Counterjihad movement

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The Counterjihad movement is a tendency which unites a disparate range of groups around an ideology of opposition to Islam.

A 2009 RUSI analysis by Toby Archer noted:

Counter-jihad discourse mixes valid concerns about jihad-inspired terrorism with far more complex political issues about immigration to Europe from predominantly Muslim countries. It suggests that there is a threat not just from terrorism carried out by Islamic extremists but from Islam itself. Therefore, by extension, all European Muslims are a threat. It plays on concerns over integration and multi-culturalism and addresses issues that affect most European states.[1]

Archer added that: "Counter-jihad thinking creates links between European anti-immigration campaigners and the supporters of the War on Terror in the US."[2]

The Inter Press Service has noted intrinsic tensions in this attempt to build a "transatlantic coalition against Islam":

Many of the most influential critics of Islam in the U.S. are neoconservatives, such as Pipes and Gaffney, who are also strongly pro-Israel; by contrast, anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe is often manifested in far-right parties whose views are anathema to much of the U.S. population, particularly Jews.[3]

Contents

History

See also: Counterjihad Timeline

Gates of Vienna, CVF and the 910 Group

An early center of counterjihad discourse was the Gates of Vienna blog, run by American Edward S May under the pseudonym Baron Bodissey. In a September 2006 post on the site, Bodissey/May called for a new cultural war:

We agree with Fjordman and many others that the Jihad is just a symptom, and that the enemy lies within. This war is a civil war within the West, between traditional Western culture and the forces of politically correct multicultural Marxism that have bedeviled it for the last hundred years.[4]

Bodissey/May suggested a number of tactics drawn from the experience of the US Conservative Movement:

Some of our readers are old enough to remember the conservative initiative back in the mid-’80s which aimed to organize the purchase of CBS and thus “become Dan Rather’s boss”. The effort caused some eye-popping alarm among liberals before it petered out later in the decade.[5]

He also highlighted the role of the internet:

I have said before that the blogosphere is developing enormous power, but so far it has been a reactive power, and not a proactive one. When we swarm something, we have a real effect, and can collectively sway the course of events.[6]

Acording to the Conservative blog A Western Heart, this post provided the inspiration for the formation of the 910 Group:

The 910 Group was initiated in the comments on a Gates of Vienna post and is barely two months old. Yet it is growing incredibly rapidly, and is much larger than all of us.We are an international movement, with members in India, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, Norway, and Canada, as well as the U.S.A. We comprise a self-selected group of people who share common goals: to oppose Islamic Fascism wherever it threatens us, and to promote the emergence of liberty in all the dark corners of the planet where ordinary people are degraded and oppressed.[7]

The 910 Group would later be claimed by the US-based Center for Vigilant Freedom, which stated:

We started in late September 2006 with 28 members in the "910 Group," our citizens' network. In six months, we now have over 1,000 active members in 40 U.S. states and 21 countries, organized through online communities. In March 2007, chapters began to meet locally and organize public education campaigns in several nations and U.S. states.[8]

UK and Scandinavia Counterjihad summit

On 14 April 2007, participants in this emerging network took part in the UK and Scandinavia Counterjihad summit at the Workers' Museum in Copenhagen.[9]

In his speech to the meeting, Bodissey/May described Vigilant Freedom/910 Group as "a network of networks":

Anders and Ted are here to represent their respective organizations, Stop Islamisering Af Danmark and SverigeDemokraterna. Vigilant Freedom exists to coordinate their communications with others and their actions on behalf of the Counterjihad.
There is no chain of command — nor will there ever be — in Vigilant Freedom. No party line. No one in control of what happens. Our unity and mission arise from a common goal: to resist the Jihad in all its forms. Anything else is details.[10]

He went on to announce a planned demonstration:

The next big action will be the protest in Brussels on September 11th. SIAD and Akte Islam initiated the effort, and communicated with a British group to help plan it. The word spread through Gates of Vienna and the 910 Group to lots of other internet outlets, and now the plan has grown to include parallel actions in Australia, the United States, and Canada.[11]

The following speaker, Anders Gravers of the Danish anti-Islam group SIAD, stated that the British organisation mentioned had been No Sharia in England:

In cooperation with No Sharia in England, we agreed to try to expand the ideas of SIAD to the rest of Europe through the umbrella organisation Stop the islamisation of Europe SIOE. I would very much like to share SIOE with 910 group, but we will get into these things later tonight.[12]

