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The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror

“An important and moving investigation of the costs of the ‘war on terror’ for those who have been its targets.” – David Cole
Death came instantly to Imam Luqman, as four FBI agents fired semiautomatic rifles at him from a few feet away. Another sixty officers surrounded the building on that October morning, the culmination of a two-year undercover investigation that had infiltrated the imam's Detroit mosque. The FBI quickly claimed that Luqman Abdullah was "the leader of a domestic terrorist group." And yet, caught on tape, he had refused to help "do something" violent, as it might injure innocents, and no terrorism charges were ever lodged against him.

Jameel Scott thought he was exercising his rights when he went to challenge an Israeli official's lecture at Manchester University. But the teenager's presence at the protest with fellow socialists made him the subject of police surveillance for the next two years. Counterterrorism agents visited his parents, his relatives, his school. They asked him for activists' names and told him not to attend demonstrations. They called his mother and told her to move the family to another neighborhood. Although he doesn't identify as Muslim, Jameel had become another face of the presumed homegrown terrorist.

The new front in the War on Terror is the "homegrown enemy," domestic terrorists who have become the focus of sprawling counterterrorism structures of policing and surveillance in the United States and across Europe. Domestic surveillance has mushroomed—at least 100,000 Muslims in America have been secretly under scrutiny. British police compiled a secret suspect list of more than 8,000 al-Qaeda "sympathizers," and in another operation included almost 300 children fifteen and under among the potential extremists investigated. MI5 doubled in size in just five years.

Based on several years of research and reportage, in locations as disparate as Texas, New York, and Yorkshire, and written in engrossing, precise prose, this is the first comprehensive critique of counterradicalization strategies. The new policy and policing campaigns have been backed by an industry of freshly minted experts and liberal commentators. The Muslims Are Coming! looks at the way these debates have been transformed by the embrace of a narrowly configured and ill-conceived antiextremism.

Reviews

  • “An important and moving investigation of the costs of the ‘war on terror’ for those who have been its targets, including the thousands of innocent Muslims who have been infiltrated, entrapped, and surveilled in the search for the radicalized terrorist among us. Kundnani gives eloquent voice to the communities that have been regulated, watched, and silenced by the national security state.”
  • “Arun Kundnani is one of Britain's best political writers, neither hectoring nor drily academic but compelling and sharply intelligent. The Muslims Are Coming should be widely read, particularly by liberals who consider their own positions unassailable.”
  • “Kundnani’s argument is compelling in its dissection of governments’ disproportional responses.”
  • “Kundnani's book is a fact-rich call for vigilance and clear thinking about the erosion of civil liberties and attitudes.”
  • “A gripping exposition of how the west has made a post-communist enemy and, in some ways, ignited Islamicist terrorism.”
  • “A bold new look at the much discussed issue of surveillance, documenting how it impacts the communities most affected—American and British Muslims. With incisive reporting from across the US and the UK, combined with trenchant analysis, Arun Kundnani captures what it feels like to be a ‘suspect population.’”
  • “This timely and urgent analysis carefully examines the ideologies and law enforcement strategies that undergird the domestic War on Terror. What Kundnani finds is disturbing: sweeping, specious radicalization theory and racialized assumptions about the nature of Islam drive domestic counterterrorism practices. This has had devastating consequences for the rights and liberties of Muslims and the state of constitutional protections in the US and UK.”
  • “An incisive, scholarly, bold, and convincing critique of the never-ending ‘War on Terror,’ whose roots extend far beyond the tragedy of 9/11. An important work.”
  • “Indispensable and powerful … Essential reading for government officials engaged in designing our counterterrorism policies, as well as readers trying to make sense of them.”
  • “A must-read guide to the second decade of war waged on the home front.”
  • “Arun Kundnani, a British-born scholar who is now an adjunct professor at New York University, is a different sort of leftist. He is not Muslim, either by background or conviction, but he maintains that 'Islamophobia' is a thinly disguised form of racial prejudice, and that on both sides of the Atlantic, the war on terror has been an excuse for governments to ratchet up surveillance and harassment of people who are 'guilty' of nothing worse than critical thought about their countries' domestic or foreign policies.”
  • “Measuring his ideas against global terror experts, Kundnani offers hard alternatives to international security agencies, policing trends, and options for reasonable dissent in his thoughtful, rational plea to curb the War on Terror.”
  • “Kundnani frankly and refreshingly moves away from ideological symptoms and toward political causes in tackling extremism.”
  • “Excellent and timely… a compelling guide to the debate over the nature of British Islam.”

Blog

  • VIDEO: Arun Kundnani on what's missing from the mainstream discussion of surveillance

    While whistleblower Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald have helped expose the extent of NSA surveillance, Arun Kundnani, author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the War on Terror says that they have encouraged legalistic debates and missed the centrality of racism. Kundnani and Deepa Kumar, a Rutgers professor and author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, co-presented a talk on Race, Surveillance and Empire at the Socialism 2014 conference in Chicago, in which Kundnani drew connections between national security surveillance and the history of empire.

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  • The Front National: what kind of people are they? By Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre

    Xenophobia Blog Series. This is the first instalment of a series of pieces published on our blog by leading voices on the current and alarming force of Xenophobia - the fear of "strange and foreign" identities.

    “The terrible results of the European elections were not a crash of thunder in a calm sky. They are a particularly worrying step in a downward spiral that has accelerated in recent months.” This is how the sociologists Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre see the recent results from the European elections. Together Boltanski and Esquerre discuss the aftermath of the European elections and the rise of the Front National Party—an economically reactionary, socially conservative, and xenophobic nationalist political party—in France. 

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  • Arun Kundnani: The utter hypocrisy of Tony Blair's Middle East vision



    Tony Blair's speech this week at Bloomberg in London reveals a growing support for authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. In his keynote speech on Middle East, he blamed Islamic extremism for failures of western intervention in region:

    For the last 40 to 50 years, there has been a steady stream of funding, proselytising, organising and promulgating coming out of the Middle East, pushing views of religion that are narrow minded and dangerous. Unfortunately we seem blind to the enormous global impact such teaching has had and is having.

    Within the Middle East itself, the result has been horrible, with people often facing a choice between authoritarian government that is at least religiously tolerant; and the risk that in throwing off the government they don't like, they end up with a religiously intolerant quasi-theocracy.

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