter Terror Expo at the Olympia in London, 3-4 May 2017. I was asked to prepare a talk to respond to this challenge. The following is…Continue reading ‘Prevent’ and Communities: the ongoing gaps
Dear friends and colleagues, thank you for taking the time to be here this morning at the official launch of my new book, Contemporary Turkey in Conflict, published a few short months ago. I also want to thank RUSI for graciously hosting this launch, and my good friend and colleague, Dr Elshimi, for kindly agreeing…Continue reading Turkey in Conflict Today
The so-called “Trojan Horse” plot of 2014 raised numerous concerns about the Islamisation of education in a range of inner city schools in Birmingham. Ofsted investigations of 21 schools explored these concerns at the behest of the then Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP. At the head of this so-called plot, a certain…Continue reading The Real “Trojan Horse” Scandal in Birmingham Schools
Full text of my talk on the panel, ‘Preventing Violent Extremism Global Policy and Practice: The Current State of Play, with Sara Zeiger (Hedayah), and moderated by Candace Rondeaux (RESOLVE), Preventing Violent Extremism: The case for locally defined, evidenced based responses, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, convened by RESOLVE and Institute for Security Studies, 20 April. …Continue reading Beyond the UN PVE Action Plan
The last major terrorist incident in the UK was the Al-Qaida-inspired 7/7 bombings in 2005. It was a sophisticated, coordinated attack that resulted in 52 killed and hundreds maimed. New Labour was faced with an unfamiliar situation. It had no clear sense of what was needed except that the ‘rules had changed’. Fast-forward to 2017,…Continue reading In the Wake of Terror, Freedoms Matter Most
It has been a few days since the tragic events in Westminster, when a lone actor terrorist mowed down three people and brutally killed an unarmed police officer who was wearing a stab proof vest. As more details emerge about the chequered history of the assailant, aspects of what exactly drove this man to violent…Continue reading The Making of a Homicidal Maniac With a Death Wish?
In thinking through the processes of radicalisation in relation to Muslim minorities, what are the key issues that should be important to us? That is, what do we need to ask ourselves at the very beginning? The problem has been that right from the outset various so-called experts have been looking at the inspirations that…Continue reading Promoting Values Does Not Solve Terrorism
Terror in London. Again. After Nantes, Nice, Berlin, Istanbul and Jerusalem, an attack on London, sadly, seemed inevitable. This time a British-born lone attacker mows down civilians on Westminster Bridge before he makes his way to Parliament and fatally stabs a respected unarmed police officer, PC Keith Palmer. The assailant was then shot down by…Continue reading Terror in London
South of Paris, at Orly Airport, on the morning of 18 March, a man was shot dead by police. A French-born individual of Tunisian descent, 39-year old Ziyed Ben Belgacem, has been identified as the attacker killed by security services at the airport. The usual surfeit of reporting has focused on the idea that this…Continue reading The Orly Airport Attack: assessing the known unknowns
A few days ago, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, was prevented from landing in the Netherlands so that he could speak at a rally in Rotterdam. In response, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referred to the Dutch as ‘Nazi remnants’. A poor choice of phraseology, although he spoke in Turkish and translations of his remarks are…Continue reading The Dutch-Turkish Spat: How Two Wrongs Do Not Make a Right
The spectre of violent extremism carried out by groups whose motivations are to create terror and alarm among populations as a whole continues to create serious challenges for law enforcement agencies whose aims are to fairly and justly convict and incarcerate individuals guilty of heinous crimes. Simultaneously, there are groups who wish to support their…Continue reading Engaging Communities against the Spectre of Terrorism
Full text of my talk, presented on the panel with Dr Turhan Ozen, Turkey: Important power in a troubled region, convened by Open Discussions in association with Gulf Cultural Club, Arbar House, Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place, W1H 4LP, 14 February 2017 Chair, fellow panellist and guests in the audience, thank you very much…Continue reading Turkey: Important power in a troubled region
Full text of my talk on the ‘violent extremism’ panel, The Wilberforce Society Annual Conference 2017: Global Disenchantment, St John’s College, Cambridge, 4 February. The Wilberforce Society, my fellow panellists and to you the audience, many thanks indeed for the kind invitation and the opportunity to be with you here today. In the ten…Continue reading On Violent Extremism