Brussels Demonstration

The SIOE demonstration was subsequently banned by the mayor of Brussels. Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang asked members of his party to attend without party insignia. [13] Udo Ulfkotte, reportedly an SIOE representative, contested the ban, saying "Our organization is democratic and peaceful, and has expressly rejected any link with the extreme right and with political parties." [14] SIOE and Ulfkotte were represented at a subsequent hearing by Belgian Senator Hugo Coveliers, with Bart Debie of Vlaams Belang acting as Ullfkotte's interpreter.[15]

Ulfkotte later reportedly attempted to cancel the event because he "was was not happy with the fact that the far-Right was increasingly usurping the demonstration." However, British and Danish co-organisers said they intended to go ahead.[16]

Two members of the Belgian Vlaams Belang party were arrested at the event, along with Italian Northern League MEP Mario Borghezio.[17] Gravers handed a petition condemning the ban to UKIP MEP Gerard Batten.[18]

Counterjihad Europa Brussels 2007

On 18/19 October 2007, the Center for Vigilant Freedom sponsored a Counterjihad Brussels Conference at the European and Flemish Parliaments.[19]

The event was notable for the attendance of Filip Dewinter, head of the Belgian far-right party, Vlaams Belang. According to Paul Belien, while "the VB did not organise the conference, it provided an important part of the logistics and the security of those attending."[20]

Other speakers included the anti-Muslim writers Bat Ye'or, Robert Spencer and Andrew Bostom, and Ted Ekeroth of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.[21]

In a November 2007 article, Christine Brim of the Center for Vigilant Freedom stated that Jean-Marie Le Pen had not been invited to the conference because of his 'current and past positions on Israel, the Holocaust and anti-semitism', but added:

We suggest looking for the possible movement of Le Pen’s political party Front National towards the center-right, as they may change their platform to pro-active support to improve the situations of European Jews and Israel. The same trend is happening in Austria, and with the BNP in the UK (also not invited and did not attend the conference). If such parties specifically state pro-Israel positions, and take real actions opposing anti-semitism and disavowing previous positions - and reach out to Jewish constituents and encourage Jewish participation in party positions - these are real actions to observe, and to approve. They have not done this yet - but are starting.[22]

Brim's comments were strongly criticised by US conservative blogger Charles Johnson, who wrote:

That Vigilant Freedom post shows that once you begin compromising principles, it gets easier and easier. After all, if they can hook up with Filip DeWinter and ignore his friendship with Le Pen, it's a very small step to hooking up with Le Pen too.[23]

Counterjihad Vienna 2008

The Counterjihad Vienna Conference was held in Vienna on 10 May 2008. Keynote speaker Serge Trifkovic argued that:

an education campaign about the teaching and practice of Islam should result in legislative action that would exclude Islam from the societies it is targeting - not because it is an intolerant “religion,” but because it is an inherently seditious totalitarian ideology incompatible with the values of the West.[24]

Bodissey/May described the event as a 'working meeting':

One of the purposes of our meeting in Vienna was to move the center of gravity for our activities out of the United States and into Europe itself, among the people who will bear the brunt of Eurabia and who thus have the greatest incentive to resist it.
There will undoubtedly be more European workshops, and I (and other Americans) may well be involved. But action in a distributed network should be planned and executed close to where it is most needed and where it will be the most effective.[25]

He added that: "Although we covered a broad range of future actions, the particular focus of the Vienna conference was “Defending Civil Liberties in Europe”, so that the emphasis was on what would be called “First Amendment issues” if we were dealing with the United States. [26]

Counterjihad Copenhagen 2009

The Counterjihad Copenhagen 2009 conference took place in Denmark on 16/17 May 2009. In his report on the event, Bodissey/May reported that the Center for Vigilant Freedom (CVF) had been folded into the International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA):

ICLA — like its predecessor CVF — is not itself primarily an action-oriented group. We are network facilitators, and our goal is to bring different groups and sub-networks into contact with one another, enhancing communication and improving the overall coordination of Counterjihad activities.[27]

He went on to claim that the Counterjihad network's initial goals had been met:

even now things are changing: all across Europe the right-wing “xenophobic” parties are rising in the polls and gaining seats in local and national elections. Next month’s European parliamentary election will likely result in the entry of Sverigedemokraterna and Libertas into the EP, as well as more seats for Vlaams Belang, the PVV, Dansk Volkeparti, and other nationalist parties.[28]

Counterjihad Zurich 2010

Counterjihad Zurich 2010 was a conference of the European Counterjihad movement, which took place in Zurich, Switzerland on Saturday, 12 June 2010.[29] It was organised by the International Civil Liberties Alliance.[30]

Among the organisations represented were the Swiss People's Party, the Lega Nord and the English Defence League.[31]

The Counterjihad coalition

Security analyst Toby Archer has noted of the counterjihad movement:

