The past week as seen yet another attack by antisemitism “smearmongers” and the target this time is academic Professor David Miller, professor of political sociology at Bristol University. Professor Miller was speaking at an online event which was hosted by Labour Against the Witchhunt. During his talk Miller stated that he had been “attacked and complained about by the head of the Bristol JSoc Jewish society along with the president of the Union of Jewish Students [UJS].” He also stated that “JSocs [Jewish Societies] are all part of UJS, UJS is member of the World Union of Jewish Students, which is a direct member of the World Zionist Organisation, and in its constitution UJS of course mentions being pro-Israel.” If you follow what goes on in the political world with regard to the antisemitism smear campaign you may think, like I do, that this means that they are part of the Israel lobby. Professor Miller has been subjected to a 2 year campaign by pro-Israel activists to get him dismissed from the University of Bristol where he teaches political sociology, and in particular about corporate and state power, lobbying tactics and Islamophobia.
Professor Miller regularly speaks out against Zionism, which is a racist political ideology. Zionists believe Judaism is a nationality as well as a religion, and that Jews deserve their own state in their ancestral homeland, Israel. The only problem with this is that they consider Palestine to be their ancestral homeland despite the fact that it was never called Israel before 1948 or appeared on any maps before then. Anti-Zionism is too often conflated with antisemitism and too often this is why people end up being accused of antisemitism. Former Labour MP Chris Williamson, who has been a target for antisemitism smearmongers has spoken out against the accusations against Professor Miller and posted the following on Twitter –
“I’m outraged at the Israel lobby’s attempts to pressure @BristolUni into sacking Professor David Miller. I’ve written to the Vice Chancellor, calling on him to put an end to this vicious campaign. I encourage you all to do the same.”
This attack on Miller comes less than a week after a report by University College London’s academic board stated that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of “antisemitism” “is not fit for purpose within a university setting and has no legal basis for enforcement.” The board then voted to endorse the report and it will now be down to the university management to decide on whether the decision should be implemented or not. The report will also have an impact on attempts made by Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson to pressure universities into accepting the IHRA’s definition.
“And of course, there’s the time-honored tactic of smearing any critic of Israel or Zionism as an “anti-Semite” or a “self-hating Jew” on the basis that Zionism is somehow a facet of Jewish identity rather than a racist, modern political ideology with secular origins premised on ethnic cleansing and anti-Arab racism.”
he is of course talking about the conflation of anti-Zionism with antisemitism, and there seems to be an ever increasing amount of people who are unwilling to differentiate between the two. Professor Miller also writes –
“Given the size of Britain’s Israel lobby and the extent to which it has already penetrated public institutions, this naturally has the effect of minimizing and sidelining genuine concerns about anti-Black racism and Islamophobia as well as shouting down the ways in which the state of Israel is deeply engaged in promoting both of those types of racism.”
Professor Nira Yuval-Davis, a British and diasporic Israeli sociologist, a professor emerita and Honorary Director of the Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging at the University of East London, gave a talk on The IHRA definition of antisemitism and discussions about race in Britain. This talk was presented to Social Scientists Against the Hostile Environment webinar ‘Imposing racialised state discourses: Racism in Britain today.” In the talk she argues strongly that treating antisemitism as exceptional works to the disadvantage of creating solidarity between Jews and other groups facing racial hatred. She also said that “One of the most controversial recent acts of exceptionalism has been enacted by the Minister of Education, Gavin Williamson when he wrote to the VCs of all British universities demanding – with a threat of sanctions – that they adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism.” Williamson has not demanded that universities adopt a single definition for Islamophobia, or any other form of racism, just this one regarding Jews. This act of exceptionalism, in addition to everything else, creates a division between antisemitism and racism against other racially marginalised groups.
By attacking people like Professor Miller, Ken Loach, Michael Rosen and many others with claims of antisemitism, these pro-Israel activists are in fact making the problem of antisemitism worse. They are drawing attention away from the real rise in antisemitic attacks in the UK and other places plus if they cry “wolf” too many times, people will stop paying attention which will be dangerous if ever they actually reveal somebody who is truly racist. This final paragraph is my opinion but the rest of the article is drawn from what others have written and what I have read.
I guess this could be considered a continuation of the article Are they really this incompetent? in which I posed the question of competency of Boris Johnson and the British government over their handling of the Covid-19 crisis. I also asked whether it was incompetence or whether there was hidden agenda behind their actions. I am still asking those questions 3 weeks after writing that article and I still cannot help but feel that their ‘strategy’ has a eugenics feel about it especially after my attention was drawn to an article by James Tapper on 13 February 2021.
According to this article, in December 2020 the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said that “inappropriate Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) notices had caused potentially avoidable deaths last year.” DNACPRs are usually reserved for those who are too frail to benefit from CPR. The charity Mencap has said that in January 2021 it had received reports from people with learning disabilities that they had been told that if they became ill with Covid-19 they would not be resuscitated. This is despite widespread condemnation when the same thing happened during the first wave of the epidemic and the fact that an urgent investigation was conducted by the care watchdog. The CQC has said that it will be publishing a report on this practise within the next few weeks.
The government has not given priority for vaccination to those with learning disabilities despite the growing evidence that even those with a mild disability are more likely to die from Covid-19. Data released by the NHS last week, shows that in the five weeks since the third lockdown began, Covid-19 has accounted for 65 per cent of deaths for those with learning disabilities. According to Public Health England, those aged 18-34 with learning disabilities are 30 times more likely to die from Covid-19 infection than others the same age. Those with Down’s Syndrome were in one of four groups set by the Joint Commission for Vaccination and Immunisation to receive their vaccinations by 14 February 2021. Many others who have different learning disabilities were classified as lower in need and are still waiting. You would think with figures that high the government would prioritise people with all learning disabilities in the same way they did people over 80 but they did not. This is just too reminiscent of how disabled people have been treated until the movement for disabled people and their rights began in the 1960-70s.
