How the Henry Jackson Society promotes anti-Muslim bigotry

Robin ShepherdRobin Shepherd

(via. Islamophobia-Watch)

We’ve taken on the issue of Honour Killings in the past and exposed the hypocrisy and double standards of the anti-Muslim brigades who seem to think it is a “Muslim only” problem. The piece below eviscerate a recent smear by the likes of Robert Spencer and his echo chamber in the Islamophobe-sphere that was making the rounds, claiming that there was an “alarming rise of ‘Muslim honour attacks in the UK.”

How the Henry Jackson Society promotes anti-Muslim bigotry

Media coverage of the police figures for so-called “honour” crimes in the UK, revealed by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation in association with the Guardian, was generally fairly balanced, avoiding the Islamophobic stereotyping of the Muslim community that you might have anticipated. Even the Daily Star managed to report the issue without blaming Muslims.

The exception was the Daily Mail, which headlined its report “Alarming rise of Muslim ‘honour attacks’ in the UK”. This irresponsible accusation against British Muslims was predictably endorsed by Robert Spencer atJihad Watch (“The Daily Mail headline goes straight for the elephant in the room: this is largely a phenomenon within Muslim communities in Britain”), while his friend Pamela Geller of course agreed (“As Muslim immigration increases, so does sharia, misogyny and gendercide”).

The ignorance and bigotry underpinning such views hardly need underlining. As a Metropolitan Police spokesperson told the Mail: “Honour-based violence cuts across all cultures, nationalities and faith groups – it is a worldwide problem.” Honour attacks are a problem in Hindu-majority India, for example, but are not evident in the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia. Even contributors to a discussion thread on the Mail‘s own website were able to make the obvious point that honour-based violence is a cultural rather than a religious phenomenon.

It was notable that the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation itself made no claim that Muslims were mainly or disproportionately responsible for honour crimes in the UK. This was by no means because IKWRO suffers from over-sensitivity towards Muslims and their faith. It is a hardline secularist organisation that lines up with the Islamophobic right on a number of issues – supporting the French ban on the veil, for example, andbacking the anti-sharia bill tabled by Geert Wilders’ ally Baroness Cox. But IKWRO is sufficiently familiar with the situation on the ground to know it makes no sense to depict honour attacks as a specifically Muslim problem.

There are no official figures for honour crimes in the UK broken down according to the faith of the victims and perpetrators. However, IKWRO director Diana Nammi has been quoted as saying that honour-based murders in the UK occur mostly in the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities, with Muslims responsible for around two-thirds of these crimes. Based on the last available census, the total Muslim-Hindu-Sikh population of the UK is 2,485,000, of whom 1,591,000 are Muslims – 64% of the total. Which would indicate that Muslims are no more likely to carry out such murders than Hindus or Sikhs are.

You might think that all of this was pretty obvious, and that nobody with half a brain or a shred of intellectual honesty would buy the Islamophobic myth that Muslim communities are inspired by their faith to commit acts of violence against young women. You should try reading a piece posted by Robin Shepherd on his website The Commentator. Entitled “BBC reveals huge scale of honour attacks in Britain, fails to mention the word ‘Islam’”, this poisonous article is worth quoting at length, in order to convey how deeply unpleasant it is:

The families giving the orders, as well as the victims, are in all, or almost all, cases Muslim. Surprised? No, of course you’re not. Honour attacks ranging in brutality from beatings to murder are commonplace in many parts of the Muslim world.

Since Britain, like many other European countries, has imported sizeable Muslim communities, which are to a significant degree unassimilated, the cultural practices of the old country have survived the transition to the new….

Enter the BBC, which reported on the matter in a lengthy, 700-plus word article and failed to mention the words “Muslim”, “Islamic” or “Islam” even once.

As I write this I am flicking back to the story itself so I can double check using the Find function. Could I be mistaken?

Here goes: “Islamic”? “No Matches”. “Muslim”? “No Matches”. “Islam”? “No Matches”.

This is how societies go down: when matters of the profoundest significance to their character, and potentially their very existence, have been rendered undiscussable by the people that set the terms of public debate.

Clearly the people who wrote and edited that story should be dismissed.

They won’t be of course because the mind-numbing, multiculturalist narrative that demanded censorship of the salient evidence is effectively institutionalised as the dominant narrative across the BBC as well as the wider liberal establishment.

So be it. Go ahead and have a conversation about deep-seated problems inside the fastest growing demographic group in Europe without mentioning what that group is. The quality of your discussion will be moronic. But you reap what you sow.

Shepherd goes on to berate Sky News and the Daily Telegraph, not generally known as warm supporters of the UK’s Muslim community, for following the BBC in its “politically correct” suppression of the supposed link between Islam and honour crimes.

