On 15th August 2009, Quilliam issued the following press release:
This weekend the far-right British National Party (BNP) will hold its annual ‘Red White and Blue’ festival in Derbyshire. The event comes soon after the BNP won two seats in the European Parliament after running an election campaign based explicitly on hostility to Muslims – and just a week after violent clashes in Birmingham city centre between local Muslims and the ‘English Defence League’.
In response to the BNP’s growing popularity, Quilliam has produced a paper detailing the BNP’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and showing how their attacks on Muslims are based on:
- A deliberate misreading of Islamic texts in order to depict Muslims as inherently violent and backward.
- A deliberate decision to see the acts of Islamist extremists as representative of all British Muslims.
- A malicious intention to portray the acts of individual Muslims (for instance, criminal acts by Muslim individuals) as symptomatic of Muslims in general.
Quilliam’s publication shows how the BNP’s arguments rely on the actions of fringe Islamist extremists such as al-Muhajiroun in order to justify their hatred of Muslims in general. The paper also argues that if the BNP’s anti-Muslim arguments are not publicly challenged, this will make it easier for Islamist groups to rally and recruit British Muslims under the guise of defending Islam and Muslims.
Lucy James, the author of the paper, ‘In Defence of British Muslims’, says:
“In recent months we have seen an alarming rise in far-right attacks on Muslim communities in the UK – most recently with racist groups sending death threats to Salma Yaqoob, a Birmingham councillor. Just as al-Qaeda terrorism is fed by Islamist ideologies, white-supremacists are fed by the BNP’s ideology. Failure to tackle the BNP’s messages of hate will only further damage national cohesion.
“Nick Griffin and his party have made a conscious shift in rhetoric away from attacking Britain’s blacks and Jews towards attacking Britain’s Muslims. To do this, they have sought to portray a minority of violent Islamists as being representative of all Muslims. This needs to be challenged by all those who cherish living in a free, liberal and secular society.”
Quilliam’s paper has been endorsed by Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Barking and Dagenham:
“The political class has recoiled in shock and indignation following the BNP’s recent electoral successes, yet have failed to confront the way they demonise British Muslims. Until now there has been no systematic response to the propaganda and myth making perpetuated by the BNP in its treatment of all Muslims.”
It is also commended by Patrick Mercer OBE, Conservative MP for Newark and Chairman of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism:
“This paper equips us with the arguments and facts to undermine the far-right’s intellectually vacuous pronouncements against Islam. As we have done before, Britain will defeat fascism. We’re all in this together.”
The report is available online here.