In Britain before the Community Care Act 1990, people with learning disabilities were often placed in large mental health institutions along with those with mental health issues. It could be said that they were hidden away from the public. In Nazi Germany it was the disabled people that were murdered in the first experiments with gassing when lorries were converted into gas chambers and carbon monoxide was used to kill them. This happened to both physically disabled people and those with learning disabilities. This was part of the Nazi plan to eliminate those who did not fit their image of Aryan perfection and it would have also fitted in with the eugenics idea of only those genetic lines with no disabilities being allowed to continue.
The governments health and safety watchdog, the Health and Safety executive (HSE) has not shut down any workplaces that put employees at risk of catching Covid-19. This is despite the fact that there has been over 3,500 outbreaks at work since the start of the pandemic. An employment minister stated that Covid had been classed as ‘significant’ rather than ‘serious’ as it “best supports” inspectors in making sensible regulatory decisions. She also said that effects of Covid were “non-permanent or reversible, non-progressive and any disability is temporary” for the working population as a whole. This would imply that the effects of ‘long Covid’ have never been taken into account during the process of making these decisions. Jennifer Trueland wrote “It’s becoming accepted that long COVID is a serious problem. The Office for National Statistics said in December that an estimated one in five people testing positive for COVID-19 exhibit symptoms for five weeks or longer, with one in 10 exhibiting symptoms for 12 weeks or longer.” Severe Covid-19 can cause pneumonia and respiratory failure, which can result in permanent damage and scarring to the lungs. But Covid-19 is not only a lung illness: it can cause other life-changing complications. In particular, because it can increase the risk of blood clots, it can lead to deep vein thrombosis, heart attacks and stroke. Less commonly, it can cause heart muscle inflammation and heart rhythm disturbances, such as atrial fibrillation. None of those complications appear to have been considered when classifying Covid-19 let alone the symptoms of long Covid which can include fatigue, breathlessness, joint and muscle pain, anxiety and depression, chest pains and palpitations and not being able to focus or think straight.
The lower risk designation seems to be interfering with enforcement and some inspectors have said that it restricts their ability to issue prohibition notices or to prosecute. There has been an outbreak of Covid at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea where there are 500 cases reported. This is the largest outbreak in a work place yet and it has happened within a government agency. The inadequate classification and the lack of a hard lockdown shows just how much the government has wanted to keep work places open regardless of the risk posed to workers and their families. It would appear that the economy is of more importance to the government than the lives of employees and their families. The fact that there has never been a hard lockdown in Britain, as there has been in other countries, has meant that Britain now has the highest death rate per capita and and is still fighting Covid after 12 months.
Hopefully with the rollout of vaccines there is now light at the end of a very long tunnel and life may soon return to some semblance of ‘normal’ but things will not be the same. So many businesses have had to close which has meant the loss of thousands upon thousands of jobs; so many lives have been lost and a lot of them needlessly if only the government had acted sooner and done things properly and in the way other countries have; so many people now have had to wait too long for medical procedures or have died due to not being able to get the treatment they need. Boris Johnson and the Tory government have to be the worst in the history of prime ministers and an elected government. They have lied and lied and attempted to distract us from the shambles created by either their sheer incompetence, their laissez-faire attitude or the fact that they just do not care about those most impacted by Covid-19 … the elderly, the disabled, the BAME community and those who are socio-economically disadvantaged. I know I only covered two subjects but they are important ones and I hope that we have no more major outbreaks and will come out of lockdown soon so we can all catch up with loved ones and have lives again. I have 3 family members who have been on the frontline through all this and I will be glad when my family can relax and know they are safe. As ever a lot of this is my opinion and I have included links for the information garnered from other places. Stay safe everyone.
Dogpiling is a tactic often used on social media platforms, especially Twitter, it’s main purpose being to harass and intimidate somebody. Yesterday saw a prime example of dogpiling on Twitter after a user posted an opinion after watching It’s A Sin which is a series about the advent of AIDS in 1980s Britain. To most people the comment was merely an indication of the fact that an actress she did not like was in the series. We have all done this online or out in the world at one time or another, I know I did when I watched The Pianist for the first time ( it starred Maureen Lipman who I am not a fan of). Anyway what resulted was a very nasty example of dogpiling spearheaded by a British actor, who I wrote about in Anti-Semitism Campaign Continues Part Two, who happens to be a “friend” of the actress mentioned. He immediately used the fact that this actress who happens to be Jewish to accuse the Twitter user of antisemitism. His words were –
“#ItsASin must have cast of 50 actors , all giving brilliant performances, so tell me what is it about the Jewish actress and anti racism campaiger @TracyAnnO, that leaves a bad taste in your mouth?”
At no point in the comment made about the actress was the word Jewish used, so why would the actor friend immediately jump to the erroneous conclusion that what the Twitter user did not like about the actress was the fact she is Jewish, not that she is not a good actress. The term antisemitic is used all too easily and it has become one of the most commonly used insults on social media. The actress concerned has herself been a plaintiff in court cases in which she has claimed she has been libelled, so far one case was dropped by her and the other plaintiff, and the second case she pulled out of. I personally had never even heard of her until I started using Twitter as I do not watch soap operas and I understand she was/is acting in a popular soap opera.
