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Islamist denialism has reached crisis levels

The ‘hate speech’ complaint against Lee Anderson reveals the censorious power of the charge of Islamophobia.

Fraser Myers

Fraser Myers
Deputy editor

Topics Free Speech Politics UK

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Why can’t they say the i-word? Last week, when House of Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle spoke about the ‘frightening’ death threats against MPs that led him to rip up the parliamentary rule book, he could not bring himself to say who was making them. This week, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak warned of ‘mob rule replacing democratic rule’, as ‘increasingly and intimidatory behaviour’ prevents ‘elected representatives from doing their job’. He gestured to the protests over Gaza, but he did not say anything too specific about the makeup of these mobs.

Home secretary James Cleverly was similarly tongue-tied when he unveiled £31million worth of additional security measures for MPs to protect them from ‘intimidation, disruption or subversion’. As was Harriet Harman, mother of the House of Commons, when she proposed letting MPs debate and vote from home, like they did during lockdown. She said politicians should be able to avoid going out in public if they’re feeling ‘vulnerable’ and ‘under pressure’. But ‘under pressure’ from whom? She could not say. Why would you even ask?

The threat the political class dare not name is, of course, Islamism. The same violent, reactionary and fascistic ideology that inspired the murder of Tory MP David Amess in 2021, the killing of PC Keith Palmer outside parliament in 2017 and the stabbing of Labour MP Stephen Timms in 2010. The same ideology that has led to the deaths of nearly 100 Britons in terror attacks.

As far as the political class is concerned, even if this threat impacts them directly and personally, it is still best not to dwell on it too much. MPs should have some extra security, sure, but we shouldn’t expect them to actually talk about or even name the reason they might want this protection.

In fact, when Lee Anderson made a series of boorish comments at the weekend about mayor of London Sadiq Khan supposedly being ‘controlled by Islamists’, you could hear the sighs of relief from SW1. Politicians, the media and the broader establishment leapt at this first opportunity to change the subject. Finally, the discussion could move on to another i-word – Islamophobia – which is far more comfortable territory for our politically correct elites. In fact, it is so comfortable for them, that even though Anderson was suspended from the Tory Party on Sunday, the scandal has still been rumbling on all this week.

‘Six days in and there are still unanswered questions’ on the government’s ‘failure to deal with Islamophobia’, tweeted shadow equality secretary Anneliese Dodds yesterday. Which is to say, she had spent six days talking about Lee Anderson’s oafish comments. Six days more than she had spent talking about the violent threat of Islamism.

Worse still, the Anderson scandal prompted Dodds to ask why the Tory government hadn’t yet incorporated the term ‘Islamophobia’ into law. Why, in other words, had Anderson not yet been dealt with by the police, as well as by Rishi Sunak?

Worryingly, she may get her wish even before a Labour government has the chance to ban ‘Islamophobia’. Last night, it was revealed that the Metropolitan Police is ‘assessing’ a complaint of hate speech made against the suspended Tory MP. He has not been arrested, investigated or charged. But the very prospect of police action being taken against an elected member of parliament for his outspoken views on Islamism ought to alarm us all.

What the police probe into Anderson suggests is that the authorities would far rather push back on the critics of Islamism than on Islamism itself. They are even prepared to use the brute force of the law to try to hush up those critics.

In many ways, this is simply the logical outcome of the crusade against Islamophobia. Indeed, as Tim Black pointed out on spiked earlier this week, adopting Labour’s preferred definition of Islamophobia would not only outlaw racist bigotry towards Muslim citizens, it would also criminalise opposition to Islamic extremism and religious fundamentalism. It would codify and give legal backing to the informal censorship that is already menacing 21st-century Britain, where teachers are forced to live in hiding for showing a cartoon of Muhammad, where films are pulled from the cinema for portraying the prophet in CGI, and where artworks are pulled from show for satirising the barbarians of ISIS. All of these grotesque acts of theocratic censorship have been justified or at least tolerated on the grounds of combating Islamophobia.

Anderson was, of course, wrong to suggest that our political elites are ‘controlled’ by Islamists. But they have certainly shown their willingness to appease Islamists. By changing parliament’s rules to placate the Islamist mob. By dismissing criticism of Islamism as racist. By arguing for what are effectively Islamic blasphemy laws.

Whether this is out of a genuine fear of Islamist reprisals or simply fear of being branded ‘Islamophobic’, the outcome is pretty much the same. It means the chilling of those voices who would speak out against Islamism. It means covering up the threat of Islamism rather than confronting it in the open. It means that Islamism is emboldened and made to seem untouchable.

The elites’ denialism of the Islamist threat has now reached crisis levels.

Fraser Myers is deputy editor at spiked and host of the spiked podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @FraserMyers.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Free Speech Politics UK

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