This is the kind of foam-flecked rant you might expect to read on some extreme “counterjihadist” blog of the sort that inspired Anders Breivik. But Shepherd is Director of International Affairs at the Henry Jackson Society, which is advertised as a sponsor of The Commentator site. Nor is Shepherd the only raving anti-Muslim bigot to hold a prominent position in the HJS. Douglas Murray(“Why is it that time and again the liberal West is crumpling before the violence, intimidation and thuggery of Islam? … All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop…. Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board”) is anAssociate Director of the organisation.

Yet the Henry Jackson Society serves as the secretariat for two All-Party Parliamentary Groups – on Homeland Security andTransatlantic & International Security. The former’s objective is to “provide parliamentarians with up-to-date information and analysis on homeland security and national resilience issues”, while the latter provides the same service in connection with “international security issues, global defence concerns, international incidents and the efforts being made to comment and react to them in Britain and abroad”.

Do MPs and peers really think it appropriate that an organisation like the HJS should hold the position of secretariat to officially recognised parliamentary groups which seek to influence government policy on domestic and international security issues? Andrew Gilligan, Paul Goodman and the Jewish Chronicle waged a vicious campaign to remove ENGAGE as the secretariat to the APPG on Islamophobia, falsely accusing them of political extremism and antisemitism. But Gilligan, Goodman and the JChave nothing to say about the parliamentary role of an organisation headed by real extremist bigots like Robin Shepherd and Douglas Murray.

Honor Killings: The Epidemic that Isn’t

Honor Killings: The Epidemic that Isn’t

My previous article describes how anti-Muslim bigots use young Muslim murder victims as props in their campaign of hate.  Sensational headlines, haunting photographs, and lurid tales of cold blooded murder are indispensable tools in their campaign to vilify Islam.   This campaign is bolstered by a set of core themes that are reinforced through tireless repetition.

Islamophobes portray honor killings as a special kind of evil that is unique to Islam, and greatly exaggerate the prevalence of these crimes.  Atlas Shrugs, Jihad Watch, and Frontpage Magazine rarely miss an opportunity use the phrase “Islamic honor killing,” which has joined “creeping sharia” and “stealth jihad” in an endless parade of misleading slogans and catchphrases.  All of these themes converge in paranoid conspiracy theories about Muslims taking over and imposing barbarism in the Western world.

Most of their arguments depend on casual acceptance and do not stand up to scrutiny.  With the help of some grade school math, relevant facts, and a healthy dose of global context, it is fairly easy to set the record straight.

The term “honor killing” was not coined by Islamophobes, even though it serves their agenda well.  Many human rights organizations track honor killings as a subcategory of homicides or femicides (killing of women).  For our purposes, that’s a good thing because it allows us to refute the idea of widespread honor killings using statistics from credible sources.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates there are 5,000 murders classified as honor killings each year worldwide, and they are not all perpetrated by Muslims.  To put that into perspective, consider that the World Health Organization says there are over half a million annual homicides in the world. Using basic math, we can conclude that honor killings make up less than 1% of all murders.

If 1% of the world’s Muslims perpetrated an honor crime each year, we could project at least 1 million incidents.   The number is far lower, and leaves 99.99% of the Muslim population innocent of this crime.  Why should all Muslims be indicted for the actions of a negligible minority?

Pamela Geller says, “over 90% of honor killings worldwide are Islamic,” and Robert Spencer quotes the exact figure at 91%.  Spencer links to an article on the Middle East Forum as the source of this statistic. This is an anti-Muslim propaganda site founded by Daniel Pipes, and the articlethere is authored by Phyllis Chesler, who is yet another rabid Islamophobe.

Chesler quotes the same estimate of 5,000 annual honor killings worldwide, but she says the true number is “much greater.” “Definitive or reliable worldwide estimates of honor killing incidence do not exist,” she concedes, yet she is somehow certain the the number is much greater.

She cites a study of the media throughout her article, which found, “there were 100 victims murdered for honor in the West, including 33 in North America and 67 in Europe.” Taking her study at face value, do you think 33 honor killings constitutes an epidemic?  Stinging insects kill more than 40 people each year in the US, which is more than the number of honor killings Chesler reported over the course of her study for all of North America.  Chesler says, “to combat the epidemic [emphasis mine] of honor killings requires understanding what makes these murders unique.”

In the US, an estimated 1200 women are killed by their spouse or partner each year.  Chesler herself states that, “In the non-immigrant West, serious domestic violence exists which includes incest, child abuse, marital rape, marital battering, marital stalking, and marital post-battering femicide.” Yet for some reason, she feels it is more important to focus on the unique nature of honor killings than to address the broader issue of violence in her own country.

To her credit, Chesler does not blame honor killings on Sharia Law, nor does she say these crimes are religiously sanctioned in Islam. Instead she resorts to blaming them on Islamic culture. The Director of Human Rights Watch says that honor killings cut across cultures and religions, and that dowry deaths and crimes of passion have a similar dynamic.

