The UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has published the winners of their annual ‘Islamophobia Awards’ naming French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo the winner in its international category.
The ceremony hands out awards across a variety of categories for those deemed to have contributed most to ‘Islamophobia’ over the year. Also nominated was Clarion Project’s own interfaith award-winning documentary, Honor Diaries.
Charlie Hebdo was the target of a terrorist attack in January that killed 12 people including some of France’s leading cartoonists.
The magazine was explicitly targeted over its lampooning of the founder of Islam, Mohammed, which the outlet does on a regular basis, alongside religious and political authorities from any and all cultures and religions without differentiation. The gunmen were filmed on CCTV exclaiming “We have avenged our prophet.”
According to the IHRC press release on the awards: “centered around a gala dinner, the event aims to subvert Islamophobia through comedy and revue while simultaneously addressing a serious and significant issue in a creative manner.”
A piece announcing the full list of winners across the various categories can be found on the website of Hizb ut-Tahrir linked media outlet 5Pillars.
The article attacked Charlie Hebdo saying:
“The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which was the target of a murderous attack in January won the prize here for its continual stoking of Islamophobic sentiment by caricaturing Muslims as terrorists and ridiculing their beliefs.
Charlie Hebdo’s repeated mocking of Muslims is part of a culture of hate that is intended to marginalise, further alienate and further endanger a community that has effectively been “otherised” in much the same way that Jews were in Nazi Germany.”
There may be a direct connection between the IHRC and 5Pillars. There is a banner advertising the IHRC on the homepage of the 5pillars website.
Both organizations regularly link to each other’s websites, 5Pillars has a tag page devoted to the IHRC and regularly publishes the group’s statements and writes blogs in support of IHRC positions.
For its part, in April 2009 the IHRC also did a Q&A with editor of 5Pillars Roshan Muhammed Salih, who coincidentally was formerly a journalist for the Iranian state-owned media outlet “Press TV.”
5Pillars regularly interviews members and leaders of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir as it seeks to establish a global caliphate implementing sharia law. Their website is currently running a featured video asking the questions “How will the Khilafah [caliphate] be re-established?”
According to the ‘About Us’ section, 5Pillars believes that “Western/Israeli foreign policy is the main cause of the disasters afflicting the Muslim world” with no mention of terrorism, or condemnation of extremism.
CAGE is currently under fire for its spirited defense of the terrorist Mohammed Emwazi, whom CAGE Director Asim Qureshi described as “a very kind, gentle, beautiful young man.”
Mohammed Emwazi is better known to the world as the Islamic State’s infamous executioner Jihadi John.
CAGE has just raised £18,000 from donations after UK charities ceased their funding over the group's statements in support of Jihadi John.
The connections of the Islamic Human Rights Commission to CAGE and Hizb ut-Tahrir were further reinforced today when the Islamic Human Rights Commission co-signed a letter alongside both groups condemning the UK government's new counter-extremism policy as “'threatening a McCarthyite' witch-hunt against Muslims” and branding as “unacceptable” the use of “politically charged words like 'radicalisation' and 'extremism.' ”
With these connections it is more understandable that the IHRC is so willing to attack those murdered by Islamist terrorists as bigots by labeling them Islamophobes.
Islamophobia is a highly problematic word with a long history of being used as a cultural and linguistic weapon to attack free speech.
Prime Minister of France Manuel Valls told reporters “I refuse to use this term 'Islamophobia,' because those who use this word are trying to invalidate any criticism at all of Islamist ideology. The charge of 'Islamophobia' is used to silence people.”
Abdur Rahman Mohammed, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate the International Insititute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) recalls being at a meeting in the 1990s where the decision to use the term was taken. He said of the word: “this loathsome term is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliché conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purposes of beating down critics.”
The identities of the other nominees suggest this was the purpose of the ceremony. Indeed Maajid Nawaaz, the winner of ‘Islamophobe of the Year’ in the UK category of the awards, is a former member of Hizb ut-Tahrir and now an outspoken advocate against Islamism with the counter-radicalization group The Quilliam Foundation.
Hardly a far-right extremist, he is currently standing in the UK general election as a candidate for the Liberal Democrat party, a party noted for its socially liberal positions.
Andrew Gilligan, a British journalist for the Telegraph who has been the lead reporter on issues relating to the ‘Trojan Horse Plot’ was also nominated a Islamophobe for his work in exposing the organized effort by a small cadre of Islamist “educational activists” to impose their hardline vision of education on British state-funded schools.
Both of these men have made no criticism of Islam as a faith, merely opposing the totalitarian vision that Islamism has for British society.
In 2006, 12 leading writers and critics of Islamic extremism published an open letter in Charlie Hebdo calling on the world to stand against “a new global totalitarian threat: Islamism.” Many of those authors have received open death threats from various lslamist groups.
They published their letter in response to threats made against the magazine after Charlie Hebdo reprinted a series of 12 cartoons of Mohammed that had originally appeared in the Danish magazine Jyllands Posten the previous year, sparking riots across the Islamic world.
The letter proclaimed “We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of 'Islamophobia,' a wretched concept that confuses criticism of Islam as a religion and stigmatisation of those who believe in it.”
It is outrageous that Charlie Hebdo’s steadfast refusal to abandon the principles of free speech when receiving accusations of “Islamophobia” should be met with both the murder of its staff and an award for ‘Islamophobe of the Year.’
If they did before, no-one now should respect the human rights credentials of the Islamic Human Rights Commission. This is a group that UK author and journalist and serial Islamophobe-of-the-year nominee Douglas Murray described as one of several “pseudo-moderate organizations which compare the victims of Islamist violence – rather than the perpetrators – to Nazis.”
Elliot Friedland is the Clarion Project's research fellow.