Apparently, 112 events featuring extremist speakers took place on UK campuses in the academic year 2016/2017, according to a recent report by Britain’s Henry Jackson society: “The vast majority of the extreme speakers recorded in this report are Islamist extremists, though one speaker has a background in Far-Right politics….” That one speaker was Tommy Robinson both of whose events were cancelled, one due to hundreds of students planning to demonstrate to protest his appearance. The report does not mention student protests at any of the Islamist events.
The topics of the Islamist speakers included:
“Dawah Training… to teach students the fundamentals of preaching to others… Western foreign policy towards the Islamic world in general… Grievances…perceived attacks on Muslims and Islam in the UK… [calling for] scrapping of Prevent and other government counter-extremism measures [critiquing] arrest and detention of terrorism suspects… [challenging] ideas such as atheism and skepticism… religious socio-economic governance, focusing on the role of religion in fields such as legislation, justice… finance… religious rulings or interpretations, religious verses or other texts, important historical or scriptural figures…”
London was the region with the highest number of events, followed by the South East, according to the report. The most prolific speakers were affiliated to the Muslim Debate Initiative, the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), the Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF), the Hittin Institute, Sabeel, and CAGE. Most speakers were invited by Islamic student societies, and a high proportion of the talks took place during campus events such as “Discover Islam Week”, “Islam Awareness Week” and “Islamophobia Awareness Month”.
One of the most prolific speakers, Hamza Tzortis, is a senior member of iERA. He has said that apostates who “fight against the community[…] should be killed” and that, “we as Muslims reject the idea of freedom of speech, and even the idea of freedom”.
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The country that censors “offensive” words from children’s books — Swedish publishers and libraries have censored, among others, the classic Astrid Lindgren books about Pippi Longstocking — has apparently found politically correct replacements.
Farfar har fyra fruar (“Grandad Has Four Wives”) and Mormor är inget spöke (“Grandma Is Not a Ghost”), two books written by the Swedish author Oscar Trimbel, were featured at the book fair in Gothenburg recently. Both books are aimed at 3-6 year-olds. The first book is about “Asli, who has never been to Somalia, but now she is going there with her father to meet her four grandmothers”. Swedish children, evidently, are supposed to learn that the Islamic practice of polygamy — illegal in Sweden — is completely normal.
The second book, “Grandma Is Not a Ghost”, which features a drawing of a grandmother in a full-length jilbab on the cover, tells the story of “Omar, who meets his grandmother from Somalia. Omar wants to dress up as a ghost for Halloween and he wants his grandma to come along so that it will be spooky”. Apparently, Swedish children are supposed to learn that the jilbab, which covers a woman from head to toe, leaving only the face visible, is not a frightening ghost costume, but completely commonplace dress for women to wear.
Swedish libraries are evidently not concerned that books normalizing the misogynist practices of Islamic polygamy and covering women from top to toe, aimed at Swedish toddlers and children, might also be considered “offensive’, not to mention criminal. On the contrary: Stockholm Library had already ordered “Grandad Has Four Wives”.
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In Europe today, it is what goes unacknowledged and un-commemorated that reveals the trouble we are in.
There are plenty of public campaigns and calls by politicians to demonstrate “awareness” of things that are either non-existent problems or second-order problems. Earlier this year, for instance, the President of Austria came up with an eye-catching initiative. Addressing the ban on women wearing full-face coverings in public places, Alexander van der Bellen, the former leader of the Green Party, said:
“If this real and rampant Islamophobia continues, there will come a day where we must ask all women to wear a headscarf — all — out of solidarity to those who do it for religious reasons.”
That day has not yet come. Non-Muslim women across Austria have not yet all been asked to wear the headscarf in solidarity with Muslim women who wear the headscarf. But it is possible that they will be asked to do so in the near future, whenever the President of Austria or another senior figure decides that “Islamophobia” has become even more “rampant” and that this requires all the women of Austria to cover their heads. By contrast, after real and deadly attacks on women across Europe, nobody knows precisely what to do.
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