2. “A human cactus”
3. “I’d rather take ricin than publish this”
4. “While England sleeps” (By Tom Gross, New York Post, June 18, 2006)
5. “Home office funds Muslim council of Britain” (Freedom of Info Centre, June 5, 2006)
[Note by Tom Gross]
I attach below a slightly longer version of my review in the New York Post of “Londonistan,” the important new book by British journalist Melanie Phillips.
“Londonistan” was generally very well received in America, and widely reviewed – though true to form, The New York Times has so far ignored it.
The book has also received some good reviews in Britain, for example from Michael Gove in the Mail on Sunday. Leading British bloggers Clive Davis and Stephen Pollard have also generally welcomed “Londonistan” (while, like myself, disagreeing with some of Phillips’ more conservative views on social issues.) “On the really big issues, she is frighteningly right,” writes Davis.
“A HUMAN CACTUS”
But, the British left – rather than openly debate the issues – have viciously attacked the book and its author in a number of different publications.
In a piece by Jackie Ashley in The Guardian, Phillips is described as “quick to take offence,” “a human cactus” and patronizingly told to “keep your hair on, Mel.” According to Ashley “The problem is that Phillips’s hysterical tone repels frank and thoughtful argument.”
Last weekend there was also a particularly cheap review in The Observer by Peter Preston, the former editor of The Guardian – who sums up Londonistan as “a ferocious denunciation of new London’s many faiths and traditions.” This is simply not true. Phillips goes out of her way not to criticize Muslims per se, let alone Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs (many of whom have written to her welcoming her book).
Phillips previously worked at The Guardian for almost two decades, which is one reason the newspaper is now so bitter about her changing views.
Brendan O’Neill, writing in the New Statesman (the house magazine of the British left) in a review titled “Losing the plot” says “I have thought hard about the best word to use to describe Phillips’s book, and really only one will do: hysterical.” He also writes that since 9/11, Phillips’ writing “has become increasingly shrill and paranoid. She says Britain has been ‘subverted’ by radical Islamic ideology, when in fact it is she who has been subverted.”
In his review, O’Neill dismisses last year’s deadly London transport bombs as merely a “stunt executed by four bored and overgrown adolescents who had nothing better to do.” That is how he engages with the argument.
On a BBC TV program, a guest who was brought in to challenge Phillips tried to dismiss her book with the bizarre accusation that she had written in defense of Menachem Begin (which she says she has not).
“I’D RATHER TAKE RICIN THAN PUBLISH THIS”
Despite being one of Britain’s most read journalists, Phillips had great trouble finding a publisher in Britain. Phillips tells me that one British Jewish publisher told her: “I’d rather take [the deadly poison] ricin than publish this.”
Whether one agrees with everything Phillips says or not, it should be clear to anyone who has read “Londonistan” that it is not written in an exaggerated or hysterical tone. Phillips presents her case thoughtfully and persuasively. (For more, see my review below.)
The final item below reveals that the British government Home Office has quietly been funding the Muslim Council of Britain – last year the MCB received at least £150,000 (approx $275,000). In a letter now made public, the Home Office set out a series of terms for the grant, including the fact that their work with the MCB “may need to be on a strictly confidential basis.” The MCB was led until earlier this month by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, who among other things refused to attend Holocaust memorial commemorations for the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and five months later was rewarded with a knighthood by the English Queen.
This MCB funding appears to support Phillips’ view that the British authorities have still not responded adequately to the radicalized Muslim minority in its midst.
-- Tom Gross
A MESSAGE THAT WOULD BE DANGEROUS TO IGNORE
While England sleeps
By Tom Gross
The New York Post
June 18, 2006
Britain is probably America’s most important ally. So what happens there has repercussions here too. And if British writer Melanie Phillips is right in her grim portrayal of “Londonistan” – the phenomena of increasing Islamic radicalism and the British failure to confront it – then Americans have good reason to be concerned.
While the United States provides the muscle to defend the free world against what Phillips terms “Islamic Fascism,” Britain – the originator of the values that America defends – provides much of the backbone. The “special relationship” between the two countries, she argues, is as vital today as when they stood shoulder to shoulder against Nazi Germany.
So could America really “lose Britain”? In short, thinks Phillips, yes. The situation is bad, very bad, “so much so that if we were fighting World War II now, we’d lose.”
That Prime Minister Tony Blair has shown great resolve and determination obscures the true picture, she says. For Blair is largely alone in a British establishment rife with anti-Americanism and the desire to placate Islamic extremists.
Even Blair’s own wife has made sympathetic comments about suicide bombers. Others in his governing Labor party – notably the leftist mayor of London, Ken Livingstone – have done their utmost to welcome Muslim Brotherhood radicals into the heart of British life.
After embracing (literally) the notorious bigot Sheikh Qaradawi, Livingstone dismissed an unprecedented coalition of British Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, gays, and lesbians who objected, claiming their protest was a Mossad conspiracy to defame Islam. Yet Livingstone remains popular among Britain’s liberal elite, who are obsessed, says Phillips, with promoting multiculturalism, political correctness and Islamist-chic.
Indeed according to Phillips, many if not most members of Britain’s governing class – its politicians, judges, intellectuals, journalists, church leaders, and even senior police – have turned right and wrong on their heads and encouraged Londonistan to develop. And this is, amazingly, still the case even after last year’s quadruple suicide attack on London’s transport system, carried out by British-born, British-raised, middle-class Muslims.