There would seem to be a core 4 “celebrities” or “blue ticks” at the centre of current dogpiling/intimidation episodes. The actor that this piece is about, the actress and her daytime television presenter friend/co-plaintiff and the mediocre comedian who is past his hayday that I wrote about before. They agitate and encourage their “followers” to attack whoever happens to be their chosen target for that day. It rather reminds me of the playground cliques and bullies that we all dreaded coming across as children. If this kind of behaviour was not prone to becoming intimidating to the point where the target feels they have to leave Twitter (or other social media platform), it could be viewed as immature. I have seen the harassment get to the point where people lose jobs, their families are targeted, the police become involved and the person being targeted suffers mentally and emotionally. These “celebrities” (I hate that word) should be setting a good example not giving the message that it is okay to harass and intimidate others. Behind their keyboards they may feel they are brave and nobody can stand up to them … I wonder how it would be if they ever met their targets in the real world.
As usual this is all my opinion and it is all just my opinion this time. I watched in disgust yesterday as a poor lady was attacked from all sides purely for a comment she made, On the positive side there were many who defended her and stood with her so she was not alone.
Under the leadership of Keir Starmer ( I refuse to use Sir) the Labour party has continued on its downward spiral towards centralism and being pro-Israel. Starmer has had help from the likes of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and the Board of Deputies Of British Jews (BoD) with the continuation of this trend. Last year I wrote about the antisemitism smear campaign against and the purging of left wing members from the Labour party. This has continued under the leadership of Starmer and he has now appointed the members of the Antisemitism Advisory Board. I shuddered in horror when I saw some of the names on the list: Margaret Hodge, the queen of false anti-semitism claims against Labour party members/supporters. She put in 200 complaints of antisemitism against supposed Labour party members. Former general secretary Jennie Formby stated in an email that only 20 of those complaints applied to LP members, the rest of Hodge’s complaints were about non LP members. Hodge, herself, was the subject of an antisemitism complaint by Orthodox Jewish Labour member Charedi Shraga Stern after Hodge took a photograph of Mr Stern when he met with then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Dan Carden Labour MP for Liverpool Walton. Hodge then tweeted the photograph to a journalist, Henry Zeffman of the Times. I have not seen anything more about this complaint but knowing what else Hodge has got away with over the years I doubt the matter went any further.
I have no knowledge of Mike Katz from the JLM but I do know that JLM are a right wing organisation, with ties to the Israeli embassy, which was revived when Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour party in 2015. The JLM was actually formed in 2004 as a successor to Poale Zion which was a movement of Marxist-Zionist Jewish workers founded in Poland, Europe and Russia in the early twentieth century. Mike Katz was anti-Corbyn and stated that the JLM had not campaigned for Corbyn during the 2019 general election campaign ( should they really call themselves Labour then). It was articles like the one Katz wrote for the Guardian in December 2019 that made voters believe in the false antisemitism claims against Labour. The JLM played a large part in the smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, left wing Labour MPs and members and are part of the pro-Israel lobby that is gaining more power in Britain.
Marie Van Der Zyl, President of the BoD is constantly making antisemitism claims against anybody who dares to criticise Israel or anybody who does not pay heed to her demands on behalf of the BoD. I recently wrote about her attacks on Ken Loach and her demands when charity Show Racism the Red Card asked him to be a judge in an annual competition, and when Loach was invited to speak about his films at St Peter’s College at Oxford University. Let us not forget about the ten demands that the BoD presented to the Labour leadership candidates in January 2020. Demand number 4 named two ex Labour members that BoD demanded should never be allowed back into the party. One of these former members is in fact Jewish which would make the demand antisemitic but of course all the candidates except two signed the demands. Demand number 8 stated “ Engagement with the Jewish community to be made via its main representative groups: Labour must engage with the Jewish community via its main representative groups, and not through fringe organisations and individuals.” Mike Sivier from Vox Political responded to this demand very succinctly and accurately
…”This is an example of genuine anti-Semitism. The Board of Deputies is trying to ensure that groups representing a more common-sense attitude, like Jewish Voice for Labour and Jewdas, are denied a voice. That’s denying Jewish people a right to self-determination, and it’s a claim that members of this organisation are “the wrong kind of Jew”. Despicable. It’s also undemocratic, of course” …
David Evans replaced Jennie Formby as general secretary of the Labour party and within a six months of his appointment grassroots LP members were calling for his dismissal after his “mishandling of disciplinary measures against former leader Jeremy Corbyn”. Evans has sent letters around Party Officers and CLPs which restrict discussion and debate. Some have found the tone of what he has written to be threatening and one volunteer quoted the following paragraph in a letter they sent to Evans ““As leaders in your CLPs and branches, the Party is relying on you to ensure that meetings are conducted in accordance with our rules and guidance, and in the spirit of creating an open and welcoming environment for people of all communities and backgrounds. I must emphasise that the Party will not hesitate to take appropriate action – including against individual members – where our rules and guidance are not adhered to, or standards of behaviour fall below that which we expect”. It is the latter part of the paragraph that was thought to be threatening in nature. Evans also told CLPs that they could not hold votes that declared no confidence in the party leadership of Keir Starmer or in himself. Bindmans, a leading law firm, acting for two suspended CLP members and affiliated Jewish Voice for Labour, wrote Evans a letter accusing him of “exceeding his authority under the rules and in law“.
Adrian Cohen, trustee of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) is also lay chair of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). Joan Ryan, former Labour MP, is also a member of LFI and is a key figure in the ongoing antisemitism smear campaign. In my opinion the campaign of hate and antisemitism smears began with Joan Ryan (then Labour MP for Enfield North) and Shai Masot an Israeli diplomat based at the Israeli Embassy in London. They were secretly filmed conspiring on how to take down certain British MPs and the film was shown in the four part AlJazeera documentary ‘The Lobby‘. The current LFI chair is Labour MP Steve McCabe. It is the fact that anybody from LFI is on the team that I find wrong not who it is. You do not have to be Jewish or a member of Labour to be a member of LFI and after the history between LFI and the Israeli embassy I find it hard to believe that they will go into this unbiased and openminded.
