Islamophobia as the cause of far right extremism

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 […]

Preventing spinning plates from falling

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 […]

Can terrorism ever be defeated?

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 […]

Murder in Manchester

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 […]

‘Prevent’ and Communities: the ongoing gaps

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 […]

Beyond the UN PVE Action Plan

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.   […]

In the Wake of Terror, Freedoms Matter Most

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, […]

Promoting Values Does Not Solve Terrorism

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 […]

Terror in London

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 […]

Engaging Communities against the Spectre of Terrorism

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 […]

On Violent Extremism

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 […]

White Out(Rage): Trump, Islam and Whiteness

It is going to be a very difficult time under Trump. Behind his victory is the intersection of two sets of processes. Both rich and poor white groups believe that their privileges are disappearing in the light of globalisation, immigration and diversity.(1) Trump voters feel comfortable expressing their latent racism, believing it is a legitimate […]

2016: annus horribilis

At the start of 2016, no one could have predicted the impact or the scale of the events that would occur during the year. In reality, it has been a catalogue of a most surprising range of outcomes. David Bowie, Prince, George Michael and Leonard Cohen, all giants of the popular music scene, forever gone. […]

Berlin, Ankara and Zurich…

In the space of a few short hours, three separate terrorist incidents shocked the world. It might be incumbent upon the thinking individual to suggest some sort of pattern here or to determine the links between these different events to put forward an overarching paradigm, but it would also be foolhardy and somewhat disingenuous. In […]

Time to Fly

As I sit here at the airport gate on my way back to England after nearly six years in Istanbul, the feelings are more numb-like than I would have imagined. It is partly to do with the fact that over the last two weeks or so I have been making all sorts of arrangements to […]

Brussels Attacks: Not Islam but Politics

Across the world right now, minute by minute news alerts are fixated on the terror attacks in Brussels. At the time of writing, 28 people have tragically lost their lives with countless others seriously injured in hospital. The shock, horror and trauma this will cause Belgium, combined with a global cry against Islamic terrorism, will […]

The Trauma of Suffering

As I write the final few thousand words for my next book, which is on the condition of Islam, politics and ethnicity in contemporary Turkey, and as I read countless pages of news, opinion and blog posts rarely read by others this morning, I feel a sense of foreboding concerning the state of the world. […]

My New York State of Mind

I recently returned from a semester stint as a visiting scholar at the famed New York University, a renowned institution of higher learning in the US, and recognised the world over. Afforded the distinct luxury of allocated NYU housing on West Fourth Street, the entrance to the block was at the foot of Fifth Avenue, […]

“You ain’t no Muslim, bruv”

Another day and another attack, this time by a deranged young man on three innocent victims in a tube station in east London. Witnesses allege that he screamed ‘this is for Syria’ before attacking his victims, one of which is critically injured. Videos on Twitter have gone viral, and newspaper outlets are reporting that this […]

The Paris Attacks Explained

There is considerable emotionality and concern over the tragic events in Paris, but how can we explain the issue? The events in Paris on the night of Friday 13 will go down in history as one of the most horrific acts of organised violence in the country. Eight terrorists in six separate attacks unleashed a wave of terror […]

A Massacre in Paris

With at least 127 dead in Paris, serious questions will be raised, but where will the answers be found? There is blood on the streets of Paris. A city under siege. A nation gripped in panic. At the time of writing, at least 127 people have been murdered by terrorists in six separate incidences of […]

Turkey Can No Longer Ignore the Kurds

The latest elections in Turkey resulted in a majority for the AKP, but what will happen to the “Kurdish issue”? It has been a deadly summer in Turkey. Three suicide bomb attacks in less than six months have killed over 130 people, wounding hundreds more. Many of the victims were Kurdish in origin. Ironically, specifically […]

A Question of Free Speech

The recent shootings in Texas raise to the fore the question of freedom of speech, the freedom to offend, the issues of tolerance and coexistence in society, and the need to find a balance between these competing interests. One of the problems of the debate is the polarity of opinion, as they emerge in light […]