The “Anti-Extremism Alliance”

From Islamophobia Watch:

Peter Tatchell has announced that he will be joining a demonstration against Hizb ut-Tahrir’s International Khilafah Conference at the Water Lily Centre in Tower Hamlets on Saturday.

The demonstration has been organised by a new group called the Anti-Extremism Alliance, which has already issued an Open letter to Tower Hamlets Council and East London Advertiser demanding that the Water Lily cancel the booking.

…And who, you might ask, are the Anti-Extremism Alliance whose protest Tatchell is backing? Well, along with people like Faizal Gazi of The Spittoon blog and Tehmina Kazi of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the signatories to their Open Letter also include Charlie Flowers of the Cheerleaders group of Islamophobic cyber-bullies. And given that several other signatories are associates of Flowers you’d be inclined to suspect that he’s behind this initiative.

Flowers’ supposed opposition to extremism hasn’t prevented him from establishing friendly relations with leading members of the English Defence League, as Talk Islam and Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion have shown…

Although I’m cited in the post, the above doesn’t reflect my views on the subject of Flowers and his associates. In particular, I don’t believe that he’s Islamophobic, and it’s clear that his association with the EDL is in the past: he apparently hoped that the EDL would focus on Islamic extremism rather than opposing all Muslims, and he disapproves of the direction that the EDL has taken.

He is, though, a bully and a thug who uses the internet to smear people and to make threats of violence: his boasts include the claim that his friends will “slap” me “upside the cheek” should they ever see me, and he’s also threatened that they would “stab” another critic “in the face”. In 2009 he disseminated the blogger Tim Ireland’s home address around the internet, and sent threats that included an expression of malice against Tim’s family (this was after Tim and I exposed lies by the director of “VIGIL”, a defunct “terror-tracker” organisation with which Flowers was formerly associated; background here). His motivation is primarily psychological rather than political: by latching onto anti-extremist activism he can enjoy the self-righteous thrill of the vigilante as he dishes out abuse and lies. And he’s not even really anti-extremist: his attacks on me have included promoting an abusive website created by some Nigerian Pentecostals who hate me for opposing the idea that children can be witches.

Alongside the “Open Letter” to Tower Hamlets Council, a letter was published a few days ago in the East London Advertiser, signed by “Harry Burns, NiceOnes UK Anti-Extremism Group, Redbridge”; he appears as “Harry Burn” in an accompanying article:

Representatives from several organisations including anti-extremism body Quilliam Foundation and pro-integration group Muslim Voices are calling on Tower Hamlets Council to step in over the matter.

Harry Burn, leading the organisations, said: “I thought that we’d seen the back of these groups in Tower Hamlets. They portray a horrible message and most Muslims I know despise them. We are trying to get Muslims and non-Muslims to say no to any sort of extremism.”

Ghaffar Hussain, head of Quilliam’s outreach and training unit, called the hosting of the group in Tower Hamlets “very worrying”.

The NiceOnesUK Facebook page (currently removed from view) identifies Harry Burns as a poster there using the name “Arry Bo”; this person also left some goading messages on my blog last October, and seems to be the same person as a former EDL activist named “Arry Ajamali”. Given that Hussain and Kazi have public profiles and some professional standing, it seems very strange that they should be willing for this individual to present himself as “leading the organisations”. According to the “Anti-Extremism Alliance” website, the protest is in fact being organised by “Adam Barnett – Alliance Against Extremism”; Barnett is with the anti-Sharia organisation “One Law for All“.

One NiceOnesUK Facebook administrator has been keen to downplay Flowers’ role within the group, although given the obvious cross-over with Flowers’ “Cheerleaders” group I haven’t been particularly impressed by this; according to a report in the Guardian in April, NiceOnes was formed by the “Cheerleaders” working with Kazi’s British Muslims for Secular Democracy. Kazi, whose activism I broadly support, has taken a “see no evil” attitude to Flowers; however, it’s clear that the association will be discrediting should anyone look in any detail into Flowers’ behaviour and character.

Islamophobia Watch also notes that the Casuals United blog, which is run by pro-EDL football supporters, reported Tatchell’s involvement with the protest under the headline “Peter Tatchell joins the EDL”. The headline is certainly inaccurate, and was obviously a crude attempt to appropriate Tatchell because he’s opposing Islamists. Whether this attempt was based on any particular knowledge of the “Anti-Extremism Alliance” remains unknown – the whole Casuals United blog has disappeared in the last 24 words.