As with any forming of political ideology or cultural phenomenon, the actors identified with counter-jihad are heterogeneous. There are differences and even conflicts between the many characters involved. Overall, however, they all agree that Islam as an ideology is a threat to non-Muslims and to Western culture.[32]

Neoconservatives

One of the key founders of the European counterjihad movement, Christine Brim, is Senior Vice President for Policy and Program Management at the US neoconservative thinktank, the Center for Security Policy (CSP).[33] The head of the CSP, Frank Gaffney, is on the board of advisors of the International Free Press Society as is fellow neoconservative Daniel Pipes.[34] Prominent Counterjihad blogger Paul Belien was appointed director of the Islamist Watch project by Pipes' Middle East Forum in December 2006.[35]

Christian right

Right-wing Christian activists present at the Counterjihad Brussels 2007 conference included Dr Patrick Sookhdeo and Sam Solomon from the UK.[36] The International Free Press Society boasts Martin Mawyer on its board of advisors.[37] Mawyer edited Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority before forming the Christian Action Network, which has campaigned against homosexuality.[38]

Far-right

Among those present at the Counterjihad Brussels 2007 conference were Filip Dewinter of the Belgian Vlaams Belang and Ted Ekeroth of the Sweden Democrats.[39]

Populist right

Dutch politician Geert Wilders is on the advisory board of the International Free Press Society which backed his February 2009 visit to the United States.[40]

Revisionist Zionism

Among those in attending the Counterjihad Brussels 2007 conference was right-wing Israeli parliamentarian Arieh Eldad.[41] In December 2008, Eldad hosted Geert Wilders at the Facing Jihad conference in Jerusalem.[42] According to his website, Eldad was the only Israeli parliamentarian to call for civil disobedience by settlers in Gaza and the Northern West Bank during the Israeli withdrawals of August 2005.[43]

Ideology

Ned May offered a summary of the Counterjihad movement's beliefs in a November 2009 blog post entitled the 'The Counterjihad Manifesto'. It stated:

We continue to labor under the illusion that Islam is an ordinary religion, like Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
Unfortunately, Islam is above all a totalitarian political ideology, sugar-coated with the trappings of a primitive desert religion to help veil its true nature. The publicly stated goal of Islamic theology and political ideology is to impose the rule of Islam over the entire world, and make it part of Dar al-Islam, the “House of Submission”.[44]

Eurabia

Bat Ye'or's Eurabia thesis of a Muslim demographic takeover of Europe, backed by European elites, is central to counterjihad discourse. In October 2007, Ye'or delivered a talk on the concept at the Counterjihad Brussels Conference, which warned that "For 40 years Eurabia has built its networks, its finance, its hegemonous power, its totalitarian control over the media, the universities, the culture and the mind of people."[45]

Toby Archer has described the Counterjihad movement's use of the Eurabia concept:

When non-counter-jihad writers imply that Eurabia lies more in the realms of conspiracy theory than academic history, counter-jihad bloggers respond by claiming this as further evidence of Eurabia, demonstrating that academics and mainstream journalists have been ‘Eurabised’ and, like all European elites, are actually part of the plot. This becomes, unfortunately, a very circular argument.[46]

Strategy & tactics

Distributed networking

Bodissey/May has described the counterjihad as a 'distributed network':

We — the European Counterjihad — are compelled by necessity to form a distributed network, because we operate without funding. Whenever funding is available, a hierarchical network naturally results, because one person (or a small group) controls the flow of money, and the other nodes in the network are answerable to him. A hierarchical tree forms, based on the distribution of monetary resources.[47]

This strategy allows for tactics employed in one country to be duplicated across the EU, Bodissey/May argues:

Another advantage of a distributed operation is that our networks, once they are well-established as a web of trusted contacts, can help coordinate events in advance. For example, if Sverigedemokraterna are about to present a complaint to the police accusing the Swedish prime minister of treason, the same kind of initiative can be mounted simultaneously in Denmark, Britain, Spain, France, Austria, Germany, and any other countries whose constitutions or statutes forbid the surrender of sovereignty to the EU.[48]

However, one blogger formerly associated with the 910 Group, Abu Nopal claimed as early as December 2006 that "the group has abandoned most of its original open source ideas":

Indeed, there is now clear hierarchy, with more and less privileged classes, staff and subgroup designations, a chain of command. Among the privileges of staff, the most visible and touted perk in fact, is the ability to delete and edit other people's posts in the forum. That's not a good foundation for an open source culture and because of it, the 910 group will not be able to harness the energies of the most creative people. They'll have to make do with groupies.[49]