Neither the NEC or Jewish MPs were consulted over who should be appointed to the advisory team and the one nomination from Labour affiliate Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) was considered. JVL points out that ” ,,, three nominations put forward by John McDonnell – two academic experts on the subject of antisemitism Antony Lerman and Brian Klug and Rabbi Danny Rich, until last year Chief Executive and Senior Rabbi of Liberal Judaism (and incidentally a Labour councillor) – were not accepted…” This together with Margaret Hodge and members of JLM, LFI BoD and Community Security Trust (CST) being involved makes me fear that any recommendations made will be in favour of the IHRA definition of antisemitism which will be used to silence any and all criticism of Israel and the Israel lobby. As usual most of this is my opinion apart from the links included for those who wish to look at them.
Last year I wrote a piece about John Mann, former Labour MP and anti-Semitism Tsar for the Tories. I refuse to use the honorific Lord for him as he has done nothing to deserve my respect. That was part one of a series about the continuing fake, libellous anti-Semitism claims made against Jeremy Corbyn, left leaning Labour party members/supporters, left-wing Jews and supporters of Palestine. It had been all quiet on social media for a while with the absence of the right-wing clique known as Gnasherjew, but recently it has started up again. As usual most of this is my opinion based on what I observe with links thrown in for readers to look at if they wish.
Recently there has been renewed attacks against socialist film maker Ken Loach. He was a target for those spreading these false claims last year. In February 2020 he and poet/author Michael Rosen were asked to be judges for an annual competition held by UK anti-racist charity Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC). The pro-Israel lobby group Board of Deputies of British Jews immediately condemned this move by SRTRC and wrote to the charity with a “misleading series of decontextualised quotations” they attributed to Ken Loach. They took to social media to criticise SRTRC when they decided to stand by their choice. The JLM (Jewish Labour Movement), which has ties to the Israeli embassy in the UK, also criticised the decision by SRTRC. There followed an aggressive campaign by the Israel lobby to persuade government departments, football clubs, politicians and trade unions to stop funding and supporting SRTRC. This forced them to change their decision and after talking to Loach they said that they and Loach had agreed that he should not be a judge. This is nothing less than intimidation and bullying and should have been stopped at once by the Charities Commission.
Over the past few days Ken Loach has once again been under attack and wrongly accused of anti-Semitism after he was invited to talk at St Peter’s College at Oxford University. Once again the Board of Deputies of British Jews immediately criticised the invitation and wrote to Professor Judith Buchanan (Master of St Peter’s College) stating that they required “immediate confirmation this event will not be proceeding.” Professor Buchanan decided that the event would continue as advertised and that they “looked forward to a good conversation about the films.” The BoD (Board of Deputies of British Jews) does not represent all British Jews or indeed the views of all British Jews but they present themselves as if this was the case.
Michael Rosen is another well known and respected artist, he has written many poems and books for children. He is himself a Jew who lost family members to the Holocaust. This has not stopped him from being accused of being anti-Semitic or receiving anti-Semitic abuse. Dan Hodges(commentator for the Mail on Sunday) has referred to Rosen and other Labour supporting Jews as ‘a useful Jewish idiot’. Rosen has also been subject to Lee Harpin, so called journalist working for the Jewish Chronicle, calling him ‘a cheerleader for Soros’. Both ‘descriptions’ were anti-Semitic which is ironic considering they were both made by “high priests of the anti-Corbyn movement”. Lee Harpin has been guilty of making false accusations against people before and both he and the rag he works for have been found guilty of writing and printing untruths by the press watchdog IPSO.
This round of false anti-Semitism claims seems to be circulating around claims made by 3 people : a mediocre comic, an actor and a daytime television presenter. I am not going to name names but I am sure Twitter users will know who they are. The comic has made very dubious claims about a leaflet about the Holocaust going round at a Labour conference which, according to him, did not mention Jewish victims. He alleges that ‘someone on the NEC told him‘. Now I find it very hard to believe that a leaflet like that would be handed out at any political conference (unless we time travelled back to 1945 when the Nazis were trying to hide evidence of what they had done to Jews). Nobody would fail to mention Jewish victims when writing about the Holocaust not unless they were a Holocaust denier and that is a very serious accusation for the comic to make. Coincidentally, he has just had a book published and is about to embark on a tour, just thought I would add that. This is the same comic who back when he was ‘popular’ thought it would be a good idea to wear ‘blackface’ in an attempt to parody footballer Jason Lee.
I am not going to type very much about the third person because she sets my teeth on edge and she has had way too much press coverage as it is. Her latest target is Aaron Bastani writer, journalist and co-founder of novaramedia.com. She accused him of being “One of the biggest ringleaders of left wing antisemitism.” in response to right wing Twitter user Guido Fawkes claiming he had left Labour. Twitter users I follow are waiting to see if Aaron sues her for libel because she seems to take great pleasure in doing that very same thing to Twitter users who retweet links to articles that have mentioned how she bullied a teenage girl on Twitter (allegedly).
I have to ask why some people persist in these false anti-Semitism claims especially as they can be dangerous for the Jewish community as a whole. If they are serious about fighting racism then they should join a group like Stand Up To Racism and tackle the true racists like Tommy Robinson, Katie Hopkins, and Boris Johnson.
The world, as I see it, has become more intolerant, more bigoted and more racist. There is a rise in all forms of racism but two cultures/religions seem to be under attack more than others. I have already written about one in “The Damage done by False Antisemitism Claims and the Weaponisation of the Holocaust”. Muslims are the second community being subjected to more racist attacks worldwide. I will be using information I have found on sites around the internet and I will provide links within the text so readers can also look at the sites, the rest is my opinion and should be treated as such.
