A Twitter spat yesterday between so-called anti-extremism experts ended up with one of them being branded an “anti-Muslim fraud”, writes Laura Stuart.
Raheem Kassam, from the right-wing organisation Student Rights, was accused of being “anti-Muslim” and a “fraud” by his fellow “anti-extremism” experts.
His main accuser was Hasan Afzal, of British Muslims for Israel, following an article in The Commentator titled: “Tensions high in British town after Muslim youths attack white girls.”
The headline itself would appear to effectively incite English Defence League members to violence against Muslims. Afzal went on to demand that an article previously written by him be removed from The Commentator website which Kassam is the Executive Editor of.
The spat then escalated into Afzal calling Kassam “a fraud and an embarrassment”. Another “extremism expert” Shiraz Maher condemned the article for lack of context and also accused Kassam of “getting off on bad language and threats”. In general, there was a fair amount of foul language and accusations exchanged in the spat which took place.
Raheem Kassam and the organization he works for, Student Rights, had their dubious research and reporting methods exposed by Hilary Aked recently in the Huffington Post.
In recent years so-called Muslim extremism experts have been quoting from talks by Islamic scholars and using them out of context to spread fear and alarm. This has heaped pressure on venue providers and hosts to close down events.
Most universities and venue providers are quite able to make the decision to allow Muslim events to go ahead based on police advice but what has often transpired in the past is that groups such as the EDL, Casuals United and others pick up those articles and go on to make threats to protest at the venues themselves.
The link between Student Rights mobilizing the EDL, Casuals United and other anti-Muslim groups is something that I have written about in the past. The relationship appears to be one that both are comfortable with, one side doing the inciting on the net and the other making the threats.
The irony of this particular Twitter spat between Afzal and Kassam is that both of them share so much in common, i.e. both claim to be Muslim “extremism experts”, both have websites involved in targeting Muslim clerics and speaker’s events, claiming to stand for “liberal values” and “free speech” whilst openly denying Muslims the benefit of either. And above all both are avid supporters of Israel.
The connection between anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-Muslim extremism websites, Islamophobia and pro-Israeli advocacy is definitely something that needs to be further investigated, examined and exposed.
The final word on the Twitter spat came from Raheem Kassam, who denies all the accusations against him. He promised to expose Hasan Afzal’s connections to the EDL in an article on The Commentator today and arranged for a private meeting with Maher.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the 5 Pillarz editorial board
Following the publication of this article Raheem Kassam made the following comments (a full version of which can be seen below in the comments section).
“I am writing to you following the publication of a factually inaccurate article on your pages… The news item on The Commentator to which you refer, entitled ‘Tensions high in British town after Muslim youths attack white girls’ is not authored by me. There is nothing to suggest such on the website. The article was a collaboration between Commentator contributors and carries the by-line ‘The Commentator.’
“You refer to a ‘link’ between Student Rights, the EDL and Casuals United. No such link exists. Student Rights has repeatedly condemned EDL and Casuals United, and therefore your comment that ‘the relationship appears to be one that both are comfortable with’ is predicated on a falsehood and demonstrably untrue.”