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

Powerful critique of UK and US surveillance and repression of Muslims and prosecution of homegrown terrorism
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 disperate 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.”
  • [The Muslims are Coming!] aptly reveals the West’s anti-Islam and anti-Muslim prejudice in the form of 'war on terror.' It unravels and critiques their reified anti-Muslim policies persuasively. It is a groundbreaking, balanced, simple to read, and timely contribution to the existing literature that vividly highlights the true face of the West’s perception of Muslims—as an alien race.”
  • “Based on several years of research and reportage, The Muslims are Coming! is an incisive critique of the repressive and surveillance-heavy methods of combatting homegrown terrorism utilized in both the US and UK.”

Blog

  • Post-fascism: a mutation still underway

    This interview with Enzo Traverso was first published in L'humanité. Translated by David Broder. 


    June 2015 press conference of far right 'Europe of Nations and Freedom' bloc within European Parliament. 

    In his Les Nouveaux Visages du Fascisme, historian Enzo Traverso analyses the mutations of the European far Right movements that have emerged from "the fascist matrix."1 According to Traverso, the Left has to "offer political perspectives again" in order to occupy "the immense void" that is today being filled by both jihadism and a "post-fascism" that excludes Muslims.

    Are Europe’s far-Right movements (the AfD in Germany, the Front National in France, Jobbik in Hungary…) adopting the same codes as fascism or Nazism?

    Enzo Traverso: First of all, these movements do share common traits, including their rejection of the European Union, their xenophobia and their racism, in particular in its Islamophobic dimension. Beyond these markers, we can see notable differences. There are clearly neo-fascist or neo-Nazi movements, like Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary, etc., whose radicalism is often linked to the extent of the crisis, even if in Greece the rise of Syriza did put a lid on this dynamic. As for France, the Front National does have a fascist matrix, and there are certainly neo-fascists in the party, but its discourse is no longer fascist. After all, it has made a considerable effort at ideological mutation, and that is one of the keys to its success. If it still advanced neo-fascist arguments it would not get a hearing, and could certainly not hope to reach the second round of the presidential election.

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  • Mutations of Fascism: an interview with Enzo Traverso

    In Les Nouveaux Visages du fascisme, Enzo Traverso and Régis Meyran discuss the continuities and discontinuities between the fascist movements of the twentieth century and the "post-fascist" far right of today. Olivier Doubre spoke with Traverso for the 16-22 February 2017 edition of Politis. Translated by David Broder. 



    You use the term "post-fascism" to characterise today’s far Right movements. What does this term mean?

    Enzo Traverso: The idea of post-fascism firstly serves to characterise a political movement that is shot through with contradictions, and which has an evident fascist matrix — for that is its history, where it comes from — and in the Front National’s case a dynastic line of descent. There is an undeniable fascist hard core in the FN apparatus, its activist base, composed of neo-fascist militants of all generations. They are very active in the FN and hold onto a good part of the organisation. So there is a rift between the organisational reality of this party — or even its anthropological fabric — and Marine Le Pen’s discourse in the media or the public sphere, which is of a xenophobic, nationalist, anti-neoliberal tenor but also comes out of a social Right. Yet if the FN were a neofascist sect, or even a neofascist party, I do not think that it would be considered likely to appear in the second round of the presidential election, or even capable of being France’s biggest party. This party is thus clearly transforming, and it is trying to operate a process by which it dialectically transcends its fascist character — but without entirely rejecting it. So in order to fight this party, we have to understand what it has become.

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  • One Day Without Us—A Migrant Solidarity Reading List

    Today, the petition to rescind President Trump’s state visit to Britain signed by 1.8 million people will be debated in Parliament. Stop Trump demonstrations are planned for this evening across the country and are expected to draw more than 10,000 people to stand together in solidarity with migrants and against racism and Islamophobia.

    Trump’s racist, Islamophobic, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant politics are the same driving forces as those behind the Brexit vote to leave the EU. In the context of the rise of reactionary and xenophobic politics worldwide, the Stop Trump programme of opposition is a joint effort with the One Day Without Us movement, staging its first day of action today. Tens of thousands of migrants and their supporters are staging a walkout from workplaces and places of education to celebrate the contribution migrant workers make to British society. In particular, the action aims to highlight their importance to the British economy: withdrawing their labour for a day would cost the UK £328m – 4% of the country’s GDP.

    The British government is not just complicit with Trump's agenda: Theresa May has been a trailblazer in ramping up anti-migrant measures for years before her ascent to the premiership in her role as Home Secretary when she notoriously brought in 'go home' vans. While it debates the terms of Brexit, the government continues to run a brutal and inhumane detention system; demonise and deport migrants; refuse refugees, and extend the border regime deeper into British society, into our hospitals, schools and workplaces.

    Verso presents a reading list of books that challenge and expose right-wing narratives about migrant workers and refugees by contextualising crises rooted in the violence of capitalism, legacies of colonialism and war waged by the West. This selection includes books that provide us with histories of resistance from which we can draw strength and inspiration for the fightback ahead.

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Other books of interest