For The Cordoba Foundation, Islamist radicalisation does not exist
“Move along, there is nothing to see” should have been the subtitle of The Cordoba Foundation’s last report (2016, February).
The foundation was created in Great Britain by Anas Al-Tikriti, the son of the official leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq. In 2009, David Cameron denounced the foundation as a cover of the Muslim brothers in Great Britain. This is why it appeared on a list which was published by United Arab Emirates, to list Muslim organizations supporting terrorism.
Despite this, Anas Al Tikriti and The Cordoba Foundation are regularly invited to deliver their analyzes. Their last report is called “The twin myths of the “Western jihadist threat” and “Islamic radicalisation””. Its author, Alain Gabon, is a French professor at Wesleyan College, an American WASP upper-class institution.
In the introduction, Doctor Abdullah Faliq, coordinator of the European Islamic Forum, explains in an alarmist way that “governments across Europe have started to confiscate and ban Islamic literature; religious observations and conservative Islamic practices are conflated with extremism; mosques, madrasas and even youth centres are being monitored (with powers of closure); and leaders of the community as well as mainstream Islamic organisations are being targeted and tarred with the brush of extremism ». He says that « islamophobic attacks » against muslims are nothing else than a consequence of overvalued jihadist threat. So finally, jihadists would only use « slogans that are (for want a better world) anti-authority », and « This rebellious culture is, however, not specific to Islam – such tendencies can be found in almost all communities ».
Anas Al Tikriti then pays tribute to former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, for his “model conduct” after the attacks that have hit the capital in 2005. Nevertheless, he recognizes that some racist attacks happen in London, like in any capital in the world. He takes this opportunity to blame the actual government, which is less accommodating with communautarist requests, by suggesting that his fight against jihadism invocks the “horrors of the Spanish Inquisition” and “McCarthysm”. According to the lobbyist, several hundreds children would have been snatched from their parent’s hands “employing the pretext of radicalisation”. Thereafter, he blames the “criminalization of any suggestion that British Foreign Policy and military interventions might have had anything to do with the rise of global terrorism ».
In his study, Alain Gabon wants to prove 3 realities that he describes as myths :
- a) most terrorists are “Islamist” or “Jihadist” Muslims,
- b) terrorism in general and its “Jihadist” variety in particular constitute a major and mounting threat to human life in those societies
- c) there is an alarming “radicalisation” at work among significant segments of the Western Muslim populations
According to Alain Gabon, these 3 myths are spread and strenghtened by political, academical and media speeches, in an almost « Orwellian » context. In France, these myths would lead to the laws against « headscarves and full-face coverings in public space », to the « suveillance of mosques », and finally, « islamo-paranoïa ». Alain Gabon forgets to specify that simple veils are not forbidden in the street, and that the law against religious signs in public schools was decided in 2004, before the Toulouse, Charlie Hebdo, Paris, or Nice terrorist attacks.
In July 2016, just after the Nice terrorist attack, Alain Gabon didn’t hesitate to publish an article in the Middle East Eye website, to explain that the killer was “neither an islamist, nor a jihadist or a “terrorist”.
To understate islamic terrorist attacks, Alain Gabon explains that only 6% of attacks would be perpetrated by jihadists on US soil. The rest would be carried out by “Latinos, Christians and Jews, the far left, ecological activists, white supremacists, anti-government, anti-abortion, sovereignist, and secessionist groups ». The islamist attacks would be the only ones that the media would cover, although the number of victims would be « statistically negligable », and carried out by « lone wolves ». In France, we sometimes hear the number of 1% to designate the percentage of terrorist attacks carried out by jihadists. If the number of jihadist attacks is lower than the number of religional-separatists attacks for example, jihadists attacks are by far the bloodiest: 245 people have been killed in France since 2012. Moreover, the international extent of islamic terrorism, islamic networks & budget, are unparalleled compared to those of regional separatists. This does not prevent Alain Gabon from blaming primarily the « quasi apocalyptic rhetoric and “end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it” hysteria » around jihadism.