Abu Nopal also questioned the picture of an unfunded movement:

The culture war (CW) is not a bad thing. I'm actually a fairly passionate partisan on the conservative side, but it is what it is and it's not the counter jihad (CJ). The temptation to fold the CJ into the CW, which is mostly a financial temptation, will lead to failure. Gearing up the old anti-communist machine might be a great way to raise money, as is revving up the right wing on any of its favorite subjects, but conflating this conflict with the priorities of the conservative movement in general will hand the enemy a victory he has been working hard for, a divided society with its left wing exposed.[50]

The 'network facilitation' role attributed to the Center for Vigilant Freedom and International Civil Liberties Alliance by Bodissey/May[51] is arguably evidence for a more hierarchical picture of the counterjihad movement. So to is the fact that Christine Brim, a key member of both groups, is a senior officer of the Center for Security Policy, a well-funded US conservative foundation.[52]

Demonstrations

Groups associated with the Counterjihad movement have organised demonstrations in a number of countries. Mosques have been a frequent target.

In June 2007, the German Pro Köln group demonstrated against a mosque in Cologne, with support from Vlaams Belang and the Austrian Freedom Party.[53]

Some counterjihad protests have attracted a notably poor turnout. In December 2009, an SIOE protest outside Harrow Mosque in North London, attracted only 19 supporters and 200 counter-protestors.[54]

This problem may explain Alan Lake's 2009 comment to the Guardian about his embrace of the English Defence League:

"We have a problem with numbers. We have an army of bloggers [in the far-right] but that's not going to get things done.
"Football fans are a potential source of support. They are a hoi polloi that gets off their backsides and travels to a city and they are available before and after matches."[55]

Despite the Guardian's gloss, Lake's reference to an 'army of bloggers' is probably better understood as referring to the Counterjihad movement than the far-right in general.

Counterjihad organisations

CVF network

Center for Vigilant Freedom | 910 Group | Counterjihad Europa | International Civil Liberties Alliance

SIOE Network

Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) | SIOE Denmark (SIAD) | SIOE Russia | SIOE England | SIOE Finland | SIOE France | SIOE Germany | SIOE Norway | SIOE Poland | SIOE Romania | SIOE Sweden

