Gove Shoots Himself In The Foot By Anti-Muslim Rant

Ensuring Socio-economic Justice

Tahir Mahmoud

Ramadan 22, 1445 2024-04-01

News & Analysis

by Tahir Mahmoud (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 54, No. 2, Ramadan, 1445)

Image Source - Pixbay Free Content

When Michael Gove, the UK government minister, a proud zionist and supporter of Iraq invasion, bombastically declared some of Britain’s leading Muslim organizations as extremist, he was too foolish to understand the soft-power damage he did to the regime he serves. Looking at the issue from a broader perspective, Gove’s pseudo-intellectual rant is actually a positive development.

For several decades, Muslim and non-Muslim activists, academics and intellectuals were making the case that many NATO member regimes in essence are no different than the brutal regimes they support in many parts of the world, especially the Muslim world.

The argument made was that western regimes are simply more sophisticated in their methodology.

The veneer of sophistication began to peel off with the emergence of renditions and the Guantanamo Bay torture chambers. Taking into consideration the fact that in the early 2000s western imperialist hegemony was in its unilateral and hegemonic phase, Guantanamo Bay and other barbarities could be camouflaged.

Not anymore.

Prior to delving further into specific socio-political problems which will come out of Gove’s Islamophobic declaration, it is important to strip his rant of its pseudo intellectual veneer. The narrative peddled by Gove is not new.

There was a time when people who demanded minimum wage, universal suffrage, end of apartheid in South Africa or an end to colonialism were painted as “extremists.”

There was a time when policies like universal basic income were seen as an extreme form of welfare state. It is now part of mainstream economics in many parts of the world.

Gove’s extremism rant delivered in the British parliament is a form of extremist secular-liberalism which is liberal only when other socio-political and intellectual trends are subordinate to it.

One of the best examples of this reality is a decades-long strategic master-slave relationship between western regimes and the regressive Saudi regime. Those maintained in power in Riyadh were never sanctioned or invaded for their anti-liberal policies. They were always empowered by these self-proclaimed western liberal regimes.

Let us return to the analysis of more practical matters which will flow out of Gove’s rant. After he smeared Muslim NGOs, people caught on quite quickly and challenged Gove’s narrative almost immediately. Most importantly, Muslims were not intimidated.

After Gove’s racist rant, Editor-in-Chief of the influential British Muslim publication 5pillars, Roshan Muhammad Salih called on Muslims to double their support for the slandered organizations and stated that “I will be donating personally to MEND, MAB and CAGE during the holy month of Ramadan.”

The days when Muslims could be intimidated en masse via state surveillance, Guantanamo Bay and Prevent-type draconian methods are over.

Gove inadvertently created a catch-22 situation for Britain and other western regimes. If Britain and its allies do not go after MEND, MAB and CAGE using their Prevent type draconian legal infrastructure, it will create a crisis of credibility.

On the other hand, if they resort to harsh tactics, there will be greater pushback, unnecessary internal friction and most importantly, a further discrediting of secular liberalism. In Britain’s case, it is neither secular nor liberal.

Gove’s aspirations to curtail the rights of leading Muslim NGOs will not be restricted to Muslims alone. Every citizen in western countries will be negatively affected by the Orwellian type politics being normalized by Gove.

Nothing highlights this reality better than what Edward Snowden uncovered for the entire world to see. The mass surveillance techniques employed by the Bush regime and expanded by the Obama regime were all conducted under the camouflage of protecting westerners from “Muslim extremists.”

It is now well known that Muslims were not the only victims of the surveillance state created under the camouflage of fighting “Islamists.”

As the internal socio-political landscape is quite different in many western countries due to internal and external dynamics than they were in 2001, it is very likely that Muslims and non-Muslim civil rights movements and ordinary citizens will further strengthen their cooperation and push back against narratives peddled by Michael Gove type politicians.

Apart from the internal dimension, Gove’s rant will be milked by countries the western regimes love to chastise for lack of freedoms.

When redlines of governments are crossed, be they in Russia, Venezuela, Germany or France, all use the same narrative in explaining why they are going after people and organizations that challenge them.

In Germany today, it is the norm to use the security apparatus to intimidate people critical of Israel.

In April 2023 French publisher Ernest Moret was detained in the UK for his participation in a demonstration in France. While these tactics are not new, due to the global realities and interconnectedness of the world, repressive tactics of western regimes can no longer fly under the radar. This sort of reality eliminates the western regimes’ ability to masquerade as human rights’ defenders in politically advancing their nefarious foreign policy agendas.

Adoption and legitimization of narratives peddled by Gove is another blow which will chip away at an already eroded western soft power appeal. This will inevitably lead to further reduction in the capabilities of western imperialism in the global context.

This development will hopefully benefit citizens of western countries as well.

Instead of wreaking havoc globally, the western regimes should focus on solving the plethora of domestic problems they are plagued with that are only continuing to increase.

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