Dowry killings actually outnumber honor killings, and they are on the rise. Women with insufficient dowries are murdered or driven to suicide in what are often disguised as kitchen accidents. For this reason they are sometimes called “bride burnings.” In 2008, there were over 8,000 dowry deathsreported in India alone.

Murders for crossing caste boundaries are also similar to honor killings in that they are a cultural inheritance, victims are usually killed by their own family members, and the crimes are oftenendorsed or encouraged by village-based caste councils. The caste system is outlawed, but it remains entrenched in parts of India and Nepal, neither of which has a Muslim majority.

Honor killings also share features with other forms of femicide outside of the Middle East and South Asia.  Just a 10-15 minute drive from El Paso, Texas, USA, there is a border town in Mexico called Ciudad Juarez. Over the last two decades hundreds of women have been kidnaped, brutally raped, tortured, and murdered in Juarez, and the perpetrators remain free.  Femicides in Mexico have nearly doubled from 1,085 in 2007 to 1,926 in 2009.

There were nearly 700 murders of women in neighboring Guatemala in 2010, and 1,110 reported cases of femicide in Honduras between 2008 and 2010.  Of the cases in Honduras, only a 211 made it to court, and a mere 4.2% resulted in a conviction.

High rates of homicide and femicide also plague many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rape is used as a weapon of war in a systematic pattern of destruction that has claimed an estimated 2 million victims. The conflict in the Congo has resulted inmore deaths than the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Darfur (Sudan) combined.

The United Nations says, “The brutality and scale of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo almost defies imagination.” Over five million people have died in the last 10 years in what 60 Minutes described as a “War Against Women.

Imagine the photos Geller could harvest for “Islam’s Gruesome  Gallery,” featured on her website Atlas Shrugs, if only this were an Islamic country.  Since the overwhelming majority of the people in the Congo are Christians, these crimes don’t receive the spotlight on anti-Muslim hate sites.

How can anyone genuinely interested in the rights of women ignore the situation in the Congo? Even if Islamophobes could substantiate their claims that honor killings are exceptionally barbaric and unique to Islam, that would not be a justification focusing on them exclusively.

True human rights activists don’t discriminate among murder victims.  All major human rights organizations address honor killings in context, and they do not promote these crimes as a way to spread fear and hatred toward Islam.  Islam also takes a universal approach, likening the killing of one human being to the killing of the entire human race (Qur’an 5:32, 6:151, 17:33).

In her book proposal for Stop the Islamization of America, Geller described herself as, “One of America’s foremost activists for human rights and freedom.” If she were sincere, she would give up her vicious campaign against Islam and join us in the struggle to end violence against women from all cultural and religious backgrounds.

Robert Spencer Reads with Special Police Blotter Glasses

It look like he is squinting.

Robert Spencer must wear certain glasses when reading anything related to Islam and Muslims. These “special” glasses are perfect for those with dogmatic minds who wish to read everything from a particular biased and hateful perspective.

For instance today Spencer writes about a  Muslim woman from California who was forced to take her hijab off in jail:

California: Muslim defendant sues county over hijab removal in jail

They made her take off her hijab for security reasons, but who cares about security when Muslim practices must be accommodated?

“Muslim defendant can sue over hijab removal,” by Bob Egelko for the San Francisco Chronicle, March 16 (thanks to all who sent this in):

All you have to do is read the whole article and you will understand why this woman is suing the county. I am not making this up Spencer, it was in the article:

The court returned the case to a federal judge to decide whether the deputies interfered with Khatib’s religious freedom without a compelling security need.

Spencer seems to imply that prisoners don’t have freedom of religion, especially if they are Muslim, but that’s good old Spencer for you, fighting freedom at every turn.

The article was not simply about undue religious accommodation and as was related in the article there was no “compelling security need” that required that the woman be forced to remove her hijab. Spencer of course wants to turn this into something it isn’t, he wants to imply that this is an example of ‘Muslims taking over,’ or ‘America “submitting” to Islam,’ but what are we to expect from the police blotter who wears “special glasses?”

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In another post, Spencer writes about CIA contractor, Raymond Davis, released after paying 2.34mln dollars in compensation to the family of his victims who thereafter pardoned him; implicit in this is Davis’ acceptance that he wrongfully murdered these two. In Islamic Law this payment is known as “Diyaa,” commonly translated as “blood money” or what is known in the West as “punitive damages.”

And what was Spencer’s catechistic complaint:

And why is the U.S. submitting to Sharia in this regard? In better days, a team of commandos would have done the job.

Spencer again sees this as an example of America somehow submitting to the bogeyman monster of “sharia” which is all together more ridiculous when we consider that Raymond Davis actually killed two people and admitted as much when he implicitly apologized for the deed by paying the family. However, Spencer cares little about the lives of these two Pakistani men, he thinks commandos should swoop into Islamabad and violate a nation’s sovereignty, not a surprise considering Spencer in the past has supported calls for genocide against Pakistanis.