A report by the left-wing anti-racism campaigning organisation Hope Not Hate has caused consternation for listing prominent critics of Islamic extremism and decrying them as anti-Muslim.
Entitled “The Counter-Jihad Movement: Anti-Muslim hatred from the margins to the mainstream”, the 180-page report listed over 900 people and organisations which Hope Not Hate considers to be “dedicated to anti-Muslim hatred and prejudice,” claiming that they represented the “new face of the far-right.”
Some of those included in the report are not “anti-Muslim” at all, but are in fact simply critics of Islamic extremism. For example, Melanie Phillips, a prominent Jewish journalist, has apparently been listed due to her continued calls for a firmer stance against Islamists. Raquel Saraswati, a headscarf-wearing, devout female Muslim was even included, because she campaigns against so-called honour-based violence within her religion.
Last summer, as neo-Nazis announced their plan to demonstrate against the presence of Jews in Golders Green, we decided to firmly oppose them, simultaneously preparing a demonstration which gained the support of thousands of you who planned to attend, whilst also negotiating with the police. Our counter-demonstration strengthened our hand in negotiations with the police, and the police took the action we called for and excluded the neo-Nazis from Golders Green on pain of arrest. There have been no neo-Nazi demonstrations against Jews since. By contrast, Hope Not Hate had called for the neo-Nazis to be left alone to hold an anti-Jewish rally with dangerous and potentially violent members of far-right groups in an area full of Jewish people, on Shabbat.
As campaigners against antisemitism, we know all too well that some “anti-racist” organisations have in fact allowed themselves to become facilitators for extremism. They advocate ignoring extremists to avoid “drawing attention” to them, and they berate critics of religious extremism as racists.
It is necessary to confront Islamism and Hope Not Hate discredit themselves by standing against those who take a firm stand, lumping them together with those who may indeed have anti-Muslim views. Hatred of Muslims has no place in our society and we will always stand against it, but fierce opposition to Islamism, violent extremism, and the pathways towards that violence are necessary for the survival of our society.
We commend the Jewish Chronicle for its reaction to Hope not Hate’s report, and hope that other Jewish organisations who previously partnered with Hope Not Hate will follow suit.