The increase in Islamophobia first became apparent after the events of 11 September 2001 (9/11) in which 2,977 people lost their lives. Immediately after the attacks America went on the offensive and began its endless war against terrorism mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan. There was also a dramatic rise in Islamophobia throughout the USA fuelled by ignorance and bigotry as a result of political and social reactions. This rise in hate crimes against Muslim did not just last for the weeks that immediately followed 9/11, they have continued throughout the 20 years since then. In 2000 the number of reported hate crimes against Muslims was just 28, that number jumped to 481 in 2001. Before 9/11 hate crimes against Muslims were the second-least reported religious-biased incidents but afterwards they were the second most reported.
In the week that followed 9/11 3 people were killed in America because of Islamophobia. Balbir Singh Sodhi was killed in Arizona on 15 September 2001. He was actually Sikh but Frank Roque, who shot and killed him, thought he was Muslim because of the turban he was wearing. Roque had been drinking at a sports bar and had been ranting about immigrants and saying that he wanted to “kill a Muslim”. Roque was later tried and imprisoned for life for first degree murder. On the same day Waqar Hasan and Vasudev Patel were shot and killed in Texas by Mark Anthony Stroman who said he did it because he wanted to “avenge” the United States for 9/11. He was later tried for the murder of Vasudev Patel but not Waqar Hasan. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was executed on July 20 2011 by lethal injection. The hatred towards Muslims has not stopped and in 2017 75 per cent of American Muslims said there is a lot of discrimination against them and 48 per cent of those who responded said that they had experienced at least one incident of discrimination during the previous year.
After the start of Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign in 2016, Islamophobia peaked and the number of assaults on Muslim Americans rose appreciably between 2015 -16. In 2016 there were 127 reports of aggravated or simple assault against Muslims compared with 91 in 2015. Intimidation would appear to be the most common type of hate crime against Muslims and other religious groups, and the reported number in 2016 was 144 compared with 120 the year before. Overall there were 307 reported incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes which was a 19 per cent increase from the previous year. On January 27 2017 Donald Trump signed an Executive Order that banned nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. Entry for all Syrian refugees was suspended indefinitely and all other refugees were prohibited from entering America for 120 days. Although this executive order was challenged by ACLU in Washington and other organisations it fuelled anti-Muslim feelings in America, particularly amongst those who had voted for Trump. When Joe Biden became the American President one of the first things he did was to issue an Executive Order ending Trump’s Muslim ban which was one of several positive immigration policy changes.
A week after the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand in 2019, the number of reported anti-Muslim hate crimes in the UK increased by 593 per cent. The majority of the incidents were acts of intimidation and verbal abuse but some mosques and Muslims were physically attacked. In the week following the attack on the Manchester Arena the reported number of hate crimes against UK Muslims rose by 700 per cent. Some believe that the rise in anti-Muslim feelings in the UK is being fuelled by irrational fears among the middle-class. According to statistics, 18 per cent of people in the UK have very negative views about Islam and 44 per cent of them fear that Islam is a massive threat to the Western way of life. On the positive side 32 per cent of people in the UK believe that Islam is compatible with the British way of life compared to 31 per cent who don’t.
In January 2021 Sofia Akel conducted research about The Rise of Islamophobia in Higher Education at London Metropolitan University. In November 2020 London Metropolitan University became the first UK university to adopt the working definition of “Islamophobia” as offered by the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. Some Muslim students who responded remarked on how their academic spaces could often become places where they were ridiculed and could be subjected to injustice and discrimination. Some of them recalled lectures where their beliefs had been called “medieval” and “not compatible with the modern world” by their lecturers under the guise of “academic discussion.”
“A lecturer made a remark ‘I bet you get searched everywhere you go with a name like that’ to a student in a large gathering. The student was lost for words and clearly upset.“
5.4 per cent of students felt that their contributions to academic discussions were disproportionately scrutinised by lecturers and their peers due to prejudice against Islam. Some felt unable to research topics of interest because they were afraid of being branded as radical or dangerous. As somebody who thoroughly enjoyed their time in college and at University I was saddened by this. Having access to materials that enable students to research topics that really interest them is one of the great joys of being a student and I feel that the students who made those responses were deprived of that experience. I was also disturbed about the fact that lecturers are displaying their prejudice and are discriminating against students because of the students religious beliefs.
A poll conducted by Hope Not Hate in 2018, found that of those who voted Tory in 2017 49 per cent thought Islam was a real threat to the British way of Life. Of the Labour voters who responded, 22 per cent thought Islam was a threat. The report stated that the Conservative party could do more to challenge this negative view of its voters. Hope Not Hate also suggested that Brexit could be exploited by the far-right and stated that “Divisions within Britain are likely to increase and this will further split communities and boost the far-right’s populist anti-politics message.” In February 2020 Abdul Rahman al-Hussein wrote “In the shadows of the Brexit vote and a new movement toward nationalism, the U.K. has seen a significant increase in the number of hate crimes against Muslims in the past few years.” He went on to say that it was Muslim women that are targeted the most in recent hate crimes so some have started to wear caps instead of the traditional hijab. In 2018 Tasnim Nazeer wrote that “Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson’s Facebook page has played host to hundreds of Islamophobic messages following his comments where he described Muslim women who have chosen to wear the burka as looking like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers.” She goes on to write “He cannot deny the fact that his comments have fuelled the recent spike of anti-Muslim hate in the UK.” In my opinion, his racist views and his campaign slogan “Get Brexit Done” is what won the Tories the general election in December 2019. It appealed to the right wing, racist element of this country who have blamed immigrants and even British born people from ethnic minority communities for all that is wrong in their lives. This is fuelled by right wing mainstream media like the Daily Mail and The Sun with banner headlines. On 30 May 2018 the Daily Mail’s headline was “Most Brits believe that migration has harmed communities and fear the nation’s culture and traditions are being lost, Left-leaning think-tank claims” The so called left-leaning think-tank was Demos which was once thought of as being close to Tony Blair who is centrist. How many people were polled? Where in the country were they? Was it a good representation of communities within Britain? I could not find answers to those questions so for all I know it could have been members of EDL or the National Front questioned. This seems to be a trait of right wing media … banner headlines and no actual facts or evidence to back up these headlines.
