Britain´s Divisive Dog-Whistle Politics (GateStone Institute) by Shiraz Maher 04/30/12)
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"God KNOWS who is a Muslim, And He KNOWS who is not." The price of
this victory has been to set back Britain by a generation.
London´s Mayoral elections take place this week; the Labour
challenger, Ken Livingstone, is no stranger to sectarian campaigning.
Livingstone has previously embraced and invited to London the radical
Islamic preacher – often referred to as the spiritual leader of the
Muslim Brotherhood – Yusuf al-Qaradawi -- who condemns all Muslims
who recognize Israel, or even who simply want peace in the Middle
East. He has also legitimized the murder of Israeli children on the
grounds they will one day be conscripted into the IDF.
Inspired by George Galloway´s victory in Bradford West, Livingstone
told worshippers at a mosque in north London that he wanted to make
the city a shining beacon for Islam. Londoners must now decide if
they want to drag one of the world´s great capitals back into an age
of sectarian and confessional "realities" by supporting Livingstone,
or whether they want to support progressive candidates who engage
their citizens as citizens.
With the election of Galloway to Britain´s parliament last month,
sectarian politics has returned with a vengeance. Few parliamentary
candidates have ever campaigned in such bald confessional terms as
Galloway -- marking ominous developments in the political alignment
of some constituencies in England.
The seat Galloway now occupies, Bradford West, became available
earlier this year after the incumbent, Marsha Singh, stepped down,
due to ongoing medical problems.
Bradford West is home to a dense concentration of Muslims, a
constituency whose concerns Galloway had previously exploited for
political capital in Bethnal Green. Galloway, deciding to run as a
candidate, appealed for Muslim votes in the most sectarian of tones.
Leaflets linked to him – but which both his campaign office and he
officially deny any knowledge of – told voters:
God KNOWS who is a Muslim. And he KNOWS who is not….Let me point out
to all the Muslim brothers and sisters what I stand for. I, George
Galloway, do not drink alcohol and never have. Ask yourself if the
other candidate [the Labour candidate who is also a Muslim, Imran
Hussain] in this election can say that truthfully. I, George
Galloway, have fought for the Muslims at home and abroad, all my
life, and paid a price for it.
The unspoken corollary of all this is that Galloway, pandering to the
so-called Muslim vote, hoped to ignite Muslims´ fears and capitalize
on their sense of alienation. He achieved this by winning the seat
and causing Labour a significant loss in what had traditionally been
considered a safe seat. The price of this victory has been to set
back Britain by a generation, reviving confessional politics at the
ballot in a manner not seen since the high-water mark of troubles in
Galloway warned his supporters of potentially divine punishment if
they failed to vote for him. Speaking to an overwhelmingly Muslim
audience, he said:
I believe in the Judgment Day, that all of you do. And I just say
this: how will you explain, on the Last Day, that you had a chance,
on 29 March 2012, to vote for the guy who led the great campaign
against the slaughter of millions in Iraq, but instead you voted for
a party which has killed a million Iraqis?
This kind of rhetoric was not an isolated incident. Galloway
repeatedly spoke in Muslim idioms, suggesting that he is himself a
believer, although he refuses to confirm reports about it, and
succeeded in winning support from Bradford´s largely Muslim
constituency. Again, at another rally he told followers:
I´m a better Pakistani than he [Mr Hussain – the ethnically Pakistani
Labour candidate who ran against Galloway] will ever be. God knows
who´s a Muslim and who is not. And a man that´s never out of the pub
shouldn´t be going around telling people you should vote for him
because he´s a Muslim. A Muslim is ready to go to the US Senate, as I
did, and to their face call them murderers, liars, thieves and
criminals. A Muslim is somebody who´s not afraid of earthly power but
who fears only the Judgment Day. I´m ready for that, I´m working for
that and it´s the only thing I fear.
It on the back of precisely that fear Galloway rode to power. During
the 2005 election Galloway fought for a seat in London the heavily
Muslim populated area of Bethnal Green and Bow – a deprived and
divided constituency. During that campaign, as well, Galloway was
accused of engaging in sectarian campaigning to ensure that the
incumbent, Oona King, was unseated. In a bilious acceptance speech
Galloway told the audience, "Mr Blair, this defeat is for Iraq, and
the other defeats that New Labour has received this evening are for
Iraq. All the people you have killed and all the loss of life have
come back to haunt you and the best thing that the Labour Party can
do is sack you tomorrow morning." That kind of dog-whistle politics
underscored his entire campaign. After winning his seat, Galloway was
also recorded telling supporters that he owed the Islamic Forum of
Europe (IFE) "more than I can say." They had been instrumental in
mobilizing the Muslim vote in his favor.
An investigation into the IFE by Andrew Gilligan revealed a secret
meeting where new recruits were brought to the organization. A
trainer told them:
Our goal is not simply to invite people and give da´wah [call to the
faith]. Our goal is to create the True Believer, to then mobilize
those believers into an organized force for change who will carry out
da´wah, hisbah [enforcement of Islamic law] and jihad [holy war].
This will lead to social change and iqamatud-Deen [an Islamic social
In this election Galloway was backed by another Islamist movement,
the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC), which regularly publishes
anti-Semitic cartoons, peddles conspiracy theories about Jewish power
and influence, and which has even been condemned by an official
parliamentary report as an institutionally anti-Semitic organization.
During the 2005 General Election, MPAC campaigned in northern
England, in a constituency not far from Bradford West, against the
Labour MP, Lorna Fitzsimmons. Members of MPAC told constituents not
to vote for her because she was Jewish. As it turns out she is not
Jewish, but she was unseated nonetheless by this insidious
While members of MPAC are a ragtag outfit of mostly unemployed,
trouble-causing children, Galloway is a seasoned politician. No
defence of naivety can be afforded to him. He knew precisely what he
was engaging in when suggesting Muslims should vote for him because
of his stance over issues such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
None of these, of course, is an issue that has anything to do with
the very real, countless problems facing residents of Bradford West –
a constituency with high unemployment, rampant drug abuse, and social
The stakes May 3rd could not be higher.
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