It is ironic that Tony Blair’s new report is titled Narrative of Division.
We’ve been waiting for this to launch for a few months.
It targets organisations Cage, IHRC, MPAC, MEND and Hizb Tahrir as “non violent extremist groups” and provides a body of “evidence” to help clarify the “grey area” (ie, the law and their basic political and religious rights) that has meant there is a debate over their “non-violent extremism” status.
In short, it’s part of the politicised agenda to build a body of “evidence” to criminalise these organisations and shut down Muslim political activism in the U.K. at a time that Muslims are being institutionally targeted like never before.
I won’t keep punning about the irony of Tony Blair talking about evidence for his latest war....
But I will - again - make this urgently seriously and sobering point;
I’ve just returned from two weeks in Iran. Firstly, to attend the International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran which included attending Ayatollah Khamenei’s residence once again to hear him speak. He talked about the importance of standing up against injustice and unjust policies and said that for 40 years Iran’s example has been to stand up and resist without compromising on its principles.
Apart from the conference, I met senior clerics, including Ayatollahs, in Tehran and Qom, to discuss the challenges facing the Muslim Community in the West and the policies being enacted against them.
This included an invitation to the Office of Ayatollah Khamenei for a lengthy discussion. Whilst there I also met with senior management that oversees the international affairs and representatives of that Office.
I also had the time to speak to senior media management, political experts and academics, many of whom have know me through my journalism work for over a decade.
Not all of these people have the same opinion on everything. It would be selling Iran short to think that it is not like any other diverse and vibrant country, with its own political spectrum and its own internal politics that can sometimes get very complicated. Having said that, in the discussions I had with this varied group, the position was very clear across the board;
I was told that whilst there is something they call “extremism”, such as ISIS, which is a cancer inflicted on Muslims; this “extremism” is completely different to what the West defines as “extremism” and completely different to the Islamophobic policies that stem from these incorrect definitions that deem Muslims “radicalised” or “extremist”. I was told by all, including directly by seniors at the Office of Ayatollah Khamenei, that this latter definition and policy of “radicalisation” and “extremism” is rejected.
At yesterdays important and HUGE anti-Trump demo in London I spoke to anti-fascist leaders and veterans. They warned me that, as great as the turnout was, the Left in London was living in a bubble and didn't acknowledge or understand what was happening up and down the country.
That's nothing new. 8 years ago when I used to cover EDL demos, many would ask why I'm bothering, they're not worth a thought, not worth the oxygen, nothing more than something to be laughed at. Tommy Robinson is a joke. When I disagreed there were many heated debates and arguments.
We tried to warn then, what complacency would bring about. Not enough people listened. They mocked and disenfranchised those who were being fed by the mainstream press and politicians (including the Labour party) about Islamophobia and immigration - a handy scapegoat for all the billions spent on war and bailing out the banks post-2007.
Nobody has given a sh*t about the working class up and down this country, including an elitist Left that, by and large, is too snobby to do anything other than name, mock and demean.
We warned Brexit could happen and so could Trump. But for too many in the big cities, in their bubbles, their brain's simply couldn't register that it could.
In the meantime, facilitated by mainstream political and media hate, the nasty corners of our Establishment were buoyed. They wanted to push the rhetoric in to full blown and open transparency. And they did. They didn't create something new, they used what had already been placed there.