The cross government working group on Anti-Muslim hatred commissioned new research, and found that Covid-19 sparks online Islamophobia as fake news and racist memes are shared online. The research showed that Islamophobic online ‘Cyber Hubs’ were being created which linked Muslims to the spread of Covid-19, spread fake news and shared anti-Muslim memes. Among fake news theories being shared were – Mosques are responsible for the spread of Covid-19; Muslims are super-spreaders of the virus; Muslims are not observing social distancing rules and police give favourable treatment to Muslims for fear of being classed as racist. One video that was shared on the Tommy Robinson News channel on the messaging app Telegram, claimed to show Muslim men leaving a secret mosque in Birmingham after prayer. Although West Midlands police have checked and confirmed that the mosque is closed and the fact that the video is a fake, it has been watched more than 14,000 times. This type of bigotry reinforces the “us vs them” narrative by referencing issues like poverty, social standing, social mobility and cohesion as well as deprivation. This fuels the hatred and bigotry and leaves Muslims more at risk once lockdown is finally lifted. One particularly foul, offensive tweet stated “We all need to avoid muzrats who are still attending mosque. They believe allah will fly down from his rainbow and save them while infecting infidels.” Muzrat is a word that bigots use to label Muslims as vermin and a disease. I am both saddened and angered by this blatant display of hatred and ignorance. Studies and statistics have shown that people from BAME communities are more susceptible to Covid-19. The first 11 doctors who died were all from BAME backgrounds. Would these bigots refuse treatment from Muslim doctors and nurses if they were unfortunate enough to catch Covid-19? Of course they wouldn’t because they value their lives and are not beyond hypocrisy.
Lizzie Dearden wrote about the use of old and fake videos being used to blame Muslims for the spread of Covid-19. She stated that Tommy Robinson, Gerard Batten (former leader of UKip) and Katie Hopkins were all sharing posts that targeted Muslims. Bigotry seems to have become almost socially acceptable and not only is it fuelled by fake news, racist memes and ignorance, it is also being fuelled by right wing mainstream media and politicians, and so called celebrities, like Katie Hopkins, on social media. Mainstream media and far-right groups such as the English Defence League (EDL) made a “hero” out of Tommy Robinson when he was arrested whilst filming outside a court during a trial for grooming underage girls. He was courted by Gerard Batten and became a social media star with many followers who all thought of him as a patriot and a hero.
I could write a lot more on this subject as it is not only America and the UK that has seen a rise in Islamophobia but basically it will just be more of the same which is just so very frustrating and disappointing. We are now in the 21st century and the time of bigotry and hatred should have been over long ago. It seems that every time something out of the ordinary happens, like a pandemic or bombing, or when peoples lives are not going the way they wanted them to, then some of us have to find somebody to blame. They seem to always end up blaming on people who follow a different religion or live in a different way to them. Is it fear or is it ignorance and the need to lay blame at another’s door? Maybe it is all of them or maybe it is something completely different. All I know for sure is that I do not and never will understand this almost pathological hatred that some people have for others.
I am going to begin this by stating my objection to China being referred to as “communist”. When Marx and Engels first wrote ‘The Communist Manifesto‘ (1848) they viewed communism as a political and economic ideology that aimed to replace private property and a profit based economy. They would be replaced with public ownership and communal control of at least the major means of production, and of the natural resources available to a society (Richard Dagger Professor of Political Science). China is in fact a “totalitarian” state which runs on state capitalism. Totalitarianism is centralised control by an autocratic authority and the political concept is that the citizens should be completely subject to an absolute state authority (Merriam Webster). In my opinion this is a very accurate description of the sort of state that China actually is and should be referred to as such.
As usual this piece of writing is my opinion and should be treated as such. I will insert links where possible to give readers the opportunity to do more reading. I am going to begin by writing about what happened on June 4th and 5th 1989 in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The death on 15th April 1989 of former Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang was the spark for the protests that led to the Tiananmen Square massacre. Hu had worked to introduce democratic reform in China and pro-democracy protestors, who were mainly students, mourned him by marching and calling for a more open and democratic government. In the 1980s China was already going through changes as some private companies and foreign investment were allowed in. By doing this the then leader Deng Xiaoping hoped that the economy would be boosted and that living standards would be raised. Unfortunately this move also brought corruption as well as the hope for more political openness. The ruling CPC (Communist Party of China) was divided between those wanting more change and those wanting to preserve strict state control. Student led protests began in the mid 1980s and included those who had lived abroad and been exposed to higher standards of living and new ideas.
In the weeks following the death of Hu Yaobang protestors gathered at Tiananmen Square and it was estimated that up to a million people had gathered when numbers were at their largest. The protests were proving to be an embarrassment to the Chinese government, especially with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev due to visit China, which would plunge China into the global media spotlight. The military were called in after the ruling CPC declared martial law in Beijing on May 20th in an attempt to restore order and to clear the streets before the visit of Gorbachev. The Tiananmen Square massacre, referred to as “the 4th June incident” in China, is remembered as being one of the bloodiest events in modern history. At 1am on June 4 Chinese police and troops stormed Tiananmen Square firing live rounds into the crowd. Members of the 27th Group Army opened fire on the crowd just five minutes after they were told they had one hour to leave the Square. Snipers shot at protestors from rooftops and troops on the ground bayoneted any wounded. Armoured personnel carriers then rolled in running over protestors who had linked arms to form human chains. Reporters and Western diplomats who witnessed the events estimated that hundreds to thousands of protestors were killed in the Tiananmen Square Massacre and as many as 10,000 were arrested.