For two decades now, the British political and intelligence establishment has simply turned a blind eye to the substantial network of radical Islamists who have made London their home, preaching hatred of the West, indoctrinating impressionable young British Muslims and recruiting for jihad. (And not only in London: the phenomenon extends to other British cities.) Wrongly believing that these imams posed no threat to Britain itself, the authorities ignored them, repeatedly turning down extradition requests by Saudi, Algerian and Egyptian governments.
Radical Islamists in Britain have already produced some of the organizers behind the Bali bombings and the beheading of Daniel Pearl, the 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui, the shoe-bomber Richard Reid, and suicide bombers that have murdered innocent Israelis, Iraqis and Indians. British-based terrorists have also been behind attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Russia.
Yet even now, when they have struck (and are trying to strike again) inside the UK itself, the country, warns Phillips, is still in a state of deep denial. In London, the chattering classes are simply asleep, or worse still are busy scapegoating Israel and “the Jews” rather than acknowledging the Islamist threat they actually face.
Many of her fellow countrymen regard Phillips as misguided. But such was the reaction too, to the few who spoke out in Britain against appeasing Hitler in the 1930s.
Phillips is a powerful writer and her book makes compelling reading. She sets out the evidence skillfully and even if she occasionally overstates her case, her message is one that would be dangerous to ignore.
(Tom Gross (tomgrossmedia.com) is a former Jerusalem correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph.)
BRITISH HOME OFFICE FUNDS MUSLIM COUNCIL OF BRITAIN
Home office funds Muslim council of Britain
Freedom of Information Act Centre
June 5, 2006
Letters between the home office and a high-profile Muslim group reveal that the government has given at least £150,000 to it. The Muslim council of Britain (MCB), led at the time by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, received the grant after asking the government for £500,000, according to correspondence disclosed under the freedom of information act (FOIA).
The financial relationship between the group and the home office is bound to raise questions – especially among Muslims – about the MCB’s independence from the government.
However, correspondence between Sacranie and a home office minister shows that he has been critical of the government.
Ministers have seen the MCB, which in June 2006 elected Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari to replace Sacranie as secretary general, as the organisation through which to reach out to Britain’s Muslim population in the wake of the September 11 attacks in America and the bombings in London last July.
However, some British Muslims complain that the MCB does not speak for them.
In February last year, a policy advisor at the home office’s ‘cohesion and faith’s unit’ (CFU) sent a letter to the MCB’s treasurer Dr Akber Mohamedali offering the group a grant of £148,160 for the financial year ending the following March.
The money was to fund five projects that the MCB had proposed: MCB leadership development programme; MCB leadership mentoring programme; MCB direct, a web portal for information on Islam and Muslims; British citizenship programme; and British Muslim equality programme.
The home office set out a series of terms and conditions for the grant, including: “MCB will contribute to policy development work by attending meetings, submitting ideas, debating issues, etc, which may need to be on a strictly confidential basis.”
“MCB will be prepared to work in partnership with CFU on the development and implementation of policy initiatives.
“MCB will act as a source of expertise and experience to government on issues relevant to the work of the organisation.”
The MCB had submitted, in January last year, a £500,000 bid to fund the programmes in a proposal entitled, “British Muslims: from alienation to engagement.”
The proposal says: “There is now a growing body of evidence that British Muslim communities suffer some of the sharpest forms of both race and religious discrimination and disadvantage. They are, however, inadequately protected from either.”
“It is suggested that this defining experience of Muslims, of discrimination and disadvantage, often leads to detachment and alienation from the mainstream of British society.
“This alienation has been further fuelled more recently – in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 – by a backlash of increased levels of Islamophobia in all sections of society, the over-zealous use by law enforcement agencies of new draconian anti- terrorism provisions resulting in a disproportionate impact on Muslims, the intense focus of the media on Muslims as the ‘enemy within’, the gains of the far right across Europe and Britain’s role in the ‘war on terrorism’ in Muslim countries.
“The level of alienation is in some cases so high that it results in not just ‘parallel lives’ but such high levels of disaffection as to threaten the kind of disorder experienced in some northern cities in 2001. It also helps the recruitment of young men by extremist tendencies.”
“Much is already underway on different fronts to address the British Muslim experience and what may be brewing just below the surface as a result.
“The government’s new strategy on race, faith and community cohesion will not only add to these activities but also provide a more coherent framework for them. The purpose of the initiatives proposed in this bid is to complement those activities from within the Muslim community.”
The released correspondence shows that, since being offered the £150,000 grant, the MCB has sought more funding from the home office.
In one e-mail from Mohamedali to a home office official last August, the MCB makes a bid for another £35,000, including £9,300 for “an incident monitoring service” and £5,000 for the MCB’s website.
He writes: “Home office funded developing the merged MCB website, which is completed and ready for testing and then going live. This will enable the community at large to access the work and services of the MCB in a much more user-friendly way.” The additional £5,000 is “to get the merged MCB website technically tested and go live on the web.”
The released correspondence does not include the response to this further bid.
The financial relationship between the MCB and the home office did not stop Sacranie from criticising the government’s response to the terrorist threat in the wake of the July attacks in London in a letter last August to Hazel Blears, then a home office minister.
He wrote that the MCB remained committed to working with the government to defeat terrorism.
“However, we are concerned that the current proposed strategy will not be the most effective in dealing with this problem.”
“The starting point must be for the government to institute a full statutory judicial inquiry into the terroristic incidents of July 7 and July 21.”
The government continues to refuse calls for such an inquiry.