Alain Gabon gives a list of 6 reasons which would explain the “collective hysteria” :
a) “the enormous traumatic shock of 9/11, and more recently, of the two 2015 Paris attacks. Coupled with a lack of rational distance and perspective ». He explains that « there was nothing even remotely close to 9-11 before that tragic day and there has been nothing remotely close to it after, anywhere in the Western world ». He says that « just like 9-11, it is also unlikely that anything similar to November 13 will happen again anytime soon ». In fact, if we speak about two planes crashing into the Twin Towers that no longer exist, or about the attacks in the same parisian bars… those events are unlikely to happen again. But should we remind Alain Gabon about the Nice attacks that happened after his report ? All the foiled attacks in France ? All the attacks in Iraq, Syria, Indonesia, Bengladesh… ?
b) « the role and responsibility of the media and politicians (namely the two most influential and pervasive type of discourses), which relentlessly cultivate and nurture the memory of 9-11 (and now, in France, of Charlie Hebdo and November 13). These discourses in turn create and perpetuate through this “commemorationism” a distorted perception of terrorism among the general public and these media and political circles themselves, in a sort of self-intoxication »…
c) the fact that « Western media and the political class have for decades focused obsessively, furthermore through exclusively negative reporting [on Iraq, Syria, Yemen, the Iranian revolution] » and that « political conflicts such as the Syrian civil war are usually fallaciously presented as religious problems (like“shiite-sunni » conflict) »…
d) “the vested interest and calculations, including electoral calculations, of governments, who have (…) motivations for keeping their populations focused obsessively on the “Jihadist threat” through a politics of fear and anxiety in the best Orwellian tradition: it allows despotic regimes like Assad’s or al-Sisi’s in Egypt, whose own brand of state terror is even worse than that of Daesh, to present themselves as bulwarks against terrorism ». This would enable « governments to suppress dissent, for example through state of emergency », and to increase their « popularity », as « war-presidents ». In conclusion, « Daesh is proving to emphasizes be extremely useful to all ». In fact Alain Gabon is using the complotist false flag rhetoric, without naming it.
e) “the exclusive obsession with “Islamic” terrorism while the other, far more lethal forms of violence from domestic abuse to gun violence or right-wing terrorism remain largely unaddressed, [which] fits within old and deep racist and Islamophobic anti-Arab and anti-Muslim stereotypes ».
f) the fact that “the political and media treatment of terrorism systematically emphasise terrorism by Muslims while ignoring or at best minimising the other forms of terror, especially when committed by white, Christian, right-wing groups or individuals ». Alain Gabon blames the demonstrations of solidarity following the Charlie Hebdo’s attacks, which he compares with the demonstrations for the nine afro-americans killed by Dylan Roof.
Alain Gabon then presents Bachar Al-Assad or Saddam Hussein as “secular rulers”. He forgets to say that these two dictators never killed their people in the name of secularism, that Syria or Iraq have never been secular, and that there is no secular terrorist movement asking to support these two criminals. Nevertheless, he says that the fact that Al-Assad, Hussein or Al-Sissi, are not nominated as terrorist proves that we are not far from “Negationist Revisionism”.
Alain Gabon says that believing that “terrorism is a major threat to human life in Western societies is another huge fallacy ». It would even be « the smallest and least cause of mortality, violent or non-violent, of all ». The problem is that he compares terrorist attacks with domestic or road accidents, which are by definition, non-predictable… With cynism, he adds that cancer « can be a lot longer and more painful agony than sudden death or homicide ».
Alain Gabon speaks about “myths of islamic radicalisation”, because for him, radicalisation is subjective. He considers that salafist behaviour, such as refusing to shake women’s hands, can’t lead to jihadism. But he doesn’t suggest any word to describe this islamic radicality. He denounces Manuel Valls for his declaration : “the French Republic must combat not just Jihadist terrorism, but “[Islamic] conservatism and fundamentalism”, including « Muslim brotherhood, salafists and UOIF ». The signs of radicalisations described would be « paternalist », and the closing of three salafist mosques would be unjustified.
Finally, according to Alain Gabon, jihadism is a “minuscule phenomena”, and the problem concerns the media and government, working together to convince and frighten populations.
This post is also available in Français .