“Historically, China has proved to be covetous about occupying foreign lands.” The People’s Republic of China maintains that Tibet is an intrinsic part of China whereas the Tibetan government-in-exile maintains that Tibet is an independent state under unlawful occupation. The Chinese regime began their invasion of Tibet in 1949 and reached complete occupation in 1959. From then until November 2017 1.2 million people (20 per cent of Tibet’s population) have died as a result of China’s invasion and occupation. over 99 per cent of Tibet’s six thousand religious monasteries, temples and shrines, have been destroyed or looted resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of Buddhist scriptures. Occupying Tibet gave China access to rich, natural resources and allowed it to militarise the strategically important border with India. Tibetans rebelled against the PRC in Lhasa on March 10 1959 and the Dalai Lama ( a teenage boy) left Lhasa on March 17 1959 and went into exile in India on March 31 along with about 80 followers. Rebels then launched an attack on Chinese officials and troops on March 19 1959 and the Chinese launched their response the following day. Chinese troops captured Lhasa on 25 March 1959 killing about 2,000 Tibetan rebels in the process. On March 28 the Dalai Lama led government was dissolved and the Panchen Lama assumed control of the Tibetan government on April 5 1959. Between March 10 and March 31 1959 it is estimated that about 87,000 Tibetans died and 100,000 fled to India, Nepal and Bhutan.
The PRC closed all monasteries and imposed Chinese law and customs in Tibet. The General Assembly of the United Nations condemned China’s disrespect for the human rights of Tibetans on October 21 1959. China imposed economic reforms in Tibet between 1960 – 62 which resulted in famines and the death of about 340,000 Tibetans. Tibet is still classed as an independent state but it is under illegal occupation. This means that Beijing’s transfer of Chinese citizens into Tibet is a violation of the fourth Geneva convention of 1949, which prohibits the transfer of civilian population into occupied territory. The issue of human rights along with the right to self-determination and the right of the Tibetan people to keep their own identity and autonomy are, of course, matters for legitimate international concern regardless of how Tibet’s legal status is regarded.
It is not only Tibet that China has had disputes with over territory, on land and at sea. It also has had disputes with Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, North Korea, Nepal, Bhutan, Laos, Mongolia Myanmar and India. In June 2020 there were protests by ethnic Mongolians as China tried to replace the Mongolian language with Chinese Mandarin in some of the school subjects. Mongolians were afraid that their language would be relegated to a foreign language as part of government plans to assimilate ethnic minorities into Chinese Han culture. China’s reason for the change to the bilingual education system was to ensure that the curriculum and textbooks were of “high standard”.
“It doesn’t matter where I am, or what passport I hold. [Chinese authorities] will terrorize me anywhere, and I have no way to fight that.“(Uyghur Muslim with European citizenship, Washington, September 2019). The atrocities administered to Uyghurs have been described as “the most pressing human rights crisis of our time” by Irwin Cotler, a renowned legal expert and civil liberties champion. A parliamentary committee in Canada made a landmark decision when they labelled the atrocities being inflicted upon the Uyghurs as “genocide” and government ministers and experts from around the world have called for joint action against the CPC. In November 2020 the Halifax International Security Forum held its annual summit and warned the world that “Modern-day China has emerged as the most powerful authoritarian state in history and the major challenger to the liberal world.” During the summit top national security, foreign policy officials and activists called for there to be a joint initiative to regenerate international institutes and pursue new, more adaptable methods do governments can work together to confront China’s “economic and technological warfare and aggressive military build up”,
In the HRW (Human Rights Watch) World Report 2020 it is stated that “China’s government sees human rights as an existential threat. Its reaction could pose an existential threat to the rights of people worldwide“. The CPC is worried that allowing political freedom would threaten its hold on power. To counter this it has developed a high-tech surveillance state and a state-of-the-art internet censorship system so as to monitor and suppress any public criticism. Abroad it uses its ever growing economic power to silence critics, and continues to attack the global system for enforcing human rights in a manner that has not been seen since the system began to appear during the mid twentieth century. In October 2020 forty countries criticised China’s treatment of minority groups, especially the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and the citizens of Tibet. They also expressed grave concern over the impact that its new security laws in Hong Kong would have on human rights. The mainly Western statement said that its 39 signatories shared the concerns that had been expressed in a letter written by fifty independent United Nations human rights experts. The letter urged the international community to take appropriate measures to monitor China and to act together to ensure China’s government respected human rights. These experts expressed concern over allegations of excessive force against protesters, reports of retaliation against people who spoke out about the coronavirus outbreak, and Hong Kong’s then proposed new security law.
This leads to the most recent episode concerning China, human rights, attempts to silence critics and also lies and cover ups. On February 20 2020 Aylin Woodward wrote about 5 Chinese citizens who had disappeared, been arrested or been silenced after speaking out about the coronavirus (Covid-19). On 30 December 2019 Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang wrote a message to a group of medical school alumni warning them about an outbreak of a mysterious new illness and warned them to wear protective clothing to avoid infection. Three days later he was reprimanded and silenced by local police. He was forced to sign a letter in which he was accused of “making false comments” which had “severely disturbed the social order.” He returned to work at the hospital in Wuhan and caught the infection from a patient. Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun posted a review criticising President Xi Jinping and the CPC for the way they had handled the coronavirus outbreak. He wrote “They all blithely stood by as the crucial window of opportunity to deal with the outbreak of the infection snapped shut in their faces,” which implied that the government’s censoring of information about the virus had impaired its ability to control the spread. This was posted online on February 10 2020 but was taken down immediately and Xu was placed under house arrest. He was also cut off from the internet and scrubbed from all social media sites. In addition to Li and Xu at least 3 citizen journalists have disappeared or were arrested after sharing information about the outbreak on social media.