Incidentally, I do not share Islamophobia Watch‘s view that Tatchell is against free speech for supporting the protest. Hizb ut-Tahrir remains free to say what it likes, within the law, but there is no reason why the Water Lily Centre has to facilitate their socially-corrosive activities.

UPDATE: A press release from the Quilliam Foundation has details of an upcoming roundtable event, entitled “Former EDL Members Speak Out“:

Harry Burns was formerly a senior member of EDL’s London division. Within London he helped to mobilise members and organise transport for demonstrations outside of London. He was also involved in the group’s logistics and its online activism, helping to run their youth website. He was present at many of their early London meetings.

UPDATE 2: According to Casuals United (which has now reappeared, minus the piece on Tatchell), Burns and his fellow speaker Leighton Evans were “not high-ranking EDL”, and they “have been to a handful of demos”.

14 Responses

  1. Peter Thatchell used to frequently receive death threats fro Hizb ut-Tahrir, and more recently Hizb members have smeared him in vicious underhanded terms. So he has a right to oppose their form of Islam – Islamism.

    But then again, considering the visceral apparent homophobia of the former “Workers’ Revolutionary Party” leading figure, Bob Pitt of Islamophobia Watch, this idiotic assumption that Thatchell is an Islamophobe is promoted (even though Thatchell supports gay Muslim groups) even though .

    The truth is, Islamophobia Watch has an agenda – no different to the crappy pap advocated in Pitt’s “What Next” screeds – i.e. destroy Western traditions and democracy by whatever means necessary. If that means hitching his wagon to a bigoted bunch of Islamists who have no time for women’s rights, gay rights, or democracy, he will do it.

    Unfortunately, Pitt’s hatred of British traditions blinds him to his own agenda’s logical outcome: The Iranian revolution happened because Khomeini deliberately misled Communists that Iran after the revolution would involve both groups in power-sharing – Con Coughlin writes that Khomeini even distributed an audio cassette saying that in a post-Pahlavi world, a woman would be able to lead Iran.

    When the revolution took place, the communists were wiped out or driven into exile, and there has since been no hope of a woman ever leading Iran.

    But Bob Pitt’s main targets include those from Iran are the former Communists who now live in the West and warn of the dangers of Islamism. Why is that? Political rivalry?

    Bob PItt’s despicable website exists to smear critics of Islamism, and to shut down debate by trying to falsely equate contempt for an anti-democratic, misogynist and homophobic ideology (for that is what Islamism is) with racism.

    Pitt does not have the guts to allow comments on his website, a sure sign of someone who does not believe in others’ freedom of speech, and this tells me he is acutely aware that his particular “spin” on affairs is indefensible.

    Like him – a sad remnant of a bygine age of idiocy.

    I remember in 1976 meeting my first Workers’ Revoilutionary Party member – a sad tosser who picked on black people, assuming they would automatically support his insanity. I asked him what the WRP agenda was, and he replied that it was to “arm the workers.”

    Great, big fucking sense of social responsibility. Arm the damned mythical “workers” – as if they are all some coherent entity prepared to act according to plan.

    What about the unemployed? Why not arm them as they must be bigger victims of nasty capitalism than the workers who at least have employment?

    Maybe Bob PItt should watch Jeremy Kyle and get a grip on what sort of people would have been given weapons, should his crazed party have ever succeeded in its goals…..

    The strap line of Islamophobia Watch is “Documenting anti-Muslim bigotry.”

    Sadly, Pitt is too damned fanatical to diffentiate between those who are genuinely concerned about Islamism, the political ideology, and those who are bigots against Muslims.

    I am proud to be an Islamistophobe, in that I am against Islamism and all that it entails, but I support Muslims’ rights to live without discrimination. The term Islamophobe could equally apply to those who support Muslims’ rights while opposing Islamism as it could apply to someone who hates anything connected to Islam, including Muslims.

    Supporting someone’s right to live without discrimination does not mean that I would ever support replacing any aspects of democratic law with 7th century sharia, or support any political influence from the ideologues of a faith that condemns gay people, hates dogs and regards women as having half the rights of a man.

    I personally do believe Islam, like most religions, is a bullshit ideology – but it is everyone’s right to believe in the bullshit of their choice, be it religious or political.

    Bob Pitt is a living example of that.

    Like a colonialist, Pitt is acting as the patronising advocate of his chosen minority, simultaneously disrespecting them as if they are “children” who do not have the ability to advocate their own needs.

    He thinks they need some arrogant white man to be their saviour.

    Pitt should wake up and ditch his own patronising bigotry – Muslims have equal rightrs. They don’t need some shit-stirring old white manipulator to stick up for them. To assume that they do is to really insult them as badly as those who are open exponents of “anti-Muslim bigotry”.