IFPS Network

Organisations by country

Resources

Powerbase

External Resources

Notes

  1. Toby Archer, Countering the 'Counter-jihad', RUSI Monitor, September 2008.
  2. Toby Archer, Countering the 'Counter-jihad', RUSI Monitor, September 2008.
  3. Daniel Luban and Eli Clifton, POLITICS: Dutch Foe of Islam Ignores US Allies' Far Right Ties, Inter Press Service, 28 February 2009.
  4. Baron Bodissey, The Emperor is Naked, Gates of Vienna, 26 September 2006.
  5. Baron Bodissey, The Emperor is Naked, Gates of Vienna, 26 September 2006.
  6. Baron Bodissey, The Emperor is Naked, Gates of Vienna, 26 September 2006.
  7. KG, The 910 Group, A Western Heart, 4 December 2006.
  8. About CVF, Center for Vigilant Freedom, 2007, accessed via the Internet Archive on 6 December 2009.
  9. Baron Bodissey, Report on the Counterjihad Summit, Gates of Vienna, 19 April 2007.
  10. UK and Scandinavia Counterjihad Summit, Stop Islamiseringen af Danmark, 15 April 2007.
  11. UK and Scandinavia Counterjihad Summit, Stop Islamiseringen af Danmark, 15 April 2007.
  12. UK and Scandinavia Counterjihad Summit, Stop Islamiseringen af Danmark, 15 April 2007.
  13. Brussels mayor bans protest against "Islamization of Europe" BBC Monitoring Europe - Political, 11 August 2007: Source: Text of report by Belgian newspaper De Standaard website on 10 August.
  14. Organizers of banned anti-Islam march to sue Brussels mayor, BBC Monitoring Europe - Political, 14 August 2007. Source: Text of report by Belgian newspaper De Standaard website on 14 August.
  15. Organizer of Belgian anti-Islam march contests plans for French trial, BBC Monitoring Europe - Political, 30 August 2007. Source: Text of report by Belgian newspaper De Standaard website on 29 August.
  16. Danish, British organizers plan to defy Belgian ban on anti-Islamic 9/11 march, BBC Monitoring Europe - Political, 11 September 2007. Source: Text of report by Belgian newspaper De Standaard website on 8 September.
  17. Police arrest 2 far-right Belgian leaders at anti-Islam 9/11 protest, Associated Press, 11 September 2007, accessed via the Internet Archive on 17 August 2011.
  18. Scores arrested in anti-Islam protest in Belgium, Agence France Presse, 11 September 2007.
  19. About, Counterjihad Europa, accesssed 6 December 2009.
  20. Daniel Luban and Eli Clifton, POLITICS: Dutch Foe of Islam Ignores US Allies' Far Right Ties, Inter Press Service, 28 February 2009.
  21. Biographies, Counterjihad Europa, accessed 6 December 2009.
  22. Haaretz: Jews for Le Pen, Centre for Vigilant Freedom, 22 November 2007, via the Internet Archive.
  23. Charles Johnson, LGF Thanksgiving ,Comment 125, Little Green Footballs, 22 Nov 2007.
  24. Dymphna, Counterjihad Vienna 2008, Gates of Vienna, 12 May 2008.
  25. Baron Bodissey, Slouching Towards Vienna, Gates of Vienna, 16 May 2008.
  26. Baron Bodissey, Slouching Towards Vienna, Gates of Vienna, 16 May 2008.
  27. Baron Bodissey, Slouching Towards Copenhagen, 23 May 2009.
  28. Baron Bodissey, Slouching Towards Copenhagen, 23 May 2009.
  29. Baron Bodissey, Slouching Towards Zurich, Gates of Vienna, 16 June 2010.
  30. Aeneas, English Defence League Represented At Counter Jihad Zurich 2010, International Civil Liberties Alliance, 17 June 2010.
  31. Baron Bodissey, Slouching Towards Zurich, Gates of Vienna, 16 June 2010.
  32. Toby Archer, Countering the 'Counter-jihad', RUSI Monitor, September 2008.
  33. Center Staff, Center for Security Policy, accessed 7 December 2009.
  34. Board of Advisors, International Free Press Society, accessed 7 December 2007.
  35. Paul Belien Appointed Director of Islamist Watch, Middle East Forum, 11 December 2006.
  36. [http://counterjihadeuropa.wordpress.com/conferences/counterjihad-brussels-2007/counterjihad-brussels-2007-biographies/ Biographies, Counterjihad Europa, accessed 7 December 2009.
  37. Board of Advisors, International Free Press Society, accessed 7 December 2007.
  38. 'A Mighty Army' A dozen major groups help drive the religious right's anti-gay crusade, Intelligence Report, Southern Poverty Law Center, Spring 2005, p.3.
  39. [http://counterjihadeuropa.wordpress.com/conferences/counterjihad-brussels-2007/counterjihad-brussels-2007-biographies/ Biographies, Counterjihad Europa, accessed 7 December 2009.
  40. Daniel Luban and Eli Clifton, POLITICS: Dutch Foe of Islam Ignores US Allies' Far Right Ties, Inter Press Service, 28 February 2009.
  41. [http://counterjihadeuropa.wordpress.com/conferences/counterjihad-brussels-2007/counterjihad-brussels-2007-biographies/ Biographies, Counterjihad Europa, accessed 7 December 2009.
  42. Guus Valk, Geert Wilders meets an Israeli kindred spirit, NRC Handelsblad, 15 December 2008.
  43. Prof. Arieh Eldad, M.K., arieheldad.con, accessed 12 December 2009.
  44. Baron Bodissey, The Counterjihad Manifesto, Gates of Vienna, 20 November 2009.
  45. Bat Ye’or, Eurabia: How far has it gone?, Counterjihad Europa, 18 October 2007.
  46. Toby Archer, Countering the 'Counter-jihad', RUSI Monitor, September 2008.
  47. Baron Bodissey, Building a Distributed Counterjihad Network, Gates of Vienna, 1 June 2009.
  48. Baron Bodissey, Distributed Emergence: Networking the Counterjihad, Gates of Vienna, 8 May 2008.
  49. Abu Nopal, This ain't your daddy's (global battle to save mankind against a hegemonic foe with a totalitarian ideology ...., No910, 13 December 2006.
  50. Abu Nopal, This ain't your daddy's (global battle to save mankind against a hegemonic foe with a totalitarian ideology ...., No910, 13 December 2006.
  51. Baron Bodissey, Slouching Towards Copenhagen, 23 May 2009.
  52. Center Staff, Center for Security Policy, accessed 9 December 2009.
  53. Anna Reiman, Far-Right Mobilizes against Cologne Mega-Mosque, Der Spiegel, 19 June 2007.
  54. Tristan Kirk, face off outside Harrow mosque, Harrow Times, 13 December 2009.
  55. Robert Booth, Matthew Taylor and Paul Lewis, English Defence League: chaotic alliance stirs up trouble on streets, The Guardian, 12 September 2009.
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