During his time as a patient in Wuhan hospital Li Wenliang posted his story on social media site Weibo. It was a disturbing insight into the badly managed response by the local authorities in Wuhan during the first weeks of the coronavirus outbreak. Dr Li was working at Wuhan hospital when he became aware of 7 cases of a virus which looked like SARS. The cases were thought to have come from the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan and the patients were in quarantine at Wuhan hospital. When Dr Li was reprimanded by local police he was told that he was one of 8 people being investigated for “spreading rumours”. For the first few weeks of January 2020 local authorities in Wuhan were insisting that the virus could only be caught through contact with infected animals. Doctors were not issued with any guidance to protect themselves. Dr Li caught the virus from a woman he was treating for glaucoma just a week after being reprimanded after the police. On 10 January 2020 Dr Li developed a cough, the next day he developed a fever and 2 days later he was admitted to hospital. It was not until 10 days later, on 20 January 2020, that China declared the outbreak an emergency.
On February 13 2020 Professors Ruipeng Lei and Renzong Qiu of the Hastings Center stated that the reprimand and silencing of Dr Li by local police was an unlawful and unethical infringement on his right of expression and also impeded early control of the epidemic. During the weeks that Dr Li was ill in hospital, local authorities had apologised for the way he had been treated but by that time it was too late. Dr Li died on 7 February 2020. In May 2020 former lawyer turned citizen journalist Zhang Zhan was detained by by Chinese authorities. After spending 7 months in detention she was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment. She was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” which is a common charge used against activists in China. In June 2020, Sir Richard Dearlove ( a former head of MI6) cited a study by British and Norwegian researchers which he thought could “shift the debate” on the origins of the coronavirus. He stated that he believed that the coronavirus pandemic could have “started as an accident” after the virus escaped from a Chinese laboratory. The researchers had claimed that they had found clues that suggested key elements had been “inserted” into the genetic sequence of the virus but their study did not seem to indicate that the inserts were man-made. The study was rejected by several journals and revisions were made to remove claims that accused China. At that time the consensus was still that the virus had originated in bats and had crossed species in a “wet market” in Wuhan and then made the jump to humans.
On October 17 2020 the Financial Times published the first part of a series they called “Coronavirus: could the world have been spared?” They sent reporters to Wuhan to investigate what happened in the first weeks of the epidemic. They spoke to medical professionals, government officials and members of the public in Wuhan and found that several of the people they approached were then threatened by police who said that the FT had gone to Wuhan with “malicious intent”. They also discovered that the police were still intimidating and threatening virus victims, their families and anybody who wanted to talk to them about the virus. The reporters from the FT felt that this behaviour raised doubts about the willingness of Xi Jinping’s administration to help with the impartial investigation into the pandemic that China had promised the world. This could also be inferred from the way China delayed the investigation by making WHO go through months of negotiation in order to gain entry into China, and then access to Wuhan and the people they needed to speak to. Robin Brant (BBC correspondent in Wuhan) was of the opinion that China had resisted the investigation because it saw the potential for further blame from foreigners and it already had its own official version of what happened. The WHO team finally arrived in China on 14 January 2021 and had to spend 14 days in quarantine before continuing on to Wuhan. Earlier in January the team had been denied entry into China because one of the team was turned back and another was stuck in transit. China claimed that it was all a misunderstanding and that discussions about arranging the investigation were still underway. The two week quarantine period ended on 28 January 2021 and the investigation is now underway although the team says that it will not be investigating the possibility that the virus originated in a lab and escaped.
On 9 February 2021 the WHO team who had gone to China to investigate the origins of China held a media briefing and spoke about what they had found. They stated that SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) may have originated from zoonotic transmission but the reservoir hosts had not been identified. Basically this means that they think the virus jumped from animals to humans but they do not know what animal yet. They did rule out bats and pangolins though so hopefully this may lead to an end to the slaughter of both species. They said that the virus did not originate in a Chinese laboratory. On 10 February 20121 Massimo Introvigne wrote that the reasons that WHO says that the virus could not have originated in a Chines laboratory is because China told them so. Introvigne also claims that Dr Peter Ben Embarak who headed the WHO team is by trade a food safety expert. The investigation was carried out by a joint WHO-China team and it was decided before the investigation began that laboratories would not be visited.
I lost my father on 5 April 2020 and my partner on 15 May 2020 and both of their deaths were the result of the coronavirus epidemic. In my opinion not only does the British government have to be held to account for the number of loved ones lost due to their shamefully abysmal handling of the epidemic, China also has to be held to account for their attempts to hide the outbreak by silencing people like Dr Li during the first weeks when the epidemic could have been brought under control. China lied about and hid important information which could have changed everything, and people like me, and so many others, would not have had to say goodbye to their family members during a 17 minute rushed funeral which had to be streamed for those who could not attend due to the limit on numbers allowed to attend. China should also be held to account for its continuing human rights violations and the atrocities visited upon Tibetans and Uyghurs. China continues to act with impunity and with scant regard for how they are viewed by the rest of the world. As I said at the beginning, apart from the facts I have used the rest is my opinion and should be treated as such. Next time you go out to buy something try and find something that has not been made in China… I wish you good luck with that.