    Big Bwana Bob Pitt is lost in some archaic worldview, unable to see reality for the sneering colonialism and skewed dialectics of his own archaic viewpoint.

    His biggest failing is to conflate “Islamists” with Muslims.

    How dare he assume that Muslim Brotherhood or Hizb members are the rightful “representatives” of British Muslims?

  2. Excuse the typos…. WordPress does not allow a window of time for edits to be made to a post. Sorry.

  3. I’m disappointed to find that I’ve been demoted to the position of a mere former “leading figure” in the Workers Revolutionary Party, when Morgan had previously described me as the WRP’s former general secretary!

    The only element of truth in this nonsense is that I was a rank-and-file member of the WRP for a couple of years back in the late 1970s. And I never even held the position of branch secretary in that organisation, never mind general secretary.

    One of the reasons we don’t have comments open at Islamophobia Watch, by the way, is that we’d have to waste our time rebutting ignorant drivel like this.

  4. Pitt has not rebutted the main claim – that he is neither able nor willing to differentiate between people who are critical of Islam and Islamism, and those who just want to see Muslims persecuted.

    He can call it drivel, but considering the litany of prejudiced pap that he presents on a daily basis, the words pot, kettle and black come to mind.

  5. But let us stick to verifiable accounts. Pitt’s apparent support for the homophobic aspects of Islam, and his condemnation of Iranian communists was discussed in the articles here:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060614013315/http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2005/03/26/islamophobia_again.php

    http://brettlock.blogspot.com/2005/09/scraping-bottom-of-pitt_13.html

    http://brettlock.blogspot.com/2005_12_01_brettlock_archive.html
    (scroll down for: “Sharia – don’t like it)

    http://liveweb.archive.org/http://socialists4secularism.blogspot.com/2005/10/bob-pitt-watch-from-workers-liberty.html

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060614024731/http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2006/06/05/aggressive_white_straight_boys.php
    By David T

    The article by Johann Hari, referenced by David T, can be found here:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20090307222502/http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=897

    Even the left have found Pitt’s views rather skewed and call him a “pseudo-Marxist”:
    http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Back/Wnext2/Soclab.html

    But perhaps the most damning evidence should come from Pitt himself, less than a year after he started Islamophobia Watch, in a typical response to criticism (Pitt can’t take criticism, which is the real reason why he won’t allow comments):

    http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/islamophobia-watch/2005/3/26/harry-has-another-go.html

    “And we still haven’t been told who precisely the moderate Muslims are that Harry supports. But apparently to qualify as moderates it is not enough for them to support democracy, human rights and freedom of organisation for other faiths – they also have to support a separation of religion and state along the lines proposed by western secularists. Which of course excludes even the most democratic, reformist tendencies within Islamism.

    Bob Pitt” –

    If anyone else had written that, Pitt would have castigated them for being frothing Islamophobes.

    Typical Pitt hypocrisy. Always playing down the violents excesses of Islamists while attacking people who dare to suggest that Islamism is antithetical to Western societies.

  6. […] Comments Adrian Morgan on The “Anti-Extremism Alliance”Dogsbody on More on Walid Shoebat and CNNARO on Rick Joyner Predicts Earthquake in US, […]

  7. […] The “Anti-Extremism Alliance” (barthsnotes.com) […]

  8. […] Last month, Namazie’s co-author Adam Barnett made a late appearance as the named organiser of a protest by the “Anti-Extremism Alliance” against an Hizb ut-Tahrir conference in London. Barnett’s name replaced that of the original organiser (one of two ex-EDL members who were due to speak to the Quilliam Foundation a couple of weeks later) when the event started getting press attention.

  9. […] 2010. The article also discusses Flowers’ “Cheerleaders” group and the “Anti-Extremism Alliance” […]

  10. […] discussed Burns and the AEA last year here; the group presents itself as being opposed all forms of extremism, and organisations such as the […]

  11. Your blog’s come in handy digging around for old info!

    The bit in there about me leading the organisations was shoved in there by the paper. It wasn’t something I claimed or said to them. Suppose they stuck this in as it was me who was dealing with them over the phone. I remember saying to a cpl of the others after the article come out ‘I never said that!’

    They were probably thinking to emselves ‘Lying git.’

    • Thanks for clarifying. As I’ve indicated, you may not care for my view of things, but I’ve never lied about anyone, I’ve always tried to be fair-minded based on the information available, and I’ve never been dismissive of reasonable concerns about Islamic extremism. This is why Flowers lies about me and has instructed all his friends not to have any contact with me.

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